The world is not a burden. We make it a burden by our fears, responsibilities, duties, etc. We get pain, pleasure, sadness and happiness because in our mind there is separateness: my house, my wife, my religion, my country. When this ‘me’ and ‘mine’ drop out then there is only one reality, which is God, love, peace.
All the teachings tell us that our true nature is peace, love, truth. Sometimes we experience the unity of life and a weight is lifted from our shoulders. Why is it so hard to stay in that peaceful state? What blocks the light?
Everything in this world is in a constant state of flux. Everything changes. When life is difficult, it can help to remember that it will change. Unfortunately this also applies when things are going well; that won’t last forever, either.
It also helps to examine our self-created blocks, the ways we make life harder for ourselves.
Think about your own habitual reactions to things you don’t like. I’m sure you have no shortage of ideas about what other people should do, but what about you? There are many situations that can trip you up, and before you know it you’re building a wall to block anyone you see as ‘the problem’.
Say you’re working with a group of people on a project. You have some good ideas and it seems perfectly obvious to you that the the others should agree with you. After all, you’re right….right? Whenever you believe the thought that you’re right, you’re also thinking (whether you say it out loud or not) that the others are wrong. That kind of thinking is a habit; you weren’t born with it. The more entrenched that habit becomes, the more difficult relationships become. This applies if you’re talking about challenges in your family, at work, or in the world -and it is very obvious in the world of politics.
Everyone wants to be happy, but when people blame others and dig their heels in, when somebody has to be “right”, nobody’s happy. The question is: What can we do about it? Much as we’d like it to be otherwise, we can’t change other people. The only one we can work with is ourselves.
It never works. You can’t find happiness in outer objects because everything is changing, mortal, and unreal. Look inside and go on piercing the darkness. There you will find light.
When you’re stuck but want to get out of the hole you’ve dug for yourself, try shifting your attention from the “what” – the thing you’re trying to convince other people to agree to – to the “how” – how you’re treating yourself and others. If you notice that you’re pushing to have your way, STOP and breathe. If you can step back and start listening instead of talking, the energy can change.
If you’re unhappy about how things are going, take at look at yourself first. The other person’s reaction is a signal for you to pay attention. Ask: why am I getting upset about this? If someone is annoying you, your annoyance is not because they’re doing something; you’re annoyed because you’re annoyable. We can live together peacefully without agreeing about everything.
It’s not easy because it requires humility. It’s hard work because the habit of negative thinking is so strong, but it’s not impossible. If one person is able to disarm, it becomes easier for others to follow, and together you can work on solutions. Here are some wise words from Hafiz (translated by Daniel Ladinsky):
Intelligence begin to rule
Whenever you are with others
Using this sane idea:
Leave all your cocked guns in a field
Far from us,
One of those damn things
One cause of separation is projecting our pain, anger, and hate onto others. Our mind doesn’t want to accept that it is our fault. It always tries to prove that our pain is caused by someone else. If we think honestly about it, then we realize that the main cause is our own projection. We expect something, we desire something, and when it doesn’t happen, we project our emotions in a negative way.
Your job is to deal with your stuff, not try to change the other person. But, you may say, I want them to hear me; what I have to say is important. Maybe, but is it working? If not, try listening to what they’re saying, what’s important to them. When we listen to each other and try to understand, connection is re-established, and then it’s possible to work together toward shared goals
Because we experience ourselves as separate from others we always defend our individuality by our actions, thoughts and speech. We are like guards who are watching the bank; they are always ready to shoot anyone who tries to loot it. This act of defending individuality is itself an act of violence.
The unchanging Self is not affected by anything in the world. In this way, nothing we do matters. At the same time, our actions determine the nature of our experience. In this way, everything we do matters.
If the present is passing in peace, it will make a peaceful past and sow a seed of peace to grow in the future. Wish you happy.
Contributed by Sharada
Quotes in italics are from writings by Baba Hari Dass
Sharada Filkow, a student of classical ashtanga yoga since the early 70s, is one of the founding members of the Salt Spring Centre of Yoga, where she has lived for many years, serving as a karma yogi, teacher and mentor.