Sunday, October 15, 2017

The Power of Humility



Recently I watched an interview with Megan Phelps-Roper, formerly of the Westboro Baptist Church. Westboro Baptist Church is the one that protests funerals, that proclaims Jesus hates gay people, that calls Jews, Jesus killers. Megan's grandpa founded the church so you could say she was steeped in indoctrination. Through interactions over Twitter, she completely reversed her opinions and now spends time with people she used to hate.

Watching her interview moved me, not only because her story is touching, but also because of her humility. It oozed from her. No longer self-righteous and arrogant, Megan instead recognizes she doesn't have all the answers, and furthermore that her previous behavior was wrong.

I'm striving to be as humble as a blade of grass. Photo by Chang Qing on Unsplash.

Watching Megan I was reminded of the power of humility. She is able to touch other people, to change them on a deep level, because she doesn't walk around like a proud peacock proclaiming her glory. I have to admit, humility is a tough one for me. I want to be the best! I want to be number one! I want fame and critical acclaim. If I do something well, I want heaps of praise for it. Give me my gold medal please, thanks. However, I also recognize arrogance only serves my ego, only puffs me up, and is not in service of a power greater than myself.

When we say someone is arrogant, we'll say they're full of themselves. Exactly, full of themselves. There's no room for anyone else or anything else.

My spiritual teacher says one should be as humble as the grass because it bows before everyone and doesn't pick and choose who to bend for. Why though? Why would he say that? In my opinion, I think it's because when we're proud, when we're self-aggrandizing, we only think of ourselves, and we start setting ourselves apart from everyone else. We're better than someone else. People are winners and losers instead of fellow human beings. In that sense, pride creates disconnection from others, but I also think it creates disconnection from the divine. If I want to be an instrument for my higher power, there's no way I can do that if I constantly think I know what's best. There's no way I can be an instrument if I'm puffed up on my own self-importance because again, no room exists for anything else.

I often think in order to do anything worthwhile it must be big and grand. I need to be a bestselling author, I need to be a billionaire philanthropist, I need to cure cancer. Megan's interview reminds me it's the small actions that are the most powerful sometimes. There's a joke I heard that says, “What's the most dangerous animal to humans?” You would think it's a shark or something, but no, it's a mosquito. I know a mosquito is an insect and not really an animal, but the point is still valid. A mosquito has the potential to be far deadlier than a shark because of all the diseases it carries. Similarly, perhaps my small actions have more potential than I know.

I dream of a world where we understand the power of humility. A world where we recognize we are one among many, neither better nor worse. A world where we realize humility makes us instruments, allowing for connection among our peers and our higher power. A world where we remember small can be great.

Another world is not only possible, it's probable.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Walking Each Other Home



What a week. Lots of grief on a societal level, but also a personal one. I'm reminded of how human we are. Of how we're all in this together. As Ram Dass says, “We're all just walking each other home.”

His quote kept ringing through my head this week. In times of trauma and grief, I want to do something. Sometimes there are actions to take, but sometimes all we can do is hold each other while we cry.

With painful feelings, I've often wanted someone else to take them away. To siphon them off as they would drink the last of a milkshake. I wanted someone, anyone, to make me feel better. Speaking as someone with loads of experience trying to escape her feelings, I can say without a doubt the answer is “That's not possible.” No one else can cry my tears for me. No one else can take away my pain. Other people and things may distract me for a while, but just as with storm clouds, they darken the sky whether I acknowledge them or not.

Walk with me? Photo by Hannah Donze on Unsplash

Ram Dass' quote reminds me no one is supposed to take away my pain and sorrow because we are all humans. We are not machines. We can't write a code that says, “We will never feel sad ever.” Furthermore, it's no one's responsibility to make me feel better. We are fellow companions on this path. We are pilgrims going on a pilgrimage. There may be times I sprain my ankle and have to rely on others for help, but the responsibility for forward motion is still mine, and the responsibility to move through my emotions is still mine.

My spiritual teacher says, “[A] true society is like a group of pilgrims who attain a deep psychic affinity while traveling together, which helps them solve all the problems in their individual and social lives.”

That's us. A group of pilgrims traveling this rocky path together. I'm speaking in metaphors a lot in this post, but what I'm trying to get at is it's not my responsibility to solve or fix someone's emotional state, or vice versa. I don't have all the answers, or any of the answers, really. I can't tell a person how to live their life or what they should do to feel better. All I can do is say, “I hear you and I'm beside you. I'm walking this path with you as a companion.” And that's it. We'll address problems as they arise – blisters, sprained ankles, etc. – but the emotional states? I'll be with you during them, but the tears are still yours to cry and the steps are still yours to walk. And maybe that's enough.

I dream of a world where we recognize we are all pilgrims on a pilgrimage. A world where we sit with each other when we're in pain. A world where we realize all we can do is be there for each other. A world where we remember we're all just walking each other home.

Another world is not only possible, it's probable.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

The Forces of Impatience



This week I experienced a breakthrough around impatience. Normally when I'm impatient, I roll my eyes and say, “Oh look. This again.” Or I stew in my impatience, allowing myself to feel all the irritation and frustration. When impatience bubbled up for me recently, instead I became curious. “Why am I impatient? What's going on here? Are there other things at play?” Perhaps unsurprisingly, the answer is, “Yes.”

When I'm impatient, two other forces are at work. The first is scarcity – I think there's not enough of whatever it is. If I'm waiting in line and feeling impatient, it's because I feel pressed for time, for example. The second force at play is a lack of perspective. My career is a great example. I want to be a bestselling author, I want to touch a lot of people on a grand scale, to serve others in a big way using my words. Impatience comes in because I think if I'm not doing those things right now, I won't ever do them. I get caught in the present moment in a bad way. A friend told me when her daughter skins her knee she'll exclaim, “My knee hurts and it's always hurt and it will always hurt!” When I'm impatient, I act like that.

There are multiple forces associated with impatience. Photo by Igor Ovsyannykov on Unsplash.


This week when impatience presented itself I asked, “What if most of my dreams will come true later? Is it possible they're in my future?” and I felt better. As I've seen over and over again, for better or for worse, I have no idea what the future holds, so yeah, it's possible I can still have what I want, just not right now. Furthermore, I have a lot of life left, I hope. I likely won't drop dead in the next 30 seconds so maybe down the road the things I want will happen. What helps me here is thinking about past experiences. For many years I wanted to visit Italy. Every time someone mentioned Italy or shared pictures of their travels, envy and impatience overtook me. “I want to go to Italy too! Why hasn't it happened for me?” And then in 2012, I finally visited the country in a grace-filled way better than I could have imagined. My dream did come true, but it took a while.

