New Book: Out of the Fog

My son Sreejit has published a new book of his poems. This one is called: Out of the Fog: 30 poetic musings on the world to which I cling. As always, Sreejit’s perspectives on life and living are thought provoking and well worth reading. Sreejit describes his newest publication in this way:

Perspective shapes our truth, our vision, and the way we move throughout this world. Our beliefs are filtered through the experiences that we’ve had and the weight that we allow these experiences to carry in the shaping of our truth. The world becomes illusion when we realize that every creature sees and understands it from different vantage points. Our world is all about perspective. The one written about here is mine.

He has also republished two of his intriguing and captivating novels.

A modern tale, an ancient mysticism, a universal love. Overcome by the weight of his failure to live up to the world’s standards of success, Ballard Davies decides that there is only one solution. He gets in his car and drives. He drives away from everything and everyone that he knows, in an effort to just start over. He doesn’t care where he’s headed; he just wants another chance to get it right. What he finds is beyond his imagination, as he befriends an eccentric cast of characters. From the divinely inspired to the rationalistic blowhards, everyone becomes a part of his journey to begin again. But there is still one problem – he cannot escape himself. What will it take for Ballard to overcome his own self-imposed limitations and live the adventure he feels he deserves? This is the journey he now travels, down a path where truth, love, desperation, honor, the forgiving and the righteous, the mystics and the scientists all battle for the chance to be given the foremost spot in the realm of his mind. Will the pain of loneliness and separation prevail, or will Ballard find something to live for?

 

Traversing a world based on perspective, with the force of our own illusions propping us up, what would you forsake to know the truth? Two families, separated by continents, are wrapped up in the same timeless struggle – to be more than the sum of their parts. Join them as they seek to solve a mystery that goes beyond the limits of our physical reality. With time never on our side, the question arises: what would you give up for freedom?

You can order these three publications and more on his Amazon.com author’s page.

Putting Pain Into Perspective

IMG_3421 (002)

For several years in the mid to late 1990’s and early 2000’s, I wrote articles about my experiences with Amma for “The New Times,” a free newspaper that was, at that time, available in Washington and Oregon. I have started sharing some of those articles on my blog. I am choosing the articles to post based on their topic, therefore they are not being shared chronologically. The article below was published in May of 1995.

~

As a psychotherapist and a consciously evolving human being, I have a strong interest in examining the emotional pain in my own and others’ lives. This year (1995), during my annual visit to the ashram of my spiritual teacher, Mata Amritanandamayi, also known as Amma, I had an experience that helped me put my own pain into perspective.

This year’s trip was different from my previous trips in that most of my two month visit was spent traveling with Amma as she conducted programs throughout India. (Amma’s public programs include lectures, devotional singing, and darshan, which means to be in the company of a great soul. Amma’s style of darshan is to hug each individual who comes to her.) My time in India was to end with a program in Pune, a city southeast of Mumbai.

Four days before I was to leave India, I found myself filled with grief. While I was excited to be returning to Caesar salads, Western toilets, hot showers, and American efficiency, I felt enormous grief about leaving my teacher, the devotional singing and the bliss of the divine energy that I access so easily when in Amma’s presence. I noticed that my sadness was mixed with a measure of rage which I knew was rooted in my childhood. I sat close to Amma and allowed the sadness and rage to wash away and the peace and stillness to come.

Two days later, during an evening program, I was watching Amma give darshan to the large crowd who had assembled. While I was watching, a man came to her carrying a large teenage boy who had no use of his arms or legs. His legs appeared to be no larger than the diameter of a fifty-cent coin. I thought he might also suffer from cerebral palsy. Moments later, another man carried in a boy who was in a similar condition. Then another pair presented themselves to Amma, and then another, and another.

Soon it became obvious that a bus load of severely handicapped teenagers had been brought to receive Amma’s touch. As the children kept coming, my body flooded with grief. Other images then started coming into my mind’s eye, images of the pain and suffering I had witnessed during the last few weeks.

  • Miles and miles of shanty-town shacks built mostly of corrugated tin; tin in a country where the temperatures may be 90 degrees in the winter and 120 degrees in the summer. I had seen people preparing food in the huts over open fires. I had imagined the nightmare those huts would be at night when the rats roamed.
  • In the middle of busy railroad yards, wherever there was 20 feet between the crisscrossed tracks, families had erected tents. Children were growing up on the tracks. The tracks served as their playgrounds and their toilets.
  • A tall blind man had stepped into the railroad car in which I was traveling. The pupils of his eyes were shiny, bright silver. He was carrying a six-month-old baby. Once he had come to the center of the car, he started singing. People came forward and put money in his hand. When everyone had donated, he stepped down and found his way to the next car.
  • A woman, legs totally useless and crossed stiffly in front of her, inched her way down the sidewalk on her buttocks, moving so slowly that you couldn’t even tell she was moving unless you watched her intently.

