Material Wealth, Abundance And Spirituality

May your cup runneth over
Abundance, like age, is a state of mind.  Too often, it is thought to be limited to the digits describing one’s material wealth.
  While in fact it is the space from which one operates. Abundance here refers to the experience of ease and flow in all aspects of one’s life.  It is being anchored in a sense of wholeness and completion, a sufficiency that enables graceful flow, harmony and generosity. Where One is not inhibited by fears of scarcity. Trust in Self and life is effortless.

All of this is determined by one singular aspect – the degree to which one is in touch with one’s true nature.  The ‘I’ that one refers to, and whose ideas of ‘mine’ and ‘not mine’ keep it locked in a sense of lack and insufficiency(whether it be of love, time, well-being or money), is in itself a false construct.  It is the misled aspect that has identified itself with a particular body-mind.  This, despite experiencing that like the mind, our body too is noticeably changeable.  Our embodiment in the womb, as infants, adults and then as senior citizens is far from the same.  Even as we observe these changes, we continually, simultaneously re-calibrate our idea of ‘self’ and thereby continue to uphold the mistaken belief that there is a ‘constant’ or ‘consistent’ person here.

As a corollary to this idea of an individual and its sense of separation, we subscribe and contribute to a paradigm founded on transience, insecurity, competition, and nothing and no-one being ‘good enough’ (including our self). 

To fully emerge from these self-imposed limiting beliefs, we need a radical change in understanding. Initially, we tend to work towards improving our idea of this individual through ‘self-development’.  This provides temporary relief and we begin to feel we are winning. But remember that this game itself operates by the rules of changeability and insufficiency.  Hence, the degree of suffering may change, but it continues to feel real. To rise above this game, something different is required.

More often later than earlier, we find ourselves questioning our very self-definition.  We then notice that the only constant, consistent unchanging One is in fact our awareness of this experience.  Relaxing our attention from a limited mind-body identification as ‘self’, to this universal, omnipresent, singular awareness changes everything.

Instead of a world defined by separation and its constant struggle for safety, adequacy and well-being, One now experiences the world from a space of not just sufficiency, but easeful plenitude.  Instead of an isolated, solitary ‘me’ against the world, One operates from the knowing that being Consciousness itself, there is nothing One can possibly lack.  The perception thus shifts from lack and seeking – to abundance and expression of what already Is.

This transformation does not happen instantaneously for most of us.  Theoretically, it can be an instantaneous shift, but in practice, there is usually a gradual unpeeling of layers – involving a systematic unlearning and release of our conditioning, beliefs, habits and cellular memories.  With every inquiry and release, a further deepening of peace, ease and flow emerges.  The one question that can clarify our path at this point is,

Are you seeking self-development or Self Realization?

Remember that self-development looks to improve upon the idea and experience of the individuated, separate self that we have thus far identified with.  It is the seeking of mastery in the illusion, and not its transcendence.

Self-Realization, on the other hand, is the seeing through the illusion of this separate self.  As Adyashanti eloquently says, “Enlightenment is a destructive process. It has nothing to do with becoming better or being happier. Enlightenment is the crumbling away of untruth. It’s seeing through the facade of pretense. It’s the complete eradication of everything we imagined to be true.

The first choice, effectively, is looking for a ‘better’ dream.   But in the world of duality, health-disease, success-failure, poverty-wealth, codependency-loneliness and so forth – all exist in pairs. One cannot eliminate a single side of the coin. As ACIM clearly reminds, “You cannot dream some dreams and wake from some, for you are either sleeping or awake. And dreaming goes with only one of these. The dreams you think you like would hold you back as much as those in which the fear is seen. For every dream is but a dream of fear, no matter what the form it seems to take.

The second choice goes beyond merely manipulating levels of suffering or happiness, to the classical Advaita inquiry, Who Am I?  As a side benefit of this, One tends to have a more easeful and joyful perception of life. Because whatever happens, it is seen to be a dream that cannot define or determine who you really are.  How agitated would you be if the character you were playing in a drama underwent challenges, victories and defeats?  As an Italian proverb says, “At the end of the game, the pawn and the King go back in the same box.

