When You Find The Path Too Difficult To Travel And Are Tempted To Give Up


Every time I write and share myself through this blog, it takes something. Why?  I am clear that I am an ordinary human being and as such I face a constant struggle to show up and travel in life in a manner that embodies that which I speak-share here with you.  The more mindful (attentive) I become the more I notice the gap between how I wish you to show up and travel and how I actually show up and travel.

There are times where I wonder if I am deceiving myself. I find myself asking the question: will I ever close the gap between how I wish to show and travel in the world and how I find myself showing up and travelling in the world?

The other day I came across the following passage and it has given me the access to see the situation rather differently than I had seen it. I share it with you as it may help you with your stand (in life) and your challenges.  Here it is:

A student instructed to meditate upon compassion came to his teacher in despair. “This is too hard,” he complained. “I sit and try to extend compassion to the countless beings in the world, and all the time I find myself criticising how my neighbour wears her robes, how much noise my roommate makes, how much my knees hurt, and how bad the food is. How can I ever get beyond this?”

The teacher listened patiently to the long litany of complaints, then sat and pondered for a time.

Hoping for words of reassurance or a shortcut to transcendence, the student waited expectantly.

Finally, the teacher opened her eyes and said, “These difficulties are going to be with you for the rest of your life.”

– Christina Feldman, The Best Buddhist Writing 2006

It occurs to me there is wisdom in this tale. How have I interpreted it?  I have taken it to mean that what matters is that I walk the path that I have committed myself to walking. On this path I will encounter all kinds of challenges and some of the most difficult will be those that I generate myself – including leaving the path. The key is to be attentive: to notice when I am no longer on the path and get myself back on the path as soon as I notice I have strayed from the path.

Getting back on the path is not enough. Why? Because when I stray from the path I usually tend to make some kind of mess. And to workability, the mess needs to be cleaned up in a manner that restores integrity and workability.

Is it enough simply to clean up the mess?  Yes, and I do not advise stopping there. I have got value out of looking into the matter and learning: what happened, how did it happen, what might have contributed it to happening.  The reflection has helped me notice that I stray from the path when I find myself hungry, when I find myself tired, when I find myself stressed with conflicting demands, when I take it upon myself to fix the world for others…

What Constitutes Giving? And Can Giving Be An Access To Transformation?


Transformation always start with our way of being-in-the-world. And our way of being-in-the-world is a function of cultural practices and what we do or do not do, regularly and how we do what we do.

One route to transforming the quality of our lives and of life itself is to consciously adopt new ways of being and doing. And keep at these until they became habitual and we do not even notice our way of being-in-the-world: how we show up, what we do and how we do it.

If like me you find yourself called to the possibility of kindness, gentleness, harmony, aliveness, and a world that works for all then I leave you with the following:

The essence of human revolution is overcoming our lack of compassion.

Giving yourself wholly to the person in front of you – everything begins with this; it is the fundamental path of humanist philosophy.

Philosophy comes down to standing up for the principles you believe in no matter what.

– Daisaku Ikeda

It occurs to me that the most profound, truest giving, that one can give is to ‘give oneself wholly to the person in front of oneself’.  And that usually is the people we find ourselves living with, working with, interacting with on a daily basis: wives, husband, sons, daughters, aunts, uncles, cousin, nephews, friends, colleagues, acquaintances, colleagues, customers, suppliers, neighbours …..

What would show up in my life if I gave myself wholly to the person in front of me?  What would show up in your life if you gave yourself wholly to the person in front of you?  What kind of world would be find ourselves in if enough of us gave ourselves wholly to the person in front of me?  It occurs to me that ‘giving yourself wholly to the person in front of you’ is transformation: it transforms our experience of our living.

So easy to write, to say. So hard to do – at least for me. And I know that a journey of a thousand miles starts with one step. And the journey of giving starts with the next person I encounter. And is never ended, never a failure, for as long as I continue to ‘walk the path’.  It occurs to me that ‘walking the path’ is transformation.

Play BIG: Be A Human & Call Forth Each Other’s Humanity


I have been giving a lot of thought to what it means to play big.

Imagine you are out of university, enter the world of work, and set your sights to becoming the youngest ever CEO of your organisation.  And you set out to do exactly that.  Now that could be called playing big, and it does not show up for me that way.

