"Life stands before us like a picture and there are two kinds of artists: one who paints the plan which has been made in his mind on the canvas; the other who takes suggestions from the picture itself as he paints. The one who is bound to his plan is limited. The other who is not bound to the plan is master of his destiny. This is the picture of life."
Sufi teachings: Vol VI pg 216-7 Hazrat Inyat Khan
The young female attendant at the Lost and Found Cubicle at Lisbon Airport looked at me and said, slightly annoyed by my distrust: "But Madame, you are a pessimist!" No matter what I said in defense: "No, but I am really an optimist", nothing was able to convince her of my positive state of mind! Not so easy to convince a stressed ex world class agegroup champion that her bicycle has been purposefully left in London, as were many other athletes' with similar fate, and that it will arrive in due course in Funchal, Madeira. Funchal, capital of Madeira, was my destination and the venue for the 2004 World Triathlon Championships four days hence. I felt betrayed by British Airways, the incoming carrier, especially because the flight attendant confirmed that my bicycle was on the flight. More important, was the feeling of anger that my stress levels were being pushed up so close to the big event. I was suppose to wait until that evening or the next morning for my precious bike.
The whole week in Funchal, my own impatience was being rubbed under my nose - I could feel that a couple of people were annoyed by this character trait of mine. They say travelling can teach you many lessons since you are out of your own accustomed surroundings and comfort zones. On arriving back in Cape Town, after my three weeks visit to Madeira and France, I wanted to see why I have missed the presence of the angel of Patience so far in my life! (By the way, my bicycle did turn up that same evening and was delivered at midnight on the doorstep of my hotel in Funchal). One of my spiritual books describes all the angles (or fountain gates) that govern our lives. And there it was: "Impatience is a lack of faith; lack of faith makes us fear the future; having faith means we embrace the future without fear". I recalled Deepak Chopra's saying: "God is in the unknown" from his book "How to know God". It was part of my New Year's resolutions to step into the unknown more often, to develop the kind of faith that transforms our everyday life into a miraculous adventure.
The above experience was all about my expectations not being met. All life coach manuals will instruct us not to cling to the expected outcome. Is there a secret ingredient that enables us to cope with change instantly, to become more flexible and to accept what the current moment is bringing?
My four day stay at Plumvillage, Buddhist Retreat of veneered Zen master, Thich Nhat Hahn, in Bordeaux after the World Championships, revealed part of the packet of necessary ingredients. My own inner being underwent a shift after the privilege of being in the presence of this great man of peace. His dharma talk on Love, the extent of real love, touched my heart deeply. I felt a greater sense of acceptance for myself and for all other human beings. The practising of the three touches of the earth confirmed my own interconnectedness with all that is and that will be. I could get the feeling of non-separateness with the whole universe; like a wave in the sea that is simply part of the bigger ocean of the cosmos. I instinctively knew that to cling to your own separateness (staying in the ego) means to live without real joy, to live in suffering. To be part of the whole, brings us back into our real spiritual home. We can love more deeply and really feel the presence of the Divine Spirit.
A talk at the Sufi Temple by metaphysical teacher Natalia Baker on "Being in the flow" two weeks after my return guided my into more significant insights. "Being in the flow" means to make your own plans, but to accept when things happen to go differently. In other words, we must trust the Divine will, we must let go of the ego plans and surrender! To be in the Divine flow is the perfect place of balance!
On my next trip, a month later to Devon, England in July, the issue of trust in people, in myself, in all that the universe offers, had to be faced and conquered - never a dull moment on the spiritual path! I was invited to present two lectures at the Quest Natural Health Show in Newton Abbott. This year (2004) was the 9th year of the Quest show, it runs for 4 days from Thursday till Sunday. This was my gateway to present my workshops in England the next year, but I needed a venue. By Saturday I was beginning to doubt if my vision would be realized but I sat back and trusted. Being an athlete and a person of direct action, this took a severe effort! Low and behold, after my workshop presentation preview on Saturday afternoon, an audience member came to me and suggest that I contact Sharpham College near Totnes, a Buddhist Retreat and workshop venue; she provided me (from her diary) with the telephone number of the manager! Another audience member gave me the details of a workshop leader that presents there and I was able to find him at the Show and get the details of his caterer. I visited the venue on the Monday - it was breathtakingly beautiful with rolling grass terraces, a magnificent view over a river and forests and sculptures of Henry Moore in the garden - the perfect place for my walking meditation and other activities.
On the Saturday evening at the Quest Show I went to a lecture by shaman fundi, Christa McKinnon; she explained the intricacies of the Medicine Wheel of the Incas. It so happened that I was seated in the east, the place of Spirit. Each one of us had to express a short verbal insight that we received after the meditation around the Medicine Wheel - it was build with stones in the centre of our human circle. My insight was: "We can trust the Divine; the sun sets and rises every day at an allotted time, we are safe and loved and must trust the universe!" To make this attitude my own, I subjected myself to the anxiety and adrenaline rush of doing the "fire walk" with John Shango at 10 pm that night. He bullied and cajoled and inspired 22 of us to walk barefeet over 12 ft of blazing hot coals in the darkness of the summer night. I walked; making an inner personal statement and declaration of my faith and trust in the Divine. On the last three steps my left foot got burned (ouch!) - I really thought it was going to be painless. Since the left side of the body personifies the female balance in us I knew this probably meant that the hot coals have removed blockages that still existed in the feminine side of my persona and opened me up for a new life lived by intuition and greater love and trust. Two of my audience members of the previous day invited me to their tent for a glass of wine after the fire walk - we put my left foot in cold water and I realized that the damage was minor: a bit of pain to enforce my new attitude was the start of a personal declaration of freedom - freedom from the past and its acquired mistaken and limiting beliefs. A yellow full moon rose over the horizon at midnight as we were chatting away - a beautiful sign that my cycle of growth on the current issue was complete.
