I look around and see miracles. I look around and see Heaven. I look around and see the Garden and the Playground. I look around and see the Divine Presence everywhere, all around me, and in me. I am part of the whole. Actually I am not a part; I am the Whole. I am
I don’t exist isolated. Separation is an illusion. I am not this little, unconnected, detached, and fearful being that I thought I was. I am the Whole. I am
Only One exists. I am the Universe. I am the Immense One. I am the Whole. I am holy. I am
Now we will count to twelve and we will all keep still. For once on the face of the earth, let’s not speak in any language, let’s stop for a second, and not move our arms so much. It would be an exotic moment without rush, without engines; we would all be together in a sudden strangeness. If we were not so single-minded about keeping our lives moving, and for once could do nothing, perhaps a huge silence might interrupt this sadness of never understanding ourselves and of threatening ourselves with death. Perhaps the earth can teach us as when everything seems dead in winter and later proves to be alive. Now I’ll count up to twelve and you keep quiet and I will go.
Do not try to save the whole world or do anything grandiose. Instead, create a clearing in the dense forest of your life and wait there patiently, until the song that is your life falls into your own cupped hands and you recognize and greet it. Only then will you know how to give yourself to this world so worthy of rescue.
It seems that we are always looking for ideas we can use to improve ourselves. We go around reading books, watching videos, listening to talks, participating in rituals, attending presentations, workshops, and retreats, and spotting new teachers, new gurus who we hope will give us the ultimate formula to make us better, to make us happy.
But who are the ones looking for improvement? We are the ones, right? We are the ones who consider ourselves to be somewhat defective and incomplete and who want to do what is necessary to achieve a state of perfection and wholeness. So, let’s pause and think about this for a moment: we begin the journey with the premise that we are imperfect, and we are relying on ourselves, imperfect beings, to create what we imagine to be perfect beings. But isn’t it reasonable to consider that if we knew how to create perfect beings, we would be those beings already? Do you get it? Isn’t this kind of thinking and pursuit somewhat crazy?
What if, instead of analyzing (and over-analyzing) ourselves (and others) — instead of finding fault, criticizing, judging, and condemning — we simply accepted that we are as we are, and that who we are is wonderful. As Wally Dale says, “we are all on a journey, and we are at different spots physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually, and wherever we are, that’s where we are supposed to be.”
Now, what if we came to accept that the premise that we are imperfect is false, and that this constant struggle to better ourselves is what is impeding us from bettering ourselves and enjoying life to the fullest? Think about it for a moment. How would this new thought affect us? What would happen if we knew, beyond any shadow of doubt, that there’s nothing we can do to be better? It would, at least, be a huge relief, wouldn’t it? Realizing that there’s nothing we can do to improve ourselves would give us a breather in the course of which we would simply relax and allow the Forces of the Universe to work in us and through us. It would give us permission to pause and observe what is going on, and, maybe, then we would find out that this is the magic recipe for a good life, the one we have so desperately been looking for.
I invite you to listen to what Alan Watts has to say…
Some food for thought, from Alan Watts talk:
Is there anyway in which one’s mind can be transformed, or is it simply a process which is nothing more than a vicious circle? What are we looking for? What are we seeking? Are we in search of some wisdom that is going to help us change ourselves, improve ourselves? Do we feel that it is our duty to do what we can to improve ourselves? Now, can we improve ourselves? Is this possible, or is this an illusion, a vicious circle? How can we improve ourselves if “the person who is going to do the improving is the one who needs to be improved?” Can we stop this pursuit and simply accept who we are?
We are called to watch our feelings, our emotions. We are called to remain impassive, impartial, suspending judgment and taking an objective view of what is going on. Who is this self, behind the self, who is watching the self? Who is The Watcher, The Observer, The Witness? Isn’t The Watching Self, The Observing Self, The Witnessing Self behind our thoughts and feelings a thought itself?
When the ego is about to be unmasked it immediately identifies itself with a higher self. What drives us to do the work to be more spiritual and selfless people? Many times, the spiritual quest — the quest for self-improvement — is no different from the quest for material success; the drive is the same, it is ego-driven. In essence, we still see ourselves as separated from others, and in competition with others, and we engage in developing ourselves because our egos want to experience the rewards of feeling somewhat superior.
