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August 30, 2009
Everyone in this world longs for beauty in his or her lives. Many people the world over spend large portions of their incomes seeking to add some measure of beauty into their lives.
Many of us love to possess luxurious and beautiful fabrics manufactured in Italy. There is a special attraction to clothes and other objects designed and made by incredibly talented artisans and craftspeople.
Who has not stood transfixed by the glory of a particularly spectacular sunset or some other stunning natural vista?
Why does time seem to stop when we stare into the face of newborn child?
Why do the faces of certain people and particular works of art cause the deepest kind of stirrings in our hearts?
All of these questions are related to our attraction to and longing for beauty in our lives.
We spend so much of our lives desiring after and seeking to include more and more beauty in our lives. For many, it is their primary preoccupation.
Yet, how many of us take the time and the energy necessary to truly investigate and discover what real beauty is?
How many of really understand on the deepest level what real beauty is?
If you asked many people for their own definition of beauty, more times than not, you would get an answer that included mostly a combination of physical or external elements (elements such as symmetry, composition, size, color, texture, consistency and the like).
Now, while the physical characteristics of any person or object or situation are certainly an aspect of its beauty or appeal, are these elements what give anything its real beauty?
In other words, are the physical characteristics of anything the reason why we are moved to tears and touched in the deepest parts of our hearts. Are the physical characteristics of anything the reason why we remember an experience for our whole lives?
I would suggest to you that it is time that we all took a much deeper look at our assumptions and beliefs about the nature of real beauty.
I would suggest to you that it is our misbegotten beliefs about the nature of beauty that has gotten us so much in trouble with ourselves and with others. A false assumption about beauty in this life can cause countless amounts of suffering and grief.
If we really believe that beauty is composed mostly of its physical or external elements, our ideas about beauty become extremely fixed. We expect to find beauty only in certain places and in certain people and not in others. As we become more set in our ways and opinions, it means that we generally become more and more rigid.
As we become more rigid in our ideas, it means that we stop being fully present in all situations and with all people. It means that we will stop looking deep beneath the surface of things in many, if not most situations.
Let me suggest to you that real beauty has very little to do with its physical or external constituents. In fact, it has little to do with anything outside of our own selves.
Real beauty flows from the the heart of life itself. And where does the heart of life dwell? It dwells in none other than our own inner heart, in the essence of our own being. It is deeply and intimately connected with our own presence.
The more we are able to dwell deep within our own inner hearts and presence, fully, intensely and with no judgment, the more we will be able to gaze out into the world and witness real beauty in more and more places and people.
The more one focuses on the physical or external aspects of their world, the more infrequently that person will witness moments of real and breathtaking beauty. The more one focuses on the essence of their own being and dives deep within the deepest reaches of their own heart, the more frequently, he or she will be brought to their knees in the presence of staggeringly beautiful moments.
There is actually no limit to how many experiences of real beauty you can have in one day. Because, you see, real beauty does not exist as part of the limited, external world. Real beauty is an essential part of life itself and as such, it permeates all things and all situations.
Even situations that conventionally would be considered the farthest from an experience of beauty would be, for a person of deep heart and spirit, a moment of staggering beauty. It may not be a comfortable or a pleasurable experience, but it would be one that would stir the heart at its deepest levels.
For example, I have a friend who is currently going through an extremely painful separation from her husband. It is perhaps the most difficult time in her life that she has ever known. The experience is literally ripping her whole life apart. And yet, as she begins to breath deeply and embraces everything that is happening to her and everything that she is feeling, she is beginning to see a subtle kind of beauty shining forth. She is feeling an intensity to her feelings and a sense of possibility, a rawness and freshness that she has never felt before. This, to me, is real beauty. No amount of money can buy that kind of experience.
Each and every one of us has that power and beauty inside of us. At any moment in our lives we can begin to reflect and to shift our understanding such that we can awaken the capacity to experience and to share this kind of beauty.
I believe it is our spiritual birthright.
August 24, 2009
Now, it has been just over 3 weeks since the birth of our new son, Issa.
Each day has been filled with such joy and wonder.
On the surface of things, everything looks very mundane and quite messy. There is an endless amount of diapers to change, wash and dry. Every time I turn around, the diaper bucket is filled with new dirty diapers. Issa gets hungry every 2-3 hours. We have made a special point of holding him close and never leaving him alone, so one of us always is holding him in our arms. The routine has us in a constant state of activity.
Still, it does not seem like we are busy at all. Time seems to have slowed way down and there is a calmness and a stillness about the house that I have rarely experienced before. I often have asked myself, "if we are always in constant motion, much more than before the baby arrived, then why does it seem like everything is so still?"
Taking care of Issa provides a constant stream of distractions and I have barely time to get my practice in, but still I have never felt more focused in my life.
The answer to all these questions and more becomes very clear as soon as I look into Issa's eyes. The pure life force that radiates from within him is awe-inspiring. I have never in my life spent this much time around an infant before. Now, I know why having a child is such a remarkable experience for those who become parents.