Imagine that you have set up a coffee shop and you dream of having a chain of coffee shops all across the country. And then expanding so that there is one of your coffee shops in every city across the world.  And then you get busy turning this feat of imagination into reality.  This could be called playing big, and it does not show up for me that way.

Imagine that you are down and out with cancer. Yet, you envisage getting back on your bike and winning the Tour De France. Unimaginable to most and you are totally determined to do so. And you do all that it takes to deal with your cancer, get healthy, get fit, race. You win the Tour De France.  Many would call that playing big, and it does not show up for me that way.

It occurs to me that, for me personally, playing BIG is transcending that which goes with ego: self-centredness and vanity at best; selfishness, greed, indifference and/or cruelty at worst.  It occurs to me that to play BIG is to put the best of my humanity, our humanity, into action. And in thus doing make a contribution to lives and life itself.  Which is why, I find myself deeply moved by the following words for one who lives-walks the path of god:

Be a human, bring out each other’s humanity.

Get rid of hunger, get rid of poverty. Don’t be materialistic, and you will have money, even to give to America.

I have a love of humanity. A love for any person.

Truthfully, I am a refugee from India, but I call myself a human being.

I have become famous for being a human being.

– Abdul Sattar Edhi, Edhi Foundation

I encourage you to watch the short film and allow yourself to be touched by that which is the best in and of us:

If you find yourself touched then I ask that you honour our shared humanity by truly being a human being and calling forth the best of our shared humanity.  Here is an idea that has just come to me, how about for one day:

  • that which you spend on yourself (say a coffee, a lunch, a restaurant meal…..) you also spend on a fellow human being with a open heart; and
  • put into the world and thus share the non-materialistic bounty of life – a smile, a kind word, deep listening, a helping hand.

I am taking on this game, joyfully.  And it would be great to play this game with you, play it together.

It occurs to me that you/i/we have a choice. What choice? A fundamental choice: to live as gods or to live as beggars. What is the difference? God gives.  The beggar, in whichever guise is always looking for that which he can receive/gain from others.  Please notice even a ‘beggar’ can be god. How? Simply by smiling and allowing that smile to light up the lives of those who pass by and receive the gift of that smile.

I thank you for the listening that your create. It is your listening that keeps me in this conversation and calls forth that which finds itself spoken here, at this blog.

Giftivism: Transforming Life Through Small Acts of Radical Kindness


I start by gifting you that which shows up for me as a profound truth:

“What we will do for love will always be far more powerful than what we will do for money. What we can do together will always be far greater than what we can do alone.”

– Pavithra Mehta

This wisdom, this truth, this gift found itself to me through coming across and listening to what shows up for me as the most radical-inspiring talk of recent times.

It occurs to me that the being of the speaker and that which the speaker shares is in complete alignment with that which I share in my speaking through this blog. As such I am paying it forward by sharing this profound-radical-inspiring talk with you.

http://youtu.be/p_QLGvp_stI

Here are some words that have caught my attention, may they speak to you and resonate with you. May they act as an opening for you to enter into and lift ‘giftivism’: small acts of radical kindness 

“So in a world where everything has a price — what happens to the priceless?

We live in a time where we have mastered the art of “liking” each other on Facebook but have forgotten the art of loving each other in real life.

Our purpose doesn’t lie in our commodities it lies in our sense of communion …. Compassion. Empathy. Generosity. Trust….

What practices, systems and designs emerge when we believe people WANT to behave selflessly?

Generosity is generative. Everybody wins because generosity is NOT a zero sum game.”

And I leave you with the speakers invitation:

“We begin to move from being a market economy to being part of a gift ecology.

 It begins with small steps. I invite each one of you to think about what your small step will be. What is YOUR giftivist resolution?

May we each take that step. May we change ourselves, may we change the world.”

At your service and with my love

maz

 

What Lies Forgotten Behind Language, Ideology and Religion?


“Deliver us, O Allah, from the Sea of Names.”

– Ibn al-Arabi

How to be grateful for being gifted an entrance into 2014?  How to create-live the possibility of being a clearing for kindness, generosity, harmony and aliveness?  Perhaps through some passages that speak to me and get me present to that which lies forgotten behind language, behind ideology, behind my taken for granted way of living.  I share these with you – may one of them will call to you and provide you access to living a ‘richer’ life this year.

