Sacred Partnership

“Self inside self, you are nothing but me. Self inside self, I am only you. What we are together will never die. The why and now of this? What does it matter?” Lalla (1320-1392, the 14th Century North Indian female mystic)

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The majority of us search for the idealistic notion of, ‘true love’. To share our lives with an unfathomable beloved, in which we find complete union through the depth of love and bliss of the partnership. The search for such a sacred union is rarely the reality. There are numerous factors that determine the partner that we end up with in life; if we are meant to have a long relationship, numerous partners, or no partner at all. Obviously, for those who know the law of karma as a reality, we may have some unfinished business to share with another person, thus attracting partnerships that may not be as ideal as we had envisioned.

We always attract what we embody within ourselves. Thus, the true depth of finding this divine love and keeping the essence of this union burning, often has more to do with who we are on an inner level. This can be seen as our personal relationship with ourselves, as well as our level of maturity in life.

I felt inspired to write about love and partnership, after celebration the 15th year anniversary with my husband. We meant in our middle twenties and despite a life of constant change and challenges; we have endured. The truth of the matter, is that we have more than endured, we are living a relationship that is a ‘sacred union’. As with most new relationships when we first meant, we experienced a depth of love that seemed to transcend time, space, and causality, it was as though we had always known each other, effortlessly merged into one another; as separate entities, yet as one. This experience of fathomless love, true friendship and the depth of connection has endured for 15 years, despite facing more challenges in our time together, than one can imagine.

I have several absolutely beautiful female friends who are constantly moving through various partnerships, that come and go. These friends are constantly searching for their ‘sacred partner’ to share their life with, yet are not seeming to find this ideal person.

The truth of the matter is that, who you are as a person greatly depends on who you attract to yourself. In the case of my husband and myself, when we meant, both of us were very much focused on living a spiritual life. Thus, we were constantly finding greater self awareness and working with our self reflexivity, towards understanding our own minds. When we dedicate our life to this practice, we realize that everything in the transient external world, including other people will never make us happy; we must find true joy and contentment on an inner level. Therefore, when we came together, we were not dependent on each other for eternal love, peace, or happiness. Instead, throughout our time together we have always been very independent people, working on ourselves, yet sharing our space with each other; without the projected dependence of trying to extract love or joy from each other.

Of course, when you find a life long partnership that is very powerful, there are often other factors. We apparently have no, ‘karmic’ ties between us, meaning we were not brought together to work out some karmic lesson, which is a good thing. Instead, our relationship, is referred to as a ‘spouse of destiny’, as one vedic astrologer told me. We are together to evolve spiritually through our partnership. In this way, we have never tried to change each other, instead we have always allowed the uniqueness of each other to shine forth, supporting the strengths and beauty of our own personal evolution.

In my experience, even the most compatible partnership there will still be issues and fights. Yet, when we take self responsibility for our words and actions, it is easier to reach a greater understanding of the other person’s point of view. Another factor essential in maintaining clear communication and harmony, that I learned from my husband, is the ability to be very honest and straightforward. Thus, when there are differences of opinion, when discussed directly, the issue can be resolved very efficiently and quickly.

The energy of love, is a universal energy that is not just allocated to people in ‘love’, thus with this understanding there is greater compassion and compromise when facing difficult situations. It is my opinion that no one should settle for a mediocre or dependent relationship, it is far more productive to be alone. I have always said, ‘never settle for less’, even if that means you abstain from dating for a certain period of time, this will help to give the capacity to be detached and find an awareness of what the most complimentary partnership looks like.

The truth is that the advice I give to others, is the same advice I have used in my own life. When I was in my very early twenties, I had the great opportunity to travel and live all over the world for over six years. Thus, at that time in my life, I also understood very clearly what I was seeking, through the clarity of my own understanding of myself and the partner I wanted to spend my life with. I focused most of my energy living in other countries, travelling,  and doing sadhana. Instead, I waited very patiently for a partner that I could spend my life with, rather than the constantly revolving relationships that I had already witnessed.

Through this practice, I did find much more than a partner to share my life with, I have a sacred partnership with a man who is an extremely strong person, an infinitely kind human being, who tries his best to live his life with awareness. There are few people like my husband, yet we walk the same path, as individuals that are forged as one. Even as time passes, our moments together are as new as if we have just meant, yet are steeped in a profound love and strength that is unmeasurable and eternal. I know many people who also share such relationships, with constant work on ourselves, all things are possible.

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Into The Stillness

“Only to the extent that we expose ourselves over and over to annihilation can that which is indestructible be found.” Pema Chodron

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Like all of us searching for a life of meaning and inspiration, there have been many times in my life where I have found a sense of deep joy; despite there being many factors in my life that would instead, compel a sense of unhappiness. As we all have realized in life, happiness is not dependent on our external circumstance. Of course, there are numerous connections that we experience where we are intrinsically tied to some event or shared experience with another that makes us feel happiness.

