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New Life

As of right now, at least four of my friends are pregnant. Also, within the past two months, four of my friends have given birth. Birth happens every day, but to have so many people around me ushering forth new life fills me with hope and optimism, which is sorely needed right now.

Much of the news is gloom and doom, making it easy to believe the world is terrible and people are awful, but when I think of these new beings coming onto the planet, my heart swells. By and large, each generation is more progressive, tolerant, and accepting than the last. There are exceptions of course, but the majority are heading in that direction.

The other thing that fascinates me is contemplating the effect each new child will have on the world. We never know who the next Einstein will be. Even if the kid isn’t an incredible genius, each new child will likely contribute to the welfare of society, at least in my circle of friends. I base this on my observations of their parents: Awesome parents usually raise awesome children.

I have no idea who this kid is, but they’re adorable. Photo by Carlo Navarro on Unsplash.

This post is not a profound one, but rather a grateful one. When I look around me and see new children, I fully believe the world will become better and is becoming better. It’s much harder to dismantle prejudice, cruelty, intolerance, etc. in people who’ve had years of training to think in such a manner, and much easier to teach a new generation to love right off the bat.

A quote by Nelson Mandela comes to mind: “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

Newborn babies can be taught to love, which is their natural inclination, and that means many of the problems we’re experiencing today will slowly fade into history. My spiritual teacher said:

All genuine spiritualists will have to adjust with the level of the dusty earth inspired by the spontaneous love of their hearts. They will have to share the wealth of their developed intellects with others to lighten the sorrows and sufferings of humanity. Through their guidance and leadership, human thinking will take a new turn and move along an entirely new path. The latent spiritual power in human beings will be awakened. Through their effort and inspiration, the new people of a new generation will be armed with a bold new optimism and vision of the future, and march forward triumphantly.

When I see babies, I see a bold and bright new future, a triumphant march forward, and that’s something to get excited about.

I dream of a world where we recognize the forward march that’s taking place. A world where we celebrate the new lives coming onto this planet who are surely ushering forth a bright future. A world where we remember intolerance and injustice will eventually die out.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

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The Real Meaning of Nonviolence

In the wake of the events of Charlottesville, many friends have posted about punching Nazis in the face and inevitably someone makes a comment about nonviolence and promoting peace. They talk about how punching a Nazi in the face is incendiary, particularly if the neo-Nazi merely gathered together with other neo-Nazis in protest. I won’t get into the issues of hate speech and incitement here, but would rather like to talk about this nonviolence thing.

In yogic philosophy, nonviolence is called ahimsa. Most people incorrectly assume ahimsa means never using force ever. But in truth, the act of living is a violent one. Every time we breathe, we kill organisms. Every time we filter water, we kill something. Life is violence and I see in our country a tendency to disown violence and project it outward.

There’s a grip and a force to life, like a lizard’s foot. Photo by Katarzyna Urbanek on Unsplash.

We are a country that extols the likes of Gandhi and Martin Luther King for their peaceful protest tactics, yet we spend more on our defense budget than any other country in the world. We talk about the importance of peace in matters of civil unrest, yet we invade other countries to help them overthrow governments. We are constantly on the lookout for terrorism, quick to profile people who are not White and not Christian, yet we ignore terrorism on our own soil. Yo, something is not right here. How can we be a nation of such extremes?

I’m not an expert, I’m just another person on the internet, but I’m pretty sure we as a country are refusing to acknowledge the beast within us. We want someone else to do our fighting, yet we’re attracted to violent movies, television, and books because there’s something we like about violence. We want to believe peace is the path forward because it paints a nicer picture, but in truth, more revolutions are violent than they are peaceful. It’s rare for pleading and supplication to change the mind of an oppressor.

I’m not saying we should all walk around throwing punches at every person who looks at us funny, but force is sometimes necessary. On a personal level, anyone who wants to take away your property, your spouse, comes with a weapon to murder you, wants to snatch away your wealth, set fire to your house, or wants to take your life by administering poison, use force on them. Your life is just as important as theirs.

My spiritual teacher says, “The use of force against an aggressor is valor and desisting from such use of force is cowardice. But the weak people must assess their strength before indulging in violent conflict with a powerful aggressor; otherwise, if a fight is started without acquiring proper strength, injustice may temporarily triumph.” He also said, “Of course, if you find that the aggressor is bent on destroying you, whether you use force or not, it would be proper to die at least giving a blow to the best of your might without waiting to assemble the adequate forces.”

I’d like to believe my spiritual teacher dispenses this advice because he wants us to know our lives are worth fighting for, literally. We are all worthy and deserving of respect and that means not taking abuse from anyone, whether individually or as a group.

I dream of a world where we recognize sometimes the use of force is necessary. A world where we understand there exists within each of us a warrior-self that’s appropriate to use when the case calls for it. A world where we understand the real meaning of nonviolence.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

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How Progress is Made

A friend of mine shared a meme on facebook the other day that said we’re reliving the 60s: high-waisted pants, A-line dresses, and skinny ties are in style, along with, oh yeah, the threat of nuclear war. Many people are shocked and surprised, saying things like, “I can’t believe this is happening in 2017.” Until about a year ago, I would have been one of those people, but today, current events do not surprise me.

