Contrast

“Hurry up!”

The stern voice startled me out of the song that was running in my head.

I had just dropped my son off at his pre-school. We had been singing a song through the 10 minute drive. And even though I our singing was followed by wearing shoes in the van, running happily to the school, signing him in and high-five goodbyes; the song was still running in my head as I walked back to my car.

“We’re late!”

Boom came the voice again and I noticed a man with a serious look and two little bags.

He was calling his child… it was hard for me to figure out boy or girl from where I was. I never saw the child.

I began to wonder about the contrast in the experience of that child and my son. One rushed to school with the a stern voice coming from an obviously stressed person.

The other laughing, singing, high-five-ing.

And I felt immensely grateful for the love, wisdom and abundance in my life.

Someone once asked Sri Sri, “How far to heaven?”

And he replied, “Wake up and see. You are in heaven.”

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Gratitude

This past weekend, my dear friend and fellow Art of Living teacher, Dipti, organized a very special gratitude ceremony. A group of us who have learned to do the Guru Puja (a short, sweet ceremony of gratitude) went to different people’s homes to do the Guru Puja. Over two days, we visited 13 homes.

I know that in trying to describe the feelings my words will fall short… way short.

So, instead, I’ll share a few instances…

Doing Guru Puja is an honor. Hosting Guru Puja is an honor. Sitting in a Guru Puja is an honor. This underlying feeling among the hosts, the people doing the Puja and those attending the Puja was very palpable. This is what carried us through the weekend.

On Saturday, it was an almost 14 hour day for some of us. Leaving home around 8:30am and getting back home only after 10pm. Yet, through all the driving, forgetting the Puja kit, U-turn, getting delayed, hurrying up, saying the same verse twice, eating quickly, dreaming of bhajji, then getting more bhajji than we could handle, etc etc etc – through all of this, we were just laughing and happy.

Reflecting on that day reminded me of the value of service. Often I have these ideas I want to implement – but they remain ideas. This day was a reminder of what Rajshree Didi often says, “The Universe rewards action, not thinking.”

In every home we visited, our hosts were very gracious. At the end of each stop, both the hosts and our group felt uplifted and grateful for the opportunity.

The thing that stayed with me the most was watching Dipti. At the very first stop, we realized that there were four of us but we had only three Puja kits among us. Without a moment of hesitation, she gave her kit to another person. Then, she called her husband to bring us her mom’s kit. The humility and grace that Dipti carries is something I can imbibe a bit more.

The same scene repeated later on Saturday when we found ourselves again a group of five but with only four kits. Yet again, Dipti gave her kit to another person without a moment of hesitation.

This second time when I saw it happen again, I reflected on what I would have done if I were in her place. I thought I would not have given my kit – to give up the opportunity to do Puja. That realization triggered more self reflection – what am I holding on to that I have a scarcity mindset at this moment? What in me is causing these judgements of others?

Dipti’s abundance mindset was another reminder that stepping into the Big Mind is a process – a moment-to-moment journey.

The third time the exact same scene repeated at our last spot on Sunday. There were eight of us and only seven kits. Yet again, without a moment of hesitation Dipti gave up the opportunity to do Puja in what was the grand finale of the weekend.

Yet again, I watched myself squirm, “Darn, Dipti, how are you so good at letting go? So gracious, so benevolent, so centered…” I thought.

While I have a ways to go on my own journey, I am grateful to have a dear friend who is a few steps ahead showing the way with her living example. Thank you for being you, Dipti.

 

The New Way

The old way used to be I have power over you.

I have exclusive access to a higher up. I have exclusive access to God. I have exclusive access to information that you don’t have.

Do as I say.

People trying to buy love or attention or power — for the most part to hide from their own insecurities.

The old way assumes it is a zero-sum game. Your win implies my loss.

The new way is that of abundance.

Let me help you reach your goals. Let me pave your way to your success – be it in the world, be it in personal growth.

Helping you does not make me “bigger” than you or take away anything from me. I don’t help you because it makes me feel good or because I derive meaning out of it.

