There is a powerful biological drive within every living creature to remain alive. We have a deep inbuilt desire to live and to thrive, because this is the very nature of existence, the essence of being. It is awake, alive, dynamic, energised, and totally conscious.
Yet, what happens when human beings start to choose unconsciousness in various ways? They simply create their own demise, by resisting the flow of Life which is pulling them to return to a state of conscious wholeness, free of the illusion of separation, back to unbound consciousness.
Consciousness is not a finite “thing”. It is a limitless ocean of intelligence; it is infinite, it is all that exists, it is absolutely everywhere and it permeates everything. All that we see in this apparent world of separation is but a wave upon the ocean of consciousness. It appears to have a separate form, but when we explore more deeply, we find that everything is connected, because at the basis of everything is energy. From a tiny grain of sand to the enormous creatures that swim in the ocean. Energy is the substance of all creation, and quantum physics has proved this as fact.
And this is why human beings suffer.. They are an embodiment of an energy that is very alive and does not want to stagnate. It needs to flow, and also to grow in its intelligence. As human beings become more intelligent with their life choices, they choose things which encourage greater inner-harmony and balance, greater flexibility and fluidity, greater consciousness and awakeness, which leads us onwards in our journey towards reunion with the source of life, which is eternally alive, eternally conscious.
Therefore, to make the opposite kind of choices – choices which create dis-harmony and imbalance, stubbornness and stagnation, unconsciousness and sleepiness – is to invite suffering, illness and premature death upon ourselves. Yet this is what most of the world population is doing. Why?
Because of the ego.
As I mentioned at the beginning, our innate biological drive is to live. Our body wants to thrive in good health, to enjoy a sense of vibrant aliveness within every cell, to feel the joy of living. That is the capacity which every living creature has, and there is a strong momentum that pulls us towards experiencing this. It is the pull of Life, calling us to fulfil our potential, in a very simple, effortless and experiential way.
However, the ego wants something completely different, and thus conflict is created within the human being. The ego does not want to jump into the river of life and flow towards full consciousness (which is our destiny). The ego wants it’s own little warm pool, separate and cut off from the energetic and vibrant flow of Life. Thus, the ego chooses stagnation for us, even though we are often not aware that this is happening. But we feel it; as a lack of joy, a lack of energy, a lack of light in our perception of the world, and of ourselves.
Why does the ego choose this? Is it ‘evil’? No, it is not. It is simply afraid. The ego is simply a product of fear. What is it afraid of? It is afraid of being hurt, of experiencing pain and suffering (although ironically it the ego which actually creates such experiences for us.)
In its desire to avoid pain, the ego creates a barrier between us and life – the realm of thought – so that we have a filter through which the powerful force of Life must first go through before it reaches us – a bit like airport security – so that we can feel safe that life is not going to harm us. When we perceive there is no threat, only then do we open up to whatever is coming our way, because the ego is actually very innocent and simple. It’s only desire is to avoid pain (and to choose pleasure instead). It believes that if it doesn’t do this, it will not experience any goodness, any happiness, any pleasant experiences.
You see, the ego perceives Life as a threatening force. It doesn’t see that Life is actually a benevolent force, bringing positive experiences for us to grow in happiness, joy and love. It is blind to this. It sees that life brings mostly painful experiences, so in response, the ego wants to take control of the vehicle and choose what happens to us, choose what experiences we have, what people we meet and so on. It simply wants to choose safety, so that we can feel secure. In truth, the ego just wants to protect us, but in reality it prevents us from feeling the deep joy and happiness that only come from opening up our heart to the experience of being alive.
Yet the ego believes that if we open up to life, pain is inevitable. Why does it believe this? It comes from our childhood. Children are naturally open hearted, innocent and vulnerable. They feel life’s joy and wonder unfiltered. But at some point, they are hurt by the harsher energies that come from the people they love and trust most; their parents. The very first time a young child gets shouted at or scolded by their parent, it is very shocking and painful for them. They burst into tears and the heart instinctively contracts. They are not used to the fiery energy of anger that comes from adults, and it is strong. So every time it comes, the foundations of the protective ego are built up more and more, because the child wants to protect itself from feeling pain. And strong adult emotions are painful and scary for them, like being subjected to a huge tidal wave. Children are deeply sensitive creatures (as adults are at heart), yet we forget this.
The stresses of adult life build up within people daily, and the demanding nature of parenthood stretches them even further, and they lose our patience and tolerance with the ones they care about most. So the child learns to keep a protective barrier around itself, so they can feel safe. The ego comes into play. The child starts to think: “If I behave like this, I am less likely to get shouted at” and they start to control their behaviour. They begin thinking about everything they do, monitoring the likelihood of it leading to good feelings, or bad feelings. Adults do exactly the same. This is the ego choosing its reality, and it is motivated by a fear of pain.