My spiritual teacher says that “whatever happens in this universe of ours is nothing but an expression of Cosmic desire or Cosmic will … when a human desire and His desire coincide, then only does the human desire become fruitful, otherwise it is a sure failure.”

That means when I align my desire and higher power’s desire, dreams come true. It also means when I'm impatient, I don't recognize life is a long game, I hope. When I'm impatient, I'm thinking in terms of instant gratification as opposed to syncing my will with the divine's. It also means I'm not recognizing the natural rhythm of life. The environment has seasons and so does life. In the dead of winter it's tempting to believe spring will never arrive, but it always does, when the temperatures rise, when the snow melts, when the sun shines brighter. Dreams are like that too – they blossom when the environment is ideal. When I'm impatient it's like going outside in 3 feet of snow asking, “Why aren't the tulips in bloom?” They will bloom, but I have to wait, and that means patience.

I dream of a world where we realize everything takes time and just because something hasn't happened yet, doesn't mean it won't. A world where we remember just like Earth, our lives and our dreams also have seasons. A world where we maintain perspective about the future and practice patience.

Another world is not only possible, it's probable.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Not So Alien



This weekend I watched Hamlet with a friend of mine and remarked how the play touched me in a way it didn't when I was a teenager.

I've seen Hamlet on numerous occasions, I've heard the famous soliloquy a million times, even unknowingly quoted from the play in this blog. Hamlet is a story I'm familiar with, but watching it this weekend I could relate to him, I understood him. No, my uncle did not kill my father and marry my mother, but I, too, understand about anger, grief, and despair. Maybe it's a consequence of practicing nonviolent communication and meditating regularly, but when I watched Hamlet all I could think was, “Me too.” I wouldn't have taken the actions he took, but I empathize with his feelings in a way I didn't before.

Beneath the exterior, we're all just humans. Photo by Eva Dang on Unsplash

I'm reminded of that quote by Maya Angelou who said, “We are all human; therefore, nothing human can be alien to us.” Yeah. Pretty much. I'm not a scholar, but it seems to me Shakespeare's work endures because he taps into the essence of what it means to be human, with all the pain, glory, comedy, and tragedy. One minute Hamlet is contemplating suicide and the next his friends burst through the door talking and laughing. That's certainly how my life is. I think I mentioned it here, but literally the day after I found out my co-worker died, I unintentionally participated in a wedding held in my neighbor's backyard. My windows were open so the sounds of the ceremony wafted through the air. Life is tragic and comic, something Shakespeare understood and illustrated.

This also means all the emotions Shakespeare's characters express, we express too. Even though he wrote his plays hundreds of years ago, they're still relevant. There is no emotion anyone has ever felt that I haven't felt too. Our experiences? Highly variable. Our emotions? The same.

I bring this up because I wonder how things would be different it we all held this viewpoint. Instead of calling Mexicans rapists like a certain high-ranking official, instead of calling people aliens, what if we recognized that we are all human and thus nothing human can be alien to us?

My spiritual teacher said:
Human society comprises various races. There is no reason whatever to recognize one race as superior to another race. The external differences in constitutions among these human groups cannot alter their basic human traits – love and affection, pleasure and pain, hunger and thirst. These basic biological instincts and mental propensities equally predominate in human beings of all complexions in all countries and in all ages. A mere rustic, illiterate, half-naked tribal mother of an unknown hamlet ... in India bears deep maternal affections for her young children; in the same way, a well-educated mother of a locality of New York pours out of her heart a great love for her own children. 
The subterranean flow of love and affection exists in all hearts alike. Every person cries out in pain, everyone feels pleasure when there are occasions of joy and happiness. [F]undamentally, their mental existences flow along the same channels of ideas and consciousness. Containing the same cosmic momentum and under the same cosmic inspiration, they all have set out for a tryst with the same destiny.

I dream of a world where we recognize we all have the same human emotions. A world where we remember there is nothing anyone can feel that we also haven't felt, and vice versa. A world where we recognize we aren't so alien from each other, in fact, we're not alien at all.

Another world is not only possible, it's probable.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Envy, Success, and Creativity



I envy other people's success. Not in a mean or spiteful way – I don't begrudge people their accolades, I think they deserve them – rather a part of me burns with yearning to have what they have. I've tried all the things I can think of to deal with envy – feeling it fully, using it as fuel for my own work, seeing it as an example of what's possible, etc., but nothing has made a lasting difference.

This week the green-eyed monster struck again and I sincerely asked the universe for help. I don't like feeling envious, it's not something I enjoy, or how I'd like to respond to the success of others. The universe stepped in, as it always does, and I contemplated a prayer I say every morning. Specifically, that I act as an instrument for my higher power, that I may be of service to others, and that I'd like to be used as my higher power sees fit. This week it occurred to me my creative endeavors also apply.

We are all creative. Photo by david clode on Unsplash.

On some level I already know this and it's the main reason I have this blog, to use my words in service of others. I already believe my role as an artist is to establish a link between the finite and infinite, the mundane and the transcendental. In terms of creativity, it means I'm working with something more than me. Talk to any artist and they'll tell you at some time or another it felt like they were channeling something, that something moved through them. Indeed, Elizabeth Gilbert has a mega-popular video on creativity saying exactly that. If that's true, and I believe it is, it means I'm an instrument for my higher power. I'm the violin, not the violinist.

When I look at envy from this perspective, it means I'm not to blame for any success or failure. I'm the violin, I'm not in control of the music the violinist plays, nor am I in control of how well the music is received. I don't know why certain things are popular and others languish in obscurity, but also I don't know the mind of God. However, I've experienced enough synchronicity in my life to know I am a piece on God's chessboard, that there is a greater intelligence at work. That means art too. It means perhaps certain things I write are supposed to reach a small number of people, and that's it. I want to write a wildly popular book that lands me on the New York Times bestseller list, a segment with Oprah, and a prestigious award, but maybe every book has its own purpose and trajectory, and sometimes that means only six people will read it.

Envy pops up when my ego has gotten the best of me and I start thinking about my plans instead of the universe's plans. Envy pops up when I think of myself as the violinist, not the violin. I have to take certain actions, I have to keep my instrument clean and my strings taut, so to speak, but the rest? It's not up to me. Almost every successful person talks about a “lucky break,” being in the right place at the right time. I don't think it's luck, I think it's grace, and that's something I can't manufacture no matter how hard I try. Nor am I supposed to. I'm the violin, allowing myself to be played, not the violinist.

I dream of a world where we realize we are not solely responsible for our creative successes or failures. A world where we recognize we are instruments for something greater than ourselves. A world where we take our egos out of the equation and merely allow ourselves to be played.

Another world is not only possible, it's probable.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

The Biggest Thrill



When my co-worker died unexpectedly about two months ago, it rocked me. It shook my sense of stability and security, and I've been working hard to get back to feeling safe and secure ever since. Unfortunately, all of my usual methods haven't worked. I still feel insecure and life still doesn't feel stable.

