Saturday, January 28, 2012

the love of others

I'm in Singapore. Awaiting the last of my connecting flights that will land me back home in Manila. I feel remarkably steady for someone whose sleep for the last 48 hours have been pieced together from bumpy car and plane rides.

It's been tough with my dad in hospital. India seems like it should be quite close to the Philippines; they're both in Aisa after all. But the reality is, what with air routes and the infrastructures of developing countries, it's not easy to travel in between the two countries. Me rushing over has been a 48 hour journey.

I've been emotional too. And at the start quite panic stricken. But I am feeling more and more steady thanks to the love of others: the support of friends in Mysore, who offered their help so willingly, friends in Manila who are volunteering their blood or rallying for more donations, friends from far and wide who send their well wishes. I feel so much love. And so much gratitude for that love.

We human beings are made for such moments. We rise to the occassion, showing magninimity and grace in the face of adversity. We come together. We raise each other up. I feel so blessed. I feel so supported. I am still standing now thanks to the love of others.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

love not fear

I inhale and exhale. Or, at least, I do my best through this head cold. I will be calm, I remind myself, I will be steady.

I was just on the phone with my father, who along with my step sister, is in the hospital in the Philippines. They have been admitted for Dengue Fever and are now being re-hydrated--the only real recourse for the viral infection transmitted by mosquito bite.

"Pray for me. I'm afraid," my father shared with me.

Again with fear. I know it well. We all do.

So, I sit here now, observing yet another internal battle, waging war in my head and in my heart. All the way here in India, I can't help but feel afraid and helpless and of no use at all to my family. I've asked whether I need to fly home, a strange concept for one who has been desperate to extend her stay here in Mysore. But I've been assured that this action is not warranted. But what to do now? How can I help?

I could continue to be afraid, to make myself frantic, and more sick myself...

Or I could not be afraid--but can it be that simple?

I cannot banish the fear in total, but what I can do is embrace the feeling of love and healing over thoughts that are less positive. As I fill my heart with lightness and hopefulness, the fear I know will subside. And if love can heal the heart, then surely it has the power to heal the body too.

Friday, January 20, 2012

love without limits

Love. When all is well, it flows with ease. It is fluid and constant. There is no resistance. In such cases, we are elated and fulfilled. We love and are loved. The exchange is steady and supportive. Everything smells like roses.

But when it doesn't flow, is that love too? When you feel that stuttering quality in the emotion, that sense of resistance and inconstancy, there one moment, gone another--what is that?

In a recent philosophy class on the Dvaita school of Vedanta, my teacher Gandhanara Bhat spoke about how the darshana views "Truth" as something that doesn't change. That idea resonates with me. And for me, Love is a quality of the Absolute. It should not change; it should be eternal.

And yet, many times, it doesn't seem so. Again, what is that?!

Last year was an interesting one for me (um, just as this one continues to be so...). I was blessed enough to feel that steady flow and ease in love. It was amazing. Then, things changed and I became caught in a whirlwind of crazy emotions. For a while, I blamed love. I felt betrayed by it. I mourned its loss and felt its inconstancy. It was a storm.

Sometimes, I think: phew, glad that has passed! But what I'm realizing, however, is that the whirlwind continues. The storm still rages. I'm just more centered, less swept up. From this vantage point I think I am starting to see things more clearly.

And what I'm seeing now is this: that love, the real thing anyway--sans all the other crazy stuff that we mistake it for--is really easy. It's just that the other things that are not. We are fallible, changeable creatures, moved by our own human conditions: hurt, desire, fear, jealousy, anger, doubt, Ego...And these create challenges to our dear hearts. They create obstacles. They interfere with the flow. The confuse us. And we think, sadly: oh, this is love too.

So, what to do? The storm of emotions continue to whirl around me. Maybe it's abated some, but it's definitely there. I can still feel it rattling my windows. In the past (that includes the recent past as well), I have run from love, because I associate it with fear and loss and hurt. And yet, the results are unsatisfactory. It just garners more fear and more loss and more hurt.

We embrace love when its easy; and we shun it when it is not so. Why do we do this? I think when we love at times of adversity, then love is truly strong, anchoring us to what really matters, giving us shelter throughout each storm.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

light & love

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

A good day to remember all his good messages.
Though this is one particularly resonates with me today:

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

--Martin Luther King, Jr.
from "A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches

Monday, January 2, 2012

2012, giving love

Love, like water, flows.
Telluride, Colorado. Summer, 2011

Love, as usual, has been on my mind a lot. Maybe more so than usual. What with this crossroad between one year to the next, from one phase of life to another. So much is shifting within me personally. Lots and lots of changes.

Despite all the twists and turns of the last year, end of the year, start of the new year, love has been omnipresent. Mostly in abundance. But there have been times that it seemed absent, though I'm coming to recognize that it was there too, present in its absence.

When I was in Los Angeles early last fall, I attended a workshop at the Universal Shaiva Fellowship in Culver City. I remember one of the afternoons. We were listening to the late-yet-ever-present Swami Lakshmanjoo, who was talking about God Consciousness. At the time, I was in turmoil. My heart was breaking and it was taking a lot of strength to hide it--I thought, successfully. Before I left for the day, however, the beautiful Denise Hughes pulled me aside to say that God Consciousness is present at all times, even in the times of despair and chaos. With that, she gave me a hug and sent me off...crying--I was so moved by her magnanimity and the support that came just when I needed it.

I've been thinking a lot about that moment, of how love is like God--or rather, how Love is God. How it is in all things, all feelings, all actions. Some variation of it exists. We live in this world of duality and when we feel something quite the opposite of love, then love must be there too, somewhere.

This past year, I asked for love. And in 2011, love came in so many wonder-full ways. In my yoga practice and the community that supports it, in familial relations, in friendship, and in deep miraculous connections. I have felt so incredibly blessed, so very grateful to receive so much.

But I've also struggled with what seemed like the fickleness of love. I was baffled by its transitory nature. (In fact, I continue to be baffled by this.) How feelings can change like seasons. How affection and attention can be transferred from one object to another.

At these moments, I try to remind myself that it is not love that changes but people. Love, flexible and open, shifts according to our needs and wants. It is giving and nourishing. That love is like water, it responds to its environment, flowing one moment, solid another. Sometimes, it falls so generously on us, we are soaked with it. Other times, it just drizzles. Often, it it is difficult to grasp, but it's in the air, we just don't see it. Love may change forms but it also remains constant, it stays true to its nature.

As I struggle with change, I've been asking myself how do I stay in the constancy of love? How do I override the sensations of loss and fear and sadness as love transforms around me?

I cannot stop my loved ones from changing. I can't even stop myself. Change is inevitable. But I can at least try my very best to trust in the enduring steadiness of Love itself.

Like last year, I continue to invite love in; and I will be grateful to receive. But this year, 2012, I choose to give love, to be open and generous, to let love be true to its nature in my actions and in my words. Though it will be difficult, I will have faith in the love of others, but I will try not to be dependent on them. Though I expect there will be challenges, I will do my utmost to live in the constancy of the love that is in my heart.