An extraordinary human being and spiritual teacher Tony De Mello tells this story: A man who took great pride in his lawn found it plagued with a large crop of dandelions. He tried every method to destroy them but in vain. Finally, he consulted the Department of Agriculture (DOA) and after enumerating all that he had done, asked them, ‘What should I do now?’ The DOA in its infinite wisdom replied, ‘Learn to love them.’
De Mello adds: “I too was plagued with dandelions that I kept fighting with every means in my power. So learning to love them was no easy task. I began by talking to them each day in a cordial, friendly manner. They maintained a sullen silence, smarting from the war I had waged against them. But the day came when they smiled. And relaxed. And we started to be friends.
My lawn, of course, was ruined. But how attractive my garden became!”
Live life with great acceptance and in the present continuous.Accept what is. Let go of what was. Have faith in what’s to be.
Avert aversions. When we stop beating up our dandelions and learn to love them, life becomes…well…dandy! Life dances. Our aversions are a self-made plague. They hurt the mind, wound the body and haunt the spirit. Get rid of them and the sunshine of harmony, health and happiness floods in.
Do you know what it is to be totally aversion-free? I’ve experienced it for hours and hope to make it permanent soon. You take the first step when you stop blaming and start taking responsibility for your health, relationships, happiness, the place you are now. Responsibility does not mean taking the blame on yourself. It is reaching a deep understanding that: there is no one to blame. Then your outlook, your attitude change ever so subtly. You become response-able. You gain a measure of tranquility, steadiness, maturity.
Welcome serenity. Serenity is a greatly desirable and health-giving quality. It is a tonic to the body, specifically to the heart, an anti-depressant to the mind. It brings strength and courage which we all need. When we lose our serenity, we do what is disturbing to ourselves and to others. I have seen it and felt it in a student — too much restlessness, an overload of thought and calculation. She could not exercise in class — all she did was walk in circles around the room, a dazed look in her eyes. She could not meditate — you cannot meditate if you cannot sit or lie down.
Four questions You have to up your response-ability by continually asking your core self, the very heart of your enlightened essence untouched by worldly avarice and competitiveness, key questions: How may I help? How do I make things better? How may I bless myself into usefulness? How may I help myself and others?
Most of us live with pebbles in our shoes and hobble through life instead of walking with ease. Throw
out those pebbles!
This is how we catch the attention of the aimlessly wandering mind and give it something purposeful to chew on. Its destructive thought patterns are channelled into constructive processes. By continually asking, these questions become our meditation. The more respectful “How may I alleviate this pain?” displaces the self-pitying “Why am I suffering?” When the ‘how’ becomes dominant, there arises a strong determination to help yourself and others, a response-ability that marches hand-in-hand with responsibility. At this stage, the agitation dies down and a contemplative mood sets in. It’s a marvellous breakthrough. The ‘how’ places the reins in your hands.
You may think nothing has happened. But, as the Master says,
“A king idea can link man’s strength to a transcendent force.” Something has happened. The aversions begin to dislodge.. long-held aversions towards people or circumstances. You have to let them go. When aversions disappear, good intentions expand and bloom, harmony prevails, joy’s radiance floods our being.
Connect continually Loving your dandelions is loving existence in all its glorious beauty and yes, its glorious ugliness. It’s a Tao thing. When you live in conformity with all and everything, you never become disheartened, depressed, exhausted or fall ill. Life has to be lived with great acceptance and in the present continuous. There is no other way. It’s about imbuing all your actions with love and meaning. It’s about connecting continually.
When I exercise with my springs, I’m holding the world in my hands. When I stretch the springs, I’m unkinking the clenched pain in all beings. As I stretch, I sing a medley of melodious songs to infuse the process with beauty and harmony. Please try this while you’re walking, cycling, weight-training, whatever. It’s about connecting your practices to your activities, your environment, the people around you, and situations, be they board meetings or family get-
togethers with a new kind of awareness. Beliefs are empty bowls until you fill them up with practices based on the spirit of the beliefs. Your belief could be “Some day I’ll be enlightened.” No, not some day, because you are an enlightened being now. And when you practise in harmony with your activity and environment, you are being who you are.
Live with ease Most of us live with pebbles in our shoes. We hobble through life instead of walking with ease. Throw out those pebbles! When you stop liking this and disliking that, your peace of mind doubles. When you cast out arrogance, you come twice as alive. And one of the sweetest, most loving gifts you can give yourself and the world is when you steal life’s poetic moments of utter beauty with people who’ve stolen from you. Forgiveness illuminates darkness and prevents onset of disease. Every moment has happiness in it. Forgive every moment and it never becomes a sad memory. Love every moment and it becomes an ongoing joyous life.
The story goes: An old lady looked into the mirror one morning and found she had just three strands of hair left on her head. Being a positive soul, she said, “I’ll braid my hair today.” So she braided her three hairs and had a marvellous day. Some days later, she saw only two hairs remaining. She parted her hairs and as always had a fantastic day. A week later, only one hair was left. “A ponytail would be perfect,” she mused. And once again, had a great day. The next morning, she was completely bald. “How beautiful!” she exclaimed. “I won’t have to waste time doing my hair anymore!”
Accept what is. Let go of what was. Have faith in what’s to be. And dance in wellness.
The writers are authors of the book ‘Fitness for Life’ and teachers of the Fitness for Life programme.