Where Did All The Superheroes Go?

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Once upon a time every man on earth used to be a superhero. His problems began the minute he realized that he was a superhero! The moment he realized the gift of his super powers, his ego developed and he started losing his powers. A great war between the ego and the superheroes took place and unfortunately the ego won. The superheroes became engulfed in layers of ego and lost all their super powers. Sadly, they crossed over to the darker side and forgot who they used to be. With the passage of time, superheroes became a myth. Myth became stories and stories became cartoons, movies, video games, and Halloween costumes.

Only a handful of people on this planet were immune to these special abilities and they continued being superheroes and reminding others how to come back to the brighter world. Rest of us are only the shadows of what we used to be. Now, we believe that being a superhero is only for the chosen ones. Secretly, all of us aspire to become one and we all know exactly which superhero we want to be. We know exactly which super power would suit us the best but we think that achieving it could only happen in our dreams and imagination. I believe that it is time for us to stop hiding and make an appearance. It is time to remember who we are and become what we are meant to become once again.

By the day, our modern day superheroes are engineers, doctors, cops, pilots, businessmen, dancers, janitors, teachers, and the list goes on and on. But when the night arrives and the entire world goes to sleep, there is a magical transformation in these hidden heroes. In the dark and lonely night, when nobody is watching, they come face-to-face with their reality. This is the time when these superheroes become who they really are – sad, tense, weak, frustrated, confused, fearful, angry, heart-broken, and doubtful. Sometimes, they use their capes to wipe off the tears.

Unfortunately, this is what we are facing daily. Times are tough but we need to be tougher. As of now, we are very far from gaining back our super powers. For starters, we just need to master very simple human qualities before attaining the super human abilities. The journey is simple but not easy. Like any other superhero, we have to go through our tests.

Have you ever noticed how often our mood changes in a given day? One minute we are exuberant while the very next minute we may be depressed. In the same day we may go through a wide range of emotions and feelings like self-doubt, suspicion, egoistic, excited, kind, helpful, bitter, fearful, etc. etc. It is quite all right to feel it all. After all we are all humans! But have you ever imagined what happens to your inner calm when you subject yourself to extreme reactions throughout the day? It doesn’t matter if your feelings and reactions are positive or negative. When a person goes through a roller coaster of emotions on a day-to-day basis, inner peace is lost and we are left with frustration and confusion, especially in life’s tougher situations, which need more strength and courage.

Meditation is the only thing that can come to our rescue. Through meditation, it is possible to restore our inner peace once again. The best and the most valuable gift meditation can give you is your very own personal space to retire within yourself when you are faced by challenges. A practice of daily meditation gives you the solid assurance that everything is going to be fine and every situation shall pass. Meditation helps you look at the bigger picture and helps you to connect the dots. The line of demarcation between a stressful and joyful situation starts fading and we automatically become thankful for everything that exists in our life.

You will no longer feel the need to tell people around you to leave you alone for a while or the need to lock yourself in a room or go away for a while when faced by ordeals. Meditation creates that sacred space right inside you and you can access it at any moment without having to request others. This reminds me of how Harry Potter always found the magical “Room of Requirement” at Hogwarts in the times of great need. The room always served its purpose by appearing in front of the person when he or she needed it the most. I believe that the “Room of Requirement” is a symbolic way to look at the inner spiritual space that is hidden inside each one of us.

Does it mean that you will stop encountering problems if you start meditating? No! You will learn to look at those problems with a new perspective. You will walk the storm with a new layer of protection. You will have a permanent shield protecting you at all times. You will always be connected to the source. You will know all the time that no matter what happens, no matter what life gives you or takes from you, nobody will ever take away that precious space from you. And this is a sign of a true superhero who moves about with that confidence; the confidence of coming home to that space again and again, recharging yourself, and moving on to face the world. When was the last time you came home? When was the last time you became a superhero?

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Why People Don’t Get You?

What exactly do people mean when they say they don’t get us? Why don’t they understand us when we are painfully trying to explain our situation, experience, imagination, or a memory to them? Why does it get so frustrating for our audience and us when they don’t understand us?

Every single person has gone through this experience. Very often we find ourselves saying to another person that, “I don’t get you” or “I don’t get her.” Many other times, other people have said this to us. When such situations arise, we end up judging each other quickly, reaching an unfavorable conclusion of the other person’s sanity, and sometimes even severing our relationship with other people only because “we don’t get them or they don’t get us.” We allow ourselves to wallow in pain and self-pity because the other person did not understand us in spite of being our best friend or our parent or sibling.