I spoke with a friend about this and she reminded me life isn't certain. We pretend it is, but it's not. We think we know what will happen next, but we don't. Usually that notion fills me with anxiety because when the outcome is uncertain, I err on the side of negativity. I know, that's funny considering this blog is called “Another World is Probable” and I spend so much time talking about a bright future, but it's true. For myself, I assume the worst – rejection, scarcity, death. On a visceral level, gazing into my future I foresee death, destruction, and despair. It makes sense then why I want to keep uncertainty at bay. The way I've done so is to plan. I plan for joy, for connection, for the future. That way I know I'll engage in something pleasant. Or at least, that's what I told myself. And it mostly worked, except also not really because I'm sure you've heard that saying, “When we make plans, God laughs.” Most often my plans went awry, but I made them anyway and I quelled my anxiety for the most part. I could be certain of most things and that was fine by me.

We're on the biggest thrill ride of them all. Photo by Park Troopers on Unsplash

When my co-worker died, my notion of certainty shattered. I couldn't keep pretending life could be certain, no matter how much I planned. His death was not something I anticipated. Nobody gave me advanced warning. He was here one day and gone the next, and that hurts.

In this moment I'm grieving him, and I'm grieving the loss of certainty. What my friend reminded me though is that doesn't have to be a bad thing. Good things are uncertain too. A new relationship, a new job, a new life are also things we cannot predict. We pretend we can by applying for new jobs, scouring dating websites, and having unprotected sex, but we don't control what the company is, who we'll fall in love with, or when we'll get pregnant. We make an effort, we do the footwork, but when any of those things manifest is ultimately a surprise.

In December, friend and Soul Couch Jayantii Lawless told me she wished I felt thrilled. Not about anything in particular, not like she wished I felt thrilled about dinner that night, rather that I had the experience of “thrill” in general. I laughed and said, “Yeah, me too.” I envisioned “thrill” in the form of falling in love, but instead, the universe is illustrating life itself is thrilling. We are on a roller coaster replete with peaks and valleys. The roller coaster will go up and it will come down. The future is just as likely to be awesome as it is awful. It's important for me to remember that because anticipating the future will be terrible isn't working for me. I'd rather anticipate the future will be terrific because that's just as likely.

I dream of a world where we recognize uncertainty can be exciting. A world where we remember it's just as likely pleasant things will happen to us as unpleasant ones. A world where we realize life is the biggest thrill ride of them all.

Another world is not only possible, it's probable.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

More than We Know



You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, smarter than you think, and loved more than you know.” – A.A. Milne

It seems to me right now we're all being called to become our best selves. We're being asked to stretch and grow in ways that are uncomfortable and unfamiliar. Milne's quote reminds me so often I sell myself short and there is more courage, strength, intelligence, and love within me than I acknowledge.

There is some not-fun stuff going on in the world, as per usual, and the challenge for us is to rise to the occasion. For me personally, that means getting in touch with my inner power. Often I want other people to do the heavy lifting in my life. I want them to “fix me,” to “make me better,” to “have all of the answers,” or in some way allow me to play the damsel in distress. The place this shows up the most is with my health.

There's more beneath the surface. Photo by Muhammad Shahzad on Unsplash

I'm writing a long facebook note about everything my chronic illness has taught me, but for the purposes of this post I want to focus on empowerment. The dynamic that has shown up with my health is I approach doctors and healers not as partners in my path to wellness, not as people who help me to heal myself, but rather as wizards who will magically cure me without any effort on my part. I realize awe-inspiring stories of magical healing happen every day, and I so wish I could be one of those people, but thus far the universe has said to me, “Nah gurl, you gotta be your own hero and rescue yourself.”

I came to this conclusion after literally trying all the things Western and Eastern to heal my physical body and not seeing much in the way of results. A friend of mine posted about a book called Energy Medicine on Instagram and even seeing the title sparked curiosity within me to explore deeper. After the eclipse, an intense and passionate desire bubbled up within me to start reading the book. It's a synthesis of all the modalities I have familiarity with – acupressure, energy meridians, chakras – and describes them in a practical way. The book explains why certain spots on my body are tender, or why I instinctively cradle my stomach. More importantly though, it's empowering me to heal myself.

It's early days, but even if I don't see the results I'd like, it seems like a valuable lesson to remember I have power and magic within me. That I am capable of more than I think I am. That I don't have to outsource everything to other people. This post is all about me, but the principle applies to the broader society as well. How many of us think what's happening is “someone else's” problem? Or that “someone else” will take charge? And how much of that is based on insecurity or inferiority?

My spiritual teacher says over and over again, “You should behave with every created being, every human being, in such a way that neither a superiority complex nor an inferiority complex develops in you, or in those with whom you interact. ... A person must not suffer from an inferiority complex, because that person and his or her friends and siblings are all the progeny of the same Progenitor. They come from the same origin.”

That means I'm just as capable as anyone else. That means the same power within others is also within me. And vice versa.

I dream of a world where we recognize we all have inner power and strength. A world where we remember no one is superior or inferior to us. A world where we realize we are braver than we believe, stronger than we seem, and smarter than we think.

Another world is not only possible, it's probable.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

New Life



As of right now, at least four of my friends are pregnant. Also, within the past two months, four of my friends have given birth. Birth happens every day, but to have so many people around me ushering forth new life fills me with hope and optimism, which is sorely needed right now.

Much of the news is gloom and doom, making it easy to believe the world is terrible and people are awful, but when I think of these new beings coming onto the planet, my heart swells. By and large, each generation is more progressive, tolerant, and accepting than the last. There are exceptions of course, but the majority are heading in that direction.

The other thing that fascinates me is contemplating the effect each new child will have on the world. We never know who the next Einstein will be. Even if the kid isn't an incredible genius, each new child will likely contribute to the welfare of society, at least in my circle of friends. I base this on my observations of their parents: Awesome parents usually raise awesome children.

I have no idea who this kid is, but they're adorable. Photo by Carlo Navarro on Unsplash.

This post is not a profound one, but rather a grateful one. When I look around me and see new children, I fully believe the world will become better and is becoming better. It's much harder to dismantle prejudice, cruelty, intolerance, etc. in people who've had years of training to think in such a manner, and much easier to teach a new generation to love right off the bat.

A quote by Nelson Mandela comes to mind: “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

Newborn babies can be taught to love, which is their natural inclination, and that means many of the problems we're experiencing today will slowly fade into history. My spiritual teacher said:
All genuine spiritualists will have to adjust with the level of the dusty earth inspired by the spontaneous love of their hearts. They will have to share the wealth of their developed intellects with others to lighten the sorrows and sufferings of humanity. Through their guidance and leadership, human thinking will take a new turn and move along an entirely new path. The latent spiritual power in human beings will be awakened. Through their effort and inspiration, the new people of a new generation will be armed with a bold new optimism and vision of the future, and march forward triumphantly.
When I see babies, I see a bold and bright new future, a triumphant march forward, and that's something to get excited about.