How do we know what is good for us? If we say that we want to improve ourselves, then we ought to know what is good for us. But, obviously, we don’t because if we did we would be improved already. If we are really aware of our own inner workings we will realize that there’s nothing we can do to improve ourselves, and this also goes for society.
Let us suppose that we can’t do anything to change ourselves. What would happen if you knew beyond any shadow of doubt that there’s nothing we can do to be better?
When we free ourselves from the busyness of trying to improve everything, then our own nature will begin to take care of itself, because we will not be getting in our own way all the time. We will begin to find out that the great things that we do, we are not actually doing them, but they are being done through us.
The mind that can improve the mind is not the same mind. The mind that can improve the mind is the mind that observes the mind.
The seeking for answers is innate in us. The drive to expand our consciousness is in our own nature (or is it a thought/value that was implanted in us by the prevailing competitive culture and that pushes us to improve, be better, compete and succeed? Is the spiritual pursuit — the drive to expand our consciousness — also ego-driven?). Everything is expanding (and contracting). Transformation is inevitable, so is our expansion.
An unexamined life is not worth living. I get great joy from the intellectual exercise of understanding ideas and making connections. It helps me to see differently, and I see value in this exercise, this exploration. I see that I am changing, and I like the change. I see that the new ideas allow me to see differently, understand differently. They liberate me, and I like that.
What is, simply is, just like the sound of clapping hands. We are the ones attaching meanings and labeling the occurrences as good or bad, right or wrong. We are the ones creating stories based on what happens to us. What if we stopped labeling and classifying? What if we stopped creating stories where we are the protagonists? What if we simply watched what happens and accepted what is? Wouldn’t, then, everything be just what it is?
It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.
It doesn’t interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love for your dream for the adventure of being alive.
It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon… I want to know if you have touched the centre of your own sorrow if you have been opened by life’s betrayals or have become shrivelled and closed from fear of further pain.
I want to know if you can sit with pain mine or your own without moving to hide it or fade it or fix it.
I want to know if you can be with joy mine or your own if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful to be realistic to remember the limitations of being human.
It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me is true. I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself. If you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul. If you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy.
I want to know if you can see Beauty even when it is not pretty every day. And if you can source your own life from its presence.
I want to know if you can live with failure yours and mine and still stand at the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, “Yes.”
It doesn’t interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up after the night of grief and despair weary and bruised to the bone and do what needs to be done to feed the children.
It doesn’t interest me who you know or how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand in the centre of the fire with me and not shrink back.
It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I want to know what sustains you from the inside when all else falls away.
I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.
Carefully. Slowly. Lifting one foot from the ground. Standing and balancing on just one leg, with all the weight of my body sustained by this one limb. Moving the foot that is in the air forward, lowering it. Heel touching the ground, and then my instep, the ball of my foot, and my toes. My entire foot, from heel to toes, is touching the ground. Both feet are now resting on the ground. Pausing for a moment.
The heel of the back foot is now leaving the ground, and for a moment only its toes are in contact with the floor. The weight of my body is shifting from the foot in the back to the one in the front.
Lifting. Moving. Placing.
Heel of the back foot leaving the floor.
Weight shifting to the front leg.
Moving slowly, lifting the foot in the back, trying to keep my balance, controlling all sorts of muscles, compensating here and there in order not to fall. Correcting. Tightening. Releasing. Adjusting and readjusting. Maintaining the balance. Moving the foot forward and placing it on the ground: heel, instep, arch, ball, toes. Resting. Starting the movement all over again.
Up. Forward. Down.
Lifting. Moving. Placing.
“Am I here? Am I really here? Can I feel my feet? Can I feel the soles of my feet? Can I feel the weight shifting from heel to toes? Can I feel that? Can I come back to paying attention to my walking and the sensations in my body when I catch myself distracted with other things? Am I thinking or am I feeling the sensations?”
“Too much thinking! Less thinking and more sensing!”
Redirecting the attention back to the sensations in my body as I walk.
Walking slowly and mindfully. Lifting, moving, placing, and resting. Walking as if I had never walked before. Paying attention. Staying alert to the sensations in my body. Discovering how to walk again.
“How did I learn such a complex movement? How can I, in my day-to-day living, perform it without even consciously thinking about it? How is this possible?”
Observing. Noticing. Witnessing.