There are two things you can do when you find yourself in this frustrating situation where you cannot get your message across or when you don’t seem to understand the other person’s point of view.

  1. Become aware of your own reality

You have to clearly understand that when you are explaining a particular situation or an experience to a close friend or a family member, that that particular experience belongs to you, not to the other party. Your experience can only be close to your heart because you are the one who has felt it deeply. For example, if you are trying to explain a beautiful dream to your friend where you found yourself in a land of most colorful butterflies perched and on the most exotic flowers with a fragrance so unique and pleasing to your senses that you carried this beautiful experience with you even after you were awake.

Be happy and content about the fact that your friend is willing to listen to your dream. Don’t start judging your friend because he or she may not be able to fully capture the splendor of the butterflies and the flowers. How can another person understand the joy of the fragrance of the flowers that you experienced in your dream? It is very unrealistic on your part to expect them to understand this and yet every single day, knowingly or unknowingly you make such expectations from your loved ones.

This also holds true for experiences in your life that are extremely painful. You expect other people to understand what you are going through. Your loved ones make an effort and truly try to console you but somewhere deep in your heart you know that they did not understand your suffering completely. And most of the times, it is true. If you have been injured severely or are dealing with a loss of a person or a pet, how do you expect another person to feel the same exact pain? They will not feel it because they are not going through it at that moment. It is your situation. People who have been through a similar situation could sympathize with you and give you hope but sometimes even people with such experiences fail to understand you because that experience has been in their past. You are the one dealing with the present life situation.

2. Become aware of your ego

The second most important thing is to become aware of your own ego. Most of the times when the other person does not understand you, you will let your ego decide that the other person is below you – mentally and emotionally. Your ego will make you feel superior because you have been through an experience that nobody else can understand. On some days you will walk around with a full-blown ego of a person who is above everyone. You will be frustrated when people do not understand your pain, dreams, nightmares, ambitions, imagination, and memories.

Our ego fails to explain to us that when we share our experiences with other people, we are only giving them mere words about the experience and not the entire experience that involves the colors, smell, people, and feelings that we ourselves experienced.

When it comes to understanding others, you need to honestly answer some questions for yourself. Will you be able to fully understand someone’s childhood memories? No! Because those are not your memories and you are not present in them. You are present only in your own memories. At other times your ego stops you from appreciating the experience being shared with you only because you were not a part of it.

Once you become aware of your ego and accept your reality, it becomes easy to understand another person who you did not “get” at first. You will also learn to accept the fact that it is absolutely okay if other people don’t understand you and if you don’t understand them. After all, your personal experiences are for you, not for others. They are the lessons sent to you for your growth and evolution as a human being. Other people get sent different life-lessons for their growth and evolution. The minute you stop feeling the need to prove yourself to others, you will be at peace. You are self-sufficient; you are enough.

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Interstellar and it’s Powerful Message about Love

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For someone who falls asleep during most of the movies in cool dark theaters, I did pretty well when I went to see Interstellar. Very often, friends have to check on me and make sure I am still with them and enjoying the movie. Many times, during a 3-D movie, I have found friends lifting my dark 3-D goggles only to find me fast asleep beneath the comforting darkness of those goggles. I am not proud of it but somehow  television and movies have stopped interesting me like before. Why? That is another story for another time. For now, I want to talk a little about what Interstellar exactly did to keep me wide-awake. Yes, I am a huge fan of Matthew McConaughey but this time it wasn’t only him that made me enjoy the movie.

I came home after watching this movie and ever since I have been in awe of a particular dialogue by Anne Hathaway who plays the part of Dr. Amelia Brand, a scientist and an astronaut in the movie. Throughout the movie, she talked about space, gravity, equations, technology, speed, and everything that was hardcore science. I was listening. Then all of a sudden her conversation turned towards love. Now, I was really listening and suddenly I was completely awake. Following is the conversation that takes place between her and Matthew McConaughey who plays the part of Joseph Cooper, a NASA pilot on the interstellar expedition.

Cooper: You’re a scientist, Brand.

Brand: So listen to me when I say love isn’t something that we invented. It’s observable. Powerful. It has to mean something.

Cooper: Love has meaning, yes. Social utility, social bonding, child rearing…

Brand: We love people who have died. Where’s the social utility in that?

Cooper: None.

