Sunday, January 29, 2017

From Fearful Love to Fearless Love

Fear seems to be running rampant in the U.S. these days. Fear of the future, fear of other people. As Elizabeth Gilbert says, the Land of the Brave has become the Land of the Very Anxious. I get it.

We all want to survive. In days past, people settled near water to have materials for that purpose. These days, people move to where there are jobs for the same reason. We all want to survive and we will fight for our survival. When there is a perception security is threatened, people retaliate. By instating a ban on all Muslims for instance. The thing is though, just as my life is important to me, others' lives are equally important to them.

I'm not sure what to say about this picture other than it seems to fit. 

“[I]f we do not give proper value to the lives of all creatures, then the development of the entire humanity becomes impossible,” says philosopher and social revolutionary P.R. Sarkar. “If people think more about themselves as individuals or about their small families, castes, clans, or tribes, and do not think at all about the collectivity, this is decidedly detrimental …. It will help people understand that human beings, as the most thoughtful and intelligent beings in this created universe, will have to accept the great responsibility of taking care of the entire universe – will have to accept that the responsibility for the entire universe rests on them.”

We're caretakers for the entire universe. No big deal or anything. I'm pretty sure some people have forgotten that concept though. They've forgotten we all belong to each other, that my self-preservation is tied to your self-preservation.

All week, the phrase running through my mind has been intuitional practice is the process of transformation of fearful love into fearless love. I can't help but think that's what we're undergoing collectively. We are in a state of fearful love – scared of making one wrong move because then we'll lose something. Scared if we don't do something, we won't keep what we have. In the U.S., it seems to me some people are operating under the assumption that in order for our country to be great, we have to keep out all things we fear, all thing we perceive threaten our self-preservation, our security.

An extremely hard lesson I've learned over the years – which you all have been privy to – is security comes from within. There was one point I lived literally in the middle of nowhere – I'm talking a cabin in the woods 20 miles from the nearest town – and I still had an intense fear my place would be broken into. Security is an outside job but it's also an inside job. There is no place we can go that will keep us 100 percent safe and secure. There is no ban on a group of people that will prevent us from being threatened. Building a wall to keep people out can just as easily turn into a prison keeping us trapped.

Living in fearful love is not the answer. The answer instead lies in cultivating fearless love, in reaching out to our brothers and sisters in need. In creating a society where everyone is taken care of. Where no person is left behind because we recognize the responsibility for the entire universe rests on our shoulders. Ultimately, we are all in this together.

I dream of a world where we all take care of each other. A world where we recognize every person's life is just as important to them as ours is to us. A world where we cultivate inner security. A world where we move from fearful love to fearless love.

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

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Reassurance for Challenging Times

This whole week I've been spinning out, contemplating the future. “If this happens, then I'll do this. If that happens, then I'll do that.” I've been on a veritable hamster wheel of potential future outcomes. When I asked myself, “Que pasa?” the answer was, I want to know the future so I can feel safe. I want to know what's coming so I can plan for it and feel at ease.

One of my favorite authors, Dr. Gabor Maté, wrote in his book When the Body Says No, if someone is “controlling,” they are in fact deeply anxious. He said, “When such a person fears that he is unable to control events, he experiences great stress. Unconsciously, he believes that only by controlling every aspect of his life and environment will he be able to ensure the satisfaction of his needs.”

I think this is lavender. If not, let's pretend it is -- lavender is very soothing. 

Yep. Certainly true for me. Unfortunately, I can't control every aspect of my life and environment, something I'm very clear on. To circumvent that, I try to predict the future, which also, unfortunately, I'm terrible at doing. The future pretty much never goes the way I anticipate it will. Maybe not never. I think one time out of a million I'm right, but those are terrible odds. No one would hire me to tell their fortune, that's for sure. What to do then?

What I've been ruminating on is the notion I can take care of myself no matter what circumstances I'm in. Instead of running through a million possibilities in my head, I'm saying to the scared parts of me, “I'm here. I'm not going anywhere. I'm not ever going anywhere. I'll protect you. Let me take care of that.” I'm saying it every day, every hour, every 10 minutes. Every time I'm scared and start future tripping.

I'm also reminded of one of my favorite quotes by my spiritual teacher, which I'm sure I've shared before: “Difficulties can never be greater than your capacity to solve them.” That means I can have faith in myself and in humanity that no matter what comes, we can handle it. We can solve any problem, we can overcome any difficulty. We are creative and resourceful, and furthermore, we're not alone. We have each other, but we also have a force greater than ourselves.

My teacher also said, “[A]s long as there is a speck of dust under your feet, as long as a single star twinkles over your head, you should remember that you are not helpless, that you are not alone. You need not have any fear or apprehension about this under any circumstances.”

The way for me to keep fear and apprehension at bay is to keep reminding myself of this. That I'm not alone. That I'm here. That my higher power is here. That we can solve anything together.

I dream of a world where we keep reassuring ourselves. A world where we soothe ourselves about our capacity to handle life. A world where we remember we're not alone. A world where we know we can solve any difficulty that comes our way.

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

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Life as a Drama

I asked a friend the other day how he maintains hope and faith when the whole world seems to have gone mad, and he told me he views life as a drama – there will be happy parts and sad parts and scary parts. He doesn't expect life to be a smooth ride where nothing happens.

He also told me a particular scene we find distasteful could be pivotal to the story – in hindsight we may find certain actions were crucial.

