What Is Destiny?

The idea of destiny scares many people. They fear losing individual control over their lives, the “free will” they’ve always been told they have (in the Western world anyway): “If I can’t change the course of my life, am I a victim of circumstance? Am I a prisoner of fate?” Thoughts such as these can trap us in polarity and a single-minded view of the world. Words are like frames really; if you change the frame, the meaning changes.

What if we called destiny something else? Use a verb frame instead of a noun. How about: Destiny is flowing with the river of the universe. It is dancing with the divine music of the spheres. Living from the soul in pure loving awareness. Or all of the above. Instead of a closed door, destiny could be an open field, the one your soul and God designed together for you to play in in this lifetime. Destiny could just be another name for you and God as One.

We humans want to believe we can single-handedly control our daily lives, avoiding pain and hanging onto happiness. We fear getting lost in suffering. Yet no one can live a human life without experiencing the full spectrum of emotions, from sadness to joy. The secret is that we don’t have to suffer as we feel these things. If we open our minds and our hearts to a fully expanded soul view of the universe, then perhaps we can better see that we are one small, but essential, part of an intricately interwoven tapestry of light, color, and sound, which was created long ago (in human terms) and is continuing to unfold.

What if destiny is actually the supernovas, galaxies, and stardust from which we were born exploding across the cosmos to manifest as Planet Earth and you in this moment of human time and space? What if destiny is the spark of life itself within you? It is born, expands into shining beingness, and then gradually fades back into the universal matter from which it arose. All of it extraordinarily beautiful and magical and over which we have no control. You can only observe the unfolding in awe and wonder. This is human destiny. Within that is celebration not grief if seen through the lens of divine Presence. You are a miracle within a miracle.

Peace of mind and inner calm arise when we allow acceptance of life the way it is to fill our conscious awareness. This is not really alien to our human selves because deep within us is the core of living spirit (soul) which is peace itself. It is this Spirit that flows through the galaxies and through us and connects everything in oneness. We and the stars are destined to shine together. Accept every moment of your life, and light will radiate from you, and the idea of control will dissolve completely. Then you will know destiny as the gift of love and grace that it is.

Blue Sky, Bluebirds, Blue Planet

In the classic movie It’s a Wonderful Life, George Bailey realizes that his life is wonderful because of the friends and family he has who lovingly support him through difficult as well as good times. In another touching film, Life Is Beautiful, a man imprisoned with his young son in a Nazi concentration camp during World War II creates a beautiful fantasy world of games for his little boy so he won’t be frightened (or killed). Both of these films hold within them timeless wisdom about focusing on the beauty and love in life instead of pain or fear. In essence, the message is that your primary overview of everything comes from what you hold in your awareness and affects how you experience your life.

Perhaps it’s not always as simple or easy as it sounds, but I’ve found that this perspective helps me live day to day with a more positive outlook. For instance, the temperature may fall below freezing outside on a New England winter’s day, but when I gaze up at the blue sky, the sun is shining and light sparkles off every surface. I can feel its warmth on my face. Further, if I remember that the seasons are always changing, each one unique, I am reminded of the beauty that comes from those changes, and I am grateful for the miracle of each day’s seasonal specialness. If I whine and complain about being cold, I am trapped in a negative experience, which then affects my entire day (or week).

In receiving news about a friend’s health challenge or experiencing one myself, I may initially feel fear and sadness, but if I eventually recall that there is always a soul plan to our lives, I feel comforted and less frightened. Life has beginnings and endings, connections and separations, joys and losses. When I can accept all that as the natural flow of life, my heart remains open, and more than anything else I feel the love that holds everything and everyone together. A friend once said to me, “It’s all in how you frame it.” With every year that passes and every experience I have, I come to see the wise truth of that.

We are all here for a relatively short time on this extraordinarily beautiful blue planet spinning in the cosmos (look again at those views of Earth from space), without a playbook or certainty of any kind, so why not choose to experience that beauty in every moment? And why not feel the love that continuously passes between us—family, friends, and strangers alike? We don’t know why we were born or when we will die, but we know that the sun rises each morning and sets each day in magnificent colorful splendor. A visual representation of the love in our hearts and the light in our souls, available for free on a daily basis.

Look at the sky and in the eyes of those around you. The light you see there will open your heart to the love that flows through the smallest details of your life. Listen to the music of the wind in the trees and the bluebirds and robins singing. The very fact that we are not alone on this journey is a miracle in itself. Together, we are connected to something greater than any one single life. Together, we are the spirit of all life, all consciousness. Infinity magically manifesting itself before our very eyes and ears. As you view it, so it is….

Everyday Darshan

Darshan is described traditionally as a blessing that is received from being in the presence of a holy person, saint, or guru. An individual such as Amma (referred to as the “hugging saint”) gives darshan through her loving embraces to millions of people all over the world. A number of years ago, I was honored to have this powerful sacred experience with her. Yet, perhaps there are many ways to give and receive darshan in the world, not necessarily reserved solely for meeting saints or gurus. What if we all carry that loving presence within us? A soul energy we pass to others whenever we open our hearts fully.

As the Earth goes through its current radical transformation and rebirth, humanity too is experiencing a shift. A shift that aligns us more completely with our inner being. Therein lies our connection to all that is holy or divine, something we attributed in the past only to spiritual masters. We are moving into an age of conscious spirit. One in which everyday darshan can become part of all our lives. Darshan from the mail carrier, the grocery store clerk, the bus driver. Darshan to a stranger passing in the street. Darshan from/to those nearest and dearest to us. The possibilities are endless if we live with an open heart.