I dream of a world where we recognize the forward march that's taking place. A world where we celebrate the new lives coming onto this planet who are surely ushering forth a bright future. A world where we remember intolerance and injustice will eventually die out.

Another world is not only possible, it's probable.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

The Real Meaning of Nonviolence



In the wake of the events of Charlottesville, many friends have posted about punching Nazis in the face and inevitably someone makes a comment about nonviolence and promoting peace. They talk about how punching a Nazi in the face is incendiary, particularly if the neo-Nazi merely gathered together with other neo-Nazis in protest. I won't get into the issues of hate speech and incitement here, but would rather like to talk about this nonviolence thing.

In yogic philosophy, nonviolence is called ahimsa. Most people incorrectly assume ahimsa means never using force ever. But in truth, the act of living is a violent one. Every time we breathe, we kill organisms. Every time we filter water, we kill something. Life is violence and I see in our country a tendency to disown violence and project it outward.

There's a grip and a force to life, like a lizard's foot. Photo by Katarzyna Urbanek on Unsplash.

We are a country that extols the likes of Gandhi and Martin Luther King for their peaceful protest tactics, yet we spend more on our defense budget than any other country in the world. We talk about the importance of peace in matters of civil unrest, yet we invade other countries to help them overthrow governments. We are constantly on the lookout for terrorism, quick to profile people who are not White and not Christian, yet we ignore terrorism on our own soil. Yo, something is not right here. How can we be a nation of such extremes?

I'm not an expert, I'm just another person on the internet, but I'm pretty sure we as a country are refusing to acknowledge the beast within us. We want someone else to do our fighting, yet we're attracted to violent movies, television, and books because there's something we like about violence. We want to believe peace is the path forward because it paints a nicer picture, but in truth, more revolutions are violent than they are peaceful. It's rare for pleading and supplication to change the mind of an oppressor.

I'm not saying we should all walk around throwing punches at every person who looks at us funny, but force is sometimes necessary. On a personal level, anyone who wants to take away your property, your spouse, comes with a weapon to murder you, wants to snatch away your wealth, set fire to your house, or wants to take your life by administering poison, use force on them. Your life is just as important as theirs.

My spiritual teacher says, “The use of force against an aggressor is valor and desisting from such use of force is cowardice. But the weak people must assess their strength before indulging in violent conflict with a powerful aggressor; otherwise, if a fight is started without acquiring proper strength, injustice may temporarily triumph.” He also said, “Of course, if you find that the aggressor is bent on destroying you, whether you use force or not, it would be proper to die at least giving a blow to the best of your might without waiting to assemble the adequate forces.”

I'd like to believe my spiritual teacher dispenses this advice because he wants us to know our lives are worth fighting for, literally. We are all worthy and deserving of respect and that means not taking abuse from anyone, whether individually or as a group.

I dream of a world where we recognize sometimes the use of force is necessary. A world where we understand there exists within each of us a warrior-self that's appropriate to use when the case calls for it. A world where we understand the real meaning of nonviolence.

Another world is not only possible, it's probable.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

How Progress is Made



A friend of mine shared a meme on facebook the other day that said we're reliving the 60s: high-waisted pants, A-line dresses, and skinny ties are in style, along with, oh yeah, the threat of nuclear war. Many people are shocked and surprised, saying things like, “I can't believe this is happening in 2017.” Until about a year ago, I would have been one of those people, but today, current events do not surprise me.

Part of the reason current events do not surprise me is due to astrology. At the moment, we are undergoing similar transits to the ones of the 60s, meaning we're seeing similar issues resurface: feminism, civil rights, the threat of nuclear war, and also the fashion. As if to confirm this, on Saturday, a man boarded my bus sporting a beard, longer hair, and a tie-dye t-shirt. The whole day I kept seeing references to the 60s – an ad celebrating the 50th anniversary of the summer of love, another using the word “groovy” with the image of a person wearing round, red-colored glasses. History repeats itself.

Progress is like a mountain range with peaks and valleys. Photo by Nitish Meena on Unsplash.

I've heard the expression “history repeats itself” approximately a billion times, yet whenever history repeats itself, I used to meet the circumstance with disbelief. “What? No! How could this be?” These days I recognize not only does history repeat itself, but this is how progress is made – it's not a straight line, it's not an elegant steady slope, it's more like a mountain range with peaks and valleys. We ascend the mountaintop and then we descend into the valley, and just because we're back in the valley doesn't mean we aren't marching forward.

I have to keep this in mind not only on a societal level but a personal one. A common complaint of mine recently is some areas of my life are not better than a year ago, in fact, they're worse. I'm not scaling the mountain, I'm sliding into the valley. My brain interprets this to mean I'm not progressing, I'm not advancing, and instead I can expect parts of my life to stay crappy forever and always, which is of course not true – something my spiritual teacher substantiates.

He said motion is never linear, rather it is always systoltic, or pulsative. “All kinds of movement in this expressed universe are linked with the state of pause … Pause is only a temporary state of inertness,” he said. “Full expression of action occurs only after attaining momentum for movement from the state of inertness. No action is possible without momentum attained from the state of inertness, and thus every action (also called movement) must be systoltic, or pulsative, by nature.”

Perhaps then my slide into the valley is my pause to gather strength, to regain my energy before climbing the next mountain. Also, perhaps this period we're undergoing as a society is a pause of sorts that allows us to ferret out injustice, examine the unexamined, and clear out the cobwebs in order for us to keep moving forward. Instead of viewing our societal events as regression, maybe they're important, albeit terrifying and horrific, milestones on our path to progress.

I dream of a world where we recognize progress on a personal and societal level takes the shape of a mountain range with peaks and valleys. A world where we understand descent is an important part of moving forward. A world where we remember motion is pulsative – it starts and stops with a pause in between. A world where we keep in mind how progress is made.

Another world is not only possible, it's probable.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

The Forever One


The unexpected death of my colleague nearly a month ago unsettled me. I have a need for security and stability (we all do), and his death reminded me the world is not stable; it's always changing. I want to know the people in my life will always be around, and if they're dying, I want advanced notice so I can say a proper goodbye. But life doesn't work like that, and Eric's death reminds me a person can die at any time.

Goodness, even writing that I feel my anxiety levels rising. Let's talk about solutions. Some of the messages I say to myself are, “I'm here. I'm not going anywhere. I'm not ever going anywhere.” On Saturday, I reminded myself those messages are true. I'm not going anywhere because when I die, all parts of me die. We'll die together – my inner child, my inner parent, my higher self. I'm not ever going anywhere because every part of me is inextricably linked.

