Archive for the ‘Connectivity’ Category

  • Open channels for others to communicate their feelings

    Wednesday, July 17th, 2013

    ‘I have found it enriching to open channels whereby others can communicate their feelings, their private perceptual worlds, to me.’

    “Because understanding is rewarding, I would like to reduce the barriers between others and me, so that they can, if they wish, reveal themselves more fully.

    In the therapeutic relationship there are a number of ways by which I can make it easier for the client to communicate himself. I can by my own attitudes create a safety in the relationship which makes such communication more possible. A sensitiveness of understanding which sees him as he is to himself, and accepts him as having those perceptions and feelings, helps too.

    But as a teacher also I have found that I am enriched when I can open channels through which others can share themselves with me. So I try, often not too successfully, to create a climate in the classroom where feelings can be expressed, where people can differ – with each other and with the instructor. I have also frequently asked for ‘reaction sheets’ from students – in which they can express themselves individually and personally regarding the course. They can tell of the way it is or is not meeting their needs, they can express their feelings regarding the instructor, or can tell of the personal difficulties they are having in relation to the course. These reaction sheets have no relation whatsoever to their grade. Sometimes the same sessions of a course are experienced in diametrically opposite ways. One student says, ‘My feeling is one of indefinable revulsion with the tone of this class.’ Another, a foreign student, speaking of the same week of the same course says, ‘Our class follows the best, fruitful and scientific way of learning. But for people who have been taught a long, long time, as we have, by the lecture type, by the authoritative method, this new procedure is ununderstandable. People like us are conditioned to hear the instructor, to keep passively our notes and memorize his reading assignments for the exams. There is no need to say that it takes a long time for people to get rid of their habits regardless of whether or not their habits are sterile, infertile and barren.’ To open myself to these sharply different feelings has been a deeply rewarding thing.

    I have found the same thing true in groups where I am the administrator, or perceived as the leader. I wish to reduce the need for fear or defensiveness, so that people can communicate their feelings freely.”

  • Permit yourself to understand another person

    Tuesday, July 9th, 2013

    ‘I have found it of enormous value when I can permit myself to understand another person.’

    “The way in which I have worded this statement may seem strange to you. Is it necessary to permit oneself to understand another? I think it is. Our first reaction to most of the statements which we hear from other people is an immediate evaluation or judgment, rather than an understanding of it. When someone expresses some feeling or attitude or belief, our tendency is, almost immediately, to feel ‘That’s right’; or ‘That’s stupid’; ‘That’s abnormal’; ‘That’s unreasonable’; ‘That’s incorrect’; ‘That’s not nice’. Very rarely do we permit ourselves to understand precisely what the meaning of his statement is to him. I believe this is because understanding is risky. If I let myself really understand another person, I might be changed by that understanding. And we all fear change. So as I say, it is not an easy thing to permit oneself to understand an individual, to enter thoroughly and completely and empathetically into his frame of reference. It is also a rare thing.

    To understand is enriching in a double way. I find when I am working with people in distress, that to understand the bizarre world of a psychotic individual, or to understand and sense the attitudes of a person who feels that life is too tragic to bear, or to understand a man who feels that he is a worthless and inferior individual – each of these understandings somehow enriches me. I learn from these experiences in ways that change me, that make me a different and, I think, a more responsive person. Even more important perhaps, is the fact that my understanding of these individuals permits them to change. It permits them to accept their own fears and bizarre thoughts and tragic feelings and discouragements, as well as their moments of courage and kindness and love and sensitivity. And it is their experience as well as mine that when someone fully understands those feelings, this enables them to accept those feelings in themselves. Then they find both the feelings and themselves changing. Whether it is understanding a woman who feels that very literally she has a hook on her head by which others lead her about, or understanding a man who feels that no one is as lonely, no one is as separated from others as he, I find these understandings to be of value to me. But also, and even more importantly, to be understood has a very positive value to these individuals.”

  • Do not act as something you are not

    Sunday, June 23rd, 2013

     I am going to share some discoveries about relationships which I have been ‘taught by Carl Rogers’ through his writings, and these learnings are taken from his book: “On Becoming a Person”.

    ‘In my relationships with persons I have found that it does not help, in the long run, to act as though I were something that I am not.’