Part of the reason current events do not surprise me is due to astrology. At the moment, we are undergoing similar transits to the ones of the 60s, meaning we’re seeing similar issues resurface: feminism, civil rights, the threat of nuclear war, and also the fashion. As if to confirm this, on Saturday, a man boarded my bus sporting a beard, longer hair, and a tie-dye t-shirt. The whole day I kept seeing references to the 60s – an ad celebrating the 50th anniversary of the summer of love, another using the word “groovy” with the image of a person wearing round, red-colored glasses. History repeats itself.

Progress is like a mountain range with peaks and valleys. Photo by Nitish Meena on Unsplash.

I’ve heard the expression “history repeats itself” approximately a billion times, yet whenever history repeats itself, I used to meet the circumstance with disbelief. “What? No! How could this be?” These days I recognize not only does history repeat itself, but this is how progress is made – it’s not a straight line, it’s not an elegant steady slope, it’s more like a mountain range with peaks and valleys. We ascend the mountaintop and then we descend into the valley, and just because we’re back in the valley doesn’t mean we aren’t marching forward.

I have to keep this in mind not only on a societal level but a personal one. A common complaint of mine recently is some areas of my life are not better than a year ago, in fact, they’re worse. I’m not scaling the mountain, I’m sliding into the valley. My brain interprets this to mean I’m not progressing, I’m not advancing, and instead I can expect parts of my life to stay crappy forever and always, which is of course not true – something my spiritual teacher substantiates.

He said motion is never linear, rather it is always systoltic, or pulsative. “All kinds of movement in this expressed universe are linked with the state of pause … Pause is only a temporary state of inertness,” he said. “Full expression of action occurs only after attaining momentum for movement from the state of inertness. No action is possible without momentum attained from the state of inertness, and thus every action (also called movement) must be systoltic, or pulsative, by nature.”

Perhaps then my slide into the valley is my pause to gather strength, to regain my energy before climbing the next mountain. Also, perhaps this period we’re undergoing as a society is a pause of sorts that allows us to ferret out injustice, examine the unexamined, and clear out the cobwebs in order for us to keep moving forward. Instead of viewing our societal events as regression, maybe they’re important, albeit terrifying and horrific, milestones on our path to progress.

I dream of a world where we recognize progress on a personal and societal level takes the shape of a mountain range with peaks and valleys. A world where we understand descent is an important part of moving forward. A world where we remember motion is pulsative – it starts and stops with a pause in between. A world where we keep in mind how progress is made.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

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The Forever One

The unexpected death of my colleague nearly a month ago unsettled me. I have a need for security and stability (we all do), and his death reminded me the world is not stable; it’s always changing. I want to know the people in my life will always be around, and if they’re dying, I want advanced notice so I can say a proper goodbye. But life doesn’t work like that, and Eric’s death reminds me a person can die at any time.

Goodness, even writing that I feel my anxiety levels rising. Let’s talk about solutions. Some of the messages I say to myself are, “I’m here. I’m not going anywhere. I’m not ever going anywhere.” On Saturday, I reminded myself those messages are true. I’m not going anywhere because when I die, all parts of me die. We’ll die together – my inner child, my inner parent, my higher self. I’m not ever going anywhere because every part of me is inextricably linked.

I like to think of our eternal companion as an audience member. Photo by Jake Hills on Unsplash.

I talk about “parts” a lot, but this is not New Age mumbo jumbo. In yoga philosophy, there are three parts of the mind. One of the parts, the mahatattva, is the observer. This is the part that’s like an audience member of a play – they see everything transpiring on the stage, but they’re not actively doing anything. That audience member, that eternal observer, if you will, is the one who has the best perspective because they literally see more than the actor on the stage.

When I self-soothe, when I remind myself I’m here and I’m not going anywhere, I connect with my observer self, which is where security and stability lies. That which is eternal is beyond spatial, temporal, and personal factors; it never changes and is always there.

My spiritual teacher says, “The unchangeable witnessing consciousness that lies behind the manifested, externalized states of consciousness, or behind these apparently conscious entities is Puruśa.” Puruśa is how I define God. Puruśa is the forever entity, the forever one who is inside of me, watching my every act. The point of my meditation practice is to realize Puruśa and I are the same. That I am it and it is me.

To quote an Indian sage, “Those of calm intellect who see Him within themselves alone attain eternal bliss. To them alone belongs abiding peace.” Over and over again I learn true security, stability, bliss, and peace cannot be found in the external world. It can only be found internally. My anxious self will never be satisfied with the constant presence of a person because people die or leave unexpectedly. They cannot be my eternal companions, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have one. Because I do. We all do. Our eternal companion, our forever one, is the witnessing entity within us and around us. The more I remember that, the better off I’ll be.

I dream of a world where we realize true security, stability, bliss, and peace comes from within. A world where we recognize we each have an internal observer, watching the drama of life unfold objectively. An observer who is with us always. A witness who is our forever companion.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

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