What Is The World Saying To You Right Now?


endless practiceHow are you being challenged beyond what is familiar? Where do you sense you are being led?

These are the questions from the book that I am reading currently  called “The Endless Practice – Becoming Who You Were Born To Be” by Mark Nepo.

With the siege in Sydney before Christmas, the sieges that happened over the past three days in France costing lives of innocent victims as well as the perpetrators, and now the latest news of Boko Haram massacring over 2000 people in north Nigeria, I cannot but help ponder on what is the world actually telling us right now?

That violence is normal way of life and we passively accept it? Seems to be so doesn’t it?

Unfortunately the ‘unwanted’ has become the ‘familiar’  and we are constantly challenged in our struggles to reject that unwanted familiarity of violence riddled world invading into our lounges and homes.

In order to reject the unwanted, we either polarize ourselves between good and bad and stand firmly on one side only or we run from it all with a fear that our involvement even in thoughts might affect our safety.

Whilst we want to live in a ring of safety, we are constantly pushed to expand our ring of fear.

What capacities can we develop to not succumb to that ring of fear, to actually contract that ring?

How can we create and expand a ring of safety for ourselves, our immediate and extended families, friends and loved ones?

How can we cast a net of love to all peoples of the world so the language of violence and acts of terrorism can actually reduce?

To cast a net of love we need to first understand what love actually is and what it looks like in action – don’t we not?

  • Is Love an uprising of joy from the folds of our hearts?
  • Is it tears welling up in our eyes when we appreciate beauty?
  • Is it the concerns that arise spontaneously about the well-being of those that are closely associated with us?
  • Is it a heart wrenching pain we experience watching the innocent suffer?
  • Is it a sense of duty (Dharma) that we have, to do certain things regardless of what we have to go through?

What is Love? What does it look like? How does it feel?

I understand and experience all the various situational values of love’s expression – Caring, Empathy, Compassion etc., but the big word itself – Love – I struggle to understand.  What I do know is that Love is beyond the accepted cultural norm of expression and that it is a word that has many faces and cannot be easily captured.

These questions and the burning desire to know led me to do another exercise from the book “Writing To Wake The Soul – Opening The Sacred Conversation Within” by Karen Hering in which she asks to list random objects in your immediate area and create associated thing of the words in the list. After doing that she asks to create metaphors for Love using the words listed.

I did that and the metaphors for love that came up from the list are as follows:

  • Love is soft, thick, layered textures of a Carpet that I like to lie down on
  • Love is a fluffy, soft, comfortable support of a Cushion under my head when I take a nap
  • Love is the discipline of a Clock moving forward
  • Love is a Painting that is colorful and geometric holding many themes and patterns at the same time.
  • Love is the thick long Curtain that filters good and bad light.
  • Love is the Laundry Basket that holds clean and dirty clothes without complaining
  • Love is the Coffee Table that silently witnesses the scattered  mess on it.

How do these metaphors serve us in understanding love better?  They are only showing one thing aren’t they not?

Love is understanding and accepting both sides,  – Good & Bad, Beauty & Ugly, Light & Dark – completely without judgment and Be a Witness. Period.

It is only when we can do that do we have the capacity to extend our ring of safety and contract our ring of fear.  Accepting both sides does not mean that we condone violence.  Accepting both sides means we remember the larger wholeness in which we all belong and in so doing, we recover our wholeness within. We cannot afford to be separated from our soul because then we will be separated from life.

So what do we do? How can we live from a place of understanding and hold everyone equally in our hearts?

As hard as it may be,

  • We need to try and accept everything happening in our lives as a blessing.
  • We need to down our fear riddled masks which keep us from facing the truth and meet life fully with a vulnerability that is so human and so imperfect.
  • We need to change our thinking from fear to love. Our fears only create more fearful events because we create everything first in our thoughts.

Mark Nepo says, “When the dangers of drowning in the troubles of living are near, when feeling separate from your soul and the fear of burning up is heating up, rub the place in your chest where you feel most human, most vulnerable, and you will be perfectly returned in time to a thoroughness that will present the next step.”

Let us embrace the world knowing that we cannot fully comprehend what is going on and why.  That enables us to live in the world with a tender, open and loving heart and mind which does not contribute to the chaos but instead creates a pristine lake – the shores of which can be a shelter for all of us.

Hope you will join me in that embrace…..

Until next time

With Love and Respect

Padma Ayyagari

 

“Everything Everywhere Is Just As It Should Be…Really?”