Brand: Maybe it means something more, something we can’t yet understand. Maybe it’s some evidence, some artifact of a higher dimension that we can’t consciously perceive. I’m drawn across the universe to someone I haven’t seen in a decade who I know is probably dead. Love is the one thing that we’re capable of perceiving that transcends dimensions of time and space. Maybe we should trust that, even if we can’t understand it.

At that moment, Dr. Amelia Brand had echoed my exact feelings about love. She had conveyed a powerful message about love so easily. Anne Hathaway, herself said in an interview that her character, Dr. Amelia Brand, to begin with was an arrogant scientist who went only by theory but during the interstellar expedition her ego drastically melts. Dr. Amelia Brand gets converted into a humble person by the end of the journey. She begins to believe in the power of love which helps her to become more in tune to who she really was, a spiritualist who was also a scientist.

For once, I was happy to be at the movies and not fall asleep. This one or two minute dialogue about love made me feel like Tom Hanks when he lit a fire for the first time in the movie “Castaway”. I wanted to stand up right in the middle of the dark theater and tell my fellow moviegoers to listen carefully, for Dr. Amelia Brand was speaking the ultimate truth about love. I think, this is exactly what love is capable of and even more. This, in my opinion is the real message of the movie.

So often we talk about Love but do we fully understand its depth and intensity? I fall short of words to express what I truly feel about this so-called feeling that resides in each one of us. Brand was right when she said that Love is something that transcends dimensions of space and time. Love according to me is bigger than what we generally think it is. No matter where our loved ones are geographically, we are still able to feel the same love for them even with 1000s of miles separating us. No matter how old we get, we don’t stop loving them. Even when our loved ones pass away, we are still able to retain the same love in our hearts even though we know that they will never return and are not a part of our world anymore. I also feel that it is a miraculous thing for us humans to feel love towards our plants and pets, a totally different species from us and actually be able to receive it back from them.

History has proved time and again that love has ignited such fire in the hearts of humans that they have been able to overcome grave hurdles in their paths that could have been otherwise impossible. Yes, it is true that love can actually travel through time, space, age, species, pain, and suffering and actually remain unchanged throughout its journey. What it really changes is us! Just like Brand was reborn into her purest Self once she realized the true power of love, it is also time for us to realize what love truly is. Through her deep metaphysical realization about love, Brand had finally accepted that she was a scientist and a spiritualist at the same time. Same is applicable to us. Being spiritual can and will never go against our day-to-day material lives and our outward personalities that the world sees. If anything, it will only help us create more balance in our lives.

I never realized what love is until I started my spiritual journey. Once I began this journey, love unfolded itself at every step. I did not struggle anymore to understand what love truly was. Yes, it was definitely more than what we see in the movies today or what we feel for each other and for things in general. What we are able to understand about love in our day-to-day life is only a very small subset of real Love. Most of the times, it is intelligently commercialized in such a way that we don’t even realize that our brains are trained to feel love the way some external sources want us to feel about it. Yes, that’s right. Our “brains” are trained to “feel” something that only the “heart” can truly feel and we don’t even know that this is happening to us.

Meditation opened the doors to love in my life. Love had finally happened to me! 🙂 And then a new journey began. At the beginning of this journey, I thought I was learning the process of understanding love. As I moved forward in this journey, I realized more and more that it is not about understanding love but becoming love myself. I am the process. I am love in the making and I am loving every bit of this process. Like Amelia Brand said, “maybe we should trust that (love), even if we can’t understand it.”

Spiritual Synonyms

When Master Kamlesh Patel visited Austin in June this year, we Texans were beyond excited about the opportunity to meet our spiritual Guru. Personally, I had never met any of the Masters of Heartfulness in my life in spite of being in the system for almost 8 years. Circumstances had never been favorable for me to be able to travel to meet the previous Master. I started with Heartfulness when our previous Master, Chariji was still physically present on this plane. Like everybody else, I too yearned to meet him but it never really worked out.

In December 2014, I was relaxing in a shady corner under the coconut trees on a peaceful beach in Puerto Rico… reading Chariji’s book when my friend sent me a text message letting me know that our beloved Master had passed away. I quietly closed the book and stared at the ocean. I was absorbing the news. After a few minutes, I finally managed to smile. I was happy that my Master’s physical ordeal had come to an end. Deep inside, I had been concerned for his health. But I wasn’t worried about anything else other than that. I did not shed any tears. There was no need to.

Some friends asked me if I felt sad because I did not get a chance to meet him before he was gone. At that point in time I did not say anything other than a simple “no” and I am sure they did not believe me. But it did not matter.

