Stand In Your Sovereignty

(While fully admitting that politics isn’t my forte, I felt compelled to try to say something that might speak to the events of this year).

2016 has been a year of unpredicted whirlwind changes on the world stage.

June saw approximately half of UK voters cast their vote to leave the EU.

That night I watched the number of constituencies voting to leave steadily rise with a sick sense of disbelief deep in the pit of my stomach.

I wasn’t the only one.

“What have we done?” asked one of my friends on Facebook. (A Remain voter).

“How can this be happening?” were the first words of another.

With an eerie sense of deja vu, I’ve seen many American friends express the same sense of shock and disbelief in the wake of the Presidential elections.

Both the UK and the USA – despite their umpteen deplorable mistakes that have left deep scars on the face of history – have been in many ways proponents of humanitarian values.

We now find ourself in the situation where they are – politically speaking – leaning heavily towards the right.

This seems to have given hardcore nationalism, white supremacy and the minuscule percentage of people who subscribe to them the license to rear their ugly heads. Spates of xenophobia and other hate crimes followed close behind in both countries.

Although it is edifying to see the amount of support for the targeted minorities and that these incidents have been swiftly dealt with by the authorities, it is easy to surmise that the political, moral and ethical landscape in the UK and the US has shifted beyond recognition.

It is as if the values that we thought our countries stood for have been swept away from under our feet.

Overnight.

People from both sides of the political spectrum feel the pain of this.

Many who were on the “losing side” feel that far exceeding any personal sense of loss, the result is a loss for the nation; a loss for the world.

Stranded in this sea of uncertainty and tumultuous change many of us feel anchorless. Ungrounded. Like strangers in our homeland.

We are shaken to our core; no longer able to identify with the badge of belonging which has been ours for so long.

In this sea of dismay and despair, it can be easy to feel like we have little say in the way our lives are determined.

We can feel like our lives are controlled by external events; forces bigger than us – things that are beyond our control.

When we do, we give away our power.

The truth is that we are the biggest force in our own lives.

We are the source of our power.

 

Reeling after the Brexit decision back in June, it took me a couple of days to remember that I am the authority in my own life and reclaim my power.

When I did, I wrote these words:

“I am not defined by my nationality. I can and do choose to embrace inclusive values, love and compassion; even if the leader(s) of my country or some of my fellow countrymen do not. I can hope that the leadership that emerges will also choose to embrace these and other such noble qualities. I can commit to doing all that is within my power to sow seeds of love that will grow in the hearts and lives of others and to spread compassion in the world.”

 

This is where our power resides:

In our response.

 

We always have the power to choose the way we want to show up in the world.

We always have the power to choose the values we want to uphold and embody.

 

That the political, moral and ethical landscape is always changing is not a fact we often consider.

Referendums and presidential elections may emphasize and draw our attention to this; but the political arena is not where the moral and ethical landscapes of our countries are created.

The power to create the moral and ethical landscape of our nation resides within us: in the moment-to-moment choices we make, and the values we source them in.

 

As sovereign beings, we always have the power of choice.

We have the power to choose who we want to be and how we want to show up in the world – how we want to act, speak and respond – in each and every moment of our lives.

 

The current state of the world is calling us to step up into that power.

To claim our authority.

To develop increasing mastery of ourself.

To bring more consciousness to the world we are co-creating together.

To step into the fullness of our power as co-creators.

 

It is asking each one of us to examine who we are and who we want to be.

It is asking us to examine our values.

It is asking us to commit to all that we believe is good and pure and true.

It is asking us to uphold these things.

 

It is asking us to do these things now.

So that we can create a better world for ourselves, and for each other.

 

Now is the time for us to shine our light.

Without the darkness of the night, the brilliance of the new day cannot be seen or comprehended.

The darkness of intolerance, greed and hate; disrespect for each other, our fellow creatures and our planet is the stark contrast that is calling us to boldly shine our light forth in the world as never before.

The world needs our light.

The inequalities, divisions and discriminations that have permeated our society for so long; deeply embedded but all too often denied and discounted; have at last broken the surface and are exposed, in plain view for all to see.

This sense of decline we feel; this sense that as a nation, and as nations, our collective backs have been turned and we have regressed to the divisive politics of bygone years – this is our medicine.

This is what – if we allow it, will empower us to diagnose and treat the greed, superiority and hatred; the politics of fear and division; the legacy of suspicion and mistrust of difference that is a cancerous cell embedded deep within the heart of humanity.

 

We cannot treat a disease that we do not know  is there.

Nor one which we refuse to acknowledge.

 

We have made gigantic leaps and bounds in many parts of the world towards embracing inclusive policies and equal rights. It is right that we should celebrate this.

