About Sivananda-Valentina - by Frl. Gusti
Part Two

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ASANAS

Her body is firm and Strong and very supple. She is obviously a born dancer and gymnast. This explains why She mastered the Yogasanas quickly. Some asanas She performs like a Sacred Dance; it is obvious that, for Her, asanas are also a means of communication with the Supreme. Her asanas are beautiful and sacred prayers, never a mechanical exercise. Valentina gives us a treat when She practices Yogasanas. We have regular classes for various people of various ages and capacities. She goes into precise instructions with everybody, correcting and encouraging, being humorous or tactful or reserved - all depending on the type of class She has. "Asanas are not gymnastics" She says often. "They are not for the body's sake but for overcoming the sense of body. You should be able to forget that you have legs and arms when you practice asanas. "Sometimes, She would stand on Her head for a long time and it is obvious that She is forgetting all of us and enjoys complete rest. Those who can, join Her, others do half headstand. Her asanas are effortless.

I want to mention with great joy that so many people are healed through the regular practice of even the simple asanas and very slow deep breathing, combined with perfect relaxation which Valentina taught them.She perpetually emphasizes that it is not the virtuosity of the exercises which is important, but their correct performance in easy, gradual stages and positive mental attitude.

Just as Valentina is infinitely grateful to Gurudev for transmitting to Her so many wonderful, helpful things, many people are grateful to Her. People whom the doctors found hopeless are immensely benefitted by Her classes. She individualizes every case, is extremely patient, loving and understanding. What is most wonderful about Her - She knows what is wrong with us before we open our mouths.

Sufferers of insomnia, nervous conditions, hysteria, etc. are promptly relieved. Those who have spinal disorders don't find sufficient words to thank Her. I (Gusti) too improved my health immensely. Certainly it is not only the improvement of my health I owe to Valentina. Above all, She gave a new meaning to my life. And I am not the only one whose life She transformed.

INSPIRATION

Various people get various degrees of inspiration - depending on their mental and spiritual receptivity. "Give" is Valentina's nature, not motto, and She gives on all planes, all levels and to all without distinction. How rich She must be! "For it is in giving that we receive!" And we, the recipients, how fortunate we are, if we have the chance to pass on to others part of that which She bestowed upon us.

UNWORLDLINESS

To me Valentina looks as though She had walked out of a legend. Everything about Her is charming, original, effortless. It is quite natural that She should be surrounded by birds and flowers. I almost expect one of the birds to settle on Her shoulder.

SYNTHESIS OF YOGA

It is obvious to me that Valentina combines several Yogas. Her Sakti (power) is enormous. I never saw anyone with such ardent love for people. Her love is coupled with great Wisdom and understanding. There is definitely a ray of St, Francis in Her - to judge by her unusual capacity for peacemaking. Whenever She senses discord, She rushes to bring peace. She is a constant example to all of us. She teaches us to concentrate on the assets of a person and to forget the rest. Or, to look upon a so-called "unpleasant" experience as a valuable lesson to change our attitude. I firmly believe there is nobody who could not improve under Her influence. As She explained to me, She sees the Essence of our Being. I would say, She sees us with Her heart, as we were meant to be, but not as we appear. It is also amazing how people live up to Her "heart-sight" and to Her expectations. Especially when they are alone with Her. The best of them comes to the surface. How could they disappoint Valentina who thinks so highly of them? Naturally, She also sees the other side of the medal, no one can compete with Her in common sense but She is not a bit interested in it - here is Her Bhakti; She sees God only everywhere. Isn't it natural that we change under Her all-embracing love? We seem to illustrate the saying of Grillparzer (Austria's foremost poet of the past):

"Das eben ist der Lieve Zaubermacht
Dass sie veredelt was ihr Hauch beruehrt."
"This love's Magic Power,
Ennobling those who feel its breath."

Her Karma Yoga is really too obvious. Everyone knows that She works for the sake of others and does not look for appreciation. Her philosophical mind shows the ingredient of Jnana and Her mystical personality betrays a Raja Yogi, but it is emanating from Her and I assume that potentially She belongs to all Yogas.

MAGNETISM

Valentina is ageless. Her vitality is amazing. She never seems tired and She can vitalize and heal by Her very aura.

It is very interesting to listen to people when they tell you HOW they came to her. Valentina does not advertise. And still so many people in great need find the way to Her garden, as though God was leading them. Valentina often says that it is all Gurudev. He is responsible for everything - He is the one who wants Her to serve people, not She!

