Normal zones of life get punctured by outbursts of different emotions....unpredictable, intense and powerful....getting in touch with how, within me is literally an assembly line that sorts out emotions and puts away some of them in the warehouse, all the time.....
And then, once in a while, they erupt (or might)....This happens for me with anger...with magnificence it is still a more complex web of humility, my own smallness et el
Reminds me of what Jayeshbhai often keeps telling us....to purify our intentions! I've found that the journey between thought and intention is that of gross to subtle....intention to me is almost at a level of instinct, it is without words, almost like a sense of energy.....to reach there though isn't an easy journey for me because it is often mixed up with so many primal desires, conditioning and "mixed signals"
Thats probably what purifying intentions mean - to connect more and more to the essence of that intention...
Equally at Blue Ribbon we're experimenting with what does shared intention look like - the one that is arrived at through non-violent consensus....seems that the journey itself has its own gifts
This thought evokes a tenderness in me - the idea of a future self I don't know yet am deeply connected with....playing across time like this has a very humbling effect, also reminding me of the impermanence of it all (including my current self that may seem so SOLID at the moment!)
For me seeing individuals tap into their potential heals my heart - seeing it wasted breaks my heart. There is also a 'melting' of the heart that happens when something is unfolding. In my case individuals stepping up to do something of service, collectively and their small initiatives melt my heart.
They make me go "Awwww" and thats when it feels right too!
A side-benefit of feeling suicidal occasionally is that the impermanence of life stares in my face. And ir works!
From the stoics to modern philosophers and from Yama's dialogue with Yudishthir to Shamanism, a rumination on our mortality is a great pathway to living every moment fully. We've banished death to dark corners and private discussions.
Perhaps, putting it into the center will allow us to experience the tenderness and impermanence of this moment! :)
A useful hack in such moments for me is to look for Universal 'winks' - hints by Life on which direction to take. In a situation that the author describes, I would intensely look for some sign; see where the attention is going in the moment, tune into body sensations.
Invariably, something is revealed and I chase that direction.
Rather than being arbitrary, I feel that this approach takes the 'rational mind' out of the driver's seat and makes it only one of the many variables that go into the decision.
After that, it is all about how congruently I chase it. That is where I find the internal-external dichotomy loosen up a bit.
Being in presence (and in present) is a requirement for being able to sharply distinguish the baggage activities (tasks we may be robotically continuing, needless and indulgent activities) vs the essential.....I see it as a practice, the indication of it working is that what I do starts becoming more 'concentrated' i.e. more intentional, more leveraged and more impactful.
One of the things that works though is not a very mindful cutting out but moving in a flow, where what is important playfully emerges based on where the awareness flows....this is a curiously different way of moving to the essential, where it is what the moment presents (which for me in the moment is this passage!)
Is it essential to reflect and share - maybe not. But then as it pops up in the flow, I trust the Universe to organize it for me!
I love the link between meditation and freedom - indeed, ever-present watchful awareness seems to be a pathway to having atleast some degree of choice in our reactions and responses.
For me, meditation from sitting to carrying it with me through the day has been a practice....it leads to some pauses and silences at times that others may wonder about, but it is typically me checking in with my body, breath and location of where I really am in the moment.....
Easier said then done of course, but actions springing from inner states, and meditation / awareness as a way of cleansing that inner state means that access to the way I act lies in the space of awareness
This morning, a friend cited Krishnamurthi as a defense for him not engaging in social action. My invitation to him was to connect to a 'larger' cause, to respond to the challenges and avoidable suffering that he sees rather than a self-indulgent form of spirituality.
Krishnamurthi and Gandhi both seem to be approaching Truth from different ways - here, there is a tangential reference to Gandhi's experiments with truth as yet another 'trap' of the mind, a non-simplicity of the heart that desires to be 'more' virtuous
That seems like the scientific method, though in that method too is a 'desire' to arrive at Truth, which Krishnamurthi insisted is a pathless land. Though again I wonder if Gandhi's experiments were with the intent to reach a land of bliss or just to arrive closer to Truth?
Moreover, in K's observations is an inward-outward, me-other dichotomy, that I guess disappears in some way in a beyond-language Truth-land that K speaks about. The irony seems to be the challenge of communicating about a reality beyond language, through concepts creating potential verbal traps (like the seed question itself?)