Rumi:

“Beyond our ideas of right-doing and wrong-doing,
there is a field. I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase ‘each other’
doesn’t make sense any more.”

Wendell Berry:

“Thy life’s a miracle. Speak yet again

This is the line that calls Gloucester back – out of hubris, and the damage and despair that invariably follow – into the properly subordinated life of grief and joy, where change and redemption are possible……

One immediately recognises that suicide is not the only way to give up on life …….we can give up on life also by presuming to “understand” it – that is by reducing it to the terms of our understanding and treating it as predictable or mechanical. The most radical influence of reductive science has been virtually the universal adoption of the idea that the world, its creatures, and all the parts of its creatures are machines…..

This may have begun as a metaphor, but in the language as it is used (and as it affects industrial practice) it has evolved from metaphor through equation to identification. And this usage institutionalises the human wish, or sin of wishing, that life might be, or might be made to be, predictable. 

….. whenever one treats living organisms as machines they must necessarily be perceived to behave as such……. Whenever one perceives living organisms as machines they must necessarily treated as such.

…. to reduce life to the scope of our understanding (whatever “model” we use) is inevitably to enslave it, make property of it, and put it up for sale. This is to give up on life, to carry it beyond change and redemption, and to increase the proximity of despair…..”

Ibn al-Arabi: 

“Do not attach yourself to any particular creed exclusively, so that you may disbelieve all the rest; otherwise you will lose much good, nay, you will fail to recognize the real truth of the matter. God, the omnipresent and omnipotent, is not limited by any one creed, for he says, ‘Wheresoever ye turn, there is the face of Allah’ (Koran 2:109). Everyone praises what he believes; his god is his own creature, and in praising it he praises himself. Consequently, he blames the disbelief of others, which he would not do if he were just, but his dislike is based on ignorance.”

It occurs to me that to walk-live the path pointed out by these speakers is to live a transformed life.

Distinguishing love from love


What is this phenomenon called love?  Investigate this phenomenon and you will find that it is not just one experience (phenomenon).  No, it is manifold, many different experiences (phenomena) hidden under one label – love.

What are these manifold experiences housed and mingled together under this umbrella called love?  There is the experience of desire which is more accurately labelled lust. And as lust is not acceptable, given our cultural practices, it is called love.  There is plain sex and that is called ‘love’ or ‘making love’.  There is ownership – in the sense of I have exclusive rights to you, your body, your sexuality, your resources, your time – and that is also called love …. and there is love as in care and caring.

It occurs to me that we would help love to flourish if we reserved love only for authentic care for another.  What kind of care?  Care for their wellbeing – in the physical, emotional and spiritual domains of life and living.  Whilst I can talk about this it is better to get there more concretely.  Allow me to give you an example.

In the morning as I was headed out to spend a few days away from home I was got a surprise.  What kind of surprise?  On one of the doors leading to the outside, a door I have to go through, I found a note for me.  What kind of note?  This note:

photo-3My wellbeing requires me to start the day by taking the Levothyroxine tablet.  And to end the day by taking a statin tablet.  That is just so. And more than once I have left my tablets at home.  So my son, late at night, after I had gone to bed had written this reminder for me and left it where he knew I would see it.  Why did he do that?  Because he cares for me – he loves me.

Now, here is the thing to get.  It is quite possible that my son felt strong feelings of love for me that night.  And those feelings would not have shown up in my living nor made any difference.  Why?  Because I do not have access to his feelings.  I do have access to his actions: I got present to the depth of his love when I saw this post it note and it moved me to tears of gratitude and joy!

I say that contrary to what the songs say love is not a feeling.  No, love is verb – it is doing.  Doing what?  Doing that which contributes to the wellbeing of those we claim to love.  And not doing that which gets in the way of the wellbeing of those we claim to love.

So you and I are confronted with choice: to live from the default context where love is a hodge podge of phenomena or to create and live from an ‘extraordinary’ context where we use the label love to mean love – love as in compassionate caring for the wellbeing of those we claim to love.

What choice will I make?  What choice will you make?  In making our choices we should be mindful that love – as in caring for the wellbeing of another – is the access to transformation: of my live, your life, our lives, of life as a whole.

Get real!


Mitt Romney‘s wealth is estimated to be between US$190-250m. He was the CEO of Bain & Co (renowned management consultancy).  He co-founded Bain Capital one of the largest private equity firms in the USA.  He was the the Governor of Massachusetts from 2002 to 2006.  He then got busy on his ambition to become president of the USA.   Just keep this in mind, I will come back to Mitt Romney later in this post.

