Is it time to sharpen your skills of discrimination when you opened a tent flap for the Camel to nuzzle its nose in? Slowly, but not gracefully, the Camel is now…Ta Dah…finally and fully…in the tent.
Out on the desert, a camel is a wondrous creature. It is graceful as it glides upon the arid dunes of time. It travels without food, water and shade for days. Few animals have its strength, stamina and endurance. But now, in the foreign environment of the tent, it tramples upon, and continues to destroy whatever appears as an obstruction in its path. It loved the power of accomplishing its goal of getting into the tent. But once in, it has now transformed into a clumsy and graceless creature, severely confused and in turn, increasingly more destructive.
The camel flounders about its newly conquered space sipping ambrosia from golden goblets and nibbling fast food left on silver trays. It crashes into whatever objects or people that appear in its path as it pompously dances and prances in incoherent circles thrusting its hind quarters to and fro, like a Parisian Can-Can dancer. Some have run for cover while others gleefully follow behind, hypnotically beating drums and shaking tambourines of encouragement. Where is the discrimination?
The camel has no respect for the opulent oval tent space it now occupies. It defies and defiles all those trying to direct or redirect it and oust it from a place where it does not belong. Before the camel appeared, the tent had been a gathering place for chiefs of many tribes, and clergy of varying spiritual beliefs. It was a place for generals of many countries and peacemakers from throughout the lands to meet. Philosophers and theologians, with or without a pulpit, could gather together without rancor, to honor their differences as well as similarities.
As the camel suddenly appeared some did nothing to stop it, and in the paralysis of their silence they acquiesced to its unruly behavior. They passively watched as the check and balance system to maintain order was flagrantly violated. At first, the appearance of the Camel’s nose with its wide bridge and flaring nostrils seemed benign and even humorous. But now that it has inched its entire body into a space where it does not belong, it has become a frightening symbol of division and separation. It has no respect for any order of what existed before, nor does it care.
In losing its way and purpose, the camel now bares its teeth and spits with rage while tearing apart delicately draped fabrics of policies and handwoven tapestries of laws and governance. The camel proudly frolics like royalty while licking and tasting the sweet nectar of power. As it struts around sniffing the air filled with scents of aromatic herbs and spices, it pushes against the central pillar that supports the constitution of a tent structure that has existed for more than 200 years.
The tent was created as a canopy of freedom and protection for its people. It is a place where leaders once met to honor differences as well as similarities. It is a place where conflict once found convergence and transformation rather than facades of mere resolution that might later erupt into future wars.
Yes, the tent structure has been flawed with the erosion of two and a half centuries of earthly time. Even though its seams are frayed by increasing corruption and greed, new generations of tailors and seamstresses work tirelessly on behalf of the people, to restore its luster. But now, its central core is challenged. Battered by ignorance, the tent is wobbling as some valiantly struggle to keep it upright against the continual thrusts of the camel’s belly.
The camel, in its misplaced ambition has become a presence of destruction to the opulent oval tent and the vast deserts and gardens beyond. It is an unwanted guest in someone else’s home but does not know how to leave gracefully without ‘losing face’ or appearing to be a failure. Even though this camel may not realize it yet, it no longer wants to be in a confining enclosure of laws and regulation…but it can’t find its way out.
Where are the ones who can fearlessly grab its reins and lead it out into the starry night? Where are those who can help it to once more fulfill its own destiny and not destroy the destiny of others? Where are the ones who can help free it to roam the vast open spaces where it can once more, find the rhythm of its own gait? Where are those who can help this camel to stride peacefully across the haunting sands of time in search of a new destiny, a new direction in the autumn and winter of its life?
Ustrasana ~ Camel Pose
In doing this Yoga Pose, we honor the strength and stamina of the camel a true ascetic who accepts only what is offered. We don’t have to be an unruly force to love the freedom that this posture gives. It is called the Camel for the way it begins and ends with the humble bending of its front knees as it come to its place of rest. The pose looks like the hump of the camel when we move towards its full expression.
Note: When inhaling, stop and do nothing. Simply focus and meditate upon the breath. Move into the pose upon the exhalation when the ego releases and unravels itself.
It has been said that “a journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.” I recently completed a 2,000-mile journey that was not only in miles, but a journey back into the heart of time and the heart of oneself.
My younger sister, who has terminal cancer, reached out to me for help in moving her and her belongings from California to a large evangelical Christian community in the Ozarks. This community is where she chose to live out her final days with like-minded people. Her thinking is now molded by a growing mass of people who call themselves conservative evangelical Christians. Her particular community is founded by a pastor who raises funds based on the Biblical final days of the world, known as the great tribulation or Armageddon. My sister is deeply devoted to their concept, as well as their evangelical belief that our current President has been sent by God. When I first heard his devoted followers say that Trump was sent by God, with tongue in cheek, I couldn’t help but ask, “…Are you sure it was God?”
On our journey across country I would sometimes ride in the cab of the 27-foot diesel truck with my youngest and most petite daughter Mira as driver. At 5’2”, her size may have been enigma to other truckers on our common road of Route 66, but she rode high…right up there with the “big guys.” My sister followed the truck in her white Honda CRV. It was a dream-like experience to ride with a sister who took me back in time with her perspectives of our childhood, and her current political views.
It was a classic example of our first Mind Wave, known as pramana, in the Yoga Sutras. Pramana has three parts: 1) Direct Experience, 2) Indirect Experience where we have not had the direct experience, but we believe in the experience of another, and last but not least 3) inference of others. Inference can be the translation of sacred scriptures such as the Vedas or Bible. However, when one strays farther from their own personal experience it is easier to believe the interpretations of others whether they are accurate, or not.
My sister seemed to clamp down on her perceived version of the truth, “Jesus is the way and the only way. Trump speaks the truth and only the truth.” She believed that her beliefs were the truth…not just her own perspective, but the truth for All. “Whoa!” I thought of my teaching in Conflict Resolution based on the Yoga Sutras. Conflict is about Perception. If we share our perception with one another, it becomes a dialogue. But if only one person shares their perspective, without allowing room for others to express their views…it is a monologue. It is a monologue when one person demonstrates a missionary spirit in trying to convert others to their own way of thinking. This often occurs when we are subconsciously insecure in our own beliefs. It can also become a monologue when there is so much bottled up inside, and there is finally someone who will listen and periodically give reflections and feedback.
Could this be why my sister who was raised in a home of metaphysicians had, over the years, slipped into a fixed belief system that, “Jesus is the way and the only way.” In the field of conflict resolution when dialogue is impossible, we practice the art of “Active Listening.” This is one of the most powerful practices we can do in life. Active listening is done when one person needs to express and we allow ourselves to become the conduit for their expression.
