I spoke of this movie in the recent California class. It is a beautiful true story. Personally, I got choked up several times while viewing it. I am not sure if all people would react the same way I did, but I do believe it is a movie that you would like to watch.
What a precious gift is kindness. Don’t we all wish there was more of it in our lives! Isn’t the idea of a truly kind friend something we all cherish, but all too often simply long for?
Kindness sees, kindness understands, but kindness doesn’t judge. Understanding is not blind; judgment is blind. Understanding need not be all knowing. In fact, understanding knows that omniscience is the domain only of the divine. Yet, understanding is inherent in the kindness we mortals are capable of. We don’t have to look far to see that judgment and negativity seem to be the way of this world. Agni (fire) and Soma (water) make up this world. There is an excess of Agni in the world these days. It is the Soma nectar of loving kindness that supports and upholds the very fabric of life. Mount Soma was created to cultivate that nectar of peace and kindness. May we all hold one another in that light of kindness.
In my experience as a beginning musician, I stumbled upon an analogy that works in a limited way, but provides, I think, some valuable insight.
It seems there are essentially two approaches to learning music. One is to understand the theory and basically jam on the notes and chord progressions of the theory underlying a particular song or type of music. The other approach is sheer memorization. Memorizing, for example, where to put your fingers, and in what sequence. As a beginning musician, I found the memorization approach tedious and confining. In my observations of others, it seems like a common experience: they get halfway through a piece, hit a wrong note or lose their place, get frustrated, pound on the keys, and start once again.
In contrast, when I learn to jam, I feel free. Mistakes don’t matter because I can just flow right through them and they become part of the music. Now I understand that other people, and no doubt advanced musicians, would have a lot to say in agreement and in opposition to my perspective. So yes, the analogy does break down, but there is a real value to the point of the analogy as follows:
Life is to be lived in a state of psychological and intellectual freedom. It is the foundation of creativity and individuality. The indoctrination of mimicry is confining, limiting, and painful.
However, I’m not talking about anarchy here, or sheer rebellion. As with the laws of music, there are laws of nature. To succeed in life, we must live in harmony with those laws of nature, while enjoying the freedom of our own unique nature. There are laws of nature that we adhere to, but afford us a great deal of freedom. That way, we can jam with the freedom of self-expression in life without overstepping the bounds of natural law. That is the state of liberation. On the other hand, trying to conform to a memorized notion of proper behavior is self-limiting.
As a final note, I’d like to once again acknowledge that this analogy only goes so far. There are many great musicians who find tremendous unique self-expression by performing memorized pieces of music. However, understanding the essential concept of this analogy is something we all do well to understand.
It’s not uncommon for a competitive athlete to thank God after a victory. It’s also not uncommon for some people to assert that God picks a side in a sporting event. Let’s take a deeper look at this to figure out what is going on.
On the deepest level of existence, God is universal, supporting all things equally. We can say that God is like the trunk of a tree, supporting all of its branches. However, as that divinity wells up through different levels of existence, it, like a tree, branches outward.
Nations, communities, and individuals align with that divinity in different ways. That is one reason why there are different religions. Each religion aligns with a branch of the tree of divinity according to the laws of nature of the land. The laws of nature are different on the mountaintop than they are in the valley. Thusly, this births different religions. Each religion has with it a different and unique face of the one God. In that way, there are an infinite number of different faces of God. Some correlate with entire continents and some with small communities.
An athletic team is supported by the spirit of the community it represents. That spirit is fed by the unique face of God (the unique aspect of the one God) that correlates to the laws of nature of the community represented by that team. On a team level, it is called “team spirit”; on a national level, it is called “patriotism.” We feed our team, our community, our nation, and our world by aligning with that quality of divinity, that face of God, that soul which supports, nourishes, sustains, and feeds each particular group consciousness. Just as different branches of the same tree can sway in different directions simultaneously while still rooted in the same trunk, diverse personified aspects of divinity can lean in different directions.
If they know it or not, this explains the mechanic of how an athlete can validly thank God for their victory. If we know it or not, we all rest upon the same one God as that life-sustaining value wells up in an infinitely diverse number of ways.