I like to think of our eternal companion as an audience member. Photo by Jake Hills on Unsplash. 

I talk about “parts” a lot, but this is not New Age mumbo jumbo. In yoga philosophy, there are three parts of the mind. One of the parts, the mahatattva, is the observer. This is the part that's like an audience member of a play – they see everything transpiring on the stage, but they're not actively doing anything. That audience member, that eternal observer, if you will, is the one who has the best perspective because they literally see more than the actor on the stage.

When I self-soothe, when I remind myself I'm here and I'm not going anywhere, I connect with my observer self, which is where security and stability lies. That which is eternal is beyond spatial, temporal, and personal factors; it never changes and is always there.

My spiritual teacher says, “The unchangeable witnessing consciousness that lies behind the manifested, externalized states of consciousness, or behind these apparently conscious entities is Puruśa.” Puruśa is how I define God. Puruśa is the forever entity, the forever one who is inside of me, watching my every act. The point of my meditation practice is to realize Puruśa and I are the same. That I am it and it is me.

To quote an Indian sage, “Those of calm intellect who see Him within themselves alone attain eternal bliss. To them alone belongs abiding peace.” Over and over again I learn true security, stability, bliss, and peace cannot be found in the external world. It can only be found internally. My anxious self will never be satisfied with the constant presence of a person because people die or leave unexpectedly. They cannot be my eternal companions, but that doesn't mean I don't have one. Because I do. We all do. Our eternal companion, our forever one, is the witnessing entity within us and around us. The more I remember that, the better off I'll be.

I dream of a world where we realize true security, stability, bliss, and peace comes from within. A world where we recognize we each have an internal observer, watching the drama of life unfold objectively. An observer who is with us always. A witness who is our forever companion.

Another world is not only possible, it's probable.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

What is Reality?



The adjective I'd use to describe life right now is “surreal,” both on a personal level and a societal level. I'm still grappling with the death of my colleague, it seems strange he no longer exists on this earthly plane, and in addition, I'm reintegrating into normal life after having gone on vacation. I have a giant blue poncho that says, “I heart Denmark” on the back of it, and yet, the entire experience feels like a dream. Did I really go there? Did I really see all the things I saw? I have the pictures to prove it, but somehow that doesn't seem adequate right now. As a bit of a disclaimer, I'm sick so my rational brain is offline, giving everything a dreamy quality.

Even if everything wasn't dreamy though, even if my brain was operating normally, some things I'd still classify as surreal. Our political situation, for instance. Regularly there's a news story surfacing worthy of the Onion, a satirical publication, but instead the story is legitimate. How is this real life? Furthermore, what is real life?

Eventually this, too, will stop being "real." Photo by Damian Zaleski on Unsplash.

I'm not a philosopher, but the question has me curious. Some people say the entire world is an illusion, or máyá. Are they right? In short, no. Is my cough an illusion? Is the chair I'm sitting on fake? No. The world exists, it's real, but also the world is a relative truth, according to my spiritual teacher.

“No worldly form remains unchanged for a long period of time,” he said. “The world always undergoes metamorphosis; this is how it maintains its existence – through evolution, through transformation.” That means what's true today may not be true tomorrow. For instance, I'm sick today but I won't be sick next month, I hope. My chair exists today, but 200 years from now it will not. It's kind of a scary thing for me to contemplate, that we live in a world where everything is temporary and reality is changeable, but the evidence proves this over and over again. For instance, it wasn't all that long ago that people thought germs were mythical.

Some people say reality is that which can be measured and proven scientifically, but as was once the case with germs, there are things in existence our instruments are not sensitive enough to measure yet. Does that make them any less real? As much as I'd like to define reality, I'm discovering I can't because reality is always changing. I'm going to cop out here and circle back to my perennial topic: spirituality.

According to my spiritual treatise, the world is relative, but there is something absolute. There is something unchangeable and eternal, a solid foundation, a rock to which I may cling. There is an eternal, formless, unchangeable entity that pervades all of existence. It is to that entity, which exists both inside of me and outside of me, to whom I'm moving closer. It is to that entity I pay my salutations when I meditate. It is that entity who helps me unearth an absolute reality, which is something I wish for all of us.

I dream of a world where we remember the world is not an illusion, the world is real, but it's constantly changing. A world where we let this fact fill us with hope because we realize that means things will never stay the same, and thus can always become better. A world where we live in our relative reality while also working toward that which is absolute.

Another world is not only possible, it's probable.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Connected at the Core



The other week I read an interesting philosophical treatise about the structure of our universe, which is an oval. We are made up of atoms with electrons moving around a nucleus. On a larger scale, the Earth is the nucleus and the moon is moving around it. In our solar system, the sun is the nucleus and all the planets are moving around it. According to my spiritual philosophy, there is a Supreme nucleus and we are all moving around it.

Is that Supreme hub a place we can get to? Can I jump into a rocketship and go see it? Is the Supreme nucleus instead a metaphor? I do not know the answers to these questions, but a friend commented on this discourse and said we are all emanating out from the same nucleus. We all have the same center, the same core.

We are all spiraling around the same nucleus.

His comment struck me because regardless of whether or not a person believes in a Cosmic Consciousness, or subscribes to my spiritual philosophy, we do have the same core. It is a fact we are all made up of atoms. It is a fact we are all made up of stardust, to paraphrase Carl Sagan. To quote an article on the subject:
“The carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen atoms in our bodies, as well as atoms of all other heavy elements, were created in previous generations of stars over 4.5 billion years ago. Because humans and every other animal as well as most of the matter on Earth contain these elements, we are literally made of star stuff.”
I've been hearing about this concept for many years so it's easy for me to gloss over it, but something about thinking how we all have the same core got to me. It allows me to connect with you even deeper because inside we are the same, and knowingly or unknowingly, we are moving together. Some people are moving closer to the Supreme hub. I would say the Dalai Lama or Pope Francis are great examples of people who are moving closer to Cosmic Consciousness because they have a universal outlook. They seem to look upon others with a sense of oneness, that we are all connected, that there is no difference between them and someone else.

My spiritual teacher says, “Each and every aspirant, each and every artist, each and every scientist, and each and every philosopher must be ensconced in this supreme veracity – that they will have to be one with the Supreme, that each will have to coincide his or her microcosmic nucleus with the macrocosmic one.”

The speed with which this happens varies, and some people move further away from the nucleus, but no one can move beyond its scope. Even the most terrible person, even the most despised people are still circling the nucleus. They may be at the periphery, but they still have the same nucleus, and that means I can recognize those people, too, are my brothers and sisters. They, too, are on the spiritual journey with me and that means I can soften my heart toward them. Because we are all connected at the core.