Each of these scenes had moved me to tears. As the memories flickered through my mind’s eye, I imagined what it would be like to be trapped inside a body that I had no ability to operate; a body that even robbed me of my ability to communicate. I also imagined what it would be like to be born into extreme poverty, where I had little or no way to improve my situation. As I compared what I believed I would feel in those circumstances to the pain I was now feeling about leaving India, I was able to put my own pain into perspective.

I saw that the pain I was experiencing was temporary. Even though I hurt, I knew the grief would pass. Amma would be coming to the U.S. in a few months. In addition, I knew how to connect with divine energy whether I was in India or in Seattle, I just needed to be willing to make the effort.

I remembered that a portion of my pain was energy I was still holding onto from my childhood. I knew that as I continued to access and release this old rage, I would experience more and more peace and freedom from pain.

Next, I reminded myself that I had consciously chosen to put myself into a situation that would cause me pain. I know it is difficult for me to leave India. Going to India is a choice I make freely and willingly understanding that pain will be one of the many feelings I will experience on the journey.

I wondered briefly if I should feel ashamed of myself for feeling grief about my situation. I let that go, realizing that self-criticism was not the purpose of the lesson I was receiving. My grief and pain were real. My job was not to deny the pain or to judge it but rather to be active in releasing it.

As I pondered this newest thought, yet another came. I noted that as I progress in my own healing, I experience my heart opening more and more to those around me. It is as if my eyes are opening and I can more clearly see the needs of others from a place of deep compassion as opposed to guilt-ridden caretaking. I then thought of the others in my life who are equally committed to their personal growth. I recognized they are undergoing a similar progression.

As these insights flooded into my mind, I experienced a renewal of my commitment to continue this process. In my mind’s eye I could see the ripple effect that will occur as each one of us, completing our own healing, create a world where there is enough food, shelter and love for everyone. A world where no one is left alone in their pain.

We cannot eliminate pain from the earth; that is part of the human experience. We can, however, significantly change the way we relate to pain. I hope that my experiences will give you insights that help you to put your own pain into perspective.

~

“The New Times” articles that I’ve already shared:

Support in Times of Trouble

A Multitude of Lessons

Exposing the “Know-It-All”

Many Paths, Same Destination

Surprising Discoveries

82609572-SLD-001-0035

This past Father’s Day, I received an email from my brother saying that he thought I might be interested in reading a post his son had written about our father. http://carolineevan.com/grandpa-smith-the-photographer-a-fathers-day-post

I left home when I was 17 years old, and had very little contact with my family afterwards. So even before I opened the link, I was surprised to see my father described as a photographer. When I clicked on it, I was further surprised to find out that my nephew, Evan, and his wife, Caroline, are professional photographers.

I took some photographs during my high school and college years, and some when my children were young, but it was definitely not a major focus in my life. In fact, I have spent most of my adult life believing that taking and looking at photographs kept people from being in the present.

When I started this blog, I used no photographs other than an occasional one I found on Wikimedia. But soon a new world opened up to me. Now, photographs I have taken are a major part of the posts I write. So to find out my nephew is a photographer and that he considered my father to be one as well was indeed a surprising discovery.

I have no memory of my father using a camera, but one or two years ago my brother converted a lot of family photos to digital ones. He mentioned my father’s interest in photography at that time and sent me some of the photographs.

It was fascinating to read about my father from Evan’s perspective. I was also interested in seeing photographs of my father that someone else had taken during the Korean War. I had never seen any of these before.

I also appreciated the opportunity to see some of the photographs he had taken during the Korean war.

Thank you Evan for writing your tribute to your grandfather. It certainly opened up new perspectives for me.

The YouShare Project

youshare-website-logo-sept-16-2015_FINAL

 

One morning during my last trip to Amritapuri, India, I woke up to find this notification on my blog:

Dear Karuna,

My name is Ashlee. I’m co-founder of the YouShare Project, with the mission to connect people around the world through true, personal stories. I recently stumbled across your blog and read the above post entitled “Tearing at the Fabric of Racism.” It’s honest, beautifully written, and incredibly compelling. I think it would make a wonderful YouShare, because it offers a personal glimpse into a time that younger generations only hear about and usually through the lens of third party history books and documentaries. It’s always important to look back in time as a means for moving forward, and I think your story is especially important in today’s racially tense climate.

