Peace, Love, Joy and Illusion?

We are now most of us, fully surrounded by the winter season of darker days and cooler temperatures. Perhaps in your own lives you notice the angst and resistance at meeting this symbolic and actual darkness for all of the aspects it brings up personally and collectively.

I know for myself the Christmas season always brings up mixed feelings. I find myself grappling with the gentle quiet example of nature to move inward to stillness, with the cultures urgent ploys in the other direction.
What I know to be true is that slowing down and stillness rarely are advocated for socially and aren’t considered to be ‘cool’ things to do. As a culture we generally deal with depth and realism, by denial or avoidance. This is reflected in the frenetic and urgent consumerist climate of this season of heightened illusion.

All the ancient texts talk about illusion as being the great barrier between our enlightened selves and the suffering or pain we may encounter as our reality. The experience for me of a spinal cord injury with the daily pain and very real physical and mental challenges has been a real test in the release of illusions both personally and socially. In the wise Swami Gopalananda’s words, “We live in a world of ever shifting illusions – reflections of a greater reality – and it is often the case that we wake up from our illusions only after they have been shattered by a painful experience.”

This is not meant to be somber or to devalue the wonderful opportunity this season offers to gather together and share, for it in those blessed moments that we can be real. Hallmark greetings circulates the idea of Peace, Love and Joy and for some may be experienced as flippant jabs at a time when we are naturally called to draw inward or simply not feeling merry. I suggest, the virtues of peace love and joy are the ‘inside out’ of a sincere seeker who recognizes these are not externally derived “gifts” but rather result from cultivation of one’s inner sanctuary. They are the everlasting gifts that come after painful experiences shatter our illusions and we surrender to our humanness and embrace our Divinity.

Community, family and faith then are the true hallmarks and so important at this time socially and personally. This newsletter marks a few noteworthy events to our community with which to continue you on your ever expanding journeys of Self-realization and personal empowerment.