Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Closing cycles

by Paulo Coelho

One always has to know when a stage comes to an end. If we insist on
staying longer than the necessary time, we lose the happiness and the
meaning of the other stages we have to go through.

Closing cycles, shutting doors, ending chapters -- whatever name we
give it, what matters is to leave in the past the moments of life that
have finished.

Did you lose your job? Has a loving relationship come to an end? Did
you leave your parents' house? Gone to live abroad? Has a long-lasting
friendship ended all of a sudden?

You can spend a long time wondering why this has happened. You can
tell yourself you won't take another step until you find out why
certain things that were so important and so solid in your life have
turned into dust, just like that.

But such an attitude will be awfully stressing for everyone involved:
your parents, your husband or wife, your friends, your children, your
sister, everyone will be finishing chapters, turning over new leaves,
getting on with life, and they will all feel bad seeing you at a

None of us can be in the present and the past at the same time, not
even when we try to understand the things that happen to us. What has
passed will not return: we cannot for ever be children, late
adolescents, sons that feel guilt or rancor towards our parents,
lovers who day and night relive an affair with someone who has gone
away and has not
the least intention of coming back.

Things pass, and the best we can do is to let them really go away.
That is why it is so important (however painful it maybe!) to destroy
souvenirs, move, give lots of things away to orphanages, sell or
donate the books you have at home. Everything in
this visible world is a manifestation of the invisible world, of what
is going on in our hearts and getting rid of certain memories also
means making some room for other memories to take their place.

Let things go. Release them. Detach yourself from them. Nobody plays
this life with marked cards, so sometimes we win and sometimes we
lose. Do not expect anything in return, do not expect your efforts to
be appreciated, your genius to be discovered, your
love to be understood. Stop turning on your emotional television to
watch the same program over and over again, the one that shows how
much you suffered from a certain loss: that is only poisoning you,
nothing else.

Nothing is more dangerous than not accepting love relationships that
are broken off, work that is promised but there is no starting date,
decisions that are always put off waiting for the ideal moment. Before
a new chapter is begun, the old one has to be finished: tell yourself
that what has passed will never come back. Remember that there was a
time when you could live without that thing or that person.

Nothing is irreplaceable. A habit is not a need.
This may sound so obvious, it may even be difficult,but it is very important.

Closing cycles. Not because of pride, incapacity or arrogance, but
simply because that no longerfits your life.

Shut the door, change the record, clean the house, shake off the dust.
Stop being who you were, and change into who you are.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Principles of Spiritual Activism

something worth reading...

The following principles emerged from several years' work with social change leaders in Satyana's Leading with Spirit program. We offer these not as definitive truths, but rather as key learnings and guidelines that, taken together, comprise a useful framework for "spiritual activism."


Transformation of motivation from anger/fear/despair to compassion/love/purpose. This is a vital challenge for today's social change movement. This is not to deny the noble emotion of appropriate anger or outrage in the face of social injustice. Rather, this entails a crucial shift from fighting against evil to working for love, and the long-term results are very different, even if the outer activities appear virtually identical. Action follows Being, as the Sufi saying goes. Thus "a positive future cannot emerge from the mind of anger and despair" (Dalai Lama).


Non-attachment to outcome. This is difficult to put into practice, yet to the extent that we are attached to the results of our work, we rise and fall with our successes and failures-a sure path to burnout. Hold a clear intention, and let go of the outcome-recognizing that a larger wisdom is always operating. As Gandhi said, "the victory is in the doing," not the results. Also, remain flexible in the face of changing circumstances: "Planning is invaluable, but plans are useless."(Churchill)


Integrity is your protection. If your work has integrity, this will tend to protect you from negative energy and circumstances. You can often sidestep negative energy from others by becoming "transparent" to it, allowing it to pass through you with no adverse effect upon you. This is a consciousness practice that might be called "psychic aikido."


Integrity in means and ends. Integrity in means cultivates integrity in the fruit of one's work. A noble goal cannot be achieved utilizing ignoble means.


Don't demonize your adversaries. It makes them more defensive and less receptive to your views. People respond to arrogance with their own arrogance, creating rigid polarization. Be a perpetual learner, and constantly challenge your own views.


You are unique. Find and fulfill your true calling. "It is better to tread your own path, however humbly, than that of another, however successfully." (Bhagavad Gita)


Love thy enemy. Or at least, have compassion for them. This is a vital challenge for our times. This does not mean indulging falsehood or corruption. It means moving from "us/them" thinking to "we" consciousness, from separation to cooperation, recognizing that we human beings are ultimately far more alike than we are different. This is challenging in situations with people whose views are radically opposed to yours. Be hard on the issues, soft on the people.


Your work is for the world, not for you. In doing service work, you are working for others. The full harvest of your work may not take place in your lifetime, yet your efforts now are making possible a better life for future generations. Let your fulfillment come in gratitude for being called to do this work, and from doing it with as much compassion, authenticity, fortitude, and forgiveness as you can muster.


Selfless service is a myth. In serving others, we serve our true selves. "It is in giving that we receive." We are sustained by those we serve, just as we are blessed when we forgive others. As Gandhi says, the practice of satyagraha ("clinging to truth") confers a "matchless and universal power" upon those who practice it. Service work is enlightened self-interest, because it cultivates an expanded sense of self that includes all others.


Do not insulate yourself from the pain of the world. Shielding yourself from heartbreak prevents transformation. Let your heart break open, and learn to move in the world with a broken heart. As Gibran says, "Your pain is the medicine by which the physician within heals thyself." When we open ourselves to the pain of the world, we become the medicine that heals the world. This is what Gandhi understood so deeply in his principles of ahimsa and satyagraha. A broken heart becomes an open heart, and genuine transformation begins.


What you attend to, you become. Your essence is pliable, and ultimately you become that which you most deeply focus your attention upon. You reap what you sow, so choose your actions carefully. If you constantly engage in battles, you become embattled yourself. If you constantly give love, you become love itself.


Rely on faith, and let go of having to figure it all out. There are larger 'divine' forces at work that we can trust completely without knowing their precise workings or agendas. Faith means trusting the unknown, and offering yourself as a vehicle for the intrinsic benevolence of the cosmos. "The first step to wisdom is silence. The second is listening." If you genuinely ask inwardly and listen for guidance, and then follow it carefully-you are working in accord with these larger forces, and you become the instrument for their music.


Love creates the form. Not the other way around. The heart crosses the abyss that the mind creates, and operates at depths unknown to the mind. Don't get trapped by "pessimism concerning human nature that is not balanced by an optimism concerning divine nature, or you will overlook the cure of grace." (Martin Luther King) Let your heart's love infuse your work and you cannot fail, though your dreams may manifest in ways different from what you imagine.