Sunday, December 10, 2017

Longing for Expansion



The other day I watched a popular movie where one of the characters sought never-ending expansion. He felt his life had no meaning unless he could keep expanding. That may sound silly and very Hollywood-esque, but I notice the same tendency in real life. The rich seek to get richer, the powerful seek to get more powerful. Common folk seek expansion too in some form or fashion, whether that's adding another instagram follower or branching out their business.

My spiritual teacher says, “Everybody wants expansion. The desire for expansion is the innate characteristic, the dharma, of human beings. No one desires to remain a tiny thing. All wish to expand their psychic arena.”

This picture. I mean really. Photo by Bryan Goff on Unsplash.

I buy that, it makes sense to me from what I've witnessed in myself and others. What's interesting for me to contemplate is how this desire for expansion, or vistára as we say in Sanskrit, plays itself out. As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, for some it means garnering more wealth or power. I continue to be amazed at the lengths some people will go to for those two things. I know it's not a new thing, to lie, cheat, and steal in the name of wealth and power, but every year it seems people find newer and more appalling ways to acquire them. It would be easy to keep casting those seeking expansion as villains, as indeed this movie I watched recently did, but again, the desire for expansion exists in all of us. It's natural and normal. What to do then to keep the desire for expansion from becoming cancerous?

I'm pretty sure you know where I'm going with this, what I'll say next. The answer is meditation, specifically, any meditation that puts a person in touch with something greater than themselves. We long to expand unencumbered. We long for something infinite and the only thing that's infinite is the Cosmic Self. That means we have to turn our psychic quality of vistára toward the Supreme if we ever want to satisfy our thirst for limitlessness.

I mention this because I notice the tendency in myself, too, that enough is never enough. What is the number of followers on social media that would satisfy me? What is the amount of money in my bank account that would be enough? Heck, if I could eat cookies nonstop without feeling terrible, I would. My brain wants more, more, more. And the only way I've found thus far to satisfy the feeling of “more, more, more” is to turn to spirituality. Let's be honest though, even with meditation I still want to eat all the cookies all the time, but now at least I'm clear the answer does not lie with the outside world, but rather the internal one, and that, I think, makes a huge difference.

I dream of a world where we we take our desire for expansion and turn it toward something which is truly infinite. A world where we keep expanding but we do so internally. A world where we recognize wanting to expand is normal, and we channelize it in such a way that benefits ourselves and those around us.

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

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Our Dreams are Earmarked



It doesn't happen to me often that I'm up most of the night, wide awake, unable to sleep, but it's happening as I write this in my journal. It seems only fitting for the topic of this post, dreams.

The other day I pulled an oracle card and it was called “The Retriever.” The Retriever is a fairy who retrieves that which is lost, including dreams. The Retriever will hold onto the dream until the person is ready to pick it up again. Drawing the card I felt comforted. A sense of ease washed over me. I visualized my dreams as an orb off in the hinterlands.

So often we talk about our dreams as something to pursue, to constantly work toward, like they're a marathon to train for. The Retriever reminds me my dreams are out there, ready and waiting for me, when I can attend to them. I don't have to worry about them disappearing like a soap bubble if I'm unable to focus on them – they're not going anywhere.

Each of these "dreams" is earmarked for a person. Photo by Ella Jardim on Unsplash.

Right now as you likely know, I'm unable to pursue my dreams to the degree I'd like. All I have the capacity for at this time is focusing on my health. I mean, obviously because I'm writing this post in the middle of the night instead of sleeping. While I could heap on further disappointment by telling myself my poor health is evidence my dreams will never come true, and I'll be stuck here forever and always, I'm reminding myself my dreams are out in a field somewhere, earmarked for me, waiting patiently.

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's a long way to talk about divine timing, but I also think it's a message that I can focus on other things, like my health, knowing one day my desire will match the Cosmic desire, and my dreams will manifest. I would say I can't wait, but that's not true. I can wait and I will, because my dreams are out there somewhere with my name on them. There's no rush. And that means I can take all the time I need.