When our new guru, Master Kamlesh was visiting Austin, which was only three hours away from where I lived, I was definitely not going to miss the opportunity. I drove to Austin and we had a lovely gathering with our new Master. I am glad I went to the gathering because I learned some very important things about myself. Had I not been there, I would never be able to share this experience with you through this post.

During lunch at the gathering, a close friend asked me an innocent question. She said to me, “I know you speak so highly of the previous Master and we know how much you loved him…so based on that, what do you think of this Master? Are you able to accept him as the new Master?” At that very moment I felt a huge lump in my throat and I was unable to speak. She was waiting for an answer and I knew I had to say something to not hurt her feelings by being quiet. But before I could respond, I ran into another older friend in the crowd who stopped to say hello. She had something very similar to discuss with me about our new Master. She said, “Yes, I know he is the new Master but the old Master was something else. I am sure the new one will eventually evolve to be like the old one.” By now the lump in my throat began to hurt immensely. I smiled politely and went back to my friend who had asked me the question. In both cases, I sensed some kind of insecurity, doubt, and hesitation.

There was so much I wanted to tell them but I remained silent. I had learned it the hard way that people don’t really understand what other people feel or what other people are going through until they themselves experience it. Empathy is difficult to develop these days. I believe that being deeply empathetic is one of the greatest spiritual blessings. So I really did not think they would understand my feelings for my Master. However, I was going to do my part. I was going to try. I answered my friend’s question in very simple words.

I told her that I felt extremely unworthy to discuss what I thought about the current Master. I was not spiritually accomplished to give my opinion about him. However, I told her that I had absolutely no problem in accepting him as my new Guru. Nothing had changed for me. I had never met Chariji and I loved him deeply. I had only heard of the two previous Masters before Chariji but I felt completely connected to them too. If I could be in great love with the Masters before Chariji, why couldn’t I love the Master after him? Only the physical bodies had changed over the years. Everything else was the same. I did not care one bit about the current Master’s shape, size, or color. I could only sense the Love in him. The same Love is carried over from one Master to another. Love doesn’t change even if physical bodies change. I told her that I experienced my Master and His Love in such a way that I did not feel the need to hang his pictures on my wall or have their photo frames on my table. My Master is Love himself. I use the words “Master” and “Love” as synonyms for each other. I do not see any difference in them. And this Love was so great and grand that no photo or a physical human body could contain it within itself.”

She nodded in agreement but I don’t really know how much she personally understood or agreed to. And I thought that was absolutely okay. We are all on the same journey; going towards the same source, only at different speeds. I knew she would reach this stage eventually. Maybe she would have a better understanding than me and someday help me understand things that I did not.

Yes, personally I have been through my own “photo phase” too. We all do! And there is nothing wrong with it. That is also a phase that needs to be embraced lovingly. Possessing the pictures of Masters, meeting them in person, and reading the books written by them is very necessary. We need these tools to know about them and understand their teachings. We need these things to introduce our children and the future Heartfulness generation about spirituality and meditation. One cannot reach the stage of not needing the books, photos, and tools like these without going through what I call the “photo phase.” But we also have to remember that these are only means to help us reach the goal and not the goal itself. I believe sooner or later we will all overcome this material phase and be directly connected to the inner Master. It is never about the current Master evolving to be like the previous Master but about us evolving to be like our Master.

So you may ask me if I had overcome my “photo phase”, what was I doing at the gathering eagerly waiting to meet the physical Master. Personally, I drove all the way to Austin to pay my respects to my Master. I knew he and I were connected beyond the material plane but he had traveled all the way from India to meet us; so couldn’t I drive at least three hours to acknowledge his loving gesture?

It is always a great thing to be able to meet your spiritual Guru in person. But not everyone can do so. We could face issues like health problems, financial difficulties, or even immigration issues to be able to travel to our Master. And he knows it. I know deep in my heart that he knew the problems I went through in reaching him physically so he reached out to me by blessing me to overcome my sadness of not being able to meet him while he was still on this plane. He blessed me with a greater understanding of what a Master truly is. He helped me understand that he was not his body, pictures, books, or a pendant. He was only and only Love. And that Love needed to be felt inside me. My Master never resided outside of me; he had always been inside me.

