At Home With Faith


“You, estranged from yourself,

Short-sighted turtle looking for home,

Be home to yourself.” – Norita Dittberner-Jay 

Growing up as a child, I was at home in the faith tradition of orthodox Hinduism followed by my parents.  Every time I remember my childhood home, I can hear the tinkling bells from the prayer room accompanied by the voice of my father chanting sacred Vedic texts, wafts of incense perfume filling the home along with mum’s cooking smells.  I also hear the regular chanting of groups of people gathered to celebrate various religious occasions – one in particular, Maha Shivrathri – worshiping of Lord Shiva, a tradition that still continues among my brothers.

These rituals gave me a sense of belonging to a tribe, and the security that a tribal belonging gives is vital for healthy development.  I did not know then whether that faith tradition fitted me well, nor did I know that would be even a question to raise at all.  It was a trusting acceptance of what was offered which created a very external relationship with God.

At the same time I was growing up with friends who belonged to other faith traditions.  As I had a firm sense of belonging, I was able to readily accept the others’ faith as equal to mine and never would even think of questioning the different practices. My faith at that point was that of blind acceptance and obedience, which did not estrange me from myself but then I didn’t know who I am either or where and what true home is.

As an adult settling into life, one can get estranged from faith completely forming allegiances to different tribes like sporting clubs, academics, work related, consumerist traditions or even the extremes of belonging to tribes that support addiction of all sorts from alcohol to drugs. This is an attempt to find a home, a sense of belonging.

Conversely, one can become more blindly steeped in faith, driven by the desire to meet and allay the fears of living, whether it be health, money or children and family. Faith becomes a bargaining tool – “ I will offer You X, if You grant me Y” – kind of a transaction based relationship with God.

My faith was in this latter category for a long time after I left my childhood home.  Whilst there was faith in my own capabilities to make a living, there was no sense of who I was or where I belonged, particularly after leaving the comforting and familiar sounds, sights and smells of where you come from originally and attempt to settle in a land that is different right down to the color of my skin let alone habits, culture and traditions.

Faith can and will take a major turn along with the changing circumstances and crucial mile stones of life – either one becomes fanatically fundamental, fearfully religious or abandon every known aspect of their own faith and attempt to adapt to the borrowed popular culture.  This only removes one further and further away from oneself.

At this point it is vital to embrace Faith as a verb of Trust – a trust not just in the capabilities and skills that one has to make a living but a trust in oneself as a limb of the universe along with all the branches that emerge from one solid trunk rooted firmly into the ground.

How is that trust possible without developing an individual relationship with faith and deeply examine own beliefs grown out of the tribal culture?  How can we develop a relationship with ourselves so we have a better fit with our inner self and soul?

These became the questions for me as I was actively seeking to understand faith and my belonging.  Fortunately for me, I found a trustworthy place for my soul – mind you, it initially started as belonging to a tribe that does familiar things like devotional singing and chanting.  I still continue those practices but as I progress with the teachings, I understand that Faith is nothing but ‘Love in Action’.

Love in Action includes extending love and acceptance to myself as much as I would to others, knowing that I am but a branch of a tree rooted to the ground or that I am one of the many stars hanging from the same sky. This knowledge helped me grow my sense of belonging with my inner self which is but the piece of the sky or the trunk of the tree.

I can totally relate to Poet Hafiz’s beautiful poem ‘No More Leaving’

At

Some point

Your relationship

With God

Will

Become like this

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

God will climb into

Your pocket.

 You will simply just take

 Yourself

 Along!

When I simply just take myself along with God in my pocket, Faith becomes an act of surrender to the greater knowing within, a trust in the universe that gives a sense of belonging, being at home with myself  or as Sharon Salzberg says – A Homing Instinct.

What or where is your Faith?

Until next time

With Love and Respect

Padma Ayyagari

How Do I Surrender – Part II


Surrendering
Surrendering (Photo credit: adrenalin)

Continuing from last week,  here is Part II on How To Surrender.

 

Surrender is the Ore that guides the boat of our life through the waves of Joy & Sorrow, Pain & Pleasure, without overturning. So, the question remains, what am I surrendering and who am I surrendering to?

