When Bad Things Happen to Good People: On Karma


Growing up in India, poverty, hunger, disease, death and suffering were all around me. You can smell it, see it, taste it there. It’s in your face, in ways that it isn’t, here, most of the time.

It’s also a culture in which the concept of karma leads to fatalism at one end of the spectrum, and acceptance and surrender at the other.

Karma is a concept – a description of reality rather than reality itself. In one sense, there’s no such thing as karma. There are patterns of unfolding, which have their own internal logic and order, and karma is a description of one aspect of that logic, of that order.

In other words, karma is not personal — it doesn’t pertain just to a particular, individual life. Each of us is an ecology rather than a singular self. And we live within nested ecologies of beingness that are interdependent. We are shaped by them, and we contribute to them through our actions, choices, intentions, thoughts, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors.

In this sense, we participate in many different kinds of karma. Individual karma is not separate from the karma of a society, a culture, gender or humanity itself.

Karma, in this sense, is a path that’s been created by thousands of people and animals walking across the same trackless wilderness along the same trajectory for a very long time.

Cultural thought-forms, beliefs, and archetypes all make grooves in human consciousness. And we participate in those grooves, because we are part of the collective consciousness. It takes conscious effort to approach things as they are, rather than through the scrim of our individual and collective history.

So the karma that led to the tragic events of 9/11, for example, emerged from a complex weave of tangled patterns. Beliefs about tribal loyalty and tribal justice. Beliefs that the good of one group can be brought about by the destruction of another. Beliefs that there is one right answer, one right God, one right anything at all – and that everything outside of that paradigm is The Other.

All of these thought-forms create karmic patterns. And we contribute to these through our individual consciousness, as well as through the ways in which we live our lives, the choices we make, the people we elect to govern us, and a million other variables that make up the ecology of the world in which we live.

Wholeness has a way of asserting itself, regardless of the results that emerge from fragmentation.

No, those men and women who died on 9/11 did not bring those terrible events upon themselves because of their karma. That’s a child’s version of tit for tat. The men, women and children who died in Hiroshima in 1945, or the millions who have been killed in wars, or those who die of poverty, hunger, disease and malnutrition every day don’t bring these things upon themselves either.

The larger question, I believe, is this: How are we to live today, knowing that we shape the world even as it shapes us? Knowing, too, that we are fractals of the Sacred, that we are wholeness too – that we participate in, and are co-creators with the Great Mystery.

What can you and I do now, today, to heal the karmic patterns that shape us, and to bring to life new ones that contribute to wholeness? How can we as a community make pathways of love and equality, compassion and understanding, mercy, safety, shelter and kindness for everyone?

These are pathways we make by walking. One choice, one action, one step at a time. What’s the one step you will take today?

Make a Wish…Or Three…

dreamstime_xs_3217939 plant a tree
As we celebrate the return of the light, and the imminent birth of a new year, stop a moment. Drop into your spacious heart. Sink down beneath the surface noise and chatter, to the deep truth of your desire.

Make a wish, or three…

  • One for yourself. What do you most deeply long to receive or create, in the New Year?
  • One for someone / something / someplace you love. What do you truly wish for, or long to give to your beloveds, in the New Year?
  • One for your world. What blessing do you want to offer your world, or to some specific place or activity in your world, in the New Year?
  • Head on over to my Facebook Page, and share your wishes with our community, in the Comments. Or share them on your own blog, Pinterest or Facebook page, and share a link with us on Facebook.

    Be as specific and practical, or as wide and all-encompassing as you wish.

    Then, write each of your wishes on a single piece of paper. Place your wishes in a bowl, bless each one, and place the bowl on your altar. If you don’t have an altar, create a simple wishing altar, in a quiet corner of your home and place your bowl in the center of it.

    Our wishes are powerful when they emerge from our deepest desires, are aligned with our soul’s purposes, and are backed by clear intention and purposeful action. They manifest in miraculous ways when we co-create them with the powers of wholeness.

    On Monday, December 30th, we’ll close my preview teleclass for How to Rule Your World from the Inside Out with a sacred ceremony. We’ll plant each of your wishes in the fertile soil of the subtle energy realms. And we’ll hold them in the creative Flow of the universe together, to activate and empower them to grow, beautifully.

    Join our wishing circle for the entire preview call, or just for the final ceremony. Or, create your own ceremony. Plant your three wishes in your garden, or in a flower-pot. Water with your desire, intentions, love and blessings.

    I’ll begin with my own three wishes for 2014:

  • For myself – light, in every cell of my body, dissolving all obstacles, radiating out into the world
  • For my beloveds – sweet love, true discernment, creative power, faithful wisdom
  • For my world – deep, abiding, abundant peace
  • Your turn! Which three wishes will you plant, for the New Year?