I dream of a world where we realize our dreams are earmarked for us. A world where we realize our dreams don't disappear if we're unable to focus on them when and how we'd like. A world where we have peace of mind, recognizing when we're ready to retrieve our dreams, they'll be there waiting for us.

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

Sunday, November 26, 2017

There is Oil in the Sesame



Twice this week I read a discourse by my spiritual teacher called, “There is Oil in the Sesame.” Not necessarily because the discourse is profound, but rather because I couldn't be bothered to pick a different reading for our special gathering on Thanksgiving. But as I've written about before, there are no coincidences so. . .

The passage quotes sages of yesteryear who said, “God lies hidden in everything, like oil in sesame seeds, like ghee in curd, like water in stream beds, like fire in wood. Only those who adhere strictly to benevolent truthfulness, and perform spiritual practices, can churn the mind and realize the Supreme entity out of it.”

Even the smallest thing may be transformed. Photo by Percy Pham on Unsplash.

The quote stuck with me because I'm reminded through force and friction, something new may emerge. We often say through pressure coal becomes a diamond, but that's a myth. Diamonds are related to coal, but they're like the more pure cousin so no, if I squeeze coal really, really hard, it will not become diamond. The metaphor still holds, but with a more mundane example, such as extracting oil from sesame, or fire from wood. From looking at a little sesame seed, you wouldn't know it contains oil. From looking at a piece of wood, you wouldn't know rubbing it together creates fire. In both cases though, it's true.

The context of the sesame quote is a spiritual one – my teacher uses it to goad us to practice meditation, to remind us intense spiritual effort is what allows us to realize the divinity within us, but for this blogpost, and my life, I'm thinking about the quote more in the terms of personal hardship.

I want life to be easy. I want to glide through everything without any effort. If I could be comfortable all the time, that would be great. This quote about sesame seeds reminds me I'm not experiencing difficulties for kicks. It's not because some dude in the sky said, “I need a laugh today. Let's make life miserable for Rebekah.” No, it's happening for my transformation.

I don't know many things, but one thing I know for sure, without a doubt, is life is synonymous with transformation. Even if I had the easiest life, if someone hand-fed me everyday and carried me from place to place so as to never sully my feet, I would still age. My body would still degenerate and eventually I would die. That is inevitable. Nothing stays the same. Nothing. And if life is about transformation, if it will happen regardless of my input, I'm again wondering if every trial I endure is in service of making me into something greater. Of transforming me into someone I otherwise would not have been. Sesame seeds do not secrete oil without pressure, wood wouldn't burn without friction, and maybe I wouldn't be who I am without hardship. Maybe every difficult experience I endure, maybe every hurdle in my path, is an opportunity to change me into someone better. Magic and divinity lie latent within me and it seems pressure is the way to force it out.

Do I like it? Of course not, but these days I'm holding the belief these things happen for my transformation, even if I don't get to see the consequences immediately. And I'd like to believe that's true for everyone.

I dream of a world where we realize there is more to us than we likely know. A world where we understand difficulties transform us, often into someone greater than we would have expected. A world where we realize everything that happens to us is in service of transformation. A world where we remember we are like sesame seeds and we have the capacity to become oil.

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

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Allowing Anger in Spirituality



I've burned with anger this week, both from occurrences in my personal world and in our society. Anger shows up to say, “This is not OK,” and there are many things I'm not OK with. I know every spiritual teacher, including mine, says it's important to cultivate non-anger, that we shouldn't allow anger to overtake us, and on one level I agree. On another, I don't.

I am a human being, not a robot, and that means every feeling under the sun I've felt, including anger. For me to not feel angry would be an act of suppression and repression. It wouldn't be real. If I pretended anger never coursed through me, I'd become a passive doormat OK with anything and everything that happened to me. Anger gives me agency. It demonstrates in a visceral way what's important to me. Anger, like all emotions, acts as a messenger.

Fiery anger is also allowed. Photo by raquel raclette on Unsplash.