The question is: how do we get there? How do we open our hearts that wide? Well, maybe we’re already there, and we just haven’t realized it yet. Perhaps our hearts are full to overflowing right now. Maybe all that’s needed is a flick of the switch of awareness to put us in darshan mode. The secret is that that switch can be turned on at any moment—and stay that way. Looking in the eyes of a loved one, watching a beautiful sunset or listening to birdsong at dawn, sitting quietly with an animal companion, helping your neighbor shovel snow, reading the moving words of a poet such as Mary Oliver—all these can deepen the love in your heart and awaken the infinite blessings of darshan.

Also, darshan doesn’t have to be available only sometimes, from someone or something outside you. It can be part of your daily life if you expand your consciousness to perceive it within your soul and then breathe it outward. In that very act, the giving becomes the receiving, and the distinction between the two dissolves. You are living darshan right along with everyone and everything around you.

Actually, the basis of all life on Earth is darshan. The sun blesses us with darshan all day long, as do the moon and stars at night. Mother Earth herself vibrates darshan in every plant, tree, and flower. The blood in your body pulsates darshan, and your fingers invoke darshan through touch. Darshan is invisible but ever-present. From birth to death and beyond, we are accompanied by its sweet energy. Now, as our hearts open wider to the world around us and we live with soul awareness, we are able to recognize it in every single moment of our lives.  

Forgiveness

We all do or say things at times that we regret afterward. Perhaps from thoughtlessness, impatience, or our own tightly held opinions. In one moment of anger or upset, we can hurt another with our words or actions. When we apologize later, we long for forgiveness. To sweep clean all pain, conflict, or guilt and begin again with compassion and kindness. Perhaps this is a universal wish, humanity’s greatest prayer, on so many levels.

Many years ago, when I was still in college, my dad and I had an argument over something, and in my anger, I said things that I immediately felt terrible about. Later, I went to him in tears and said how sorry I was, asking him not to hate me for my insensitive outburst. His answer was such a beautiful example of a parent’s unconditional love: “I could never hate you. It doesn’t matter what you say to me—I will always love you.” All my life, I have held his words in my heart as one of the most generous, tender gifts he ever gave me. Truly a guiding star of wisdom and kindness.

As we live our lives, we may repeatedly stumble over our own inability to see circumstances or individuals from a wider lens. So often, our minds convince us we are “right” and others “wrong.” We lash out in anger at another’s opinion or we stand in judgment of their behavior. Yet, if we knew their life story from the inside, we might suddenly see everything differently. A friend’s irritability may stem from a family member’s illness, that we know nothing of. A stranger’s rudeness may be a domino effect from someone else being rude to them. Others’ opinions and attitudes often arise from their life circumstances. If we pause for a moment, we can give them the benefit of the doubt and respond from empathy instead of antipathy.

No one is always upbeat and friendly, kind and generous. We forget our best intentions and say or do something that we wish we hadn’t. That moment is the perfect opportunity to remember the power of forgiveness. To be vulnerable enough to admit our mistakes and ask to be forgiven. And then to forgive others (and ourselves) as well. To let go of grievances and grudges and choose peace instead. If we could do that, so many of the walls between us would begin to crumble.

Much of the world is currently divided by conflict and adherence to single-minded views based in fear: defense against the threat of the “other.”  As individuals, we may not be able to solve all the world’s problems, but we can each live our lives in ways that may ultimately affect the whole. If we drop habitual defenses and live from acceptance and love instead of suspicion or hatred, then so much could begin to be healed on this planet. See another soul, not an adversary. No matter what someone says or does, hold them in your heart. Forgiveness is pure love; it is pure giving, and it touches the entire web of life.

New Year(s)

We think of each new year as a chance to start over, to begin again and get it right this time. A clean slate, a fresh calendar of days, a whole new, more perfect you. But what if everything is already “right,” and you are already “perfect”? What if the world and each of us is exactly the way we are meant to be for the universe and humanity to evolve and shift to a full conscious awareness of our own being, our own integral presence in the fabric of life?

Though we have created vast networks of knowledge and laws and religions, we actually know nothing. We are guessing at the reasons for our existence, who we are, and why we are on Earth. We construct elaborate stories to explain everything and then we blame ourselves and each other when we don’t live up to how we think things are supposed to be—our belief systems. We argue and fight wars over all the various interpretations of human life and human behavior. We think that will change things.

In truth, we are actually following a design set in motion before we were born. We are souls on a path of becoming. When we recognize that and see the softness of soul in each other, the world will become a softer place. That awareness is coming; it is in fact arising more and more every day. When you witness a random act of kindness in your day, there it is. When a stranger smiles at you, there it is. When a friend tells you they love you, there it is.

The other day I noticed our mail carrier giving treats to two dogs as they passed by with their human companions. She said she loves dogs and has 40 on her route that she brings treats for every day. There it is again. A friend with limited funds told about how the person ahead of her in the grocery line paid for her purchases when they saw her slowly and carefully counting her bills. And there it is yet again.

People are not as selfish and mean as we sometimes think they are. Perhaps they are just wounded and lost and need a kind word or generous act to help them feel hope again. We each have the opportunity to do that for someone else in our daily lives. And for ourselves as well. The saying goes that love is stronger than hate or fear, and I believe that is true. Despite what you may feel sometimes about the state of humanity, inside we are all vulnerable beings with tender hearts. Moment by moment, individual by individual, heart by heart, we are opening to that deeper truth, the soul design we came into this world with.

So don’t give up hope, don’t lose heart. Trust that you carry the “new year” with you in every precious second of your life. You and every other being on this unique blue and green globe circling through the heavens. We don’t know why we are here with our minds, but our hearts know it is for the love we share and then pass forward into the future. Happy New Years!