Sunday, November 09, 2008

The Circle of Joy! The Joy of Circling!

So today I did something that began restoring that warm feeling around my heart that I associate with love, and connectivity. You see, I had been asking myself a question for the past few days: Why am I not feeling the warm feeling that is associated with Love? And that which I have increasingly become more used to?

Prayers were not helping. I uttered the name of God "Wudood," but I did not feel like cheat-coding my own development. I couldn't initiate writing to my mentor without feeling that I already had an answer and therefore should not bother them. I did not want to discuss this with friends because often asking for advice invokes a pity I find incapacitating and annoying.

No. I had to find my own answer because I knew I had it.

Today, I intuitvely did a rather routine chore that suddenly starting warming up my heart....

It seems that I have learned much at a great speed in the last two years in particular, when I started making resolutions based on the lessons I was learning.

So if I learned that safer neighborhoods are an outcome of neighbors who watch out for each other, and smile at each other - then I resolved to connect with my neighbors and smile at regular vendors and maids and the children who walk down the street.

I made several resolutions. But there is one that I had a great deal of difficulty with: letting go of things. A great deal of this problem is very cultural. I feel in my heart I want to give to people, and give them things that I think are beautiful and valuable, and of use to them. Yet it seems that the society applies a great deal of economics to the issue. When I was a young child, it bothered me, but I didn't have to deal with the problem of giving or taking things - it was adult business, and I was often truly blessed that my elders made my birthdays and other events of celebration such as Eid truly memorable by sharing. We had a good life.

Yet this thing about accumulation, which grew more significantly in our culture as I grew up, bothered me. When I was teenager, I hadn't quite worked out the feng shui of stuff, and the equation of accumulation with stagnation, but I could tell that things took a lot of time. Indeed, I had a tough time because I was a girl, and I despised housework because I thought people make it the purpose of their lives and ignore what is. It still puzzles family and relatives that while I show skill in housework, I never like to talk about it. I thought it wasted too much time, how people went on and on and on going over the same stuff again and again without any sense of joy! It annoys me to hear people complain about their kitchens, their children, their studies, their school! But of course these things hurt if one makes an existential quest out of them!

I believe life has a larger purpose, and it's up to us. It's certainly not getting busy, even though hard work and dedication and loving the work are forms of worship! Now this was all too paradoxical for some.

While I understood the futulity of staying constantly busy, I never quite mastered the management of stuff. It is a matter of generosity, and it also takes a bit of a technical skill. I believe people can learn techniques simply through intuition - after all there has to be a first human who initiated any technique from boating to archery to lighting up fire. Intuition taught them what to do in the moment.

Yet in Pakistan, we live under a heavy wet blanket of a very oddly mixed-up culture, and it veils our eyes from seeing what intuition tells us. Our grandparents understood giving. But there seem to be a few generations starting with them, and continuing till now, that make accumulation a point of their being. It's gathering, gathering, using, storing, preserving - and constantly doing work to sustain that activity. This is madness! And it's phenomenal how this mindset has taken over the culture - it seeps down to advertising on TV and conversations amongst people. People are living for things. It's no longer things for people. What an odd life!

So, Allah says that true believers are people who give of what they love more. I love my books. I love Harry Potter, Eckhart's works, Coelho's stories. And it's also my books and some really old stuff that slows my life. I know it.

Two years ago someone gave me a book called Me to We. I loved it. It's about sharing, generosity, acts of kindness. It affirmed my beliefs. it made me cry. It whipped up my desire to give more! Oddly, I give more of my self than my things - while it's the former that's harder. Which is all the more why the latter seems to stop my spirit. Wow, this is an epiphany!

So. Today, I thought, why on earth did I not follow my instinct the moment I had finished with the Harry Potter series? The mania was still hot, and I wanted to ship the books to my little cousins. I just didn't! So here was this general resolution of "Clearing Stuff Out" and then the specific resolution regarding Harry Potter theat stayed unfulfilled.

They say that "In heaven are those who fulfill their promises." I think I am beginning to understand this at a deeper level now. Personally I am not a promise-breaker or a liar so I thankfully don't know much about hell. Yet everyone has flaws and mine was constricting the flow of my own joy - for fear of having to report on what I gave. Our lives are too controlled by our society and elders! Years of mal-practice later I have just reached the same old conclusion: "It doesn't matter what people think; defy them with righteousness. Or in the end, you will reach the same conclusion that you were right when you were right!"

As I went through my bookshelf pulling parts of the Harry Potter series out to mail to my cousins, suddenly there it was! A warm glowing feeling around my heart. A feverish blanket. A sense of connection, and of safety. I started thinking of making a game for my cousins: asking them to pick out lessons of life from Harry Potter and share amongst each other and wiht me. As I went through other books, I realized which family member or friend could use what. What a feeling of joy! Life is energy that travels amongst humans. It grows as each human adds to it. The source of it all is our hearts, and to plug that source is to bottle up joy.

Sharing, indeed, not just brings us joy. It grows us by growing others around us.

Amen to sharing! Amen to joy!

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