A sweet, yet sometimes pungent aroma of change is wafting in the atmosphere right now that is affecting us as individuals, communities, and collectively as a country. There are cries for change in many sectors.
And, in the midst of all of this is the remake of the epic and iconic miniseries ROOTS! Ironic? Paradoxical? Is it relevant at all in this climate that we are experiencing? What is its relevance? Yes, unprecedented progress has been made since it first appeared in 1977, yet in 2016, there is a reemergence of a hauntingly familiar unpleasant time.
For me, the television series ROOTS has always beckoned us to get back to the very genesis, the root, of our soul's power, our deep sense of being. A depth of being that fundamentally transcends color, the party I vote for, the language I speak, my faith, and whom I choose to love.
I think that ROOTS invites us all to remember, to question, and to act. To remember what is at the very root, the core of each and every one of us-that root that connects us to God, the Seed. It also invites us to question, that if connected, what would be an example of rising up from our past? Historically, we have always been called to rise-to rise from deep within the Spirit. This remake of ROOTS reinforces this universal push for all souls to rise, to evolve from any "form"of slavery or bondage of the mind and body to true internal and external freedom.
Humanity is being called back to the remembrance of Spirit, to God who is our Seed. We are the roots, and our expressed divinity will be the proof, black or white, that we truly all come from the same Seed. And, through our past or current sufferings, we, the roots, are being directed to remember the Seed. Does the remake of ROOTS raise pivotal questions...Is it a nudge, a reminder for us to remember the Seed and to rise? At our screening in the White House, a lady in the audience stood up and shared, how barbaric was the treatment by the slave owners. For me, I saw how void of the Seed they were and perhaps they need the Seed the most...Interesting, don't you think?
Could it be that we are being forced comfortably or not, to return to our remembrance of the Seed? And, the expression emerging from that remembrance compels us to not only rise ourselves, but, to act to empower our brothers and sisters to rise. As a faith leader, student of life, friend and companion to all my brothers and sisters, the expression of my divinity is to remember, to question, and to act from my soul's power, which are God's qualities. It is to lean toward engagement in areas that will foster a higher level of thinking and doing for ourselves, country, and world.
When we align with our real identity as souls, children of God, as a first step, we are rooted in an understanding and willingness to engage in an open, authentic, and empathetic way with each other for the common good. If we hold this awareness of being a soul, we might recognize that as souls we carry imprints of a past, present, and future. And, it is this eternal story or stories etched in our souls that is being played out. So, maybe if we were to hold this view, I believe our approach towards our country's challenges being grounded in soul and God consciousness could shift the trajectory of the world we see today.
Meditate the Vote, a campaign for raising the conversation and energy around the way we are showing up in our nation marries well with this remake of ROOTS. At the core, both compel us to humbly remember the Seed, to transcend our own tribal limitations and circumstances and to align with the truth of our interconnectedness as God's children. King and Ghandi too, years after the slavery depicted in ROOTS, triumphed in aligning with universal values. I was struck by Senior Advisor to the President of the United States and Assistant to the President for Public Engagement in the Obama administration, Valerie Jarrett's sharing how she stood on strong shoulders that provided her with the roots for the powerful work she does today. And, Knuta Kinte played by Malachi Kirby, also meditated upon the value and roots of his family that gave him the endurance and strength to rise above what was obviously a Seedless link. His inner strength and connection to the Seed was clearly witnessed by his power to endure.
How incredible it was for us to be at the White House screening of ROOTS in such a complex political climate! We are witnessing a promotion amplifying racism, separation, exclusion, which for many feels archaic and unimaginable! The election of the next president is offering us new opportunities to inwardly dive deeper than we ever have before... to empower the disenfranchised to vote, to encourage others to Meditate the Vote, to encourage deliberate thoughtful reflection, and dialogue on the necessity of choosing within our spheres of influence what is best for ALL. Claiming our divine power through remembering, questioning, and acting through Meditate the Vote could ultimately elevate those who have moved far away from the Seed and guide how best we choose to live our lives. Voting is power and when we vote from this level of introspective thinking, divine values and goodness will be the catalyst to move us towards a greater level of equality and acceptance. Our divine purpose and power are far greater than our problems. ROOTS reminds us of that truth. And so in closing, perhaps what ROOTS is calling us all to do is meditate at the root of our being till we naturally begin to remember the Seed.