In this really powerful passage, I find the distinction between stand and position very important.
In the social change space, finding my own voice (in presence of so many beautiful and authentic voices) has been a journey in itself.
As I do that, the 'stand' is a choice that I am makig...how close is it to Universal principles and how close it is to what the local 'me' embodies?
And from that stand, am I comfortable taking a range of positions on issues, consciously choosing the tones and framing of what I communicate?
This is a delicate and nuanced journey that I have found can't be copied or faked....it is lots of digging and meeting the implications of different choices.....it is all a wonderful work in progress :)
Beautiful poem...manages to capture that space of stillness in some ways for me....
As a part of nature, I try to think of myself as a leaf of a large tree....the leaf that will fall off eventually but the tree will go on....we live in each of these different ways, as plants and birds and as you and as me.....and the beauty to me seems that each of our experiences is a unique localized one :)
Regularly pausing or sometimes being jolted into the wonder and strangeness of the world around....that for me is living deeply......for now, with the whiff of the biryani smell, the kiss of the wind punctuated by stray horns, headlights of hurried cars, a playful mosquito and my fingers as they touch the keyboard... :)
Personal relationships are the real "labs" of growth - where the talk meets the walk. And if we are able to remove the criteria of "happiness" that is so deeply embedded in an 'ideal' relationships, there is a sense of relief.
Indeed, no better place to discover ourselves than in relationship with one another, as well as in our relationship with ourselves :)
Being clear in eye
Ah! that is surely worth praying for
Because I have eyes upon eyes upon eyes
Lenses upon lenses
Filters on filters...
In fleeting moments
I'm stripped of them
By a sharp sweet wild grape
And I glimpse raw reality
Uncut by words
Uncoloured by "me"
Each time I tried
To develop those eyes
I loaded with more and more
But in rest and surrender
A rude shock of love comes
Sweeps me off my feet...
And tells me all I need is here
What if what seems like 'absurd heroism' is actually a spiritual practice? That it is not about the boulder or the gravity, nor about the objective of putting the boulder up the mountain, but just deepening oneself as one does that?
I feel unequipped to judge Sisyphus.....and if we are not vigilant, can't 'everything emerges' become another kind of absurd heroism? The one where we relinquish action trading off one belief for another?
In my journey I found myself pushing the boulder, putting it down but then picking it up again - this time, not because I wanted to put it up, but perhaps because I wanted to play with gravity, to see what pushing it makes me (as a person).....it was from feeling that whether its a boulder or a stone or a pebble, whether it is a pushing or a pulling....it is anyways Life acting on Life as Life
This passage has the potential to save a lot of 'heartache' for a lot of 'givers' - but alas! the path is best walked and realised...
I can relate to this transactional giving - the one that creates an invisible expectation and eventually resentment if the 'gap' is too much....
Indeed, the giving that comes from gratitude and fullness has a different quality, a different ripple - the question though is do we wait till we fill full or do we start giving and realize our fullness in the process
Charles Eisenstien recently announced a course on Masculinity and offered scholarships - most people choose to take the course fully free or just pay 10%....in a Facebook post, Charles reflects on this attitude he encountered, in his giving....
To me, while his giving may come from fullness, yet it did have traces of burnout - essentially, there are no 'settled' answers for all of us, they have to be discovered as we walk the path and carry out newer and more radical experiments in generosity
I resonate with this! Animals and I did not share a very comfortable relationship till recently - and yet over the last year or so, my comfort and love for animals has really expanded.....I can sense a very primal and pure love and a connection with Life in its rawness....
At the same time, a recent low brought me to the space of what I can 'deep chill'. Deep chill is a space where there is absolutely nothing to do - no pull, no tug, no agenda, no alarm at the end of the hour....just purely and solely sitting with the grief (or whichever experience) that is arising.....
I guess it is easier with grief (other emotions have an action-like quality to them)....
But yes, from a space of deep chill, there is an intimate connection with all of life (extending to plants and even inanimate objects).....Animals were for me a first-step in that way :)
Aliveness is a sign for me, of being in alignment with Life....and actions that are born from that space have a different flavour....
