God in all things.

I have wrestled with this thought for many years now and thanks be to God I have found my answer. Perhaps you, too, will find some comfort here.

I have been practicing the spiritual science of Yoga since 2005. There have been years of dedicated and consistent practice and years without as I would access the wisdom on an as-needed basis. Throughout these years, I have, for the most part, also remained a faithful Catholic. 

However, I have lived with strong unsettledness. I have found it difficult to marry my deep love for this ancient wisdom of self-purification, the purpose of which is to transform into an empty vessel through which Christ can enter, and my deeply ingrained ties to the Roman Catholic belief system of my family. I kept feeling that I had to choose, that I couldn’t live in both worlds – I had to pick a side. Or so I thought…

Then it hit me – if I am seeking God and God is seeking me, why would I be afraid to experience Him in every and anyway that He presents himself?

It’s the Jesuit mantra – God in all things.

The reason I’ve been unable to accept this fundamental truth, until now, is because I’ve been allowing fear of the other to shake my certainty of God’s omnipresence. That fear, that there’s only ONE way and if I stray from that way I’ll be condemned for eternity, has been a disease inside me that has finally come to light.

The thinking that spiritual practices of other traditions are to be feared and ignorantly rejected, my friends, is the devil’s manifestation.

The idea that God is only recognizable to a select few types of humans on the entire earth is absurd! We are all His children, we are all of Him, as is everything that exists.

There is no Satan, there is no enemy. The only thing we have to fear is how close we’re coming to believing that our neighbour is not a part of us, that we don’t need one another and that we can’t learn from each other.

The farther we walk away from community, from understanding the peaks and valleys of each other’s lives – the farther we walk from our Divine Creator, from knowing and being love. 

I realize now that the peace and bliss I experience when listening to the chanting of Sikh yogis simply and beautifully connects me to the manifestation of God in another culture – the words may be different but the essence is the same. There is only God.

Sat nam,

Aurelija

In the little room…

There’s a Lithaunian folk song called “In the Little Room” and it describes a conversation between a mother and her son from the perspective of someone watching them while tending to a fire. The mother asks her son, a soldier, why he is preparing to leave his homeland to die on a foreign country’s soil. She says to him, “Are you unhappy? Do you not have enough honour here?” He replies, ” What meaning does happiness and honour have for me if hundreds of others are suffering?” The last verse of the song paints a picture of the mother standing on a small hill, under a birch tree, crying quietly in the evening.

I sing this song to my son often as a lullaby and the words have deeply penetrated into my soul, and hopefully his.

These days our mainstream society is trying to convince us that it’s our happiness that matters. We’re taught that we are alone and must fight our own battles on the way towards success and fulfillment. The only thing that matters is that you win and that you take care of yourself, you can’t rely on anyone else.

This belief is fundamentally flawed; you will never be able to make yourself truly happy, you will never force meaning and joy into existence.

Joy is the byproduct of loving. It is not something that can be created, it is a gift we receive when we place another’s needs before our own, when we choose a life of selfless service.

The son in the song knows this. He’s not some extraordinary being, he is a man that realizes the simple truth that happiness can only exist in relationship to others. He is incapable of flourishing in a land where many are struggling. The only way to his own well-being is by choosing to give his life in service to his fellow-man, his brothers and sisters.

We are all connected and to grow we must turn our energy outward in love and service to those around us. Flowers bloom outward (both above the ground and beneath the earth). If the energy flow went inward, they would die.

We are dying. We are dying because we are failing to accept this fundamental truth – we need each other to live because we need each other to love. I cannot love myself, it is through loving you (love is a verb, an action, a way of being) that I grow and gain the true riches as promised to me by our Divine Creator.

We need each other to live because we need each other to love.

It really is that simple. I often think of this as circle of humans in which everyone is sitting on the person behind them’s knees. Each person is simultaneously holding someone else up while being held up themselves.

If we all commit to actions that help others flourish, we will also flourish –  it’s guaranteed, just have a little faith 🙂

I think this is a great intention for 2019…

Love,

Aurelija

Non-duality and the importance of contemplative practice

Franciscan Father and contemporary mystic, Richard Rohr, was recently quoted as saying that contemplation will save our Church. I would argue that not only will it save our Church, but it will save the world.

The ultimate purpose of contemplative practice is to unite ourselves with God, with the Divine Light that permeates all things. When we meditate we move away from our ego-mind, the place where we deduce, categorize, and make distinctions between ourselves and everyone else. Meditation grants us the opportunity to experience oneness of being and oh, Lord, how we desperately need that.

In my own experience I have witnessed a Church divided, a Church so committed to maintaining the status quo that it often dismisses the actual teachings of Jesus. The teachings of radical and transformational love. The teachings of turning the other cheek, and the last shall be first. Instead, we’re time and time again stuck in the mindset of this not that and us not them. This is not Christianity. This is living with dualistic thinking as your guide, not Jesus.

The problem with dualistic thinking is that it will never get us to God, it will always drag us further away because God is whole – always everywhere and in everything, we just don’t know how to recognize Divinity. Until we realize this, that we’re the problem (i.e. not the other person), we’ll be reaching for an unattainable goal. This is why Jesus says “the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few” (Mt:37).

