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

 

Are You Doing Your DUTY???? Or…….


English: The inscription says: "Our holy ...
English: The inscription says: “Our holy obligation is to reach a helping hand to the brotherly peoples “. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Is DUTY a loaded word for You? Do you ever ask that of yourself? Is that a question that ever plagues you?

It does me…

I constantly ask myself – ” Am I doing my duty?” “Am I doing my right duty?” Questions that poke me, make me reflect and agonize over sometimes.

Do you know what exactly “Duty” means?

Duty is derived from “Right-Conduct” which is a very lose translation of the Sanskrit word “Dharma”.  Duty is attached to every role we play in life.  I have a duty as a Daughter, Wife, Mother, Grand Mother, Friend, Employee, Employer, a Citizen – every role we play, every hat we wear comes with a set of terms and conditions relating to that role.

Duty is not limited to people.  Wetness is the duty of Water, Heat is the duty of Fire, and when those elements perform contrary to their duty – things start to go wrong.

Whilst Duty is a synonym for Obligation, Duty is more than Obligation.  Obligation can be externally imposed and Duty is intrinsic to our nature.

Performing my duty in an obligatory way can be devoid of love.  Anything done without love will soon become an obligation, an imposition, a chore that we come to resent. What would be the result of doing something out of resentment? I begin to regret my actions. It eats me and the  build up is hazardous for  my health and detrimental to the health of my surrounds.  

Sathya Sai Baba says,

“Duty without Love is deplorable;

Duty with Love is Human;

Love without Duty is Divine”

Now we all teeter between the first two statements, performing our duty with and without love.  We generally perform our duty with love when it comes to family and friends and perhaps even our jobs.  There are certain duties that we perform without love – cleaning in my case.

But what does it mean to Love without Duty?  

Is it possible to love something or someone knowing that we have no obligation to do so, knowing that we are not bound by duty to love?

How would that look? Would that be spontaneous actions? Would that be responding rather than reacting? Would Love without Duty show up as kindness, empathy, caring?

We can easily do those things with nature, animals and children. But when it comes to extending love without a duty to adults, we struggle.

Why is it easy to love a child or a puppy spontaneously without hesitation?

I think we can do that because we have no preconceived ideas about who they are other than what we see in front of us – little bundles of innocence, joy and purity and we get drawn to those qualities instantly.  Whereas when we come in front of adults our previous interactions are the first ones that jump into our minds before we even finished saying hello and those interactions color our greeting instantaneously.

We put people in pigeon holes and expect them to stay there, forgetting that people change all the time.  Our sense of security is threatened when a person acts differently to how we know them to be.

Those colored perceptions and judgments make us forget to look at the intrinsic beauty, innocence and purity of each human being.  

Result – at best we are polite or walk away, at worst we clash openly, with hostility. And of course, we regret later and agonize over our actions.

So how is Love without Duty possible?

Every time we come across somebody we picture them as a child, innocent and exuberant brimming with pure joy.  We deliberately not let our previous interactions color our perceptions in the moment.

It is very difficult to do that especially when we know we are wronged by someone.  Remembering that they are doing their ‘duty without love’ and therefore their actions are deplorable  will help in separating the person from the action.

If water catches fire, we put the fire out and move on, we don’t condemn water for its action.

Separating people from actions and labeling the actions help us to interact with love and compassion. It is a deliberate, constant and continuous practice.

Ultimately ‘Love without Duty’ is the only balm that would heal the wounds and the only obligation we have in order to create peace within us and in our society.

What do you think? Do you agree or disagree?

Would love to hear your comments.

Until next time

With Love and Respect

Padma Ayyagari

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the 21st Century malaise – Do You Know What It Is?


Tantek Multitasking
Tantek Multitasking (Photo credit: Thomas Hawk)

There are many things that are affecting our life styles in this 21st Century.  Life is made easy in many ways through technological advancements.  We are able to connect with each other in many different ways across the continents, instantaneously and many of us have begun to love that instant socialising and communication whilst trying to keep up with a multitude of activities – ‘at the same time’.

We ‘Multi-task’.

This advances in technology, this need to be connected all the time and this urgency to stay on top of everything we have to do – is it taking its toll?

Are we half dabbling in a dozen activities whilst the mind is constantly racing to keep up?  Our bodies are getting tired and sick  in keeping up with the mind too.

Multi-tasking — we worship that and take pride in it.  I am able to hold a conversation on the phone and Face Book simultaneously with people thousands of miles away from me and also check my emails and browse for what I will be cooking tonight whilst doodling with one hand.  My hands, ears, eyes and mouth all are engaged in doing different things at the same time.