Chariji had never left me. How could he? Over the years, he had blessed me with his divine transmission (pranahuti) – the life force itself. Through this divine transmission, he continues living through me. He continues living through all of us and also through our current Master. He has left back his divine legacy in our form. Now, it completely depends on us what we choose to do with this legacy – with ourselves! I believe it is time to multiply and move his legacy forward with our actions, faith, and most of all with Love.

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If Tilo had not smiled…

Tilo hurriedly walked towards the ICU. She was running a few minutes late for her ICU posting. Tilo was a young 22-year old medical intern at a hospital in India. While her focus was only on reaching the ICU as soon as possible, she heard a loud call, “Akka” from a nearby economy ward window. She did not pay attention because there was nobody who could call her Akka (meaning older sister). Akka was a term used in Indian villages to address one’s older sister out of love and respect. Tilo was a city girl. Why would someone call her by that name? She kept moving forward. She again heard the word, “Akka” and this time it was loud and clear.

Tilo finally stopped and turned back. A little boy of around 6 years of age was frantically waving at her from the economy ward window. He wanted her to come to him. Tilo did not have the time but she couldn’t break his heart. She broadly smiled at him and walked back towards his window. His joy knew no bounds. She asked him why he had called her. He did not know what to say. He was blushing. He hid behind his mother. Tilo smiled and waved at him and continued walking to the ICU.

For the next few days the same story repeated. Tilo was getting used to meeting her little friend Arun daily. She made it a point to get him candy  everyday. Arun’s parents told her that Arun thinks she was his fairy or a princess. Arun had heard stories of beautiful fairies and princesses from far away lands, from his village elders and he thought Tilo fit their description perfectly. His parents told her he still couldn’t decide what Tilo reminded him of – a fairy or a princess. Tilo giggled and liked the idea of being a fairy-princess for Arun. Although Tilo and Arun spoke different languages, they managed to understand each other. One day she stopped to talk to Arun’s parents about his health. They told her that they were very poor farmers from a nearby village. Their son Arun was being treated for gangrene at the hospital.

Tilo looked at Arun’s foot wrapped in guaze pads and bandages and had a lump in her throat. Gangrene was not a good sign. She hoped that Arun would get better soon. Tilo and Arun’s love for each other grew every day. To him she was an absolutely beautiful fairy-princess and he felt privileged and honored to receive her attention. For Tilo, Arun was her little angel who was teaching her courage and happiness each day. She admired his spirit that was never dampened by his poor health and extreme poverty.

Like all love stories, Tilo and Arun’s story also had its own storms to go through. That afternoon had arrived. Tilo was dreading this day but she knew she had to be near Arun that day. She did not know what she would see and how she would go through it but she decided to meet Arun. She slowly walked down the hallway breathing heavily. She finally reached the economy ward where Arun was being treated with several other patients. She had reached just in time. Arun was eagerly waiting for her. She handed him his candy as usual and stood next to him with no expression on her face. She was scared for Arun.

Arun’s doctor and nurses arrived to take off his bandages one last time. It took them few minutes to unwrap his leg. The bandages came off and Tilo looked at Arun’s leg. The gangrene had eaten away Arun’s foot. It had to be amputated to stop the infection from spreading to rest of his leg. Tilo stared at it. She was numb. Although she was a medical student, this situation was new to her. She stood there not being able to react.  She was suddenly shaken from her numbness by Arun’s voice. She quickly looked at him and caught him staring at her and looking directly into her eyes.

She knew she had to act soon. Arun himself looked shocked by not seeing his foot. He had been prepared for this moment but how could someone really prepare a 6 year old about loss of a foot. Arun began to cry but he did not stop staring at his Akka. His eyes had a lot of questions for her. Nobody understood the powerful intensity of that moment. Nobody realized that Arun had asked Tilo the most important questions through his innocent eyes.

But her heart had heard them all. At that very moment Tilo held Arun’s hand tightly and gave him her most radiant smile. Their eyes met. She conveyed to him that she still loved him and will always love him. They hugged. All Arun needed was her approval and her acceptance. She told him she was so proud of him. Arun stopped crying and smiled. Tilo clapped her hands and the hospital staff and other patients joined her. They all cheered Arun for his courage. Arum beamed at everyone. He was not embarrassed about losing a foot anymore.

Arun finally went to bed knowing that his fairy-princess still loved him. He knew in his heart that his Akka would never stop loving him even if he did not have a foot. Arun had made peace with his situation but everything had changed for Tilo in that moment. Tilo had cried all day after coming home. She loved Arun like her little brother and she could not imagine how his life would be after this. She kept thinking, “Will the other kids accept him when he goes back?” “How will he play?” “How will he run?” Arun was too little to even think about these things. She knew he would eventually have to adapt to his reality.