Sunrise

This statement – that I used to use a lot and regularly used by my ‘seeking’ friends, made me stop once again in my tracks as lately I have begun to question the commonly held spiritual beliefs handed down either through scriptures or elders and teachers or both.

I have never explored this statement and today, the last sentence of David Whyte’s poem – “Revelations must be terrible” stopped me.  the poem says a lot more and no doubt the last sentence is intertwined with everything before it, however, it threw me into deep reflection.

“You could flow on without a speck/of guilt and everything/Everywhere would still be just as it should be”

Do I agree with that statement? The tumble dryer in my head started whizzing.  Turn – Stop – Start – Turn – Stop…..and it was going in circles.

How can I convince myself with that statement when I see a homeless person’s anguish, or a drug addicts craving induced suffering, or parents grief over untimely deaths of their children due to stupid mistakes, or wars between countries or mindless crime, or pain induced in people over rampant unfulfilled desires that drive the loins, groins and the purses as well, minds that hold desires and uncontrollable appetites to have more, to do more and convinced that it is their right to possess, cherish or destroy at any cost, etc., etc., – is this the way ‘just as it should be?’

How can I sit on the sidelines and watch stories like young Brishan a 10 year old rape survivor who is under the threat of an honor killing, one exposed brutality amongst the many millions and think that everything is just the way it should be?

Have I no duty towards the world that I co-create in its beauty and chaos equally? Is that statement a shield that acts as a protection for  my ‘self’ from the pain in the world even as I feel helpless in the face of observed cruelties?

I went for a walk with the statement again, trying not to passively accept the ‘Law of Karma’ as an answer that my anguished mind was readily willing to declare as a solution so it can avoid the pain.

“Yes, everything is just as it should be” it tried to reassure me.  “Don’t you remember what Lord Krishna said in Bhagavad Gita, Not even a blade of grass moves without my will, don’t you remember that?” it asked.  And then my mind continued to give me a sermon over concepts that I have fed it over the years.  “They are reaping their past life karma, the victim in this life must have been the perpetrator of crime in another lifetime and the cycle continues…you see..” the superiority with which it gave me the ready made book answers was irritating.

But, I argued, what is my duty in all this?  As a citizen of the world am I to just accept that theory and not act?  What am I supposed to do?

Silence…

I was on the main street by now, towards the Airport and a Reserve along the mighty Murray River.  There were a few cars going past, perhaps to work.  Sun was up, clear blue skies and crisp morning air, we are going through the last of the colds that enter in the middle of spring, determined to keep us from feeling warm and comfortable so soon.  The forklift driver at the nursery and garden shop was shifting pots from inside to display out on the pavement for gardeners that will arrive soon looking to beautify their patches that give them pleasure.

Everything is just the way it should be, or is it? What does it mean?

My footsteps made the Ibis fly away from its slumber in the marsh next to the bridge over the creek. Two ducks hurriedly moved out of my way continuing to pick the unseen worms from the damp earth.

I was struggling to think that I have no role to play in the events of life other than be a silent spectator if I accepted that statement.  Wouldn’t that helpless acceptance of a statement cause indifference and apathy? Am I just living day to day caught in my mundane survival oscillating between my own pain and pleasure, busy, oblivious to the world, only ‘tch tch-ing’ at the horrid images that flick past my screen for a moment or two and then quickly forgetting because there is nothing I can do so why bother?  because Everything everywhere is just as it should be – right?

A brown Honey eater flew from out of the tree, swooped onto the road a few meters ahead of me and with its sharp beak picked up a flirting butterfly.  The wings of the butterfly fluttered for a while as the wings of the bird carried it away with its prized catch – food, life, sustenance to one; pain and death to the other.

The earth rotates causing cycles of weather, day and night.  Life follows by death follows by life – regardless of whether I question or demand or pain over its course. Human emotions too recycle don’t they, collecting and discarding – hinging their survival on the intervals of happiness between pleasure and pain? Yes, true, but, the question still lingered in my mind worried that accepting that statement will make me an apathetic and indifferent spectator of my life and in the world.

I looked ahead and there was my answer, looking back at me, standing tall, strong, unmovable and firmly grounded – a thirty plus feet tall Gum Tree.

GumTree

My mind went into a scramble – “but,but, how, are you mad, but, how is it an answer?” It was incoherent even as my heart expanded in full knowing and said ‘YES’

There is the answer for ‘not why everything is just as it should be’, but for ‘what is my role in life if everything is just as it should be.’