However, the truth of the matter is that regardless of our ability to see the external experience as bringing us joy, or if we can feel that the joy was actually already there. The reason that we were able to perceive this sense of happiness, that already existed within us, is that we were able to focus our minds on the present moment to such a degree that we experience a slowing of the mind. Similarly, when we invoke any kind of meditative, spiritual practice, or anything that allows us to use extreme focus, bringing our minds more to the present moment with a concentrated focus. It is during this silencing of the mind that we can tap into the inner joy that exists within all of us and is not dependent on any external stimuli.

I came to realize this experience through spending most of my life doing hatha yoga. This practice has fluctuated in my life, since I started almost thirty years ago, despite the fact that I am only forty years old. Yet, something has remained consistent, the deep inner peace generated. I noticed this when I was very young, through holding each asana for a duration of time, I would experience a deep sense of peace. Now, I don’t hold any posture for long, yet feel plunged into the present moment with each asana, each breath is a mantra and the focus becomes very concentrated. Through this practice, there is a bubbling of such inner joy, its like a warmth that spreads throughout my being, delivering a deep inner peace and contentment.

Most of us who have tried doing yoga maybe have not felt this type of experience. There are many reasons for this, the most obvious is that most of us go to classes, where our attention is very much outwardly directed. The second, is that the focus on proper posture has overtaken the body culture, that yoga has always been in the West. Proper posture is important, yet there are many schools of yoga that focus to such a degree on posture, it actually takes you completely away from the internal experience.

Despite having started doing yoga in the late 80’s, including going to classes in the early 90’s, my first opportunity to properly study Yoga was in India in 1997 when I did my teachers training at the Sivananda Ashram in Kerala South India. Since this time I have continued to study with numerous well known teachers who specialize in various styles. Currently I do a combination of postures that have some Iyengar with a very energetic focus on the breath, using mantras for each inhale and each exhale.

This practice is very physical, yet allows the practitioner to go within to such a degree that your awareness can exist physically and energetically. However, doing any practice is a cumulation of repetitions that generates a specific energetic result. Each posture, like continuously chanting the same mantra, invokes a certain energetic response. Thus, the more one practices doing asana the more power the energetic experience one will have. The most important aspect of any practice is to allow our minds to slow down, where we can experience a deeper sense of inner peace and happiness.

When we can just let go of our self imposed ideas on what ‘mood’ we should assume, based on the day’s events. If we can just allow ourselves a small moment of being in the present moment; all possibilities open up and we realize that we can experience happiness and inner peace, regardless of what preconceived stress and ‘suffering’ we may be enduring.

The human mind is a very unpredictable aspect of our human experience, thus no one is static and perfected in any idealistic way. Thus, through the storm, we can find ways of experiencing peace and joy, even while we are surfing the eye of the hurricane. Inevitable, something inextricably amazing may be waiting right around the corner for us.

It has been my experience in life that if we cling too hard or long to painful experiences, we miss out on the beautiful gifts that are waiting for us to discover them. Thus, the goal of doing any spiritual practice or self improvement, is to move beyond extreme reaction, to have more equanimity, where we can experience suffering, yet allow it to be released; to make space for joy. Through our practices, may we find deep inner peace and joy.

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A Life to Be Lived

“To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest. To live fully is to be always in no-man’s-land, to experience each moment as completely new and fresh. To live is to be willing to die over and over again. ” Pema Chodron

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When you sincerely seek to live a spiritual life, be sure to make sure that you are strong enough to handle the extreme challenges that are sure to follow in your every wake and step. To truly be free of our inner negative tendencies, to be fully purified; we must be willing to confront everything within our consciousness, the layers upon layers of tendencies that we have accumulated throughout numerous lifetimes. We must be willing to go beyond this finite perception of ourselves, expand in awareness, only through extreme grace; to realize that we are not this illusion.

Of course, few of us are so close to perfection, instead we feel that we are filled to the max with an overabundance of ‘issues’ and other such aspects that we are becoming aware of. Once you start to dedicate a larger amount of time doing practice, it seems that the level of challenges increases exponentially. It is said that there are three ways of burning off karma; poverty, chronic illness, and sadhana. Most people have gone through at least one of the three in this life. However, the last one, sadhana, or spiritual practice is the key to finding a connection beyond the exterior of who we appear to be, to connect deep within, to the essence of existence. Even if this experience is very finite, it is still a profound point of stepping into the abyss of timelessness, into the infinite divine, to dissolve into a place that is beyond the reality that we find so believable.

I am not an advanced practitioner, I am a beginner; constantly returning to this place of newness, without anything to grasp onto. It seems that I am always at the beginning in life, even if I have reached points of height. One example is where I was advanced at Yoga asana for most of my life, however an arm injury brought me permanently back to being a beginner. I know the steep, jagged, and extremely painful road towards developing humility, where my ego has been grated along the most painful of terrain. The deeper my inner commitment towards searching for the Truth, the farther I seem to fall; endlessly into an abyss of timelessness, finding a sense of detachment, and expanding my awareness where I can fully understand the mechanisms that are so easily triggered. Its profound and beyond any linguistic explanation, to reach so high that you fall so far down. Yet, in that fall I have experienced an explosion of most, if not all of my negative tendencies.

