December 2009

Make a habit of conscious breathing + Learn from your mistakes + Swami Replies + The inner meaning of the Bhagavad Gita + Physician heal thyself + Mandi Uruthi Asanam + Healing Apricots + Sceptre Quartz + Hold Your Tongue + Applying the principles of transformation + FEATURE: Siddha Agasthiar + Yogic powers and demonstration Part 1 + Questions answered by Roy Eugene Davis + The significance of satsang + Touch + Super-consciousness + A different approach to fasting + Inspiration by Swami Narayani + The meaning of the Gayathri Mantra + Journey to Kanchipuram + Truth 4 Youth + Meditation for kids

Cover image: woodcarving of Christ & statue of Patanjali, Guru of Christ

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Christmas Message from Swami Shankarananda

I pray that this brings you all some special inspiration by bringing light to you during this holy period.

Looking back at the last decade the tragic events of 11 September 2001, the tsunami of 26 December 2004, the planes that went down, war in Middle East, Sri Lanka, India and Pakistan, the brutality experienced by South Africans by hijacking, murder, injuries and rape, I pray that this message brings you joy and light, knowing that you cannot change your past, but that you can make daily choices to increase the light, love and harmony in the lives of those who might have had some tragic or natural loss.

As we reverently honour the birth of Jesus, I send Christmas Greetings to you. Through the life and teaching of Jesus may the tenderness and divinity of God’s love shine upon you during this time. Remember during this time that Jesus’ message was one of hope, unconditional divine love and forgiveness. In this let the Christ within lift your heart joyously above all of life’s uncertainties and limitations. Realise now during this time that you are immortal and that your inner Christ-consciousness is Infinite Energy and divine awareness.

This is the time of gifts so buy your loved-ones gifts, adorn the tree of light but carefully choose the gifts you purchase, and do not give violent gifts, but gifts that stimulate the mind positively. Do not kill the Christ within you buy purchasing gifts of mental destruction like toy guns and violent games. Let this be my special message to you: whatever your gift is, first let it reflect in you the mirror of Christ’s life, if it feels right then go for it.

Celebrate Christmas upon the altar of the vast inner silence and upon the sanctuary of every desire, every living entity in this world, and the cosmos, then will you know Christ as the Divine King Ruling in the heart of all finite creation.

A Merry Christmas and Prosperous 2010 to You and Your Families.
Endless Love, with Divine Blessings
Swami Shankarananda Maharajji

Please note there will be no Transcendence available for the second full-moon of December, the 31st. Peedam members will, however, receive 2010 calendars with prayer dates for next year. We will commence production of following editions from 30th January 2010. A blessed holiday season to everyone.

In Love and Service always,

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Swami Shankarananda

Of all the creations God has made he has one perfect creation which he called ‘man’, even in Genesis we are told that ‘man was made in the image of God’. God needed a perfect image, yet in that perfection there are so many flaws, and the reason we have these flaws is so that we can work towards perfection, so that we can develop ourselves. There is no one who can tell me that they have never made a mistake, for he who has never made a mistake has never learned. Our learning process has to do with mistakes and whatever we do in life, we only learn when we realise that.

God created us separate from other creatures which function on instinct. Man has been given intelligence and choice, but in that intelligence he has lost himself, his greater Self because, in searching for material pleasures, in searching for what he can hold and show off, he has become distracted. Man has the intelligence to choose his path, and to choose between what is right and what is wrong. If we choose to learn from our wrongdoings we will grow in wisdom and intelligence but if we keep making the same mistakes we will attain nothing.

Think about what you have achieved during 2009 - not your material achievements - but your achievements in Self realisation. Ask yourself how many mistakes you learned from. Did you use your mistakes to make a better choice the next time around? Did you use your mistakes to grow in awareness of the Self and God? If your answer is ‘yes’ then you are moving forward but if not, then you should take the time to think about how you are going to learn from a negative habit or mistake the next time it happens. Have a plan beforehand and carry it out when the situation arises. It is only by awareness that we can acknowledge our mistakes and do something about changing them. This is what makes us different from other creatures.

It is my wish that all of you learn from your mistakes and continue to learn from them and grow throughout 2010 and onwards.

