An Old Couple’s Love Lesson

Blue RoseWhenever I am back on the island of Mauritius, saturday mornings are my moments for feeding my body and spirit, so I usually jog round the lush green streets of Ebene, sit and meditate in the spiritual park near Rose Hill then walk back home. It was on one such trip when I met this man pushing a woman in a wheelchair. I exchanged pleasantries with them, the man and I had a little chat, after which bid each other good bye and I went my way. I also found out they were married and I deduced she was wheelchair bound.

The next saturday while at routine, I met them again and we talked, exchanged pleasantries…and went our separate ways. This happened for about six times, and then one day as I came round the corner, I saw the wheelchair backing me, seemingly on its own…and when I got closer, I realised the man was squatting infront of the wheel chair, massaging the woman’s feet. The care with which he did it … as if he were touching something sacred … fragile …priceless, the gentleness with which he spoke to her, as would a mother speaking to her only child, all that struck a cord within my spirit and I stood there mesmerised. When I got closer and greeted them, the man asked me “Are you married?”. I froze at the question (it wouldn’t be the last time), then quickly recovered and told him that I was not. Then I noticed something else…the twinkle in his eye when he asked the question, you would think he were asking me “would you like to join us in heaven?”. Yes, I felt in his eyes love, no regret and … and almost sensed pity for me for what I was missing by being single.

And I thought to myself wow!!! The woman is wheelchair-bound, I doubt they go dancing, or how often they make love … that is if they even get round to doing it at all or … she that she cooks for him. In short, I just didn’t see her giving him all the things our culture has brainwashed us into thinking women must do for their men and yet there in his eyes was all proof I needed that he was in love, … and loving it. He did go on and tell me I must get married but it was what he didn’t say, or more accurately, how he behaved that left and imprint in my spirit to this day.

I walked home … meditating on what I had just seen (did I really witness this? or had my hyperactive mind gone into overdrive again?) and I offered a prayer of thanks to God. In my heart I believe God sent those old lovers to teach me (or more accurately remind me) of a key lesson about what love is …. not first and foremost a feeling (something I know but have a hard time actually getting to grips with), like Stephen Covey will say …it is what you do (a verb). Love the feeling is a fruit of love the verb, it manifests itself in the loving things we do, like care for others, like put their happiness before ours especially when it is not convenient to us. If we could do that even 60% of the time, we just could live our romantic dreams … to love the woman/man in our life, with every breath we take, every day we wake up (I know a bit of how that might feel, I once fell in love with my own girlfriend). Isn’t that amazing?

Now I don’t know how far those two have come to get where they are today, what quarrels, arguments they’d had, but somehow, they never lost sight of what mattered most. That, and the fact that they probably dealt with their mutual challenges in a way that made love blossom in their lives. It might not even have been ‘they’, sometimes it just takes one person to not lose sight of what matters during the thick of things and to sacrifice a bit of their ego … to give love a chance to grow further.

That was the last time I saw that couple; I have gone back to jog on that same path, and I keep hoping to see them and maybe thank him for the lesson he had taught me, but I never saw them again. They serve as a reminder to me, that romantic fairy tales do exist. If you are reading this, I hope their story inspires you and I hope you will join me in praying: “Father, please teach me how to love like that man, selflessly and totally, with devotion worthy of a child of the path of light. Amen”
[Thanks to Stephanie for editing this post]
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Freeing the Present from the Clutches of Fear of the Future

In its ever increasing lust to keep our attention focused on itself and control us, our egos often feel threatened by those moments of bliss in which we are so totally engrossed in another person or something larger that us that we pay no attention to ourselves. The ego then finds a way to hijack that bliss by suggesting a threat to the most precious parts of that it. It thus this by suggesting that that which we value most in this moment cannot last for example:

  1. Death when we are enjoying the company of those we love.
  2. Impending disaster when we are enjoying peace and solace.
  3. Betrayal, insincerity or manipulation when are are in a blooming relationship.

