Wednesday, January 27, 2010
On the path towards new consciousness, certain concepts lose their meaning and significance. It’s like old technology, they become obsolete and cumbersome. Forgiveness is one of those concepts. A Course In Miracles states that it is necessary for us humans to forgive but eventually we’ll realize that it is not necessary because there is no need for it. There is nothing to forgive!
Patience is another one that is on its way out and one I’d like to think about today. Patience was a virtue. Patience implied that you had to slow yourself down to the level of the other person or whatever it was you were waiting for. Living in the now moment and with total compassion eliminates the need for patience. Being impatient means being intolerant, whether it is because you are in a rush to be somewhere else or because you are pre-occupied with something else (stressed). Thinking about patience or lack of it in this way may motivate you to become more patient with others. But what about patience with yourself, with life or whatever is or isn’t happening?
It all comes back to self-acceptance. How well do I accept myself just as I am? Will I accept myself after I lose some weight? Will I accept myself after I become successful or achieve some goal? Will I accept myself after I make more money? Will I accept myself or some other better, newer and more improved version of me? Unfortunately, that’s a carrot we’ll never get to. If we don’t learn to love and accept ourselves just the way we are in the now moment, we won’t later either. This does not mean that we should not strive to do better or improve ourselves. Improvement or enhancement of our experience of life is similar to going from point A to point B because it brings us joy, it is fun, or we are curious about what point B is like. In these cases, the journey of getting to point B is fun too. We are not in a rush to get there, because it is all part of the enjoyment. In fact, when we get to point B, we’ll realize that we might want to go to C, etc. It never ends, because it is all about expanding. Patience is not required, it is an unnecessary concept. If however, the goal of getting to point B is to avoid being in point A, then the journey seems difficult, a struggle and not enjoyable. I am reminded of Andre Agassi’s book, Open in which he states that he hated losing more than he loved winning. His journey was exhausting, joyless and full of struggle. He had no patience in his matches, he wanted them done with, so he could get to point B or not be in point A anymore.
Today, I am determined to dismantle patience. I am going to use awareness to notice when I am not being compassionate and accepting of what is. And with practice, I’ll realize that I won’t need patience anymore. I just need to remember that I am the master of my experience and that if something isn’t working out for me, I need to first change my attitude and then take any necessary actions. Patience will be obsolete, ready to be discarded like an old typewriter. I’m looking forward to a gentler, more efficient and less cumbersome way of being, one that includes everything and everyone just as they are. So long Patience!
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
“When you don’t cover up the world with words and labels, a sense of the miraculous returns to your life that was lost a long time ago when humanity, instead of using thought, became possessed by thought. A depth returns to your life. Things regain their newness, their freshness.” Eckhart Tolle (Guardians of Being, 2009)
What does it mean to be possessed by thought? It is so much a part of who we are and what we value that we don’t recognize that we are ruled by our thoughts. In other words, our mind/brain determines our experience of life. We identify so much with our superior ability to think that we consider ourselves superior to all other animals. An organ whose function is to make sure our bodies are doing what they are supposed to be doing, keep us safe by evaluating our surroundings and comparing and contrasting to past events is now the CEO of us. If you compare it to an organization, it is like having the safety department in charge of the whole organization. In this scenario, the organization will be very safe, but will it grow? Will it take any risks? Will it develop any new products? Will it be creative? It may, but those are not its primary focus. In fact, its top goal is to grow the function and capabilities of the safety department. So now, you have safety people everywhere, they are telling everyone else what to do. The more the company hires safety people, the more the people think about how they might need even more safety measures, this is all they think about. They start worrying about all kinds of things, because their job is to come up with scenarios to protect the organization from. Soon all the other departments start getting intimidated by the safety people. They stop thinking for themselves, their job becomes satisfying the goals of the safety people. The organization is run by fear and intimidation and a constant fear of not being safe enough. As crazy as this may sound, it is no different from how most of us live as humans.
We have given full control of our experience of life to our heads or our thinking and yet the function of our brain is not to take control of us. Then who or what is in charge?
Shaun Ellis, a British naturalist spent two years of his life living in the wild with a pack of wolves without any human contact. This is what he wrote after his experience: The hardest thing was adjusting to the human world. The one I had just left, and felt I belonged to, was so simple and balanced. There was no deception, no malice and no gratuitous cruelty. Keeping the family safe and fed was all that mattered: wolves killed to eat; never for fun and never more than they needed.
When have you ever described your life as simple and balanced? Do you remember when it was so? Is there something you could strike off of your list for things to do or add, that could bring some simplicity and balance in your day? Who is the CEO of you? My wish for all of us is to remember who is in charge and demote those who are not in compliance of the true mission and vision of our being.
Thursday, January 14, 2010
The tragic and devastating news from Haiti has been somewhere in my consciousness since I heard about it. Pictures of the people sitting by, making do with close to zero by the side of the buildings that once were, tug at me relentlessly. What do we do when we hear of such devastation? How do we help? Yes, we can send a check somewhere to some humanitarian organization to help out. What else? My dear friend whom I’ve met through the blogosphere, Gabi has just written a post on a similar topic that has to do with what can we do in the midst of absurdity and injustice. After reading hers and feeling my helplessness I wonder about this place we are all sitting in. What might come from helplessness?