But what happens in our life if the ego is not choosing what we experience? What if the mind is not in control of the steering wheel, but the heart is instead? This is where the word ‘courage’ comes from (‘cour’ being French for ‘heart’). Because it does take courage to allow the heart to be in control of your life, when the mind is telling you a thousand reasons why this is a dangerous thing to do.
But I assure you, it is not dangerous to give the heart control. It is very important we do so. Why? Because the heart is attuned to something that we cannot be aware of through our mind. It is the guiding force of Love, which flows through Life like water flows through a river. It is conscious, it is intelligent and it knows where it is taking us.
From the mind’s perspective, it can sometimes be hard to see that life is bringing us exactly what we need, and leading us in the direction we need to go. But when we come back to our heart and look around us from this perspective, everything makes much more sense. We see that Life is calling us to be courageous, to open up our heart and to experience the depth of Love which is available to us at all times. For this to happen, we need to move away from the fearfulness of the ego, with it’s anxious and doubting thoughts, and once more discover the place of trust and security within our heart.
It is a choice, to be made over and over and over again. Each time we make the choice to trust, our heart becomes stronger, and we restore our faith in something that has been with us since before we can remember. A force of Love, which gives, protects and cares for us deeply. To experience this consciously, we need only to be courageous enough to relax our heart just a little more every day. The reward for doing so is fulfilment on the deepest level of our being. Reunion with Love, peace in our heart, and peace in our soul,
Life can be challenging. We all want to live in a world of kindness and warmth. We all want to live in happiness and harmony, appreciating the deep beauty of life, without getting tangled up in the struggles and complications that modern living brings. So why does it sometimes feel so very challenging to do this, when surely it should be the most natural thing in the world?
We get distracted from what is really important in life, and we set the wrong priorities in our life. If we would prioritise treating people the right way, with kindness and tolerance, prioritise taking time and care with all the things we do, prioritising living simply and healthily, we would enjoy the fruits of such practices.
Our happiness is enriched by having friendliness and warmth and in the relationships with all the people around us. Everyone knows what it is like to have a dispute with a friend, or a heated exchange with a stranger. It doesn’t leave us feeling good at all. Rather, it leaves a residue of dis-harmony within us, which we can sometimes struggle to free ourselves of. Conversely, when we are brave enough to smile warmly at all the people we meet, helping anyone whom we can see needs a hand, our heart feels deeply enriched, and happiness and joy flow freely, even if the people don’t smile back!
So if we can learn how to avoid conflict with others, how to avoid differences of opinion, our life would be infinitely richer. It is challenging, because sometimes it seems that some people are just waiting to vent their frustration upon another person. They may often be in a bad mood, and therefore lack tolerance and patience with the people around them. They may be struggling with an emotional issue of their own, which makes them irritable. Who knows… but we have to learn to be careful with our communications and discerning also, because another persons inner dis-harmony can easily be passed on to us, if we are not careful.
We have all experienced this happening to us – and we have all been the perpetrator at some point also, hurting someone close to us. Therefore we can understand what leads a person to be hostile and unkind. It is usually frustration.
Have you ever been frustrated about something, and then lost your patience with the most loving person around you, perhaps even a child? Sometimes we justify this to ourselves, saying “he/she deserved it” or something similar. But even if we are dishing out what we think other people deserve, where is the harmony in our lives? Does it really feel good to be cold and cruel with our communications? What happens to our heart amidst this type of behaviour? Does it increase our sense of inner-harmony and happiness? No. We just remain bad-tempered, blind to the true beauty of life and of other people also.
This is why developing patience, tolerance, understanding and love are absolutely essential, and should be at the top of our priority list. This is a daily practice, and there is no more rewarding practice we can engage in. When we do this, we simply bring more compassion into our lives, more love, harmony and happiness. This is why – even if someone is very rude or unkind to us – we should let go of the feelings of anger or injustice as soon as we can, because they are very damaging. What do we replace them with? Compassion, understanding and forgiveness.
When we understand that someone’s behaviour is a result of their own inner-disharmony, frustration, unhappiness or suffering (which we know it is, from our own experience), then compassion is the natural consequence. Rather than hoping they get “taught a lesson” for being unkind to us, or wishing suffering upon them, or punishing them with our angry thoughts, we must find the way to come back to the innate compassion in our heart. Understanding and forgiveness are the ways to do this.
It is the primary nature of our heart to be caring and to be giving, and we all know the deep importance of both.
If we stop caring, the heart starts to wither and grow cold. Life loses its depth, it’s light and beauty. If we stop giving, we begin to isolate ourselves on an island built of our own personal desires, and self-gratification begins to take a grip on our life, as we forget the deep fulfilment that comes from freely giving our time and energy to those around us who are in need of help.
