It’s Not Too Late If You Are Reading This…

One of my dearest friends lost his brother to Dengue this morning. It happened suddenly – he was diagnosed last Sunday and didn’t live to see the next one.

I urge you to take care.

Not just from the disease, but from the regret of not having loved and listened to those people in your lives while they were around. Take care of them while they are alive and well.

I know it feels like there will always be time tomorrow right now. And I know they sometimes ramble and tell you things you’ve heard before. And maybe they phone more often than you would like to talk. And of course, you intend to return their calls, even when you don’t.

They are annoying sometimes in interrupting your plans and life. They may not be in the right place at the right time but put them at ease anyway. Don’t continue to hold against them what they once said because it makes you a winner in some game of moral righteousness. The only way that game ends is with you losing.

You will miss them some day. Not just the sound of their voice which you will hear in your head only then. Not only the secret memories – those polaroid moments of eternity. Not just the smell of them that cannot be replicated – or the touch of their skin pulsing with Life. You will miss their annoyances someday. You will regret those times when a flickering screen was more important than a human being you loved.

Look around right now. You have something beautiful and perfect and irreplaceable – this moment. You may not be as wealthy as you would like but you have something the richest person on the planet can’t purchase a minute more of. Use this moment to say and do what is really important, not merely what seems urgent. Take care to use this moment as if it were priceless.

Use this moment to say your ‘sorrys’ and ‘thank yous’…

Because not all of us get to say our good-byes.

*

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.

*

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.

A ‘Happy New You’ Letter

Flickr Lel4nd #3Most Dearest Friend,

Welcome to 2014. Or as the Mayans called it: “Extra Time” 🙂

We didn’t speak as often in 2013 as we would have liked. When we did, we often danced around what was immediate rather than what was important… and it was fun too! But today, I thought I’d write you a letter about that other stuff – the big, unspoken, sometimes scary stuff.

You know, we’ve been reading in the news about hundreds of natural disasters in 2013. But not one newspaper is reporting headlines about the inner cataclysms that are happening on the planet.

People all over the world are sensing earthquake-like shifts in their old values and being swept off secure life-paths. You may have sensed it as a growing disorientation about who you really are and what the hell you are supposed to do. It’s happening quietly, of course, so even you may not have joined the dots. You may have tried to shrug it off as bad luck, or a passing phase or just one of those days/months/years, and I thought it’s important for me to write to you that it’s not. And even more importantly – that you are not alone in this.

What’s really happening, I am told, is that the old structure we defined as ‘me’ –along with its drives, desires and dreams – is dismantling. The visible signs, according to many, many spiritual guides are quite distinct. See if some of them sound like what you have been trying to keep secret from your ‘normal’ friends.

Some lifelong relationships have been feeling fake and outdated. There is a sense of inexplicable inner sadness, sometimes punctuated by episodes of crying. Strange body aches and pains are experienced – and more tiredness than before. You feel lonely, even in the company of others. For some, a sudden change of job or career seems important, for others, there is a loss of passion to do anything. There is restlessness for something new to show up which will make sense of all this. Often, you feel safer staying aloof in a personal storm-shelter (aka bedroom) till clarity appears. (One of the reasons we didn’t meet so often in 2013…so I understand!)

Of course, in reality this shift is not a disaster but a blessing. From what I hear in the words of many spiritual guides, channels and teachers: the world is changing, you are changing, and the new paradigm of consciousness is evolving. Big words, I know, but to put it simply for a Mac-lover like you, you are moving to a new advanced iOS. Your system needs time to slow down, shut down and reboot. And while it may not seem like it right now, but after those little bug fixes, it’s all going to be way cooler and more intuitive. And I can say that with some certainty because I have seen up close the way people like GD function.

What’s worth remembering, he says, is that the disaster-like fallout is only as painful as the attachment to one’s old paradigm. Holding on is the only suffering. And there are simple things you can do to smoothen the path ahead.

For one, honor your changing mind-body system. Befriend your body. Become aware of your changing food preferences: food quantities, timings and even the kinds of food you like will undergo a change. As you become more sensitive to your energy, spend time in nature and ground your energy more often. Catharsis, forgiveness, or meditation – whatever you do to empty your past will only help.

Two, learn the art of honoring the impulse in this moment… and then the next and then the next. Like learning to skate, it just takes a bit of practice to get one’s balance. But once you do, you are guided speedily towards events, circumstances and people for your highest good. The old adage ‘Let Go & Let God’ is the single best piece of advice anyone can give you at this point.

One really strange thing that I must point out is that the old ‘me’ does not get replaced by a new ‘me’ – it just gets gradually melted in the Now. I suppose some day we will come to a point where we live so dissolved in the moment that there is no one to ask ‘am-I-there-yet’.

Until then, be cool, my friend. This is an unsettling period – don’t take it personally. You have not done anything wrong and you are not being punished. You are not weird – okay, you are weird but that’s exactly what’s super-cool about you. In the meantime, it’s a great idea to keep in touch with positive, like-minded, weird people (…like me!). So let’s connect more often in 2014.