Now the shadow has come into plain view again so that we can heal it on an even deeper and more profound level.

 

It is not the politicians and world leaders who have the ability do this; though they have their role to play.

 

The power resides with us.

 

It is up to each one of us to take on the task of healing and transmuting the darkness. Turning it into light:

One loving thought at a time; one loving word at a time; one loving act at a time.

 

We begin with ourself.

Noticing the shadow within us – the places where we act from fear, greed and hate – surrendering it; breathing in love instead.

The love we breathe in is a love that embraces the whole of humanity.

A love that embraces the whole of life.

It is akin to the concept of love expressed in the word Namaste:

I honor the place in you in which the entire Universe dwells, I honor the place in you which is of Love, of Integrity, of Wisdom and of Peace. When you are in that place in you, and I am in that place in me, we are One.

 

The question to ask ourself is are we acting from this space of Love?

Are the moment-to-moment choices we are making coming from this space in which we honor the whole of humanity, the whole of life, as expressions of divine Source; each equally worthy, each deserving of our love and compassion?

Are the moment-to-moment choices we make – choosing one thought over another; one word in place of another; one action instead of another – grounded in love and compassion; rooted in a desire for the freedom of all sentient beings to live happy and fulfilling lives?

 

We extend this love into the lives of the people around us by:

Choosing thoughts, words and deeds that respect and honor.

Choosing thoughts, words and deeds that offer solidarity, peace, joy and hope.

Choosing thoughts, words and deeds that bridge differences and build connection.

Choosing thoughts, words and deeds that seek to understand and find value in others; that let be and continue to treat with respect and dignity those with whom we find ourselves to be irreconcilable with in some way.

Choosing thoughts, words and deeds that unite us in our common humanity, whilst also respecting its multifaceted faces.

Choosing thoughts, words and deeds that join us together in mutual compassion and understanding, discarding those that drive us apart.

 

As each of us chooses to act from this space of love and compassion, as this ripples out into the lives of the people around us, we change the moral and ethical landscape of our nation.

This is the tremendous force of the power that resides within us.

 

The power to choose and – by our choices – change the face of our nation.

The power to choose and – by our choices – change the face of the world.

 

Image credit: QuotesPick.com

 

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The Flower of Life

A poem with all the makings of a modern day fairy tale that celebrates diversity, living as one, and the philosophy that "I am another you, you are another me." Written in response to current events, the author wishes to see healing for the world and people living as one.
Image courtesy of riverfox1 on Deviant Art – http://fav.me/d60t770.

In a quiet forest glade where emerald light filtered through the foliage of graceful boughs and the air was still and silent but for the distant drone of bees, there grew a flower called the flower of life.

Few ventured as far this clearing, but those who did were touched by its magic.

One imagined the Ancients must have roamed here. The air was heavy with awe and wonder. It seeped into the soul and cleaved hearts open with the rich fullness of presence.

None who wandered here left the same person they were when they came. Softened by their encounter with the sacred presence of Nature they went back into the world purer of heart; carrying the silence of the glade deep within their being.

The flower of life stood in the center of the clearing.

She was said to be a mirror through which one could look upon the world.

To look on her was to look on beauty.

Amidst the cool green of the ferns and the dark undergrowth, she rose with a singular grace; each of her petals shimmering in a unique and lustrous color.

Crimson, emerald, sapphire, violet, apricot, amber, citron, rose, white, black, silver, gold. All of these colors and more. Each petal its own distinct color, coming together in a harmonious whole.

As she absorbed the emerald light that reached down through the trees the flower of life shone in a exquisite kaleidoscope of vibrant color, each hue enriching the others as she danced and swayed in the slight breeze that gently whispered to her.

 

Her beauty was sonorous, calling the light to her.

And as she absorbed the light she became still more beautiful.

The light wasn’t the only thing which responded to her resonant call.

Honey bees drunk on her goodness weaved about her gracefully. Hummingbirds and butterflies with iridescent wings flocked here and frolicked too, for her nectar was sweet and tender, a joy to all.

The morning dew loved to linger on her unfurling petals, and even the breeze seemed to slow its step so it could dance with her a while.

And in the midst of all this richness and diversity of color, the flower of life bloomed in an everlasting celebration of the richness and diversity of life.

 

Until…

one day…

 

the violet and indigo petals got together and decided they didn’t like the sapphire petal.

There was no particular reason. Maybe they were jealous that the darting dragonflies appeared to alight on her more, seemingly preferring her radiance to their own.

Maybe they were simply locked in their fear of this color that was – to them – unknown.