My role like the tree is to be a witness to everything, even as I am fulfilling the duties assigned to me. A tree stands tall, firm, takes CO2 and releases Oxygen, gives shade and shelter to good and bad alike, sheds its weight without complaining even as it shines its smooth inner surface silently, unaffected, calm, grounded, witnessing everything around even as it performs its duty with complete acceptance.TreeBark

I have/We all have the same capacity – to be a witness, encircled by smooth and rough events and continue to do our assigned duties with love and without complaints so our inner beauty radiates with kindness and compassion in all its splendor.

Confused..don’t you see, that is exactly what David Whyte is saying – whether I feel guilty or worry over things in my life or pain over events of the world, things continue.  Everything is just the way it should be.  That’s a given.  My guilt and worry causes pain to me and does not alter a thing.  Being aware of that and accepting the cycles of life and death and everything in between, and, doing my duty a 110% with love is the only thing I can do.

When I am a witness, my creative capacity is enhanced because I am not caught in the cycle of pain and pleasure and become immobilized. When I am creative, I find solutions for problems.  If not solutions, at least I am capable of sending pure thoughts and intentions towards victims and perpetrators of crime at the same time.  Even as I remove myself from the drama, I can be the strength for the others as they come to lean on that strength.  I become selfless in everything I say and do.

In this witness mode and with complete acceptance of things just the way they are, the statement – “Everything Everywhere Is Just As It Should Be” helps me meet life with reverence and gratitude as a blanket of peace settles over me fr0m which rises grounded and constructive action.

Yes, Everything Everywhere Is Just As It Should Be.  Do you agree or do you think otherwise? Please drop a line, would love to hear your thoughts.

Until next time

Regards

With Love and Respect

Padma Ayyagari

 

How To Avoid The Emotional Roller Coaster……


English: Roller coaster in Xetululu, Guatemala
English: Roller coaster in Xetululu, Guatemala (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Do you feel angry, upset, sad one minute and excited, happy and joyful the next?

Do you feel bored, hopeless one day and full of inspiration and hope the next?

I do…

We all do…ride on the emotional roller coaster and go round and round on a regular basis if not on a daily basis.  UPpppp we go only to come down and again rise upppppp and come downnnnnnnn.

Over and over, again and again, the thrill that we get of being on that roller coaster is what we call life even though it churns our insides out and almost spills.  Most of the time, we catch the spills before they spill, and yet other times we just let the spills out like a broken water hydrant.

We tell ourselves not to feel THAT way, we beg others NOT to feel THAT way, THAT way being – angry, sad, upset, frustrated, jealous, bored, anxious, envious, angry…..on and on it goes like I am here right now.

Can anyone tell us how to or how not to feel? Can we stop ourselves from feeling? I guess we will be 6 feet under, the day we stop feeling.

Feelings are the natural expressions of emotions.  We cannot stop having them.  No one can tell us how to feel one way or the other. So, why do we have such reactions to our feelings?

If we cannot stop having the feelings, what matters then is what we do with them – does it not?

Our feelings need not be given expression, they can just sit within us as we acknowledge and acept them, certainly other people should not be the targets of our feelings.

As we acknowledge our feelings without judgment, they dissipate.  Feelings persist stubbornly because we don’t acknowledge them with complete acceptance.  The moment I feel something like anger or jealousy, I tell myself that “I shouldn’t be like that”, or that “it is wrong to feel that way” or “it is not nice to think like that”.

Feelings are like children.  When we ask a child “not to do something”, that is the exact thing they attempt to do.  Same with feelings.  When we say “Don’t feel that way”, the intensity of the feeling increases or gets suppressed and pushed down, never acknowledged and never accepted.  When enough layers are built, there will be no room left, so they spill out, usually as attacks on somebody.  Once purged, we carry on until the next layers build.  We have never processed them properly and given them a rightful place.

Feelings are as natural as breathing.  We don’t say it is wrong to breathe heavily, laboriously or smoothly.  We accept our changing breathing patterns without questioning.  So why don’t we accept our feelings without questioning ‘why’ or putting a judgment on them?

If we accept our feelings without questioning, they disappear as fast as they arise.  When I am angry, saying “I am angry” is enough.  It doesn’t have to be “angry at..” or “angry because…”.

I always have a choice of how I act or react with my feelings.

Reaction is the unfortunate accepted norm of society.  In reaction there is blame and judgment.  In action there is acknowledgment, acceptance and compassion.  So there is nothing inherently wrong in feelings.  It is how we express them that causes conflict – conflict within ourselves and with others.