But when I think about "We" are what we choose to be, I also wonder who is this "We" (or I)....because if the I is the local ego then it is not really free - it is dedicated to its own survival and will make choices that allow its dramas to continue....and hook us....
On the other hand if the I is beyond, perhaps, we have a real choice.....how much of that 'unconditioned 'I'' we can access is also a question...and a journey to be lived.... :)
Off late, I have begun to observe that putting the word 'love' to the space and experience we call 'love' is trying to reduce it in some way, to make it more 'amenable' to be able to speak about it, switch it on-off etc....
And yet I see the irony of our world, where we sing and write so much about love, and yet there are so many unhealthy expressions of that love (like war, which is perhaps born out of love for one's country or ilk)
Perhaps becuase, there is love and then there is Love.
'love' can choose and decide where to be showered, it can turn on and off, it can change in face of experiences, it can convert to jealousy or control (or have shades of it).....
Love, on the other hand is the space of love....it is so free, boundless, like an ocean of water that itself is also submerged in water....there there is only water.....(and there I go again, using words to describe something beyond words!)
i hope eventually our capacity to 'love' reveals to us the experience of Love - after which 'love' will no longer be a 'capacity' but in our being...
I have looked at adversity, both for myself and in others very closely to see what it does....
For myself I have seen that the biggest adversity in my life (a tryst with Bipolar) opened up a totally new way of being for me (eventually, over 5 years of sitting with it) and today this fundamentally shapes who I am....
But I have also seen people regress....adversity pushes them into more base emotions and bitterness, makes them conclude (perhaps inaccurately) about the world and so on....
My sense is that the realization that we have almost no control over external events is stark, when fully embraced. Standing in that, with a belief that the Universe is well-intentioned (and that is also merely an assumption we choose) is difficult business!
Experimenting with Stoicism and engaging actively with the idea of death are practices that are preparation for adversity - and yet each time it meets me, it is always a surprise encounter! And that is what it is meant to be perhaps :)
Particularly in times when we are plugged into the monetary system, I find myself divided about money. On one end is prosperity and abundance - of being content with what is, and allowing for abundance to flow
On the other is seeing the lack that many people experience, and feeling a sense of discomfort with how our labour gets valued differently, and my brothers and sisters at the other end of the bargain get so much lesser for theirs.....isn't me buying into this system also buying into its flaws?
Incidentially, I picked The Soul of Money by Lynne only yesterday...am hoping to rediscover my relationship with money....
In saying this, essentially to me, J is talking about calling the 'bluff' of the mind (which tends to 'mind' what is happening, which in turn ensures its own significance and survival)
A lot of life, lately has been about dealing with the mind (and its unintended side effects) and being fully present....that to me is the doorway to real insight, authentic gratitude and sponteneous kindness :)
For the 'thread' of kindness to go through my various selves across situations isn't easy - I often grapple with it.
Being kind comes easy in some circumstances (like @ Gandhi Ashram in Ahmedabad) or in certain states (of joy and gratitude). The thread is very clear then - it is indeed heart-in-motion....
Yet the challenge is when I am living my day-to-day life.....kindness comes and goes.....and at times is replaced by a very strong sense of 'me', a deep focus on myself (can I pass it off as being kind to me?)
Being mindful helps, engaging with our ecosystem surely helps, sending 'metta' helps.....but fundamentally, the thread that runs through my "disconnected" selves is more my being....kindness is not fully yet an integrated part of it...
Following your heart is a courageous choice - and to me that is the choice that at this very moment is 'now or never' and yet 'now and always'......in that I can choose my heart over my head every single moment, and yet this moment in itself is so precious, it will be lost if the choice is not made here....
Sensing my own body, meditation, reflection and journalling, lots of prayer - all of these are for me ways I connect to my heart and what it has for me....its a tricky and edge slope, for the mind can pretend to be the heart (and all those games!)....