So why are we averse to doing the work? Because it requires us to change and who wants that? Unfortunately my dear friends, it is the only way.

But don’t forget, the harvest is plentiful! Do not fear the work, it is for your benefit.

For those who are willing to join me in transforming ourselves into vessels for Love, this is the practice:

  1. Be kind and merciful, always.
  2. Spend time alone in meditation (don’t overthink this, just sit down and be for some time everyday).
  3. Spend time in nature.
  4. Sing songs and read poetry.
  5. Move your body in a way that results in joy (e.g. dance, yoga, walking, etc…)

These practices are bound to bring you a deep sense of contentment and who knows maybe you’ll meet God 😉

So much love,

Aurelija

Advent

Hello sweet people!

Advent is the first season of the Catholic liturgical year and it spans the 4 weeks before Christmas (this year it began on Sunday, December 2). It is a time of waiting and preparing for the birth Christ through the Mary. Actually, it is a time of preparation for an entire year of spiritual growth and development. These four weeks can set the tone for all the weeks and months that follow and it has the potential to really get us off on the right foot as we dive deeper into relationship with the Divine.

Advent is quickly becoming one of my favourite times of the year, not because I’m Christmas junkie but because I’m coming to love the idea of being in anticipation, of being in the waiting. 

As I think back, much of my time has been spent waiting – waiting to grow out of adolescence and into adulthood, waiting to get married, waiting to have children, so on and so forth… Those periods of time were long and arriving at each one of those major events took years. Though some preparation was necessary, I know I could have spent that time in anticipation more productively, more intentionally. I’m sure I missed opportunities to grow and cultivate skills and relationships available during the days, weeks, and months spent as an adolescent, as an unmarried women and without children. 

Now, when I find myself longing for the next “big” thing to happen, I remind myself that there is so much available to me at this very moment.

We celebrate the coming of Christ every year all along knowing that he has already come and that he is with us in the waiting. The presence of God is omnipresent – everywhere and in all things. So while we think that the next “major” event will bring us more joy, more contentment – we’re really after that which we already have. 

That joy, that contentment, that peace is within you and it has always been. Once you realize this, you will begin to value the times of waiting just as much as those of abundant fulfillment.

Love,

Aurelija

The Purpose and the Practice

Who am I, Lord? What is my purpose?

I have such a deep desire to help others in some grand way while all along I know that I must first put forth that effort into myself. I must prepare myself to be of service.

The best help I can be to others is to be example. To live the message, to live the hard work, to try and fail and try again, to keep emptying myself and allowing the love that is God to fill me until one day it is no longer I that lives, but Christ that lives through me. To be this example, I must discover my gifts and hone them (as you must yours) – you MUST hone them, and this dear friends, requires discipline. 

The whole practice of honing involves stripping away excess with a blade. The process is violent and painful – this is truth. If you want to live closer to perfection, closer to your ideal, you will sacrifice – you will sacrifice wants (which sometimes even feel like needs), you will sacrifice comfort, you will sacrifice pleasure, etc… 

In the beginning, it will likely feel as though you are moving farther from others towards loneliness. But trust me sweet people, the closer you get to the Divine the more joy you will know. Joy does not come from others, it does not come from relationships, it does not come from children, it comes from God and God alone. It is the gift of honing, it is the result of using the skills, the talents you were born with to do the work of loving.

We cannot love unintentionally, Love is intentional, otherwise it is tainted with our humaneness, with our poverty, with our flaws. True love comes from deep conviction and effort. Yes to love is work, to love demands you to change, you to bend, you to concede – never the other. This is what is meant by “turn the other cheek,” “the first shall be last and the last shall be first,” “it is easier for a camel to get through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” You are not to be comforted or to feel comfortable, you are to LOVE!

This is why it is hard, very hard, if not close to impossible to truly live the Catholic faith. Our culture is all about the self, about getting what you need and holding on tight. Whereas, the Church’s purpose is to turn us into saints and saints are all about their neighbour. The whole point of honing your talents is to give yourself as a gift to others. It’s about taking responsibility for the state of this world by preparing yourself to serve in the best way possible.

People get so hung up on all the rules of Catholicism because they don’t want to change, they don’t want to be transformed into saints because it is really hard and requires a rejection of the ego (who is always telling us that self-preservation and satisfaction is the most important thing). This is the same reason why the Church won’t adapt to the ways of the world – the Church is not meant to make our lives easier, it is meant to show us the way to Christ-consciousness. All of the teachings are our opportunities to chisel ourselves into our best versions. Jesus very clearly tells us in John 15: 1-17 (The Vine and the Branches) that he wants us to know joy – everything he’s trying to teach us is so that our joy may be complete. This is not about suffering, Christianity is not about suffering – it’s about honing us into the joy-filled beings we are meant to become.

To be Catholic is to learn to die to yourself and be raised as an instrument of love. If everyday I’m choosing how to live and proclaiming what matters to me (consciously or not) this seems like a pretty good option. And, who knows, if it’s all true I’ll end up as joyful as can be and if not I’ll have made a bunch of other lives more bearable – either way I’ll have mattered, and isn’t that all any of us really wants?

Love, love, love,

Aurelija