Wish you a happy new you.

Love,

Me

PS: Enclosing an old cartoon to remind you of this conversation and make you smile whenever you’re feeling a bit down. Keep shining 🙂

The Winds of Change

What Is A Happy Marriage?

The Myth of The Perfect FamilyA schoolboy was once asked by his teacher to define love. The boy replied, “Love is the same as ‘like’, only a lot more complicated.” The concepts of love and marriage are so confused, abused, moralized, euphemized and commercially-packaged today that it is hard to find the truth underneath. Here’s a rare honest perspective on relationships which I think is truly worth sharing.

Someone asked spiritual teacher Byron Katie about whether she would be willing to leave her husband Stephen and about meeting the ‘right person’. Katie’s fresh and deeply insightful responses just blew my mind.

Dearest Katie,

My question is about relationships. I really just wondered if you are open to leaving Stephen.

Yes.

If a man comes along that you are more physically turned on by and equally or perhaps more mentally connected / compatible with?

Yes and the key word is, “open”.

I’m really struggling to get my head around being in a long-term relationship with someone at the moment. This idea of being in a relationship with someone and getting married just seems like a purely mental commitment that is quite “closed” minded and restrictive.

I understand. I can’t know the future either. I love Stephen now.

What were your reasons for getting married?

I didn’t know why not to marry him. No negative reason arising to this mind was valid.

And how open are you to leaving the marriage?

Completely. I love Stephen now.

Maybe I just haven’t found the right person yet and that’s why I’m having to ask this question?? I don’t know. What do you think?

Who is the “right person”? Define that. What role does the “right person” have in your opinion? I married the right person, since I married a kind mind, not a “Stephen.” I married a caring, wise, and gentle mind, not a “man”; the “man” came with the mind, and that is an amazing and wonderful miracle and addition, yet not the “Stephen” I adore.

Bodies don’t love bodies, “right” minds love or don’t appear to love, depending on what mind is thinking and believing as it equates its identity as physical sees an apparent own or other body (husband, wife) and what it can gain for itself in its idea of physical security, comfort, and pleasure. Mind creates the body and so I am married to Stephen and all apparent beings, things, and situations, deeply in love with them, and I married Stephen because he asked, and I’m not fooled, since suffering is the alternative to this recognition.

However, I didn’t say “yes” to his proposal either. I said “yes” each time he asked me, and it was always true when I said so and still is now 100%. I knew to wait until the judge in the Los Angeles courtroom asked me “Do you take…?” and in that moment I told him the truth, which was “yes” to the promises in the moment and how I felt about Stephen, the love of my same being. Forever, for me, is “now.” Life and death are, for me, now, and that is my security entirely. I could go on and on, dearest, and I hope these words help you in some way stay connected to what matters.

Stephen and I have been married for eleven years in time, and I would certainly say “yes” if he asked me now, and so far, sooooo good.

I don’t know anybody else that would be open enough for me to ask such a question.

Dearest, all of us “anybody elses” have opinions and experiences, as we are all your own mind coming back to you, and all together we are your own mind’s chaos. So find the answers that match your own heart, and question anything that would oppose your kindest, dearest self, the one that rings truest to you. The important thing is, what makes sense to you? Love yourself, as you are the one you live with all the moments of your life, with or without a partner who is meant to secure your apparent future, and that is why I offer The Work to you and to the world. Until I (mind) loved and married “myself” (itself)—this mind, which I had Worked through (“it” had Worked through)—for better or for worse, I had no chance of finding true love. Love itself is the only true love and everything else is projected out of that love or apparent chaos. Do you understand? Yes? No?

I’d be so grateful to hear your views on this.

My views? I love Stephen, I love you, I love the world, I love all my thoughts, and those thoughts produce Stephen, you, the world, and everything beyond the world, without exception. Hmmm. Giving something or someone the reasons or “credit” for love is wonderfully foolish and untrue. The truth is, “I love.”No reason for this true nature, since it is as it is, and I am as you are, always married to that, for better or for worse, because everything else is the cause of suffering.

Love and best wishes,

Kelvin

I receive your love and best wishes and am so grateful that you are what I am, all ways.

Mmmmmmwa!!!!!!! kt

February 2011

The Many Languages Of Love

languages of love

Late last night, as little Nirvaan slept in his cot at the foot of our bed, my wife and I held hands and whisper-spoke for more than an hour. At one point, she said, ‘For me, this is love. Spending time alone with you and talking. Love is being able to share myself and know I am not being judged.’ We reminisced how, when we first met, we often spoke till dawn. Over the years, and especially after the birth of Nirvaan, this had tapered off.

I had not paid much attention to this lessening, but hearing her say that reminded me of a conversation I had with my brother and mentor GD last week. He told me he sometimes asked his clients during sessions about what love meant to them and the variety in the answers surprised him. One unnamed client, he said, told him she did not feel loved until the other person shared his deepest, darkest secret.