Deep in her heart she knew she had done the right thing. She had told him that it is not his foot that made him whole in her eyes. It is his heart and the love in his heart that made him complete in her eyes. Tilo could not forget the look in his eyes. The look that asked her deeply, “Will you still love me or are you nauseated looking at my amputated leg?” Tilo trembled in fear while she thought, “What if she had not caught that question in Arun’s eyes? “What if she had not been able to control her tears in front of him?” “What if she had not given him her brightest smile when she saw his leg?” “What would have happened to this little boy’s confidence if she had not hugged him in a timely manner?”

Tilo told me that she would have created another future for Arun if she had not acted on time. Every child believes in something or someone when they are growing up. And that someone in turn teaches the children to believe in themselves when they grow up. During his hospital stay, Tilo had become Arun’s reason to accept and heal faster from his sickness. Her smile, acceptance and love was all he needed to accept himself. She was happy that she was blessed with a loving heart to give Arun what he needed the most at that time. Soon after that Arun left for his village with his parents to begin a new life.

I asked Tilo if she missed him after that.

Tilo replied with twinkling eyes, “It has been ten years since Arun came in my life and to this day the word Akka still echoes in my head.”

Tilo continued, “2-3 months after Arun left, I was walking in the hospital with my friends when I suddenly bumped into Arun and his parents. He was back for a routine check up. The minute Arun saw me, he ran into my arms. I sat down so he could hug me. What amazed me even more was in spite of having an amputated leg inside his bright red canvas shoes, he was walking and running. Arun had learned to adapt. He had accepted his situation.”

Tilo took a long pause and dreamily looked into nothingness and finally said to me, “Arun had accepted his leg the way it was but I had never been able to accept such a cruel fate of this little boy. I stepped in his life for a purpose but I think his purpose for stepping in my life was greater. His role in my journey was bigger. There couldn’t be a better closure to our story.”

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When I met Gollum

I have often heard my spiritual Master say, “Be in tune with Nature. Be pure and simple. Be one with Nature.” I personally thought I was doing my best to live like Nature until I met Gollum.

(Most of you who are J. R. R. Tolkien fans or LOTR fanatics like me know who Gollum is. For those of you who don’t know about Gollum, let me tell you very briefly about him. Gollum is an important character from Tolkien’s books. He is a scary-looking monster-like creature constantly in search of a powerful magical ring after he loses it from his possession. He also calls the ring, “my precious.” Once known as Smeagol who was a happy and a sane hobbit-like individual, he turns into a corrupt and hideous creature due to his greed for the ring. Smeagol and Gollum are two sides of the same individual constantly trying to reason against each other. They both love and hate each other and constantly fight each other about wanting and not wanting the ring also known as the “precious.”)

Every morning when I walked into the deeper parts of the remote hill country ranch where I was staying for my spiritual retreat, I had unending questions in my mind. Wrapped in my shawl with a camping chair on my shoulder, granola bars in my pocket, my writing diary tucked under my arm and a water bottle in my hand, I used to walk away with intentions of disappearing for a long time. And disappear I did.

One such morning I was camping under a beautiful tree trying to write some thoughts in my diary. I reminded myself that I was sitting in the middle of nature and I need to be in tune with it. At that moment nature to me was the trees, animals, birds, rocks, insects and flowers that surrounded me. But this nature was actually only a smaller subset of real Nature. And then, I had a set of new questions coming to my mind about being in tune with real Nature. “How does one really be in tune with  Nature? How do I really blend in? Do we always have to be present in  Nature to live like it? And even if we are present in Nature, can we or do we actually feel one with it always? How could I continue to blend with it when I return back to the concrete jungle in which I live?” My questions wouldn’t stop so I decided to close my eyes and meditate.

After a while, I opened my eyes only to find all the answers literally standing in front of me. At first, I thought it was nature’s joke. And maybe it was. I smiled and allowed nature to have a sense of humor if that is how it chose to answer my questions. 🙂 I saw in front of me a flock of wild turkeys. On the other end of the ranch grounds, I saw a big herd of deer. Standing behind me were some of the curious but magnificent ranch peacocks. And to my left was Jack the rabbit hiding behind a bush busy nibbling on something. I also saw some beautiful red butterflies sitting on delicate yellow flowers while the cricket crawled in the grass by my feet. It was too much beauty to take in all at once. It was too much nature for the unaccustomed eye.

