As it is Valentine's Day, and dedicated to love, I'm posting a photo of Guan Yin (Kwan Yin), the embodiment of compassion. Her love is broad without judgement. Imagine deferring your own salvation so that you can help others – that is what Guan Yin did. She attained a state of enlightenment but instead of heading for Nirvana, she remained as a bridge between our world and the next so that she could help us to get there too. Her mantra is featured in my new book, Essential Mantras.
Valentine's Day is mostly associated with romantic love, but in some ways romantic love is the most shallow form of love. It may feel vast and deep and dizzying, but it is surface sparkle! and often merely a mirage of what we want to see. A bit like the ego fooling itself. Only when it is tested by hard times, illness or loss can you know that a romantic love is true. I'm not knocking it, though. True love, when you find it, is something to be cherished and nurtured. It is something to be celebrated! But it's not the only kind of love and if you happen to be on your own this Valentine's Day, don't be blue. Romantic love is all fine and dandy, but there is a greater love – and this is something innate within you that you can give to your self. It's called compassion.
Why is compassion a greater form of love? Because it acts beyond the ego. It enables us to love even when we don't really want to. We see that someone who on the outside is ugly (in appearance or deeds), is the same as us on the inside. Compassion lets us give them the 'benefit of the doubt', so to speak, so that we can get past our own affront and love the person, who is actually suffering. Through compassion, we can connect on a human level. We all suffer; we are all imperfect. It can be hard to give compassion to someone who has hurt you, and has no intention of apologising or changing his/her behaviour. So first be compassionate with yourself. No one is expecting you to be like Mother Teresa or Guan Yin. These are very special souls. But it is in your own interest to forgive and move on. Compassion will help you to do this.
The love of friends is another important form of love – and this is a reciprocal kind of love that needs a little work. Unlike the unconditional kind of love that is compassion, platonic love is finely balanced between give and take. In a healthy friendship you are expected to be considerate of the other. That's not to say you can't make mistakes - but when you do, you need to be able to reconcile and say sorry. Friendship teaches us to give and to receive.
Life is in constant flow and we meet all these kinds of love in various amounts and forms. But remember that 'Love is a currency in reverse – the only way to be wealthy with it is to give more of it away' ~ Shane Koyczan.
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I have set a date for the publication of my mantra book Essential Mantras for Everyone. At last! I hear you say :) Well... I wanted an auspicious date, and I reckon the first New Moon of 2018 is just perfect! It will be out on 17 January. Meanwhile, a chance to get acquainted with a truly beautiful mantra, sung by the extraordinary Carrie Grossman. I am so honoured that she has given her blessing for me to make the video below - putting my photos to her beautiful music. Enjoy!
In her poem 'Wild Geese', Mary Oliver begins:
'You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.'
Her poem goes on to speak of how we are all part of Nature and we all have our place 'in the family of things'. It seems to me that the point she is making is that all our 'wrongness' is created in our minds. We need to let go of these intellectual concepts and allow ourselves to just be.
Recently I listened to a podcast by an Indian yogi called Sadhuguru, in which he was talking about being more receptive to life and life's gifts. He said that one thing we need to do is to stop 'being good'. 'When you are full of yourself "being good", there isn't much room for anything else!!" And he is right!
It's not that we should never be kind, or helpful or generous. But we should stop trying so hard. It's all about balance. Being good comes naturally when we work on letting go of the ego and accepting ourselves as the imperfect beings we are. We are just fine. Can we accept our imperfect selves?
Curiously, Christmas reminds me of how this 'being good' vibe is drummed into us at an early age. "Have you been good this year?" we ask our children. "If you have, then Santa will bring you some presents!" How about we rewrite this story? How about we say "Have you been yourself this year? Have you been sometimes good, sometimes bad, sometimes inbetween? Great, well every gift in the Universe is yours – and it always has been, no matter what you did or didn't do."
Now wouldn't that be something!!!!??
Happy Christmas! xxx
If you are into philosophy, or just like a mental challenge, here is something for you to 'chew on': 'The Tao that can be said is not the universal Tao. The name that can be named is not the universal name.'
These are the very first lines of the Tao te Ching by Lao Tzu and it sets the tone for the whole idea of the book. The Tao translates to 'The Way' and can be seen as a path or a method for living by. But it is much more than that. It also means 'reality' as in the way of everything in the cosmos. That's deep.
So with these first few lines, Lao Tzu puts us in our place. How can we dare to 'name' the universe? How can we even assume to comprehend it? This verse is reminding us of the dichotomy between reasoning and intuition while at the same time telling us that both are encompassed in the Tao. In my view, the only way to come close to understanding the Tao is through mindful meditation. To 'experience' it. Taoism is close to Zen Buddhism, but is not a religion. It is more of a way of living.
I recommend you get a copy of the Tao te Ching (a good modern translation is by Ralph Alan Dale). It is an extraordinary book, both mysterious and practical. It is full of apparent contradictions that provoke thought and insight. Even though it has ancient origins, it remains relevant today. Though pretty elusive, the basic concept of Taoism is that each one of us is a reflection of the whole universe and that we all live within the same cosmic laws of the Tao. The Tao te Ching offers spiritual guidance for the Taoist, who aims to 'go with the flow' and live in harmony with the world.
Happy reading :)
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'If a loved one closes the door on you, you have to respect it. If they did it out of pain – they need space. If they did it out of spite – they need even more space! But don't keep knocking. Life is short and there are plenty of open doors.' ~ BeautifulSky
'Let the day's worries and hopes be like fading sunlight. All is well. You are right where you are meant to be.' ~ BeautifulSky
'When people make you feel like you are insignificant, treat it as a prompt to go inwards and remind yourself "I matter". Your heart knows the truth; do not be swayed by the thoughts and actions of others' ~ BeautifulSky.
Just a few words and a picture.
I have a new Mantra book out, click here for details :)