I also think about how my spiritual teacher behaved, not only what he said. In practice, he became angry when someone lied, cheated, stole, or disregarded a directive. At the same time, someone else could lie, cheat, steal, or disobey, and he would smile and laugh. Spiritual teachers are complicated and obviously understand every person and situation is different and requires a different response. However, his behavior demonstrates to me he wasn't attached to anger. Anger could flare up but it could also dissipate easily. One minute he could rage against someone and as soon as they showed contrition, he would soften and shower the person with love. He wasn't attached to anger, but it still showed up. I mention all this because it's clear to me anger is a tool that everyone uses.

When I think of my spiritual teacher, I see he used anger with finesse, which is also something I'm learning. If I keep anger locked away in a drawer somewhere, when it comes time to use it, I may hurt myself or those around me because I'm clumsy and inexperienced. I wouldn't let a toddler handle a knife until they developed more dexterity, and that's what I think is happening with me right now. I'm becoming more dexterous with anger so I may wield it appropriately as the situation allows.

I also want to express I have a theory as to why spiritual teachers talk about cultivating peace instead of anger. It's easy to get stuck in a rageful place, to hold a grudge. People become angry, spiteful, and bitter all the time. By not fanning the flames of anger on a macro level, spiritual teachers are pointing us toward subtler emotions, such as love. I'm reminded though, you can be angry at someone you love. That love is big enough to hold anger as well. And expressing anger is sometimes the most loving thing a person can do.

I dream of a world where we allow the expression of anger in a healthy way, even in spiritual circles. A world where we understand anger is a tool in our toolbox and it's important for us to learn how to use it. A world where we express anger to the degree a situation calls for, and then let it go when it's time.

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

Sunday, November 12, 2017

There Are (Still) No Coincidences

It's been a busy and stressful week. Lots of traveling, lots of activity. The only thing on my mind is synchronicity. I'm resharing this post on the topic from more than a year ago. Enjoy. 



The other week, I ended early with my writing coaching client (which never happens) and conducted my usual grocery shopping. As I walked out of the grocery store, I ran into someone I literally haven't seen or talked to in close to five years. It turns out, a few days prior he mentioned me to his girlfriend and voila, we ran into each other.

Even better, during the course of our conversation I said some things it seemed he needed to hear so in many ways I felt like a messenger. I walked away from our encounter on a high, marveling at the magic and the mystery of the universe.

There are no coincidences.

Some people would say that interaction was a coincidence, a happy accident. I don't view it that way at all. My spiritual teacher says everything is incidental. “For each and every incident there is some cause,” he says. We may or may not know the cause, but that doesn't mean there isn't one.

He gives the example of an earthquake saying perhaps a huge stone took 10 million years to move from one place to another, but when it fell, the action took only a few seconds and caused the earth to shake. The cause took 10 million years to come to fruition but there was a cause for the earthquake, it didn't just “happen.”

When I look at the synchronistic turn of events from the other week, I am reminded there is a divine intelligence in place. There is some force at work that configured things just so, allowing me to meet this friend. If I hadn't left my coaching session early, if my friend walked into the grocery store five minutes later, etc. our meeting wouldn't have occurred. I am truly in awe of all the moving parts that needed to align in order for us to run into each other.

This story comforts me because at the moment there are a few areas of my life where I feel stuck and hopeless. Where I don't see how they can or will change. I am convinced they will stay in their current state for the rest of my days. But then I think about this “chance” encounter with my friend and am reminded things can and do change unexpectedly. And not only that, there is also a guiding presence in my life, overseeing everything.

If I can run into a friend out of the blue, is there also a chance these areas of life can also change? That things won't stay the same? That something else unexpected will show up in my life to shake things up? Like the stone that took 10 million years to fall, maybe there are events slowly, slowly unfolding and when they drop will shake the ground beneath my feet. I find that both terrifying and exciting. I cling to the notion though the universe is working for my benefit, that it ultimately wants to see me succeed.

I dream of a world where we realize everything is incidental. A world where we realize we may not know the initial cause but that doesn't mean there isn't one. A world were we remember there is a guiding force in our life that arranges circumstances and events for our benefit.