In different parts of India, different aspects of divinity are worshipped. Even small villages have their own chosen aspect of, for example, Lakshmi, that they worship as the God/Goddess of their small village.
Said simply, God is on everyone’s side. The degree to which we align with natural law (with God’s nature) is the degree to which we receive the support of nature. That can play out as worship of a particular aspect of God, as team spirit, as a devotion to family, to nation, to community, or even to the group consciousness of a small business. That spirit breathes life into the community.
Dr. Shen was a famous Chinese medical practitioner and my dear friend. He once told me, “I don’t deal with disease. I support health.” Similarly, we support health on all levels of life by maintaining a positive dedication to what is healthy in the society. It is not that we bury our heads in the sand with respect to problems. Rather, it’s that we understand the source of true health, success, and prosperity. So, feel free to cheer for the home team!
“Chance makes a plaything of a man’s life.”
We would call it Karma…
The laws of nature are very different on the surface of life as opposed to the depth. For example, on the surface, you are you, and I am me. We are separate. Whereas in the depth, we are all one. For that reason, behavior oriented around the surface of life can look very different than behavior oriented around the depth. It’s as if there are two different fronts that we are negotiating simultaneously. Proper behavior is a matter of the integration of the two.
When a person is disproportionally oriented toward one front or the other, imbalanced behavior is the result. For example, people may favor spiritual reflection with a love for the transcendental depth of existence. However, when they go out into the world, they cease to be practical or effective in the material world. On the other hand, when the imbalance is excessively toward the material world, behavior can become petty, selfish, cynical, and polarizing. Oftentimes, individuals may enjoy reflecting upon the spiritual, but when it comes down to living their lives, they disproportionally become superficially oriented. It is easy to be spiritual on the weekends, but how much do we retain as we live the rest of our lives? How wisely do we integrate the surface with the depth?
Those overly entrenched in the superficial front tend to become overly materialistic and cynical. Those overly entrenched in the spiritual tend to become impractical and unrealistic. Those living a life that integrates the two are often not recognized by those living a less integrated state. That usually is a matter of projection. People tend to project their value system, based upon their level of integration, upon others, and judge them accordingly. For example, the cynical and materialistic scrutinize the behavior of others, assuming they too must be equally cynical, materialistic, and not to be trusted. They spontaneously assume ulterior and selfish motives are at the root of others’ behavior. This is what we face as a society these days. Those immaturely spiritually-oriented judge pragmatic behavior as being superficial and not deep.
However, a life integrating the two is subtle. Attempting to integrate the two in an unsophisticated way becomes a matter of cross-realm projection (i.e., trying to impose the laws of nature of one front onto the other front). For example, just because we are all one doesn’t mean you give away all your money and abandon all pragmatics.
Proper integration of the two is a sublime and exquisite dynamic. It is a state of physiology, a state of being. The majesty of an artful navigation of life integrating those two fronts of life is not easily recognized or appreciated by those living a less balanced state. An imbalanced relationship between those two fronts precludes wisdom, maturity, and artful living. Such imbalance is the source of negativity (e.g., suspicion, mistrust, misunderstanding, hatred, resentment, judgment, polarization, and conflict).
Through meditation, as well as reflecting upon the nature of life and the nature of our own personal psychodynamics, we can cultivate a healthy, wise, and mature relationship with life (i.e., the integration of the surface with the depth). When feeling challenged in life, reflect upon the subtle nature of life. Aspire to understand the sublime relationship and harmonization between the surface and the depth. Aspire to wisdom. Aspire to a pragmatic relationship with the material world integrated with an unending adherence to the Divine.
Video #1 – About Alma Deutscher
I imagine that many people who watch these videos about Alma Deutscher will impulsively jump to the idea that she is the reincarnation of Mozart or some other great composer and musician. I have to admit that I’m in that camp. I think that some people may also go to a place where they feel bad about themselves for not having any such great talent. Of course, we all marvel over her great abilities.