All the birds and animals surrounded me and I sat right in the center of my momentary nature. I wondered if they had been around me all the time or did they only appear to answer my questions. Maybe they had always been there and my eyes refused to see them or maybe they had just appeared as my answers. Whatever the case, I sat in my chair quietly feeling every ounce of beauty that these animals were showering on me. At that moment we all co-existed in perfect harmony. We were all still, absorbing and trusting each other. Nature trusts us when we trust Nature. There was pure silence and for the first time I heard the voice of the silence deep within me. I felt that the pace of my heartbeat and the flapping of the butterfly’s wings had the same rhythm. Our rhythms had mysteriously blended and I felt One with it. I felt whole. I knew. I smiled in acknowledgement. As if my understanding smile was a signal to leave, all the animals slowly departed after explaining to me what it meant to be One. I was finally in tune with Nature!

But I have to admit that a few seconds before I felt One with Nature, I met somebody else. This somebody else reminded me so much of the character Gollum seeking for “his precious” that I decided to call him by the same name. He was my inner Gollum. My inner Gollum reminded me of the very first memories or instincts that I felt when I experienced nature around me that day.

When I first saw the beautiful yellow flowers growing in the grass, my inner Gollum said, “my precious” and wanted me to pluck them. I convinced this creature that the flowers belonged to nature and I do not want to separate them from her only to enjoy a few minutes of unnecessary possession. When I saw the butterflies sitting on those flowers, I again heard the words, “my precious” and I tried to understand what it meant this time. I slowly remembered my childhood memories when my brother had taught me to sneak upon butterflies and catch them by holding their wings. I cringed in pain because now that I was One with Nature, I could actually feel how the butterfly feels when someone holds it by the wings and bottles it up for temporary enjoyment.

I am now a vegetarian but I have been through my phase of non-vegetarianism. When I saw the beautiful wild turkeys standing in front of me, I could not believe that few years ago they were “my precious” when I was consuming them. Same goes for the deer and everything else. Now that I was One with them and the rest of Nature, I realized how I had been affecting my own extensions and reducing my own self bit by bit. It felt miserable to realize that I was never bottling up a butterfly but only locking my own extension into a glass jar and suffocating myself. No wonder I never felt whole before; no wonder I never blended and felt in tune with Nature before.

And that’s when I realized why it was difficult to follow my spiritual Master’s words. I had not left any nature around me to follow its example, learn from it and live like it. For too long, I had been hoarding it, thinking that it was “my precious” and I Had To possess it and feel powerful. But when I was One with it, I realized that “my precious” is within me. In fact, I am the precious. I am Nature. I am.

My questions had been answered. I serenely walked back to the cottage amidst the nine beautiful peacocks that lived on the ranch… for the very first time feeling One with them – feeling like the tenth peacock.

We all have inner Gollums hidden inside us. Each one of us has a voice that constantly keeps saying, “my precious” to us. Sooner or later we all encounter the Gollum in us and we are not going to like the creature that faces us. But we have to give this creature a chance to surface and resurface again in our life. We need to hear it. We need to face it with courage and accept it. Maybe it is showing up only to leave us forever and make us pure and simple. After all, it has been put there for a purpose…the purpose of reintroducing ourselves to us. It is constantly teaching us how to differentiate between who we are and what we are meant to become.

My inner Gollum appeared in front of me when I was in the middle of nature. The minute I overcame him, I felt in tune with Nature; I felt One with the Universe. Your inner Gollum may appear in front of you while you are stuck in heavy traffic; while you are in the middle of an important meeting with a room full of people or maybe while you are shopping for grocery. What will you do when he appears in front of you next time? Will you choose to snatch “your precious” from outside of yourself? Or will you be the precious yourself?

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Why spiritual relationships are for lifetime?

First day of my spiritual retreat

When I first learned that Kristi was going to reach the spiritual retreat exactly two weeks after me, I cried like a baby for the first half hour of my retreat. She and I met at this same retreat exactly a year ago and it was an instant love story. We had fallen in love with each other the moment we had seen each other. For the rest of the retreat she was my beautiful Alaskan retreat mother and I was her retreat daughter. We had shared some beautiful bonding moments, which will always be close to my heart.

