Invitation to Bhakti Yoga by Rachael Goolsby

Bhakti and Exquisite Love 

This weekend we have a very special guest coming to visit us here in Wilmington. Bill Mahony will come and speak with us about Bhakti, or loving devotion. Specifically he will quote and exercise the sutras of Narada’s Bhakti Sutra as a way of helping us each connect more deeply to our own unique ways of loving and of being devoted to that which we love in our own lives.

In the time-renknowed and beloved Bhagavad Gita, Krishna guides his friend and student Arjuna on the literal and figurative battlefield of the heart and mind. One of Krishna's teachings is on the three paths of yoga. You may have heard of the word karma. Karma Yoga is the first to be described, as it urges the yogi to take righteous action in the world. Krishna urges Arjuna to stand up and fight evil. More subtle than Karma Yoga is Jnana Yoga, the yoga of knowledge. We can see how it is necessary to be informed before we make decisions in the world. Krishna explains the importance of a sharp and well-informed mind to Arjuna, for if his self-sworn enemy had made the right choice, there would not be the terrible battle to face. More subtle than Jnana Yoga, and more dear to Krishna is Bhakti Yoga. Krishna is the Beloved Lord, one of the many incarnations of Vishnu- the great sustainer of the world, the one who restores dharma- or rightness to the world. Bill Mahony taught me that dharma is that which upholds the universe, and also about its special relationship to karma. Krishna teaches that Bhakti Yoga, the yoga of devotional love, is most dear to his heart. Arjuna is wondering which path to choose. In truth, we each have phases in life where one of these paths is more prevalent than the others, and yet as time has turned us multiple journeys down each of these paths, we discover how intwined these paths really are.

I believe that Bill Mahony is such a teacher that has polished each specific path individually, and with patience, passion and clarity. He is such a teacher that offers his actions, wisdom, and friendship in one breath. He offers these with great reverence and humbleness.

This year my friends Lexi Paulos and Mary Glackmeyer and crew at Longwave Yoga studio bring Bill Mahony: exquisite scholar, meditator, and sharer of nectar from his trips down scholarly lane. His book "Exquisite Love” delivers such bountiful practical nourishment for the heart, that we can not help but show up to his live and in the flesh musings on the nature of love and devotion. in addition to led meditations infused into his lectures, we will also have opportunity to ask our burning questions and share our own insights. During the weekend you will have the time to integrate Bill’s lectures into your asana practice, led by in-house teachers Mary Glackmeyer and myself. We feel very privileged to host Bill for his first time teaching here in Wilmington, NC.

In his own words, Bill has "deeply enjoyed teaching at Davidson since I joined the faculty in 1982”, according to his bio from the college. He exemplifies devotion in other ways too, including his long marriage to his wife Pamela, with whom he has reared two daughters. I personally have never studied with such a devoted, gentle teacher who brings depth of knowledge of his subject material. Bill’s enthusiasm for Narada’s Bhakti Sutra was already a dream with promise when I first had the luxury to study with him, in 2004, along with my equally enthusiastic sister, Sarah Faircloth. Because of Sarah’s bold request to study with Bill, he accepted with delight and invited us to audit his classes up at Davidson College. We excitedly took him up on the offer and reveled in the radiant effects of his teachings. I frequently revisit my notes from Bill’s lectures on the ancient Vedas, and other mystical selections from Bill’s pantheon of knowledge. We visited Bill’s office one day and the feeling was of a library: impossible volumes of books, rich in the Sanskrit language and painstaking English translations. Bill himself later came to translate Narada’s Bhakti Sutra six years later, and he spoke of his desire to do so that day in his office. What a gift to witness such faithful intention come to fruition! His second book, "Exquisite Love" is a dream to study, serving to grow one’s spiritual practice. To witness one so devoted to his own spiritual path, and yet so respectful of others’ is rare indeed.

Bill is a true spiritual guide. He offers himself as a friend. He willingly shares his fervent love for the spiritual quest in companionship with those who gather around him. He offers his own mature gems of wisdom in company with the world’s current great scholars and lecturers. Bill introduces us to sacred texts as one would present a magical journey; soothes us with his cultivated peace; and opens doorways into the secret heart of the texts that he references - which studied alone would take years to discover.

He will be here with us in Wilmington this weekend. Please don’t miss it! Come be with us, in Bhakti! 

Namaste ~ Rachael Goolsby

Register for One or More Sessions with Bill Mahony HERE!


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