 

Knowing that I have no other obligation than to perform my duty a 100%, I relinquish the right to the results of  my actions.  The expectations that I have – of looking forward to favorable results, and not accepting anything else without a fight, is the root cause for the unstable bouncing around within my head screaming at pain and yelling with joy.

 

I am a Yo-Yo dancing with the pull and push of life.

 

If I want peace of mind, an equilibrium and a constancy to my life, then Surrender is the answer.  Surrender means Freedom.  Freedom from ‘i’, ‘my’, ‘mine’, ‘my own’, ‘you’, ‘your’, ‘yours’ etc.,  these ideas divide and rule thus affecting peace and equanimity.

 

In order to relinquish these ideas, I need to fill myself with Love, a Love that emanates from the depths of my heart in the knowledge that the same core that drives me is in the others as well and that fundamentally we all are equal.

 

That Love then results in Faith, a Faith that no matter what  life is throwing at me, I will survive.

 

When Love and Faith are combined, Devotion rises. Devotion not necessarily oriented towards any one particular person or thing or concept, but Devotion towards everything I see and do with a steady flow of love.

 

When I am steeped in Devotion arising from Love and Faith, I reside in and act from my heart, therefore everything I do will be an act of surrender as my mind calmly observes without being a participant.  Things happen around me.  I will still go through pleasure and pain etc., but they do not touch my equilibrium.

 

That is the theory.

 

In practice…… well, there is a very big curtain between my ego and the real me.  As the curtain covers the real me, doubts and confusion ravage me and the flow of love is not continuous and inclusive. I cannot surrender.

 

This curtain is only as long as the distance between my head and heart, yet, I go so far away searching how to remove this curtain.

 

How do I remove this curtain?

 

When I connect to my breath, when I breathe deeply and sink into that breath completely, it gently lifts the curtain to reveal my Heart Centre.  As my head fades into the background even momentarily in the soft breeze of my breath, I become aware of my Heart Centre glowing softly in its radiance ready to guide me gently.

 

When I act from this awareness, my troubles seem trivial and a new strength arises with renewed hope, zeal and enthusiasm.  I have connected with Love.  With that connection, if I remind  myself ‘this too shall pass’, I regain my equanimity and that is Surrender.  I am not relinquishing my power to someone outside of me.

 

‘i’ am surrendering to “I”, the ‘I’ that is in me shining, waiting patiently to be connected to, so it can breathe its reassurance that I am eternal no matter what and ‘i’ just have to accept as ‘I’ show up, with Love, Faith and Devotion and without guilt and worry.

 

As Lao Tzu says:

 

“If you are depressed, you are living in the past;

 

If you are anxious, you are living in the future;

 

If you are at peace, you are living in the present.”

 

Deep, conscious breathing brings us back into the present moment and as I live in the present moment with complete awareness

 

‘i’ am surrendering to ‘I’ and in that Surrender is the greatest Freedom because everything ‘i’ experience (good or bad) is a gift from ‘I’.

 

What do you think? Is it as simple? It can be and often it is……

 

Try and let me know.

 

Until next time, don’t forget to Breathe……….deeply

 

With Love and Respect

 

Padma Ayyagari

 

The One Statement That Will Avoid A Ton Of Pain…..


English: Illustration of the pain pathway in R...
(Illustration of the pain pathway in René Descartes’ traite de l’homme (Treatise of Man) 1664.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We are surrounded by pain and suffering in this world, ours and others.  We cannot escape it.  From dis-ease to death and everything in between, suffering is a huge part of our lives.  Financial problems, relationship problems, health problems, deaths, accidents at a personal level; war, poverty, drought, famine, floods, earthquakes that cause pain and suffering at a larger scale, we are surrounded by it.  

In fact some would say that suffering IS life as the face of pleasures remain in distant future glowing in the darkness of suffering.  Some pain is more severe than the others, nevertheless, my pain always causes more suffering to me.  We get attached to our personal stories and want answers even as doubts and anxiety rage our minds.

However, there is ONE Statement when lived can help us navigate through pain and suffering more easily.  That statement does not alter the reality of any situation, but it helps in shifting my perception of the situation.

Want to know what that statement is?

