Have you ever noticed that spiritually developed people often display great simplicity in their lives? Their needs seem to be few and reflect their lack of sophistication or attachment to the material world. There is often simplicity in routine, lifestyle and diet.
I remember my yoga teacher telling us that his friend who was an Ayurvedic doctor, used to count the number of beans on his plate, to be sure he was managing his dietary intake properly. Such people have reduced their expectations and desires to a minimum, even eliminated them, so that their full focus can be directed on serving humanity.
I attended a seminar at the yoga centre once, when an elderly nun had been invited to speak to we young people. Sister A. was very nervous speaking to the group, but she soon settled down as she reflected on her long life. She spoke with real joy about the austerities the nuns faced, getting up very early in the morning to pray and do their chores.
Sister A. also told us how grateful she was to God and as she spoke a deep feeling of peace flowed into me. It was clearly flowing from this lady and I remained in this space of Presence for some hours afterwards. Merely through sitting near this humble lady, I had absorbed some indefinable quality and had been transformed for a period of time.
This feeling of Presence is a transmission that flows from those who are close to God. It is an energy permeated with love, gratitude and healing. I have felt the same energy visiting holy sites, where a saintly or holy person has lived. That's why I love going to Ramanashrama in India. The feeling of peace flows in as you walk in the front gate. The same happens when I sit at the gate of Lakshmana Swamy's residence.
I remember too meeting Shri Yogendra, founder of the Yoga Institute in Bombay. The most compelling thing for me in this Christ-like man was the look of profound serenity and resolution in his eyes. He told us we should touch this world lightly, like a flower. He had seen the pain and suffering that the world can bring and was encouraging my two friends to tread softly.
Even as he spoke Founder's eyes were focused inwards on some inner Infinity, so that looking into his eyes was like gazing into a fathomless well of Being. He carried a halo peace around him too that was quite palpable. The Presence within and around realized souls like these is an expression of their enlightenment and makes them worthy of our veneration and respect. This Presence is a caution to us that here is someone whom we should take seriously. My yoga teacher, Vijay, who was Founder's son, also had a powerful presence, which was nonetheless leavened with a deep capacity for love.
This experience of God's Presence can bring immediate relief from any form of emotional or physical suffering too. I was graced with an experience of this once during my days training as a psychotherapist. I had been having a session with my therapist and as it came to an end I was still feeling unresolved.
As I left his room it felt like my heart was quietly bleeding. And so on the way home I decided to stop at the park nearby, which had been such an important, almost sacred site for me in my childhood. Having arrived there I took a seat near the lake and allowed the rustling of the willow tree branches on the water's edge to lull me. As I thought about my situation a feeling of anger flowed up in relation to someone.
I simply witnessed the feeling, which ebbed away and was then replaced by the same feeling of anger, but this time it was directed at the true source of my frustrations. So I realized the anger had been projected and transferred from the original to the next person. It was quite a shock to realize it.
Having then owned and accepted my feelings of rage I then made peace with the two people in my heart. I then consciously surrendered all of my confusion to God and asked for healing.
Then something slowly percolated up from within me and as I sat looking at the lake a deep feeling of resolution emerged. It actually felt like some ageless Being was now looking out through my eyes and he liked all that he saw in the park. Even the unsightly plastic bag floating in the water and spoiling the appearance of the lake was acceptable, even endearing to him.
He was blissful and there was a deep gratitude in him to be witnessing this world which he regarded as perfect. He then spoke with me, reflecting on how this old and venerable park had suffered all the pains of its human visitors over the years. Maybe people had even been assaulted in this park and yet the park had benignly witnessed it all? And then he told me that all of that pain could be resolved and was simply a part of God's expression.
There was a perfect acceptance of all that life could bring inside of me now and so I got up and walked around the park. I looked out through completely non-judgemental eyes, like those of a visitor to the planet, full of wonder, interest and gratitude for the experience of this physical embodiment. Through some divine synchronicity, I actually came to live near the park a few months later and my son was born not long after.
This last story illustrates the way to heal our human hearts and open to Presence. Whatever karma and an unkind fate has brought our way in terms of suffering, it is best to accept it, own it and forgive both ourselves and those around us who we may believe have caused it.
We also need to own and confess what we have become as limited egos, due the lack of love and presence we experienced from others in our childhood. And to also release any repressed emotions that are still sitting inside, simmering away, distracting us from living in the Now and feeding psychosomatic illness.
When we find the conviction to do these things then the veils will fall from our heart and eyes and we will then look out through new eyes. Then, looking out through the eyes of the Divine we will realize, perhaps for the first time, that this planet is actually heaven on Earth.