“At some point, we need to stop identifying with our weaknesses and shift our allegiances to our basic goodness.” Pema Chodron

The path to purity and purification is a deep endless abyss where the most grotesque versions of ‘ourselves’ must be released from their bondage to our attachment, before the beauty of our inner Selves can be revealed. We are the one’s who inevitably imprison ourselves with our attachment to our fallible, inconclusive, problematic and erroneously static ‘identity’. Through this clinging, we close the door to true personal transformation and growth, for we have already created the variable narratives that we all use to structure the fabric of our social identity and life. We are social architects, constantly attempting to maintain the construction of who we envision ourselves to be or how we perceive ourselves to become. The real truth is that we are none of these projections or tendencies, yet since we rarely go within to a deeper and much quieter place; where we slowly start to see the facade and the underlying energy beneath it which is in contrast, very different, without qualities.

“Whatever is happening is the path to enlightenment.” Pema Chodron

It has been through such challenges that I have stepped through in my life, that have been the purifying gift that has allowed me to move closer to a sense of renewal. Even though, I am at the beginning once again, each step is a powerful walk towards a sense of awakening to who we truly are.

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Stepping Out From The Shadow

“Every day, think as you wake up, today I am fortunate to be alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others; to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings. I am going to have kind thoughts towards others, I am not going to get angry or think badly about others. I am going to benefit others as much as I can.” The Dalai Lama

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I was fortunate to be part of the audience for a live interview with my spiritual teacher, Sri Mata Amritananda Mayi Devi, widely known as ‘Amma’ meaning ‘Mother’. The interview was held at Stanford University by Dr. Doty on Conversations on Compassion that took place the beginning of last July 2014. Dr. Doty has interview other great spiritual leaders, such as The Dalai Lama, Thich Nhat Hanh, Desmond Tutu, and many others. Amma, said that it does not matter how long you spend with the Master; it depends on how great your desire is to be free and make the effort, like the baby chicken who pecks their way out of the egg. She said the true Guru is your experiences in life, these teach you the most, if you are willing to learn.

Most of us, myself included live life, or have lived life based on numerous preconceived notions about our identity: social and family positionally; our monetary social status; how well we are liked in our friend and cohort groups; and our acquisition of material gain. Thus, all of us are constantly attempting to live a life that has some meaning, contentment, and joy. Inevitably, we are prisoners of our self imposing conceptions that we use to negotiate our identity and identify ourselves in reference to our external social landscape. We live with a sense of reality that is predominantly covered by shadows, all of which are our own creation and perception. We live our lives in such a way, where we choose to stay trapped in a self created cage within our minds, often closing our heart and emotions to the large scope of reality. In this way, we find the path of limitation a safe and secure place to walk; rather than finding the courage within to confront the wilderness of the unknown. However, through our desperation to find and live a life of authenticity and security, we find ourselves beneath a sky of grey clouds, for we can never evolve into our highest potential or into our true identity by living a life constantly measured by infinite self imposed limitations.

I am sure most people can relate, to some degree with what I am discussing, as we have all experienced some component of this phenomena within our lives. Where we felt very frustrated and confined; unable to break free, even though we are aware enough to isolate the real issue that is constricting us. The truth is that the freedom and answers that we seek can only be found within ourselves, for we always know which direction we need to pursue. Regardless of when we arrive at this consciousness, of being trapped by something, we can then find a means of moving beyond whatever it may be. I strongly believe and have experienced that once we are aware of all the places within ourselves, where we allow ourselves to be small and limited, with enough determination and effort we can break free eventually of even the most painful feelings of limitation. With enough focus, dedication, and practice everything in our lives will change, our bodies, our minds, and even the negative tendencies that we are so attached to.

“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” Rumi

Once we open the doors to our limitation and leap out of the self imposing cage, who do we then become. The answer is that the more we let go of everything that once burdened or limited us, we realize that we are a unique expression of the universe, similar to everyone else. Yet, each of us are as diverse and unique as the pattern of each snowflake, we are all falling together in our own authenticity, beauty, and interconnected senses of being. There is a realization that life will most likely bring us numerous challenges that we must face, yet we have the strength and resilience to go through all of them. It was said by a saint, that each and every challenge and difficulty that we must confront in our lives, is meant only for us, as we have the innate capacity and inner strength to transcend whatever it may be. Thus, we should never compare ourselves to anyone else, especially when it comes to the various challenges that all of us have to inevitable face in our lives, at some point or another.

In essence, regardless of where we find ourselves in this moment, we always have the choice to find contentment and be grateful for what we have. Even in the darkest moments of life, there are still shards of beautiful light that are all around us, it is within our own consciousness to choose to perceive the beauty and delicate frailty of life. To inevitable be free of our own limitations, we must know that we always have a choice; a choice to perceive ourselves, our lives, and our social landscape in a language that brings us to a higher level of our own innate potential, that we all embody.