I dream of a world where we recognize we are all made of the same things. A world where we recognize we all emanate from the same source. A world where we remember we are all connected at the core.

Another world is not only possible, it's probable.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Intimacy Begins with Me



Last week, I wrote about the death of a colleague. In addition to grieving, I'm learning a lot about intimacy.

So often when I think about intimacy, it's in the context of a romantic relationship, but the truth is, intimacy is not confined to a romantic partner. Real intimacy is like unzipping yourself and displaying your insides, and that can be done with anyone, something I've witnessed in this process.

As I share the news about my co-worker's death, people react in different ways. Some people allow me to cry without offering a diversion or attempting to fix it. Other people become discomfited and say a quick, “I'm sorry,” before moving on to another topic. I'm not deriding people for their reactions – people are where they're at and will respond how they do. What I notice though is in order to share my feelings with someone else, to be intimate with them, I have to acknowledge my feelings first. If I'm uncomfortable feeling sad, there's no way I can share that with someone else because I'm shutting the feelings down internally. Someone else may be more than willing to share and connect with me, but if I'm not connected to myself, no one else can connect with me either.

As with most things, intimacy is an inside job.

We hear often, “You can't give what you don't have,” but I'm a concrete gal and I like examples. As an example, if someone asked me for oranges right now, I'd have to shake my head and say, “Sorry, I don't have any.” Similarly, I can't give intimacy if I don't have it internally.

We think of intimacy and love as “out there,” something to find or force. I can't tell you how many times I've complained about certain men in my life, lamenting that they're not opening up, as if they were clams I could pry open. I've craved intimacy, but it's only been within recent years I've created it internally by embracing all of my emotions. By giving myself space to feel.

Love and intimacy get presented as if we could walk into a store and buy them. We don't realize intimacy is something we create, something we work on internally. I could be in relationship with the most amazing person, someone who loves intimacy, but if I'm not in touch with my own feelings, if I'm not allowing myself to feel them, we won't have intimacy. It will be like talking to a brick wall. I say this because that's also been my experience in grieving. When I share my insides with people who are discomfited, it's like I threw an egg against a brick wall – my insides are smeared, on display. There's no reciprocity, only impact. When I share my insides with people who are comfortable with emotion, it's like I threw an egg at a cloud of cotton – I feel held, comforted, and supported.

Matt Licata, a psychotherapist I follow, synthesizes this concept well:
When all is said and done, perhaps there is no secret to co-creating a fulfilling, supportive, mutually beneficial intimate relationship, as it is always in the end a movement of the unknown. Healthy intimacy is not something you will figure out one day by way of some checklist or magical formula, but something you are asked to live in each moment, in all its chaotic glory. By learning to take care of yourself, you are creating a foundation upon which the mysteries of intimacy can come alive within and around you, providing a crucible like no other for the great work of aliveness that you have come here to embody.
I dream of a world where we embody our emotions. A world where we understand intimacy is not something “out there,” but rather “in here.” A world where we recognize intimacy is not something we find, but rather something we create. A world where we realize intimacy beings with us.

Another world is not only possible, it's probable.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Out, Out, Brief Candle



I found out on Thursday a work colleague of mine died unexpectedly. No warning, no known life-threatening health issues, just gone. Out like a candle. It reminds me of that passage from Macbeth:
Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more.
I'm still in shock to be honest. Here one minute, gone the next. It doesn't seem real. I know some people experience a shift in perspective at times like these. It reminds them life is short and not to waste a minute of it. This it not that sort of blogpost. I will not suddenly seize the day or live like I'll die tomorrow, because for me, that sort of pace will kill me. I know this because living with that mindset has wrecked my body. Instead, this post is a meditation on transience.

We are all candles, here for a brief period.

My colleague's death reminds me that everything – my thoughts, my feelings, even my life – has an end. I trick myself otherwise, convinced every feeling and situation is interminable, but in truth, it's not. We often say, “This, too, shall pass,” forgetting “this” also includes life itself.

I'm still coming out of shock and into grief, yet I feel at peace, not about my colleague's death, but about the nature of life itself. I'm in deep acceptance that I don't have as much agency as I think I do. That I can eat well, exercise, wear sunscreen, but when I die is not up to me. I will be here as long as I am here.

In my spiritual tradition, we say a person will merge in Cosmic Consciousness only after completing the duty assigned to him or her by Cosmic Consciousness. The trouble is, there's no sand timer in the sky letting us know when the sand has run out. And what's interesting is the older I get, the more I understand what people mean when they say life goes by quickly. With that in mind, I have no trouble believing I could live until I was 120 and it would still feel too short. It would still feel like a flash in the pan. In truth, no matter how long we live, it will always be a brief moment in time, a period when for a short while we walked the Earth.

My spiritual teacher says, “This expressed universe is nothing but a collection of temporary entities which are undergoing constant metamorphosis according to the sweet will of nature.” We are all temporary entities and we are all constantly undergoing change. Nothing stays the same. Nothing. I can't help but wonder if I kept this thought at the forefront of my mind how my life would be different. If I would experience more ease and peace as well as joy knowing my life is like a candle that can be blown out at any moment.

This post is a somber one, I know, but I hope it will also be a reassuring one. For those of you undergoing hardship, remember it will end. And for those of you undergoing ecstasy, enjoy it while you can, because it, too, will end.

I dream of a world where we remember all things are temporary. A world where we realize we're not in control of everything. A world where we practice acceptance of what is because we recognize like everything else, this, too, shall pass.

Another world is not only possible, it's probable.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Accepting Uncertainty



Historically, one of the ways I've dealt with uncertainty and ambiguity is to become controlling. If I didn't know what was going on, I'd make a plan or force a decision so that I did, because then at least I'd know, and knowing was more comfortable than not knowing.

It should come as no surprise I was a stage manager in high school, and for a couple of years in college. For those unaware, the stage manager is the person behind the scenes of a show who is calling all the lighting and sound cues, the person who makes sure the sets are moving when they should, the person who determines when the show starts, even. This is not done without input or help, but the ultimate responsibility is the stage manager's. I loved stage managing. At last my character traits of controlling and perfectionism were put to good use. Instead of being disparaged for them, I was lauded.

Will this person hitch a ride or not? 

Unfortunately, while all the world's a stage, I'm not the stage manager. Nor did I get the script in advance. For someone prone to anxiety, and who likes to know what's happening beforehand, this is not a good combination. To manage this, I could have become the type of person who does the same thing every day, who sticks to a schedule rigidly, who never tries anything new, who lives in a safe container of the known and the familiar, but I get bored and restless. Well shucks. What's a gal to do then?