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

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Internal Spaciousness


In the more than nine years since I started this blog, I've written about impatience approximately a million times. Just kidding, but it does come up a lot. In fact, I wrote about impatience a month ago. What's interesting is I'm noticing how I'm impatient not only about external factors like my career, but also with my internal states. When I'm sad, I want to be over the sadness as quickly as possible. When I'm afraid, I want to skip to serene as soon as I can.

This week my therapist told me, “You can feel sad as long as you need to feel sad. Take as much time as you need.” In that moment I realized even though I've recently starting allowing myself to feel all my feelings, I've still added in a time element. I want to move through them as quickly as possible, and that often means I don't feel them fully because it's a rush job. If you're painting a house and slap on some paint as quick as can be, it's bound to happen that you miss a few spots. A thorough job takes time and that's precisely what I haven't been giving myself. Instead, I've been giving myself a whole lot of judgment.

We can give ourselves space internally and externally. Photo by Todd Quackenbush on Unsplash.
I watched a television sitcom the other day that had a funeral scene, and I started crying because it reminded me of my co-worker. My first response was, “Really? It's been four months. You're still sad? You didn't even know him all that well.” And my next response was, “OK, go ahead and cry,” but it held a tinge of someone standing next to me, tapping her foot, waiting for me to finish. So much of my life is like that right now, tapping my foot, waiting for the next thing on a small scale as well as a large one. I'm counting down the hours until I have to take my next pill, or have to leave to catch the bus, or when my health will improve, or when my dreams will come true.

I could easily veer into the beauty of staying present, of being where my feet are, but while related, instead I'm valuing spaciousness and ease. I'm starting to give myself permission to take all the time I need. To not rush my internal process. To stop giving myself self-imposed deadlines of when I should feel better or my life should look different than it does. Deadlines are helpful for some things, but in others they're detrimental.

My spiritual teacher says, “Suppose, immediately after planting some saplings and seeds, someone digs them up to find out if they have taken root or sprouted. That would not be considered wise.” I always thought he meant literal saplings and seeds, and he likely did, but now I'm understanding we have internal saplings and seeds too. And for those as well, I have to wait for them to take root and sprout.

I dream of a world where we give ourselves the time and space we need. A world where we no longer rush our internal processes or judge ourselves harshly about where we think we're supposed to be or how we're supposed to feel. A world where we recognize the value of internal spaciousness.

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

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Love Me, Too



The other week I wrote that all any part of me wants is love and presence. Ever since I said, “I love you” to my fearful part, it's as if I triggered a rock slide, and now other parts are popping up and saying, “What about me? Do you love me, too?”

The practice is a difficult one because so much of my life has been geared toward fighting, toward struggling, to talking back. For instance, if I think I'm fat, my response will be, “No you're not.” I don't allow for the thought to even exist. Since the other week though and learning to love a part I previously only pushed away, instead of fighting back, I'm saying, “OK Rebekah. So what if you are? I love your body no matter what. If it's fat, if it's thin, if it's not functioning the way you want it to, I love it, and you anyway.”

I feel vulnerable even typing that because it's true, what I long for is unconditional love and I've withheld it from myself in a never-ending quest toward an unattainable ideal. I think there's also a fear if I shower myself with unconditional love that I'll become an inert blob, but the truth is, love doesn't mean constant indulgence. Love means compassion, understanding, acceptance, allowance. It means saying to myself, “I see you as you are, right now, and I love you anyway.” From that place, real change and transformation occurs. Loving my fearful part didn't make me more afraid, quite the opposite. Loving my fearful part gave me a sense of relief and peace unlike any I've experienced before.

Can I love it all? I'm working on it. Photo by Roman Kraft on Unsplash.

My spiritual practice promotes the cultivation of love. Of viewing everything as an expression of an infinite loving consciousness, of trying to grow the internal feeling of love. Our goal is to love all living beings and to merge ourselves in the source of that feeling. To swim in an ocean of love. The thing is though, if I keep believing some parts of me are not worthy and deserving of love, there's no way I can give myself over to that ocean. It's like saying, “Your legs are allowed to wade into the water, but your arms have to stay dry.” I can't experience complete merger until I'm completely submerged.