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The Holistic Balancing Act

“Some medical experts have shown that constant anger and fear undermine our health by eating into our immune system. Meanwhile, they find that the compassionate mind is good for our physical well-being.” – Dalai Lama, Ladakh, India

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The main question that I always find myself asking, is what truly constitutes living a holistic lifestyle. There is a massive amount of multimedia regarding living a healthier lifestyle. However, in my opinion all of these are just fragments to what really constitutes living a truly holistic lifestyle. I too have almost an entire lifetime of expertise in regards to almost every facet of what constitutes a truly healthy, organic lifestyle. From what I have personally witnessed in my own life and in the lives of many other, very dedicated health driven individuals, the focus primarily on the physical body is actually the least important area of focus.

I have seen this in my own life, if we go through an extremely traumatic or stressful situation in life; there is no amount of anything we can put into our bodies to maintain our health. Once we lose our emotional balance, it radically affects our physical body. Thus, most people who are fanatically into ‘health’ are mostly focused on what they put into their bodies, or the external environment of their physical body, rather than their inner mental and emotional body. I also have seen that people who have very strong minds, thus who can maintain an equanimous approach to life, tend to be much healthier regardless of what they consume physically. This phenomena has been widely studied, how our mind and thoughts directly affect not only our physical body, but our environment.

In my early twenties I was very driven by finding this notion of ‘wholeness’, seeking it through the medium of holistic health. Even though I was touching the foundation of living a holistic life, I was not aware of it at that time due to the inner turbulence of my mind. On a physical level, I have had to undergo over a decade of chronic, undiagnosed health issues; despite having access to medical opinions and every facet of alternative health care. Despite the tremendous amount of effort, time, and money exerted by me, still nothing shifted. I was living one of the purest, cleanest lifestyles that exists, yet still the underlying problems of exhaustion and a weak physical constitution did not change. During this time in my life I learned the most about what holistic health really means, in addition to a suffering that has allowed me to embody a tremendous capacity of compassion for others suffering. This is something that I previously did not have when I was extremely healthy with a strong young constitution.

It was during this time, I never gave up, continuing to try new avenues of medicine and natural remedies. Finally through extensive testing from a Naturopath, I was able to find greater physical healing. The most amazing thing really was that true healing only came when I took self responsibility towards helping myself overcome this issue. Something more fascinating and a much longer discussion, was that this entire experience was outlined and discussed in detail when I became interested in Vedic astrology. I was told that most of what I was going through was ‘karmic’, thus nothing would shift it until the time for it to be over came. Sure enough, when that time came and a new planetary influence came to direct my life, the suffering ended completely. I have experienced many astounding phenomena like this in the many years I have been interested in such things as Vedic astrology. Through this knowledge we can easily see that nothing is relative or as straightforward as we would like it to be. We are conditioned to perceive the body as a mere physiological organism, which in many retrospects, it is. However, there are numerous other factors that most of us can not understand or conceive of, such as the profound effect our thoughts and emotions have on our physical body, or karmic effects we may have to undergo on a physical or psychological level.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, it is well know that when someone has a health imbalance, there are actually three possibilities: physical, mental/emotional, or spiritual causes. The first cause you treat with physical medicine, the second needs to be treated at a mental & emotional level, and the third is a spiritual cause that must be treated at that level. When a very famous Ayurvedic practitioner first came to the U.S many decades ago, one of the first assumptions that he immediately had was that most of the diseases in the West actually originated at a mental and emotional level, rather than merely a physical level. He also thought that Western society was actually quite ‘crazy’, due to our way of perceiving and living life. This perception is actually a very astute observation of a society whose adults have little to no control over their emotions. Thus, the tendency for most people to get angry at others is a very common occurrence in most of our lives.

However, this was not always the case in smaller indigenous societies, such as when early anthropologist first began to study the Inuit, in the very Northern area of Canada. The anthropologist realized right away that adults in this society were not permitted to show anger towards others. When the anthropologist became overtly angry, he was compared to a two year old child, as those were the only members of the society who would react in a fit of uncontrolled angry tendencies. Thus, the majority of our modern societies are very immature, lacking any real wisdom or true knowledge, and most people are focused merely on the most superficial aspects of consumerism and materialism.

Therefore, if there are severe challenges in our lives, especially with our physical health, it may be beneficial to also observe our inner mental and emotional landscape. Through being more aware of how our minds and emotions function on a daily basis, we can find a more thorough comprehension of what could also be contributing to our lack of health, joy, peace of mind, and ability to fully feel alive and grateful to be living life.

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The Path of Practise

“Life is not going to be a bed of roses. You will have to tread thorny paths and face many obstacles. You may even feel confused and lose your sense of direction in the overwhelming darkness. But then, it is a matter of will. You should fight till you establish dharma, even if it means you have to make sacrifices.” Amma

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In the last year I have experienced a life altering transformation in my life. Despite being on this path for what seems to be a very long duration of time, it was only in the last few years that many changes and perceptions started to shift. In the last few years, I have been going through some dramatic and life changing experiences that deeply brought me to question what was important to me in the life that I was living; what was I truly and irrevocably seeking at the deepest level of my being. Through the perceived inner emotional turmoil with a loss to my ego’s self importance, I began an inner journey that felt like an epic battle being waged, in the hopes of finding the treasure that I was seeking within the deeply guarded barriers of my inner heart sanctum. I found myself at the shores of extreme dispassion with the life I had been previously living, thus when your plans fail to manifest, the only path left is to move fearlessly towards what you truly seek in life.

