A month ago I floated this question with my readers because I was curious. I know that what we see when we look at the world says more about us than it says about the world, and I wanted to know; What were my readers seeing?
I knew what I was seeing, and as I witness my reactions to the news and current affairs shows, I could gauge whether I was coming from an open-hearted centredness perspective, or a right/wrong ego perspective.
More often than not, it was my ego that was engaged. It was like I just couldn’t help it. I was judgmental, analytical, dismissive, and even cynical.
Yet this was entwined with a so-called “spiritual” perspective on what I saw – more like superior. I was critical of people for their attachment to things, for their total absorption in the drama of their lives, for the way in which they blamed others for their circumstances, for the way they criticized, dismissed, analysed and judged other people.
In other words, I was what I saw.
And we all are.
The outer world, or at least, our perspective of the outer world, is but a reflection of where we are internally. My ability to witness my reaction to the world showed me I was a long way from where I thought I was most of the time.
And that was ok. Bringing the shining light of awareness to our thoughts is the first step toward changing them. Being aware of thoughts creates a gap inside where one can just allow those thoughts to fade away, instead of reacting to them and acting on them. It creates an opportunity to shift mindset and practice seeing in another way, with compassion and love.
Because what does a yogi see when he or she looks at the world?
One thing and one thing only.
As the great Sufi saint Shams-i-Tabriz said:
Do not think that God is only in your heart. You should be able to recognise him in every garden, in every forest, in every house, and in every person. You should be able to see Him in your destination, in all the stages of your journey, and in your fellow pilgrems.
You should be able to see Him on every path, in every philosophy, and in every group. You should be able to see Him in all acts, in all deeds, in all thoughts and feelings, and in all expressions of them.
You should be able to recognise Him not only in inner lights, but also in the lights that you see in the outer world. All colours and even the darkness are the same Being. If you really love Him, if you want to find His love and be blessed by it, then see Him in every corner of the universe.
What a challenge! It is not so hard to see God (or the Divine, Allah, Goddess, use what word you will) in the forest, or the lake, or small children, or animals. The light shines forth brightly. But to be able to see God in the people we encounter every day, even those who commit crimes, or do us wrong. That is difficult. Yet when one reaches this place, and can see the Divine shining forth from everyone and everything, then one has found and connected with the Divine within. This is true peace, true bliss, or samadhi.
This is coming into Self, and knowing that Self exists in All.
This is Yoga.
Yesterday a friend and fellow spiritual traveler asked me what the point of my practice was. I hadn’t considered it like that before, and indeed have perceived that to an extent, my practice has tended to be an escape from the challenges of the world, just as an alcoholic turns to the bottle to escape the world. But yesterday I was able to answer, the point of my practice is to be able to see the Divine in all I encounter. To be in a place of love and compassion at all times.
Then, when I look at the world, instead of being analytical, critical, superior, and judgmental… seeing only what is wrong and what can be changed… I will be loving, compassionate and kind… and see only perfection as it is in that moment. What peace!
So what did my readers see when they looked at the world? Down below is a selection of excerpts, including the winner of the competition. Enjoy.
I went on a meditation retreat (my first and only) and for a moment touched…I dunno, like the universe. There was this deeper, clear part of me that was simply experiencing my life. Whatever my consciousness chose to do with it.
This part had no value judgments whatsoever, nothing was “bad” simply something to be experienced.
I don’t know about the nature of God, of the universe, and if there is even one right answer. But I DO know about love. I know we are connected. I know we are ONE, if even for an instant.
Well, I don’t know everything about life, death and God (or whatever you choose to call it) and all those bits in between, but I do believe that I’m here to find that out! I believe God is within each of us, and anyone can find God if they just open their eyes, mind and especially their heart.
As for miracles, just look at the world around us, they are happening all the time (but sometimes they are in disguise =]) , all you have to do is appreciate life’s little gifts. And when life gets you down, just look for those little gifts- whether it’s those friends who always make you laugh, watching the sunset, doing yoga or anything you love. As for me – my family, my friends, my dog and knowing we are all part of something important are all small miracles in my eyes.
