After the Tragedy: Revisiting Flourishing through Contemplation and Sharing
Wednesday, April 17, 2013 at 1:47PM
Jayant Kalawar in Career, College, Health, Marriage, Parenting, Retirement, Romance, Savings, School

Each time crisis occurs, we stop in our tracks. We look around to share, and to help.

 Monday’s tragedy in Boston. Yesterday in Bagdhad. Today in Bangalore. Somalia and Sandy Hook. In our streets and backyards.

The disturbed and broken human system erupts just when we thought we had solved the puzzle of being normal.

How do we work to heal it?

Do we need a crisis in our accessible consciousness to stop us from running?

Or can we take breaks every now and then to stop and share in what we have achieved?

Are humans more likely to flourish by sharing?

I offer these as contemplative questions for each one of us to answer for ourselves at a given moment in our lives, beginning right now. You may find the answer keeps changing for you, day to day, week to week, month to month, and as years go by.

Sharing is also relative to who or what the person is on the other end of the sharing. And how we validate and accept what another person shares with us.

Here is one way to go about such contemplation:

 What do you have that you can share? Once you begin to get a handle on this, you will be able to begin to discern what the other person has to share as well.

 Here are some clues to what you may have that you can share:

 You can do something tangible and share it: make a breakfast, a cup of coffee or tea, do all the laundry, give flowers to a friend. Something that you do not ordinarily do but is mundane and every day, not heroic.

You can be creative: draw a sketch, write a small poem, sing a song, write a couple of paragraphs describing something that gives you joy. Share it with someone.

You can show confidence and courage in a difficult situation: this one you have to do spontaneously as an occasion arises, where you can reach out to help with confidence and courage. Whether you see an attack on a colleague at work or a person harassed by someone in authority or by bullies. There will be many such examples that you will come across almost daily in your life.

You can show compassion: Put yourself in the other person's shoes, see what the other person is going through and what would you do to meet those challenges. How can you motivate the other person to do it for themselves rather than doing it for them? This is not easy. The first three are easier to do - you are acting as a way of sharing.Now you have to connect at an emotional and intellectual level of sharing to truly support someone else's action.

 You can share by expressing compassion: Minimize expressing hurtful thoughts. Observe and contemplate on each hurtful thought that arises in you. It will find an expression in your voice or some action if do not work with it, accept it and to gently let it go, to breathe it out. First you have to begin flagging all the hurtful thoughts that arise in your mind. Once you have mastered letting go of each hurtful thought that comes to mind, expressing compassion comes naturally. You will have noticed each contemplation step is steadily more difficult.

You can begin to see the bigger picture in which all your sharing actions are happening: Just seeing the bigger picture makes your sharing more effective. Observing the greater context in which we operate requires stepping back and observing not only yourself but those around you and what all of us are doing to help us flourish or to hurt each other or be indifferent and ignore each other.

Make sure you are established in each level of contemplation before moving to the next level. How to go about establishing yourself in contemplation at each of these levels? Ensuring a level of physical wellbeing, breath-work, chanting and meditation provides a foundation to sustain yourself in each of these contemplative levels.

 Best not to belabor these points. I leave them to you to take them forward through your own contemplation, if you think there is a chance that it will make your life a little more joyful.

Jayant Kalawar is the author of The Advaita Life Practice, available at Amazon.

Anuva Kalawar contributed to this article.


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