With this understanding, my life started to move into the deeper current of what had actually been driving me throughout my entire life, my search for the Truth; to seek and find the spiritual numinous. Even more pronounced was a deep desire to move beyond the limitations of who I had been in my life, through inculcating more equanimity that allowed less of an emotionally reactive nature. Even though on the surface I could appear very self controlled, I had lived my entire life as a very emotional person, deeply feeling and easily prone to emotional reaction. Often I was able to conceal such reactions as fear or anger, yet on an inner level they were like explosions going off, disrupting the terrain of my inner self. Being an emotionally reactive person can be exhausting, especially when dealing with the numerous reactions that are prone to take place on a regular basis.

A few years ago I started to do a great deal of sadhana (spiritual practice), much more than I had done for many years. I realized that there was no point living a worldly life and doing these practices. I then made the very easy decision to release any sense of security, thus my husband and I then went to our spiritual teachers ashram in Kerala India where we both enjoyed a deeply rich experience of doing massive sadhana, volunteer work, puja’s, and everything that ashram life has to offer. Our time there was like being in a divine abode, where each day was like a blessing to wake up to and behold; truly words can not convey such an experience. Almost half a year passed while we enjoyed this life, leaving us with the intention and permission from our teacher to move back and eventually live.

As a spiritual aspirant, it is not our times of being in a place of like minded people and experiencing a sense of bliss, peace, and joy. The real value of attempting to live a ‘spiritual’ life is who we choose to be once our time in paradise has come to an end and we must return to the material world. We left India to deal with a bureaucratic claim that I had been fighting for several months. It was this passage into the liminality of extreme challenge that revealed to me the power of how much I had changed as a person. I found myself in a place I never previously would have ever fathomed that I would be, living in the sprawl of my parents in laws home. The word ‘challenging’ does not give justice to the extreme test my husband and I were up against.

Similar to the last few years, both my husband and I have built up a very solid and regular sadhana practice that we do mostly everyday, its very rare that we miss a day. In this duration of time, feeling a sense of loss of independence was one of the strongest feelings. Yet, a profound shift had taken place, the ability to become a witness to my own mind, as well as in a potentially explosive situation. Both my husband and I had developed this sense of deep inner strength. He is much more naturally this way, however I too noticed that I was able to rest in this inner space of stillness, regardless of what transpired on an outer level. I was able to observe the onset of my own once emotionally reactive nature, yet very easily diffused the reaction. Not only did I experience this a few times, but in almost every situation that I encountered. This was the first time that I obviously confronted a tremendous change that had taken place, within the person I used to previously be.

Another aspect that had changed was that regardless of the obvious chaos of where we found ourselves, there was a place within that allowed me not to get caught up in the spinning chaos of trying to figure out what the next move should be. Thus, when you can find the inner tranquility of inner stillness, even if its just a small island, it facilitates a tremendous oasis.

Therefore, within the perceived darkness there is a powerful light that emanates from within. When we are able to find a deeper sense of inner stillness and calm our active minds, then we can experience a very small perception of this endless peace that pervades all of us. Through the storm of the last few months, I realize that regardless of what challenges life brings, when you make your focus in life a process of inner cultivation, there will be a ripening that allows us to access a far truer sense of ‘Self’ than we previously had access to. Thus, the beginning of becoming the witness, rather than the actor slowly starts to take place, where we can find a place of inner stillness that nothing can touch. When you can find this place, that exists within all of us, it gives a refuge to the constant changeability that life often provides, for we never really know what calamity the future may bring to our door step. Yet, if we persevere with our practices with focus and dedication we can slowly begin to emanate some inner transformation, even if its very subtle. Even if we tread this path for many years and there is no perceived change, we have to have faith that the inner transformation is indeed taking place, even if we are not consciously aware of it.

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Reconciliation With Oneself

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
Marianne Williamson

 Screen-Shot-2014-03-24-at-4.24.22-PMToday, the rain has been coming down, leaving the dense green vegetation covered in the drops that fall from the sky, from the branches, onto the lower leaves. The birds have all flown to cover, yet I am here alone witnessed only by the dimly lit sky, overcast and shedding its tears upon the earth. I feel a deep sadness and emptiness filling me, something much deeper and painful than just a passing mood or feeling. I deeply contemplate the life I have thus far lived, at this vantage point very little makes sense to me. I wonder how I ended up at this temporary destination. A dull hopelessness fills me so completely, that I can do nothing to keep it at bay. There are no distractions to take my mind away from the clouds that have covered the sun within my heart, which normally cast its brilliance in an expansive exuberance.

