A loving relationship with the Universe begins with the heart. I will tell you about my father.
I’m laying out 30 practices for a full life in this month. It’s day 6.
My father was very worshipful. He believed not just in one God, but all gods. He saw divinity all around. The corner temples, the beggars, the cows, the rickshaw-puller…he offered his respect to the One in everything. Everything a reminder of reality above this physical layer of life. Many of us have experienced him enraptured in his bhajans. He would start his day early, very early, in long hours of prayers, and he would carry books and pictures to give out to everyone. Imagine how happy you would feel if you’re always surrounded by loved ones? His infectious enthusiasm is still rippling through our consciousness many years after his death.
Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras pay a special emphasis to this practice, which he calls ईश्वर प्रणिधान Ishvara Pranidhana, to See Everything Lovingly as One. It is an essential practice, even if you don’t believe in God, or gods, or the idea of a god or divinity.
(* belief in God optional)
We are stardust. Recycled elements from new and old stars, some matter as old as the universe itself, and some from stars that lived and died billions of years ago. We are made of this universe, and each of us is a story 13.82 Billion years in the making.
Made from the same material (as the Universe), we still feel a separation from it. When we look out from our eyes, we look at the world being “outside” us in some way. We’re not sure where this separation begins, but we sure “feel” removed from the world. Does a bag of skin separate us from the world? Is it our thoughts, our name and story, or our spirit whatever it may be? We’re not sure what separates us from the world, but we just know that we are separate; this knowing makes us feel that we need to look out for ourselves. To protect and shield ourselves. And so we suffer.\
Our heart is a mirror; we humans come preloaded with empathy. You would have noticed that when you see someone crying, you feel sadness yourself. When you hear the laugh-track on the TV comedy, you want to laugh along too. When you see happy little children, you feel the same happiness. Our hearts have evolved with this empathy, reflecting emotions from the world we see around.
The mirror reflects everything, and everything is projected through the mirror.
This practice turns the mirror around. If we wish to see the world filled with love for us, as a friendly world, then we must first cultivate that love in our heart first. When we see the world with a heart of love, we find a friend everywhere. Then, we move around with our guards down and our chin up. If Wu Di (from another story) and my father can find friends in forbidden places, surely the world is more hospitable if we are.
Imagine how happy you would feel if you’re always surrounded by loved ones?