A year before I began my yatra, my dream consciousness was flooded with images of circles and mandalas and in my waking life I was attracted to all types of mandalas as well. As a tantrik practitioner I was aware that the spontaneous vision or attraction of mandala images is an indication that my inner-self (atma) was trying to bring oneness in my heart. It was a realization that my heart was being ripped apart by forces outside of my control. “Grief ,” Rumi wrote, “can be the garden of compassion. If you keep your heart open through everything, your pain can become your greatest ally in your life’s search for love and wisdom.”
I was experiencing the drive to do ‘more of the same’ everywhere around me. Companies driven by more profit, senior management asking for efficiency and more results, teams asking for more wins, relationships demanding more attention and energy, parents demanding more obedience, and list went on and on. The drive i.e. more profit, winning, more attention, or obedience etc., are not bad in themselves but when they start to suffocate heart and stifle our awareness from growing or having fun then they become the cause for making the soul homeless. Secretly, like most of us I believed that only if others behave in a certain way, then I can be more comfortable, get what I want, feel less scared, less alone, and so on. But is it really other people’s job to make my world safe from my fixation on ‘I’?
In Hinduism there is a Great Mother Goddess named Maya. Maya is the power that hides the oneness. Maya lives in every heart, it is our individual and unique inner-attitude towards the projected outer world of names and forms. It is our clinging to sense of separate self, or I-ness. We usually experience her as an inner image, sensation, feeling or vision that drives our ego-consciousness (I-ness) to act in outer world. More-of-the-same actions in outer world are driven by the wide range of inner-attitudes like greed and addiction to fear of change. After the mandala experience my heart was yearning for change. And I knew that time is coming for me to step outside of my ‘normal’ life and go for a journey to experience oneness in my heart. All my efforts (healing and meditation) of finding peace within were coming short.
“Don’t look for peaceful mind because there is no such thing as peaceful-mind”, said Lama Norbu, at Boudhanath, Nepal. Mind is like an ocean. There is always movement in the ocean and so is in the mind. Thoughts are like clouds that arise from the ocean of mind. We become ‘cloudy’ when we identify ourselves with the cloudiness of our thoughts that are projected from the movement of our mind. Look for gap between the clouds and you will see the luminous blue sky, infinite, like an open and vulnerable heart. To be at peace you have to become ‘no-mind’. It is empty and yet, it is full of potential. For an infinite and luminous heart, empty and full are the same – meaningless and fleeting. Peace can only be found in no-mind, i.e., in the heart that is filled with oneness and love.
Healing begins when we surrender to the oneness in our heart. The mandala of great bliss and oneness arises in the heart that has dissolved polarities. Our inner-attitude is simultaneously source of suffering and transformation. It becomes source of suffering when we cling to our inner sensation or feeling and drive ourselves to seek more of the same. It is our addiction of more-of-the-same and fear of looking inside that has created a habitual pattern of ‘busyness’. By keeping ourselves continuously busy we have become numb to the inner pain that is created by our clinging to sense of separate self.
Our inner-attitude becomes source of transformation and healing when we become aware of inner tensions. Transformation begins by generating loving kindness in our heart and by taking refuge in it. Lama Norbu described to me three simple steps to change our inner attitude:
1. Generate loving kindness towards your self.
Healing begins when we start being kind to ourselves. As soon as we experience a disturbed emotion (e.g. anger), first thing to do is to realize the suffering it is causing to us and generate loving kindness towards ourselves. This is not a selfish love, but a pure love for oneself that has the power to dissolve anger, hatred, and selfish tendencies. By overcoming any sense of unworthiness and cultivating genuine love for ourselves, we are able to share this love with others. Allow the heartfelt radiance of loving-kindness to fill your being as you recite each phrase of this meditation slowly and with deep feeling: “May I be happy and peaceful…”. The most important aspect of this exercise is to feel. We begin with active imagination of generating loving kindness and continue to do so until we genuinely feel it within.
2. Focus on sensation.
Next thing to do is take a deep breath and find the place in your body where you feel the strongest sensation from the disturbed emotion. Is it in belly, back, chest etc? Locate the strongest and deepest sensation caused by disturbed emotion. Touch or tap that part of the body to calm down the sensation and breath into it. Relax the inner tension created by the sensation. Feel! don’t think. A meaningful touch has a profund effect on our psyche.
3. Reflect on the unmet need or expectation and take action to resolve it.
After relaxing the inner tension bring your awareness back to kindness for yourself and reflect on what lies behind the disturbed emotion. It is usually an unmet need or expectation. Focus on the feeling. Ask yourself what action you need to take to fulfill your unmet need or expectation without hurting anyone else?
“The power to attain stability by recognizing the nature of mind is like a torch which in one instant can clear away the darkness of aeons. This is why, from the very moment on, we must become familiar with the nature of mind through practice.” – Padamasambhava
The core of emotional healing is based on changing our inner attitude from disturbed emtion to the feeling of loving kindness for ourselves and redirecting the energy to take meanginful action. If we cannot be compassionate to our own suffering then we will lack the drive to heal or transform and will end-up doing more-of-the-same. My yatra has made me realize that whatever you do, don’t shut off your inner-pain; and remain kind to it because it is in fact trying to hand you a priceless gift; the chance of discovering what lies behind the sorrow – an open and free heart. With open heart you will be able to enter every situation with the inner attitude of oneness and there will always be a little room for unexpected.
“He who binds to himself a Joy, Does the winged life destroy; He who kisses the Joy as if flies, Lives in Eternity’s sunrise” – William Blake
“Eternity has nothing to do with time. Eternity is the dimension of here and now which thinking and time cuts out. This is it. And if you don’t get it here, you won’t get it anywhere” – Joseph Campbell
May all beings be well and safe.
May all beings be happy and blissful.