“There is nothing to practice. To know yourself, be yourself. To be yourself, stop imagining yourself to be this or that. Just be. Let your true nature emerge. Don’t disturb your mind with seeking.” Nisargadatta Maharaj

The rain has a purifying effect on nature, through the dissolution of the previous energetic imprints, now pure vibrance is being rained back down upon the earth. Even though, its as if the falling of each drop carries a secret sadness. Through the deepest expression of this indescribable sadness, perhaps as one sheds tears, there is a deeper cleansing of our negative tendencies. A deeper surrender into the folds of a universal power and intelligence that is far superior than our own limited minds. I feel as though I have fallen into the impossible, fighting for something that perhaps does not exist, nor will ever exits; the dreams I have carried for most of my life, the goals that have taken shape through the life I have lived, and the dreams that have filled my heart. All of these beautiful intentions, continuously transforming as I myself constantly change. Yet, it feels that regardless of my best effort, still I am as far away from the metamorphosis of these dreams, into reality.

“You cannot transcend what you do not know. To go beyond yourself, you must know yourself.” Nisargatta Maharaj

I dreamed a dream, perhaps an impossible dream; it was magnificently perfect, a life I longed to live. Now, is a time of letting such dreams fall away, as rain cleanses the earth, so too is it time to begin anew. To embrace the new, the person that I am today, allowing a deeper expression of creativity and freedom to fill my life; rather than clinging to ideals that began almost half my lifetime ago. Its a cosmic lesson in letting go of the old, despite the pain associated. One must completely allow the past to become just that, the past. In order for one to fully reach within to our deepest potential, to truly feel alive in the present moment. I realize only now, that I trapped myself in a self deterministic prison, with all of these goals and dreams. Thus, they created such a constricted sense of confinement to the pure expression of who I am, as a person. I only allowed myself to reach towards a limited array of options, which fit only a very small aspect of who I have always been.

“Just let go. Let go of how you thought your life should be, and embrace the life that is trying to work its way into your consciousness.” Caroline Myss

The wind has started to slightly blow the branches of the giant fir tree, like a huge guardian, his branches sway back and forth. I can see numerous small, delicately transparent drops of water clinging to each branch, like an exquisite tapestry created through the perfection of natures organic and unstructured patterns. Perhaps, its time that I started living my life through the perfect, unstructured, beautifully organic matrix that life offers to each and every one of us. To be free of our outdated confines, is a truly freeing feeling, even with a reminisce of sadness, bidding farewell to that which no longer serves our greatest expression.

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The Subversive Nature of Being

“You were born with wings, why prefer to crawl through life?” Rumi

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We live in a predominantly homogenized society, despite the fact that a large percentage of the younger generations are acting as a unified force to counter this form of social conformity. Although, throughout history the majority of brilliant scholars, artists, musicians, philosophers, and mystics were all focused on living non-conventional lives due to their awareness of the confining aspects of homogeneity. The most brilliant minds of even today, use the faculty of discrimination, critical thinking, and even intuition to assess and weigh what is accurate and what is not.

Even Einstein was a great advocate of using one’s intuitive faculties,“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift. We will not solve the problems of the world from the same level of thinking we were at when we created them. More than anything else, this new century demands new thinking: We must change our materially based analyses of the world around us to include broader, more multidimensional perspectives.” Albert Einstein

In essence, through the intellectual and intuitive faculties which we all have a certain degree of access to, we should be able to discern what is of relevance and what is not. Yet, how many of us actually question the relevance of certain social patterns that most people blindly follow. 

The act of being subversive is a tactic that is used everyday by numerous people who have the awareness that becoming fully homogenized within society is not a true representation of imbibing their highest potential, nor a clear representation of what they would like their lives to emulate. The act of living a life that is based on subversive actions; to have the awareness to contest even basic issues lacking in transparency, reveal our basic need to know the truth of what is going on in society and the larger global world.

Through all of our actions and words, when we choose to questions certain patters in society and go against them, there can be repercussions. I recently experienced this phenomena, in which a certain individual launched an attack against the conceptual discourse and content of the discussion related to the social, political, and ecological importance of choosing organic food, over the other choices available. I realized instantly, that when people are highly homogenized, or when they are faced with concepts that they view as subversive, or even intellectual discussions that question the pattern of their ‘normal’ social conditioning; they become highly defensive. 

I first experienced this when I became a vegetarian 23 years ago, during a time when it was not mainstream or even remotely cool to practice this form of dietary choice. I was actually a vegan vegetarian, due to reading John Robins “Diet For A New America”, and several other related books. Given the information I was able to assimilate on this topic, I made a very clear choice to eat a diet that did not cause harm to animals, supported a holistic principle to health, and was more viable within the parameter of being more ecologically sound. Even though the choice was mine to make, I found myself constantly running into people who would become immediately confrontational and defensive against the choices that were inevitably affecting me, not them. I found this phenomena rather interesting as I realized that people’s deep seated fear of others doing something that is considered subversive triggers massive fear, defensive mechanisms, and can make people very confrontational.