Now that is something to marvel about, no doubt and it may be useful – but what is the price we are paying in doing that?  I can speak for myself, others experience might be different.  In multi-tasking to that extent, my productivity snow dived and my anxiety heightened.

New equation:  MT = <P >A

Result – constant scurrying from multiple unfinished tasks and suffering relationships as active listening has taken back stage.  I have become BUSY

Is it possible for us to attend to one task at a time without the pull and push of the mind?  If so how do we go about it?

Right now I have stumbled to write the next sentence and my mind quickly jumped to rescue me by trying to convince me that I can browse for the meaning of a word or check my email which I only did – like 10 minutes ago before I started writing.

Does it sound familiar to you?

So how do we not multi task?  There are  number of tricks and tips proposed on how to keep away from all of these and concentrate.  There is the word – “Concentrate”, the key to anything worthy of accomplishment.

Sanskrit language uses a word to describe Concentration, but it is more than Concentration.  EKAGRATA (EK – A – GRA – TA) meaning “One-Pointed Attention”, concentrating and paying complete undivided attention to one thing at a time.

Actually that word is used in the context of the ultimate goal of a human life which is ‘attaining liberation’.  Lord Krishna says to Arjuna in the battlefield delivering his ultimate song – The Bhagavad Gita, that whosoever puts their ‘one pointed attention’ on God and carry out their tasks shall attain liberation.

Whilst that is the ultimate goal of human life, to me it translates incrementally.

Liberation for me right now is having an uncluttered mind, a mind that is calm and peaceful and not jumping from tree to tree like a  mad monkey.

That is possible if I put all my attention on the task at hand and ignore the push and pull and the urges of the mind that makes something else look more attractive than what I am currently doing.

Easy said isn’t it?  Well, we got to learn to trick the trickster with its own tricks, don’t we?

How do we do it?  How do we stay on one task at a time until completion, completely focused and 100% attentive to it alone.

I came across this article on Zenhabits called “A primer of full screen living”.  I encourage you to read the article.  It makes sense and actually gives a handle on how to…. live doing one task at a time

I have been using that in the last week and actually accomplished more and feel less pulled and stressed and worried.

Multi-tasking may work but it works at a price – a heavy price of our health.  80% of diseases have their origin in the mind says Sai Baba.  It makes sense to me. If multi-tasking is actually making my life more busy and worrisome and if worry is the root cause of many diseases, it makes sense to not do that.

I actually found that ‘One-Pointed Attention’ to the task at hand brings peace and satisfaction.

Try it.

Live one full screen at a time because you can convince your mind quite easily that after this screen fills, the next screen can appear and you go from one completed task to another smoothly without the temptation of attending to several open screens at the same time.

Believe me, ‘One Pointed Attention’  makes you feel happy, peaceful and content.

As much as we like to believe we are designed to multi-task, we are not.

So, Ekagrata is my new mantra.

Will it be yours too? Would love to know what you think of this…Drop a line in

Until next time

With Love and Respect

Padma Ayyagari

 

“So, What Do You Do……….”


Question mark
Question mark (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is a common question asked at every social setting when we meet somebody new.

A loaded question that makes one decide our Belonging, Relational Status, Placement and Standing in Society.

A question that makes some stand tall and proud, some stay neutral and yet others crouch low in answering.   A question that makes one gloat or cringe, or stutter and stumble.  It is a question – the answer of which immediately categorizes me in  the other’s eyes.  A question potentially filled with judgment.

Voluntarily or involuntarily, knowingly or unknowingly, we all are culprits of that.  We ask that question and within a split second make a comparison and decide who we are and what we are in relation to each other.  Some cultures condition their members to interact with each other solely on the nature of what one does for a living.

Why is that question so important? Why does the answer to that question give rise to such mixed emotions in people?  Why is ‘Doing’ so important?

The ‘How are You’ question which gives rise to  ‘Being’ answers are briefly addressed unless one is chronically sick- then the ‘Doing’ questions take prominence.

We tend to place our entire worth on ‘Doing’.  People ‘doing’ meaningful and high end professions derive immediate respect from the inquirer and vice versa. Depending on the answer, we either become respectful or awkwardly polite.  Our bodies, heads, chairs lean towards the ones that we value as more – more educated (translates to number of degrees or the type of qualification), more wealthy (the type of profession or business), better dressed etc., The open or subtle “Ah’s” and “oh’s” we express say a lot.  This is more obvious in certain cultures and countries than the others.  We all become like birds -birds of the same flock………

Is this discrimination – albeit subtle?

