Shanti Om: Living and Acting in Peace – Part 1: Is Peace Passive?

Parvati | Shanti Om: Living and Acting in Peace - Part 1: Is Peace Passive?

Is Peace Passive?

We live in an agitated, high-speed world. Every day as we move through our lives, we are flooded with images that potentially stir our minds and affect how we think and feel. When in human history has there been such demand for us to ingest and process such a breadth and depth of information so quickly?

It is no wonder that I received grateful feedback as well as more questions and concerns than usual about my blog posted last Sunday entitled “Time for Peace”. The text was a way for me to express some of my feelings in response to the immense agitation that exists on our planet at this time. (Of note, 62 out of the 196 countries in the world are today involved in wars.)

Here is a summary of the questions I received:

  • How do you define peace?
  • Is being peaceful being passive?
  • Is peace about personal power?
  • What does it mean to be a spiritual aspirant?
  • How can one be an activist and on a spiritual path?
  • When is it appropriate to speak up, stand up and act about injustice in the world?
  • Where is the line between taking sides and standing up to shine light on a problem?

Great questions! And thank you!

As we work on the animation and postproduction for my upcoming music video for my single “Shanti Om”, I am continually reminded that the Sanskrit word for Peace is “Shanti”, while “Om” is the vibration of the universe. (We have two more positions available to work on this stellar music video: one for a 2D animator and another for a 3D animator. If you know anyone who may be interested, please let me know! It is an amazing opportunity for someone.)

To live in peace is to live free from any fear of violence, conflict, hostility, tension and aggression. In the presence of peace, there is no sense of againstness. When we live in peace, we live in Shanti Om, in unity, wholeness, rooted in our interconnection with all. We understand that we are one with the essential fabric of the universe. Againstness is understood as a self-imposed illusion, a reflection of our ego which only knows to separate and divide. In Shanti Om, there is reverence for all living things, for all of life, of which we are an integral part.

A sincere spiritual aspirant or sadhak is devoted to realizing this essential unity. He or she sees this moment as an opportunity to disarm the ego’s tendency to feel either greater than or less than something or someone in order to feed his or her attachment to separateness. All of life becomes an alchemical crucible through which compassionate non-attachment turns our base metals of ignorance into the gold of permanent oneness.

One person wrote to me and said about peaceful living: “Yes, keeping peace is part of it. But also research and questioning and investigating is another part of it too.”

It took me a moment to understand this point of view. The idea of ‘keeping’ peace is unusual if you see peace as our true nature. In a way, we don’t need to learn to keep peace. We need to learn to let go of the illusions that engage our egos so we feel entitled to act in againstness, which is the source of all tension, conflict and violence.

Inquiry along the spiritual path is essential. Discernment and discrimination are part of finding greater clarity and living in peace. The Dalai Lama encourages his students to not take his words blindly, but try his teachings out for themselves. Amma remarks, “It is said that if you give a swan a mixture of milk and water, it can extract just the milk from it. View everything with a broad mind. Take only what is good. Lead your life with an awareness of what is transient and what is eternal.”

As spiritual seekers, we need to learn how to inquire. Questions that arise through againstness perpetuate againstness. To find the openness and compassion that is so essential in peaceful living, inquiry must arise from a non-attached place of inner stillness.

As we open to this moment, we learn to see it as it is. This non-resistance disarms our ego’s tendency to distort what is into temporal illusions that feed its sense of self-importance. When we become fixated on reality appearing one way, ‘we are right’ and ‘they are wrong’, we have become attached to a passing perception. The ego or “ahamkara” in Sanskrit (which literally translates as the “I” maker) is hungry. Just as our minds tend to be busy, our ego is constantly seeking a way to sustain itself.

Many may confuse peacefulness with passiveness, feeling that a peaceful life means being a pushover. As someone wrote to me, questioning the value of living in peace, said: “We can do more by focusing on our power and take inspired action.” Some may think that living in peace means feeling more personally empowered by having a stronger sense of ourself and a more powerful self-esteem. But I don’t feel either perspective sees peace in its true beauty.

Living in peace is not about being passive. A commitment to peace is about moving beyond the sense of againstness, because any divisiveness, such as the idea that I have power over you, perpetuates conflict in the world. This is not just about letting go of thinking ourself more powerful than another, such as one would see in bullying. It means learning to see the police officer who gives us a speeding ticket not as an imposition but as a blessing. It means not perceiving the barista at Starbucks who is taking what feels like ‘forever’ as a nuisance, but as our teacher. It means that everything that happens is grace in some form – is in support of us, our growth, our evolution – even if we don’t like it. All provides an opportunity for our consciousness to expand so that we may learn to live from a place of peacefulness, and act from a place of compassion.