The path of the heart need not even be the path of great joy necessarily (for me) - but it is a path with a heart.....it is a living path, a path I truly own....it is only to be experienced, not described :)
Pure silence is without any trace - without any expectation or agenda, without any deliberate doing. It is just deep rest, the dropping away of all effort, of all 'listening for something', of waiting for the alarm to go off (at the end of the sit)
I find that really challenging - silence throws up a lot of chatter....and suddenly there is no silence.....pure silence is the open-ness to what emerges, and the freedom to see it without a filter.....then we are really 'listening to the silence', in deep communion with it.....
Dropping into this silence regularly is like bathing for me....if not done, the clutter accumulates, and very soon the restless occupied chatter enacts itself in my actions and life, causing more and more mischief.....
Only in deep silence can we truly create from the space beyond us.....I have had to cultivate this silence and is still work in progress.....for those planning to engage with silence, Awakin is a good start ;)
To me, the New Story clearly is a story of much greater interconnection - where we, as the organs of the Gaia are sensing the imbalances that are happening.
We connect, collaborate and conspire like the immune system in a body to respond to the challenges thrown up by the old story - indeed, this is the space between stories, as Charles Eisentstien puts it....
My own story of the Universe has undergone several cycles of change.....from wanting to achieve to wanting to collaborate and contribute to none of it really mattering.....after all, these are stories, and mindfully, we can choose to live the one that works for all
To me, the creation of an idea of 'right' also includes naturally the birth of 'wrong' - so essentially my ability to accept life on its own terms (and not mine) has been a part of my practice. Rather than classify it is right or wrong, it just IS (and the right - wrong divide is a mental construct almost mirroring pleasure-pain / my wishes-against my wishes)
In meditation practice (and life in fact) I find it much easire to observe when things go 'wrong' - when there is pain, it naturally draws attention. It is in fact when things are smooth and flowing that one has to attend to being as mindful. So to that extent when things go wrong, it is an opportune moment for observation too....
And the beauty of this passage (and of Murphy's Law and so on) is that the nature of the world is so and yet we struggle against it life long - almost as if someone whispered in our ears when we were very young "Someday it will all be right"....
To grow up is to know that if it is right it will eventually feel wrong and vice versa....and that it is nothing but a dance of labels in the head rather than reality itself....
I recently completed a 10-day Vipassina retreat, where we were weaned off all technology. To me, it was a delightful experience - and it made me realize how technology keeps me on the edge, always. It keeps me jumpy....almost always keeping me in the alert zone even when I don't need to be.
To me absence really is a periodic withdrawal from everything 'outside' and attending to the Now.....the reason it is periodic and not constant is obviously the habitual tendencies of the mind that keep acting up.....
As for sanctuaries I was recently considering having a small passage written by me, as a sanctuary, a place to stand and look at the world from.....rather than a physical space, to me, a certain 'paradigm' or mindset feels more like a sanctuary that I can carry with me.
Extending this beautiful metaphor, the edge for me is in dealing with weeds and with the trimming of bushes....who am I to decide what is weed and what is not? Who am I to decide when does a bush need trimming and when it does not?
And if I suspend that decision and enter into inertia, my garden will become wilderness, or it may degenerate....
So what does mindful, natural and yet active 'intervention' look like in this garden space? Is it just watching what grows? Is it spontaneously trimming, trying to listen to what the plant really calls for?
What do I do with the weeds? That one gets to me! Do I welcome the weeds or fight them away? Or do I just sit with them, engage with them and understand why they are here? Why do I choose to label them as 'weeds' and privilege the plants?
Can I just let the garden be? Totally and completely just BE?
A welcoming space has to be an empty space i.e. empty of 'me' (where typically I tend to be full of 'my'self).
The empty-Me space is where the other person truly can walk in as themselves, unjudged, without expectations of having to be something or behave in a certain way.
And that emptyness shows, not in the first smile perhaps, but in how we respond when the smile is ignored or not reciprocated. At such a time, if there is a shrinking or disappointment, the space I created still have a little bit of 'me'. But the deeply welcoming space welcomes even the ignoring of the smile as lightly and easily....
Ahemadabad, SF and actually all of our ecosystem tends to be such a space - and one of the reasons for that, I feel is that we forget 'ourselves' and center the space on the other. In that erasing of ourselves (in a manner of speaking), we let the other person BE themselves and therefore truly truly experience themselves and the love that they are....and what a transformative experience that is!