Active listening is also called “Compassionate Listening.” It is a process of listening not just with the ears but with the heart. To do this, we ask questions that help one to dive deeper into themselves to find solutions to their own issues.
When we learn the art of Active, or Compassionate Listening we learn the rare art of truly listening. We also learn the art of not sharing our own story but just being there totally for another. Even though we don’t share “our own story” when we are only there for another…it’s the strangest thing, we usually feel heard.
For years, my sister has stored up angry thoughts that she felt would be safe to share with me on our journey together. It was an honor just to be with her after many years of our not relating to one another. Now, in the autumn and winter of our lives, she has transcended her anger towards me, but had not yet transcended her anger and rage toward our parents. Even though we were in the same family with the same father and mother, our perceptions of childhood experiences were totally opposite from one another.
As the miles passed under the wheels of both vehicles, it was the first time we had been so close physically, but juxtaposed in religious and political beliefs. We traveled through the Mohave desert to Arizona, and then through New Mexico, the Texas Panhandle, and the wide-open lands of Oklahoma with big skies stretching into infinity. What freedom I thought, taking in the beautiful vistas that did not restrict the aura…or so I thought.
In Texas and Oklahoma, we began to observe billboards and signs supporting conservative political views. A growing number of white, steepled churches began to appear as we grew closer to the Ozarks. Tall church spires reached toward the heavens as if aspiring toward the light. Wherever we traveled, conservative Christian values seemed to be in lockstep with the belief that our current President was sent by God and should be supported no matter what he does or institutes as policy. “He can do no wrong,” my sister was adamant, “I don’t care about truth or facts. I know what I feel and that’s enough!”
My sister receives her daily news from Christian broadcasting stations and conservative news outlets. Most of her views come from the minister of the community where, we eventually entered through its pearly gates. Her patterns of thinking and speaking were in lockstep with a growing sea of other Christian groups and organizations that all seemed to be speaking the same language. It was reminiscent of soldiers entering onto a bridge. They would be ordered to break step as their unified marching would be such a powerful force it could collapse the bridge. Was my sister now in lockstep with those of the same or similar views? Were they gaining strength and power by coming into a unified field of consciousness by using similar words, images, and concepts?
“Isn’t this wonderful,” my sister’s voice broke through my thoughts. “We have opposing viewpoints but we can still love one another.” Her left hand was on the steering wheel as I took her free hand, brought it to my lips to kiss it, telling her after more than 75 years that I loved her.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful, I thought, if we could all do this as the people of a country in division and fear? Wouldn’t it be great if we could agree on the love we have for those who no longer share the same values and viewpoints? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if our friends and family members of opposing views could leap over canyons of divisions and separation to embrace and say “I love you” to one another? After all…great masters who have walked upon the face of this earth urged us to forgive those who have knowingly or unknowingly created injury. May we also forgive ourselves for any hurts we may have knowingly or unknowingly caused others. May we do this in the spirit of remembrance that, “Love is the greatest power in the Universe!”
As we were approaching the advent of the Thanksgiving holiday, my heart was filled with gratitude for these precious moments. My sister and I were on a journey not just across country, but a journey beyond time. As we drove through Arkansas into the Ozarks on our way to Missouri, I learned more of her journey of childhood and her life observed from a perspective that was so opposite from my own. Isn’t it interesting that this happens in most families where we are each like a blind person touching each part of an elephant feeling our part to be the whole.
My baby sister may die before I do. Does it matter what she believes or what I may believe? Who cares if one is right or wrong, right or left, conservative or liberal, red or blue, purple, or gold? All of Yoga is to transcend polarities to experience the union beyond all divisions. There is a point of convergence where all opposites and opposition meet and that is the remembrance of our eternal state of Being. This is where all points of view and all lines of demarcation dissolve into a vast sea of Infinite Being.
This was only an 8-day journey from the capital of California to Blue Eye, Missouri. But it was an amazing journey back into the timeless depth of unhealed wounds, and the soul of sisterhood.
Halloween has lost much of its spiritual and historical significance derived from Celtic and Druidic festivals and celebrations of the harvest season. Today, Halloween, originally known as “All Hallows’ Eve,” has become a candy fest of costumes and a night of mischievous deeds for those who don’t provide sweets. Handing out candy or coins, as was done in past centuries, was meant to appease the contractive dark forces that become more prevalent as the days of summer light give way to the darker days of the winter solstice.
It was believed that on October 31st the boundary between the living and the dead dissolved and the dead could revisit what we call ‘the real world’ and wreak havoc on the crops.
The light of the jack-o’-lantern, dating back 2,000 years from Ireland was meant to illuminate the path of the eternal journey of the soul in life as well as after death. The namesake of the “Jack-o’-lantern” is a historical figure named Jack, who was a miserly man, said to have tricked the devil many times and thus, was condemned to roam the earth between the worlds of the living and the dead.
Costumes and masks were worn to scare off any evil spirits. Skeletons were symbolic of the ancestral lineage and were ceremoniously put in windows as another way to discourage evil spirits from entering one’s home and one’s life. Scarecrows were even celebrated as symbolic of the holiday’s ancient agricultural roots. After all, the scarecrows were to frighten away anything that could damage and destroy the crops.
In China, it was customary to place a pair of demoniac-looking, grotesque figures known as “Fu Dogs” at the entrance of one’s home, to ward off evil spirits.
In New Zealand, the Mauri culture would try to intimidate an offending army by scaring off the “bad,” by sticking the tongue out of the mouth, and crossing and rolling the eyes up into the head to look as frightening as possible. This was meant to scare off mischievous spirits as well as approaching enemy forces.
In the Celtic and Druid cultures, October 31st is considered to be a turning point where the ancestral lineage can be honored and invoked as a protection and blessing for the coming days of darkness. The costumes and jack-o’-lanterns were meant to scare off the dark spirits as the earth plunges closer towards the shortest and darkest days of the year.
In India, throughout the year a statue of Ganesha, the elephant God of good fortune is placed at the portals of a home. Ganesha is the son of Lord Shiva and is known as the Lord of the Underworld as well as Lord of Thresholds, and is invoked when embarking upon new phases of everyday life as well as one’s spiritual life.
Jack-o’-lanterns with happy, sad or ferocious faces also stand guard at the entrance of one’s home to prevent the invisible spirits of darkness and sorrow from entering the gateway of the home where the family dwells.
Costumes of skeletons, ghosts, ghouls, devils, witches, vampires and more recently…zombies, are meant to ward off the “evil” spirits. These ghoul-like forms are also found in Hindu mythology in the form of Lord Shiva’s legions of ghosts, goblins, skeletons, etc. that are symbolic of the forces of darkness. Shiva represents equanimity, where one lives beyond polarities of darkness and light, good and evil, between the living and the ancestral spirits of the dead.
