Image credit: Amy Dianna

(Continued from Part 2)

When we apply effort towards what is good for us, we experience the heat of transformation, where our personal will rubs up against our karma, or our tendencies. Such is called tapas in Sanskrit. Through tapas, we burn off the effects of our actions when we make choices that lead us in the direction of our greater good. The heat caused by our efforts can feel uncomfortable. We often think of grace as being a sweet pat on our head by the universe. But for those who are truly willing, everything in life can be seen as grace, even that which feels uncomfortable.

When we remember that we are within a loving whole, we meet this moment as it is, without resistance. In that state of receptivity, we understand that our desire for something that does not support our highest purpose, such as a chocolate cake, is fueled by an old pattern, a view of life through an outdated lens that no longer serves our greater good. When we understand that the desire for the cake is just an old habit, it no longer has power over us. We no longer see life as happening “to” us, something to which we are a victim. We see instead that we have fed our desire for chocolate cake through our perceptions and habits. In the end, it is nothing more than flour, sugar, cocoa, eggs and milk.

Through this fire of transformation, we eventually see that what once seemed like a super delicious cake is just ash. It has no meaning, no value to us anymore. We can appreciate it for what it is. But we are not attached to it. Like everything in life, it comes. It goes. It is not the source of our happiness. Only in abiding in the light of our true nature can we find that.

As our once precious attachments become like ash, we reclaim the power we had given them. The ash then nourishes the soil of our spiritual transformation. Within that new land, an effortless flower grows, embodying the light of our true nature.

It once took great effort to let go of things that enabled us in feeling disconnected. But now we stand on new ground and experience a new kind of momentum. This momentum supports our effortless luminous nature.

At first, it may seem like choosing your luminous nature is hard. But eventually you see that it is much easier than choosing disconnection. This is because your true nature is in harmony with evolution and nature as a whole. You understand that it was actually your painful habits that took so much energy to maintain.

As you rest in a field of receptivity, you are willing to co-create with the moment exactly as it is. In that state, you are present for a new kind of choice. Rooted in understanding the temporal nature of reality, you don’t feel tempted by empty promises. You know lasting happiness comes only from your being inherently connected to a glorious whole. You witness life and all its colours. You feel like a flower born in the rich soil of knowing your true nature. Within this rich garden, your choices arise from an effortless state of being.

As I discussed in last week’s entry for Earth Day, our choices reverberate far beyond our own lives, because we are all interconnected. Because of this, as we awaken spiritually, we can but feel compassion for ourselves and others. As my spiritual teacher Amma says in her book Eternal Wisdom, Part 2:

“Sadhana [spiritual practice] does not mean just praying and doing japa [mantra repetition]. Real prayer includes being compassionate and humble towards others, smiling at someone and saying kind words. We should learn to forgive the mistakes of others and to be deeply compassionate – just as our one hand automatically caresses the other hand if in pain. By developing love, understanding and broadmindedness, we can ease the pain of so many people. Our selflessness will also enable us to enjoy the peace and bliss that is within us.”

This weekend’s tragic earthquake in Nepal, claiming the lives of thousands, is yet another call from the planet for us to awaken to compassion. We recognize that we could so easily have been the ones in an earthquake zone. The people who have lost loved ones and seen their livelihoods destroyed have just the same capacity for love and grief as we do. We realize that we are not separate from them, or from this planet that shudders from time to time under the weight she bears.

As you choose the light of your own true nature, you may experience uncomfortable tapas in the fires of transformation during a period of transition. But you also light the light of hope, interconnection and grace. You ignite your passionate fire that fuels the joy of your being. You open yourself to a field of possibility far beyond what you could know staying small, feeling disconnected and alone. As you choose the light of your true nature, you light the way for others to do the same. In this way, the courage to make a healthy choice benefits not only your own life, but all of life. You become the light of love for all beings, everywhere.