They often come to Her in the strangest manner and at a time when they need help badly. A very conventional and reserved woman, for instance, addressed Her in the street and begged for an interview, not knowing WHO She is; according to her words, she was strongly attracted to Valentina. People are led to Her like the answer to a prayer. There is a handicapped young man whose face and eyes reflect the affection Valentina bestows on him. He changed amazingly through contact with Valentina and became more normal and pleasant.

Valentina is writing a spiritual message every week. But Her influence is more powerful than any article She ever wrote. She need not talk or write for those whom She uplifts.

Often a desperate person finds the way to Her garden. A face like an outcry of despair. Valentina transmits hope, courage and faith. Is there anything more touching then the sudden lighting up of a sad face? People often cry in Her presence.

RESTRAINT

I find in Her the austerity of both Gurudev and St. Francis. Corresponding with Her, I was always impressed by the brevity of Her style - there was not ONE superfluous word and never did She mention anything about Her personal life. When there is a cloud on your horizon, She knows instantly, even if you don't mention it in your letters. She perceives every change in your aura, regardless of distance. She knows when you are on the point of getting sick and will do anything to prevent it. Returning from the North, I noticed the stamp of suffering on Her face. Months later, I was told (not by Her) that last summer Her Master had passed away.

Her inner world no one knows. It is obviously very profound. She often withdraws into silence when we are all noisy.

MANNERS

Her courtesy, charming manners and consideration form a striking contrast to the lack of formality and a certain nonchalance in this country. She is so eager to put people at their ease in every respect, fetching rugs and chairs, picking up things for them, even putting on shoes when She feels a person is not able to do it quickly and easily. Tropical rains in Florida are sudden and heavy. Two students and I were on the point of leaving when the rain was terrific. Valentina did not mind getting wet to the bones, ran personally for a taxi for all of us and chaperoned us under an enormous umbrella to the taxi.

Valentina answers Her letters immediately. In general, She does things at the spur of the moment.

Her concern for the aging is very touching. In a country where it is considered almost a crime not to be young, She refers to "These sweet old ladies." They look at Her with deep affection. Their eyes say: "How can anyone be so good, so beautiful and so charming. They respond to Her like children . They embrace Her.

FORGIVENESS

Once a student transgressed Her rules and entered Her little monastery cell in Her absence. Valentina never locks Her room. The student, being caught by Valentina, flew into a temper, abused Her and left in a rage. Valentina proved how impossible it is to insult Her. She simply refuses to quarrel. She pretends that She did not understand this particular person's impudence. She calls it "emotional disorder" or misunderstanding of Her rules or anything at all but what it really is: insulting arrogance. She treated that person as a sick child who did something wrong without understanding it. She wrote such a generou letter to X! This letter was read aloud by X to several of us, with the result that X became, if not ashamed, then at least disarmed. And when she came again to Valentina, she was treated by Her with such hospitality and sincere joy that again it was a new lesson to us all. It is impossible to quarrel with Valentina, because the fault is always only on one side!

Her attitude in regard to people who commit sins is that of a famous lawyer who said: "When handling criminals, I am not anxious to fix the blame, but to find extenuating circumstances." She has great tenderness for Her son. You can notice it by the sparkle in Her eyes when She occasionally mentions him. She acts like an Angel of Mercy and not of revenge. When Kennedy was murdered, Her heart went out to the mother of the murderer. Once Her old co-worker misunderstood Her writings completely and abused Valentina with many fantastic accusations. Discussing the incident with me, Valentina was full of praise for the woman and wrote her a disarming letter. To quarrel with Valentina is impossible, because it takes two to make a quarrel and Valentina refuses to be the second participant!

MOTHERHOOD

Motherhood changes every woman, but it changed Her into a universal Mother. You should see Her concern on behalf of all of us. Talking on the phone to a student, you hear a mother who is concerned about her child. When I was sick a few days, a special messenger arrived, with love from Valentina and brought the choicest food. When the students, during the winter season, leave late in the afternoon, She is concerned whether they are adequately dressed. As a rule they walk off with Her sweaters, cardigans and shawls. If the sweater is very becoming, the student is urged to keep it. Be careful not to admire anything Valentina loans you - She will give it to you instantly! She does not accept it back.

