“Don’t look for peace. Don’t look for any other state than the one you are in now; otherwise, you will set up inner conflict and unconscious resistance. Forgive yourself for not being at peace. The moment you completely accept your non-peace, your non-peace becomes transmuted into peace. Anything you accept fully will get you there, will take you into peace. This is the miracle of surrender.” ― Eckhart Tolle
Do you ever feel guilty for having moments of deep happiness, like somehow you missed the part where the world is falling apart? Or, do you ever feel guilty because you are caught in despair and hopelessness, like somehow you aren’t being spiritual enough?
There are days I find myself overwhelmed with joy. I get captivated by the way the dawn and dusk announce their transition. I find hope in the innocence and trust of a small child. I am inspired by acts of goodness that remind me what is best in the human spirit. Other days I am caught in the suffering of others, the devastation of the earth, and policies that are sanctioned by lies. I am sickened by ignorance, greed, and selfishness, both in others and in myself.
Perhaps in these times of intense polarities, it is ok to walk in both of these worlds and to feel the range of emotions they bring. Ekhart Tolle reminds us there is a miracle of surrender. It is the miracle, he says, that by allowing ourselves to think what we think and feel what we feel, there is a movement towards wholeness and peace.
Week One. This week refuse to be in conflict with yourself by allowing yourself to be in the state you are in. This is an exercise in accepting what you think and feel, not in acting on what you think and feel. What do you notice?
Week Two. Continue to fully allow the state you are in, but intentionally choose only those actions that lean your life towards what is good and kind.
“Know yourself as a breathing being.” -Pandit Rajmani Tigunait
What comes to your mind as you hear these words from Pandit Rajmani? I am taken back to my years in seminary, sitting in my Old Testament class. The story that comes to mind is from Genesis 2, where God fashioned a human being out of the dust of the earth and then breathed into this being the breath of life.
In this story, there is an image of tenderness as the human being is carefully crafted. There is also a grace-filled intimacy as breath is breathed into this being. And it doesn’t end there, for as we know one breath doesn’t keep us alive for very long. We require a continuous sustenance of this intimate gift we call breath.
“Who are you God, and who am I?” – St Francis of Assisi
I would like to share a poem written by a fifth grade girl that I know well and who brings joy and wonderment to my life. She requested that I use her nickname, Shadow.
Who Am I?
” I was brought into this world wondering why I’m here.
I was brought into this world wondering who I was.
“Take your medicine first.” – Narvada Puri
The word medicine conjures up many unpleasant memories from my childhood. I can almost taste the medicine my parents gave me when I was sick so that I would feel better. They always tried to hide the taste of the medicine in a spoonful of sugar, but as far as I was concerned, it didn’t work.
I have had to sit and reflect on these words spoken by one of my beloved teachers in an attempt to get past my unpleasant memories and into her simple wisdom. Perhaps she was speaking to the things we ignore on a daily basis pretending they don’t need our attention. They seem unpleasant, like bad tasting medicine, and are often simple things like balancing the checkbook, cleaning the closet, or calling the dentist.
“Practice that ignites our inner fire, brings out our inner radiance, and makes us vibrant and energetic is tapas.” -Pandit Rajmani Tigunait
Who of us would not like to have more vibrancy and inner glow? After all, isn’t this the quality that attracts us to others, especially babies of any species? We are drawn irresistibly to this life force that desires to radiate from all of us. This is the source of health, vibrancy, intelligence, joy, and mental acuity.
We must forgive reality for being what it is. – Richard Rohr [paraphrased]
When we are constantly embracing the moment or fighting against it, we turn this world into a problem to be solved. Think about this. Our constant tactic becomes trying to figure out how to make this moment go the way we want.
When the world becomes a problem to be solved, it no longer exists as something to be experienced, marveled at, or surprised by. Instead it is something to fix and manage in an attempt to experience our own confused version of self-contentment. What a strange way to live.
“We are confused about what is going to make us happy.” -Sam Harris
The times we live in seem like an impossible place to find contentment. There are outer voices luring us to buy, to fear, to despair. There is an inner voice reminding us of our failures and unfulfilled dreams. There is a longing for things to be the way we want….all the time. We could easily sing along with Dorothy, “Somewhere over the rainbow.”
All these messages ensure that we will be tossed about, riding waves of highs and lows, happiness and disappointment, landing anywhere but in contentment. We get pulled out of ourselves, longing for what we don’t have, longing for the world to be safer and more sane. And where the mind goes, prana follows. The price we pay for our discontentment is loss of our vital energy.
I am writing at a time when in my country Charlottesville has just happened and the rare eclipse of the sun is about to happen. We are asking ourselves deep questions about the hatred and “isms” that seem so prevalent. At the same time we are being swept into one of the mysteries of the universe. It is a reflective time for most of us.
I remember several years ago when my heart felt heavy like it often does when I hear the news. I was suffering what for me had been an experience of betrayal that left a bitter taste in my heart. Try as I did, the taste didn’t go away; the heaviness of my heart continued to burden me.
Then I found myself in the presence of a wise, holy teacher. When I embarrassingly asked him how to get rid of the bitterness in my heart, he replied with gentle eyes and compassionate voice, “Give it all to the Divine, just keep giving it to the Divine.” What followed for me was a purification process that left my heart light and free. In these times, I find myself returning vigorously to this practice.