Dear reader I would like to convey to you my insights on creating the future that you want.
- Our belief system is the prime origin of this quest. Your goals and visions result directly from your thoughts and your beliefs. So watch your thoughts carefully, our power to choose our thoughts is our power to create our life. If there is no vision, there is no mission! Each one of us is here for a purpose; visualize and create the most beautiful vision for your life. Once you set your goals, never deviate; goals are entities which we never "give up" on (unlike expectations but that comes later). Stick to your goals with determination and a positive mindset. It took me 34 years before I finally won the World Championships in my athletic career.
- The second entity in creating magic has to do with our inner sacred plane, the chambers of our heart. Our intentions, as proved in quantum physics experiments (see The Field, Lynn McTaggart), can change outcomes. Your intentions, your disposition create a magic field of influence - use the zero point field to work for you. The research work of Dr Masaru Emoto, Japanese scientist, confirms that our thoughts and our words influence the crystalline structure of water (see picture). Good thoughts and positive words create beautiful crystals (beautiful nature); bad thoughts and negative words create ugly crystals (ugly nature). Our words and thoughts have hado (wave patterns) that can influence our environment. I loved the little editorial write up by editor Chris Erasmus in one of the latest Odyssey magazines. He describes his observations on a recent trip to P.E. Going down his petrol consumption was 10 liter/ 100 km. Going back he had a wonderful feeling of oneness, an euphoric feeling of love for everything around him; he experienced a complete state of happiness. He saw the beauty of nature around him, he felt an overwhelming feeling of love for his family he was returning to. The catch of the story is that on this return trip his petrol consumption was only 8 liter/100km (he rechecked his figures meticulously). According to quantum physics, this is entirely possible, we can have a profound effect on our surroundings! So make sure that the portal gates of your heart is open, that your intentions come from a place of love and service to the universe. You will be surprised at the unfolding of the future, a future that will unfold perfectly according to your desires!
- The more tricky entity in creating the future that we want, is our expectations. As I wrote earlier, expectations are not to be clung to! They can change and flow as the river of life takes you down its path. However, your expectations must always be positive and that takes some work on the mind and on our prevailing thought patterns: expectations will determine outcomes. In "Grow younger, live longer", Dr Deepak Chopra quotes the study of Harvard psychologist Ellen Langer. In this study on a group of seventy, eighty year old men, they were told to expect that they are again sixty years of age. Within as little as five days, the experimental group showed increase mobility, improved hearing and flexibility.
Try to stay as much as possible in the current moment and don't let desired ego outcomes rule you completely. This makes for a life of anger and disappointment. Look for the opportunity in every problem. And most of all, have faith and trust in the Divine Flow. Make a conscious choice to follow the High Road, to live as if God really matters.
I wish you the best journey possible! If we have the knowing (or Gnosis) like the very first Christians we will know ourselves deeply and accept that the Christ is within us (see Jesus and the Goddess by Tim Freke). The Knower is the enlightened person who falls in love with life again because he/she does not identify with their separateness anymore, he/she has resurrected like the Christ and is awake to the wonder of life, its fullness. They don't dwell in the separateness which is really hell. Jesus himself said the kingdom of heaven won't come by waiting for it! It is now, be one with the One. If you love and know yourself and God intimately, you can love others as yourself, because everyone is you. In her introductory speech at the "Living the Field" conference in London April 2003, Lynn McTaggart, author of the seminal book "The Field", said that all the scientific research in quantum physics, blends with what mystics have been telling us for centuries. Seeing yourself as one with everything, you can live the full potential of life without division: "Living the field is tapping into the earth". Living the field means that our own thinking creates everything that we see before us, even our attitudes can change what happens around us - it is a "science of the miraculous, it is empowering and a wonderfully optimistic message that we are in control", that "your life is in your hands".
Step into your power today by becoming part of the whole. Create the most beautiful visions for yourself and your life but remember to surrender the ego! Then watch how the magic of life unfolds before you like a masterpiece, a masterpiece where you choose the colours and the Divine completes the painting for your highest good. Living life "in the flow" is indeed beautiful and miraculous!
- Chopra, Deepak. 2000. How to know God.
- McTaggart, Lynn. 2003. The Field.
- Masaru, Emoto. 1999. Messages from water.
- Chopra, Deepak. 2001. Grow younger, live longer.
- Freke, Timothy & Gandy, Peter. 2001. Jesus and the Goddess - the secret teachings of the original Christians.
- Conference talks on CD. London, April 2003. Living the Field.