“Just imagine,” GD said to me, “a man could be showering her with affection and giving her diamonds and it wouldn’t really matter to her. Because her subconscious definition was that until he had shared his deepest, darkest secrets, it wasn’t really love. I realized during my sessions that most people don’t consciously know what love means for themselves or their partners. So they keep doing things for their partners according to their own definition of love, and then feel disappointed that their partner still doesn’t feel loved.”

As I read up further on this, I came across Dr. Gary Chapman’s bestseller ‘The Five Love Languages’. It says that most of us grow up learning the language of love of our parents, which becomes our native tongue. So if you speak Spanish and your partner speaks English, communication is impossible, comprendez? Chapman counts five broad languages of love:

Words of Affirmation
Unsolicited compliments mean the world to you. Hearing the words, “I love you,” are important—hearing the reasons behind that love sends your spirits skyward. Insults can leave you shattered and are not easily forgotten.
Quality Time
Being there for this type of person is critical, but really being there—with the TV off, fork and knife down, and all chores and tasks on standby—makes your significant other feel truly special and loved. Distractions, postponed dates, or the failure to listen can be especially hurtful.
Gifts
This language is not about the value of the object but the love, thoughtfulness, and effort behind the gift. The perfect gift or gesture shows that you are understood, cared for and prized above whatever was sacrificed to bring the gift to you. A missed birthday, anniversary, or a hasty, thoughtless gift would be disastrous—so would the absence of everyday gestures.
Acts of Service
Anything you do to ease the burden of responsibilities weighing on an “Acts of Service” person will speak volumes. The words he or she most want to hear: “Let me do that for you.” Laziness, broken commitments, and making more work for them tell speakers of this language their feelings don’t matter.
Physical Touch
A person whose primary language is Physical Touch is, not surprisingly, very touchy. Hugs, pats on the back, holding hands, and thoughtful touches on the arm, shoulder, or face—they can all be ways to show excitement, concern, care, and love.

*
While these categories are useful, my guess is that the definition for each person doesn’t always neatly fall into them. For another client of his, GD said, love meant the other should be always present nearby. Because he had lost loved ones through death, travel or separation, the marker of love had become whether the person was physically present. Some people, GD suggested, had strict parents and as grown ups, a partner’s aggression could be a subconscious reminder of tough love.

I shared this with my wife as we lay silhouetted in bed. It turned out for me love is about receiving thoughtful gifts and acts of service. As we spoke, we realized that I often give my wife surprise gifts, but receive few in return because she never realizes how much they mean to me – it isn’t part of her definition of love. On the other hand, she makes time for mid-week lunch dates and quality time with me, which doesn’t have quite the same impact for me.

It’s so interesting that our definitions of love could be so varied and so important to us, yet remain unknown to ourselves and our partners all our lives. This simple missing bridge can create a huge chasm between the most sincere, loving couple.

As a support to everyone else reading this blog to find their own and their partners’ definition of love, I would really love to know what are your definitions of love in the Comments Section below. A quick and simple way to find out is to ask: How do I express love to others? What do I complain about the most? What do I request most often? Or simply when do I feel truly loved by my partner? I would love to find out what you discover about you.

Thank you and happy loving! 🙂

******

P.S. For those who would like to go deeper into discovering their own love language, on Gary Chapman’s website, there is a short Love Language Profile test.

The Kid in the Candy Store

kidincandystoreThere’s a very good reason I have been posting infrequently of late: I was stuck in a groove, cut off from life and, as it tends to happen, cut off from my empath brother and mentor GD too.

When GD senses such an energetic wall around a person, ‘his system withdraws’ and he appears to suddenly become unavailable to you. When seen through the cloudy eyes of anger, his silence can be misunderstood in many ways. But in hindsight, giving space is a kind and sane response to another’s subconscious rebellion. And for more than a week, I had been energetically rebelling and pushing him away.

“I don’t have any judgment about that,” GD said to me lightheartedly when I spoke to him after almost a week . “But if you are closed to me, chances are that you are closed to receiving from other parts of life too.”

I agreed glumly.

“The picture I get of you is that of a kid in a candy store,” he continued. “But the kid has his arms crossed angrily and is telling himself some stories that is making everything inaccessible. And then this kid is also wondering why he feels so sad.”

On the phone, he helped me to identify the stories I was using and suggested I try the Focus Wheel Process. As ‘homework’, he gave a few lines to explore and ramble with EFT, each of which, he said, would help me release different variations of the same energy…

  • I need to sulk because…
  • I don’t want to receive because…
  • I need to remain shut down because…
  • I am pissed off at…
  • I am angry because…
  • No one really understands me…
  • I need to suffer because…
  • There is no way out because…
  • I need to stick to my guns because…
  • I need to punish myself because…

Clearing the charge around each story, the world literally looked like a lighter, brighter place after many days. I wanted to share this for all of you who may be feeling temporarily down and disconnected, with one very important message: open your arms; the candy is waiting.

candy