Extracting great joy from walking mindfully. Not only marveling at the intricate and complex movement that I was able to master, but also at what I am able to mindfully capture with my senses, what I am able to see, hear, smell, touch, and perhaps even taste now that I am moving slowly and mindfully. Paying greater attention to the world that surrounds me. Seeing things that I wasn’t able to see before. Stopping. Looking at the big things and the little ones, looking at what is near and what is far away from me. Seeing all the magic, mystery, and miracles that surround me. Letting the beauty penetrate me.
Noticing it. Appreciating it. Savoring it. Absorbing it.
Seeing what arises and what passes way. Noticing birth and death, the pleasant and the unpleasant, and the impermanence of all. Letting it all in.
I feel the coolness of the breeze! I feel the warmth of the sun!
I breathe and walk, I walk and breathe… slowly, mindfully!
I am here, now, whole, perfect, and complete.
“Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.”
“The kingdom of God is available to you in the here and the now. But the question is whether you are available to the kingdom. Our practice is to make ourselves ready for the kingdom so that it can manifest in the here and the now. You don’t need to die in order to enter the kingdom of heaven. In fact, you have to be truly alive in order to do so.” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh, Walking with Peace and Presence
Piero Falci is an author and educator who believes that the inner work that leads to personal awakening and transformation is indispensable to create a wholesome world. He is an explorer of the mysteries of life who loves to observe, reflect, and write, and who not only strives to live a life that matters, but also hopes to inspire others to do the same. He is a promoter of peace who believes in advancing the idea that Heaven is here if we want it to be. He teaches mindfulness meditation, mindful living, and the acclaimed Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program as taught at the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Healthcare, and Society of the University of Massachusetts Medical School. He organizes Silent Peace Walks.
Take a look at these books at the Peaceful Ways online store
How wonderful it would be if all children could say these words to their parents: “I accept myself as I am, and I am happy with whom I am. I believe that your expressions of love and your encouragement in the past were fundamental in allowing me to feel the way I feel today. What a precious gift that was! Thank you.”
many of us do not love our own selves enough. This reduced self-esteem may be the result of early experiences with unskilled parents who instead of praising their children, had unrealistic expectations, demanded too much from them, compared them with others that they deemed better, criticized them harshly when they failed, and by doing all this instilled in them the feeling that they were not good enough, and , therefore, undeserving of receiving love.
Those individuals, then, go through life carrying this feeling. Some become very competitive, obsessed with achieving success, trying to prove their value, but always feeling that they are not good enough, no matter how successful they may be. Others give in to the idea that they are not good enough, and give up pursuing their highest dreams. They never give full expression to their potentials.
The negative impact of this type of parenting — where love is conditional to excellent performance — is long-lasting and does not go away easily. Many of my friends, some of them already in advanced age, are still striving to prove their worth in order to receive approval, recognition, and praise, especially from their parents who, by the way, have passed away a long time ago.
ADVICE TO PARENTS
Reassuring words of unconditional love and support, especially in times of defeat and failure, are of the utmost importance to build a strong self-esteem in our children, so tell your children often that you love them, and give them reasons to think highly of themselves.
Praise everywhere, but never criticize in public, and never forget that we are what we think, so make all you can for your children to think highly of themselves. As the saying goes, “If we think we can, we can. If we think we can’t, we can’t.”
TIME TO REST
Today is a good day to accept and love yourself. Today is a good day to rejoice with whom you are. There’s no need to prove anything. There’s no need to compete, excel , or win. There’s no need to rush, finish first, or defeat anyone. Actually, the one who wins today is the one who takes more time to observe and spot miracles. Therefore, move slowly, look around, and savor the beauty. Enjoy this day that was given to you. Nothing is required of you today, except for you to be content and happy with whom you are. Stop comparing yourself with others, putting yourself down, or feeling unworthy. Again, there’s no need to compete, or prove anything. Realize that you are wonderful just the way you are. You are a child of the Universe, a wonderful creation. You are worth of much love. Know that you are loved.
Piero Falci is the founder of the Silent Peace Walk movement. He is an author and educator who believes that the inner work that leads to personal transformation is indispensable to create a wholesome world. He is an explorer and inspirer who encourages people to live lives that matter. He is a promoter of peace who believes that Heaven is here, if we want it to be. He teaches mindfulness meditation and mindful living.