I was mentally kicking myself for not texting her and letting her know about my October retreat plans but my plan was very last minute. I kept wondering why she never told me about her plans either. (Maybe she will after she reads this blog. :)) I wiped my tears and just convinced myself that this is how it was meant to happen. Even if we knew each other’s plans, we probably wouldn’t be able to coordinate our stay together. I told myself that this is not what spiritual retreats are meant to be. They are not preplanned get-togethers…at least not planned by us anyway. I just felt thankful that I had an opportunity to meet her when I did and went back into the cottage to face the new retreat participants from this year.

Last day of my spiritual retreat

Our phones, which were taken away from us before the beginning of the retreat, were handed back to us before it was time to leave the retreat. We still had two hours with each other. I told her that I was going to add her on Facebook. And I did. My first reaction when I saw her on FB was, “What? Is this really her? Is this how she looks when she doesn’t look like how she looks now?” And I believe this is exactly what Irina would think about me at the very moment she would accept my friend request.

That moment was when the reality struck me hard. It was time to go back to the world where we would again look like our FB profile pictures. At the retreat we were around each other in our simplest avatars. Nobody felt the need to have their make-up on, straighten their hair, wear accessories, or be who they are not…the things that the outside world forces us to do to fit in. We walked around each other in regular t-shirts, pajamas, shawls and other simple clothes.

Hidden in the beautiful Texan hill country, we found ourselves in a beautiful cottage that was going to be our spiritual home for the next week or two. We were requested to keep communication to the minimum and maintain silence. This was supposed to be our retreat into the Self through silence. We only talked to each other if it was necessary. We were going to be one spiritual family for the rest of our stay.

We belonged to different states, countries and age groups but it didn’t matter. We all had the same goal in our hearts. Although we spent the entire day in silence, there were few minutes in a day when we allowed ourselves to share a few words, laughs and also our food. Whenever we talked, we only found ourselves sharing our enthusiasm and love for spirituality, meditation and Heartfulness. That was our life. We couldn’t think of anything else. It was our oxygen!

We had learned to do things for each other very quickly even without the other person asking for it. The comfort and well being of the other person came first. We had truly become a spiritual family. We were all away from our own families, pets, friends etc.… living on a remote ranch in the middle of nowhere in the hill country.

Neither of us talked or even merely hinted about missing the outside world. While that feeling was real, what we were given at the present moment was even more important. Our time at the retreat was limited and each one of us hoped to achieve a lot during our stay. There was so much work to do on ourselves. Each one of us was going through a spiritual process in our own way. It was intense, powerful and beautiful at the same time. We all shared the same joy of the process. So how could we not bond? How can one not forever bond with the people who equally share a life-changing experience with them? After all, none of us was going to be the same person that had walked into retreat. We would all go back with more spiritual awareness, more courage, more realization, and most of all – more Love in our hearts.

The first time I met Irina, she gave me the sweetest smile and I smiled back. I was the third participant out of four to arrive at the retreat that week. I found myself sharing my food with her the same night that I had arrived. I also found myself enjoying her tasty Russian recipes everyday. (I actually found myself trying everybody’s cooking at the retreat and my loving sisters happily pampered me.) One afternoon, Irina and I walked towards the swing in the yard and sat there and talked. Yes, we were not supposed to talk but something deep down said that it was necessary to speak to her. There is something valuable she has for me. She is here for a reason and we met for a purpose.

We talked, we shared, we laughed and we also cried. With every word she spoke, she was healing me little by little. She knew exactly what I needed to hear and she guided me through it. Sometimes she stopped in between and said that her English was not perfect… exactly when I was thinking how beautiful she makes English sound with her Russian accent. Language wasn’t the thing that was really connecting us at that moment. It was the Love that made us understand each other. By the time she finished, I felt my heart blooming inside me. She had taken away a huge unknown burden simply by talking to me. She was radiating beautiful motherly Love. We hugged and walked back to the cottage together with a deep knowingness in our eyes. We knew that we would be bonded forever, here and beyond.

I finally knew why Kristi and I hadn’t met… because Nature had sent another retreat mother for me this time. I was richer by one more spiritual mother. Maybe there will be another daughter waiting for Kristi when she comes to the retreat in two weeks.

Each one of us knew that it was time to go back to our homes. We would meet again sooner or later. Until then we would stay in each other’s lives through technology. We may probably be looking at each other’s illusionary FB pictures for a long time till we actually meet in person again. But it did not matter anymore. It did not matter if we saw each other in funny Halloween costumes or with eyes full of make-up… for we had seen deeply into each other’s eyes and found the same source of Love residing in them.

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