I notice that a lot of people are hurting.  I notice that some of the people that are hurting, are hurting so badly that they are on their knees.  Thankfully, I am not one of these people.  You might be one of them. What am I talking about?   I am talking about the tough economic times in the western world (Greece, Spain, UK, USA..) where many people have lost their jobs, their businesses, their livelihoods.  This is new for us – not new for many others that live in this world that peoples us and is our home.

In many parts of the world life is difficult and has been difficult for a long time.  It is not only difficult it is oftentimes harsh/brutal/unforgiving.  Because this applies to just about everyone (except the elite) people in these parts of the world do not say “I am in this position because of me.  If I am in this position then that means there is something wrong with me.  I have failed.  I am defective….”  Nor do they go about saying that about others.

This is not a luxury that is available to those of us who live in protestant countries especially the UK and the USA.  Why?  Because the dominant narrative and thus listening that one person has for another is as follows: how your life turns out depends on you; look everyone, EVERYONE, can make it; if you have not made it then you must be responsible; you are at fault – you are the source of the hardship that you are experiencing.  With this narrative comes a lack of compassion, kindness and generosity towards one another.

What is astounding is that so many people in the USA/UK have bought into this myth that they are hard on themselves.  That is to say that you/I find ourselves on our knees and we  blame ourselves.  We are ashamed of ourselves.  We berate ourselves.  We think that we have failed and that there is something wrong with us.  “Look, I live in a country where ANYONE can make it.  I have not made it so there must be something wrong with me!”  Put differently, we lack compassion towards ourselves because we have a FAULTY map of the world.

I say get real.  I say get that you/I are not Gods – we are mortals and as mortals our circumstances and our destiny is to some extent ‘shaped by the Gods’.  The Greeks got this beautifully.  The Greeks got that at the end of the day man is subject to the ‘whim of the Gods’ and the best that s/he can do is to ‘fight the good fight’.  This is what makes the human situation a tragic one; we are not like the stone, the plant nor the tiger – we can do so much; and yet we are mere mortals, not Gods.  This might not be concrete enough for you so allow me to make it real by going back to Mitt Romney.

Mitt Romney lost!  He spent six years of his life and a spent something in the region of US$750m and he lost.  The richest person to run for the presidency lost.  One of the most influential people in the USA did not get to realise his ambition.  Many thought he was going to win.  He, himself, thought he was going to win and so had a massive celebration including fireworks planned.  And how did it work out?  He lost!  All his wealth, his fame, his track record, his influence, the $750m he spent .. did not get him the presidency.  In Greek terms ‘the Gods’ were not on his side, they favoured Obama.

I say get real!  I say be compassionate towards those who are hurting right now – whether that is your fellow man or yourself.  We are not masters of our fate.  Whilst we can do a lot, we cannot shape, entirely, how our lives turn out or how the world turns out.  

Werner Erhard, found this out in 1991.  Many thousands of people flocked to take part in his seminars (est, and later the forum).  Werner created ‘transformation’ and he touched many lives – indirectly he has touched mine through my  participation in the courses delivered by Landmark Education.   Werner preached ‘responsibility’.  He urged the est participants to take responsibility for their lives – just they are and are not – rather than play ‘victim’ and blame others.   Werner was soaring at the heights – both in terms of the impact he was making and his fame/fortune.  Then in early 1991 he found out that CBS News were going to show a programme that was going to ruin his reputation.  Despite his best, including his offer of taking a lie detector test, he could not persuade CBS News not to run the programme.  And he left the USA and found himself in exile – reputation ruined.  Many years later the allegations in the CBS News were retracted. And the impact on his life had been made – there was no ‘going back’.

Finally, I say that if you/I find ourselves on the receiving end of the ‘whims of the Gods’ like Werner did then we can put ourselves in a powerful position to be with and deal with what is so.  First we can be compassionate towards ourselves. Second, we can in the context of this compassion take responsibility for our lives – including getting ourselves off the floor.  Werner Erhard did just that.  He left the USA and he invented a new life for himself outside of the USA and he has been making an impact all over the world.