Once, while discussing Dispassion, Valentina quoted Gurudev's letter to Her in which He said, - usually love to one's own son is a form of self-love, - sublimate it. Valentina stopped for a moment, then with a radiant smile, - "I know there is not a single man on earth whom I would not forgive even if he would abuse me, the moment I imagine that he could have been my own son. I know that this magnanimity I acquired only through my intense love for my own son. So we can expand our hearts through personal feelings too."

I love the way she wears Her outfits and what She imparts to the clothes She wears. Her face and bearing are of such nobility that even in rags She would look like a little princess. But here in Florida, Her best attire is a bathing suit. And She certainly proves that a beautiful body is a temple for the soul. She has no sense of the body whatsoever. She wears simple comfortable outfits and on Her everything looks becoming and elegant. I often ask myself, "How and when does She get time to take care of everything?

Just as She has many faces, She has many styles. What the pseudo-artists crave to be - She is! Absolutely effortless here too. A dashy, flowing robe, long curly hair with some casual ribbon holding it together. She could pass for a gypsy or for a princess, but both from a fairy-tale. Yet She can look most unexotic too, if She needs to: a simple little tailored suit, hair up; reserved atmosphere about Her every little detail. Only real artists can afford not to care!

STRONG INFLUENCE UPON OTHERS

She has great reverence, adoration and admiration for all Saints and I am positive - I never asked Her - that She must have a great affinity with Saint Francis of Assisi. She is a peace-maker par excellence. A few words from Her, and above all, Her attitude, will remove the last ingredient of grudge in a person and will make her see the former opponent through Valentina's loving and understanding eyes. She never omits to mention the charming co-operation of a certain student and will skip blemishes with a smile, thus transferring HER attitude to US.

She tells us that even organic differences can and should be overcome. And She is right. She often emphasizes the principles of Christ without preaching them when, for instance, She discusses enthusiastically the virtues of Her students. She finds them in all of us. Her heart goes out above all to the timid and lonely, the sick and unbefriended. It is always the need of people which is decisive with Her and never a question of merit. Her compassion goes so far that She does not hesitate receiving people who do not come for spiritual reasons. But She confessed on one occasion that She weeps bitterly when She has to listen to the worldly talk for a long time.

Sometimes She reminds me of a lion-tamer. Rather reluctantly, I introduced to Her a man (at his request) who is very belligerent and loves to argue. I was actually scared. "How is he going to behave?" He behaved like a good little boy. You see, Valentina has a disarming quality. Tigers turn into lambs in Her presence!

CHASTITY

To me, Her Chastity is so obvious, that even in a bikini, She is wearing the nun's habit. It would be appropriate to mention Her in connection with Her attitude towards sex. In this country where sex is so overrated, She certainly is needed to give an example of chastity. Her magnetism is sometimes misinterpreted by young men who see in Her a very attractive woman. But even the most selfish and lustful men realize Her purity the moment She would slowly raise up Her eyes and size them up calmly or say a word or two in response to their uninvited admiration. She knows how to tame tigers! When she was asked, "Were you always so pure?" She said without the slightest hesitation, "Indeed not. Only through the Grace of my Gurudev I became free from the idea of sex completely." People bring, with utmost confidence, their sex problems to Her. She never shows that She is bored or shocked. She always plunges into the souls of those who need Her. She re-united many couples. However, when She is asked Her personal opinion about sex, She says, "Sex without love is a monstrosity. Sex with love is a sad necessity!" Ideal love between man and woman, according to Her, should be based on the subtlest, noblest and inspiring mutual understanding and tremendous tenderness and mutual respect, consideration and devotion. Then the very word "sex" will not exist. There will be Love, Poetry, Wisdom only. Valentina always foresees the argument and stops it with a twinkle in Her eyes, "Don't worry, such Ideal Love will not prevent women from having children."

HUMILITY AND PATIENCE

I do not want to give the impression that Valentina's life is all poetry and withdrawal from the worst. On the contrary, She lives in the midst of trouble and turmoil. She never mentions that She has a sick husband - I found out about it from others. Between Her little retreat - She Herself never calls it an Ashram, but people attribute this word to it - and the place where Her crippled husband lives (within five minutes walk of the place where She lives) one can often observe Her, running with a bottle of juice in Her hand, from one place to another. Her speed, rhythm and precision is really fantastic. She never wastes a minute. She often takes care of other sick people. She creates possibilities to be of service to those in despair.

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