The first thing I notice when I feel utterly helpless, like when I did right after my father passed away is that if I stop thinking, rationalizing, and justifying I feel peace. And the only way I can do that is by not thinking. Yes, when you feel helpless, just go with it, do not analyze it, do not try to fix it. I know it sounds counter-intuitive, but it works. Now, you might say, great, I am glad that you know how to feel peace in the midst of such devastation. But how is that going to help the world?
I am not an expert at what the world needs, but I have a hunch at what the world doesn’t need. The world doesn’t need more drama, blame, or righteousness. When we can’t stop ourselves from listening to the news and getting caught up in the drama of the how and how many and the tragic human stories, we are no different from the rubber-neckers at the sight of a car accident on the road. We perpetuate the story, we feed into the tragedy and its energy, we talk about it and analyze it and justify that such a thing would never happen here, because we build our buildings according to code, etc. to make ourselves feel more safe. And all of this usually happens within seconds of feeling helpless. It is as if we want to feel something, anything other than helplessness. So, we push through, deny, and avoid it. How could this benefit the planet?
What I have learned is that the more we connect with the sadness, the more we start thinking, rationalizing, and justifying or worse, get angry. What would happen if we just felt the helplessness and stayed with it without trying to mentally understand it?
I am reminded of a scene at a memorial service when you are the grieving family and people are passing through the line to wish you their respects. There are those who have something to say, to make you feel better, some justification, i.e., he/she lived a full life. There are those who offer help and prayers. There are those who just say I am sorry and move on. There are those who just hug you and look into your eyes without any hurry to walk away. And there are those who will try to distract you by talking about anything but what they are there for.
Today, I’d like to think about this tragedy in the same vein as the memorial analogy. How do I want to wish my respects to the people of the country who have lost everything? What if anything do I want to contribute? What might benefit the people the most? The answers and even just the pondering of my answers to these questions will keep me from becoming part of the problem.
Wishing you all peace, especially if you are feeling helpless.
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
My first reaction to the term diversity, is not a positive one. Having spent years in the corporate world I soon learned that diversity had become an HR buzz word to ensure that every department had their token people of color or different ethnicity and that made the whole organization look good and abide by the organizational norms and numbers. Diversity for me always meant creating an environment for different thinking and ways of being to ensure that we were not trapped by our own short sightedness. So, it didn’t matter where this diversity came from. It was a way to ensure that we weren’t too comfortable, that we were stretching ourselves and expanding.
True diversity defies hierarchy. In fact, if we are truly interested in diversity, we have to throw out the whole concept of order. Only then, can we embrace all the potential offerings of diversity. Only when we give up the idea of what’s right, fair, or acceptable can we see the endless possibilities that true diversity gifts us with. Diversity is about inclusion of everything and everyone. Indeed, diversity may create a little chaos and some organizations cannot handle that. In the age of streamlining, cost cutting, and standardizing, diversity is choked off or becomes even more of a superficial token because no one wants to rock the boat.
I love the concept of true diversity because it is about integration, integrating the dark and the light, the wrong and the right, etc. I like to start with the only place I can start with, me. How diverse am I in my own thinking? How open am I to different ideas, even things that seem crazy? How easily do I dismiss ideas that defy the norm or are considered dark/negative? I might decide after answering these questions that I am open and pretty diverse in my own thoughts, beliefs, etc. in the privacy of my own mind. The next step is, how do I voice this diversity out there, or do I? Am I always trying to be the harmonizer, the positive thinker, the motivator? Do I dare to be negative? Where are the boundaries I dare not cross, or are there any? Now, I am not suggesting anarchy or being negative just to be difficult. I am however, asking if I have the courage to stand out. If you find yourself rationalizing it by thinking that it depends on the circumstance and what is at stake, then you are still bound by conditions. My question is precisely about that, are we willing to experience the expression of diversity regardless of the risks involved. And as long as we are bound by our need for security, our organizations will reflect the same.
As a painter, I used to try to remember my art teacher’s words and instructions. I remember he even told us to not buy black paint, because we’ll never need it. Mind you he was teaching us how to paint flowers and pretty nature scenes, and I had years of Catholic School education and was a good girl who followed instructions and never bent the rules. Years later, I bought the black paint. I rarely used it, because I was told that I wouldn’t need it. One day, I went a little crazy and opened the tube of black paint. I felt the possibilities of where my painting could go. It changed everything. I became more daring in my art. I decided to break all the so-called rules of how you mix colors, etc. I did my own thing and embraced the diversity that had entered my painting. I am still in awe of what I might create, because it could be anything. I don’t have a style or a method. I am open to expand, to let the art do its thing.
Now, I sit here pondering if I could only apply this way of being to all other parts of my life in every moment of every day, what would that be like? I have a hunch it would be an endless and expanding evolution of rich and intense experiences. But am I ready for that?