And finally, if you find one of our fellow human beings hurting and/or on the floor (emotionally, financially, physically) then I ask you to give that person a helping hand.  If you are finding that difficult because you are under the myth of ‘man as God’ that is so dominant in the USA (and to some extent in the UK) then I remind you of Mitt Romney, six years, $750m spent, and no presidency!

 

 

Alberto Casillas: an ordinary man takes an extrarodinary stand and becomes a national hero


 

 

“There were excessive police forces. I am for compliance with the law, but above the law, there is humanity. I did what I had to do, that’s all.”  Alberto Casillas

Occasionally, I read about, see and hear that which leaves me moved-touched-inspired. This week I came across the Alberto Casillas, an ordinary barman in Madrid, who took an extraordinary stand during the recent anti-austerity protests that took place in Spain.

Why did Alberto put himself at stake?  Why did he put himself between the riot police (not known for gentleness) and the anti-austerity demonstrators & customers that were in the restaurant/bar?  According to Alberto: to protect, to save lives.

The question that calls to me this one: what does it take to take the kind of stand that Alberto took?  It occurs to me it takes compassion-care-courage. And it is interesting to note that Alberto is being celebrated as a national hero.  You can read about it here.   I recommend watching the following short video:

I could leave it here and that would be fine.  Yet, it occurs to me that there is a deeper question here.  And for me, this question is: what does this disclose about the being of human beings?

It occurs to me that how people have responded to the being/doing of Alberto discloses that the being of human beings values and thus honors care-compassion-courage.  Does it unconceal anything more?  I say that it unconceals something about how we would like to be: compassionate-caring-courageous.

What else does it unconceal?  It is what you put into the world that contributes to the well being our fellow human being that counts.  Put differently, the people who will mourn you are the people whose lives you have touched through compassion-care-courage.

 

 

Suffering: pathway to compassion, relationship and a ‘world the works’?


Suffering is intrinsic to life and living

Suffering has been present in my experience of living for the last few weeks.  Is there anything special about this?  No, to be a human being is to be a being-in-the-world that is indifferent to my existence, his/her existence, your existence:  the world does not deliver my existential needs and/or does not fit into the model of the world should be (according to me, to my culture) and wherever either of these two conditions are present, suffering shows up.

Given that suffering is present in my house-of-being what is a useful way to be with it, to handle it, to work it?  Do I run from this suffering?  Do I embrace it, grasp on to tightly, suffer in silence and thus relate to myself as a martyr and give some meaning to my suffering?  Or do I embrace it, make a joke of it, display it to the world in order to get sympathy or admiration?  Do I lash out to those who I hold to be responsible for the causes of my suffering?  Do I inflict suffering because I am suffering?

Does suffering beget suffering in the ordinary way-of-being in the world?

I found that I was pretending to be OK with suffering when I was not OK with suffering.  And standing in that place I was not at peace and not available to any person who came into contact with me.  Worse, I was ready to blow up at the slightest annoyance.  How do I know this?  I became present to this when I blew up with several people including my mother. Did anyone deserve my behaviour?  No.  These people were doing what they do pretty much always.  Usually, I deal with that as their way-of-being in the world and let it go, swim with it.

What did this suffering my mine allow me to get present to?  Suffering begets suffering unless one is present to one’s suffering, becomes intimate with it, and thus uses it to allow compassion to flourish.   And yet, I really do not wish to be with my suffering.  I wish to run from it, minimise it, rationalise it……  And when I do this then I hurt the people who are around me.  Is it possible that the people in our lives who show up as least deserving of our kindness, our time/attention, of our generosity are those who occur as being selfish, inconsiderate, aggressive?  Yes, it occurs to me that the people who are in most need of our kindness, our generosity, our patience, our benevolence, are the ones that, in the ordinary way of being, we are least likely to be kind towards.  And so I, you, we contribute to the endless cycle of suffering.

Can suffering open a doorway to compassion, relationship and a ‘world that works’?

What else did I get present to as I was suffering?  It occurred to me that my experience of my suffering was similar to that of Ivan Ilych.  I was in a state of suffering and the people around me where busy with their lives.  Were they indifferent to my suffering?  I don’t know.  Did they even know/get my suffering?  I don’t know and I am confident that I hid it well.  Am I blaming anyone?  No.  I have done and probably am doing exactly the same: being not present to or simply indifferent to the suffering of those who live.