Lately, instead of defaulting to controlling, I'm allowing all of my feelings. I'm letting it be OK that I'm scared. I'm letting it be OK that I think things should be this way or that. I'm also letting it be OK that there's a part of me itching to decide one way or another. These days I'm letting all my parts co-exist and that means accepting uncertainty. The truth is, for all my planning, nothing ever happened the way I thought it would anyway. That doesn't mean I'll stop planning altogether – I will never be a person who's comfortable flying into a foreign city without knowing where she's sleeping that night – but it also means I'm allowing for flexibility.

According to my spiritual teacher, and many teachers, adjustment and flexibility are essentials for human progress. My teacher says, “Intelligent people will not cling to old, outdated ideas. Rather they will wholeheartedly embrace that theory which adjusts with time, space, and person, and will continue to exist forever.”

He's speaking about societal theories here, but I think the same principle applies on an individual level. I must discard old and outdated ways of being in the world. Handling uncertainty by clinging to a fixed plan no longer serves me. Dealing with ambiguity by forcing a decision before the answer is clear no longer works for me. The only person I have any agency over is me, and treating myself with gentleness, humor, love, and respect sounds like the best plan to deal with uncertainty that I could ever concoct.

I dream of a world where we accept uncertainty. A world where we realize nothing will ever go exactly the way we planned. A world where we embrace flexibility and adjustment while we move ahead on the path of our lives. A world where we allow all parts of ourselves to exist in peaceful harmony.

Another world is not only possible, it's probable.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Held in Suspension



I am obsessed with progress and growth. I want to do and to achieve all the time. One of my worst fears is getting stuck, of being trapped. It should come as no surprise then I'm claustrophobic and freak out in large crowds when I can't move as freely as I'd like. It's not only an external fear, but an internal one.

The thing about my health is I feel stuck. There are many things I cannot do right now. As I've written about previously, my dreams are on hold and that suuuuuucks.

I called a friend this week to share my fears with him, and instead of dissuading me from my current perspective, he told me he's been meditating on the tarot card the hanged man. Some would view the image of a hanged man as violent, something to fear and avoid. My friend however said he views the hanged man as being suspended instead of hanged. Of being still, in a pause, held. And perhaps the same applies to my life right now. That I don't have to do anything, and instead of fighting the stuckness, I can enjoy the sense of ease that can arise because it's a moment in time when the divine is holding the rope and keeping me in place. Instead of stuck, I'm held in suspension.

Been meditating on the hanged man. Perhaps he's only suspended.

I like thinking of it in that way and also I'm reminded there's more here. It's important for me to relax while I'm suspended, to embrace the inactive part of me.

In my spiritual philosophy, there are three binding forces in the world called gunas. The forces are sattvic, or sentient, rajasic, or mutative, and tamasic, or static. All beings have a mixture of these forces within them to varying degrees. I can say without a doubt I've been denying the static force within me. I've been pretending that part of me doesn't exist, and furthermore, not giving it expression in any way. Even when I'm at home, relaxing, there is an internal struggle within me that says I should be doing something else. Something productive. And even though I haven't paid attention to that voice, even though I stay where I am and keep reading my book, the voice still lives within me.

This week something shifted and I'm yielding to inertia, to laziness. You would think it's easy because, “Woohoo! Green light to sit around and watch Netflix all day!” but actually, it's been excruciating. This week I've been crawling out of my skin with how uncomfortable I am. And in fact, instead of embracing laziness, on Friday night I cleaned my bathroom. So. You know. Still learning over here.

Again, as I think of my spiritual philosophy though, it's one of wholeness and integration. One where we view everything as an expression of an infinite loving consciousness, and that means the static side too. That means the lazy, do-nothing part of me is also divine and I'm not doing myself any favors by pretending it's not. There is a time and a place for everything, and right now, it's time for me to be lazy without guilt.

I dream of a world where we embrace all the forces within us. A world where we view all periods of our life as sacred. A world where even if we feel stuck, instead we start thinking of it as being held while in suspension.

Another world is not only possible, it's probable.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Grace in the Gunk



I'm reminded even when life doesn't look the way we want it to, grace can still be found. On a macro level, there are some aspects of my life that are not how I'd pictured them, and it's easy to sink into woe. At the same time, there can be grace in the gunk.

I'm not saying to avoid feeling woeful – everyone needs a good cry now and again – but it's interesting for me to note in the midst of not-fun things I can experience wonder and delight. Life is complicated like that.

Last weekend I traveled to Philadelphia for a wedding of a dear friend of mine. It was beautiful and touching and sweet, but I anticipated that. What I didn't anticipate were the other moments of grace that remind me there is a divine intelligence in the world, and that it cares about me.

Grace can be found everywhere.

Following the last dance at the wedding, the brides (it was a lesbian wedding) rushed out the door under a canopy of rustling wands that we, the guests, held above their heads. Therefore, I didn't get to say a proper goodbye, which saddened me. The next day, while in the lobby, the elevator door pinged open and there stood one of the brides. I was able to say a few words before the door shut again and we went our separate ways. Quite literally in this case because she descended to the ground floor while I ascended to the fifth. An hour later, I took the elevator to the ground floor and ran into the other bride, my friend, while she waited for her elevator. We had a longer conversation and a proper hug goodbye. If I had left a few moments earlier or later, I would have missed her.

The same day, I trundled around Philadelphia with my rolling luggage, soaking up the sights. Due to losing my way, I arrived at the train station at 4:25, the exact time my train was scheduled to depart. I purchased my ticket and was informed the train was running two minutes late, which meant I just barely caught my train. And I do mean just barely. The train doors had already closed by the time I arrived, but the train conductor reopened them for me.

A few more things happened, like my flight arriving half an hour early even though we left later than our departure time. They aren't huge things, and they don't fix the macro issues in my life like my health or my finances, but they're enough to remind me grace is here, too. I can have poor health and poor finances and still be taken care of. Furthermore, I didn't orchestrate any of the things I experienced. I didn't manifest it or attract it or visualize it or have any control in the matter whatsoever.

And that's the thing about grace – it's not rational, it doesn't follow a formula. It just comes. My spiritual teacher says God's grace is for all – both the virtuous and nonvirtuous. Nobody is unimportant or insignificant. Everyone is a divine child and grace is always with us, even in the gunk.

I dream of a world where we all feel graced. A world where we feel the love that surrounds us. A world where we know grace is not a reward for good behavior, it's given regardless. A world where we find grace in the gunk.

Another world is not only possible, it's probable.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

You're Worth More Than Your Relationship Status



I found out recently in China if a woman is unmarried by age 27, she's called “sheng nu,” or “leftover woman.” And if you're 30 and unmarried? Forget it. Life's over. That's literally what these women are told. The whole thing makes my blood boil.