Much of today’s popular spiritual speak often blurs the critical distinction between these objectives.  Added to this is the describing of material wealth as abundance and its thus sanctioned ‘holy’ pursuit.  The result is any number of programs and teachings attempting to meet the insecure needs of our misled aspects (and strengthening them) while deliberately or erroneously presenting these to be means of Self Realization.

Yes, money in itself is not evil. But to substitute the judgments previously imposed on the co-existence of material comfort and spirituality with a focused emphasis on material attainment is simply the perpetuation of a different dream.

My own approach to ‘spirituality’ has been grounded in my experience.  Being honest about where I am has allowed me to accept and adopt whatever practices were suitable for that point in time.  For example, when my husband lay unconscious in the ICU (and all our hopes and savings had run out) it was the least abundant I had felt it in my life.  I walked into the prayer room at the hospital and prayed, “You got me to this. You will get me through it.”  The next morning, out of the blues, a friend of mine came and gave me a copy of John Randolph Price’s “The Abundance Book”.  The Abundance Principals described therein are quite complementary to what I write here.  But it was true that money seemed a life or death requirement at that point.  I did the ’40 Day Prosperity Program’ described in it to honor my friend’s thoughtfulness. Even in the midst of what felt like a crisis, it completely shifted my perception of money and also transformed the situation. While I may have had many other layers and areas to work on, I have never worried about money since I did that exercise. It comes and goes smoothly enough.  In case you were wondering – that was 15 years back. And most of the work I have done since is for free.

This post intends to help clarify any confusion that may be a consequence of simultaneously seeking diverse objectives. The superficial understanding, confusion and guilt caused by chasing all kinds of conflicting material offered under the universal umbrella of “spirituality” today can lead to feelings of self-judgment, stuckness, guilt and even depression.  Deeply examining where you are and what choice you would like to make may release a lot of background stress. It could also help you move forward without procrastination or guilt.  If nothing else, I hope this piece raises some useful questions for the reader to introspect on.

 

Image Source: Pinterest

 

Poems: 108 Words

image

Welcoming all there is

The turbulence, the churning
The turning upside down
Inside out
Of what ‘I’ thought as ‘you’

Drawing it all
Into the One embrace
That finally dissolves
All ideas of two

That restful place
Where the highest crests
And the lowest troughs
Return

The steady, quiet, potent space
F
rom which once again
A ‘you’ and ‘I’ emerge

These natural tides
They continue
To push and pull

The waves fall
To rise again

But once the continuum
Of formless grace
Is remembered

Nothing feels the same

Form, transience and movement
All but short lived shapes

Beyond the veil
Of all appearances

The unchangeable ocean
Simply Is.

The 11 Commandments Of The New-Age-Ego (In A Nutshell)

If there is anyone who can hold up a mirror and make you laugh at that which you may have so far been turning a blind eye to, it is my friends GD and Aalif Surti.  GD’s inimitable, witty way of pointing to profound wisdom (and difficult truths) is artfully captured by his articulate brother, Aalif, at his blog www.superaalifragilistic.wordpress.com.

Their latest offering,  “The 11 Commandments Of  The New-Age-Ego“, is a hard hitting, yet hilarious reminder of the traps we tend to fall into along the ‘spiritual path’.  To get full benefits of the image below,  I recommend reading the full post at http://superaalifragilistic.wordpress.com/2015/02/25/the-11-commandments-of-the-new-age-ego/

I am most grateful to have GD personally knock sense into me whenever either of us feel it is required.  However, I felt that a one page summary of these Commandments would serve as a great reminder on my wall.  So I created this image with GD’s permission.  You are welcome to use it as a screensaver or poster for yourself as well .

Thanks GD and Aalif!

(Please retain their blog link in the image.)

11 Commandments of the New-Age-Ego

16 Effective Ways To Dissolve Unhappiness

 

dissolving clouds - copyright Tanushree Vaidya

Perhaps a deep rooted joy and peace does not lie in the pursuit of happiness, but in addressing the contributors to one’s perception of unhappiness.