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Paramahansa Yogananda

Each year at Christmas time there are stronger than usual vibrations of Christ-love and joy that emanate to earth from the heavenly realms. The ether becomes filled with the Infinite Light that shone on earth when Jesus was born. Those persons who are in tune through devotion and deep meditation feel in a wondrously tangible way, the transforming vibrations of the omnipresent consciousness that was in Christ Jesus.

To celebrate the birth of Jesus in solely materialistic ways is a desecration of the meaning of his holy life and of the immortal message of divine love and God-union that he preached. The ideal is to honour Christ i spirit in meditation from morning till evening, absorbed in feeling in one’s own consciousness the Infinite Christ that was born in Jesus. That experience is one of profound peace and joy, more than a human heart has ever known - expanding into an all-embracing consciousness.

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Healing Apricots
Apricots are exceptionally high in beta-carotene. The high beta-carotene and lycopene activity of apricots makes them important in preventing heart disease, strokes and staving off the effects of Alzheimer’s disease. They are a good source of fiber which helps to remedy constipation and digestive conditions. Dried apricots are rich in potassium which regulates blood pressure levels. The Vitiman A in this fruit promotes good vision, and helps to heal skin disorders. They are also a good source of vitamin C, contain vitamin B17, which helps to prevent cancer, and the oil extracted from apricot kernels is used to nourish and nurture the skin. It is believed that massage with apricot oil is said to balance the nervous system and can smooth out any form of emotional disharmony.

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Yvonne Jarvis
How many of us can truthfully say that we do not criticize or speak badly about others? Constructive criticism is not a bad thing if it is done with good intention in an attempt to bring about a better situation. If we are on the receiving end of constructive criticism, we can learn from it, and we should be prepared to seriously consider lending an ear to what is being said.

We do not realize what harm can come from our poison tongues. All too often we tend to repeat unkind or cruel words, causing much unhappiness. Some folk take delight in passing on scandal – the juicy or sordid details of another’s life. Sometimes they are even tempted to embroider upon the truth, when they realize the reaction their stories evoke in others. These folk ride the ego wave, as they feel the temporary benefit of being on the moral ‘high ground’. Not only does this do great injustice to the subject of the scandal. It also puts the energy of judgment into our own energy fields, and this must obey the laws of the universe, and boomerang back to us! If we sow seeds of judgment, we will surely reap a similar harvest! So, sooner or later we can look forward to others judging us, or scandalling about us…

We tend to judge people without knowing the facts, or taking the trouble to understand why people are the way they are, or react the way they do. It is said that we should not judge without first walking in their shoes. A particular behaviour pattern of another may date back to a traumatic event which occurred during his or her early childhood, of which we know nothing, and yet we see fit to condemn them. How might we have reacted, had we been exposed to the same trauma? We may disapprove, but we have no right to judge. A principle to bear in mind here is one of the seven habits of highly effective people, that which reminds us to ‘Seek first to understand, then be understood’.

The Bible has good advice on this subject: “Speak not one against another, brethren” (James 4:11). If we haven’t anything good or kind to say about another, let us learn to hold our tongues, and keep silent. Let us make a rule not to say in a person’s absence what we would not say if he were present. If we all did this, our world would be more harmonious, and we would save an awful lot of heartache and trouble. Christ did not judge, and neither should we if we want to learn from His example, and follow in His footsteps.

Reference: The Path of Truth, Feb/March 2008

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Swami Murugesu Maharishi

I receive letters from various parts of the world requesting me to arrange for a demonstration of Yogic powers to enable people to observe directly the miraculous powers of Yoga so that many may come forward to learn Yoga. I used to be amused when I went through the letters and wondered within myself how modern seekers have understand the science of Yoga so poorly. First of all, I wish to refute the very idea that, by witnessing the demonstrations so-called yogic powers, people will come forward to learn them. I say this only on the basis that from time immemorial many of the so-called yogis have been demonstrating yogic powers, many performing various miracles, but very few came forward to learn the art. Most of those who had witnessed the demonstrations could only say, ‘All cannot acquire such powers as only those who were fortunate enough to practice yoga in a previous birth can learn this art’. So it is not correct to say that public demonstration will cause many people to follow the path of Yoga.

