In order to cope with life’s rollercoaster(up and down) phenomenons,we need to practise the opening up of humility.Humility is not the same as humiliation(allowing oneself to being abused and taken advantage of).Humility is a flexible and wisely fertile energy that allows the strength,forbearance and compassionate bravery to face adverse,disturbing as well as trivial annoyances with the wisdom to look deeply into each circumstance and be open to surrender, learn,accept and let it go.This helps us move along on the road of healing,it is an antidote to pride and arrogance which are contracted/hardened and rigid energies that lock pain and suffering in……………..
We are all born into this world not merely to exist in a mundane way of life….. to be academically adept,grow up healthy, work and hopefully be successful and rich,find romantic entanglements,get married and raise a family and continue to seek for enjoyable outlets….while all of these are required for basic human survival and not to be condemned….there is a deeper, greater and wondrous mission planted in each being,each one totally unique …..from the indigenous person of the amazon to the president of a country,from the downtrodden of the poorest street of Calcutta to the richest celebrity star of Hollywood,from our own homes/lives to our neighbourhood and environment and society……
We might forget that we are all gifted with a Divine spark that could light the world afire with love, peace and healing!
So despite the outwardly,worldly pursuits,we are truly on a inward mission, a divine pilgrimage,unbeknownst to us,the journey,the adventure within ourselves…….no matter how long it takes to embark on this beautiful sublime journey,we remain at the edge waiting for our ‘ride’to take us IN………………music might just be one such implement to take us into the self……..
From our own painful,afflictive experiences of suffering…….we can practise looking deeply into ourselves.From that looking,we can come to realise and understand that we too have caused many conflicts within ourselves and outpoured it onto others.We can remedy its pain by sincerely being humbly remorseful.From that wellspring of remorse,we will feel overwhelming sadness for ourselves and others….we then become merciful…..we hold and embrace ourselves in that mercy………….peaceful states ensues….
A new land,a new life!
May 1992…..I arrived at Vancouver International airport,my sister was at the airport to welcome me.Although I was in Vancouver a year earlier,everything seemed new to me…….I felt overwhelmed,frightened,yet excited to begin my new life, a place where I will call it home.
There also to welcome me in their Richmond home,was my nephew Alexander,who I met for the first time and an animal friend,the very gentle dog a collie namedKyroh(my sister’s dog).My eyes and heart felt wide opened in awe and anticipation of whats to come of the days/weeks/month/years ahead…where do I begin?What do I do?who’s to know what will become of me,now that I have landed in a new country.I have left so much behind….I cannot go back!My mind was overfilled with how to start a new life…….I had only my bags of clothes with me,while other household furniture and personal things were still behind in Singapore waiting to be shipped.This is no more a holiday but a real life situation where I have to start over again….another chapter….a new life story at age 35 began!
Before leaving for Canada…..I had many goodbye parties,saying goodbyes was hard yet there was a positive,joyful spirit felt within me…a looking forward to a new beginning with bouts of apprehension as well………….what was truly important to me was to feel and know the happiness and well wishes of family and friends for me!
Significantly also,I made courageous efforts to meet up with the ex-spouses(2 of them)….I sat with each of them separately to offer my thanks to them for the better times and also to say sorry for my wrongdoings….I knew I had to make amends for my own peace of mind as I embark on an unknown journey…. I never saw them as ‘enemies’or a regrettable part of my life but because of the pain I had suffered from going thru 2 very traumatic divorces…..I had evolved and moved on with a positive outlook of life….to be a better person…..and I thank them for being the catalysts for my moving forward to new challenges………I forgave and closed the last chapter of my life in Singapore! I opened a new one as I landed in BC!
Each day in this beautiful country felt like a door opened as a new morning arrived……..everyday was a ‘miracle’….meeting new people,new situation developes,new inspirations and creativeness arises….from one thing leading to another …….it felt like everything had been planted and waiting for me to walk right in the door!