Though a newborn's body is so small and fragile, because there is no mind or ego to interfere with the flow of prana or life force from within him, there is a power and a radiance that shines forth from them that has been lost by most of us as we have grown into adults.
As I sit and watch him, everything that he does, he does with his whole being. Every yawn, every burp, every stretch and every movement of his face is done with his entire being. There is no thought, no hesitation, no premeditation and no withholding.
When one acts or moves in this way, there is a deep power of one's being that comes out that is undeniable and very special. This power of pure being extends and spreads far beyond the boundaries of one's physical space and affects the energy of the atmosphere very strongly.
It is truly remarkable to be in this space, as it adds a mystical and magical power to everything. To be in the presence of this kind of energy is a great lesson in yoga and in life at its essence.
One of the primary lessons of yoga is to learn about the power of being. When we grow in our yoga practice and in our spiritual life, we learn that real power does not come from our behavior or from our material possessions. Real power comes from the essence of our own Self. Real power comes from the core of our being, from the depths of who we are, and not from what we do.
Most of us focus only on the superficial parts of our selves. We are seduced by physical performance and the quantity of a person's possessions. But if we look more closely, if we look beneath the surface of things, we will clearly see that there is something intangible, something unseen that adds real power to a person or situation.
Next time you are near a newborn child, gaze into their eyes and closely observe their energy and being. Even though there is only a small and fragile physical body in front of you, if you look beneath the surface of physical appearances, you will see an immense amount of power and presence.
We can all learn these profound lessons of life from these tiny beings, as well as, in many other situations.
So, as you move through your day-to-day life, look for the situations that life will inevitably present to you that can show you how life is so much bigger, more mystical and more powerful than what you can see with your eyes.
Seek to look beneath the surface of life and you will be rewarded beyond your wildest dreams.
August 18, 2009
August 17, 2009
August 15, 2009
Well, it has been two weeks since the birth of our son. Time is flying by like it never has before in my life.
Naturally, my experience of time has been strongly altered by the fact that we are living on the baby's schedule. We are sleeping and waking at all times of the day and night.
It is funny because I do not feel so sleep deprived as many parents would warned me I would. I think it is helped by the fact that my schedule as a yoga practitioner and teacher was not that far off of my current schedule. I was used to sleeping for 3-4 hours a night and then napping during the day.
In fact, there is a kind of heightened awareness I feel during this time. It is almost as if I am living on a more natural rhythm than normal. It is as if we are wild animals living out in the forest, eating when hungry and sleeping when we are tired and not obeying any preconceived notions about when we should eat or sleep.
Being around this newborn baby is truly amazing. Though his body is small and fragile, his energy is very powerful and mystical. His presence and the magical quality of it fills the entire room. Just holding him in my arms, I naturally go into a state of natural meditation for hours at a time.
It is important to take these kinds of situations and really let them sink into our bones, into the core of our being. It is important to take moments such as these and not to try to understand them mentally too much and to not try to apply words and concepts to them.
In all of our lives, there are moments when the soul, the presence of true being is available more than in other times. They are windows into eternity that open inexplicably and simply defy normal attempts to explain them or describe them. It is important that we recognize these moments and simply let them in deep inside of us.
These kinds of times and moments can happen anywhere at anytime. Each of us needs to find ways to stay alert to these moments, so that we can ride the power of them when they occur. These kinds of moments can have a profound effect on our lives and can change the very fabric of the reality that we live within.
As spiritual practitioners, these kinds of moments are truly priceless. In many ways, it is the recognition of these moments that is the basis for the deepest kind of spiritual life.
The birth of a new child is certainly one of these kinds of opportunities.
As I sit quietly by the window, holding this newborn child in my arms, staring into his blue-grey eyes, I have no doubt that I am looking into the face of Eternity itself.
August 07, 2009
This is the formal announcement of the birth of our new son. He was born last Saturday, August 1, 2009. The birth was relatively smooth with no complications.
We have not settled upon any name as of yet, but will have one in the next few weeks. In India, new babies do not receive their names for as long as 6 months, as they are considered divine incarnations and as such, names are delayed as long as possible. An expression of the divine cannot be named. I have always appreciated this particular custom.
Those of you who are parents know well enough just how amazing and intense this entire experience is. The process of giving birth to a new child is as close that we, as human beings, come to the primal and the divine side of life.
In truth, there are no words that can describe adequately what the experience is like. One's mental, emotional and physical focus becomes entirely directed towards the process of ensuring a safe and successful birth. Everything else simply recedes into the background of one's life.
All kinds of memories and issues from one's own childhood and relationships with one's own parents automatically arises and is experienced.
It is incredible how one's attention is brought so powerfully into each present moment. In that way, life becomes a kind of intense meditation. As with any strong meditation, I found so many of these moments very lucid and very cathartic.
In this way, the process of giving birth is a very spiritual experience.
I understand that this is only the beginning and look forward to sharing more of what this experience is like for me.
Love, Peace and Beauty to you all,