A Course In Miracles

Rediscovering Forgiveness

Forgiveness

This year, I have been taking baby steps in exploring forgiveness as a spiritual path. A chance encounter with the intriguing phrase ‘advanced forgiveness’ led me to Gary Renard’s ‘A Disappearance of The Universe’. Encouraged by my mentor GD, I revisited my hardbound ‘A Course In Miracles’ copy. Many epiphanies later, I found my longtime Buddhist practice being steered into unexplored waters. And during a turbulent work-year, the guiding star I tried to steadfastly hold onto was forgiveness, forgiveness, forgiveness. From it, I learnt two things: one, forgiveness can indeed change your life; and two, most of what we have been taught about it is wrong.

Forgiveness, I was taught in school, is when someone does something awful, but you, taking in a deep breath of pure compassion, decide to forgive him. Because you are good, he is an ass. Plus, doing it makes you a favorite of old man God who smiles in his frosty beard and jots your name on His Special List of Favorite Children.

As I grew up, I occasionally practiced forgiveness, using the same line of thinking, just with complicated multi-syllable words. Then, three decades after my Jesuit education, I was guided to ‘A Course In Miracles’ (ACIM), which makes forgiveness the cornerstone of its entire teaching system. According to ACIM, forgiveness not only heals, it single-handledly undoes the ego’s delusional worldview; forgiveness is not just an occasional step – it is an entire path towards the peace that passeth understanding.

According to ACIM, the commonly practiced form of forgiveness is actually ‘the ego’s forgiveness’. Notice the ego subtly making itself higher than the other by allowing what is considers a perfectly obvious act of evilness to pass. The victim sees himself innocent while the other is guilty. Attempting this kind of forgiveness is valuable because it may be motivated by a noble intention, but seems at best superficial and at worst arrogant.

To appreciate a more advanced vision of forgiveness we need to first understand how the mind projects its own unacceptable emotions on others. A man who furiously blames others at office for incompetence, looking honestly within, realizes it is his secret guilt about his own incompetence in some area, which he is constantly projecting outside. Or a woman who strongly condemns her husband for being unreliable will find it was coming from her secret shame about being unreliable. When this is seen, there is a natural forgiveness that happens, because now the other is not guilty. He was simply the screen on which we were projecting our movie. This is a more genuine forgiveness than the first because there is real freedom in seeing it was all a projection, hence a misunderstanding.

This is not the grudging forgiveness of the ego, this is a laughing forgiveness that wonders how it could believe that the fault was really outside. As American teacher Byron Katie says, “Forgiveness is realizing that what you thought happened, didn’t.”

Perfect forgiveness, ACIM says, occurs when we begin to glimpse the dreamlike nature of the world itself. So not only is the other not guilty because it was your projection onto him, you are not guilty either: the victim and abuser are equally dream characters. The highest level of forgiveness thus rises far beyond the plains of Puritan morality into the high peaks of Non-Duality. As ‘The Course In Miracles’ says:

“Forgiveness is the only thing that stands for truth in the illusions of the world.  It sees their nothingness, and looks straight through the thousand forms in which they may appear.  It looks on lies, but it is not deceived.  It does not heed the self-accusing shrieks of sinners mad with guilt. It looks on them with quiet eyes, and merely says to them, “My brother, what you think is not the truth.”

In its purest form, forgiveness is not a doing, it a seeing: a seeing that the illusion of separate individuals is simply an erroneous mind-construct.

In its purest form, forgiveness is not a thought, it is a meditation: a sinking into the silence beyond form to see that without thought, this never happened.

In its purest form, forgiveness is a gift of love to yourself as much as to the other: because it reaffirms the truth of our oneness once again.

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If it interests you to explore this form of forgiveness further, I highly recommend Gary Renard’s ‘The Disappearance Of The Universe’ before you dive into ‘A Course In Miracles’.
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Picture Courtesy Heather Katsoulis
Life-Saving Tips

A Religion Called Kindness

Kindness

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.

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Poems

Remind Me

Heart Water Drops

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

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Journal

Healing Dad

Aabid Surti

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.

Journal

Clear & Transparent

forest stream

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…

Poems

Anicca (…And This Is How It Goes)

Flick lanier67

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.

GD Speaks, Life-Saving Tips

Peace & Positivity doesn’t get easier than this!

secret_of_love-detail

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!