Just as in physical hospitality having a larger house helps, in true hospitality, having a largeness of spirit does.
To me, when Somik mails in with a few comments from last week highlighted, that is also an act of hospitality - because it is a welcoming into the space of Awakin each time we come here! Ditto with the SS smiles and comments :)
I hold the intention that we expand this space to include the whole world! :)
There is immense peace and power in accepting the world as is - that acceptance is not a sense of resignation but opens up a sense of possibilities, the starting point of which is the point of zero resistance.
Not resisting resistance itself is a beautiful 'meta' movement where you expand to include resistance itself in what you are not resisting...and there are loops like that which can go on and on....(like not resisting the resistance to resistance) and yet all it boils down to is total and deep acceptance (and accepting the acceptance).....wonder if that is the insight!:)
This passage was read after an Awakin where there are 3 of our young members who traditionally struggle with long silence but decided to give it a shot.....and it was so appropriate!
With most young people, there is the challenge of even pointing to their inward spaces....of course there are exceptions who are deeply anchored in their inner journeys. But for most part, requesting a group of restless youth to be in silence even for a few minutes (which I do before my sessions) is bound to be violated....and yet it is one of the most worthwile things to do with them :)
I think it is like any other place - you may find it initially very fascinating, then very boring and then you disover it in a whole new light....after that second deeper discovery, it is an endless rich tapestry of darkness intersperced with wonders :)
At one level. having multiple words surely allows for greater nuance and precision....but then again, words are merely pointers - in fact they can end up becoming cages, keeping us from the seamless experience of an emotion....
The many words for snow may help the eskimos but maybe a child playing in the snow for the first time ever (without having even a single word for it) experiences snow in a much rawer and direct way than a 30-words-for-snow eskimo ever can....
In fact the moment I know I am going to meet an 'eskimo' I already have made so many assumptions about the person.....the word, in that case actually is a hurdle for me meeting the real person hiding behind the word....
The deepest of our experiences are beyond words - and we are united in our inability to ever articulate or share them and in reveling in their ineffable-ness
When I find myself searching for happiness too feverishly, I realise that it is like any other ambitious search that others are on (search for money, or for fame for example).
So for me searching inwards is better done as trying and resting inwards i.e. waiting and actually letting go of any 'search'. As I see what is happening, between the joys and sadness, and extreme agitation and peace, there is awareness....that is what I find myself searching for....
And in the rare glimpses that I have of it, happiness and sadness matter much lesser, and I can't even tell which is which or which will lead to which....
The inner and the outer dynamically interplay for me....the shifts in the inner reflect in the way I see the outer, and the beauty of the outer permeates within as well...
The tricky thing about nothingness is that to describe it is to not describe it, to speak about it is to not speak about it....so being anchored in the 'absolutely nothing happened' includes letting go of the words 'absolutely', 'nothing' and 'happened'....
The other level is existential - where all meaning is created....
I wonder where Kindness sits in both these levels - because in nothingness there is nothing anyways, and at the existential level, all meaning is created (including kindness and its value)
Another level is where there are unintented consequences - where one can never tell. So a locally mean act may have a ripple of good (or we have too narrow a time frame and a space frame to define what is 'good' or 'bad')
So for me to accept the first part of the passage (Nothing ever happened) makes it harder to accept the next one.... :)
Beautiful and can deeply connect
To me, all art is perfect
Art gotta be on every bucket list
Methinks each one gotta be an artist :)
The act of expressing my inner reality has helped me keep sane in my darkest hours - and art to me is one of the most beautiful things that makes us human.....Artists are sensitive souls who choose to challenge, question, express and articulate in a language beyond words....
Art is the way....to me life is itself a work of art (a post modern multi-media installation, typically Untitled)
This passage reminds me of the idea of shadow self - all parts of me that I have disowned. An experince that comes to me is that when I suddenly, out of nowhere felt IMMENSE amounts of anger (almost as if I had discovered a reservoid of repressed anger of years). All this while I thought of myself as a peaceful person - and here I was, so so angry
It made me realize that the part of me that was getting angry was perhaps, pushed to the fringes - and now came back....to me there is a lot going on when we speak about accepting a part of ourselves
In accepting it, we accept ourselves, we also accept others and we gain access to the usefulness of this part of us...