The second point I would like to clarify is that yogic attainment can neither be demonstrated nor tested by any physical means. Let us take the first aphorism of the Yoga Sutra of Patanjali: Yoga Chitha Vrithi Nirodha - Yoga is to subdue the functions of chitha. Eminent writers and commentators of the Yoga sutra refer to the conscious mind when they speak of chitha and by Nirodha they refer to subduing the thoughts or mental modifications.

In philosophical literature, it is said that man possesses four anthakaranas, or internal faculties: mind, intelligence, sub-conscious mind and ego (or ‘I’). According to this classification, chitha represents the subconscious mind. Why then, do many commentators refer to chitha as the conscious mind? The possible explanation for this is that those who are well-versed in psychology consider all the four different anthakaranas to really be one and the same, the difference lying only in the mode of operation. But this notion is not correct because we know that the awareness of the soul or the ‘I’ consciousness recognises the functions of only one aspect at a time. That is, if ‘I’ is witnessing the modifications of the conscious mind, then the same ‘I’ is not aware of any other organ. Similarly, when I am witnessing the subconscious mind as in Hypnotism and Meditation, I am not aware of the usual mental modifications. Similarly, when we are deeply engrossed with our intelligence, as in the state of reasoning or research on any subject, we are not aware of the functions of the other organs. If this be the daily occurrence, how can we say that all four anthakaranas are one and the same? It is like this: though our arms and legs are made of the same tissues and joined to the same trunk as each other, their functions are different and when we are concentrating deeply on some defect in our leg, we will not be aware of the other leg. Similarly, though the four anthakaranas are connected internally and use brain matter for their actions, they are not one and the same, but are separate.

We are aware that the conscious mind has no independent action. Most of its actions are mere reactions of sensual stimuli in one way and stimuli of subconscious mind in another. Most probably, its modifications are caused by sensual stimuli as a man is engaged in sensual cognition only during his waking state. Only when he is in a state of somnambulism (sleep walking) or engaged deeply in solving a difficult problem, does he cross over from the conscious mind to the subconscious mind, albeit briefly. Apart from this, during the state of self-hypnotism and auto-suggestion, the subconscious mind sends stimuli to the conscious mind. In one way or another intelligence also seems to play a part in the function of the conscious mind and has no independent actions. Therefore the question of subduing the conscious mind in order to acquire Self-realisation, as written in the next aphorism of Patanjali, is meaningless. So chitha vrithi niroda is to subdue not the function of the conscious mind but the chitha (sub-conscious mind) which is achieved by deep meditation.

We all agree that the differences existing in every person’s life are due to his karma. These karmic impressions are rooted in the sub-conscious mind. This theory is explained clearly in psychology and parapsychology. If anyone is able to read, or have a vision of his samskaras (impressions rooted in the subconscious mind), they will know the events of their future. Furthermore, Patanjali says, “By samyama of samskaras, one can know his past births’. After discovering one’s samskaras (which are present to give either beneficial or adverse effects), one can remove negative samskaras and convert them to positive ones by the practise of yoga, thus overcoming his destiny and becoming master of his life. In this state the conscious mind comes under one’s firm control. (To be continued.)

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Brother Haridas Archarya

Let us all, O friends and devotees, assemble here and offer our congregational prayer to, and repeatedly sing the glory of the resplendent Lord. (Rig Veda 1.5.1)

We need to understand that human beings are not only political economic beings, they are also social beings. As social beings they are interdependent and co-operative; they enjoy living in communities instead of in isolation, and they encourage mutual relationships. The great sages of Bharatavarsha have observed that human beings are not only in a relationship with themselves and amongst themselves, but they are also in a relationship with the objects of the material world and with God. These three entities (God, people, and material objects) are what constitute the basis of one’s relationships.