GD Speaks

Where Does Your Salvation Lie?

butterflies

Sometimes, when we make a life-choice that is not in accord with our highest vision of our life, it appears as if we have succumbed to weakness or temptation. Guilt prompts us to struggle against these ‘lower impulses’ by urging us to change our actions – to quit smoking, to stop overworking, to end an old affair. And yet, when the carousel comes around again, we find ourselves riding the same hobbyhorse in a modified form.

Maybe the root problem is not the temptation itself – it is our belief that salvation lies therein. My mentor GD often refers to this as ‘creating false gods’:

“A false god is anyone or anything external that is seen as the source of completion. Every time we run outside ourselves to seek joy and fulfillment, we need to create false gods. It could be in the form of relationships, power, money, success or even addictions. We often dedicate our lives to these ‘substitute’ gods, in the vain hope that they will bring us happiness and deliver us to salvation. But every false god will eventually fail you – and push you back inside – to your own divinity and oneness with source.

Where do you believe your salvation lies? It’s easy to tell, because this is where your attention flows obsessively. This is what you speak about and value in others. This is where your energy moves,and where your time is spent. It’s the substance and significance of your dreams.

A Course in Miracles is unequivocal on this subject: “All idols of this world were made to keep the truth within from being known to you. And to maintain allegiance to the dream that you must find something outside yourself to be complete and happy. It is vain to worship idols in the hope of peace. God dwells within, and your completion lies in Him.”

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Uncategorized

An imaginary person, an imaginary journey & an imaginary destination

Imaginary Self

A few months ago, my brother and mentor GD shared a radical perspective on life that put everything in question, even spiritual seeking. Here, in condensed form, is the essence of what he said:

“You are an imaginary person
walking on an imaginary path
trying to reach an imaginary goal.

Whatever we think we are, is simply our imagination.
Whatever we think we are becoming is also part of imagination.

And our so-called spirituality is mostly about
fixing or freeing an imaginary entity in our heads.

Our entire ‘life’ is lived in imagination.

We are dreaming throughout the day, thinking we are awake.”

His words rocked a core structure. If the ‘me’ is a fiction created out of words and beliefs, then ‘who’ needs to be enhanced or liberated? Moreover, did this mean that working on transcending ‘me’ was coming from the false perspective that there is a ‘me’ present at all? Was spirituality not about progressively losing concepts and clearing beliefs? After all, even enlightenment is a carrot promised in the future to a person who is taken to be real. A ringing silence inside told me GD’s words were true. An unmistakable clarity and lightness settled in the space where the noisy ‘me’ had been.

Soon after, I got to see the down-to-earth value of this, when the conversation shifted gears into a prickly situation concerning my mother. As my wife, my mother and I expressed our strong points of view, GD asked us to notice how quickly the imaginary ‘Sense-of-I’ appears real and solid again. Sure enough, righteous thoughts had begun sparking. I noticed the loudest thought: “WHY AM I BEING UNFAIRLY BURDENED!?

As I replayed the thought again consciously, it became obvious that this ‘I’ was just a word, a sound, an empty container! The picture of a sad ‘me’ being burdened was no more real than a cartoon illustration. Suddenly, the booming voice within sounded tinny, fake and meaningless.

Laughter erupted. Not as a result of a gradual healing system, a clearing process or guided meditation. Just the ‘I’ – that false wooden peg-leg upon which the whole problem stood – had been momentarily knocked off. In an instant, there was open space, irrepressible laughter and love.

GD Speaks

Specialness ~ An extra-ordinary talk by GD

Deepti Gujar’s “extra-ordinary” post on Specialness includes a free audio download of GD speaking on the subject. Where all do you still try to maintain your specialness? Where have you become imprisoned by your talent and cut off from life? A worthy exploration…

Flowering of eternity

This is one of the best talks I’ve ever heard. It is one of those group sessions where GD opens to a page in A Course In Miracles, starts reading it, and opens up a discussion in the group based on the lines. This is a talk I kept visiting once…twice…thrice and every time I did, I became more aware of acting out from specialness. Eventually I just sat down with my journal and started making a note of all the places where I play out this specialness, pausing it at very intervals. GD has so incisively pulled out the many different angles to this subject that it is one hell of an ego buster! Though of course, he does it with his characteristic humour that softens some of the blow 🙂

I invite you to hear it with this context – Are you aware of the many ways in…

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