In a nutshell, a small voice gets us worrying about the a possible time in the future when the precious thing which now gives us bliss is no longer available to us.

I have wondered, how can I deal with this device of the ego and I think the short answer is “presence and mindfulness“ and here is what I mean:

First of all, realise like all enlightened people do that “nothing lasts forever in this realm and even the sun shall die.“. With that realisation, ask yourself “what can I really do about this fear here and now?“ and you will realise that there is nothing you can do now about that fear of something that may or may not happen in the future. When you realise the utter futility of even continuing to worry about it, you can then push that fear and worry out of your mind and come back to the bliss of the moment.

In terms of practice, when the fear arises, don’t flinch and try to block it off, instead, focus on it and see it for what it is – a tool of the ego to take your focus off the bliss in which it is not the center of attention and bring it back to itself. By putting those dark thoughts and suggestions of fear to the glaring light of conscious observation, they lose their power over us and thus we can put them aside and return to the bliss of the moment.

Sure, the future might be uncertain, but by staying present in the moment in enlightened awareness and concentration, we can live an eternity in the protective hug of loved ones, the effortless mastery in the execution of the task at hand, the trusting and win-win collaboration of working with colleagues and the time-defying, all-healing passionate kiss we are sharing with our lover. Don’t let your ego ruin that moment.

How do you deal with such ego-grabbing? Please share.

Purpose in Life – A Daily Perspective

“Why was I put on this earth?

What is my purpose in Life?”

These are questions that every person who aspires to self mastery must ultimately ask and answer of themselves. And the answers don’t come easy, it might take the first 15 years or more of your life for those question to even cross your mind, probably another 10 years of ignoring them and then maybe another 10 years or so to get an idea.

By the time we get the answer to the question, refine it into a clear and compelling personal vision and mission and develop the resources, relationships, capabilities to actualise it, probably we’d be in our forties. Of course some lucky ones or divinely touched ones can figure it out earlier.

Yes, it can be frustrating and this morning I had a thought (as usual it came to me in the bathroom). While pondering the bigger question of purpose in life, we should not ignore the smaller and probably more important question of purpose in the present, in the NOW. Afteral, we can only live life in the now, by being present and if we could ask and answer the questions:

a. What is the purpose of this task I am doing right now?

b. What is the purpose of this encounter?

c. How may I serve in this situation?

Then we could bring purpose to the present and our day need not be a ‘grind’ but a dance to the tune of clear purpose that changes and responds to each situation and in interlaced moments of spontaneity, we’ll find rest from purpose and just BE …be tools/instruments to be used by the divine, for good, for peace, for progress.

And if we can find purpose and meaning in each day, is it possible that our lives will be without purpose? I don’t think so.

 

The NEW has GONE, the OLD has COME – The Transformation

I stand at a threshold in my life, one I know so many other people have stood at – looking back at 3 decades of life (thanks to all that have been there, even the obnoxious ones) and looking forward with my physical eyes to at least another 5  decades (Insha Allah) and with my spirit, to an eternity.

The cracks of degradation of my physical body are beginning to show (I can no longer work for 48 hours without sleep) and rather than cling to the vanishing sands of my past and youth, I must now make the decision to either embrace the winds of the future, or languish in fires of regrets of what could have been in the house of yesterday. A transformation is going on …whether I choose to accept it or not. I make the choice to accept it and intentionally make what ever adaptations I must make in other that this transformation be one that will bring me and those around me more peace, more love and more fulfillment.

Part of that transformation will be to give up the ‘glory’ of youth for that of old men, and to do this I must transform or let be transformed :

  • Youthful strength into strength of character.
  • Reliance on my intellect into knowing by intuition and awareness.
  • Desires to make myself better into a yearning to serve others and make another life better.
  • The need to take into a desire to share and give.
  • Independence in for interdependence.

I know it is a journey and it won’t be easy, but it is a journey I must make – one I have chosen to make because I KNOW that it is one filled with reward … I cannot lose and there is ultimately only happiness and peace on that path.