    Drunk on light and drenched in glory: Finding our way home

    redbird As the year draws to a close, I feel it in my body — a bone-deep need for rest, for solitude. The sweet ache of my soul for its own company. The longing to return to the quiet rhythms of my heartbeat after months of joyfully singing with the choir.

    It’s been a rich, full year, brimming with blessings. 35 years of teaching, writing, creating, and still, now — my work, and the people whom I am privileged to walk alongside and delighted to serve, remain my most beloved teachers.

    My students and clients keep expanding into the infinite bounty of their inner being. And, as they become more fully themselves — as they shape their businesses around their soul’s deepest desires — they create abundance, peace and delight for themselves and their world.

    It happens part-way through every program I teach. Struggle and frustration, despair and aborted dreams give way to bright enthusiasm, abiding faith — the astonishing discovery that miracles flow from our fingertips when we find and truly inhabit our place in wholeness.

    Wholeness is our natural state. We are born whole. We arrive here knowing we belong in the larger Wholeness that is our home.

    And yet, from the moment we arrive in this world – drunk on light and drenched in glory — we are shaped by the world around us. The noise and glitter of it, its agony and brokenness, the empty stories we are told and, half-bewildered, come to believe — all of these fall like thick shadows between us and our souls. They separate us from the truth of who we really are.

    To rediscover and inhabit our wholeness, we need time, spaciousness, solitude — and skills. We need daily practices that restore us to ourselves, that bring us back to who we really are.

    You may already have a daily practice – meditation or dance, yoga, chi kung, prayer or gratitude — that brings you back to the heart of belonging. If you do, you likely also have a structure in place that supports you in using it.

    Here are some of the structures that support me.

    My daily practice is anchored by placing myself in the presence of the Sacred, at least four times each day – when I first awake, before opening my eyes; after I’ve brushed my teeth, showered and dressed; at the end of my work day; in bed at night, before drifting off to sleep.

    Each day includes a conscious attunement to the Devas of those qualities I wish to embody more fully. I commune with one or more of these Devas, and use energy alchemy skills and tools to participate in their activity – to increase my capacity to hold, radiate, act from, and express those qualities in my life.

    I also cleanse, balance and harmonize my energy body daily — in the morning, at the start of my day; before and after each session with a client, or each class I teach; and again at the end of the day.

    All of these are foundational practices for me – I have done them for most of my life, so they are deeply familiar, and deeply comforting. At the same time, each one is utterly unique — a moment of relationship and communion unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before. The practice is ultimately just me, open to the presence of the Mystery.

    And then, there are practices that bring me into relationship with my world through the ordinary, grace-filled moments of each day. A prayer of gratitude each time I brush my teeth. A blessing of love and appreciation for my chair, each time I sit in it; for my computer, each time I use it. Deep gratitude for the breath that fills my lungs; love and appreciation for the food that nourishes my cells; the book that inspires and delights; the tree outside my window that yields so gracefully to the caress of the wind.

    We belong in the lap of wholeness. We are the human body of divine providence.

    Our belonging gives us that most precious of resources — the unshakable experience of being held in the lap of the Sacred, and the brimming joy of our creative potency, of being the activity of the Sacred in the world.

    We are the source of all that we seek.

    Love. Safety. Provision.

    Generosity. Kindness. Spaciousness. Joy.

    Creative delight.

    We are that.

    We are all of that, and more.

    As creative beings, as entrepreneurs, we blend art and beauty, inspiration and freedom, power and communion into a richly savory broth that nourishes the whole, hungry world.

    Yes, we are divinely human. And, we have deeply human needs for rest and replenishment. Nature’s rhythms are our rhythms writ large.

    So, for the rest of this year, I am taking time to be with that quieter, deeper pulse. To rest in stillness until it naturally flows into movement. To play, quietly or exuberantly. To read poetry. Walk by the sea. To write, when the spirit moves me. To appreciate the gifts of this exquisitely intelligent world.

    I trust you will do this too, in your own timing and in your own way. My wish for you, this holiday season, is that you find that place of stillness where you can hear the song of your creative heart. Away from the bright tumult of the holidays, into the primal womb of the generative dark.

    The night sky reveals the fire of the stars.

    And, if you wish to explore and inhabit more of your own genius, in community with others who are on the path of soul-infused creation, please join me on December 30th for a free preview class for my 8-week program,How to Rule Your World from the Inside Out.

    Starting January 13th, I’ll teach the 6th season of this program — an eight-week journey into soul-powered living, creative sovereignty and the freedom that comes from belonging fully to yourself and your world.

    See you there!

    Feel the power of being held.