Whatever their reasons, bit by bit they staved off her nutrition.

The sapphire petal, denied of her source of vitality, valiantly tried to continue to shine, to contribute her unique beauty to the magnificence of the whole. But cut off from her source of nutrition, it wasn’t long before the glistening sapphire petal slowly faded to a washed-out cornflower blue.

As more time passed she drooped and listed…

Finally, she fell to the ground.

 

 

It was a sad moment for the flower of life.

 

 

Not only had she lost one of her petals, but a darkness that wasn’t present before now imbued the violet and indigo petals, changing the way they refracted the light.

 

The intensity of her radiance had diminished a little. But still she shone brightly and the winged creatures continued to come, to drink deeply of her pure nectar and absorb her beautiful light.

 

Unfortunately, the tinge of darkness wasn’t content with being a tinge. It saw for itself a bigger future. In an effort to tarnish the radiance of the flower, it emanated spots of darkness that fell on the gold petal with its head upturned to receive the light.

 

The darkness encountered the light, and – for the moment – the darkness won.

The gold petal decided that it didn’t like the silver petal.

Saturated with superiority, it could no longer see her beauty as anything other than inferior to its own.

 

In a story that has told itself over and over again since time begun, the gold petal began to assert her dominion and power. She cruelly cut off the nutrition to the silver petal.

Before long the flower of life mourned the loss of another of her petals.

 

 

And how she mourned.

 

 

Now it was the apricot petal’s turn to devour the darkness and make it her own.

“If I absorb the radiance of the crimson, amber, citron and rose petals and assimilate them, I’ll be a match for the brilliance of the violet, gold and indigo petals,” she reasoned. “Then will I shine in splendor. The vividness of my color will capture the eyes and hearts of all.”

And so she began her own story of supremacy, drawing the essence of the other colors in to enrich her own.

 

In the process she acquired more of the darkness; for she was motivated by selfish gain, instead of a wish to shine brightly so she could contribute to and enhance the brilliance of the whole.

 

And as the crimson, amber, citron and rose petals all lent their radiance to the apricot petal, they lost their own. The flower of life was left a shadow of the flower she was before.

 

 

And how she mourned.

 

 

The birds, bees and butterflies stopped coming to visit, for they couldn’t stand the conflict and fighting.

Besides, the tinge of darkness that suffused so many of the petals had turned the nectar sour.

 

The flower grieved.

And then she grieved some more.

 

She missed the winged creatures who drank of her goodness and delighted her with their pranks and quirks and beauty.

She missed the gentle whir of their wings, and the way the air they generated fanned her petals, making them dance with unbridled joy.

 

She missed the radiance of her own beauty, its brilliant kaleidoscope of colors.

She missed the refraction of light as it spun its magic across her many-hued petals.

 

She missed her long, eloquent conversations with the dew that lingered in the mornings.

She missed cavorting with the wind on long and languid summer evenings.

 

She missed knowing herself as having value, contributing to the world with the sweetness of her nectar, with her beauty that uplifted all.

She missed the sense of knowing who she was, and of having purpose.

 

 

In her sadness she began to droop and wither.

Her life-force felt stilted.

She no longer knew who or what she was living for.

One by one her remaining petals fell to the ground.

 

Hours turned into days and they were chased away by the wind.

Finally, the flower’s stalk, too, was blown away.

All that remained of her was unseen and unknown.

 

 

The flower still grieved, taking her pain with her into the ground where she lay dormant.

 

Mother Earth cradled her in her arms, and tried to nurture her back to wholeness.

Weeks and months passed and the rain washed away the pain and the grief.

At times the rain ran in rivulets so deep they cleansed even the memories of pain.

And one day the wind blew away the last remnants of darkness, and the emerald light poured its goodness into the clearing again.

 

Restorative light which warmed the earth and extended its reach down to the the seed of the flower, who felt the life begin to stir in her anew.

 

After some days had passed she tentatively pushed a young, green shoot above surface.

 

It quivered in the wind, drunk deeply of the rain, basked in the sun; it loved it all.

It reached up to the emerald light, gaining ground every day.

 

The flower of life felt the joy in it all. Felt a deep urge to burst forth in flower again.

 

In her joy, she found courage.

 

From her stalk emerged a single petal.

A single petal that contained all the hues of the ones before.

 

The different colors merged together so you couldn’t tell where one ended and the next one began; their existence inextricably bound together.

Each one resplendent in its own beauty, each made more magnificent in its synergy with the whole.

 

A single petal of iridescent light.

Indescribably sublime.

 

 

Friday, November 13th, 2015

Image credit: twitter.com/jean_jullien
Image credit: twitter.com/jean_jullien

*I would just like to emphasise that this is an account of my personal response to the events in Paris, which may or may not coincide with the opinions of others.