Shiva is sometimes pictured with a third eye in the middle of his forehead (sometimes vertical) showing one eye is open but the other two eyes are closed. This symbolizes turning inwards while the third eye is open and aware of the ways of the outer world. This form depicts an integrated state of ‘Oneness,’ seeing only the Divine whether it is in the internal or external world. It holds the integration of all opposites in the world of darkness and light, the heavens as well as the nether worlds.
This time of year can remind us to light the candles to our ancestors, helping to guide them on their journey. It is a time to hold the inner light regardless of any outer elements of darkness. It is symbolic of a time to re-evaluate and even transcend our concepts of good or evil, rights and wrongs, just and unjust. It is a wonderful time to lift above the downward pull of our life, like Lord Shiva who lives on the highest peaks of the Himalayas, in balanced equanimity and serene repose.
My youngest granddaughter who is now seven years old is like a little fairy spirit. Her room is bright, sparkly and beautiful, with reminders of a world of unicorns, and fairytales where life is an endless dance of joy and happiness. It is like entering another world that reflects her amazing presence of being. She was born on Christmas Eve and given the name of Isabella Rose Angel, since she entered into the family of Angels.
Halloween is her favorite holiday. We all expected her to want to wear a costume of an angel, or a fairy spirit, but for years she only wanted to be a witch. She dreamed all year of being able to wear a witch’s costume on Halloween. It surprised her family and all who knew her until we learned that the word ‘witch’ comes from the Old English ‘wicce’ meaning wise woman. She truly is wise like an old soul in a little body. Her choice of costume truly did reflect the wisdom already visible in her nature. I wonder, if we as adults were to select our costumes, what would that choice reveal about ourselves and the choices we make within our lives?
As we offer candy to those spirits who knock on our door this year, it is a timely reminder to think of those in your life who have passed. It is also a time to send them appreciation, love, gratitude and blessings. We can even light a candle to enlighten their way along their journey. May this ‘All Hallow’s Eve’ protect and bless you on your journey through this life and beyond.
Memory is a wonderful thing! It teaches us how to talk, how to walk, to eat and how to love. Without memory we would have to relearn each day how to walk, how to speak, and how to build a field of love for those closest to us. Without memory we could not hold onto our hurts and grievances of the past because each day is fresh, new and different than the day before.
However, without memory, we could not fulfill the destiny of our work on earth, or hold down a job, or even function in activities of daily life. Without memory, we forget the faces of our loved ones and create pain in those whose lives we have been so much a part of including those to whom we have given life…our children. Without memory we abandon them and others, leaving this world while still in body. We abandon ourselves as well as those still within our life.
There is another aspect of memory however that is upheld in the world of Yoga. That is the memory sometimes called supernormal. This is the memory of that which has never been forgotten. That is the memory that propels our great search for “truth” that seems beyond ourselves. It is the memory that is awakened by wise men of all cultures who speak words that heal our heart of the pains of the past and remind us of something, someplace beyond this world as we know it.
This is the memory that manifests as an elusive feeling, an experience buried in our psyche, that fuels our endless search for that which we think is outside ourselves. It is the memory of the rapture or bliss we once knew when we were one with the Source of all Creation. It is the memory of total and blissful peace and the rapture of that blessed connection where all is well…and all is. It is the memory of discovery of that which we have sought for so long in the world around us to discover we have never lost it like the glasses on our nose that we think are lost as we search far and wide for them. This is the memory that has been there all along waiting for us to discover it. It is the memory of that which we have never forgotten.
This is the supernormal memory of the unified field of consciousness of knowing, where unexcelled joy comes in the remembrance that we have never been disconnected from our Source. Yes, we search and hunger for this remembrance in all the workshops and classes we take, only to have them lead back to the source within ourselves. Oh… how long it takes for some while others are born with varying degrees of this remembrance, like the great saints, sages, prophets and wise men. They come into this world to awaken the memory that is already within and to remind those who have totally forgotten.
Just as we are all in different stages of forgetfulness we are also in different stages of remembrance. Like the petals of the lotus that open and unfold with the rising of the sun, as that light penetrates the darkness of our own being, the petals of our heart begin to open to that light.
Memory in Sanskrit is known as smriti, from the root verb sma which means to remember. It is the 5th non-painful mind wave that is the chamber where all memories go. They exist on varying layers from the preconscious to subconscious realms of mind. The impressions that come into the mind through the five senses are known as manas, the conscious mind. Man is the Sanskrit root verb that means to think. Its function is to take in knowledge and experiences of the world through the senses. This forms impressions that are deposited in varying layers of the subconscious mind according to the intensity of that impression. As the Yogis say, “Every conscious experience becomes a subconscious impression.”
Some impressions are like a feather floating on water. They are on the surface of the mind. While others go a little deeper, like a leaf or a piece of bark that lingers toward the surface until slowly absorbing more water until sinking, they sink slowly into the deeper layers of our psyche. Some impressions are like a line drawn in sand that is washed away when the tide comes in. Other impressions are described in Yoga scriptures as so intense that when experienced, they are embedded so deeply, like grooves chiseled in stone. These deeper and more entrenched impressions are known as vasanas. These deeply engraved grooves become a residue of feelings, where one or more experiences are not separate memories, but become a conglomerate that produces a sensation of feeling.
According to science, these grooves are known today as gyros. The more we repeat our stories, the grooves are impressed into deeper tissues of our brain. They are like an old-time record or disk where one groove is worn more deeply than others. It repetitively repeats over and over again. If we have had an altercation with someone and continue to repeat our version of the story, the groove can go so deep that it would be difficult to come to a place of forgiveness. The mind cannot rest until it does.
We are fortunate to have Yoga and other methodologies so available to us today to help us bring these impressions, deep or shallow up to the surface of the conscious mind where they can no longer pull us back into the old furrows. Through these techniques, it is possible to fill in the gyros and lift above experiences that have imprisoned our mind in the grooves of the past.
According to the Yoga scriptures of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, it is the vasanas that can be lodged so deeply in the tissues of our psyche that they can be held in memory for more than one lifetime. They are the reason our soul continues to return to this planet life after life and cannot move on to explore other inter-dimensional realities.
The practices of Yoga, asana, pranayama and concentration/meditation are designed to reach into our cellular structure where memories are stored in varying layers of our psyche. These practices are meant to bring the impressions (samskaras and vasanas) to the surface of mind where they can be seen, healed and transformed. As these mental obstructions are cleared, there is a release of long-held impressions that keep us from remembering. For it is in the subtler aspects of our soul where we store the greatest memory of all…that we are not nor ever have been, separated from our Divine Source.