In the past, I’ve spoken of how we share the one same humanity. Such uniquely talented individuals stand as a celebration of the grandeur of what it means to be human. They are shining representatives of the greatness of the humanity that we are all a part of. To say it another way, there is one great humanity and we all are that. Prodigies are an expression of the grandeur of our shared humanity.
Be they a musician, athlete, scientist, or genius in any other form, they inspire us to look forward to the future to see how they progress and what other flowers emerge in the garden of life, the garden of humanity that we are unified through. There is but one unified field, one Self.
Some years ago, I was watching an interview of a spiritual leader’s son. He was describing how his parents lived in harmony with nature—they lived in a log cabin with no electricity, walked around barefoot, and grew their own food. I mean no disrespect, but that has nothing to do with living in harmony with nature…
When you climb a mountain, commitment and dedication are required. You need to stay one-pointedly focused on the goal, with a ‘steady hand on the rudder’. In fact, when people ask me what more they can do for their evolution, I almost always respond by saying, “‘Keep a steady hand on the rudder’ through time.”
The thing about climbing a mountain is that it’s easy to slip. Once you slip, momentum can take over until you slide, tumble, and fall all the way to the bottom. That’s called Karma. As I’ve always said, most of your Karma is between your ears and in your heart (i.e., your emotions). So, in a nutshell, to evolve, stay on the path. If you catch yourself slipping, regroup and continue the journey to the top.
Human beings are incredibly vulnerable creatures. The depth of our soul reaches all the way into the Transcendent, the most refined and delicate level of existence. We all feel things very deeply. In some way and to some degree, everything touches the depth of our soul.
Though we all feel deeply, as we evolve, we become more in balance, more capable of experiencing our feelings without tumbling. People tumble in response to all sorts of emotions, be they positive or negative. Hurt can tumble into rage. Joy can tumble into a state of hysteria, frenzy, or delirium.
Our vulnerability, then, must be grounded in the strength of our inner being so that we don’t tumble. It is important to note that as we evolve and the strength of our being grows, it’s not that we don’t feel deeply. If anything, we feel more deeply. In fact, we are able to go into the depth of our feelings without shrouding them with denial, diversion, defiance, or rationalization. In other words, we become capable of handling and holding our vulnerability.
When people’s vulnerability is not rooted in the depth of being, they simply can’t handle the intensity of the waves of emotion and feelings that come along with life. Their behavior becomes erratic and inappropriate. It’s most unfortunate that so many of life’s decisions are founded upon that imbalanced state.
But it’s important to understand that everyone tumbles from time to time. What matters is how quickly and responsibly people are capable of coming back into balance.
When rooted in the stability of our own soul, our vulnerability becomes a tremendous asset. We are able to openly and honestly experience those subtle feelings that reach into the depth of our soul. We are then able to act, feel, and think from a place of wisdom. We no longer tumble, but instead, embrace, hold, and act in harmony with the undenied Truth that lies deep within. For example, if someone hurts you, you don’t act through anger, resentment, or disparagement. Instead, you are capable of articulating and communing in a sincere and loving manner, free from blame or degradation.
We can all aspire to live that sort of life on a day-to-day basis. When you tumble, you can do your best to regain balance and to right any wrongs the tumbling elicited. This is called maturity. To never make a mistake is asking far too much of yourself. But to strive to come back into balance and on that level, to embrace your vulnerability and feel your feelings, is most noble.
What underlies anger and judgment is hurt. It is often easier to feel your anger and judgment than your hurt. In so doing, you live a life of denial: a life not in harmony with the Truth and vulnerability that lies at the depth of your soul.
To be able to come from that place of vulnerability (unencumbered by any tumbling) is to live a fulfilling life: a life where you can respect yourself and a life which will gain the respect of others. If that respect is not gained immediately, it will be gained as others overcome their tumbling, and behave in a manner in harmony with the depth of their own soul.
Too many people suppress their vulnerability for the simple reason that they can’t handle it. Living your vulnerability from a place of stability within your own being is to live a life of fulfillment, wisdom, integrity, and human decency. So, even though at times vulnerability may feel like a curse, it is indeed a great blessing.