At the base of any positive transformational work has to be an understanding of the relationship between one's awareness and actions; through that becomes an impact on our world. When we speak of change in our environment, systems, cultures, and more, we look towards long lasting change. Therefore, the many deals among nations at conferences and summits are not truly effective until we implement methods to shift our awareness and feelings at a deeper level. This is the element of newness we need.
For the first time, rich and poor countries across the world have agreed to take steps to limit and adapt to climate change -- from reducing their emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases to helping one another adapt to rising seas, devastating droughts, food shortages and other impacts of global warming.
We have all inherited the current conditions of our world as well as contributed to its decline of resources needed to sustain generations to come. The state of our climate condition has become so complex. We are essentially at an intersection of very human values verses spiritual values. Our attitudes alone have been a huge precursor to the decline of the world's treasures. We have traded a healthy, breathing earth for bigger cars, faster planes, fancier clothes; even fruit from the earth is bigger and greater in multitude, with chemicals instead of flavor. It is all about the choices we make, which are rooted in our attitude and attachments to unfulfilled desires.
The issue of climate change is both one of individual and collective karma. Our individual choices have led us here, and our collective decisions are creating the future. Climate change is now every person's responsibility. The elements that make up everything we see smell and touch are in need of pure vibrations and a peaceful energy that can restore rather than consume and destroy.
I share congratulations to meeting a historic consensus on climate change and I invite us to integrate a spiritual dimension to climate change. We must include the voices of spiritual leadership that have proven their commitment, through work from the inside out. The Brahma Kumaris, with the largest solar cooking system, is now focused on the first of its kind in the world, thermal solar power plant (solar only), using dish technology with direct steam generation mode, with full thermal storage for 16 hours of continuous operations. Imagine that... A spiritual group whose meditation practice and integrating spiritual wisdom into their daily life is at its core, leading a progressive shift in environmental resources.
I deeply believe that the success of climate change will be in amplifying an awareness on consciousness and lifestyle choices that conveys the behavior of citizens who are driven to give more than they take from relationships and their earth. Observing the movement of the Brahma Kumaris, and witnessing a culture of creating a system of trust and service within their own body of thought, I have seen the sustainability of its fortress, and their traditional pillars consistently holding authenticity and purity. When we hold a similar purpose and are very invested in making our lives and world a better place, I feel quite confident that a new era is approaching.
COP21 might have initiated a bold and realistic deal, and we know every citizen will have to show up from inside out to match and surpass it with his or her own deal of inner responsibility. We need to begin by holding a positive attitude and consider our own soul to be the earths' natural resource that fuels the body and environment. Can we raise our awareness to a level of "us" rather than I, me, and mine, so we can shift the downward trajectory of our planets' condition and turn it around towards an uprising giving us glimpses and best practices of a new era for many generations to come? This is one challenge we must take.
It is January 11, 2015 and world leaders from over 40 countries gathered in Paris, linked arm to arm to march in peace for unity. In the twentieth century alone an estimated 160 million of our brothers sisters died because of war. We have over 60 countries engaged in some kind of conflict. And then there is the battle within our own minds, where some would argue all war begins. This means our entire world is suffering not only from a lack of inner peace but also from a loss of awareness as to how much love actually resides inside every soul. It seems to me that our holding on to old stories of the past with bitter interpretations percolates more hatred, and prevents us from walking into a new one.
The solidarity of world leaders in the aftermath of a three day terror attack, beginning at the newsroom of Charlie Hebdo, totaling 17 lives lost, makes me optimistic that goodness does indeed remain in us. We are all Charlie. As more than three million people participated in unity marches throughout various places they proclaimed their solidarity with the phrase, "Je Suis Charlie," "I Am Charlie," also translated as "OM Charlie."