Feelings arise.  We accept the feeling that has risen with no judgment.  Solutions appear.

Creation happens from acceptance.  

Acceptance requires Self-Love.

Do you love yourself enough to acknowledge your rising feelings without judgment and guilt or ridicule…

Next time you are feeling whatever — angry, sad, upset, anxious – try just saying “I am (feeling word)” and accept it completely without naming and blaming the cause or the causer and see what happens… You will be surprised.

Would you like to try? I would love to hear the results. Share them here.

Until next week…

With Love and Respect

Padma Ayyagari

 

 

The Greatest Gift that We can give……….


Christmas gifts.

 

Festive season is over.  New year had begun.  It will be a while before the gift giving frenzy starts.  Some decide it is too much to give gifts and not give at all.  Others do ‘chris cringles’, select one person to give, and yet others give everybody either happily or begrudgingly. However,  during the lead up to Christmas just about everyone has this exasperated sigh in their conversation – “I haven’t even started my Christmas shopping yet”, “I don’t know what to give”, “I might just give a gift card or money, they can get what they want”… etc., etc,

 

Is gift giving a token gesture or is it more than that? Why do we give gifts anyway? Can we be unacceptable to each other during the entire year and expect to change that through a token gesture? Lot of questions that I am sure we ponder upon every year during the festive season.

 

We all want to do the best for the other.  We want to give as giving is our nature.

 

Did you ever stop to think of the greatest gift that we can ever give to each other? Is there such a thing as greatest gift?

 

Yes there is…

 

The greatest gift that we can give is…….

 

“Allowing others TO BE….”

 

Sad, Mad or Glad;

 

Silly or Jolly;

 

Content or Discontent;

 

or any number of combinations that we find expressed as human nature.

 

Allowing others TO BE, without judgment, criticisms, opinions, approval, disapproval etc., etc, is the greatest gift we can give each other.

 

Why is this a greatest gift? 

 

Because

 

1.  It maintains human harmony.

 

2.  It maintains personal health.  When we have no judgments on others, we have no issues with our emotional status ( no imbalance). Emotional imbalance is a primary cause for dis-ease.

 

3.  It brings social cohesion through transparency. Allowing others ‘TO BE’ helps them to make choices freely.  As people can relate to us as they are, our friendships improve.  Others find it comfortable to be in our presence.

 

4.  This gift has no ‘expiry date’ or ‘return policy’ and is perpetual as well as refreshingly new each time.

 

Is it easy to give a gift?

 

Yes, only if we are comfortable in who we are.

 

Often, we judge in others what we find in ourselves as unacceptable.  Our disappointments and frustrations increase as our expectations are not met and we end up withdrawing Love or limiting our love.

 

When we are comfortable in our own skin and have accepted ourselves completely and unconditionally, then we have the capacity to accept the other completely and unconditionally.  We do this well with strangers but often fail to do this with people who are close to us.

 

The key to get to this state of being is to acknowledge the source of power within, which is the same in everyone and ignore the outer boundaries or shells.  The source within wants only one thing – to express itself grandly.  That expression is only possible when we allow it through acceptance.

 

If it is such an easy to give gift, why do we hesitate to do so…

 

because we are not taught how to do this.  We are living and growing in times where blame is the name of the game and expecting everybody else to change is the rule to win the game.  Allowing others ‘to be’ is a threat to our identity.  We exclusively talk about being inclusive. The distinctive differences in appearances firmly keep us entrenched in our ‘us’ and ‘them’ thinking and we poke our heads through our silos and extend our hands over to make friendships.  We ‘tolerate’ each other than ‘understand’ each other.  Tolerance hardens the walls of the silos whilst understanding makes them porous.

 

What can we do to promote ‘understanding and acceptance’

 

When we put ourselves in the other’s shoes and judge our actions against that background, understanding will improve and acceptance follows when we are being ourselves.

 

So, the the greatest gift that we can give others is allowing them TO BE and the key to do this is to be understanding and accepting of ourselves as we are.

 

Isn’t that a double pronged gift?

 

What do you think?

 

Agree or disagree – leave a comment. Would love to hear from you.

 

Until Next Week

 

With Love and Respect

 

Padma Ayyagari

 

PS: New Year resolution of mine to write this blog once a week and post every Saturday. I know today is Sunday, I missed it because I wasn’t well yesterday.  But I intend to keep to this schedule of posting every Saturday and I hope you will join me on Saturday’s.  Your suggestions on topics also is most welcome.