In todays world, most of us are homogenized to some degree within the cultural norm of our social milieu. Therefore, the use of subversive action can be a mechanism to create small circles of change through discussions, or it can occur on a much large scale, such as being highly aware of the social economy of what we inevitably support with our time, money, and actions. To this day, I have lived my entire life attempting to liver more subversively than allowing myself to fall into the homogenization of becoming en-mass, like a drone in a vacuous society devoid of any depth of meaning. To live a life bound by social conformity, accepting everything at face value, and without questioning the larger social and political paradigm is to be completely asleep. “Some people live as though they are already dead. There are people moving around us who are consumed by their past, terrified of their future, and stuck in their anger and jealousy. They are not alive; they are just walking corpses.” Thich Nhat Hanh

Today when I meet people who become defensive and confrontational over the choices that I make, I clearly state that if they don’t like what I write or how I live my life, its absolutely fine, as the actions I make only affect me, no one else. Thus, “my only true belongings in life are my actions.” Thich Nhat Hanh

To choose to live a non-conventional life one must be very strong, strong enough to confront others ignorance in a non-confrontational, grounded, and calm way. Ironically, many things that were seen as subversive at one point in time, soon become mainstream. Several of todays trends were once limited to much smaller subcultures and seen as highly subversive. A few of these are: organic food, vegetarianism, other heath based dietary regimes, yoga, meditation, consuming herbs or health supplements, etc. Yet, today it seems most people have some awareness of all of the above topics.

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The Many Faces of Friendship

“All your identities at the body-mind level have been changing continuously, and none of them has been constant and faithful to you. Why then are you attracted to any of these identities by stating ‘I am like this’ or ‘I am like that’?” Nisargadatta

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Regardless of our age, when we look back over the course of our lives, we will see an interchange of numerous friendships that have come and gone, while others have stayed. Few of us actually give much thought to the phenomena of ‘friendship’; what does it really mean and why do we pursue this aspect of our lives with such a priority and need. In addition, many of us have had lovely friendships with kindred spirits, while other friendships have caused us tremendous pain and suffering.

Through our human interaction we have certain limitations, projections, and ideals that we measure ourselves and everyone else by. Thus, when we meet someone who appears to imbue qualities that we idealize for ourselves, we put forth the effort required to make that person our friend. However, what happens when that person does not live up to our ideal of friendship and our expectations are not meant. The result is that we turn against them and create some reason why we are no longer friends, often moving from a place of really liking that person to disliking them. Rarely do we actually stop to see the situation for what it really is, as our own version of ‘reality’ takes place within the perceptual faculties of our mind, which is often tainted by our own version of how we choose to see ourselves and others. We measures others value based on our own self measurement and we accept or deny others based on this very finite principle of our own self perception. Also, there is always something to be gained through friendship, even if we can not immediately see this, we are all searching for something better than ourselves, to fill the empty feeling that we all embody. 

This feeling of emptiness can only be felt when we can slow our minds down enough to attain a sense of inner reflexivity. In this state of awareness we all feel a deep sense of being incomplete. However, when we are not aware of the unconscious expression of our inner emptiness, we spend our lives constantly running after material objects, experiences, relationships of all kinds, and anything that we can find to keep our mind distracted, to fill the void of emptiness that we feel. Of course, friendship can be a beautiful phenomena of sharing and having the strength and support of someone who we feel fully accepts who we are. However, if that same person did something that we found unacceptable, most likely the friendship would be over. In this way, we go through life measuring our own sense of self and value based on the people we are constantly interacting with, mainly our group of friends. As we continue through life, these people often change, as we are constantly re-negotiating our own sense of self. Therefore, as we change and grow we seek to surround ourselves with such people who we feel are relatable in the ways that we value and find important.

At a spiritual level, all people that we come into contact with are karmically there for some reason, to teach us various lessons. This phenomena can be seen when we have very long and lovely friendships, yet even more so when we have friendships that turn out to be very painful and cause suffering to us in the end. In my own life, the majority of friendships have been very positive and strong, with many continuing friendships with people I have know for thirty years when we were young children, up to the new friends I am continuing to make.

Like most people, I have numerous positive friendships, yet in the last few years I have gone through some of the most negative experiences with people who were assumably friends. I mention this term very lightly in my own personal experience, as I know the feeling of a strong friendship and all of these negative experiences I never really felt that these people were actually my friends, yet due to other related factors, they were considered ‘friends’. In essence, I experienced some of the most psychologically manipulating and dysfunctional relationships of my life. The reality for me was very clear, as this was a pattern that this particular individual perpetuated in numerous relationships in their own life; constantly seeking to replicate this dysfunctional behavior. The lesson for me was that we need to be very careful who we allow into our lives, even if you are a kind person and have a huge range of acceptance of others, its very important to be highly discriminating. 

It is not my intention to ‘other’ people for their behavior, yet I strongly realize from making the mistake of feeling that I had to accept everyone no matter who they were. Dysfunctional individuals are very self destructive and if you associated with them, you will run the risk of great loss in some way.

In this way, difficult situations teach us the most profound lessons related to renegotiating our own inner strength, boundaries, and the level of discrimination that we need to live a life with as little harm as possible. In such situations, sometimes it is not until we can gain a more distant perspective that we can really asses the situation and realize that for whatever reason we had to go through that friendship and learn from it. In truth, we all carry inner negativity and certain levels of toxic behavior such as anger, greed, jealousy, hatred, and similar such emotional states. Everyone who comes through our lives can show us profound insight into ourselves, both the beautiful qualities that we embody and the deeper, darker unconscious negative tendencies that we all have to some degree.

