Happy Mother’s Day for those of you who celebrate it! It is a day to take pause and give thanks for motherly kindness, generosity and care. Over the last few weeks, we have been looking at the sorry stories we enable that keep us feeling less than who we are. We have put into practice the three steps to transformation— understand, witness and release—when we see a story playing out in our thoughts and actions. This week, as we cultivate inner peace, we look at how to go beyond the idea of give and take and consider instead how to live in balance within Mother Nature’s compassionate whole.

A Mother’s love for her child is one of the strongest bonds in the universe. Willing to overcome adversity to protect her young, even at the expense of her own life, a mother’s internal compass that leads her to secure the wellbeing of her offspring is as deep and innate as the power of Mother Nature herself. Though we can clearly see it in women who have children, this force is not limited to the female gender, or even to those who have offspring. As an expression of Nature and our connection to her, we could say that this compassionate force exists within us all.

Nature’s force of motherhood is one that gives in abundance, like the mother who ensures we have all the food we need, and one that is deeply receptive, like the mother who patiently listens to all our troubles. This beautiful balance of giving and receiving is something we have increasingly forgotten today. And because we do not practice it, or honour the ways it supports us, we now find ourselves facing Nature’s sterner side.

A mother’s hand that soothes and consoles can also be the same hand that is strict and stern. We see this in Nature, whose bounty we assume will continually give to us, but whose creation can also turn to strike us down, such as through natural disasters or a pandemic. Today, with a microscopic virus that halts our world, Mother Nature calls people everywhere into deep silence. There, we must take stock of our ways, of how we got into this mess, and look within for answers. We are being asked to understand how our choices created this global calamity, so that we can immediately change our ways.

Mother Nature gives and takes in balance within the whole. We, on the other hand, tend to take for our personal benefit, without considering the wellbeing of all. Now a consuming virus is asking us to look at our own consumption tendencies and make amends, for the sake of our global health.

What is the nature of a virus? It takes. The virus does not consider the needs of others. It simply takes the cells, the body, the life force, of those it encounters, in order to perpetuate itself. COVID-19 mirrors the ways we have been taking and entitled, sucking on life and feeding dis-ease. No one likes to admit that they are greedy and selfish. Yet, we are all have been – and are – in some way. COVID-19 reflects this back to us in clear and sobering detail. We must see how we have been takers and change these ways. Nature is clearly telling us that it can no longer wait for us to learn what it means to live in balance.

We have all heard of the phrase “live to give” or “give, don’t get”. Are we now being asked to simply become givers rather than takers? Indeed, that is a good start. But what if there were more to this? What if giving and getting were two sides of the same coin? It seems that today we are being asked to consider an entirely new currency.

As the COVID-19 pandemic swept across our world, the global conversation began to shift from “me” to “we”. However, we need to move beyond even this. The idea of a “we” still exists within a framework of duality, as though there is an “us” and a “them”. This is still a kind of disconnected thinking which we can no longer afford. Someone once asked the great South Indian sage of the mid 20th century Ramana Maharshi, “How are we to treat others?” His response sums up the change we are called to make: “There are no others.” We need to move from “me”, beyond “we”, to “all”. At no point – ever – are we not within an interdependent whole. Any time we act in disconnect with the whole, we suffer and cause suffering – whether we are aware of it or not. Sometimes the consequences of our actions are immediate. Other times, they come after the fact and do not seem immediately connected with our actions. The latter is the case today.

Taking always means having more than what is rightfully ours. We take too much food by overeating. We overspend by consuming that which we do not need. We also take from ourselves, by not showing up for life. We have withheld sharing our essence with the world is another form of selfishness, or self-absorption. The remedy to all these forms of avarice is to live in balance.

When we are willing to learn from our mistakes and painful situations, we begin to see life as a gift, a supportive process, rather than something happening “to” us. We then feel we have choice, and the ability to create a life we love. If we are willing to admit our own faults and shortcomings, we move beyond the duality of giving and getting and consider each action within the whole. We must ask continually ourselves throughout the day: “Is what I am doing in this very moment in balance with all life?”

As children who have not followed our mother’s guidance, we are like delinquents who have been sent to our room for a time out. This may not seem a particularly pleasant way of seeing our situation. But what child in time out is immediately willing to see why they are there? To understand our current circumstance in this light is sober, unaffected and honest. We do not have to be dismayed by it. Instead, this perspective provides us with great strength. It helps us humbly open to the moment with courageous gratitude for the lessons that life is bringing us. It helps us remember that we are still growing, and as such, we have the potential to make changes. Our attitude of openness and optimism will only amplify the needed change we each must make to create a healthy future together. It creates greater immunity at all levels – in body, mind and spirit – for true resiliency.

The question is, will we choose this? We know that if a child sent to his room to contemplate his behaviour comes out too quickly, without having learned his lessons, he will find himself sent there again all too soon – and perhaps for longer. This is the situation in which we find ourselves today. We don’t want this to ever happen again. We certainly don’t want it – or something else – to come back far worse.

While we are confined to our rooms, Mother Nature has given us the opportunity to reconnect with ourselves and our families, and commit to being healthy contributors to society going forward. We heal at the deepest level when inspired by Nature’s generosity and splendour. Standing within the whole, we no longer are bound by the desire to get or the compulsion to give. Instead, we are receptive to each moment as an opportunity to serve the good of all. When we live in harmony with our shared mother, we embody her qualities of motherhood. Mother Nature is bold, compassionate, and resourceful. As her children, we are immensely capable and can summon profound reserves of love and courage to make the changes our world needs.

As you move through this week, make a commitment to go beyond being a taker in any way, and step instead into balanced presence within the whole. That balance is always available to us. We simply need to tune into it. Consider all you do from this perspective. Ask yourself the following questions as you move through your days:
– In this moment, am I taking more than what is in balance?
– Do I want this item, or do I need it? What would my life be like without it?
– In this moment, am I aware of the whole? What does the whole feel like?
– In this moment, am I willing to live in balance within the whole? How would my life change in so doing?
– In what ways can I live by Nature’s motherly qualities? Am I willing to make those changes today?
– What will my life look like when I do?
– What am I waiting for, to make that change? Is it worth it?

From my heart to yours,
Parvati