Choice less awareness is tricky business...I find my windows of awareness being bracketed by judging ("Wow! That feels good!" for example)....encountering this happens when there are phases of 'flow' and grace, when things just happen through me.....
To me, sensation seeking also includes for me, seeking the feeling of this awareness (the space)....and I can observe my action-reactions but not free myself from them (I actually don't try to, I just watch them) - maybe they are sanskaars that need to be lived through....
My practice includes regular reconnecting with the body, with the breath and with deep acceptance of what IS to be 'aware of it all'
To me. economics and our skewed understanding of it is at the heart of our challenges....we have locked up value, as well as our capacity to create it by attaching a 'price' to it, while, in fact, it is the most human thing to give and create value for others, and enjoy the process....
WIth gift economy, parallel currencies and generosity, this system can be hacked! :)
Reminded me of Stoicism - the practice of mentally rehearsing the loss of everything we have, as a spiritual practice of building gratitude and acknowledging the 'real deal'
And of Kabir who in one of his bhajan says 'Jin hodi un todi' (Those who shall attach will have to detach as well) - the seeds of death are right in life itself....
As I do my inner work, I realise the 'now' is when I am typing this...and it will also be 'now' when I die.....'now' when you are reading this.... 'now' when life gives you a taste of the real deal.....
Isn't that everything WILL be lost....it is already, in some way.....and that leaves me free to cherish it for the fleeting moments that it is there....all of it - relationships, life and Us :)
I sense a certain center, located around my heart from where I feel a certain spark, a certain energy illuminate me. This manifests as radiance, as a certain flow, a certain energy that I am present to.
In fact, when I am tuned into this energy, life outside also seems to flow - almost as if there is this One principle that pervades, within and without, and all we are doing is tuning into that same principle within us.
Often, dis-ease is only the body communicating something that we have refused to hear repeatedly.....each time I tune in I experience ease and move closer to being a part of the One
In my experience the person holding space during chaos is of essence.
Just as a natural child birth has to be facilitated by a skillful mid-wife, the birth of new adaptive order from chaos requires a conscious human being - someone who is almost empty to let nature operate through him or her.
Left ONLY to nature, chaos may claim its casualties before order is restored - a compassionate catalyst on the other hand, greases the transition with love and presence which to me make the process worthwhile.
Also, induced chaos will work only when in limited quantities or controlled environment - if the magnitude of the chaos induced (to encourage emergence) destabilizes the system, then we have a problem!
Finally, in my experience, slowing down the process when there is chaos creates space for nature to operate - which as a facilitator I try and do.
As a recent experience, a certain training activity did not go as planned - but holding space for the debrief took to conversation to an entirely new space in similar depth as it would have if the activity would have worked :) So nature is at play all the time!
Beautiful....and very alive for me.....the breath speaks, and it is a highly accurate indicator....so often I find myself trying to reconnect to breath (when I am experiencing anger or irritation) and then it quickly slipping away! But the moments I am with the breath, I feel the difference in rhythm, depth and ease that tell me where I am located....
As for the body, it's intelligence is immense too....the challenge for me lies in shifting from the intellectual experience of what is going on in my body to truly experiencing it
In my experience, the three businesses merge and trickle into each other.
My business is often influenced, at a subtle level, by the business of others (i.e. their expectations of me, which part of myself I want to show to them, how I want to be perceived, what they think I must be doing etc)
This is seriously tricky, because then it is your business disguised as mine in some strange way. It is not truly mine.
As I was reflecting today morning, I discovered that truly my business (to use the language of this piece) was nothing exciting at all. It was just small things, normal things.
And so much of my ambition, my desire to do things, to change the world, to influence, to experience were all driven by the other two businesses trickling into mine (and then seeming to be mine).
Truly staying in my own business also means coming to terms with what that business truly is - and it may not be what you thought it is supposed to be, or what it was meant to be. It may just be some very very simple and small stuff.
We were singing today in the car, and to share what I was feeling, I sang a hindi song - "Ohre Taal mile Nadi ke jal mein"
(The lake merges with the river....the river merges with the sea....but which water does the sea merge with....no one knows!)