I remember my first week…I was invited to a spiritual retreat and met a nun who introduced me to the owner of catholic bookshop and soon before a month in Vancouver….I had my first job,then came car lessons and soon driving my first car( never driven before).My momentous time was renting my first apartment close to where my sister lived within the time of 3 months after arrival…………………..by now I was making new friends and exploring around in my car…….my new found adventure began! I also had the opportunity to expand my flair and ‘love’ for emergency nursing by taking the course at the British Columbia Institute of technology and specialising in it…………………..so much more challenges took place,heartbreaks and downturns,achievements and joyous moments….and lots and lots of travel……….
In my 25 years living in BC, I made 2 very short visits back to Singappore,the last being 15years ago……….
Most importantly in 1998………another new change ripened………my spiritual transformative journey….a journey inwards into my Being……….
Changes and challenges and new beginnings are an inevtitable part of our lives….if we allow ourselves the courage to move to the direction of life’s open invitations be it in heartbreaks,unhappy situations,victorious moments,negative outcomes and day to day occurences………we experience the power of our inner strength and wisdom of discernment, growth and evolvement for the benefit of ourselves and others.
The queen’s bed
…….there is a story of a servant girl in ancient India who cleaned the queen’s room…one day she wanted to feel what it was like to lie on the queen’s bed which looked very comfortable and grand……….so she climbed onto the bed and fell asleep.The queen came into the room to find the girl asleep on her royal bed………she was furious!”how dare this servant girl sleep on my bed!”.The queen took the girl’s broom and started beating her…….at first the maid cried and screamed in pain from the blows………after a few beatings,the girl started to laugh…the queen stopped beating and was puzzled….she asked the girl why was she laughing instead of crying…..the maid answered……..”I only slept in your bed for a few minutes and I got several blows,I laughed because I thought how many blows you must have suffered sleeping on this bed for years!”………….
The ‘blows/beatings’we all suffer in life are the same for everyone….the rich and poor,the ugly and beautiful,the clever and ignorant,the good and bad..etc.Whether we sleep on a fancy expensive mattress or a cheap simple mattress,whether we enjoy the extravagance of riches or the lack in poverty,no one escapes the inner states of suffering….worries, anxiety,envy,torments,fears,guilts,shames,desires and attachments.When we can have a true understanding of our inner self and strive to see the beauteous Within ourselves….there can be no envy or hatred or anger or judging or misunderstanding of another…when we know ourselves,we know the other.True happiness comes from the wisdom of knowing the Self!
Blockades on the path to peace of mind and heart
“peace comes from within,do not seek it without”
~~~~ Buddha ~~~
The uncontrolled mind/ego
Unless the mind becomes still and fully absorbed in the Present moment in meditation,it will remain in chaos, disturbed and in the agony of wandering,unattended and defiled.It cannot focus and will be unclear and languid.There will be no clarity of vivid understandings and deeper insights of the truth of the nature of life.The realizations of unconditional Love and wisdom will be difficult to pierce into,it will remain only on the outer periphery waiting continuously for stillness of mind to commence.
When the mind lacks attentiveness and stillness, it runs ‘wild’,there is no attention span,there is no discipline….it goes berserk, it gets out of control with thoughts,thoughts,thoughts….no presence! The mind in continuous mode of chatterings and wasteful dispersal of thoughts will be become tired and drained,the body soon becomes lethargic and lacks enthusiasm…..depression/joylessness(undetected) set in.So for some people they start building up body vitality by way of exercises and other physical prowess………this is only a temporary regiment to keep the mind in control,for others,the looking for temporary reliefs in external stimuli…………enjoyments, amusements,activities,work and staying busy,busy,busy(this is where addictive behaviours tend to develop)…………when we are constantly keeping ourselves occupied,we might find we tend to be easily agitated,frustrated,exhausted,and a feeling of ‘worn-out’and meaninglessness ensue…then the cycle repeats in a selfish adaptation of needing attention for ourselves incessantly…………………thus we cannot be there,present,we can become unhappy doing anything for ourselves and others!