“Every conscious experience becomes
a subconscious impression”
July 29, 2019
One beautiful spring day, I received a call from one of my granddaughters I had not seen for nearly 14 years. She was reaching out to me, her last living grandmother. She wanted to see me and get to know me more than from my website, Facebook, or my book, Yoga: Myth and Sacred Geometry.
It was a poignant conversation as Sadie caught me up on nearly 20 years of her life that led to our plan to meet. She wanted to see my other grandchildren, her cousins she remembered as a child. But when…and where? She lived near Eureka, in Northern California. And I lived in East Texas.
I called my daughter Andrea who lives near Sacramento and we arranged a date of July 20, which seemed a long way off, but with everyone’s busy schedule during the long hot summer, it was the only time that worked. When something is supposed to happen, it’s interesting how all the forces of nature seem to array to make it happen. Then the spirit of our coming together somehow caught the imagination of my five children and twelve grandchildren, and even MoMo (Kimora) my three-year-old great grandchild. Not all the older grandkids could make it, but they would be there in spirit
Finally, the day came after many texts, calls, and much planning. Our California family converged with children and grandchildren from the four directions. My daughter Erin, grandmother of MoMo, drove all night from Seattle with her half-brother from New Zealand, just to be with the family on this allotted day. Even the summer weather was cooler than normal.
Sadie was the polestar for us all to gather around, as we had not done for many years. Somehow, my two sons and three daughters just knew we were all to be together, busy or not. They answered the clarion call, and travelled from the Northwest, the California coast, and the foothills of the Sierra Nevada.
The night before the event, I could not sleep. I went into a deep meditative place to consciously hold each family in protection and prayer that they would arrive safely with as much eagerness to be together as I felt. My heart was so full of love and thanksgiving that we could at last, after many years, be together. I also held the vision that the day would be a magical kindling of new friendships and re-kindling of old familial relations.
There were 35 people that represented four generations from the elders, my husband Max, sister-in-law Vickie and my sister Susie. Our father had been an immigrant child from Lebanon and our mother was the descendent of parents from Norway. As a result, there were parents and children with dark and blond hair, blue, green, hazel, and dark brown eyes; cousins who looked nothing alike and children who looked more like their grandparents than their parent.
Erin, my daughter adopted at 18 months, now 52-years-old is a powerful mixture of an Irish, Scottish mother, and a Jamaican father. We were among the first families in the nation to adopt a racially mixed child, and even though she looked Jamaican, we named her Erin as a reminder of her Irish heritage. We rescued her from a foster home where she was not touched or held for the early months of her life. As an adult, for twenty years she owned a day-care center where she gave to children the love and caring she did not receive from the foster home in the early months of her life. Several years ago, Erin found her family of origin in New Zealand. Her biological half-brother Damian, born of a Jamaican father and a Maury mother, travelled with her to the gathering. Damian sat in one place throughout the entire day holding the space for the reunion, like a wise Maury elder. With great wisdom and compassion, he held the spiritual mantel over us all that day.
Erin’s son, Junior had grown into a tall and handsome young man who is a sports trainer for kids. He is healing them on many levels, by giving confidence and stability to their lives. Junior had won a full college scholarship through football and was now graduating into a new phase of his life. Some were entering into professions of teaching health, fitness and gymnastics, while others are in the culinary profession, or are contractors, and managers of organic farms, as well as hi-tech firms.
We toasted to the generations who went before and the new generations stepping into their place in the world, and the littlest ones, three-year-old MoMo and six-year-old fairy spirit, Isa. What a diverse group from all kinds of jobs and professional expertise!
My daughter Mira, who represented the health and healing professions of Yoga and Ayurveda was tethered to apron strings as she served aromatic lentils and brown rice to those daring to enter into the tasty labyrinth of healing through foods. There was so much that could go astray with a family of so many professions, religions, and political persuasions, but that day, all divisions and separative belief systems were transcended into an amazing field of love, and a joy of just Being together.
Aunts and uncles, parents and grandparents, first and second cousins, meeting for the first time, and not-so-first times, mingled and meshed in the home of my daughter Andrea and her husband Elio Angel. They were the angels that gave the gathering space by opening their home as well as their hearts to all those who entered the portals of their life.
When it was time to take the family picture, it seemed impossible to try to put the immediate families together so it was ordained that anyone could stand or sit anywhere they wanted. This was a wild array of a family, finding itself in the reflection of one another. The sun had long set before we said our goodbyes. I held each one in my arms with the hope that the field of love created that day would be taken with them into all corners of their lives and into the world.
July 3, 2019
In the Mahabharata, the great epic of India, there is a quote that I cannot stop thinking about: “If one prefers one’s own children to the children of others…war is near.” All war is about separation and forgetfulness. Separation is the result of Maya who is known as the dancing girl of illusion. Maya also means “extreme form of measurement.” To measure something, we need a ruler or yardstick, which implies distance and separation. Whether it is an individual or the collective, there are times when someone or a group of individuals just don’t measure up to our expectations, we discard them…in our thinking and even in our lives.
Today in our society, there seems to be more separation than I have ever known in my lengthy lifetime. There are preferences, which is part of the illusory separation of Maya…and the preference of our own children to the children of others because, we have bought into the illusion of separation. The fire and fury behind all war is that we have forgotten that in the eyes of our creator, we are all children of the same Source.
Each day, our news shows the horrific images of that “forgetfulness” on our southern border. Men, women, and children are kept in overcrowded cages with standing room only for weeks and months without much food or water, no showers, only the clothes on their backs. Little toddlers are left without change of diaper, and the older children of eight years are asked to take care of them. But no one is allowed to hold the little ones when they cry out of hunger and longing for their families. Whether it is the guards, or the older children, they are all forbidden to pick up and comfort these little ones even when they are drowning in their own tears.
Children and adults sleep on hard unpadded floors with only a thin layer of an aluminum foil blanket over them with glaring lights all night making it difficult to rest. They are hungry, dirty and susceptible to the spreading of diseases and caged like animals known as human beings. Sadistic orders that come from on high continues this abuse that is not in alignment with the spiritual principles in all great religious scriptures “Do onto others as you would have done onto you.”
I cannot help but wonder how “good” Christians can support these policies by supporting the one who is giving the orders for this continuing cruelty. There is no excuse or explanation that justifies “one’s inhumanity to another.” My heart cries out at the suffering created in the name of the nation I was born into. There is a saying in the Karmic laws of Yoga, “If we are born into a nation that makes war upon another, and we don’t protest even in our own hearts, we will be born into a nation that is made war upon.”