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The Ubiquitous Nature of Gossip

“You must not hate those who do wrong or harmful things; but with compassion, you must do what you can to stop them for they are harming themselves, as well as those who suffer from their actions.” His Holiness The Dalai Lama

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The pernicious nature of gossip is so widespread throughout all societies that there is no doubt this aspect of human social behavior is ubiquitous to all cultural and social perimeters, seen on a global level. A fascinating aspect of this phenomena is how most people are so homogenized that they literally will believe even untrue gossip if it comes from a source they trust, rather than drawing upon their own direct experience with the individual in question. I have seen even some of the most discriminating people affected by such situations, which leaves me to inquire why people are so weak minded that they can not at least try to see if the information disclosed has any relevance before acting in a rash or harsh way towards the individual being discussed.

I have witnessed this phenomena in all aspects of life, including in institutions like ashrams where you would think that people are trying to rise above such petty ways of behaving. However, in my time in India I have witnessed that this behavior is as pernicious or more pernicious than I have ever before witnessed in my entire life. Of course, not everyone gossips as out of a population of several thousand people there are many very serious spiritual seeker who understand the destructive nature of this limiting and harmful behaviour. There was a scholar who went to numerous ashrams in India and the one quality that he noticed was this aspect of pernicious gossip and fault finding. He attributed this wide spread behavior to the reality that in such institutions the individuals basic needs are taken care of. Therefore, they have far less mental stress in life than most people living in the world having to worry about their jobs, families, and social responsibilities. He believed that this behavior was magnified due to the close proximity that all of the residence found themselves living within, combined with a general lack of interest in discussing other topics of conversation.

As an individual, I am sure I have partaken in such negative tendencies as gossip, yet for the majority of my life I have deeply felt that this action carries a deep harm associated with it. I have always felt a deep feeling of remorse when I have participated in such activities. Thus, for most of my life I have not associated with or attracted many people with such tendencies. Even though gossip is found at a pernicious level within all human societies, in the right company there can be more interesting topics to discuss than the negativities of others.

Therefore, I personally avoid and find the nature of pernicious gossip to be a very despicable, violent, and extremely harmful tendency that some people engage therein. A few reasons why certain people may feel the need to gossip can be associated with the feeling that; if we see someone as better than us or more talented, we see them as competition and what often occurs is fault finding and spreading negative gossip to eliminate the person from the competition. In addition, if we see someone possessing a particular object that we desire, there will often be jealousy towards that person. Many of us carry deep wounds from the past, thus in the present a particular use of word or action from a person may feel as an attack towards these unhealed inner wounds, even though that person may not have intend to inflict such pain. All of us have inner tendencies that we need to prove we are better than others. The ego is always trying to prove itself through our sense of self importance, thus we find faults within others.

According to the ancient Indian scriptures it is clearly stated that when we try to damage a person’s reputation through character defamation through the use of lies or rumors, its considered an act of violence. This subtle form of violence can manifest when we are unaware of our actions and we may become like sadists, feeling good at others hurt and finding justifications for imposting this form of violence onto another person. This completely defeats the purpose of a spiritual life, as such behavior completely blocks any positive energy from entering into our lives, thus causing some serious harm to eventually return to us.

I have personally experienced situations where people have known me personally for a duration of time, yet the malicious nature of someone’s issues perpetuated untrue gossip about me. In this case, because of the credibility of the person disclosing the gossip, others readily believed what was said, like sheep without any ability to discriminate or intuition to verify if this was indeed true. Ironically, when we have people who are unaware of their deep seated anger, jealousy, hatred, and inner violence in addition to feeling very powerless in themselves, malicious gossip often results as this is their only form of retaliation.

This leads to the experiential knowledge of people seeing who you are as an individual and enjoying your company; then once the gossip has been spread suddenly the perception of who you are takes on a diametrically opposing negative quality. Even to engage in an innocent conversation, if discussing the actions of another, especially if we feel they are doing something inappropriate its wise to be extremely discriminating with whom one discloses such information. Its far too easy for someone to take what you say and create some reconstituted version of the story as gossip. If caught in the grip of others constant negative fault finding, the best thing to do is to not participate and try to find people to associate with who are more interested in discussing topics that are positive or provide something that can allow us to grow in life, rather than to spend time with people who are constantly pulling themselves and everyone around them down. 

In life we all find ourselves entangled within a myriad of various behaviors that are perhaps less appealing then we would prefer to be as human beings. I also understand what it can feel like to go through very challenging, often dark night of the soul experiences in life. I personally have undergone such transitions in life that felt very heavy, dark, and painful. Even when I was not the best version of myself, I still tried to keep some spiritual practice going or something that brought inspiration to my life. Therefore, we all get caught up in certain negative tendencies from time to time, yet the one reality that we must always keep in mind is that the harmful thoughts, words and actions that we inflict onto others, will most definitely only harm us in the long run. 

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