This year, I learnt two things: one, forgiveness can indeed change your life; and two, most of what we have been about it is probably wrong.
When I was young, I wanted the world to see me as intelligent. When I got older, I wanted to be recognized as successful. As the years pass, I increasingly find that the quality that matters to me is kindness.
All of my spiritual learning, if I were asked to sum up in a word, would be contained within this simple word: kindness. Not ‘love’ – it has been far too glorified and corrupted by songs and movies and clever advertising. Not even ‘compassion’ which stinks of a certain holiness for me. Compassion implies another, less fortunate, being. Kindness needs no other. Perhaps closest to it is the Buddhist term ‘metta’ – translated as ‘loving-kindness’ and described as ‘a boundless, warm-hearted feeling’.
Kindness is a subject that has been gently nudging within, asking to be written for a while now. A few months ago, on my fortieth birthday, I considered writing a blog about forty things I have learned in forty years. Pondering deeper, only this one word resonated as worth sharing. From all the meditations, mastery processes and transcendental travels – the fragrance that flowers, is this simple, sane, human kindness.
Even though my brother and mentor GD rarely speaks about it directly, I see it in action when I stay over with him. From the way he lights an incense before you arrive, to the way he makes you tea. From the way he gives you space to be confused if you choose, to the way he holds himself available as a space for healing whatever distortion is clouding your being. It’s in the way he keeps water for birds in his garden in summer and in the way he feeds a menagerie of cats, squirrels, mongooses, crows, sparrow, pigeons and coucals every day. From him, I see that liberation from the concept of self adds the highest octave of sensitivity and effortlessness to kindness.
Kindness is not sugar-coating. Sometimes kindness lies in being silent when the words would leave longtime scars. For me, sometimes kindness is even in lying when a truth is not asked for. Maybe there are others who would disagree with this – and not without reason. Kindness is also in firmly holding a ‘no’ when my son wants to play a little longer on the iPad. No human is given the power to know all the consequences of his actions, but kindness is in the source, not the outcome. Kindness is not in what you do, but in who you are being; not in what you say, but in what you silently wish within.
Kindness in business is so overlooked. It is the place where it needs to be learned and applied the most. Kindness in dealing with colleagues who struggle to be proficient in areas their body-mind mechanism is not suited for. Kindness in dealing with those who pride themselves on their shrewdness – even as they are constantly proving how they are getting the better of you. And kindness in dealing with fearful opinions masquerading as common sense and ‘reality’. How often do I come to see that the sufferings and faults I blame life for only happened after I had lost my own compass of kindness!
This oft-ignored word may stand quietly in new-age consciousness behind spiritual heavyweights like ‘meditation’, ‘empowerment’ and ‘manifestation’. But without it, no amount of learning, achievement or clarity brings joy. Being kind doesn’t even imply action – it is a state of being that wishes well. It could be a silent prayer for someone having a hard day. A smile to a doorman. A quiet glance to someone used to living invisible. Or just that boundless, warm-hearted feeling that is held like a flame within.
This weekend I finally sat down to write about kindness because I was at the receiving end of such a gracious act of kindness from a friend I met after many years that it moved me to tears. It felt in that moment as if a lifetime of mental learning is tiny compared to a kind heart. (Maybe the function of all wisdom is to hold the heart open when the whole world would advise against it.) Then that person reminded me of a small help I had given her 11 years ago. And I marveled at the power of kindness to resonate across time, even when everything else about that life has been long forgotten.
Do take some time to be kind, please.
Not because it’s going to heal the world. But because, someday, you will see that nothing else was more important for yourself.
A timeless overcast rainy Sunday before me. White birds flap across twilight greens making their way home. It seems like this moment contains eternities. I watch as tranquil pools of water are broken by raindrops that ripple across and disappear into tranquility again. The water has no fear of being disturbed, no preference for stillness. I wonder at how afraid I am to be shaken up and agitated – how much of my life is managed to ensure it doesn’t happen. Then I remember that beneath this ever-changing persona, there is something else… It’s a reminder I need every day:
The water has no fear of being disturbed,
Remind me that I am water.
The air holds all, with no distinction:
Why do I forget I am air?
Why do I relinquish the solid earth I am,
For a rootless, trembling mind?
How do I crumple all of space,
Into a fearful ball of fight?
