Shantiji's New Year message - Jan 2012
We surely know that we cannot solve the problems of suffering that come from within (from ego clinging) in this modern age through technology, wealth or techniques. When we focus on 'me and mine', we construct a boundary which separates what we consider to be ourselves, our families, friends and our things on the inside, from the outside, all that we perceive to be opposed to 'me and mine'. From the inside, we feel safe and well. However, there is no "me".
Enlightenment is about breaking down this boundary and sense of separation. We actually live in a vast network of relationships in which all are one interdependent being. This is in accordance with the natural state of being. If we are mindful when we experience happiness and suffering and how it feels, then we will remember that all sentient beings wish to experience happiness and not suffering. Then, we can realise that, as human beings, unlike many other sentient beings, we all have the capacity to plan the future. We must be mindful about the impact our decisions make on other sentient beings - bringing them either happiness or suffering.
For example, turkey may seem like just a food for our enjoyment, but we can remind ourselves that this flesh we are eating was once the body of a living being. Compassion is not simply about acts of kindness. It is about being aware of the suffering of other sentient beings from the perception of the actual nature of things.
Embrace fully the opportunity to transform your mind in your everyday life. For instance, there is a wide variety of food that you can eat to boost your health. Briefly, what it boils down to is this: get it fresh when you can; cook veggies quickly; use whole grains; cut down on fat, sugar and salt, especially the hidden ones in processed food. Spice it with powerful antioxidants and combine complementary herbs and spices. Be picky about what you drink, and modest in your portions. Avoid junk and fast food. Reduce your health risks and add years to your life. Here are two habits to release as you relinquish 2011: tobacco and alcohol. There are so many great, non-alcohoic drinks you can enjoy, and some of them are even so good for you - such as water! As for smoking, put out the fire, skip the liquour and live longer and healthier - and 2012 is going to be amazing for you.
Being identified as a human being is an opportunity to serve others. You are a human being too! It’s not just one individual’s responsibility to be a human being, helping the world and benefiting others. It is the responsibility of all of us.
Cultivate compassion and equanimity, and act in a way that will benefit others. If you harbor this attitude in your heart, you can transform anything that occurs along the path into a positive for yourself and others. Regard the life that you have right now, as a positive, precious opportunity to serve many people. Through the situation that you’re in now, you have the chance to extend love, care and benefit to many sentient beings, to help others. For the future, hope to continue to use this opportunity to the greatest extent possible to bring about benefit to others.
This can sometimes involve disappointments, especially when your hopes, plans and actions aren't always accomplished in the way you set out to accomplish them. When that happens, the most skilful thing to do sometimes, is to just reduce your expectations. You could lower your expectations and have more simple goals about benefiting others that you could be contented with. In this way, instead of coming up with some vast scheme to benefit a really extensive number of sentient beings, you could simplify your aspirations to simply care about others.
Extend your love to other beings in the world.
In this way, even if you’re not able to accomplish something magnificent and grand, you will at least be able to continue extending your love to others and have a meaningful connection of kindness and care with them.
We all have the precious support of a human body and the precious faculty of being able to distinguish between what is harmful, and what is beneficial, as well as what is to be adopted, and what is to be rejected. Therefore, because we have this human body and this discernment, we all have the opportunity to benefit a great number of sentient beings in a very vast way… if we really put this opportunity into practice. When we do this, we will lead a beneficial and meaningful life.
Shanti Gowans is the globally recognised author and founder of Shanti Yoga™, Meditation and Ayurveda for the self, family and community.
Shantiji has brought the concepts and practices of a healthy body and a still mind to thousands of Australians through her Yoga and Meditation programs on national television... Read more about Shantiji's biography
Travel with Shanti & Peter Gowans this November for a trip of a lifetime.