Popular today are encouragements to think positive, happy and grateful thoughts. And if that comes easily and naturally, stay with that! However, there are many, myself included, who have discomfort with denying current feelings. Instead of ‘faking it’ till it feels real, I prefer to acknowledge, examine and allow whatever is my truth in the moment. The wonderful thing about impermanence is that no matter what it is, or how intense it feels, it will surely pass. But in the interim period, instead of arguing it away, or disowning it, here are some simple things we can do to help ourselves regain centredness.

The suggestions have been organized to look at things from a physical level, emotional level and then eventually from a higher perspective.

At a Physical Level:

We have a body to care for and its well-being is closely co-related with our emotional state, ability to think clearly and to be aware. Neglecting some simple, basic requirements of this reality can cascade into greater challenges.

  1. One of the most common and also most neglected needs is our requirement for earthing.  Even as our exposure to electromagnetic frequencies has gone up, our disconnect from earth has grown.  Spend a daily 15-30 minutes with bare feet on the ground/sands and see the difference for yourself.
  2. Exposure to early morning sunlight improves health, regulates circadian rhythm and is helpful in case you are suffering from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder).
  3. Regular exercise may be the most powerful natural antidepressant available. It stimulates release of endorphins, improves oxygenation, and lowers stress.
  4. Timely, nutritious meals: Eating nutritious food at regular intervals is important.   Fresh fruits and veggies contain vital nutrients which affect mood. Foods containing complex carbs such as brown rice, potatoes, wheat pasta and broccoli often act as comfort foods. Consider the need to include wholegrain cereals, beans, spinach, soya, wheat germ, oats, figs, unsalted seeds and nuts, ginger, basil and rosemary in your diet. Small amounts of dark chocolate can boost your mood, but larger quantities can cause it to plummet. Walnuts, fish and flaxseeds are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids (known to help alleviate depression).
  5. Despite the above, know that many of our foods no longer contain the same quality and quantity of nutrients as before.  It is well known that a Vitamin B12 deficiency is widespread today, especially among vegetarians,  and can be a cause of depression or fatigue.    Check with your doctor to see if you require any supplements: such as Vitamins B & C, Folic Acid, Copper, Iron, Magnesium or Zinc.
  6. Minimize sugar, caffeine, prescription drugs and alcohol. The short lived relief is not worth the long term consequences.
  7. Sleeping and waking up: Disruptions in sleep are highly impactful on weight, mood and energy.  The last thoughts before sleeping affect the quality of rest and the first ones on waking can change our experience of the day.  Instead of the news, or some mindless drama, end the day with a simple question like ‘What did I enjoy today?‘.  There is no need to force a positive answer.  Parking the question is enough.  Similarly, practice asking an interesting question immediately upon waking up, such as ‘I wonder what will bring me joy today?‘, or ‘How can I contribute to the world today?‘.  You will find that you effortlessly begin to notice a difference.
  8. Declutter your physical space: This helps remove distractions, troubling reminders of the past and creates space for something new. It also shifts energies in significant ways.  Empty your fridge and pantry of expired or outdated foods, change the sheets and clean the windows.  You may find yourself seeing more clearly in more than one way!

At an Emotional Level:
(From ‘The Pause Diet – for Joy and Peace‘)

  1. Pause to remind your self – ‘I am experiencing this emotion’.  For example, instead of thinking ‘I am angry’, remind yourself that ‘I am experiencing anger.’  This helps to acknowledge the emotion while not identifying your self with it.  It is a reminder that the emotion is transient and will pass.
  2. Pause to question the cause of this emotion – Very often, the true cause of the emotion is far different from the apparent reason on hand.  Understanding what is really bothering will help you to resolve the emotion as also notice any underlying behaviour patterns.
  3. Pause to breathe – Acknowledgement, acceptance and peace come more easily when you simply return your attention to your breath.  In heightened emotional states, we are setting off a cascade of physiological changes.  These can be moderated by conscious breathing, especially into your heart area.