Since the mind and soul of a person are confined to the objects of the material world and are being exercised in the context of the material world through the senses and the human body, the influence of the modes of material nature which is an inherent part of the material entities, needs to be considered. This means that the modes of material nature (i.e. satva, rajas and tamas) impact in terms of relationships and therefore they need to be checked and transcended. In this regard, each of the relationships (i.e. with God, people and objects), can bind us to material existence and confine us to the modes of material nature, or they can assist us in transcending these modes. It would be incorrect to think that a relationship with an idea of God or an object perceived to be God is the only basis for transcendence. Consider this for a moment: people have holy or divine interactions with the sun, moon, planets, trees, animals, stones and other entities, to produce their transcendence. Despite them making the mistake that holiness is confined to a single tree or stone, they understand the Divine consciousness is all pervading, even found in every human being. If our relationship to the objects of the material world are sacred and holy, then the same principle should hold true for our relationships with human beings because they are also pervaded by Divine consciousness.

Sacredness or holiness which we perceive in objects outside of ourselves emanate from within and this is confirmed in the experiences of devotees. When we allocate sacredness or holiness to an object, whether it is God in a person, a tree, or God as a Supreme Person, we do so on the basis of its relative purity and completeness. This may be a partial truth. Greater than this is to remain transcendent of the material modes and see Divine Consciousness operate in the different material modes. When we reach this condition then we will be able to see God in everyone and everything.

There are many levels of associations including family, friends, colleagues and social institutions. Of all types of associations, satsanga is considered to be of the highest level.

The degrees of differences stem from the fact that the intent of the associations vary and therefore their relative quality varies. From a spiritual point of view, the highest intent of our being or existence, is to achieve oneness with the Supreme Divine Reality in a condition of absolute freedom from material or object-related experiences. No other association brings about such a fulfilment as satsang. However, if other associations do bring about such fulfilment, then their relative quality is also high. It is on the basis of this intent that the qualitative nature of the associations is evaluated. Therefore, satsang forms the basis of all associations and, therefore, the Vedic seers have encouraged us to engage in satsang. Having said this, it will also be true to say that the nature of satsang can decline to lower modes if the intent of the association is not well defined. We observe that in certain satsangs there is a struggle for power, competition in singing, backbiting, forming of cliques and other idiosyncrasies which should not constitute the true nature of divine association.

The term ‘satsang’ is derived from two terms: ‘sat’ and sang’ which mean ‘pure’ and ‘fellowship’ respectively. Satsang refers to a ho ly, sacred, pure gathering; a divine fellowship or congregation of devotees. It is a gathering where there is a spiritual bond between the devotees and the Supreme Godhead - a bond that enhances the meaning of ‘spiritual brotherhood’ and which fosters a spirit of the oneness of humanity (vasudeva kutumbakam). Satsang is like a divine spark ready to set alight the fire of our spiritual consciousness.

There are some who hold the view that satsang is meant only for those who want to belong to a spiritual organisation or movement and if we do not want to involve ourselves with religious organisations then we do not find it necessary to engage in satsang. Furthermore, there is also the view that Hinduism is unlike Christianity and Islam in that it does not advocate congregational prayer days. Firstly, the latter view may be partly correct in that Hindu Dharma does not advocate congregational prayer services as a once-off event. On the contrary, it advocates that congregational prayer, whether at the level of one’s family, community or organisation, is an ongoing practice. Secondly, it is a misconception to think that satsang is an organisational event in which one engages by choice. In fact, it is a spiritual practice or sadhana which one engages in by the compulsion of one’s faith and love for the Supreme. Therefore, it is incumbent that every Hindu be engaged in satsang. The Rig Veda Samhita, one of the oldest records of Hindu thought and culture and one which Hindus accept as the final authority on spiritual matters, believed to be the guiding light to Hindu practise, expresses in the clearest terms as to who engages in satsang when it declares, “Let us all, friends and devotees, engage in satsang”.

Furthermore, the Holy Vedas define the precise intent of these gatherings: “to repeatedly sing the glory of the resplendent Lord”. Therefore, satsangs are opportunities for the assemblage of the community to sing and glorify God. The culture of singing God’s name is indeed a very ancient practise. The Vedas, by declaring ‘let us all’, suggests that satsang is meant for all irrespective of caste, colour, race, sex, social or economic standing. It is an occasion for Hindu unity and solidarity and an opportunity for every Hindu person to freely associate.