Living in peace is not about personal power and self-esteem either. For the sincere spiritual seeker, one who is inspired by the dissolution of the sense of “me” and the return to oneness, there is no “self” to empower. Amma says that when we are aware of our oneness, just as our right hand immediately extends to our left should we feel pain there, so too we extend our love to the world when we see suffering. We are one.

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WHY YOGA IN THE NIGHTCLUB

I am often asked what inspired me to bring yogic expression into the club scene. I answer easily. Yoga In the Nightclub is a natural expression of who I am as a musical artist and dedicated yogini. Yoga is not a physical practice but a way of life. It is about learning to be present in all one does, to see the divine here, now, in this moment. As such, yoga is everywhere. It is about feeling connected to something much greater than our limited ego or will. It is about being in service to life, feeling interconnected to that very life force. Yoga In The Nightclub is a celebration of life and a reminder that we can find awakened presence everywhere.

Yoga in the West is mostly known as a series of bendy physical exercises. Yet there is much more to it than fitness. Yoga’s systematic breath and body exercises, designed to clear the subtle channels in our energy system, prepare us for meditation, through which we may experience a life inspired by our interconnected, multidimensional true nature. Our body, that once was seen as “mine”, is no longer our identity, but a gift on loan from the divine. We care for it, but we are not attached to it. The practice of yoga offers us the opportunity to experience the transmutation of matter into pure light, embody the multidimensional and rest in the eternal.

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WE ARE ALL CONNECTED

Hatha yoga, the physical practice of yoga, is just one of many aspects of yoga, which range from selfless service to astrology and prayer. The Sanskrit word “yoga” most simply translates to “union”, implying that the practice of any yoga will bring together our perceived sense of separateness. As a whole, yoga is an ancient science of life. It is a practical method of shedding excess and bringing us back from the self-delusion of separation from the divine so that we may realize our inherent interconnection to and ultimate oneness with it.

As we begin to understand that yoga is everywhere, we come to see how we are all connected in vast ways far beyond the limitations of our personal will and ego. What I do affects you, and vice versa. We are one earth family. At the heart of it all, we share the same heartbeat. Breathe to be. We are one.

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AWAKENED LIVING

When we are open, life blossoms, just as a flower opens to welcome the morning sun.  We see that the sun, though it is millions of light years away, has a tender yet powerful relationship with the flower, as do the rain and the clouds. From this perspective we see that we are part of the whole. Life is a symphonic masterpiece with which, when we are open, we are completely resonant.

As we come to understand our oneness, we can revel in it with wonder and joy. We can consider in awe how immense it all is. We can let go of the idea that an illusory, isolated sense of self could possibly be in control, and open to an exquisite unfolding of life in absolute perfection. Our actions become not about “me” but about the whole. Each moment is integrated within the whole. No one decision is separate.

When we begin to see that each decision we make affects not just ourselves but everyone and everything on the planet, we act with more compassion. When we have more compassion, we realize the impact of our actions and we naturally want less and practice more kindness. As stewards of the Earth, we each are called to learn to live in harmony with ourselves, each other and our planet. We all breathe the same air and live on the same living organism, our planet. Varied in race and creed, we are all one family, children of the same mother, the planet Earth.

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THE OPPORTUNITY FOR GRACE

In each moment, there is infinite grace. By becoming more conscious as we practice yoga on the mat, at work, at play or in the nightclub, we let go of the unnecessary and develop greater internal spaciousness which blooms throughout our lives. In this space new life and possibilities arise.

As we rest our awareness on the simple purity and grace of the breath, we realize - we are alive! We let go of wanting things from the future and the past and open to what is here and now. We feel as vast as the sky and rooted in the richness of this moment.

When we “breathe to be”, we understand our interconnection. We see that we are not the doers but a part of the whole, the same energy that is in the flowers and in the stars. We know that our essence is divine - from which we have come, to which we return.

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PARVATI'S NEW SINGLE - MARCH 2016
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I AM LIGHT

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SHARE YOUR YOGA
I am light!

Gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi swaha
Gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi swaha
Gone, gone beyond. Oh what awakening!
Gone, gone beyond. Swaha!

I am light, dancing in delight!
I am light, dancing through the night!
I am light, in delight!
I am light, dancing through the night!

Gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi swaha
Gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi swaha
I am the light, liquid gold light
I am in delight! Swaha!

I am light, dancing in delight!
I am light, dancing through the night!
I am light, in delight!
I am light, dancing through the night!

I am the light (gate gate), liquid gold light (paragate)
I am in delight (gate gate) transforming the night (paragate)

Gone, gone beyond (gate gate)! Oh what awakening! (paragate) (I am)
Gone, gone beyond (gate gate)! Swaha!

I am light, dancing in delight
I am light, dancing through the night
I am light, in delight
I am light, dancing through the night

I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light (gate gate)
I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light (paragate)
I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light
I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light

I am light!

© 2015 Parvati Devi
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