From a Higher Perspective:

It is practical to question the assumption that ‘I must be happy all the time‘.(Follow the link to read more on this approach.)  Having said that, the following helps create a deeper understanding and allowance of life as it flows:

  1. Create spaciousness: Busyness can be a self sabotage strategy; an unconscious avoidance of difficult introspection and radical decisions that you know you must make.  It can also be a mindless habit that leaves you operating on autopilot.  Deliberately create empty slots in your day, to rest, reflect and rejuvenate.
  2. Reclaim your power and influence: Where have you parked your source of happiness? Who or what have you made your singular object of affection?  Remind yourself that your happiness is only in your hands. See “Home is where the heart is” for a more detailed discussion on this.
  3. Reconnect with nature:  This will bring perspective to your life, your place in the larger scheme of things and help heal your connection to Source.
  4. Contribute to others:  Focusing your attention and actions towards the benefit of someone else will bring you deep fulfilment and begin to dissolve the importance you give to what you consider as a source of unhappiness for you.

Lastly, and importantly, allow all of the above to help you find the clarity and courage to be authentic.  For when we are in alignment with our wholeness and who we are at heart – a peaceful joy becomes our natural state.  A comprehensive article focusing on this aspect can be read at: “Are you singing your own song or dancing to another tune?“.

If you find any of this useful, please share it with others.

Loka Samastha Sukhino Bhavantu!
(May all sentient beings be happy)

 

Image Credit & Copyright: Tanushree Vaidya

Poems: Notice The Underlying Presence

imageMarry the chaos with stillness.
The old with the new.
The known with the unknown.
The distraction around
and the emptiness within.

The spoken and the unspoken.
The tangible and the sensed.
What was hoped for, and has been lost,
What is waiting to be born again.

Include it all.
Integrate everything.
The days of separation are gone.
It is time to bridge the gap in between.

Let there be no more excuses,
No more defense, arguing, procrastinating.

We are but fragments of a whole piece,
Floating in doubt for too long.
Warring lets none of us win
But forces our habitual burdens
Onto the next innocent generation

The blood may have soaked into mud
But the earth still cries,
Its wounds are still raw.
It holds our memories,
The ones we insist on keeping alive

Forgive the ones who came before us
Forgive the ones who never came

We are the answer we have been waiting for
Wake up. Cease apathy now,
It’s time to consciously co-create.

(First published on my FB page on July 2, 2014)

What If Life Is Working For You And Not Against You?

image

We are hardwired and habituated to giving attention to data that matches our beliefs.  The stress of cognitive dissonance, or finding information contradictory to our beliefs, leads us to dismiss or neglect information that challenges our belief systems.

Our survival instincts also tend to heighten the importance we give to our adverse experiences.  So unknowingly, we often reach an unvoiced conclusion: “Life is a struggle.”  Then we set off battling our way through daily challenges, anticipating worst case scenarios and being on the defensive with others and with life itself.

But as ‘A Course in Miracles -Lesson 135′ reminds, “Defences are the plans you undertake to make against the truth. Their aim is to select what you approve, and disregard what you consider incompatible with your beliefs of your reality. Yet what remains is meaningless indeed. For it is your reality that is the “threat” which your defences would attack, obscure, and take apart and crucify.”

Instead of this violent, exhausting, and defining,  “Me-against-the-world” approach, what if we tried a fresh perspective?  What if Byron Katie was right when she said, “Life is simple.  Everything happens for you, not to you.  Everything happens at exactly the right moment, neither too soon nor too late.  You don’t have to like it… it’s just easier if you do.“?

In the spirit of experimenting with this wholesome philosophy, the above image is offered as a tool to help usher in change.  Access Consciousness, like many other healing and empowerment tools, encourages the practice of staying with the question.  “WWIT” is the shorthand for their oft used phrase – “What Would It Take“.  Instead of looking for specific answers, simply park the above inquiry in your awareness.  You can make the image a wallpaper or screensaver and over the next few days, notice how your ideas of self and experience transform.  You may also like to try the EFT script included in the article, “What’s Good And New?“.

If you enjoy these tools, please share it with your friends and family as well.  May we all find a greater joy, ease and peace in this dance of life!