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Rod Briggs

We use expressions relating to touch regularly in our daily conversations - “I am touched by the gesture”, “he touches a lot of people’s lives”, “she has a healing touch,”- yet remain largely ignorant of the amazing capacity of our bodies to respond to touch, both positively and negatively. Our human contact offers more than just comfort – research now shows it reduces pain and even fights disease. Researchers at Ohio State University found that couples who touched in loving ways were able to heal wounds, in one or other of the spouses, two days faster than couples in conflict or who did not regularly hug, hold hands, or generally touch. From lowering blood pressure and blood sugar levels, through boosting of our auto-immune system, to speeding up post operative healing, touch has a major impact on our state of health.

It has been found that it is not just the touch but the emotions behind the contact that impact on us. In a test at DePauw University in Indiana people touched by strangers they could not see were able to accurately tell the emotional state of that person, leading to an understanding that touch involves a transfer of emotion. It seems that we can pick up a wide range of these feelings by touch alone including anger, fear, disgust, love, gratitude and sympathy. The most powerful effects were obtained with emotions of love, gratitude and empathy. This dovetails very nicely with practices such as reiki, aromatherapy, reflexology and massages therapy where the emotional and mental state of the practitioner is seen as vital to success and is yet another example of science catching up with what the mystics have always known.

In many societies in the west it is seen as a personal invasion to show physical affection in the form of hugs and touching in general. This emanates from not being in touch with our own bodies and, ultimately, fear. This does not mean that we should walk around hugging everyone we meet but it is important that we are open to sharing physical intimacy with our nearest and dearest. For those who have pets physical contact with them, as they are perfect examples of unconditional love, is also extremely beneficial, lowering stress and increasing our immune systems efficiency by up to thirty percent.

So, like the song says… Reach out and touch somebody’s hand and make this world a better place if you can.


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Suren Pillay

The state of super-consciousness has been explained in various ways by different commentators and metaphysicians alike. Most, however, agree that it is deep spiritual state often achieved after deep contemplation and or meditation. In the waking state, to be consciously aware of one’s surroundings, one’s actions, words and thoughts is an important part of spirituality as it allows one to prevent oneself from erring in the ethical and moral principles of life.

In Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra the ethical and moral codes of life are found in the principles of yama and niyama. Many enlightened beings have stated that this foundation is the basis of yoga practice. Without a solid foundation on the spiritual path, we are more likely to failthan to pass. The foundation for super-consciousness thus lies in speaking the truth, not hurting anyone or anything; celibacy, non-stealing; non-greed; cleanliness; study of the scriptures; penance; contentment and surrender to God.

In meditation, yoga masters have said the super-conscious state only arises when the fluctuations of the mind have settled and the awareness has been clarified. In this state, one’s mind becomes suitably prepared for receiving the inner joy of super-consciousness. Saints have said that in meditation the meditator may initially experience the super-conscious state as a perception of light, or a feeling of joy in the third eye or sometimes the hearing of subtle cosmic sounds. These states are usually regarded as preliminary states of Samadhi, or samadhi states supported by an object or ‘seed’ as referred to in the yoga sutra.

These states are useful as the samskaras (mental impressions) produced by these states allow the meditator to internalise attention quickly in subsequent meditations. Often, in super-consciousness, it has been said that the meditator is completely unaware of his body and surroundings, having calmed the restlessness of the body and stabilised his breath, meditative awareness flows freely and spontaneously. The sages have stated that the joys in meditation are subtle and cannot be compared to the physical sensory joy we ordinarily experience.

Many spiritual aspirants seek the experience of samadhi. However, without complying at least to some degree with the moral and ethical principles of life, samadhi seems to be a difficult proposition. The moral principles in life have a tendency to expand rather than contract awareness; one becomes aware of an ideal greater than himself, his body, or his own selfish needs. I believe that we are all capable of fully experiencing samadhi in this life, provided we invest the necessary time and energy in our spiritual practices and comply with yama and niyama in the yoga sutras. One should also remember that it is just not about doing the practices; it’s also about practising with devotion and sincerity. When Jesus Christ asked a learned man (Joseph of Arimathea) what the greatest command of life is, he retorted, “Love thy God, with all thy heart, with all thy soul and all thy strength”.