A simple question, casually asked can arouse such a variety of responses with such a mixture of emotions that we suppress and try and act normal. We place each other in relation to one another depending on what we do for a living.  That placement, even if it is not  malicious in its intent, gives a sense of ‘Relative Belonging’ and that is important to each one of us.  Some have beautifully scripted responses full of confidence, yet others have awkward stumbling over almost apologetic responses to that question.   Regardless of societies and cultures, no matter how egalitarian one proclaims to be, this happens.

So, What do You Do………….

Will this change?  Can this change?

Can we all stand shoulder to shoulder and proudly announce what we do and acknowledge that every profession regardless of the status quo attached to it, is like a tiny screw in a huge rocket.  One misplaced or missing screw can bring the entire rocket down.  We understand that with objects. Why can’t we understand that in human relationships?

We all are interconnected.  We are ‘Human Beings’, not ‘Human Doings’.

We know that intellecutally, but to live that in reality is another entire story.  We judge ourselves before anybody else does.

Is a Doctor’s service better than a Taxi Driver’s? Is a Surgeon’s knife more noble than a Soldier’s?  Does a person who drives computers deserve more respect than a person who cleans toilets?  Is a Scientist who invents better than a Chef who creates? Where is the need for comparisons?

We need Surgeons and Soldiers, Chef’s and Scientists. We need Drivers – of all sorts – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. We need creatives of all sorts – Scientists, Artiists, Writers, Chefs.

We cannot live without any of these services and yet we measure, weigh, compare, judge and put a value and then act.  This happens in a split second.  We tend to know a person through what they do first and then based on that judgment, if we choose to continue our relationship we will eventually see beyond  – to the real ‘Being’ behind the ‘Doing’.

Is it possible to stop this at all? Is it possible to truly stand next to each other and proclaim it doesn’t matter what we do, we are one because we are human ‘Beings’ first and foremost.  Then comes the ‘Doing’.

We may not discriminate on the color, the cast, the creed, the culture, the race, the gender etc, but we tend to instantly discriminate on the grounds of what we do.  Call it what you may, but the Relational Comparison happens and based on that we take on our Society Conditioned Identities.

The day when we make our ‘Being’ as our exclusive identity and not our ‘Doing’, that’s the day when we will stop discriminating completely.  We may have to come up with new answers to that question –

“So, What do you do………” .

May be the answer can be “I am Being  Doctor, Driver, Plumber, Chef…….” etc.,

Will a ‘Being…. a profession’ response change how we feel about ourselves and about each other? Will that remove the layers that we surround ourselves with and the walls that we erect between us?

I think so. We need to urgently change the language that we use in our conversations. Only then believable change can happen.

What do you think?

I am interested to know what your response would be to that question.  Please drop in your comments.

Until next time

With Love and Respect

Padma Ayyagari

Doubting Creativity?


 

An Open Letter to the Creator…………

 

What is Creation?  What is Creativity?

 

creation of man

 

Is it limited to one form? Is it defined by one means?

Creativity is the spontaneous expression of the beauty of Creator through the Creation.

I am Your creation and I use the talent You created me with to express my creativity.  That creativity takes shape in many different forms just like Your creation has. From small insignificant thoughts to large definitive forms of artwork as in Writing, Drawing, Painting, Poetry, Sculpting, Gardening etc.,etc., ,

Every moment I live, I am engaged in creating – nothing necessarily new and there definitely is nothing original.  It may be recycled ideas but the form I give, the shape I define for those ideas, the medium I use are mine and mine only, just like You and Your Creation.  Just like You, I create to enjoy myself and in that process if it gives enjoyment to others, so be it.

My creativity is unique to me and there is no one else in this world of 6.5 billion people who thinks, acts, works, or lives like me.  I am unique and so is each one of the 6.5 billion people.  When we see Your creation so magnificiently displayed in all its varied colors, textures, shapes and sizes, where is the room for comparison?  Where would comparisons begin and end? Why do we even try to compare, measure, judge and place a value accordingly?

 

I am a creative just like You.  I have every capacity to create just like you.  How can I only be wrong, bad, stupid, ignorant or only be beautiful, elegant, brilliant and good?  I am not exclusively any of these.  I am all of these at the same time and You gave me the power to choose what I would display in any given moment.  You have hidden all these in me and I choose to show/think only one side instead of reveling in the mixed colors that I am.  My palette is full of color not just one color and help me mix those colors so I can display them in all their glory without judgment or attachment.

Each human being is unique and different like snowflakes.

Creation – a marvelous expression of who I am in every given moment.

I feel expansive just thinking and writing this.  Help me live in this expansive state and appreciate Your creative work that I see all around me including myself.