I cannot sleep at night thinking of the asylum seekers who can’t even lie down. I can’t sleep in a comfortable bed when thinking of the children who are forced to lie on stones and cement each night. I have a hard time eating when each spoonful reminds me of all peoples everywhere who are going hungry. Each time I leave my home, I think of those who are locked in the misery of their cages and can’t just open the door and step out. Collective images are engraved in the cellular psyche of this nation of the father and his 23-month-old daughter who drowned in the Rio Grande in a desperate attempt to seek asylum. There is no Independence Day for them.
Just as the adults and their separated children cry out for help, we too need to cry out against this administration’s horrific policies. If we don’t protest, even in our heart, we join those who support these policies by acquiescing in our silence. What can we do, we may ask as we call out for guidance? What can we do to alleviate the suffering of others? We may at times, quietly cry out, “Show me the way and give me the strength to follow the dictates of my own soul! Give me the trust and faith to be divinely guided.”
My husband is a Unity minister here in Texas. On Sunday, June 30, our church congregation was singing a song that keeps reverberating like a prayer in my heart. Perhaps it could be your song too.
“Here I am Lord. It is I Lord, I heard You calling in the night.
I will go Lord, if You lead me, I will hold Your people in my heart”.
May All Beings Be Happy. May All Beings Be Peaceful. May All Beings Be Enlightened.
June 12, 2019
The Yoga Sutras continue to say in a variety of ways, that the Power of Samadhi comes through the practice of Ishvara Pranidhana. Ishmeans to wish and vara is to fill. Pra is to bring forth, ni means liking and dhana is wealth. This is not the wealth of physical possessions or dollars but the wealth of the human spirit. It is the wealth of the remembrance of our true inheritance that is always with us. It is the wealth that we are and have always been connected to the Universal Source of all creation.
What would it be like to feel that every wish you have ever had in the past, now, and in the future is already fulfilled. Everything you have ever needed or wanted is overflowing from your heart center. What would it feel like to know that everything you’ve searched for outside of yourself is already contained within you? What would it be like if there was nothing more to want, nothing more to learn that is not already known? This is Isvara Pranidhana. It is the realization that all our wishes are already fulfilled and in turn, bring forth dhana, the true riches of spiritual wealth where all jewels of wisdom and insight present themselves.
Isvara Pranidhana is mentioned in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutrasmore than any other concept. Some think of the Sutras as an intellectual study, but they are highly devotional in the continual reference throughout the scriptures to Ishvara. The Sanskrit name Isvara, “to fill with wishes and to bring forth the wealth,” is to bring forth the ever-expanding consciousness; the bliss of knowing this eternal cosmic vibration in every cell of our Being.
In the Sutras, we are urged again and again to offer our thoughts and actions to the invisible Source. For many years, I was a householder spending most of my time in the kitchen. I learned to practice Isvara Pranidhana by imagining my kitchen as a Temple and the sink as an altar where I turned washing dishes into my worship of the Divine essence of creation. I found that in scrubbing floors, I was offering to the Lotus feet of God. When stirring the food on the stove it was a time of remembrance that I was not separate from the Universal Source.
Sant Keshavadas, a living Saint of India, stayed with my husband and me frequently over the years. One day, as I held my youngest infant child in one arm, I went about the work in my home with the other. Santji reminded me that with one arm, I was cooking and serving others but never taking my mind off the child that I held in the other arm. He exclaimed, “No matter what you are doing in the world, your mind is never away from the child. Your child is like the essence of God! As you tend to the needs of others, your mind is always on the eternal spirit that is ever pervasive.”
Over the years, I discovered that every word we speak, every thought we think, and every step we take can be our offering to the Divine. Isvara Pranidhana is a powerful practice to lighten our steps upon the earth as we remember to speak more gently so the force of our words no longer wounds, but heals the hearts of others.
I was so fortunate to have a mother who introduced me to Yoga in the l950s. Like my father, she too was a pioneer in the field of “natural” health. She studied with the originators of reflexology, was an honorary member of the Chiropractic Association, a licensed physical therapist, a hypnotherapist and informally, an amazing psychic. She could travel intra-dimensionally through time and foretell the future. However, as a small child, I was most fascinated by what I considered to be her most important accomplishment…the art of analyzing a person’s handwriting. Again, she was on the leading edge of this subject and studied with elders who for decades had carried on this tradition.
As I grew and learned to read and write, she slowly began to share with me what she had learned about this little-known art. I was mesmerized by the way a person’s script could accurately reveal their personality traits. Even though I knew that under all of our personal quirks, there is a deep layer in all of us where our spirit bypasses all the personality issues that divide us as human beings.
One evening many months ago, I was watching the news showing the current President dramatically signing his name to a legislative proclamation. I was about to leave the room when he held it up for the viewing audience to see. I was shocked. His signature seemed to jump off the screen and stopped me in my tracks. I had never seen anything like it.
The strokes were very black and bold. Even though they were coming from a marking pen, the choice of that pen would display a person who enjoys dominance over others. The strength of the strokes suggests a person born with strong internal organs and strong sexual energy. The extreme height of the strokes of the pen reveal a tendency to “color outside of the lines.” In other words, they feel they are above and beyond the laws, rules and regulations that guide the lives of others. The sharp vertical lines are like daggers thrusting out as if to attack others with hypercritical thoughts and words.
This signature unveils an immature being who is cavalier and even whimsical in making decisions that impact the lives of millions of people. A decision can be made one minute and reversed the next. The strokes are straight up and down neither leaning to right or left displaying a person who lives “in the moment” insulated from his own conscience. In some ways this could be an asset and in other ways, it is not reflective of a contemplative thinker. It shows a person who is “street wise” with a law of the jungle mentality but lacking in higher wisdom and integrity.
The knife-like strokes concerned me the most. They are sharp, revealing a tendency to mentally and verbally attack others to the point of cruelty. According to the shape of the letters, I’m sorry to say, there is no sign of a well-rounded and integrated personality. It reveals a person who has a pathological need for attention, approval, and yes, even a need for respect. This is the signature of an expansive thinker but in a way that is self -serving rather than for the greater good of humankind.
The letters that are almost superimposed upon one another reveal a tendency toward excessive secrecy, which can be understandable for anyone in public life who struggles to protect and enhance their own image. The soaring strokes above the bottom line are indicative of one who is prone to exaggeration and distortion of facts. The elongated lines show an ability to stretch truth to a point of deformation where it morphs into a lie. There is no transparency in the writing but there are strokes that reveal a bold visionary, who thinks big and is single-minded in fulfilling his visions. However, there are letters that are cut short revealing a lack of follow-through.
