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Archive for the ‘life lessons’ Category

When a life artist offers something (a book, a song, a forum, a fundraiser, a show, a scientific paper, a surgery, a product, a service…), I needn’t go out there to “give my support” or “check her out.” A life artist is freely** giving of his soul, not taking or needing of support. So if I’m going, I must go only to openly and fully receive the gift s/he offers. In so receiving — allowing myself to be seen and touched — I become generous and give something of myself too. Then giving and receiving become One, without transaction or even exchange.

** Something given freely doesn’t mean it’s free, it means the real gift is beyond tangibles; it is invaluable and priceless.

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India became free from the British Raj in 1947, but did she become liberated from its divisiveness? Nelson Mandela was in prison for 27 years, but he was liberated every moment of those long years, wasn’t he? The difference between freedom and liberation is monumental.

Freedom is derived from thinking I have many options. Liberation is the power to wholeheartedly choose what I have and know it to be a gift, even if it is the only option. (And ultimately, know that at the level of soul I have chosen everything I have.) Freedom is the ability to go wherever I want, whenever I want. Liberation is knowing that I am exactly where I am supposed to be, now. Freedom is picking from a bounty of fruit. Liberation is knowing each little bite to its last drop. Freedom is the ability to design a building on a site with no constraints and an unlimited budget. Liberation is in the stroke of brilliance that creates timeless architecture from the very constraints of space, time and money. Freedom is the ability to create any identity I want. Liberation is the realization (and joy) of being identity-less.  Freedom is the ability to be with many men (/women). Liberation is the experience of all humanity within true Love with one (translating to a love for all). Freedom is the impression of breaking free from all chains. Liberation is seeing that there aren’t any chains to begin with. Freedom must be sought in the external landscape. Liberation is already always available — within, here and now. Freedom is in body and mind. Liberation is in spirit, imbued into body-mind. Freedom is ephemeral. Liberation is eternal.

Freedom is an illusion. Liberation is Truth.

(And for all the duality in this post … Liberation is knowing that there’s no real difference between the two words — that this is an exercise in understanding an insight and then letting the words go!)

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A couple of weekends ago, I was kindly invited by Shri Arijit Mahalanabis to be an observer at Seattle Indian Music Academy’s (SIMA’s) Shibir. A Shibir is an intensive, multi-day “summit” for what renowned life coach Martha Beck calls “deep practicing” something – in this case, Hindustani Classical Music. This Shibir was being led by Vidushi Aditi Kaikini Upadhya, one of SIMA’s esteemed visiting musicians and Gurus, and from the moment I walked into the room to hear her lovely voice speaking over the soothing drone of the tanpura, I knew I was going to have the most enlightening and joyful of experiences.

A bit about how I saw my role at the Shibir. To play the role of an observer, a witness, is the ultimate, humbling privilege. It is also a position of great responsibility, for the act of witnessing is verily an act of co-creation. It serves in lovingly holding the space for the creation to come through. If one is interested in observing in this way, one must have complete presence (an inner “wordlessness,” free of analytical / critical thinking), an open, loving heart (Oneness with all present), and deep, deep listening. The first two things ensure that one’s listening catches the insights behind the words (and actions), and sees connections that create new understanding because of one’s observation. It becomes an experience of satori. And thus, one begins to give saath, just like in a Hindustani music concert. By witnessing in this way, one can co-create and transform any space, situation or being that one observes. (Ultimately, as it has for me, this can become a way of life, a way of loving, teaching, healing, creating – awakening myself and others.) (more…)

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Soul ChoicesIt seems so obvious as I write this, but have you ever mulled over the connection between “abandonment” and “abandon” (both as nouns)?

Consider abandonment and you immediately feel the gravity of being left, stranded, alone, powerless. Now simply drop the “ment” — that which is done unto you — and suddenly the word acquires a completely different energy. It now sports a certain levity and freedom, a frolicking quality even!

Abandonment is the most primal fear of the human ego, because, if you think about it, from the point of view of survival (which is what the ego is engaged in), it’s next only to death. (more…)

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Depending on context, the word saath in Hindi translates to accompaniment, company, friendship, co-travelership, partnership, and so on, each meaning containing nuances related to the context of use. A saathi could be a friend, co-traveler, partner, or even a lover. In Indian (Hindustani) classical music, saath is accompaniment to a vocalist or instrumentalist, such as by drums like the tabla or pakhavaj, and possibly other melody-based instruments such as the harmonium or the violin. (more…)

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I find that detachment is the very underpinning of a loving, creative, involved, enthusiastic, committed and thriving life. It enables true, deep feeling and connection. A paradox, you say?

Detachment, simply put, is the relinquishing of attachment to expectations and outcome. (Yes, The Bhagvad Gita said it: karmanyevaadhikaaraste, ma phaleshu kadaachana.) It is the ability to be the observer of the feeling or experience instead of becoming identified or fused with the feeling or experience of the moment.

Here are some common questions (and resistance) I’ve received about detachment: (more…)

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I’ve been writing about the different facets of harmony in the year 2012. A key question that can come up often with regard to harmonious living is: What do I do with my errors? I’ve known for a while that one cannot have compassion towards the world if one doesn’t have it for oneself; so, holding forgiveness for one’s own errors is necessary for loving the world better. A fresh message hit home recently, though. And this is: surrender your error and it is no longer one!

What…? you ask! How can one get off that easily? Before you jump and scream, let me elaborate. (more…)

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