“Whatever is happening in my life is life’s gift to me…”

If we believe in God, rephrasing the sentence would read…

“Everything that is happening is God’s gift to me…..”

I think Life, God, Love are interchangeable terms,  Even when one does not believe in God, one does not negate Life or Love.

So, “Whatever is happening in my life is life’s gift to me..”

What happens when we live in that thought and with that statement completely?

  • A calmness descends with that acceptance even as things around us get turbulent
  • We become objective therefore get clarity in our thinking.
  • We witness events whilst being part of the events
  • We are not in pain.
  • We become proactive.
  • We don’t get depressed and take a ride on an emotional roller coaster.
  • We become grounded with enhanced awareness that gives presence.
  • We are present in the Now.
  • Eventually, we live in equanimity regardless of what is happening.

Is it really possible to live with that thought?  

I have personally navigated through illness, accidents, financial problems, relationship problems etc., using that statement as my anchor.  So I can say, Yes, it is possible to live with that thought and achieve all of the above.  Generally we are wise in hindsight.  Hindsight reflections almost always point out that the seemingly worst thing that had happened in one’s life was actually a gift as the person has gained something from that experience.

I know it is hard to believe that, especially if the pain is due to the departure of a loved one – timely or untimely.  Major pain like that cannot be easily silenced with a simplistic sounding statement.  But most of the time what we put ourselves through and the resulting pain can be alleviated as we shift our perception.

When we accept everything as a gift, we are actually removing ourselves as the central part of an unfolding story.  When “I” am not the main character in a story, I can get detached and become a curious spectator, especially when I don’t know the ending of the story and not trying hard to steer it towards a particular ending I want.

Life takes turns and twists and the best outcome will surface regardless of we are acting in it absorbed or become spectators even whilst acting it out.  A tad of separation creates that distance and we can become objective witnesses.  That detaches us from pain and gives us the capacity to completely accept what is happening.

“Whatever is happening in my life is life’s gift to me…”

Try that line of thinking.  Make it a moment to moment reality and accept whatever is happening.  It will sure avoid a ton of pain.

As Sai Baba said, that statement is the clutch that shifts the gear of happiness and sorrow smoothly, because accepting everything that is happening as life/God’s gift is the true name of Surrender.

Do you agree?

Are you willing to try? Share your experiences.  Would love to know.

Until next week

With Love and Respect

Padma Ayyagari

 

How do I Surrender – Part II


A Love Heart with the "I Surrender" ...

Surrender is the Ore that guides the boat of our life through the waves of Joy & Sorrow, Pain & Pleasure, without overturning. So, what am I surrendering and who am I surrendering to?

Knowing that my duty ends with performance and I have no other obligation than to perform my duty 100%, I relinquish the right to the results of  my actions.  The expectation of looking forward to results going in the direction that I want and not accepting anything else without a fight is the root cause for the unstable bouncing around within my head screaming at pain and yelling with joy. I am a Yo-Yo dancing with the pull and push of life.

If I want peace of mind, an equilibrium and a constancy to my life, then Surrender is the answer.  Surrender means Freedom.  Freedom from ‘i’, ‘my’, ‘mine’, ‘my own’, ‘you’, ‘your’, ‘yours’ etc.,  these ideas divide and rule thus affecting peace and equanimity.

In order to relinquish these ideas, I need to fill myself with Love, a Love that emanates from the depths of my heart in the knowledge that the same core that drives me is in the others as well and that fundamentally we all are equal. That Love then results in Faith, a Faith that no matter what  life is throwing at me, I will survive.

When Love and Faith are combined, Devotion rises. Devotion not necessarily oriented towards any one particular person or thing or concept, but Devotion towards everything I see and do with a steady flow of love.

When I am steeped in Devotion arising from Love and Faith, I reside in and act from my heart, therefore everything I do will be an act of surrender as my mind calmly observes without being a participant.  Things happen around me.  I will still go through pleasure and pain etc., but they do not touch my equilibrium.

That is the theory.  In practice…… well, there is a very big curtain between my ego and the real me.  As the curtain covers the real me, doubts and confusion ravage me and the flow of love is not continuous and inclusive. I cannot surrender.  This curtain is only as long as the distance between my head and heart, yet, I go so far away searching how to remove this curtain.

