Each day feels different, carries different thoughts, bears witness to unique events. Whatever your new day carries, don’t forget that being in awe of the mystery unfolding before you is a natural response in any state of being. It is that wonder that heals wounds, and guides you faithfully to the eternal light of the present and all the joy concealed therein.
I often find myself torn between attempts at surrendering to the present moment, and discerning my role in changing it. This simple piece of wisdom from Sri Swami Satchidananda offers a higher vantage point from which life’s circumstances can be peacefully navigated:
“If we know that we are instruments, and nothing is in our hands, then accepting and changing are not in our hands either. It’s very simple. If you are prompted to accept, then accept it. If you are prompted to change, then change it. Even that will be prompted. Something will tell you, “Come on; go ahead and try to change it.” Then your answer should be, “Okay, God, if that’s what You want, let me do it with Your backing. You are prompting me, so I am doing it.” It’s super surrender, and life is really beautiful that way.
All you have to do is follow God’s lead. The brush never tells you, ‘Oh, touch here, touch there, use a broader stroke.’ It lets the painter use it. So, you simply be the brush, and let God paint whatever He wants. God is seeing the whole picture, and it will be a masterpiece.” Sri Swami Satchidananda
I remember the dean of my high school most clearly for the two times I sat crying in his office, refusing to hand over the flip-phone I had long since usurped from my mother. On both occasions a member of school staff had caught me in the bathroom hastily attempting to contact my older brother during what could only have been a five-minute break lest the teacher become suspicious.
My sophomore year of high school marked my older brother’s freshman year of college. While he was still in Illinois, the gap between Highland Park and Urbana-Champaign felt as vast as the distance between the windows of my trigonometry classroom and the intangible clouds above that earned the majority of my attention that year.
For the first time I experienced the pain that came with loving someone who wasn’t physically present in my life. Even though my brother and I saw each other many times that first year of separation, I never quite shook the feeling that it was imperative to live near those I loved. The fact that over ten years have gone by and I still live 45 minutes from my parents is a testament to that notion.
Over the years friends too have come and gone from the proximity that birthed our relationships, and to my surprise the world has continued to spin around its axis. But I am now painfully reminded of the lessons I wasn’t quite able to grasp as a teenager who longed for her brother to come home, because I now have friends who live more than just a car ride away.
A couple posts ago I marveled at the overwhelming lesson I had learned from my travels in Israel: no matter where in the world, one can always be loved. When such bonds of friendship are struck, more than just gratitude can arise. Any meaningful and joyful experience can also be a gateway for attachment. I so missed my brother when he went to college, I long for my friends who have moved out of state, and I can’t fathom the distance between my newfound friends in Israel and my home in Chicago.
When attachment turns joy into sorrow a lesson is being offered in return; the joy and connection that you are pining for came from within yourself. Right now I am missing my friends overseas. But our relationships with other human beings are not outside of ourselves, as they seem from our physical experiences. They originate within, and are born of the love each of us carry as our very being. Our friends do not merely reside in our hearts when we are apart, they are an expression of our hearts, and are returning home to the space from which they came.
Next time you feel attachment gnawing away at your mind, remember that the love for which you pine has never left you, and will continue to reflect itself back to you in infinite, unimaginable ways.
In the center of fear, unhappiness, uncertainty, or grief there is a witness. There is a silent space, so imperceptible that no molecule of pain can penetrate it.
In this space, the witness is you. You’re in a soft comfortable chair, smiling, as you read a book entitled, “The Story of My Life.” Even though you haven’t finished it yet, you aren’t worried. You know that in the end, you turn out just fine. After all, you are sitting there with the finished copy in your hands, knowing you end up completely whole.
In the thick of turmoil the mind may think it is unnatural to be at peace or to feel gratitude. But there is nothing more natural, nothing more true, because that peace is you, and you are the truth: you, the silent smiling witness to the adventure of a life in the midst of being lived.