I try not worry about IF I’ll get the swine flu, cancer, losing a limb or any of those things you have mentioned because those are things I can’t control. That’s the future, something that doesn’t belong to me as with the past. But there is one thing that belongs to me…and that’s right now, in the present!
Who wonders why Yoga still feels so new to him even after all these years?!?
Wonders if his shoulders and quads will ever be as flexible as he would like them to be Wishes that he didn’t get mad in heavy traffic. Thinks he was a dancer; musician and contortionist in a previous life, because he is a little bit of each in this one. Would go insane if he could not stretch every day
Remembers walking naked at Harbin Hot Springs in San Francisco, and wonders if he would ever be brave enough to do that again?!? Thinks often of the people who left a footprint on his heart. Believes that Joy and Pain are two sides of the same coin. Sometimes thinks he is a computer with an emotion-unit plugged in -especially when he’s at work.
Has always loved science fiction, and thinks Androids do dream of electric sheep. Thinks that when he dies he will become dust and ashes, and will enjoy the most peaceful sleep ever. Feels shame at some of the things he has done in the past, but believes he is a good person. Wonders why he is so stubborn Believes in self-determination over destiny.
Believes society tries to limit how we think and feel, creating boundaries that are not real, but may as well be Loves “Flight of the Concords” and watches South Park as a guilty pleasure Imagines a world that was not based on money Loves gadgets and technology (when they work) and wonders what life will be like in 100 years. In 1000 years.
Hopes that the human race does not destroy itself Thinks that time is an ocean so vast that the first breath ever drawn by a human -through to the very last, will happen within a single blink of Gods eye Thinks that time is movement, because someone very intelligent told him that once. (Remember, time is measured by the speed of light) Ponders the dichotomy of religion, and regards it as a manifestation of humanity, not a proof of God.
sat nam as for now…….i am seeing both sides of the coin…..one moment it is as if the whole world is against me….and the other moment it is as if they are for me…..the love ,the care they project can be felt……but on other times it is their egos that are felt………..maybe they are just showing a mirror…
And the winner of the competition comes from Theresa – Thank you for your beautiful entry, three books are coming your way!
I see the beauty in the world around me. From the simplest of things.The beauty in my son, my husband, my family, flaws and all. (One can find flaws in anything if he looks hard enough.) The simplistic beauty in my dogs, even when they have eaten the hot tub cover or pulled all of the laundry from the line!The sights and sounds of God’s wonderful creations.The wind in the trees and rain on the window. The sun warming the dogs as they lay stretched to catch it’s rays.I see the creatures around me.I see and am grateful for the skills that others have. Amazed at the talents we all posses, whether we are aware of it or not.The things others do to make the world a better place. Those that care.I see the peony in full bloom and am in awe of it’s brilliance!I have seen the sparkling white light of a spirit and it brought me to a new awareness. A reassurance that we are not “in this alone”.I have seen babies born and others die.I have seen and felt the pain of loss and the joy of my miracle child.I see the sad things.An old friend murdered by her son.The lack of parenting and the longing of children to have structure. To know they are loved.I see people too busy to smile. I smile at them anyway.I see forests and it creatures disappearing from this earth and my heart aches.I see the wastefulness of mankind and I pray for them to become aware.I am not worried, but hopeful that the human race will soldier on, move in a positive direction, care about the world around them.That young people will learn and live a life of peace and gratitude. Instead of hatred and violence. That they will find the moral voice within them and share it with the world.I do not worry about being alone. I know that I am never alone for I have God all around me, angels beside me and my guides leading me.I do not worship “stuff”. I have learned to let things go.I have learned that I am in charge of my own happiness. It is not another’s job to fill me with joy or contentment, it is my own. It is what I choose.I do not fear death, although I really want to stick around for a while!I do not fear life.I live in the moment and am grateful for that moment.I try to learn from my mistakes and look for the positive in most situations. Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone did?I’ve learned that life is full of minor details and not to sweat them. Not to dwell.I am grateful to you for helping me see.I see that I am truly blessed!