Are You Being Supportive Or Intrusive?

lions rainforest site

In playing the role of a parent, a caregiver, a supportive friend, a healer, a mentor and the like, one of the most delicate balances to achieve is that between ‘being’ and ‘doing’.  The meaning of these oft used spiritual phrases are likely best understood through personal experience.

Theory cannot restrain the empathy or impulse to reach out actively to the ones we care for.  Nor can we be blind or deaf to the sometimes stated and at other times silent cries for help.  The teachings do not draw clear boundaries demarcating, “Here, it is best you step in.  Here, it is best you wait it out.

Byron Katie’s sound advice to “Mind your own business” will make complete sense at times. And at other times, the Dalai Lama’s words, “Our prime purpose in this life is to help others.” will make one wonder if not ‘doing’ anything is misguided, or erroneous in some way.

I, myself have struggled with which place to operate from often enough.  I described my swing from ‘Empathy’ to ‘Detachment’, before coming to a more balanced rest at ‘Compassionate Understanding & Non-Attachment’ in my post, “Breathe in Pain, Breathe out Joy”.

But over the years, I have found that the response arising from this understanding can yet take various forms.  There are times when simply being available as a safe, holding space is appropriate and at other times, being straight-forward, as clear and impassive a mirror as one can – is the healthiest response.  There are times intervention is the requirement, for the person may be too emotionally or physically hurt to pick themselves up.  At yet other times, we must sit with the pain of watching loved ones falter  their own way through the falls that teach them how to rise and move on.

This post was prompted by a friend sharing a touching video (see below) with me.  It shows a newly born foal attempting to stand up for the first time.  It reminded me of a similar scene I had witnessed at a stud farm many years ago.  When I reached the stables, the foal was barely five hours old. An awkward, tottering delight, the foal stumbled around as its mother stood by with a fond, watchful eye.

To say I was awestruck would be an understatement.  The foal’s tenacity, determination and also dazed sense of wonder at this whole new world was tangible.  The mother’s pride, concern, patience and overwhelming love was palpable.  I was reeling at the thought of how quickly this animal had to learn to stand on its own feet and how intense this process of learning and caring was.

I could not help but compare this with my own protective watchfulness over my nephew.  (He was only a couple of years old at that time, and had been in my care much of the duration.)  I wondered if I would ever be able to stand back and let him get his own bruises and knocks. How does one ever learn that?

Well, over the years, life teaches us many things.  I found that while it may have taken a couple of decades, I am able to be centered far more often now.  With those closest to me, it is the most difficult.  There is still the occasional temptation to jump right in and urge them to move in a way that I believe would be best.  But I know that such entanglement is not healthy, as at such times I have disconnected from Source.  My identification with a role and my perception of its duties and responsibilities actually interferes with allowing inspiration.  The way to return to flow is by revisiting what I have learned so far:

  • Learning to be comfortable with pain and uncertainty: The more I am at ease with these, the less of the ego-centric, fear- based compulsions to ‘fix things’, prod myself or others.
  • Learning to let go of the need for fixed outcomes: I remind myself that what I imagine as the best outcome may not necessarily be so.  There is much that I do not know.  Whatever happens, eventually turns out for the best.
  • Letting go of the need to play savior: Many of us tend to buy into the savior complex in our early days.  When you find tools and processes that have demonstrated change, you become eager to spare others the pain that you have known.  I remind myself that no matter how close they may be to me – everyone has to lead their own life.  At their own pace.

No amount of the most intelligent, analytical, or disciplined ‘doership’ can substitute for life’s innate wisdom and happening.  Much like the mother horse instinctively knowing when she should nudge her ward, and when she should be available non-intrusively in the background, we too can find the space of being – where all doing arises optimally.

The above are only broad brush strokes of layered subjects.  The critical point being: the more I get myself out of the way, the more empty, present and aware that I become – the more spontaneously and easily – an appropriate response arises.

Then there is no longer any intellectual quandary between being and doing – in its stead is a simple, clear knowing and it’s natural, effortless expression.

PS:  My apologies to those who continue to be at the receiving end of my remaining ‘doership’ habit :)

 

Image Source:  The Rainforest Site FB Page