For example, do parents care for and help their children because it is a well paid job? No, they do it because there is a bond of love between them. They simple care deeply in their heart for the well-being of their child, and to neglect this bond and this responsibility actually causes suffering for both. The child needs to be helped, and we need to be caring.
It is vital to our sense of humanity, and to our sense of purpose also. What really is the point in being here if no-one needs our help? Is it to just be a good consumer, to try and fill all the gaps inside with personal gratification of the senses? Everyone knows where this leads – a dead end, to a sense that life lacks any true meaning and purpose. Sadly, many people find themselves at this point, because society encourages the fulfilment of personal desires, mostly through consumerism. It tells us “you will be happy once you have everything you think you need.”
Yet the opposite is true, and everyone knows this. True happiness does not come from accumulating, consuming or achieving. It comes from giving. Everyone knows this because everyone has a heart, and the heart’s basic nature is to give, to care for and to help others. When we do so, our heart is filled with a deeply rewarding sense of purpose, a sense of joy and fulfilment than cannot be experienced in any other way.
So we are designed to care. And not just about our children, our partner, close family and friends, but about everything, and everyone. Does that sound like too much caring to you? This is compassion, and the truth is, when our compassion knows no boundaries our heart simply keeps expanding, our love grows stronger and stronger, along with our sense of freedom, joy and purpose also. As we allow the momentum of compassion to build up within us, we simply want to keep giving of ourselves because nothing us satisfies this deep need of the heart.
You see, our heart is not designed to only care for certain things and people, but not for others. It is the mind that makes such decisions, and imposes them upon the heart. Why does it do this? Because it is afraid. The mind wants to keep things under control – even the amount of love we feel – because as our love and compassion grow more, our ego disappears in direct proportion, and it is the ego which desires to maintain control of our lives. But it does this at the expense of our heart. The heart desires to be unlimited, unrestricted and selfless, because in truth, the self created by the ego is the prison that our hearts longs to be freed from.
The egoic ‘self’ is a separate self, a false self that simply makes us feel separate and isolated. It is very much a prison, constructed of limiting thoughts and fears, yet we feel secure within it because it repeatedly tells us “if you let go of being in control, something that you don’t want to happen might happen to you.”
But this is merely the voice of fear, and it only creates the illusion of security. It does this by subconsciously creating a perceived threat “out-there” and then tells us what we need to do to avoid that threat; how to behave, how to present ourselves, where to go, what to do. The ego sees threat in every single situation; even social threat, where we are afraid of behaving the ‘wrong’ way, saying the ‘wrong’ thing, or not appearing to look the right way to others. As i said, it is prison made up of false ideas that we believe make us feel safer.
But where is the threat? From the perspective of the ego, it is absolutely everywhere (especially in other human beings), but from the perspective of the heart, there is no threat anywhere. As you can see, these are two very different realities, and they bring with them two completely different ways of feeling inside, and of relating with the world. Can you imagine relating to the world through a sense of total trust? You would feel completely free, there would be no perceived threat, no anxiety, no fear. You would feel 100% safe and supported to follow your heart, no matter where it led you, experiencing deep happiness and joy along the way.
Our heart cares, and it cares deeply. If we felt completely secure, we would not spend our time satisfying personal wants and desires in an attempt to make our heart happy. It is the ego that does this, in an attempt to create greater feelings of security and inner-satisfaction. But the heart is only truly satisfied when it is giving, caring and helping others. This is simply it’s purpose.
So as we devote more of our time and energy to helping people (without always thinking of payment) we experience a greater and greater sense of purpose and fulfilment within our heart. A far deeper sense of satisfaction is experienced that cannot be experienced in any other way. This is the joy of freely giving and caring, and we should never attach a price tag to this. This is what love is all about, and it needs to be unconditional if we are to experience the true freedom of our heart. As soon as the mind puts a limit or a condition on how far our Love can go, we lose our true freedom. Therefore we need to put our faith in our heart, in Love, and whole-heartedly trust it to lead us forward in our life, without the limiting interference of anxieties, doubts, fear of lack and worries about the future. Because to trust means to not engage with these negative mental tendencies when they arise in our mind. If we do, they simply create contraction within our heart and thus, contraction in our entire being. Instantly, our experiences of Love, happiness, and inner freedom disappear.
So it can be seen very clearly that it is not our purpose in life to contract; we are here to expand, because in expansion all restriction, limitation, separation and division disappear and we come to realise that life is a unified experience. We are not truly separate from anything or anyone because on the deeper level – which we perceive through our heart – a loving, intelligent and creative energy is responsible for and flows through all that exists. This is the unifying force of creation, and it can be perceived, witnessed and experienced from the perspective of our heart. It is a very natural perspective, because it is the only true perspective.