Can you and I use suffering powerfully – to generate compassion, build relationship and contribute to a ‘world that works’ with none excluded?   I came across these words of wisdom from Krishnamurti which helped me get a more useful relationship to suffering (mine, yours, his, hers) and they may do the same for you:

Why am I or why are you callous to another man’s suffering?  Why are we indifferent to the coolie who is carrying a heavy load, to the woman is carrying a baby?  Why are we so callous?  To understand that, we must understand why suffering makes us dull.  Surely, it is suffering that makes us callous; because we don’t understand suffering, we become indifferent to it.  If I understand suffering, then I become sensitive to suffering, awake to everything, not only to myself, but to the people about me, to my wife, to my children, to an animal, to a beggar.  But we don’t want to understand suffering, and the escape from suffering makes us dull, and therefore callous….. the point is that suffering, when not understood, dulls the mind and heart; from it, through the guru, through a savior, through mantras, through reincarnation, through ideas, through drink and every other kind of addiction – anything to escape what is…..

Now, the understanding of suffering does not lie in finding out what the cause is. Any man can know the cause of suffering; his own thoughtlessness, his stupidity, his narrowness, his brutality, and so on.  But if I look at the suffering itself without wanting an answer, then what happens?  Then, as I am not escaping, I begin to understand suffering; my mind is watchfully alert, keen, which means I become sensitive, and being sensitive, I am aware of other people’s suffering.”

And finally

1. Let’s own our suffering.  When you and I own our suffering then we stand in a powerful place to be with our suffering correctly and take the appropriate actions.   We move from being helpless / being victims and step into being the authors of our lives.  And as authors we are in a position to invent new possibilities that leave our experience of living transformed.  Even when we cannot escape our suffering we may be able to transcend our suffering by giving meaning to our suffering that leaves us with self-esteem.  Viktor Frankl, who spent two years or so in WWII concentration camps, has much to say on how to be with / transcend circumstances when one cannot escape from them.

2.  Let’s open our eyes and our hearts to the suffering that is all around us.  And with these open eyes and hearts lets be compassionate and act with kindness so as to show up as being caring/considerate human beings in the lives of others.  It occurs to me that the people that most need our compassion are the ones that show up as the least deserving of our compassion.

How do you contribute to someone when you cannot ‘fix the situation’?


I was meditating this morning.  Whilst I was still sitting in the lotus position (after having completed the meditation) my daughter came into the lounge.  Just by looking at her I could tell that she was upset.  She asked for a hug and I invited her to come and sit on my lap. Once she sat on my lap I asked her what she was upset about.

She told me that she did not want to go to school.   She told me that she finds school boring.  She told me that the teachers spent too much time on the academic subjects (English, Maths..) and almost no time on the creative subjects that breathe life into her and give her wings: art, painting, dance….. She told me that the teacher his moved her best friend to another part of the classroom and so they are no longer sitting next to each other.  She cried. I felt her pain – really, I FELT her pain.  And I also got that I could not fix the situation.  Life is life.  Sometimes it throws up several flavours like Vanilla, Chocolate, Strawberry…. At other times life throws up Vanilla and when that is so you can choose Vanilla or you can ‘resist’ and you are still faced with Vanilla: there is no escaping Vanilla when all there is, is simply Vanilla.

I got that I could not fix it for her.  So how do I help my daughter given that I cannot fix the situation for her?  I held her tight (but not too tight) and I allowed her to cry – to express and share her pain without any judgement.  And after with what was so for about five minutes she got up and got ready to go to school.

Sometimes the most profound way that we help our fellow human beings is to a create a safe space where they can be who they really are.  A safe space where they can share what is really going on for them without fear of judgement.  A safe space where they know that we will not make any attempts to tell them what to do, to fix them.  A safe space where the communication in our being and relating simply says: “You are equal to the circumstances that you are facing.  And I am here for you.”

A remarkable experience on the way to college


This post is related to the following post:  Getting, owning and letting my disappointment be sets me free!

Usually my wife drives my daughter to school (along with two young girls from next door)  and my eldest son takes the bus to college.  Something came up, my wife asked for my help and yesterday I committed to taking the three girls to school.

This morning I was completely at peace after finishing my morning meditation.  Being in that space the thought came to me: “I can be of service to my eldest son – drive him to college”.  So I called in my son and told him that I would be leaving at 8:30 to drop the girls off at school and if he came with me then I’d drop him off college (after we dropped the girls at school).  He was pleased: he had overslept, would not have been able to do what he needed to do, get the bus and get to college by 9:00am.

