If, at the end of each day,
I can say
I gave all I could
then I can die happy
knowing that I lived fully.
what better fulfillment is there
than emptying oneself
of selfish motivations
and receiving the love
of the whole universe?
It’s finally sinking into my thick skull
that in order to be truly happy,
I need others in my life
and that giving to others
is an act of giving to myself.
To see those around me glowing with happiness
is a greater gift than words can describe,
and to know that I had a part in that happiness–
It’s a paradox that the more you give away
the more you have,
but this is the way it works
when your heart takes the lead.
Living in the paradox with an open mind
life opens up and hidden mysteries are exposed,
drops of dew glistening in the morning sun,
here and then gone. Let go of all of it.
What I once thought was real fades away
to reveal something even more beautiful,
graceful, precious and kind,
the way the chrysalis fades away
once the butterfly emerges.
Be still and watch as the world spins around you.
You are the center of your own universe,
a divine creator, more powerful than you could know.
Now, what shall you spin out from your center,
what will you weave into the fabric of your life?
Each day a new thread appears.
Can you follow it back to your center and rejoice?
Each breath makes a difference.
Our minds are constantly churning with thought;
why not put them to good use?
Instead of polluting the atmosphere with negativity,
why not breathe positive thoughts into space?
Picture a loved one in front of you.
Picture their face; maybe you say their name.
As you inhale,
imagine taking in their suffering,
whatever it is,
breathe it in to lift it from them.
Take their suffering
into the vast space of your open heart,
larger than the clear blue sky,
where it dissipates
the way clouds dissipate in the sun.
As you exhale,
visualize sending them peace,
health, joy, freedom, confidence.
Send them whatever will help them,
whatever will comfort them.
Keep giving and receiving
on the medium of the breath
and notice how this practice
After you’ve worked with
the suffering of others,
look what happens
when you turn toward your own suffering.
You realize that you are not alone.
You realize that suffering is normal
in this real, human life of ups and downs.
You can work with your own suffering,
breathing it into the open space of your heart,
breathing out the antidote to suffering.
Notice how it connects you
with the rest of humanity.
Notice how it’s not the end of the world.
Practice in this way every day.
Watch what happens.
I keep hearing that the swiftest path to misery
is staying utterly fixated on my own story,
closing myself off from the rest of the world.
And I keep hearing that the swiftest path to joy
is caring for others, enriching their lives,
helping, nurturing, staying connected with the world.
How would this translate into my daily life?
All of the things I thought I was doing for myself
can now become an offering for others.
When I brush my teeth, it’s not just for my own good,
it’s also for the good of those around me.
When I eat, it’s not just for my own pleasure,
it’s also so that I’ll have the energy to help where I’m needed.
When I meditate, I don’t do it solely for myself
but so that I’ll have the clarity, the calm, the stability
to truly be of service to those around me.
When I sleep,
when I rise,
when I dress,
when I drive,
when I mother
when I teach
when I walk
when I breathe
when I learn
when I read
when I sit
when I clean…
Let it always be for the benefit of others.
Chasing after my vision of personal satisfaction
only brings more emptiness, more heartache.
Let me try something else.
Let me live for others for a change.
opening my arms wide,
receiving from life.
my hands meet in front of me,
giving to life.
Smiling as I breathe,
that life is never stuck,
this movement in me
mirroring the movement
of the waves, the planets,
remembering that I have my place
in all of this.
At the end of a long day of teaching,
feeling tired, hungry,
and yet high on all of the beautiful
energy that flowed from everyone,
it strikes me how the point of life
is to give of myself
until I’m all used up.
There is no majesty
in shrinking into lethargy.
But giving of myself completely,
I have space to receive
the marvelous abundance of life.
I let go of myself and
all of the little stories I’ve told,
and I inherit the entire universe.
In truth, my giving is quite selfish.
I give because it brings so much joy
to experience the flow of life,
the exchange of energy between
myself and the source of all that is.
Please life, take me.
Take me and use me up completely.
Continuing with our thought from yesterday about offering true gifts this holiday season…
What is it that you want from the world around you,
from your friends, neighbors, colleagues, loved ones?
What do you want from this life?
Do you want transitory trinkets,
little trifles that will end up in the landfill
of missed opportunities for real connection?
As you identify what is meaningful for you,
as you tune into your own offerings
and share them generously with others,
you have the space to receive the offerings of others.
When you are open like this,
every moment is a gift,
even moments of challenge,
especially moments of challenge.
But watch out for expectations.
Love isn’t contained in a perfectly wrapped box,
all pink and red and sparkly with a satin bow…
Sometimes love shows up in the most unlikely disguise,
an impossible combination
of loss, sadness, loneliness, frustration–
the birthing pains
before the light dawns.
But then all at once the whole world is blessed
by the rising sun in your own eyes
reflecting hope, great love
the salvation of your own awakening,
the greatest gift to offer and receive.