From the perspective of the heart, we come to experience that separation does not truly exist in any realm of Reality; it is just a creation of the mind. Through increased awareness of this (which requires disciplines such as meditation and healthy living to be present in our lives), our awareness moves beyond our mind and re-establishes itself back in our heart. From here we can see that Love truly is the essence of Life. In fact, it is the very fabric of Reality.
Love is the powerful energy force behind all of creation. It flows through every cell, every atom, and it is constantly calling us to come back home to our heart, so that we can see things clearly.
Human beings so easily get lost in personal desires and dreams of ambition and achievement. They get so tangled up in trying to prevent negative situations occurring in their lives (such as social rejection, poverty etc.) that the experience of Love gets forgotten and relegated to being just another ‘nice idea’ in the mind.
So we have to remind ourselves of Love very regularly. The moment Love is fully remembered, we cannot believe we allowed ourselves to forget it again! We cannot believe that we allowed anything else to become more important. Because when Love is forgotten, Reality is forgotten. What is left is the empty shell of an unfulfilling dream, in which we blindly grope around for the light switch, so that we can wake up once more, and feel the fulfilment of full consciousness.
This is why our life needs certain disciplines, to make it less likely that we fall asleep into unconsciousness of Love again. If we are to remain conscious of Love’s truth, we need to nourish ourselves lovingly with the things our body really needs: Plenty of oxygen from outdoor activity, pure water, simple and basic plant-based nutrition, and most importantly, a spiritual practice to prevent our mind from wandering into thought.
Because more than anything else, it is the veil of thought that makes us blind to Love’s reality. We get lost so quickly, tangled up in the spiders web of thought and forgetting that further thought cannot free us from our struggles. This is why meditation is essential, because without it, how do we transcend thought? We may think we are transcending thought, but the mind is very tricky and very clever and will tell us we are just fine, even though we may be asleep. It will say “there’s nothing wrong with being asleep. It feels okay to me…”
Yet where is the full depth of Love? It remains unconscious, we remain just on the surface, aware of only the tip of the iceberg of our being. We miss the beautiful depth of who we really are, and we will not know what we are really here to do. We actually have a purpose, a very important purpose, that only Love can reveal to us.
Our mind may think it knows our purpose, but it cannot. Because our most primary purpose is to remain in a space of Love, and anything which regularly pulls us out of this space is not a part of our purpose. Children are a wonderful reminder of this. We may be lost in our ‘important’ work, staring at our computer screen while our children are desperately trying to get our attention, to connect with us from their innocent heart. But we say “Not now! I’m busy with some important work.” But what is truly important in that moment? Love. And our children are here to remind us of this.
So, we may believe we have a very important purpose to be a healer, a therapist, or something similar. But if in any moment we forget the Reality of Love, we are of no great use to anybody! Because what everybody truly needs is to open their eyes to Reality. And this can only happen if we have the help of someone who is not also lost in the dream (or the nightmare, in some people’s cases).
If you are also tangled up in the dream, who can you help to awaken? At this point, only your own awakening takes precedence. It must occur first, and everything you need to awaken will come into your path. It may take the form of frustration with something which you thought was ‘important’, which simply isn’t flowing or working out. It may be losing something that you felt was essential to your happiness. It may be illness. In truth, Love uses everything in our Life to wake us up from our dream. All that really matters is that we open our eyes…
The Light of God, which some call “Universal Consciousness”, is aware of our heart at all times. When there is contraction in the heart, this Divine Intelligence simply brings us the life experiences that will result in our heart opening more.
They could even be very difficult experiences if we truly need them, but thankfully most of us do not. When the arrogance of the mind has turned to humility and the heart has fully opened, we simply perceive the Truth – the Light of Divine Consciousness which is everywhere – without creating further shadows, through doubt or fear.
The heart fully embraces and says “yes” to full consciousness, allows is to permeate the entire being, and delights deeply in the joy created just by being fully open and receptive.
There is no reason in the universe why we would not want to experience this, because it is everything that our soul longs for…
So how do we consciously become more open to Truth, to consciousness, so there are no pockets of darkness within our being? It is simple, once we understand what Truth really is…
Truth is a flow of consciousness, a flow of loving intelligence, deeply alive, like a sea of energy. We could see ourselves like a river, through which this intelligent, loving energy flows, carrying consciousness back to the Source, back to the Ocean of Truth.
If the flow is restricted within us, we experience unconsciousness. It is as simple as that. Therefore it is very easy to eradicate unconsciousness, just by re-identifying ourself with that flow of energy, rather than the ego which is a static 2-dimensional image, which exists only in the mind.