    “It does not help to act calm and pleasant when actually I am angry and critical. It does not help to act as though I know the answers when I do not. It does not help to act as though I were a loving person if actually, at the moment, I am hostile. It does not help for me to act as though I were full of assurance, if actually I am frightened and unsure. Even on a very simple level I have found that this statement seems to hold. It does not help for me to act as though I were well when I feel ill.

    What I am saying here, put in another way, is that I have not found it to be helpful or effective in my relationships with other people to try to maintain a facade; to act in one way on the surface when I am experiencing something quite different underneath. It does not, I believe, make me helpful in my attempts to build up constructive relationships with other individuals. I would want to make it clear that while I feel I have learned this to be true, I have by no means adequately profited from it. In fact, it seems to me that most of the mistakes I make in personal relationships, most of the times in which I fail to be of help to other individuals, can be accounted for in terms of the fact that I have, for some defensive reason, behaved in one way at a surface level, while in reality my feelings run in a contrary direction.”

    If these thoughts resonate with you in one way or other, do share with us. It would be great to have a discussion going with others who have similar experiences.

  • There is no need to ‘fix things’

    Sunday, June 23rd, 2013

    ‘The more I am open to the realities in me and in the other person, the less do I find myself wishing to rush in to “fix things”.’

    “As I try to listen to myself and the experiencing going on in me, and the more I try to extend that same listening attitude to another person, the more respect I feel for the complex processes of life. So I become less and less inclined to hurry in to fix things, to set goals, to mold people, to manipulate and push them in the way that I would like them to go. I am much more content simply to be myself and to let another person be himself. I know very well that this must seem like a strange, almost an Oriental point of view. What is life for is we are not going to do things for people? What is life for if we are not going to mold them to our purposes? What is life for if we are not going to teach them the things that we think they should learn? What is life for if we are not going to make them think and feel as we do? How can anyone hold such an inactive point of view as the one I am expressing? I am sure that attitudes such as these must be a part of the reaction of many of you.

    Yet the paradoxical aspect of my experience is that the more I am simply willing to be myself, in all this complexity of life and the more I am willing to understand and accept the realities in myself and in the other person, the more change seems to be stirred up. It is a very paradoxical thing – that to the degree that each one of us is willing to be himself, then he finds not only himself changing; but he finds that other people to whom he relates are also changing. At least this is a very vivid part of my experience, and one of the deepest things I think I have learned in my personal and professional life.”

  • Accept another person, wholly

    Sunday, June 23rd, 2013

    ‘I have found it highly rewarding when I can accept another person.’

    “I have found that truly to accept another person and his feelings is by no means an easy thing, any more than is understanding. Can I really permit another person to feel hostile toward me? Can I accept his anger as a real and legitimate part of himself? Can I accept him when he views life and its problems in a way quite different from mine? Can I accept him when he feels very positively toward me, admiring me and wanting to model himself after me? All this is involved in acceptance, and it does not come easy. I believe that it is an increasingly common pattern in our culture for each one of us to believe, ‘Every other person must feel and think and believe the same as I do’. We find it very hard to permit our children or our parents or our spouses to feel differently than we do about particular issues or problems. We cannot permit our clients or our students to differ from us or to utilize their experience in their own individual ways. On a national scale, we cannot permit another nation to think or feel differently than we do. Yet it has come to seem to me that this separateness of individuals, the right of each individual to utilize his experience in his own way and to discover his own meanings in it, – this is one of the most priceless potentialities of life.

    Each person is an island unto himself, in a very real sense; and he can only build bridges to other islands if he is first of all willing to be himself and permitted to be himself. So I find that when I can accept another person, which means specifically accepting the feelings and attitudes and beliefs that he has as a real and vital part of him, then I am assisting him to become a person: and there seems to me great value in this.”

  • Loving Speech is speaking from the Heart

    Sunday, February 26th, 2012

    “Words can travel thousands of miles. May my words create mutual understanding and love. May they be as beautiful as gems, as lovely as flowers.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

    How often have we allowed ourselves to say a harsh word or two to a friend or a family member in a moment of anger or irritation? I have witnessed too many parents berating their children in public, sometimes over the slightest mistake made by the child or when the child was simply being playful like how most children would be. I have seen the spirit of these children diminish as seeds of fear, anger and frustration were watered before my eyes. Words have power. They can be used mindfully and responsibly to inspire motivate, create, heal, and offer guidance and support. They can also hurt, abuse, divide, attack, lie, gossip, judge, and diminish.