After we dropped the girls off school and there was just the two of us my son apologised.  He said he was sorry for the way that he had behaved the previous day during our time playing table-tennis together at the sports centre.  How did this occur to me?  A genuine sharing of what was so for my son: he simply said what there was to say.  He did not occur as ‘making amends’ because that was something expected of him nor of  ‘sweet talking me’ to get something out of me.  He went on to share that he did not know why he had behaved the way that he had behaved.  I listened – just listened.

How was I left feeling?  I was touched – nothing more, nothing less.  I felt no sense of satisfaction like I would have done previously.  Nor did I feel proud of my son (as he had done the right thing) as I would have done previously.  I did not feel or think any thoughts of forgiveness because it did not occur that I had anything to forgive: I had seen into the nature of my disappointment and accepted it totally on Sunday and through that processes I had set myself free.

I was more than simply touched, I was touched deeply.  I got that my son had been living with the disappointment of Sunday’s table-tennis session.  His disappointment was worse:  he had no-one else to blame and was left with only himself to blame.  He also felt guilty at letting me, his dad, down and he had been carrying around this pain for the better part of a day.

How did I respond?  I thanked him for getting my disappointment and sharing his disappointment.  I also told him I loved him – that was simply what was so and I felt it deeply.  I was experiencing compassion and love for my son.  And I told him that I was looking forward to playing table-tennis with him.  I noticed that some of the heaviness that he was carrying about his being lifted.

What is the insight?

I am not the only one who experiences disappointment.  So do others.  I am not the only one that experiences suffering.  So do others.  I am not the only one that is puzzled and asks himself “Why did I do that?”. So do others.

If I can own and be with my experience without getting wrapped up in my ‘story’ then I can be free – at peace – to be compassionate towards my fellow human beings.  And I can put that compassion into the game of life and so take some of the burden off the hearts of my fellow human beings.

On being wanted, loved and cared for: how I arrived with one sister and left with four sisters!


“According to Mother Theresa, the greatest disease in the West is not Tuberculosis or Leprosy; it is being unwanted, unloved, uncared for.” Tim Sanders, Love Is The Killer App

A life full of ‘business as usual’ encounters

Can you remember a time in your life when you turn up at someone’s house because it is something you should do. And as you knock on the door you expect a superficial experience because the people are in the room and humanity has gone walkabout – including your own? My life if it was a container would be full of these superficial encounters: unwanted, unloved, uncared for. And I am confident that I have had the same impact on many of my fellow human beings.

Three extraordinary sisters and an extraordinary day

Yesterday I encountered Asma, Saima and Selena (sisters) as I have done several times before. Yet this time I so enjoyed their company that I did not want to leave and return home. The speaking, relating, listening and the experience of each others company was extraordinary. Full of humanity – genuine sharing, caring and laughter. What was present that had been missing in previous encounters?

I was coming from the context of ‘Playing BIG’ and being the source of powerful conversations that bring the experience of the extraordinary into being. And the people I interacted with (including Asma, Saima and Selena) were touched by my honest sharing (including vulnerabilities and mistakes) and put their humanity into the mix with me. Together we touched each others lives in an ‘extraordinary’ way – definitely not a ‘business as usual’ experience’!

I got that I have four sisters and not three: I simply had not been willing to see this before. Asma is amazing and loves me; I got that Saima is amazing and loves me; I got that Selena is amazing and loves me; I got that they are amazing together and love each other; and I got that they are being loving towards their mother and father.

I love my sister Freda and the relationship is so strong that I have never wanted or wished for another sister. Today I ‘have’ four sisters. Put accurately, I declare that I am an elder brother to four sisters: Fred, Asma, Saima and Selena. And as such I take on all the ‘stuff’ that goes with ‘playing that game’. How do I feel? Great.

Final thought: ‘Playing BIG’ has expanded my circle of concern and of care. And it has also enriched my life I am delighted to be in relationship with four sisters – each of them being amazing.

I love you Freda, Asma, Saima and Selena, Please know that you have a brother in me and all that goes with that. Asma, Saima and Selena I apologise that it took me so long to get that you want, love and care for me as your older brother. I totally get that you are amazing and it is a privilege to step into being your elder brother.