I kept thinking about this person’s need for dominance that is revealed in his signature. It strongly shows an excessive tendency toward autocracy with an obsessive need to control people and situations around him. This signature belongs to a micromanager thinking that he alone knows better than others. It is not the signature of one who can listen. In fact, it shows that the person behind the strokes cannot hear the voices of others even when he may appear to be listening. It shows that the one behind the scribbles takes every opportunity to dominate conversations, mostly expounding in terms of self-aggrandizement. From the handwriting alone, it looks like the one behind the strokes could suck the air out of a room showing an erratic neediness that exhausts the energy and creativity of all those around.
I’m sorry to say…that there seems to be more contractive rather than expansive traits of this signature. However, the elongated strokes are of one who is “bigger than life,” bold, and defiant especially when opposed. This person could heavily push on others in attempts to get his own way
The handwriting strokes reveal a person who, when they think they are wronged, do not seek justice as much as revenge. This person is highly individualistic and cannot work in a committee or team of people for a common goal. The signature shows a highly autocratic person, like a King who dominates, rather than hears and integrates the needs and wishes of his people. The delicate feather strokes on a few letters show an amazing flair for beauty and sumptuous surroundings.
I have been mulling over this signature since first seeing it. Some of my family members are supporters of this president so I have been reluctant to share this with them. And some of you may not agree with this assessment…and that’s okay. Since the Presidential election, I struggle to stay in the Buddhi mind of equanimity, and find it increasingly difficult in light of growing imbalance in our governance at this time.
Sometimes we need to periodically go out of balance to help bring a situation back into balance. I learned this from Yoga Master, Mr. B.K.S. Iyengar. One day in class in India, he was adjusting the body of a Yoga student to help her align in the pose. He looked at me and asked, “Do you see…can you see? I’m throwing my body out of alignment to help her come into alignment.” Are we all at this time being asked to come out of the Yogic state of neutral observation to take a position or stance to help our national body to come into balance?
The person behind the signature has been unique in how he has brought up pre- existing political corruption while adding his own to the mix. We practice Yoga, to bring up what is embedded in our subconscious psyche. And now, we are experiencing this in the collective psyche of our country. Whether Individual or collective, in Yoga it is believed that impressions (samskaras) must surface before they can be seen, healed and in turn, transformed.
In these past two or more years there have been so many things that have been brought up to the surface of our socio-political system that require healing and transformation. However, according to this presidential handwriting, there is a “coarseness” in the personality with few signs, if any, of nobility and graciousness. In his obsessive need to dominate, the one behind the signature can become a destructive and dangerous force.
My evangelical friends think this president was sent by God to end abortions, which would give the government control over women’s bodies. They are also excited because some feel he is the one to usher in the long-awaited apocalyptic rapture of Armageddon. Some think he is God’s messenger and divinely sent, while others think he is sent by a force other than God. Yes, according to this handwriting this person who dominates the news cycles, is shaking up old sediments of the past revealing what may no longer be working. His mere presence in the “highest” office of the land is testing the strength of a democratic system that our forefathers envisioned over 200 years ago.
It’s interesting to note that in Greek mythology there once was a demi-God named Chaos, who was frightening. He would always create a whirlwind of turbulence and confusion before ensuing changes. He would strike fear into the hearts of those who wanted to maintain the status quo. Because Chaos always preceded change, he was eventually excluded from the pantheon of the Gods. Perhaps, the Greek Gods have now reinstalled Chaos and sent him to remind us earthly mortals that some of the old edifices and structures may have to crumble before the new can be born. Could this President be an unwitting messenger of Chaos with all his confusion and destructive tendencies?
However, maybe we should ask ourselves and others, “Are we jumping from the frying pan into the fire?” Is this our tapas as individuals and as a nation? In Yoga, tap means to burn. Are we in the burning times which are a purifying prelude to our personal, national, and global transformation? If so, what is our place and destiny within this evolutionary change? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could embrace the fullness of all humanity? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if one day, I will even be able to embrace the Being behind the veil of his signature?
On April 10, the year of 2019, a great light left this planet. A special Being in the physical form of Barbara Marx Hubbard, has left this world to explore the vastness of inner space and the worlds beyond.
Whether we realize it or not, our lives are a search for those of “like mind,” who can expand and stretch our consciousness as if awakening it to a dawn of a new day. We look for those Beings who can be teachers, mentors or friends. Barbara was all that to me.
She entered my life when she was the first woman to seek nomination as the Democratic Party’s candidate for vice presidency of the United States in 1984 (shortly after speaking at the national convention, she withdrew from the race in favor of Geraldine Ferarro). I had just moved with my family to the Seattle area when I received a call from a member of the local Democratic Committee wanting to know if I could drive Barbara from Seattle to speak at a rally in Olympia, Washington. How could I know that when I said “yes,” it would change the future of my life? Ironically, Barbara called herself a “futurist.” She had studied with Buckminster Fuller and was considered to be his protégé.
At the college rally, I stood in awe as she answered every question from skeptical young students and brought them to their feet in inspirational applause. Barbara was magnificent as she won over hearts and minds including my own. Even though I was deeply steeped in Yoga and its eternal philosophical teachings, she opened not just a new window but a gateway of expanded consciousness. She was like a master of the universe showing me how to link theories of ancient eastern teachings to evolution and futuristic visions of that which is timeless and eternal.
When I was asked to travel to the Soviet Union (of which Russia was part) at the height of the Cold War in the 80s, I had a vision to bring a few thousand people there to “meet the enemy.” The vision was to bring Americans to meet with their Soviet counterparts behind the “iron curtain” so they too could change the stereotypes they held of one another.
My concern was that the enemy concept could create a negative critical mass that could actually manifest in what we feared most, a nuclear war between the two superpowers. My hope was that when the Americans met the Soviets face-to-face, they would change their stereotypes of one another, as I had done. My vision was that they too, would see that there was no enemy, only those who shared the same hopes, fears, and dreams of the future. An idealistic vision came to me in Red Square. Soviets were not allowed to travel in those days, so we had to bring the Americans to them.
Shortly after I returned to the U.S. from the first of 57 trips to the Soviet Union, I immediately tried to find Barbara. I sought her out and found her in Topanga Canyon. It was a sad time in her life when the excitement of having her name placed in the vice-presidential nomination was over. “What will I do now?” she asked through her tears. I simply said, “Come with me to the Soviet Union. I think the next era of your work will be found in Russia. She was interested and later said that she felt at that moment she was being guided to the next step of her work.
We arranged for her to speak in Finland at our briefings as well as in Leningrad and Moscow at large meetings organized by the Friendship Society and the Soviet Peace Committee. I had previously arranged for our American delegation to meet with their Soviet professional counterparts. Barbara’s presence and vision of bringing Soviet and Americans together around themes of “the future” brought the work to a whole new level.