 

 

Today I attended “gift curry,”

an event at a temple

tucked away in the hills

behind my house.

 

“Gift curry” the event

was inspired by

Himself He Cooks – 

 

an award-winning

documentary which takes us to

the Golden Temple in

Amritsar where, each day, 300

volunteers prepare and serve

up to 50,000 free meals,

all made from donated food.

 

It took one young woman

with an open heart and a

willing soul who watched this

film and thought, “If they can

do it there, we can here.”

 

One young woman with her

enthusiasm and the

strength of character to

believe in herself and

follow though on her

dreams.

 

One young woman with a

desire to champion caring,

community, and giving without

expectation of

anything in return.

 

One young woman and her

receptive friend who

stepped up; said

“Let’s make it happen.”

 

And they did.

 

They invited others to

share in their

vision, to give of

themselves in

service.

 

And today it came about –

the culmination of several

months of hard work and planning.

 

From early this

morning there was a

team of volunteers on kitchen

and car park duty at the

temple. Gifts of rice and

vegetables were

gratefully received and the

volunteers went to

work.

 

Knives chopped non-stop in the

kitchen as strangers worked

side by side, united in their

common purpose.

 

A very different context to the

free kitchen in Punjab for

sure –

I know without a doubt that

all of the people at the

temple today could afford to

buy their own lunch

several times over.

 

But an act of service all the

same, motivated by the genuine

desire to create a space for

community –

 

for giving; for receiving;

for sharing.

 

For working together towards

a greater good.

 

People sharing their time, their

gifts, their experience, their

hearts; remembering what

community is

all about.

 

Over a hundred people were

served a meal of three kinds of

curry, two kinds of rice and

a selection of pickles. So many people

brought gifts of food that there was a

whole host of other things besides and

more tables had to be found to

accommodate it all.

 

A local dancer gave us the gift of

her art performed in front of the

temple’s altar, and a man

who had traveled extensively in

India shared with us the

gift of his knowledge.

 

And everywhere people lent their

hands in any way they

could –

wiping tables,

washing plates,

carrying chairs,

befriending those of us who came alone.

 

I drove home with a

warmth in my heart.

 

I was thinking what a beautiful

world we live in.

 

Of the love and generosity in

people’s hearts.

 

Of the power we have to create something

bigger than we are when we

unite.

 

Of the power we all have to follow our

hearts,

make a difference in the world.

 

The beauty of the temple’s

gingko tree in its full

fall splendour, its yellow

leaves distinct against a

magnificent backdrop of

rain and mist soaked

mountains etched itself

on my heart and I thought –

“What a wonderful world

we live in; what a paradise

here on Earth.”

 

That was before I got

home and turned on my

computer; saw the news –

 

At least 120

dead

in terrorist attacks in

Paris.

 

Many,

many

more injured.

 

The magnificent city

devastated by the

senseless act of

terror;

its people grieving,

numbed.

 

It was at that point that my thinking was on

the verge

of turning itself around.

 

“What a f****d up world we live in,” I heard –

a sad, disillusioned voice in my head.

 

And it was then that I decided I

wouldn’t

let my heart be

hardened.

 

Because by God this is a

world of beauty and

goodness as well as one of

pain.

 

And if we let the ones

who want to cause us

terror

harden our hearts so that

we can no longer see that, then –

in every way –

they’ve won.

 

Yes let’s mourn and grieve the

irreplaceable loss of

life. The senselessness and

brutality of the violence

perpetrated against the

people of Paris.

 

The pain and darkness in

the lives and hearts of some

that bring them to the

place where they pull that

trigger, detonate the bomb.

 

The misplaced

nationalistic, racist or

religious zeal that is an all-

consuming fire in the hearts of

others, persuading them they’re

justified,

within their moral right to

commit such an

act – one that contravenes the

sanctity of life.

 

Let us continue, in the

days to come, to

mourn and grieve

each and every

precious life

lost

to terrorism in Paris and

countries all over the world.

 

But let us also hold onto the

goodness; the

beauty.

 

The individual and combined

endeavours to shape this world

into a better place.

 

All that is

right

in people’s hearts and

in the world at large.

 

Let us hold it

up;

 

an act of

defiance against those who

want to besmirch our hearts,

minds and lives with their

darkness.

 

And, in solidarity, let

us unite –

 

world citizens of and for

a peace

a hope

 

that transcends all

borders,

 

transcends the superficial

distinctions we

impose on ourselves.

 

United in our

humanity

 

as we hold the

people of Paris up,

honour them in our hearts.