If this sounds interesting to you, I would love to email you directly with more information and formally invite you to share your story with the project. You have my email address and website. I hope to hear from you soon.

Best,
Ashlee
http://www.youshareproject.com
ashlee@youshareproject.com

I was intrigued by Ashlee’s request and opened her website. I learned that the project was started by Nick and Ashlee Blewett who believe that “exploring different perspectives—and embracing our commonalities as well as our differences—is the only way for humanity to reach our full potential.”

This is their vision for the YouShare Project:

“To create a more conscious and thoughtful global societyby publishing personal stories from people around the world.”

“Each of us has an individual story, our own personal narrative of events and experiences that shape our personalities, our opinions and biases, the way we dress and act, and the customs and traditions in which we take part. Stepping outside of our personal bubbles to explore different perspectives and engage in meaningful dialogue enriches our lives and cultivates a more conscious and thoughtful society.”

I read through many of the stories on the blog and found them to be very inspiring.  I was also impressed by the wide variety of  topics.

I was delighted to share my Tearing at the Fabric of Racism post with them and have enjoyed reading many of their posts since then.  I hope some of you decide to check out their project.  And while you are at it, consider submitting one of your own life stories!

Thank you Nick and Ashlee for providing such an important service to the world.

 

Eclectic Corner: Perspective (Quote)

 

 

Some people see the glass half full. Others see it half empty.
I see a glass that’s twice as big as it needs to be.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eclectic Corner: Perspective (Photography)

20150610_092038

20150610_080954

20150610_080919

20150610_091957

20150610_081153

 

20150610_081104

Perspective is an interesting thing.  Each of these photographs show the artichoke plants from a different perspective.  I don’t think it is possible to know the size of the plants from looking at any of the photos.  If I had walked into my neighbor’s garden and stood next to the plants, which I didn’t, I believe they would have been about my height (5 ft 7 in).

 

eclectic-corner-heat-medumWritten for Eclectic Corner: Perspective (Photography)

Eclectic Corner: Perspective (Written Piece)

Perspective means different ways of seeing things.

20150221_093011

When some people see worms they get squeamish.  They wouldn’t even think holding them and letting them run through their fingers.

The picture above is of the worms in my vermicomposting bin.  I feed the worms and in turn they create fertilizer!  I love watching the worms.  I particularly enjoy it when the time comes to separate the worms from the fertilizer (the fertilizer goes to the garden and the worms go back into the vermicomposting bin) because I get to pick them up and feel them squiggle in my hand.

As I look at the vegetable plants that are growing in my garden now, I know the worms have played a significant role in making them so healthy. I feel immensely grateful that they are doing such an important service for me and for the earth.

Perspective can make such a difference.

20150608_185556

20150608_185452

20150608_185417

eclectic-corner-heat-medumWritten for Eclectic Corner: Perspective (Written Piece)

A Scene from Three Vantage points

A man and a woman walk through the park together, holding hands. They pass an old woman sitting on a bench. The old woman is knitting a small, red sweater. The man begins to cry.

From the vantage point of the old woman:

As soon as I finish my breakfast, I gather the equipment I need for my current knitting project and head for the park. As I walk, the sun is shining and its warmth feels like a much beloved cloak against my skin. Once I reach the park, I sit down on a bench that gives me a panoramic view of the park.

I pull my knitting needles, my red yarn, and the parts of the sweater I have already completed from my bag. The sweater is for my great-grandson and I plan to have it finished in time for his five-year-old birthday party next week. Before I begin working on the sweater, I take some time to watch the children playing in the playground. A young boy notices me looking at him and walks up to me, his mother keeping an eye in the distance. “What are you doing lady?” “I’m making a sweater for my great-grandson,” I respond. “I have a red sweater too! It’s my favorite. Bye….” he says as he runs back to the playground. I begin knitting and soon am immersed in the pleasure of the clicking needles, the feel of the yarn and most important, the magic that occurs when a piece of straight yarn turns into a soon-to-be treasured sweater. Continue reading “A Scene from Three Vantage points”

Lessons on Lessons

Life is a school.

Since I neither created nor do I run the universe, I don’t know if that statement is true or not, but that is the way it seems to me. Regardless of whether or not it is THE TRUTH, I think it is a useful concept. It helps me see life as a challenge; a series of lessons to be learned with tests coming every now and then, to see if I’ve learned what I need to learn. That attitude helps me see my growth and gives me direction for my life. Continue reading “Lessons on Lessons”