The Master agreed. My message to you, dear readers, is that an ocean of bliss lies within us. All we need is to put in a little effort and the rewards will be greater than any physical or sensory treasure known to man.

Aum, Shanti, Shalom, Amen!

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Bobby was getting cold sitting out in his back yard in the snow. Bobby didn't wear boots; he didn’t like them and anyway he didn’t own any. The thin sneakers he wore had a few holes in them and they did a poor job of keeping out the cold. Bobby had been in his backyard for about an hour already. And, try as he might, he could not come up with an idea for his mother's Christmas gift. He shook his head as he thought, “This is useless, even if I do come up with an idea, I don’t have any money to spend.” Ever since his father had passed away three years ago, the family of five had struggled. It wasn’t because his mother didn’t care, or try, there just never seemed to be enough. She worked nights at the hospital, but the small wage that she was earning could only be stretched so far. What the family lacked in money and material things, they more than made up for in love and family unity. Bobby had two older and one younger sister, who ran the household in their mother's absence.

All three of his sisters had already made beautiful gifts for their mother. Somehow it just wasn't fair. Here it was Christmas Eve already, and he had nothing. Wiping a tear from his eye, Bobby kicked the snow and started to walk down to the street where the shops and stores were. It wasn’t easy being six without a father, especially when he needed a man to talk to. Bobby walked from shop to shop, looking into each decorated window. Everything seemed so beautiful and so out of reach. It was starting to get dark and Bobby reluctantly turned to walk home when suddenly his eyes caught the glimmer of the setting sun's rays reflecting off of something along the curb. He reached down and discovered a shiny dime. Never before has anyone felt so wealthy as Bobby felt at that moment. As he held his new found treasure, a warmth spread throughout his entire body and he walked into the first store he saw. His excitement quickly turned cold when salesperson after salesperson told him that he could not buy anything with only a dime.

He saw a flower shop and went inside to wait in line. When the shop owner asked if he could help him, Bobby presented the dime and asked if he could buy one flower for his mother's Christmas gift. The shop owner looked at Bobby and his ten cent offering. Then he put his hand on Bobby's shoulder and said to him, “You just wait here and I'll see what I can do for you.” As Bobby waited, he looked at the beautiful flowers and even though he was a boy, he could see why mothers and girls liked flowers. The sound of the door closing as the last customer left, jolted Bobby back to reality. All alone in the shop, Bobby began to feel alone and afraid. Suddenly the shop owner came out and moved to the counter. There, before Bobby’s eyes, lay twelve long-stemmed, red roses, with leaves of green and tiny white flowers all tied together with a big silver bow. Bobby's heart sank as the owner picked them up and placed them gently into a long white box. “That will be ten cents young man,” the shop owner said reaching out his hand for the dime. Slowly, Bobby moved his hand to give the man his dime. Could this be true? No one else would give him a thing for his dime! Sensing the boy’s reluctance, the shop owner added, “I just happened to have 20 some roses on sale for ten cents a dozen. Would you like them?” This time Bobby did not hesitate, and when the man placed the long box into his hands, he knew it was true. Walking out the door that the owner was holding for Bobby, he heard the shop keeper say, “Merry Christmas, son.”

As he returned inside, the shop keepers wife walked out. “Who were you talking to back there and where are the roses you were fixing?” Staring out the window, and blinking the tears from his own eyes, he replied, “A strange thing happened to me this morning. While I was setting up things to open the shop, I thought I heard a voice telling me to set aside a dozen of my best roses for a special gift. I wasn’t sure at the time whether I had lost my mind or what, but I set them aside anyway. Then just a few minutes ago, a little boy came into the shop and wanted to buy a flower for his mother with one small dime. When I looked at him, I saw myself, many years ago. I too was a poor boy with nothing to buy my mother a Christmas gift. A bearded man, whom I never knew, stopped me on the street and told me that he wanted to give me ten dollars. When I saw that little boy tonight, I knew who that voice was, and I put together a dozen of my very best roses.” The shop owner and his wife hugged each other tightly, and as they stepped out into the bitter cold air, they somehow didn’t feel cold at all.