The rigidity and lack of fluidity of the ego impresses itself upon our physical being, and we then experience ourselves as 2-dimensional also. We forget our depth, we forget how it feels to be flowing with energy, and we become stagnant. Frustration naturally develops. Yet it can vanish in an instant, along with the ego, just like that!
In identifying ourself with the flow of life-energy, the static pictures of the ego just get washed away effortlessly. But we have to make sure we let go of them , otherwise we may feel like we are going down the drain hole with them!
When we let go of the ego-related thoughts, through simple processes like relaxation, meditation, yoga, harmonizing with nature etc. we come back to our heart, which is our life-raft. We float back to the surface, to bask once more in the warmth of Love, of Reality, and feel it also flowing within our being. There is no longer a differentiation between outside and inside. There is only the light of love, everywhere.
The ego is allowed to fully dissolve because we have opened our heart to the degree where we can merge with Love, no longer needing the safety barriers of the mind to keep it at a distance, because we are no longer afraid of it. Fear was just a dream, a misunderstanding, and it vanishes along with the ego. Only Love remains…
In the heart of all of us burns the flame of a deep desire, a desire which fills our Soul with a passion for being fully alive, fully conscious, fully connected.
Connected to what? To something greater than ourselves. Something we cannot know intellectually. But we can feel this greater something as a presence in our being, as a sense of deeply vibrant joyful energy flowing through every cell of body.
It is ecstatic, it is blissful, yet it is totally normal. It is our natural state. When we see this, when we experience this (especially through spiritual practices like meditation and yoga) everything clicks into place.
The mind takes a back seat and observes the driver, your heart. In a deeply relaxed (and conscious) state, what we experience in our heart is a powerful joy, which floods and cleanses our energy channels with pure love.
All we need to do is be conscious that we do not resist this powerful energy of love through fear of its transformational power. We need only stay open to it, let our heart relax totally in its presence. This is an awe-inspiring experience and a deeply empowering one.
The full almighty power of Universal Love, in it deep wisdom, intelligence and consciousness, awaits on our doorstep to be fully allowed in to our hearts and into our lives. To do so is to experience fulfilment on the deepest level of our being.
To remain calm in the presence of the full Power of the Universe, to allow it total access to every cell of your being, does take a little courage. But understand that courage is simply the expansion of your heart, saying yes to the full presence of this Power within your being. At this point, as the heart completely relaxes, fear disappears and you merge with it. There is no differentiation, no experience of division within your reality. Only Union.
We are in the midst of a very challenging time on planet earth. The energy on the planet, and within each one of us, is intensifying. What does this mean?
If your attention is in your thoughts, the reality they create will be more convincing than ever. And if your attention is in negative, critical or mistrustful thoughts, the feelings created in your body as a result will be very intense and uncomfortable. We will be convinced that what we are thinking is the truth, and feel that there is no way out of the feelings we are having, other than to vent them onto others, or ourself. The energy created by such thoughts only causes harm – in our relationships with others, in our own body and on even more subtle levels also.
But of course, it does not have to be like this…
Because with the intensification of energy, the call of our heart becomes stronger and stronger. It cries to us “choose peace, choose inner harmony, choose to see the beauty which is everywhere, in everyone…” Yes, this is a challenge, but one which makes us stronger in our humanity, in our humility.
The alternative is simply inner dis-harmony and suffering, as this is the mind’s speciality. The more time we spend thinking, the more we will see this is true. So it is not ‘wrong’ to be in thought, it just means we will not fully perceive the deep degree of beauty which is everywhere and in everyone.
Human beings are complicated. It is so easy to focus on their dysfunction, their negative aspects, their hypocrisy and unreliabilty… Yet the human species has become lost, to a large degree. They have forgotten their peace, forgotten the inherent harmony of being alive, and become lost in a world of thought, which eats away at their sense of wholeness and perfection. Because we are perfect – inside. But focussing on this aspect of ourselves and others is the greatest challenge, as we are so used to listening to our negative thoughts and focussing on what is ‘wrong’. When we focus on the reality that negative thoughts create in our mind, we subsequently project it outwards on to the people and the world around us, spreading our inner dis-harmony outwards, and influencing others to experience dis-harmony also. We must be very careful not to do this.
When we get back in touch with our heart – which is a very easy (and very essential) thing to do – we remember the harmony that is essential to life. We remember the feeling of peace and security that we often search for in every place (except our heart!)
We cannot avoid returning our attention to where it belongs, in our heart. When we try to avoid it (out of fear of pain or vulnerability) we suffer. It is as simple as that. Yet people choose this, and stubbornly refuse to recognise that they are responsible for their negative perspective. In the process, we blame others, create division between ourselves and our friends, miss valuable opportunities for expansion and greater inter-personal harmony. As I said, human beings are complicated!