We arranged for her to meet with officials as well as the non-official people in their homes and at our hotel, which was not done at that time in the U.S.S.R. It was so powerful for both Soviets and Americans to meet! They bonded like brothers and sisters who have been separated for a very long time.
When Barbara spoke of the Alpha and Omega, she stirred excitement with the Russians who said they had waited for someone like her to come into their lives. Barbara said, “We speak the same language…the language of the future.” They loved her, trusted her, and now and then joked about her name “Marx.”
For the next few years, along with our co-worker Linda Johnson, we worked together on developing proposals to find ever-new ways and methods to expand into nearly every area of Soviet society. At first, I felt like I was clearing a path with a machete. But when Barbara entered the work, together with our colleagues, we co-created new pathways, roads, and then highways. Barbara was a fearless pioneer and partner in exploring forbidden new frontiers.
Together with Linda, we organized themes of trips such as, In Search of a Positive Future and The World Peace Event. With the help of Barbara’s sister Patricia, we brought together Soviet and American military generals to find solutions to the imposing Star Wars program (President Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative). Speaking of stars, one of our projects was also bringing together Soviet cosmonauts with American astronauts.
One day I told Barbara that when we brought Americans to meet with their Soviet counterparts, it was difficult for them to say, “goodbye.” They would hug and cling to one another with tears in their eyes thinking they would never see each other again. I told her that a Soviet official, Slava, said it was because we are like brothers and sisters of the one humanity who have been separated for a very long time. “After finding each other again,” Slava said with tears in his eyes, “it is always difficult to say goodbye.”
Barbara immediately came up with a brilliant idea of having Soviets and Americans working together on joint projects that would keep them linked. One winter day in meetings in Moscow, Barbara along with our brilliant Soviet friends came up with a futuristic title for us to launch joint projects, The First Soviet-American Citizen’s Summit: Social Inventions for the Third Millennium. It was boldly planned to be held in Washington, D.C.
The Summit brought together 100 Soviet leaders representing organizations within their government such as psychology, sociology, philosophy, and medicine. There were educators, Russian orthodox clergy, generals and statesmen. There were musicians, ballerinas, and superb visual artists. The delegation included nearly every editor of every Soviet publication. We arranged for the Soviets to meet with senators and other major representatives of our government. We even arranged for some of the Soviet leaders to attend an early morning prayer breakfast at the Pentagon where we all sang hymns, read from the Bible and yes, stood up with hand over heart to honor the American flag.
It was a powerful experience when the 100 leaders from all walks of life of the U.S.S.R. met with 500 cultural creatives that Barbara brought together from a broad spectrum of American life. This had never been done before. It was an exciting time for all of us as we transcended old worn theories of “the enemy” to creatively explore together possibilities of building new relationships for a better world.
Twelve task forces met for five days and each time new joint projects would emerge such as Education for a New World, or New Frontiers of Health and Healing. We were thrilled! Barbara’s vision was to use computer technology, newly emerging at the time, to record each joint “social invention.” Her amazing network of Global Family would collect the data, work all night to format it and each morning, all 600 participants would receive a news bulletin of projects that were emerging in each of the twelve task forces. The Soviets as well as Americans were impressed.
Of course, this led to the second Soviet-American Citizen’s Summit to be held one year later in Moscow. The title we came up with was Restoring the Global Environment. It was the first time that Soviet officials actually sat in meetings with non-official Russians, those who were the artisans, writers, teachers, healers, economists, scientists and of course, the famed poets. The poet was sacrosanct in the Russian society, which was still recovering from the Stalin purges of the intelligentsia. It was amazing to see Russians sitting side by side not just with the Americans, but with each other. This was another first that Barbara helped to bring about and again, take to a new level.
For those years, Barbara and I were almost inseparable. We traveled together and shared hotel rooms where we groaned with fatigue after long days of meetings. We presented before the United Nations, had meetings with the FBI in the U.S. and the KGB in Moscow. One of our joint projects was bringing the CIA members together with a representative of the KGB. They found commonality in a joint project developing an institute to study causes and prevention of international terrorism.
Barbara was an inspiration and supportive when I was bringing together women to share their positive vision of what the world looks like when it works. These meetings were held throughout the U.S. and led to another conference at Georgetown University in D.C. entitled Women of Vision: Leadership for a New World. There were 500 women and 50 men, some famous for their work and others yet unknown. Barbara suggested we create themes around the Wheel of Co-Creation. This brought together women who were leaders and newly emerging leaders in a variety of socio-political fields. Their mission was to 1) realize they were already empowered and, 2) explore what they could do together for healing and transformation of our country and our world. It led to an ongoing network of women working together…on… joint projects.
When Barbara entered one’s life, the vibratory frequency exponentially speeded up. It seemed as if we were all carried by a giant wave, knowing we were in our right place, fulfilling our life’s purpose…our dharma…our destiny. Those were exciting years with Barbara, who at the end of a long day of meetings would love to have a sumptuous meal and toast to the success of our work and to the future. She loved to toast!
One day in Moscow, Barbara and I were invited to a private meeting with Yuri Gagarin, the first Soviet Cosmonaut to venture into outer space. He shared stories of his adventures with space travel as Barbara and I were salivating at the thought of leaving the gravitational pull of this earth and leaping into the unknown of outer space. I asked Yuri if it would be possible for us to accompany the cosmonauts on a future flight to the moon. I explained that I taught Yoga and perhaps there were breathing techniques and stretches that could be helpful to the crew. Barbara looked at me in astonishment, saying, “Rama, I didn’t know you wanted to go to the moon. That has been my lifelong dream!” After all these years of working together, we did not know this about one another. Yuri was thrilled at our adventurous spirit and began sharing the elements of the training we could take with the other cosmonauts. We were so excited in planning this venture with Yuri but, of course, our earthly lives were already so busy and full that we could not give the preparation all the time and focus that it would require.
Barbara was never afraid of venturing into the unknown whether on the earth plane or in consciousness. When formidable obstacles would arise, she was like the Hindu god Hanuman. She could prodigiously leap over any obstacles. She did not waste time or mental energy on being critical of others or believing anything was impossible. She was truly a visionary, guided by spirit and the faith and values that were dear to her heart., just her presence on earth was making it a better place for us all to live.
I am sitting here typing on my laptop computer with a cell phone by my side neither of which existed when Barbara and I began the Soviet work in 1984, at the height of the Cold War. Her framed picture is on the table next to me. Her beauty and radiance of spirit continues to be timeless and eternal. She was ageless in her enthusiasm for life in all its myriad forms and formlessness. She was always on the leading edge of humanity’s next step and was a magnet for those of like mind.
When I last spoke to Barbara it was just before her birthday in December. She had just arrived in Albuquerque and sounded youthful and energetic. “I am here having meetings on,” she laughed, “the creation of an interstellar University.” My heart leapt with joy at the thought of all the potential possibilities.