What I'm coming to here is recognizing, again, all parts of me want love. My body wants love, my mind wants love, my emotions want love. The cool thing is I can give that to myself. I don't have to wait for some imagined future that may never come. I don't have to wait for someone else to come along and say, “I love all parts of you unconditionally.”

If you had asked me five years ago whether I loved myself, I would have said yes because I said affirmations and treated myself with kindness. I checked all the boxes people listed when they spoke of self-love. Now though I've reached a new level of love because it's not just looking in the mirror and saying I love you. It's saying I love you to the part of me that says mean things. It's saying I love you to the part of me that's disappointed. It's saying I love you to everything, regardless of my judgment of the part. Now the answer to the question, “Do you love me, too?” is “Yes.”

I dream of a world where we love all parts of ourselves, even the parts we don't particularly like. A world where we recognize every part is worthy and deserving of love. A world where we work toward loving ourselves unconditionally.

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

Sunday, October 22, 2017

How to Be Fearless



Fear is an interesting emotion. In our society, we treat it like a plague – something to cure, attack, avoid. We say, “Screw fear,” or, “Don't let fear get in the way.” Oftentimes our message about fear is simpler: “Don't be scared,” as if telling someone to stop being scared could stop them.

In my own relationship with fear, I've also treated it like an annoying inconvenience, or an enemy to defeat. For many years I used food to anesthetize myself. Or I escaped into fantasy, books, movies, television. When I realized none of those things would fix my fear, I started using other methods like affirmations, tapping, visualization, etc. Basically, whatever I could do to not feel afraid, I did. And every time I realized fear hadn't left, I felt discouraged, disappointed, as if I'd failed. As if fear had won and thus I'd lost.

We must enter the cave we fear. Photo by Joshua Sortino on Unsplash

The other week, intense fear reared its head in response to the fires north of me. I could see smoke drifting into San Francisco and some days it wafted into Oakland as well, creating a preternatural calm, a sun so hazy and orange I could look at it directly. Fear came up for many reasons, one of them an acute sense of powerlessness. I bought a mask to protect my lungs from the smoke, but I couldn't control whether the air remained smoky.

In my therapy session, I noticed I wanted my therapist to fix and solve my fear. I wanted him to take it away from me, to make it better. Instead he suggested I sit with it. I'm not sure what happened in the session because days prior I tried the same thing and just couldn't, but during the session I finally stayed still. I let fear wash over me saying, “It's OK. It's OK that you feel afraid. It makes sense. It's understandable.” For two days, fear erupted from me like a volcano, not due to any thoughts in particular, rather the feeling of fear itself. My heart palpitated, my breathing quickened. I tried all my usual tricks to no avail until I again said, “OK. I'm here with you. I won't leave you alone with your fear.” And then at group meditation last week I said to my fearful part, “Not only is it OK that you're here, but also, I love you,” and that brought on the tears.

All every part of me wants is love and presence. I can't ditch fear and anxiety. As a human being I will inevitably feel scared and anxious again, but since I said, “I love you” to my fearful part, I feel fearless. Not because I'm without fear, but rather because I know when fear pops up again, I'll allow it, I'll sit with it, and I'll say I love you. And then the fear will pass like a storm cloud.

My spiritual teacher says if a person takes shelter in the divine, one need not be afraid of anything. He says, “[F]ear requires two entities for its expression – the one who fears and the cause of fear. Where there is only One entity, because there can be no cause, fear cannot exist.”

In the past, I would have taken that to mean I'm not meditating enough because I still have fears. For today at least, I'm recognizing by loving my fearful self, I am taking shelter in the Cosmic Consciousness. I'm recognizing this fear, too, is a part of me, a part of God, and the way to dissolve fear is by showering it with love.

I dream of a world where we treat our fearful selves with love. A world where we recognize we are not at war with fear, but rather fear is like a small child, begging for affection. A world where we embrace our fearful parts, give it as much love as possible, and in that way become fearless.

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

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.