Thus, as I thread this path of light, I pray that a life of discipline, of learning, of service, and of contribution will bear the fruits some of which I have always desired but never had: Patience | Selflessness | Spontaneity | Presence | Silence | Oneness with God.

This I wish myself, every moment …and I wish it to you too.

“Your Children Are NOT Your Children”

Ever heard it said that what you think of increases in your life? I first came across this poem while reading “The Fifth Discipline” by Peter Senge and it it was just so beautiful time literally stopped. Here it i:

Your Children are not Your Children

by Kahlil Gibran

Your Children are not Your Children

They are the sons and daughters of life’s longing for itself.

They come through you but not from you,

And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,

For they have their own thoughts.

You may house their bodies but not their souls,

For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.

You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you. For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.

The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.

Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;

For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.

All I can pray for is that I will have the strength to let my own children be, to learn from them and not ruin their lives by trying to force my own unfulfilled dreams on them. Sometines, while see a 3 year old girl with heavy make-up and some super-complicated hair (which is often beautiful) but I ask myself … “Does this little girl care about all this? or is it just the mother trying to make a statement?”.

This seems to contrast the Bible’s message to

“bring up a child in the path he should follow, and when he grows, he will not depart from it” .

Problem is, even when we are parents, some of us are still very lost, living lives devoid of some higher purpose, in pursuit of material wealth and all the other vanities that we use to define our existence, we really should not be giving a path to our children. BUT we can give them the gift of a few undeniable principles — the value of hard work, of humility, of service to others, of gratitude and integrity and if we do a good job of modelling those virtues ourselves, then we can let them use those principles to make their own paths and God won’t judge us for what paths they choose, for we would have done our part as the Bow.

I think I’ll go get myself a copy of “The Prophet”

Alone …But Not Lonely: Taking Home with U

What is home? Where is it? Those are the questions I have had to face for myself lately. I have spent more than a third of my life away from the house in which I was born, away from the people that conceived and raised me (God bless them). If that is what home is …. and I have thought so for a long time, then that part of my life spent away from it has been …. a huge loss.

I once read somewhere that “a home is any house with love in it” and I have experienced it to be true. For I  twice (completely different countries) lived with other woman who neither fed nor clothed me but I knew as well as my own breath that they loved me like any one of their own children. Different women have tended me when I was ill, fed me, chastised me and at those moments, I have felt the same thing I have felt at home in the arms of my mother: the embrace that felt like it could protect me from a bullet, the hug that heals my heart-ache, the eyes that see into my soul and the look of gratitude and pride that says “My son, I am proud of you” without using a single word.  But then because I have had to move often, it(that physical proximity) hasn’t lasted.

Now, I have come to realize, that if you can’t carry your home in your heart, you will always be lonely. It is those thoughts of love, of care, the fond memories, the scars of shared care, of sacrifice that make home. And so I woke up this morning, so far away from my mother she couldn’t hear me if I screamed (a scary thought), four hours difference between us, i felt lonely, but reached into my heart and summoned home. … all of them, all of the ‘homes’ across different physical places I have lived, I carry them within me and I am grateful to God for this revelation. Now, I can go about my business anywhere I am, knowing that even though I am a lone, I am not lonely, for my home is in my heart and Allah watches over me.

Move It!!! — Leave the Past Behind!!

One of my favorite quotes is from the character Vahla in the TV series Stargate SG-1. It goes thus:

“There is nothing to be gained in second-guessing yourself.
You can’t remake the past
So look to the future
Or risk being left behind”

What I take from this is that we should never let our past, no matter how sordid hold our future to ransom. Some of those habits that keep us captives of the past are regret and rumination.

So leave the past behind and also let the future be … your domain is here and now – the only domain you can DO anything about anything. Look people, between ruminating about the past and worrying about the future both of which are ultimate acts of futility, there is another way … savour the present. Stop and bask in the glory of that flower, the magnetic innocence of a child or the wonder of God’s work.