Yet. Our heart is simple. It knows it’s connection to the universe. It feels it very clearly. It radiates warm, positive energy and cares only for giving, sharing, helping.
Yet even the mistrustful mind will judge this, see it as manipulation, just so it can keep us in a world of separation. And in truth, this is the bottoms line. Do we want to live life in a reality of separation, isolation and division, never truly opening ourselves to others and showing our innocense and beauty, or do we want to experience life as a never-ending opportunity for greater and greater states of harmony, joy, happiness and togetherness?
We are social creatures, and we enjoy to share ourselves with others. In fact, it is one of our primary human needs. Yet people can be so resistant to doing so, fearing social rejection, judgment and so on. When we gather together for positive reasons, something greater than our individual self can be perceived, and we become aware of a heightened sense of harmony and joy. This is why indigenous tribes world-wide place great importance on their group gatherings. It strengthens bonds of friendship, and helps increase joy and harmony, especially in those who may not be feeling them so easily.
We live in a world where every man and woman seems to be an island, in their own private space, with their own private thoughts, beliefs and opinions. This is a big part of why people suffer so much. Yet it just takes a little bit of humility to admit that we are struggling, that we need support, and it can found within the listening ear of a compassionate friend. Humans are naturally compassionate beings, who love to help others. And when we help another, our compassion and sense of care, joy and happiness simply grows stronger. And it is equally shared between the helper and the helped.
This is why I would go as far as to say that it is our primary purpose on Earth to help eachother, and to let ourselves be helped. We all need harmony, we all need support and we all need genuine friendship – so much more than we realise.
The essential nature of every human being is deeply sensitive, gentle, peaceful, loving and caring.
We can observe this most easily when we come into contact with the innocence of a newly born creature, like a child, a tiny lamb, a puppy or a tiny kitten. Something in our heart is touched by the total vulnerability of such a creature, and we feel moved to behave in a very gentle and careful way, as if we are in the presence of the most delicate thing in the world.
But what about ourselves? We also were once an innocent newborn baby, in need of delicate care and gentle loving treatment. Has that part of us disappeared? No, it is still there. That part still exists within us. It is our heart, which still needs to be treated with gentleness and kindness as much as it did in our early years of life. Our heart has not changed at all. Of course, many people lose touch with that part of themselves, due to the seeming “toughness” of life, the competitiveness of living, encouraged through schooling and hierarchical societal structure, where we are told must obey those above us, and encouraged to command those below us.
Yet the heart thirsts for equality, for mutual recognition of the deep value of kindness and humility. These are the most precious qualities in life, and we all possess them, because they are part of the language of the heart. But have we become too tough to be gentle? Do we believe that vulnerability and gentleness are a sign of weakness? Because the opposite is actually true.
It is easy to be tough, cold, uncaring and so on. Our society encourages it, and it means that we don’t need to be in touch with our heart. We can forget our heart and go through life with this tough-minded attitude, arrogantly and uncaringly teaching people the lessons we think they need to learn, toughening them up in the process. Because many people believe that you need to be tough to survive in this world. To get anywhere, to make any progress, you need to be a little bit ruthless, able to disconnect from your heart at will.
Yet what does such a belief system do to us? It makes us believe that we are stronger without our connection to our heart. But again, the opposite is true. Strength comes from our willingness to empathise with others who may be experience deep suffering. It takes great courage to do this, because in doing so, we feel the pain of another, and we share their burden. Who is willing to do this? This is the courageousness of the open heart, which does not close itself to anything, but just cares, and it cares unconditionally.
In society, the norm is to care only for the people close to us – our family and close friends. But what about the homeless person you may see crying in the street? Do they not also need a caring arm around their shoulder? Do they not also need some kind words of support and encouragement, to prevent them from giving up on life?
Many people in this world do need this, and often it is the people who may smile at you and tell you everything is fine. When you really open your heart and your ears to that person, you may find out that they are struggling to stay afloat in life, as strong currents of change buffer them around in ways that they do not know how to cope with.
We all need support, but we don’t always realise it. And we all need support to remain open, to remain vulnerable and caring when the world around us seems to be such a hostile and uncaring place. In the midst of this, it can be so easy to say to ourselves “what is the point in being kind, what is the point in being caring when I just keep getting hurt?” And this is where we need our strength and courage the most, so that we can remain open to the world and not hide the fact that we feel vulnerable or threatened by circumstances.
It is okay to be afraid. It is okay to be insecure. We do not have to be “strong and tough” and tell ourselves to stop being pathetic. Because this is how the harsh, uncaring mind speaks to the heart. It has no tolerance for insecurity, for the delicate nature of the heart, which needs the right conditions to open up, blossom and flourish.