I help you because it is my nature.

That is the way of the warrior.

The way of abundance.

The way of Love.

High Road, Low Road and Missing the Point Completely

I am really tired of the tirade.

People taking the “high road” and accusing the other of taking the “low road”. Trump supporters, Clinton supporters, everyone has an opinion about everyone in the world. Especially since Facebook and Twitter facilitate easy exchange of words in public.

I feel really sad about this whole rhetoric.

The moment one takes a position – one then goes on finding evidence that supports that point of view. (Behavioral scientists call it confirmation bias.)

It is not just about the election. This happens in day to day life as well.

The problem with this approach is that it closes doors.

Every time one rides the proverbial “high road” horse, that judgement of the other is a bit more entrenched. The self-righteousness is just a tad more set. The distance between the two parties a tad larger.

Do that a few times and suddenly the two people are poles apart.

Each living in their own fantasy land of “I am right”.

“Never shall the twain meet.”

All that has happened, in the words of Marshall Rosenberg, is a tragic expression of unmet needs.

All it takes is to get off the high horse and realize that there is a human being on the other side. A person alive with their own hopes, dreams, fears, desires, way of thinking, way of viewing the world, set of morals, ….

Easier said than done.

This is the proverbial high road.

It is not who was right or who had higher morals or whose values are similar to ours.

Taking the high road is having the courage to express one’s feelings without judgement or blame.

The courage to listen to the other person’s point of view without dismissing them off.

The courage to take responsibility of one’s own feelings – without thinking that the other is the cause of these feelings.

Taking the high road is to value human connection above one’s own sense of right or wrong.

In the words of Rumi:

Out beyond ideas of right and wrong doing, there is a field. I will meet you there.

 

Back from a LONG Hiatus…

Here I am, back to blogging… after a long hiatus. A few of my friends have mentioned recently that they miss my blog. What can I say – some people really know how to praise 🙂

Have you ever had a conversation where you know the other person is so stuck to their point of view that they are completely missing the point?

Wait.. did you just think of the recent spat you had on FB with a friend who – for an unfathomable reason – is supporting the wrong candidate?

No, that’s not what I am talking about.

I recently had an argument with someone where the other person was so convinced that the construct and sequence of events they had imagined was how it had exactly gone down.

There was not even an iota of space for them to allow the mere possibility that … maybe … by some rare possibility…. reality was different from what they imagined.

Oh, what a blasphemy!

I am so convinced that this is how it happened. This is what the motive was.

On one hand it was very funny.

But, a part of me felt very sad – I could feel the claustrophobia – the trap their mind was in.

And instantly a prayer went out – that may they feel relief from this. Quickly followed by a self-preserving prayer – even more fervent – May I not get stuck like this!

It is at times like these that the wisdom of Rumi can bring such relief…

Out beyond ideas of right and wrong doing, there is a field. I will meet you there.

The entire world is stuck in the right doing and wrong doing — including those who consider themselves religious and dedicated to God.

What you are doing is wrong.

What I am doing is right.

What you are thinking is wrong.

What I am thinking is right.

It is such a big trap…

And most of the times it is very subtle. “Let me show you how it is done. I am the expert.”

I know that you know at least 20 people who are stuck in this. Not just stuck stuck – but like superglue stuck.

But this is not about those 20 or 200 or 2000.

This is about you – the reader.

Where are you stuck in these opposites? How long are you going to remain stuck?

And, what is it costing you?

Footnote: I wrote the last three paragraphs of this post imagining that I am saying this to myself when (not if) I get stuck and I re-read this post. More often than not, these posts of mine are reminders to myself. You know how they say – you teach what you need to learn the most 🙂

Footnote Number 2: I just noticed that the last post I made before this one is also along the same lines as this one – I must really need to learn this one 🙂

 

The Mistake

The mistake is to think this is better than that. Or, that is better than this. Both this and that have things that appeal to us and things that we don’t quite like. It is not this or that that matters. It is how we face our own likes and dislikes – and how courageous we are to rise above them – to see things as they are and respond appropriately.