How do I remove this curtain?  When I connect to my breath, when I breathe deeply and sink into that breath completely, it gently lifts the curtain to reveal my Heart Centre.  As my head fades into the background even momentarily in the soft breeze of my breath, I become aware of my Heart Centre glowing softly in its radiance ready to guide me gently.

When I act from this awareness, my troubles seem trivial and a new strength arises with renewed hope, zeal and enthusiasm.  I have connected with Love.  With that connection, if I remind  myself ‘this too shall pass’, I regain my equanimity and that is Surrender.  I am not relinquishing my power to someone outside of me.

‘i’ am surrendering to “I”, the ‘I’ that is in me shining, waiting patiently to be connected to, so it can breathe its reassurance that I am eternal no matter what and ‘i’ just have to accept as ‘I’ show up, with Love, Faith and Devotion and without guilt and worry.

As Lao Tzu says:

“If you are depressed, you are living in the past;

If you are anxious, you are living in the future;

If you are at peace, you are living in the present.”

Deep, conscious breathing brings us back into the present moment and as I live in the present moment with complete awareness

‘i’ am surrendering to ‘I’ and in that Surrender is the greatest Freedom because everything ‘i’ experience (good or bad) is a gift from ‘I’.

What do you think? Is it as simple? It can be and often it is……

Try and let me know.

Until next time, don’t forget to Breathe……….deeply

With Love and Respect

Padma Ayyagari

How do I Surrender – Part I


A Love Heart with the "I Surrender" ...

“Surrender” – supposedly a highest spiritual concept, throws many people off, making them hold & clutch even more tightly to what they have, feel, do and experience through struggles, despite struggles.

“Surrender” –  is a loaded word.

Does Surrender mean –

  • I put a stop to my doing?
  • Inactive navel gazing waiting for the final moment to arrive?
  • Losing control?
  • Gutless, Spineless and Passionless?
  • Inactive and Indifferent?
  • Losing my identity and  becoming this nameless, formless blob like Jello, waiting to be shaped, molded and tossed around?

Is my identity and existence only palpable through life’s anxieties, worries, pains, disappointments as well as felt joy, happiness and passion?

What am I surrendering, who am I surrendering to?

These questions rise like a tidal wave of resistance from within at the mere mention of the word.

Surrender means relinquishing and the popular way of defining it is as a defeat.  The normal understanding of the word ‘surrender’ is that you give up because you can’t win.  It creates a defeatist attitude.  Now, we as a species do not like the word ‘defeated’ or ‘submissive’.  We do not like to bend.  Our ego wants to stand tall under all circumstances.  So, without the qualifying words of “Higher Power” or “God” or however else one defines the Supreme or not, surrender on its own seems like a lonely defeatist, submissive word that evokes sadness and loss of control.

So, we say ‘Surrender to your Higher Power’, and that is a dichotomy because we often don’t know or are not willing to define or accept that ‘Higher Power’.  Is it someone or something outside of ourselves?  Again the ego kicks in and screams “But I am it”, “I am doing everything”, “I don’t want to be ignored” etc.,etc.,

Surrender is silencing that screaming voice in the head and descending into the heart where the tiny whispers of conscience hide shyly waiting to be asked, ready to answer.  That shy small voice from the depths of the heart always knows right from wrong, good from bad.  Not just polarities of life but it also knows how to transcend the polarities and truly understand that the polarities are two sides of same coin, that one cannot exist without the other.

Bad times don’t last, neither do good times.  Troubles always will be followed by peaceful times and vice versa.  When our head drives us, we go up and down riding the waves of life’s dichotomies, Ore less and directionless.  Accepting that tiny voice’s argument that whatever it is that I am experiencing “that too shall pass” is Surrender.

Surrender is the Ore that guides the boat of our life through the waves of Joy & Sorrow, Pain & Pleasure, without overturning.

Do you agree?

We will explore Who, What and How of Surrender in Part II tomorrow. If you have any answers or comments, please leave them here and we can compare notes after Part II of How do I surrender?

Until then,

With Love and Respect

Padma Ayyagari

Until then