    Feel the power of being held

    Wholeness and the Heart of Daily Practice

    dreamstime_xs_22578681 zen garden

    My students often ask me what I do, on a daily basis, to stay present, grounded and focused on what matters most. Everything I teach and share is a response to this question, but — distilled to its essence — my daily practice is an ongoing communion with the Sacred in the everyday world.

    The central organizing principle of my life is Wholeness, which is the expression and activity of Source in all forms of life. By embracing wholeness, I become a Source of all the qualities with which I want to fill my life and my world.

    So, in everything I do, I seek wholeness, harmony, right relationship with my world. 

    From that first waking moment, emerging from the undertow of dreams, to the last mumbled litany of thanks before surrendering to the embrace of night, I measure the choices before me against one question: Will this choice bring me into greater wholeness, coherency, harmony and integration, or take me further away from it?

    The choices I make each day emerge from this profound commitment to wholeness. Wholeness speaks through my heart’s deepest desires; through the wild, clear call of my soul; through the patient wisdom of my body. So, I listen — for what is being asked of me by my world, for my heart’s true response. 

    Then, I choose the course of action that brings my inner ecology into a state of greater harmony and wholeness. 

    At its simplest, my daily practice is one of attunement to wholeness, and to the soul qualities that are part of the ecology of wholeness. By expressing these qualities in my own life, I contribute to the sum of these qualities in my world. 

    So, today, I extend my love, appreciation, and blessing to everything I encounter – to my own body, feelings, desires and needs; to the air I breathe; the chair in which I sit to type these words; and to the communion of our relationship – you and me, communing heart-to-heart through these words. 

    The daily practice of being a Source of wholeness, participating in the activity of wholeness, is a living reminder that we are all fractals of the Sacred. We shape our world through our thoughts, feelings, choices and actions. We are the activity of the Sacred made manifest.

    Boundaries are the chalice in which Love abides

    Boundaries are the chalice in which Love abides

    Before we’re ready…here comes the future!

    dreamstime_xs_16131238 yellow autumn leaves on tree

    This poem, an excerpt from Adrienne Rich’s long-form poem, Contradictions, sings of this wild, windy, October Sunday. And of all the things that arrive “before we’re ready” — great, crashing angels bearing the spilling light of our future in both hands.

    “This high summer we love will pour its light
    the fields grown rich and ragged in one strong moment
    then before we’re ready will crash into autumn
    with a violence we can’t accept
    a bounty we can’t forgive
    Night frost will strike when the noons are warm
    the pumpkins wildly glowing the green tomatoes
    straining huge on the vines
    queen anne and blackeyed susan will straggle rust
    as the milkweed stakes her claim
    she who will stand at last dark sticks barely rising
    up through the snow her testament of continuation
    We’ll dream of a longer summer
    but this is the one we have:
    I lay my sunburnt hand
    on your table: this is the time we have”

    –Adrienne Rich, from Contradictions: Tracking Poems.

    Nourishing Things: a simple practice for renewing yourself and your world

    dreamstime_xs_11337147 bubbles on grass

    When I was a child, everything spoke to me. I experienced my world with intense ecstasy, my body and senses absorbing the beauty of the natural world, its scents and sounds, tastes and textures, until they became part of me, streaming in my blood, singing in my bones. I blended with the jungles and mountains that surrounded our vacation home, and with the sea, crows, and sun-seared sky in the big city of Bombay, where I grew up.

    Well into my teens, I was in ecstatic, loving relationship with everything around me. The natural world, yes — but also my bed and pencil-box, the statue of Saraswati in our living room, the chairs and couches I curled up in to read, the books I held in my hands, whose pages smelled of trees and ink, the clothes I wore to school.

    When life got scary — when my family began to fall apart — the things around me offered comfort and consolation. They reminded me that I was safe, I was loved, I was blessed, and blessing.

    Out of my heart-relationship with things, I developed a simple practice that remains part of my everyday life now, more than sixty years later.

    Each time I encounter a thing or share a moment with it, I let it know how much I love and appreciate it. And, I feel its love and appreciation flowing back to me.

    Each time I care for my body in any way — eat a meal, rub balm into my lips, take a shower, go for a walk — I extend my love and appreciation to whatever I am nourishing myself with. I bless the food, the lip balm, the shower water, the path beneath my feet.

    Then, I ask it for its love and blessing. I ask the food to nourish and fill my body with joy and health, with sustenance & replenishment. I ask the shower to fill my body with love, with creative inspiration & delight. I ask the path to bless my body with grounding and support, with safety, beauty, provision.

    I soften and let myself receive their love, take in their blessings, as fully as I can. I feel my deep, deep gratitude for them, for the love and tenderness they offer, for the beauty of their being. I feel my cells filling up with their blessings, with these qualities of soul so generously shared by everything in my world.