Would an orchid or a rose deliberately open it’s petals in the face of pressure hose? No, it would wait until the right conditions are present, when the force is not so strong, so that it will not be damaged in any way. This is natural, and this is what human being need also. We need supportive conditions, a supportive environment so that we feel safe to open up and show our true beauty.
Because this is what our heart longs to do – to open up fully, to feel the freedom and liberation of doing so, so that it may experience the warming rays of the sun shining upon its very core, and so that it may give its beauty to the world, which is its purpose in life.
If the heart remains closed, it simply remains unfulfilled. Therefore, if we are experiencing a lack of fulfilment in our life, it is not because we haven’t achieved what we wanted to achieve, or we haven’t attained what we wanted to attain. It is only because we have not allowed out heart to open to the degree which it needs to (and truly, it needs to open fully).
This may sound scary to some people – to open their heart fully – but if we can allow ourselves to create or perhaps discover an environment in which we feel safe to do so – which may involve disconnecting ourselves from certain groups of people and certain activities – it is not remotely scary. In fact, it is very exciting, because when the heart begins to open, what happens? More love comes into our life. More beauty is perceived in the world around us, and within us also. Life becomes richer and richer, and we feel more and more enthusiastic about sharing who we really are with the people around us, about dropping our barriers and pretences and letting more of our innate joy flow outwards in our communications and interactions.
It is really only the mind which holds on to fear. It always foresees further suffering, further disappointment and pain, and thus our heart naturally closes in response to what we mentally believe we are sure to experience. But even if we have experienced disappointment many times in our life, even if we have been hurt by others time and time again, the suffering only occurs when we close our heart. It may feel like the words or actions of another are responsible for our pain, but what has actually happened is that we have attached our feelings of love and inner happiness to the words or actions of another person, which – as we all know – are not 100% reliable.
How can we keep our heart open in the face of unkind words from another? Do we just stand there and take it? Because it does hurt when someone is cruel with their words, or hostile with their behaviour. This is a dilemma that many people face, because sensitive, heart-centred people want love to be a constant in their life, not something which comes and goes, so easily influenced by external occurrences.
This is why strength of heart needs to be developed in us all, because there certainly are challenging environments and challenging people that we will encounter, if only to show us the degree to which our peace, love and inner-freedom are still dependent of external circumstances.
So how do we develop our strength of heart? And what do we do when subjected to hostility or unkindness from another person? How do we keep our peace and our connection to our sensitivity, without experiencing pain?
We must be very careful with our choices. For example, if you know there is a person who wants to be unkind to you, to hurt you (either physically, emotionally or mentally) would you go knocking on their door? Probably not. What if you bump into this person in the street? Do you stand there and engage with them, while they barrage you with their unkind energy?
Because to be strong in your heart does not mean to just take whatever is thrown at you. Would you subject a young child to a person who was being unkind? No, the sensitive and caring thing to do would be to remove that child from the situation, and we must treat ourselves in the same way, to protect ourselves as much as possible from hostility and unkindness, because it does hurt. Even if your heart is strong, it hurts. There are ways to deal with such energy when it is directed at you, but the most intelligent thing to do is to not choose environments where this is likely to happen. Again, remember that your heart needs a safe and supportive environment for it open up and show it’s beauty.
Imagine for a moment that you were in a beautiful natural place, enjoying the cooling breeze, listening to the beautiful bird song. Then along comes someone with a really loud ghetto-blaster (a portable sound system!) and they are playing very loud and aggressive music and they have no desire to reduce the volume at all.
What do you do? Stay there and be subjected to this unpleasant noise? Or get up, and go and find somewhere else which is more peaceful? You are free to choose.
Why do people put up with unkindness? Why do they stand there and let people be hostile to them? The intelligent and more loving thing to do for oneself is to remove oneself from the situation. Because often, if we do not, our buttons get pushed and we find ourselves reacting with anger, or perhaps even with tears. We must protect ourselves from hostil energies as much as we would protect an innocent child, because deep inside, that’s exactly what we are. We can remember this by nurturing, caring and protecting ourselves to the degree which we really need to be. We have to help ourselves to remain sensitive, by choosing appropriate environments, surroundings, social circles and so on. This is why it is very good to join a meditation group, for example, because the people who attend are interested on peace. If you join a karate group instead, the people who you gather with may not be so peace-loving! We are for more sensitive than we realise, and we are influenced by what is going on within other people, even of it is not outwardly evident. Even if someone is having angry thoughts and we are in their presence, it will effect us on a subtle level and make it that little bit more difficult to be open and vulnerable with them.
But what about our own mind? We are in the presence of that all day and all night. There is no running away from our own mentality, so how do we deal with harsh thoughts about ourself, especially when they never seem to stop, always judging us, criticising us relentlessly…
Firstly, it is important to understand where such voices come from. It is often the voice of a critical parent which we have adopted in our own mind, and continues to speak to us even if the parent is no longer present. It could be the voice of an unkind teacher we once had. It could even be the voice of a peer group, who perhaps in the past (or in the present) judged us, mocked us, criticised us or humiliated us. Such things are often carried within the mind of a child into adulthood, without them even realising it.