I think what pisses me off most of all is the notion that if a woman has a Master's degree, or is successful in her field, or if she's helping others and just generally being a good human, she's still considered “less than” all because she doesn't have a ring on her finger. Are you kidding me? When did our worth become defined by our relationship status? When did getting married become the most important metric?

It should be noted here I'm not anti-marriage. I've been to about 20 weddings in the past 10 years and am currently at one this weekend. I love weddings. I love marriage. But I do not love the idea that somehow a person is “left over” if they're still single by a certain age. I say this to myself, too. There's a part of me that asks, “What's wrong with me that I'm still single?” I have imagined conversations with people justifying why I'm not married because even internally, I feel a twinge of shame that at my age, 32.5, I'm unmarried. However, hearing about these women in China who are harassed and shamed by their families on a regular basis for being single put me over the edge.

Some of us may never get here, or not get here by a certain age, and that's OK.

This is not a post where I say there's nothing wrong with being single, or that there's a pot for every lid, that eventually we all meet our match. No. This is a post where I fume at patriarchy, which is the precise system that dictates a woman is worthless if she isn't married. I realize some men feel this way too, but in articles about unmarried Chinese men, it's couched as a supply issue – too few women – whereas in articles about Chinese women, it's couched as some unfortunate mystery. That somehow it's the woman's fault she's still single. That my friends, is patriarchy.

My spiritual teacher says, in society the value of a woman is not an iota less than that of a man. And furthermore, every human being is a divine child of God – both the unmarried and the married. That means I could be single until my dying days and my value would not be any less. That means I could be single forever and still do great and worthwhile things. My worth does not go up and down depending on my relationship status, and neither does yours.

I realize some people will still look at me and ask, “Why is she still single? What's wrong with her?” I can't do anything about that, but I can do something about my internal dialogue. I can remind myself I'm amazing with or without a partner. And I can do my part to extricate myself from a system that works to make me feel inferior because I'm single. I'm not inferior and neither is anyone else, regardless of their romantic situation.

I dream of a world where we realize our relationship status doesn't define our value. A world where we recognize shaming people for being single is just another form of oppression, of subtly saying they're only worth something if they're attached to someone else. A world where we realize we are fantastic and amazing human beings whether we're in a relationship or not.

Another world is not only possible, it's probable.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

The Awakening of Women



This weekend I saw Wonder Woman and loved it. Something about watching a female superhero really got to me in a way I didn't expect. I started tearing up. As I teared up, I was reminded this has been a long time coming. Not only the movie, which it has, but more importantly, equality for women, which we're still working on.

Last year I would have told you things aren't perfect, but we as a society have progressed far in terms of equal rights for women. This year I can say that statement is both true and not true. It's true women no longer need a husband to open up a credit card account (which wasn't the case until 1974, by the way), but at the same time, we also earn less than men. And the amount is far less for women of color. Also, I can't pretend women are treated fairly in the U.S. when our current president was recorded as saying as a star, he can do anything, he can grab women by the pussy. Neither can I pretend women are treated fairly in the U.S. when the penalty for sexual assault is so lenient. It's obvious many in power think of women as inferior beings.

I look forward to the day everyone can shine like they're meant to.

At the same time, I have to admit not everyone in power thinks of women as inferior, and we have more women in positions of power not only in politics, such as Prime Minister Theresa May and Angela Merkel, but business as well, such as Sheryl Sandberg and Arianna Huffington. What I find baffling is what many don't seem to grasp, is the better life is for women, the better life is for everyone. I don't mean that in the sense, “Happy wife, happy life.” I mean, when women are educated, society flourishes.

My spiritual teacher says, “Ideally, women should also move with their own strength and with the same speed as their male counterparts. In the process of movement, if they feel pain in their legs, if they fall on their faces, they should be physically lifted up. The fact is that we must move together in unison with all.” Moving together in unison with all means we all go far. If men are allowed to dominate and demean, we as a society are like a bird flying with one wing.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying women should have equal rights only because it means we all benefit. All human beings should have equal rights. I don't understand why it's even a question. My teacher also says, “Women should have as much unbarred liberty to enjoy the light, air, earth, and water like children of nature as men have. In fact, it is not a case of granting rights to women, it is a case of recognizing their rights.”

We already have rights that are not recognized. What will it take for those rights to be recognized? I'm not sure, but I am confident the old ways of thinking will crumble into dust. Just as the Wonder Woman movie was finally made, eventually all women will have equal rights. It will take time, but it will happen. One more quote to end on: “Let women be the vanguard of a new revolution which humanity must achieve for a glorious tomorrow.”

I dream of a world where women lead a revolution that achieves a glorious tomorrow. A world where women's inherent rights are recognized. A world where all women everywhere shake off the slumber of dogma and inferiority, breaking the shackles that chain them. A world where women wake up to the true magnificence of who they are.

Another world is not only possible, it's probable.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

The Power of Language


Lately I've been thinking about the power of language. The way it builds bridges or constructs walls. And how it shapes our perspective, often in subtle ways. For instance, there is a huge difference in calling someone a rape victim versus a rape survivor. One is more passive, connoting power over, whereas the other connotes someone who endured hardship and continues to live.

Part of my musings were inspired by this article about George Lakoff. He suggests people vote with their values and thus words matter. For instance, there's a different connotation between “federal regulations” and “federal protections.” Regardless of where a person falls on the political spectrum, it's obvious to me words are powerful and shape the direction of a conversation and often the outcome.

I'm with you kid. Books are amazing. 

It's not only the words we use to describe something, its names too. Names mean something and the more we call a person their name, the more they embody it. For instance, in Sanskrit, if a person is named “Madhu,” which means “honey,” or “sweet,” they start to become more sweet. They develop the qualities of the name. Names are powerful, as we know, but often forget. What we call people matters. How we describe people matters. Both for the person and for us, because it determines the lens through which we view the person. For instance, I could look at a person and think “criminal” or I could think “disadvantaged.” Each will lead me down a different path. For the criminal, throw them in jail, make 'em pay. For the disadvantaged, provide help and resources.

It's important to choose with care our words. I'm reminded of a yogic concept I've written about before: satya. It implies proper action of mind and the right use of words with the spirit of welfare.

My spiritual teacher says, “Humans are rational beings: They possess in varying degrees the capability to do what is necessary or good for humanity. In the realm of spirituality, such thought, word, or action has been defined as satya.”

I guess to me that means it is our responsibility to use language in such a way that it engenders the all-around welfare for everyone. It is our responsibility to use language so that we start moving together in a direction that means everyone is living better. Because language is powerful and the more we recognize that and utilize it for the benefit of all, the better off we'll all be.

I dream of a world where we recognize the power of language and we use it to make lives better for everyone. A world where we use language to unite rather than divide. A world where we choose our words with care.

Another world is not only possible, it's probable.