So the 'I don't know' feeling is very alive for me at the moment - the very same action that we may consider helpful may actually be causing harm at other levels (and vice versa)
Which leaves me just having the present moment, and my spontaneous feeling as a space to act from - there, I can rest in knowing that what I did was natural, from the right intent and will have its own unfolding
To me this passage occurs as an existential take on life (perhaps biased by my own world-view) - just that everything in our lives is constructed (purpose, meaning, morals) either consciously or unconsciously. Inherently, life just IS - devoid of any meaning.
To me unconditional kindness that is spontaneous is very different from kindness that comes from a construct (we should be kind / it is good to be kind). For me to be able to truly assert that my nature is unconditionally kind, that 'nature' has to be truly free from any baggage, any filters and any 'should's
To be anchored in such pure awareness, in the here and now, engaging with the cutting edge of life is not a very common experience for me - and in such moments, acts of kindness don't occur as kind - they just occur as actions (it is only later / after an instant that I classify it as kind)
The more we speak about it, the more we move away from it I feel :)
This passage is SO relevant to all of us engaged in the work of service! It has been a theme I have been grappling with - and hence the passage really resonates.
For me, there are very clear clues to tell me what space am I serving from.
For example, if there is an expectation of getting something back (however subtle, and how much ever in the future it arises), it tells me that my space was more transactional, though disguised as service
Or, if I am grounded in some type of superiority (of intellect, experience or exposure) and then I act from that, it is actually a performance, a statement of my greatness disguised as service
When I used the word 'disguised' here it doesn't necessarily mean only others - it may be disguised from myself in that I may be happily deluding myself about my serving.
To me for service to be true, I need to surrender into the insignificance of the local 'me' - in that who am I to know what is the best way to 'solve' this? who am I to be able to influence or even nudge the course of a larger unfolding? and who am I before a vastly more intelligent Universe?
(and again to not say these things intellectually, which I catch myself doing, but to truly internalize them)
I am so rarely truly serving because there is so much thinking, so much mind and so much 'me' that needs to get out of the way - and I am mindful of this, but don't try to 'fix' it, else I will be recreating the pattern all over again, within :)
So its a lovely slippery tricky slope, which makes the journey so worthwhile!
Eknath Easwaran's "Take Your Time" has been particularly helpful to me with regards to manging my time better.....the time I spend in silence itself occurs to me differently on different days - and I haven't still figured out what thought patterns do that....
I do find myself being extremely paranoid about where I 'spend' my time, but recently I have become way more mindful about it - a visit to a dentist for example is a great lesson in patience :)
Slowing down is surely valuable, and several times a day I slow down to reorient myself.
To me, any practice that goes deep enough to change our being will necessarily percolate into other areas of our life.
A student practicing Kung-Fu every day gets attacked suddenly - instinctively the defense response will be kung-fu based. Because the practice changes the being.
Practice therefore is a deliberate, concentrated act that eventually becomes habitual, however gradually. Moroever, even the ACT of practice (irrespective of the practice) - the honoring of the practice has its own power.
In my own life, I have seen practices becomes imbibed.
The only caution is when practice comes from a space of looking good / showing to others (or self) that Hey I am practicing! This could be a time when integration doesn't happen because in our heads its actually a performance rather than a practice (I meditate an hour every day = I am cool).
The quest for 'perfection' as a spiritual practice or from a space to serve those who stand to benefit from the perfection is very different from being perfect because one 'should' be perfect.
One of my mentors had to write a referral letter for me for a very competitive fellowship - he spent hours crafting it. For someone of his stature, it wasn't something that would take too long - and yet he worked on it. In fact, he spent more time on that one recommendation letter than we did on our entire application!
He is no more - but when I reminiscence about him, the realization was that the quest for making the perfect letter was integral to him. Not perhaps as much for me or for the letter, but just because his way of being and doing was dedicated to perfection.
But then there is the bigger picture too.
I remember meeting a veteran environmental activist. I asked him what was the crux of what he learnt, what does the environmental movement needs?
He said - I don't know if your or my actions will add to anything meaningful. But meanwhile, enjoy the journey.
In the bigger picture, who knows what our actions will add up to? What I can say for sure is that working for excellence is working on purifying myself.