    Buddha once said: ‘A person is born with an axe in his mouth. He whose speech is unwholesome cuts himself with an axe.’ The blade wounds us, for what we say of others is often true of ourselves. Our communication often reflects the seeds within us that have been nurtured or neglected.

    Jerry Braza shared in his book “The Seeds of Love” :

    Loving speech implies deep listening, taking the time to be still and quiet long enough to listen to what takes place in our minds and hearts so that we are better equipped to respond mindfully to others. We usually tend to speak from the head rather than from the heart. It is typical to be thinking and planning what to say from the head. At other times, the need to be right interferes with heart communication. Do you want to be right, or do you want to be happy?

    When we focus on feelings and happiness over righteousness and superiority, we create a communication from the heart. These are the cornerstones for emotional intimacy and a means of developing a deeper connection with others.

    “No man should talk one way with his lips and think another way in his heart” – The Talmud

    How do we water the seed of loving speech?

    Thich Nhat Hanh said: ‘Knowing that words can create happiness or suffering, I am committed to speaking truthfully using words that inspire confidence, joy, and hope.’

    Jerry Braza shared further: ‘In every moment, as you are about to communicate electronically or verbally, mindfully stop and realize the potential impact of the message you are about to send. Does it inspire confidence, joy, and hope? Or does it foster greater suffering in yourself and others? A friend who responds to your illness with ‘I send you healing light and energy’, versus ‘Why haven’t you taken better care of yourself?’ is watering the seeds of loving-kindness in you with loving speech.

    Loving speech is best achieved by our awareness of how our words reduce suffering and inspire hope – or how they create more suffering. Knowing the power our words can have, it is important to consider the impact of what we say.

    How will our next words water the seeds of joy, compassion, and equanimity?

    How do my words fuel the seeds of anger, fear or jealousy?

  • Deep Listening

    Sunday, February 19th, 2012

    “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.” – Epictetus

    This thought is such an apt reminder for all of us as often I noticed that we are hardly present when we are with one another. We are either distracted with our smart phones, responding constantly to messages that are often not urgent; or our minds are thinking about something else and are somewhere else – we are hardly there in the moment with the person.

    I came across this sharing from Jerry Braza in his book “The Seeds of Love” on the topic of ‘Deep Listening’, and I would like to share his thoughts with everyone:

    “How many times are you with someone yet not really there? How often have you shared deeply with another but not felt that you’d been heard? Our society is plagued with parents who aren’t present for their children and co-workers more interested in what is on their computer screen or phone than the person visiting their office. With the ability for 24/7 connectivity, we often get so busy tending our social networks that we miss the most precious connections that are right in front of us – connections with ourselves and others. Thanks to technology, people around the globe are more in touch and yet simultaneously more isolated. The familiar habit of ‘hurry sickness’, a need to judge or fix problems,or the need to defend our view keeps us from being present with one another.”

    “Deep listening encompasses more than just being attentive to what another is expressing. It has far-reaching implications for the depth at which we can be present with another. Deep listening implies that we are engaged in an open, non-judgmental way. We are not listening for a break in the conversation so that we may add our perspective or opinions. We are listening in a way that helps people better understand themselves by offering them the freedom to express themselves openly. Our focus is completely on them, and we need do nothing but sit in compassionate silence and give our attention. Perhaps this can best be described as listening from the heart.”

    How do we break away from this mindless pattern in our relationships?

    “The first goal in deep listening is to develop an understanding of the other. Our purpose in listening is not to win an argument or solve a problem. Often our own personal stories or mental formation can cloud our interactions. At times our stereotypes can create a limited view of the other and often negate the potential of creating emotional intimacy in the relationship. Personally, I find that I have the need to try to fix a problem being shared by making what I feel are helpful suggestions to the issue at hand. In so doing I often miss the opportunity to understand the other’s journey, to see them reflected in the light of who they truly are as individuals, and to learn from their sharing. Sometimes we find ourselves in the position of listening to someone in great pain or deep grief. They may rage at the unfairness of the situation or express profound sadness in their circumstances. At such times it is so tempting to temper or discount their feelings to make ourselves feel more comfortable. However, the art of deep listening can be the greatest gifts to another on their path to healing. Breathing deeply, listening with an open heart, and adopting a non-judgmental attitude are all part of watering the seeds of loving-kindness and compassion rather than fear and negativity.”