I like his perspective – it helps me to detach a little and not become quite so dismayed at the events in the world. I'm not saying I no longer care, nor that we should sit back and do nothing. Rather, his perspective reminds me this is reality. I want everyone to be happy all the time. I want life to proceed in a straight line improving day by day. I want rainbows and sunshine and kittens prancing through fields all day long. But that's not what we're living in, and that's never what we've lived in. Life is a series of ups and downs, twists and turns. And furthermore, there are good people and bad people, just like in any riveting tale. There are heroes and villains, and I hate to admit it, but the villains usually prompt the heroes to leave the house. If the villains weren't engaging in some nefarious scheme, the heroes would twiddle their thumbs and maybe knit a scarf. Personally, I'd find that kind of story dull and would ask for my money back.

So melodramatic.

Similarly, real life is the same way. There are heroes and villains, there are wise advisers and fools. We all have our parts to play, but unfortunately, no one handed us a script or fed us our lines.

My spiritual teacher says, “When human beings bring something within the scope of their intellect, and by perceiving and observing it closely, can understand the cause behind it, this is called kriidá; and when the cause is beyond the scope of their thinking it is called liilá [or play]. Whatever the Macrocosm does is beyond the periphery of the human intellect, and that is why whatever He does is His liilá.”

My interpretation of this quote is a lot of stuff happens in this world. Some of it I will understand and some of it I won't, and maybe never will. The stuff I don't understand is liilá or play. My point of view is instead of agonizing over why this happened or why this didn't happen, it's better for me to take the mindset that life is a play, life is a drama, something I get to witness unfolding.

What I also believe to be true is ultimately the arc of civilization bends toward the beneficent. Ultimately things improve for all of us. However, getting there sometimes requires clash and conflict. Sometimes things get crazy and bizarre, like any good drama, before they are sorted out. It seems to me right now our society is in the middle of an important and intense scene, one that I'd like to believe is leading us somewhere better, but it won't make sense until later on when the story plays out.

I dream of a world where we view life as a drama. A world where we realize the ups and downs are a part of life. A world where we understand we all have our part to play and we play it with gusto. A world where we keep doing our part trusting eventually the story will resolve.

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

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Always with Us

I have a lot of fears. Most of them centering around physical safety. For much of life, I've tried to inoculate myself from danger by either not engaging, or by believing terrible things wouldn't happen to me because I'm protected by my higher power. A few years ago, I was hit by a car as a pedestrian and that viewpoint shattered. It was a horrible time that shook me to my core. I realized being a woman of faith doesn't mean I'll escape all harm. Rather, it means regardless of what happens there is always a loving force with me.

I'm also reminded of a scene from the movie Rogue One. If you haven't seen it and are planning to, stop reading or listening right now. The scene I'm thinking of is where blind warrior Chirrut chants, “I am one with the Force; the Force is with me,” as he strides into battle. He accomplishes what he sets out to, but he dies anyway. Being “one with the force” doesn't make us immortal or keep us from getting hurt, instead it offers us the reassurance, the comfort, knowing we are not alone in any thing at any point.
We have one true friend.
In my yoga and meditation group, my spiritual teacher says our relationship with source or the divine is like the relationship of a fish with water – ever present, inseparable. Higher power, or whatever name you want to use, is our one true friend, the being who loved us in the past, who will love us in the future, and will be with us always.

This feeling was cemented for me over New Year's. After the midnight meditation during my yoga and meditation retreat, I was struck with a strong feeling that we are deeply loved; through thick and thin there is a divine presence with us. That we will never be abandoned.

In these troubling times, when the future is uncertain and I don't know what will happen next, it's a balm to my soul realizing I'm not alone. That even if something terrible happens, I'm not handling it by myself – not only because I have friends, community, and me, but also because there is a loving presence with me always. It's a comfort to me knowing I have a true friend.

I personally wanted faith to act as a force field shielding me from harm, but that's not realistic. To be alive means to experience joy and sorrow, pleasure and pain. The more I accept that, the better off I'll be. But the lovely thing is I'm not alone with any of it, none of us are.

I dream of a world where we feel into the presence of a loving, nurturing higher power with us at all times. A world where we recognize in good times and bad there is something else with us. A world where we know no matter what, we're not alone.

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

Sunday, January 1, 2017

The Purple Dawn

For the past five days I've lived in a bubble. Members of my yoga and meditation group gathered in Malibu where we sang, danced, meditated, and learned from each other. Gazing at the ocean surrounded by so much beauty and love, it was easy to forget the real world. And then I flew home.

Re-entry startled and unnerved me, raw and sensitive as I am running on a few hours of sleep. On the drive home, I saw police officers tackling a man on the shoulder of the highway. It wasn't me being chased, but my heart started pounding nonetheless. On the same ride, I saw hearts painted on the roof of a building. All of these things coexist.

The new dawn is on its way.
I don't know what this year holds. I'm guessing it will be a mix of things, just like my ride home. There will be happy things and scary things and sad things and awesome things. For some of us there will be an unequal mix. But feeling my heart pound watching someone else's life, reminds me we are all in this together. We all belong to each other and we are all responsible for each other. We are not as separate as we'd like to believe. On the same car ride home, the word “one” also caught my attention from a passing sign. It seemed to me a reminder of that fundamental truth.

As we start this new year, I want to quote my spiritual teacher because the message seems relevant. He said:
Just as the advent of the purple dawn is inevitable at the end of the cimmerian darkness of the interlunar night, exactly in the same way I know that a gloriously brilliant chapter will also come after the endless reproach and humiliation of the neglected humanity of today.

Those who love humanity and those who desire the welfare of living beings should be vigorously active from this very moment, after shaking off all lethargy and sloth, so that the most auspicious hour arrives at the earliest.
Let us all greet the new dawn. Let us all experience a gloriously brilliant chapter. And let us all work to bring that “auspicious hour” sooner rather than later.

I dream of a world where we remember we're all connected. A world where we remember we all belong to each other. A world where we work together to create a glorious and brilliant life that we all wish to lead.

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