Have we taken any notice that while we can be in the company of someone or at a party enjoying ourselves,the mind is wandering, thoughts run to thinking about work tomorow,what to wear to work,what to bring for lunch to work,etc.etc.Then while we are work, the mind seems to be replaying pictures/sensations of the previous night rendezvous with our partner or the unfinished angst of an ‘ugly quarell we had with someone.Even while we might appear to be praying, in church/temple/mosque,or at home, do we find our minds running loosely,thinking of what to cook, to eat,the children’s needs,my hair is in need of a haircut etc.etc…………………..the influence of the world of multitasking,being efficient and more productive,puts more stressors on our already chaotic mind state……..
And if we bother to become further aware of the mind and its erratic ways, we find it will always swing back and forth between past activities(hurts,regrets, anger,disappointments,happy times,etc.etc.)to future endeavours(in need of another home,bigger car,latest techno gadget,etc.etc.)
……..the mind does not seem to stay present where we are,who we are with or whatever situation we are in,although,we may seem that we are doing so……………….The mind tends to get stucked in stories of past guilts and fears and shames and regrets and illusory happiness and then gets caught in anxiety and worries of future desires, fantasies/dreams and undertakings.
The mind can be the agitator as well as the platform for peace……….which will we allow it to be?Notice how the mind can be triggered to agitation,eg.when we see a zit/pimple on our face….what is our reaction?……we might hate the way we feel about ourselves at that time and might also throw a tantrum with something so trivial as seeing a pimple on our face…….how more ‘dangerous’ the mind becomes when we don’t get what we want in a more demanding or serious situation of life?
So to add fuel and more chaos to the already distracted mind,the ego-centered entity comes into play to annoy our lives further……the ego is that small,lower self( that unawakened/unaware consciousness within) with a limited,conditioned mind-set based on fear.It is that part of us that is stubborn,constantly putting up a barrier,defensive and retaliative.It might act boisterously to cover up its fear mode or act ‘demurely’to show goodness(the pretender).It is that part of us that is the attention seeker,a part that is needy,wanting to be right and recognised,to be made important…. in truth it is that insecure part of us that wants to be in control.It is that selfish persona that is all about the ‘I’,’me’,and ‘mine’………..we do things not for a higher selfless purpose but out of conditions and false motivations to feed our selfish needs and behaviours……….we tend to identify with what we think(the chatterings of the mind).For example,look at how we react when someone turns us down to go have fun,go for a drink or travel,etc.etc. see how quick we get upset,how we judge without any clue of understanding/respect for another and think that person ‘useless’ and unfriendly leading to an unnecessary falling-out of a relationship.
There is a saying…..’starve the ego and feed the soul!’……..in other words,nourish the being with goodness and loving, kind intentions, deeds and speech.See how it feels when we do something benevolent without the need of approval or needing anything back!Allow kind actions to soften and open the heart………………..
A Zen story
A student went to visit his zen master for spiritual teachings.While there,the student kept questioning and asking the master for answers,the master quietly served the student with tea and kept pouring the tea in the student’s cup until it overflowed………the student yelled for the master to stop pouring as it was overflowing.The master replied…..”how can I teach you unless you first empty your cup”…………………….(in other words to be humble and willing to make the effort to be taught)
If we don’t admit mistakes and in need of help,how will we learn to find healing and learn the truth and how can the heart be open to love unconditionally?
In order for the mind to be stilled we have to acknowledge and be aware of our disturbed mind and how it is creating unhappiness and unease in our lives(we might be in denial and think that we are absolutely happy in our lives).We can learn mindfulness practice of watching our thoughts,actions,speech and feelings.The breath is another tool to help keep the mind in harmony…………………….to be in the Now………..