    Paul Tillich mentioned this: “The first duty of love is to listen.”

    Be mindful every time we are with someone – that we are fully present and listening deeply with our hearts.

  • Fear is an Illusion

    Wednesday, September 7th, 2011

    Many of us have a tendency to be extremely critical of who we are that often we create an illusion of our own reality. I would like to share a passage that I have taken from ‘The Tenth Insight – Holding the Vision’ (James Redfield & Carol Adrienne):

    “To a greater or lesser degree, in physical life we build our own version of Hell by staying attached to, and unconscious of, our control drama tendencies. When we forget our connection to our divine source, we have to construct a very narrow set of behaviors in order to reduce the world to a manageable level. Living in a defended zone fenced in by fear, we are not open to the full-blown mystery of life. We have become contracted, defended, fearful, and separate. Our language starts to show our fences in statements like, “I’m a rotten person.” “I’ll never make anything of myself.” “No one loves me.”

    When we no longer remember that we set up these limitations in our mind, we project the unrecognized constriction into the external world. Let’s make sure we understand this point because it is an essential part of the crux of our so-called problems in daily life. If we have had certain experiences in life, we are going to see/experience/feel our everyday encounters through this filter of past experience. It’s the nature of desire to want what you don’t have. For example, young Juanita was short and round. She thought girls who are tall and thin had an advantage. Frank was bookish and frail. Since he had a rich interior life, but withdraw from competitive activities, he cultivated an outsider image. Shantara was the middle child of five sisters and felt like a nobody, lost in the crowd. At some level of consciousness, we are always worrying about losing control, being lost, losing our livelihood, being a loser without love, success, or happiness. How appropriate that Christ positioned himself as the shepherd, since a basic human archetypal fear is lostness. If we define ourselves a certain way, we entrench ourselves down a certain path. We can be the misunderstood artist or the uncreative blob. We can be the helpless failure or the efficient expert. We paint ourselves into a corner and then tell everybody that God did it.

    Once these judgments are entrenched in our mind as reality, the level of fear is so great that we cannot give it up without experiencing anxiety. No amount of positive thinking is going to make us tall and thin. No amount of rationalization is going to make us a football hero. No amount of resume writing is going to make us special. If you’ve been telling yourself that you are a worthless, shiftless worm, you cannot suddenly shift from that story to nothing. We cannot take out a great big gob of Fear without having a gaping hole that has to be filled in with something else – trust, new wisdom, and connection to God.

    The roots of dogma and ideology are grown in the soil of fear. Hell is being caught in our own dogma, our own inadequacies, over and over again without the gift of love, compassion, and greater self-understanding of who we really are. A high level of fear over time is like a low-grade fever, permeating our thinking, fettering our perceptions, and hedging our choices. One woman who relived a past-life said, “One [of my lifetimes] was a great spiritual growth, but through isolation, and in that lifetime there was death by torture. It was near Jerusalem. [Because of my religious belief] there was much trepidation and holding back….Fear of violence, fear of speaking her own mind resulted. Fear must be removed. It has to be out of the way, so that the being can venture forth to new growth experiences. More could have been gained from the other experiences had fear not gotten in the way. Stumbling blocks that are self-imposed just waste time. There are enough of them without creating any.” This woman saw how fear had created losses throughout several lifetimes. Maybe we should think of each lifetime as a painting. What the hey. What colors are you going to paint with this time?

    In our spiritual existence between Earth lives, we dwell in the true vibration of the universe – we dwell in loving energy. But if we cannot perceive this loving energy, because of our addiction to our false perceptions, we are like the goldfish who, transferred from bowl to ocean, keeps swimming in tiny circles the size of her bowl. True liberation comes when we lose our sense of separateness, our need for control, and our fear of physical death. True liberation is using the full range of the palette – ruby red, alizarin crimson, cadium yellow, yellow ocher, hunter green, purple, terra-cotta, Mars black, blue-violet, gold, silver, and aquamarine. True liberation is being able to smell vomit, sulfur, money, honey-suckle, babies’ necks, garlic, fresh tomatoes, frankincense, peaches and semen, and know that all is God.”