Yet within our own heart, we know what we truly need. We know we need to be treated with tolerance, with patience, with kindness. We need to feel that we will not be judged for expressing our feelings, but rather, be encouraged to feel safe to do so. Everyone needs this, because everyone has a heart, and every heart has a gentleness, an innocence that it must feel free to express. This is the delicate vulnerability that exists within the heart of even the very toughest and strongest of people we see. It is there and it needs to be recognised. It needs to be allowed expression.
This is why artists and creative people often seem much more sensitive than others, because they are more in touch with this part of their being. They allow their sensitivity to flow into their work; in fact it is essential if they are to feel creatively inspired. This is often the problem for people who have uninspiring jobs, or lives which contain nothing that really speaks to their heart. They have no way to allow their innocense and vulnerably to flow outwards.
Of course, loving relationships are often sought by people so that they can show the innocence of their heart and their vulnerability. If just one other person in the world can see this precious aspect of us, we feel deeply satisfied and fulfilled. We know that who we truly are has been seen, and that it is okay. What a beautiful feeling.
So it is important that we show others that it is okay to be vulnerable and sensitive by being that way ourselves. It does not mean we have to be insecure or nervous. It means we have to show our heart, without hiding it. We have to allow others to see our innocence and our naïvety if it is there.
People are so preoccupied with appearing knowledgeable, detached, to be in control and cool – untroubled and untouched by emotions. So masks are worn, and the heart is not seen. People subconsciously pick up on this and sense that to be acceptable, they must also wear similar masks. This is like living in a theatre, surrounded by actors, with no true depth of feeling present in anyone, because it is carefully hidden behind a very convincing façade. This is not a remotely rewarding way to live, and simply creates a sense of falseness and alienation within all who participate in the charade.
But when you find a group of people with whom you can show yourself – your innocence, your playful inner child, without fear of judgement – then this is a very special thing. Sometimes it just takes one person to be courageous enough to show the others that it is safe to be real, and everyone relaxes. No pretence is needed. Phew! Thank God for that!
Really, within the heart of each person is the need to smile, to be playful and happy like a child. Because our heart does not “grow up” like the rest of us does. It remains innocent. All that happens is that we learn to suppress it and override it with our sophisticated and complicated adult mind, which plays so many clever games to prevent us from truly being seen.
The truth is that many people feel vulnerable. Many people do feel scared of being seen for who they truly are, because they were not treated with the gentleness they needed when they were young. They may have had a highly critical parent, who scorned self expression, vulnerability or even joyfulness and happiness! The result is simple an adult who learned long ago what behaviour is acceptable in the world, what behaviour will gain them approval (often in their own mind).
Because the prisons we live in are those created in our childhood, where we learned what was allowed and not allowed. We may have a deep desire to sing out loud or express our happiness in some other way, but we do not allow ourselves. Many adults will not allow themselves to be child-like, foolish, silly, playful expressive and so on, simply because they learned that to progress in the adult world, one must behave in a certain way. Otherwise people may just think you are an idiot, a fool or perhaps even crazy. But who cares? Your freedom must take priority, becaue it is you who must live with the frustrated energy that is the result of holding yourself in, keeping yourself in a socially acceptable box. It is not worth it.
Many people on the spiritual path overlook (or choose to ignore) the fact that liberation will not come about through becoming more serious. We have to set ourselves free from the limitations created by our controlling mind. Young children do not have to become enlightened, to spiritually awaken, because they are not limited. The adult mind has not been developed in them, therefore the prison has not been built. They are free, they feel free. They don’t know the meaning of restriction and limitation, until it is imposed upon them by adults who believe they know better. We have much to learn from children, and the greatest thing we can do is to drop our gravity and seriousness, and allow our heart to become playful again.
We will never be free “in our mind”. We must remember ourselves beyond the mind, find our innate joy and happiness once more and realise that we have been given the most glorious playground we could ever wish for; Planet Earth. Because this planet is essentially a place of joy. The fruits hang from the trees as gifts from mother nature, to energise us and to make us happy. The sun shines, the cool breeze blows, the vegetation grows, the waters run… all with an innate sense of deep harmony.
The only problem is that humankind has overridden this harmony – which should also flow through us – with a more dis-harmonious energy created by our thoughts. We worry, we fear, we imagine things going wrong, and sometimes they do. Sometimes we lose things that we valued deeply. Yet is there anything more valuable than the unconditioned happiness, peace, joy and freedom within our heart? Can they be replaced by anything in this material world?