    It only takes a moment, but when you do this with every activity, throughout your day, it changes you. It changes your body, your heart, and your relationship with the world.

    Every breath becomes a reminder that you are in loving relationship with the very air you breathe. Every breath is an opportunity and a choice — to be in love, to take in love, to extend love. Each ordinary action of your day becomes a blessing, taking you deeper into relationship, deeper into incarnation.

    Dreaming in the Dark – on Pinterest!

    dreamstime_xs_14812296 magic horse

    As the year draws to a close, and the nights grow longer, we turn inward, to dream. We dream our stories into being. The stories of our lives. The stories of our businesses.

    On November 15th and 16th, I’ll lead the sixth session of Dreaming in the Dark — a two-day virtual retreat to celebrate and release the stories you and your business have lived through together, in 2013. And to craft the new story of your business in the New Year.

    Our individual stories are part of the larger story of our community and our world. Over the next three weeks, we’ll weave a tapestry of our stories together, to prepare for Dreaming in the Dark. We’ll do this on Pinterest and Facebook, the night-sky that holds the constellations of our dreams, and our unfolding stories.

    Today, I invite you to consider this week’s question:

    Who will you and your business be, in 2014?

    As you sit with this question, let the flow of your life carry you into the land of dreaming, which holds all of the stories that belong to you. Every dream that you have, for yourself and for your business, is a story, waiting for you to claim it and invite it into your world.

    Who will you and your business be, in 2014?

    The soul speaks in images, symbols, metaphors. It sings its vision through poetry and music, art and imagination. Share your dreams and vision for your business’s unfolding story, on Pinterest.

    Use the hashtag #DreamingInTheDark, in your pin description. Include the question you are responding to. We’ll review your posts daily, gather your images and visions together, and re-pin a selection of them onto the Pinterest Board, Dreaming In the Dark.

    My Pinterest Board is a magical place.
    Everything that’s placed there becomes part of the creative flow of the Universe.
    I hold space for your vision’s perfect unfolding – and miracles happen.

    You’ll find quotes and images to inspire you, on the Dreaming In The Dark Pinterest Board. Use them to spark your own creative imagination. Share them on your own boards, re-pin them to serve your vision.

    You can also click on #DreamingInTheDark, on Facebook and on Pinterest, to see past posts, view others’ dreams, and to share yours with the Dreaming in the Dark community.

    Happy dreaming and pinning!

    Once Upon a Time…and the time is November, 2014…

    Living Inside the Questions


    This morning, I’m living inside the first of the questions that I’ll invite the folks who participate in November’s 2-day virtual retreat, Dreaming in the Dark, to explore: What is the central theme of the story you tell, about your life and your business?

    The central theme of my own story has been a shifting shoreline — shaped and re-shaped through my encounters with the tides of experience, culture, relationship, my own soul’s desires and the choices I make in response to my world.

    Today, the story elements that I’m playing with are focused through the lens of questions that have filled my heart since I was a child.

      Who am I — now, today?
      Why am I here — now, today?
      What is calling me into greater love and engagement with my world?

    And, this one, with which I begin most of my days:

      What do I deeply and truly want, today? And where does my desire meet the world’s need, today?

    Our deep questions are the light of the sacred, illuminating our path.

    What questions are you living inside, today?

    • You are a sovereign being,
      a fractal of the Sacred,
      a fractal of Wholeness.
    • The flow of your life.
      The soul of your business.
    • Grow your business.
      Grow yourself.
    • Expand your life. Evolve your business.
    • The art of alignment. The miracle of action.
    • Trust in the power of your perfect unfolding.
    • Permission to grow, to flow, to know.
    • You learn about freedom by experiencing what it feels like to be bound.
    • Beyond your beliefs, beyond your drama — the truth of your life.
    • Success is becoming the person who can ask for hugs and holding when your own strength has deserted you.
    • Embrace the mystery at the heart of creation.
    • Your soul sends out tendrils of light and fragrance into the world.
    • You are the gift — and the giver.
      You are the Love, and the lover.
    • At the heart of all things — even limiting beliefs and painful programming — is wholeness.
    • Surrender is an act of will. It is aligning your will with the will of the Sacred.
    • You learn about sovereignty through the experience of being dethroned.
    • Love transforms.
    • Your soul's purpose is to participate in wholeness, to express wholeness.
    • True Desire is a messenger of your soul.
      It leads directly to your soul’s purposes.
    • Unfold the miracle of your life and business.
    • Business = Love in action.
    • Everything you need is already within you, waiting to unfold and express itself.
    • Your inner world shapes your outer world.
      Success is an inside job.
    • You are the story, and the story-maker.
      Your life is yours to shape.