    The Fear that we have been living with all of our lives, is nothing but an illusion we have created in our minds, and which has caused us to live of life of separation and duality. Know for certain that we are all One and there is no ‘Us and Them’. A quote from Arthur Ford/Ruth Montgomery in ‘A World Beyond’:

    “There is no evil except that which we create, for I have seen no signs of a devil on this side of the veil. We are our own devils, with our own thoughts and subsequent deeds…this evil gathers force as each passing generation leaves its own stamp of evildoing on the force that we think of as a devil…if [evil] is to be destroyed, it will be done through man’s awakening to the fact that even thoughts are deeds and that the ‘devil’ shrinks in size each time we replace an ugly thought or action with loving kindness. Thus we will approach the so-called millennium when good replaces evil in the hearts of those who inherit earth, not only in the flesh but in the spirit, as we are now doing.”

  • Live a compassionate life

    Friday, February 11th, 2011

    Recently, I came across the Charter for Compassion, initiated by Karen Armstrong, one of the world’s leading commentators on religious affairs, and the charter was launched on 12 November 2009 in sixty different locations throughout the world; it was enshrined in synagogues, mosques, temples and churches as well as in such secular institutions as the Karachi Press Club and the Sydney Opera House. The charter spoke to me in a deep and special way, and I feel I would like to share it with everyone here:

    “The principle of compassion lies at the heart of all religious, ethical, and spiritual traditions, calling us always to treat all others as we wish to be treated ourselves. Compassion impels us to work tirelessly to alleviate the suffering of our fellow creatures, to dethrone ourselves from the centre of our world and put another there, and to honour the inviolable sanctity of every single human being, treating everybody, without exception, with absolute justice, equity and respect.

    It is also necessary in both public and private life to refrain consistently and empathically from inflicting pain. To act or speak violently out of spite, chauvinism or self-interest, to improverish, exploit or deny basic rights to anybody, and to incite hatred by denigrating others – even our enemies – is a denial of our common humanity. We acknowledge that we have failed to live compassionately and that some have even increased the sum of human misery in the name of religion.

    We therefore call upon all men and women ~ to restore compassion to the centre of morality and religion ~ to return to the ancient principle that any interpretation of scripture that breeds violence, hatred, or disdain is illegitimate ~ to ensure that youth are given accurate and respectful information about other traditions, religions and cultures ~ to encourage a positive appreciation of cultural and religious diversity ~ to cultivate an informed empathy with the sufferings of all human beings – even those regarded as enemies.

    We urgently need to make compassion a clear, luminous and dynamic force in our polarized world. Rooted in a principled determination to transcend selfishness, compassion can break down political, dogmatic, ideological and religious boundaries. Born of our deep interdependence, compassion is essential to human relationships and to a fulfilled humanity. It is the path to enlightenment, and indispensable to the creation of a just economy and a peaceful global community.”

    (Text taken from www.charterforcompassion.org)

    Karen Armstrong shared that compassion was inseparable from humanity; instead of being motivated by self-interest, a truly humane person was consistently oriented to others.  HH the Dalai Lama said ” whether a person is a religious believer does not matter much. Far more important is that they be a good human being.”

    Regardless of which religion we belong to, all faiths insist that compassion is the test of true spirituality and that it brings us into relation with the transcendence we call God, Brahman, Nirvana or Tao. Each has formulated its own version of what is sometimes called the Golden Rule: “Do not treat others as you would not like them to treat you” - or in its positive form: “Always treat others as you would wish to be treated yourself.” Further, they insist that you cannot confine your benevolence to your own group: you must have concern for everybody – even your enemies.

    Jesus Christ taught us in Matthew 5:43-48: “You have heard how it was said; you must love your neighbour and hate your enemy. But I say this to you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you; in this way you will be sons of your fathers in heaven, for he causes his sun to rise on bad men as well as good and his rain fall on honest men alike. For if you love those who love you, how can you claim your credit? Even the tax-collectors and the pagans do as much, do they not? And if you save your greetings for your brothers, are you doing anything exceptional? You must be perfect, as your heavenly father is perfect.”