Remind me again and again
I am that Love unshakeable
In the midst of chaos, in the madness of life,
Just remind me I Am… just remind me I Am
Last year, my father visited my therapist brother GD for a healing session for the first time, almost 15 years after GD began healing. The healing session had been powerful and by the end, dad had fallen into deep meditation. He looked at ease with himself, his eyes steady and chronic cough silent.
As we drove back at night to Mumbai together, expressway lights swishing past the corner of our eyes, we talked more than we had talked all year. And we talked about real things – not things to fill the silence. He remembered the incident when GD, as a toddler, had fallen from a mid-ocean pontoon — how he had miraculously survived certain death. And how, as a teenager, GD had meditated so long he damaged a nerve in his leg for years. He spoke of how he had been incensed with GD as a twenty-something who ate, slept and meditated all day while he worked. And about how my mother cried for months after GD left for Pune to live with his spiritual teacher and stopped phoning home. But most of all, he spoke about how proud he was of both of us today.
Two decades ago, in a family of modest means, a grown-up son’s decision to devote his life to spirituality had real financial implications. And while dad did not ever say a word to stop GD, some part inside had remained raw and sensitive. And until this session he had not allowed himself to fully take support from GD.
I quietly told dad that GD and I often speak of him as a rare father, who gave us freedom and yet supported us. Who did things for us he did not agree with, but maintained his integrity. Who did not shame us because we were not following what he thought was the right path.
Talking to him, I realized how little we know even about those closest to us, because we never talk beyond immediate, daily problems and information. How hurts can lie unexpressed within for years, until distances grow into long empty highways. But most of all, I realized how few words it takes to express appreciation that can be missed for decades.
As I helped dad unload his luggage at the end of our journey under a pool of halogen streetlight, I knew it was not just his healing that had happened today — a circle had been completed and a deep healing had happened for all three of us.
I share this with the hope that you take some time out to rediscover your own parents. To hear their stories, and their versions of your stories. And to thank them for the way their lives arced to make space for yours. Watch them paint images of your life that you didn’t see before. And you show them their own beauty in a new light. So often, under the inertia of mundanity, it is the important ‘I-love-you’, the ‘please-forgive-me’, the ‘sorry’ and the ‘thank you’ that remains unexpressed until it’s too late.
Anyone who has done meditation, knows and cherishes this space of clarity and transparency. This little artwork of a poem by my favorite Zen master Ryokan is a wish for you all to experience the same silence and emptiness this weekend…
And this is how it goes:
The landscape of your childhood
goes first; then those who shared it.
Your own memories turn transparent
And one day, you go too.
A gravestone – a name, two dates –
marks your passage till rain and sun smooth it
into bald-faced anonymity.
The gravestone becomes a rock again,
the body becomes earth again,
the grasses sway in the breeze.
And this is the lie that never lets you see this:
this picture you are seeing just now –
of this field with swaying grasses.
As if the mind can show you
what will remain after you are gone.
YAY! It’s that time of the year again! It’s the time when Core Healing India (created by GD) does their Remote Healing Program. Last year, they did two pilot versions for around a 100 participants and IT WAS AWESOME!
Here’s my feedback for last year’s healing:
Every morning, I was drawn into an unusually meditative state without any effort from my side except to allow it to happen. It was a space where the body became frozen. Even though the senses were working fine and random thoughts floated through the mind on their own, the ‘I’ aspect of the mind was still.
The first night, I could not sleep properly. I would keep falling awake and self-enquiry and connecting with pure consciousness. This continued all through the night. Also, the following day I felt no after-effects of sleepiness which has not happened before to me.
Overall, there was a gentle sense of protection and perfection whenever I turned my attention to the present moment. At times, the experience of a heaven-like timelessness was strong. At times, it was just a rain of fine energy in the background. Things happened smoothly and perfectly. And my own calmness and confidence surprised me.
I would recommend this 8-day program wholeheartedly to anyone who is an empath or even a little energetically-sensitive. And also to all those who are having a tough time with all the topsy-turvy energies of 2014 and would like some energetic support.
Here’s how difficult it is for you: you pay $25 (Rs.1500), send in a full-length photograph and your basic details and then do… NOTHING! Here’s what you get: 25 hours of healing frequencies broadcast for you between 11th & 18th February. Frequencies which will quietly work on your energetic field and unblock, balance and neutralize aspects of your life you have been struggling with. How does it get easier than this?
This time, I have my entire family and a few of my work colleagues on this program. If you would like to join in, here are the details to The Peace & Positivity Program.
See you on the other side!