As I write this, tears are falling and my heart is aching even though I know that this image, this energy we call Barbara has just changed form and is always present. Barbara was always and will always be an inspiration to me as she has been to hundreds and thousands of others over her life span. She no doubt will continue her work in whatever interstellar spheres and planes of consciousness she chooses to play in. Who knows, perhaps she is now fulfilling her lifelong dream of journeying to the moon, and many worlds beyond.
The word conflict means “with friction.” It is defined as, “to strike together.” Like two stones rubbing against one another, we can either produce fire that gives us light to see, heat for warmth, and food for the body. However, if that fire produced from the friction of two surfaces striking together gets out of control, it can grow into a raging inferno that destroys whatever is in it path. This bonfire of destruction can range from the collective of countries to our own personal relationships.
Just as a tiny pebble caught in the turbulent friction of an oyster shell can produce a beautiful pearl, we can do the same by using conflict as a creative force for change. Instead of viewing conflict as something negative, we can shift our perception and embrace conflict as part of our own self-transformation.
The origin of conflict is as old as the beginning of time. Biblical scriptures say, “In the beginning darkness was upon the face of the deep and God said, ‘let there be light and the light was good.’” It should be noted here that according to the Bible, God never said the darkness was bad. Even though 90% of the Universe is comprised of dark matter, and darkness gives the background for light, darkness is usually associated with something we would rather ignore or avoid.
In Yoga, the light and darkness of sun and moon are known as Ha and Tha. Everything we practice in asana is based upon the balance and bilateral integration of these two polarities. In pranayama, we create balanced integration of our autonomic nervous system by balancing our breath in the two nostrils. In standing poses, we balance the two hemispheres of the brain by standing equally upon both feet.
If the subtle qualities of mind are balanced, the Yogin is able to hold two or more points of view simultaneously. This expands our consciousness to be more inclusive without attaching fundamentally to only one-way or one perspective, refusing to acknowledge or listen to another. If we can do this, we are on our way to healing conflicts within ourselves and with those in our lives. When we are secure in our own beliefs, we are able to listen to the perspectives of others.
Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras give a specific roadmap of the psychological origins of conflict that begin with the 2 nd Sutra, which is the most important of all, Yogas Chitta Vritti Niroddhah. Yoga is to still the fluctuations and turbulence that arise within the field of the mind.
Chitta refers to the mind that is divided into four parts, l) conscious 2) subconscious 3) over-mind, and 4) ego. Conscious mind receives information from the world around. It receives impressions through the sensory organs. This information is deposited into the varying layers of the pre- and subconscious mind. The stronger an impression, the deeper is its imprint in the psyche. Some of these impressions (samskaras) are already stored within us and new ones are being freshly created.
The overmind known as Buddhi (from Bodh meaning to know) is the more expansive part of Self that can hold two or more points of perspective without making one right and the other wrong. It is discriminating without being judgmental. It perceives differences without comparing those differences such as, “I like this and I don’t like that." It is what Ram Dass would call “choiceless awareness.”
Last but not least is the Ego mind. The Sanskrit word for ego is Ahamkara. Aham means "I Am,” and Kara is from the root verb Kri meaning “to do, or doing.” The mantra of this egoistic part of mind would be, “I am doing.” In contrast, the Buddhi or overmind, might say, “It is being done through me.”
The cute little Tasmanian dust devil of the ego fuels and is fueled by fires of separation that can lead to a variety of conflicts in the atmosphere of one’s life. The Buddhi or overmind only perceives differences, but it is the ego that compares the differences. This leads to polarizing belief systems that we are now witnessing in our country and our world, as well as in our own lives.
Just as there is an individual ego, there is also a collective ego of families, communities, states, and nations. There are actually three kinds of ego that I have related to the three gunas that are the constituents and qualities of the binding forces of creation.
The origin of conflicts can be found in the interplay of the five vrittis, or waves that arise in the field of the mind (Chitta). The Yoga Sutras reveal the origins of conflict through the interaction of these thought waves. Even though Patanjali refers to these vrittis as non-painful, when the ego steps in…they become painful. These five mind waves are: 1) Correct Perception 2) Incorrect Perception 3) Imagination 4) Sleep 5) Memory. What I have found in mediating conflicts both nationally and internationally is that “all conflict is about perception” and that “conflict is rarely if ever what it appears to be on the surface.” This is where it really becomes exciting.
Years ago, when staying with the former President of Costa Rica and his wife, my husband and I realized we shared a common interest and experiences in international conflict resolution. The president said that he found, in working with the El Salvadorian negotiations, that if the warring factions could travel back far enough to the roots of their conflict, it was no longer conflict resolution but conflict transformation. He said that if they could get people as close as possible to the origin of their conflict there was a true healing, not a surface pretense of resolution to put in their back pocket to use at a later time.
My husband and I were invited by officials in Moscow to mediate the conflict between the warring Republics of Armenia and Azerbiajan on the border of Iran. We asked the leaders to share their stories of how the conflict impacted them personally and their families. As they spoke, there was a major shift in the atmosphere of the room. Instead of the previous anger, rage and resentment, they were deeply listening to one another. When they heard each other’s stories, the tearful response of these two warring factions was, “you sound just like me.” Their tears fell, as the leaders of these republics rushed to hug and hold one another in the recognition of their similarities rather than differences. In one day, they moved from conflict to convergence and made verbal and written agreements to ensure peace for their countries, their children and future generations.
Afterwards, the Ukrainian president approached me asking the secret of these successful negotiations. He said, “three governments have tried but failed to bring these two factions together…tell me…was it,” he hesitated and then whispered, “Was it Yoga?”
I was startled at first and then thought yes! This IS Yoga. Yoga brings us from the illusion of separation to the convergence of Divine consciousness that transcends all polarities…all divisions. I understood that day, that the work in mediation and conflict resolution was Yoga. Our work was to help warring or opposing factions to lift the veil of illusion (Avidya) that keeps us from seeing another as ourself. I also discovered over the years of working in dialogue and conflict resolution that there are no spiritual boundaries separating nations, states, and people. It is only the ego nature of the mind that wants to build walls instead of bridges.
Years ago when I was with the Dali Lama in Israel on the border of Egypt, he silently looked out over the land where the boundaries of four countries of the Middle East met and said, “I don’t see any of nature’s borders or boundaries here…which makes me think… that the only borders are within the human mind."
I'm reminded of the inhumanity and suffering of both adults and children at the U.S. southern border. When I think of that suffering, I remember a quote from the Mahabharata, the great epic of India.
“When one prefers one’s own children to the children of others…war is near.”