    Compassion was the test of true spirituality, as mentioned in the Bible, 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 “If I have all the eloquence of men or of angels, but speak without love, I am simply a gong booming or a cymbal clashing. If I have the gift of prophecy, understanding all the mysteries there are, and knowing everything, and if I have faith in all its fullness, to move mountains, but without love, then I am nothing at all. If I give away all that I possess, piece by piece, and if I even let them take my body to burn it, but am without love, it will do me no good whatever.”

    In our modern society, we are often target-driven, geared for efficiency rather than compassion. Do we treat colleagues and workers as cogs in the wheel, forcing them to maximize output at the expense of their physical mental and spiritual health? Does the need to create a ‘competitive edge’ endorse and aggravate the ‘me-first’ drive that makes us heartless in other areas of life?

    Compassion is our natural way of being. How often have we allowed our unconsciousness prevail over living a life of loving-kindness? Charity is the ultimate test of faith. You can not worship God unless you honour your fellow humans, whoever they may be.

    Live a compassionate life…now.

  • Life is our valuable teacher

    Friday, January 14th, 2011

    When I came across this statement, ‘Life is our valuable teacher’, I asked myself how often do I listen to what life has to say to me. And not just listening but reflecting over it and doing something about the lessons I learned. I acknowledge that most of the times I did listen but just as often I forgot what I learned the next moment; and life, being the patient and understanding teacher will continue to teach me and show me, repeating the lessons till I wake up  from my dream state, to take the appropriate actions.

    Though many of us may be open to learning about life and its wonders, we tend to seek these lessons ‘outside of us’, thinking that the answers lie somewhere in the sky above or some special book or with someone else; but not often we are aware that everything that we are seeking are already here within us. All we have to do is to be alert, to be conscious of what life has to show to us through all our encounters and experiences, be they painful or pleasant.

    Adyashanti shared in one of his teachings:

    “Life is full of grace – sometimes it’s wonderful grace, beautiful grace, moments of bliss and happiness and joy, and sometimes it’s fierce grace, like illness, losing a job, losing someone we love, or a divorce. Some people make the greatest leaps in their consciousness when addiction has them on their knees, for example, and they find themselves reaching out for a different way of being. Life itself has a tremendous capacity to show us truth, to wake us up. And yet, many of us avoid this thing called life, even as it is attempting to wake us up. The divine itself is life in motion. The divine is using the situations in our lives to accomplish its own awakening, and many times it takes the difficult situations to wake us up.

    The irony is that most human beings spend their lives avoiding painful situations. Not that we are successful, but we are always trying to avoid pain. We have an unconscious belief that our greatest growth in consciousness and awareness comes through beautiful moments. We may, indeed, make great leaps in consciousness through beautiful moments, but I’d say that most people make their greatest leaps in consciousness in the difficult times. This is something a lot of people don’t want to acknowledge – that our greatest difficulties, suffering, and pain are a form of fierce grace. They are potent and important components of our awakening, if we’re ready for them. If we’re ready to turn and face them, we can see and receive the gifts that they have to offer – even if the gifts sometimes feel like they are being forced upon us. Whether the circumstance is illness, the death of a loved one, divorce, addiction, problems at work – it’s important to face our life situations in order to see the inherent gifts that are available.”

    I am guilty too, of seeing life from this lopsided perspective that only beautiful moments offer the greatest growth in my consciousness. I had the tendency to revere the pleasant encounters, seeing them as ‘good’, and avoiding the painful ones, defining them as ‘bad’. It didn’t cross my mind that both types of experiences were teaching me things about life, and more so, about who I am. Now I am learning to accept everything that life has to offer, and discovering more of myself through all situations (painful and pleasant ones).

    Adyashanti added: “If we are willing to look, we will see that life is always in the process of waking us up. If we are not in harmony with life, if we are working in opposition to it, then it is a rough ride indeed. When we are not willing to see what life is trying to show us, it will keep ramping up the intensity until we are willing to see what we need to see. In this way, life is our greatest ally. It is almost a spiritual cliche to say that life is your greatest teacher.”