OM, while translating to "I Am," is also a sacred sound, connecting all through a vibration of peace and love. Perhaps turning more to this meaning of "I Am," will bring us back to who we truly are, beyond our excuses for war. Will the escalation of tragedy eventually become a means for us to review our humanity and recognize that we all come from One God, and we will all return to the same one? To date, I've never seen a record of God saying, "I am Muslim... Jew, Christian, Hindu." So is it man's attachment to these labels that creates the conflict? What if we really did come from the solidarity of 'We are all Charlie?' Not only post-terror, but every day.
I showcased an incredible short movie, Admissions at the Meditation Museum during the holidays. Like our guests, I came away with a deeper encouragement to get the knowledge and experience of Je Suis, OM, I Am, out and in to our communities worldwide. What if we all considered ourselves to be souls, belonging to the same God? What then would be our excuse to impose hurt on another and justify acts of violence as one's expression of God's will?
Please do share your thoughts, email@example.com.
What is it about the coming of a new year that makes us reflect at a deeper level than we do in the middle of the year? We start to take a mental account of what we have done and what we have yet to do. I am of the firm belief that "should haves" don't serve us. Our lives have played out the way they were meant to, and now we're in a powerful position to consider how we would like to steer them from this point on.
The new year is about more than ritualistically setting resolutions before the clock strikes midnight. This annual transition of time is an opportunity for our stage of consciousness to transition from dark to light; to let go of our past and invest in our future by living fully and lovingly in the present.
As many make plans to toast the new year with carefully selected dates and parties, I'm reminded of my former life, prior to becoming fully dedicated to living from the inside out. When I was in my 20s, I was managing two nightclubs in South Beach, Miami. I was at the top of my game, living the high life in a beautiful, oceanfront apartment, with a brimming social life. I was in a good place, not searching for anything.
Then I had a deeply profound experience of silence, pure love, and the light of God that awakened something in me. It took me on a path of giving more than taking, it took me into real living. This entry of a new consciousness was so significantly more meaningful than my nightclub lifestyle that I had no choice other than to surrender to it. Looking back, I realize how enormous a transformation the soul went through; it shifted my way of speaking, walking, dressing and essentially being.
Now perhaps that level of change is not on the horizon for you, though letting go of something likely is. We may not all surrender to God or living more from inside out, what I tend to say, "paying attention" instead of living from tension, but to think of surrender as breaking our attachments and finding the courage to love more, we could all make that a resolution.
There is a continuous, subconscious habit of competing with attachments, expectations, resistance, and the ego, and all takes a toll on the soul. When we take an honest look at our inner thoughts and feelings, we slowly begin to accept the reality of this habitual pattern. We realize that we are more often in a state of illusion than truth. The path of spirituality is about examining the percentage we spend in the consciousness of our truth.
My role as a spiritual teacher is to be so curious about my own self transformation that it just might inspire others to examine this practice for themselves and find the courage to let go and give into the experience of true intoxication. I believe when someone is intoxicated about self realization, there is a faith that naturally moves the soul to make the impossible possible. It has the wisdom to release old patterns that no longer serve the betterment of the soul or the folks that revolve around them.
At this time, it seems my part that's unfolding in front of me and the world, is to offer a portal to a different kind of intoxication than my earlier days in the clubs, it's the intoxication of spiritual wisdom. There is something in the taste of realizing your worthiness, your capacity, your purity. And this drink of knowledge holds no fear of driving under the influence where you might hurt yourself or someone else. Instead, you might feel strong enough to pick someone up who is down and share a thought that will awaken them for the new year. There is no hangover, just the happiness of being ready to continue your journey, renewed and lighter.
So, for this new year, our ability to surrender opens an opportunity to break the illusions of the mind that are holding us back from forging forward and really living a life of pure freedom. Instead, we gracefully, and powerfully glide ourselves into a new year with eyes that sparkle with enlightenment, a smile as soft as a child, and heart of pure gold.
My gift for all of you is my Letting Go Meditation.
PaniPuri with Sister Jenna
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