08 Oct Transforming Yourself, Transforming the World.
Turiya Hanover takes a radical approach to the personal and social problems of our present time, bringing spiritual activism to a whole new level of global involvement through simple but extremely powerful principles. Co-founder of Path Retreats, she has been leading the Path Of Love process worldwide for many years, and has over 40 years experience in a range of healing modalities.
“Be the change you want to see in the world” – Mahatma Gandhi
Back in the early 70’s my husband and I were students in Southern Germany. We would go marching with all our fellow students, waving the flag against capitalism, thinking that we will change this world by our protests screams and heated discussions. We were “Anti” anything, capitalism, fascism and what was not for the people. We believed by marching and protesting we could finally emancipate the world.
Not long after my husband and I both had a big fight and we were screaming back and forth at each other. About what seemed to be so irrelevant, it is was just senseless anger erupting out of our pores. We both realized, that the change that needed to happen on the outside really, needed to take place on the inside of both of us. As long as we carried that much anger and blame inside of us, it was impossible to change the outside.
From one day to the next we packed all our bags, sold everything else, and were on our way to India to find somebody that could teach us how to change oneself from the inside and about this radical transformation, we so longed for. We traveled far and wide, to reach a mystery school in the heart of India. We became disciples of an Indian Guru and we surrendered our lives to only one matter: waking up to full consciousness, through a fundamental inner revolution. I learned to meditate, to become still, to love silence, to silence and calm the mind. But I also learned to open up my passion for love and for life, I learned to open up my heart.
I studied Humanistic Psychology and Eastern Meditation Techniques. I learned to give birth to a new way of being and a new way of helping others. The main teaching was: “You have to first clean up your own house before you can help anybody else” The transformation we were looking for had to happen inside of me. The Sufis call it :
“Cleaning the dust from the mirror of your heart”
Having a human heart is a very unsafe and dangerous business. It is the source of great joy and happiness and yet at the same time can be the source of immense pain and anguish. It is obvious that we can be more effective and real when our hearts are open. We can act more authentic and less reactive, and thus are more efficient agents for spiritual activism. However as long as we are in reaction to somebody or some event, it means we are caught up and create even more entanglement and mess, no matter how good our intention might be.
It is hard to stay open when life challenges you with so many painful experiences. Our tendency is to create a pain free zone by building a ring of protection and defensiveness around our heart. Unfortunately this also stops us from authentic giving and receiving. It stops us from experiencing and being Love.
Since the 21st century we are in many ways so connected through the internet, mobile phones, airplanes and technical devices to the global communities and other cultures. Around the world it has really brought amazing opportunities of oneness and connectedness straight into our homes. On the other hand deep down people are more disconnected and isolated from their own local communities, families and most of all from themselves. This isolation and disconnectedness actually creates great pain and suffering. We have more violence and drug abuse in our teenagers, more wars, and more poverty amongst mankind then ever before.
What actually disconnects us from our heart?
Having to be cool!
Today everything is about being “cool”, looking cool, acting cool. Even my grandsons who are young and innocent English boys, are using that word constantly, everything has to be “cool”. To show yourself, show your emotions or even your vulnerabilities is from early on a value and virtue that we have forgotten in our culture.
The Belief That I Have to Do it Alone
We are under the cultural idealization that we are heroes if we are strong and thick skinned individualists. Self reliance is an overvalued concept and it has been given high significance. To be needy or to ask for help is seen as very weak and low in value. All this clouds over the true sense of our interdependence and co creation. It supports ambition and winning instead of partnership, community, and mutual support.
Through idealizing individuality we actually isolate ourselves. Its all about me, me, me! That again creates even more pain, frustration and separation. Above all it makes us never want to expose ourselves and to be vulnerable. We avoid needing anybody. When we feel that need, we immediately feel ashamed and we deny it, as it brings up wounds of the past.
To need another and be vulnerable is a fundamental need of any human being just as breathing is. It is the source of our deepest experiences of Love.
Not Being Allowed to Show My Feelings
Our emotional intelligence is usually overpowered by a very reasonable mind. To be emotional is often criticized as being feminine, or even wimpy. It is true that at times we need a functional and clear mind, but even scientific research shows that the heart has its own function. The heart cultivates the capacity for emotions, empathy, intuition and relational response. All this is necessary for our well being in our lives relating with others. We need to learn to show our feelings and overcome that sense of embarrassment and fear of being an open and feeling person. How does one do that? Well its not by throwing all your stuff onto others and being irresponsible, but learning to stand up for what you feel, to be honest and to show what your heart is actually saying.
Avoiding Old Wounds of Hurts and Betrayal
We get wounded and betrayed mostly in relationships and with friends and partners. Relationships fail, lovers lose the connection, we get betrayed, abandoned and so deeply hurt, that we often unconsciously shut down and dissociate from ourselves. In order to avoid this seemingly unbearable pain we rather isolate and protect ourselves, then feeling it.
The good news is, we all share that same wound, that common ground, nobody is exempt. This is what is driving us at such a deep level. We keep running away from that pain and don’t want to feel it. So much in our lives is about avoiding that pain of separation. It might show up as avoiding rejection by wanting to belong, covering up the pain of not belonging and being abandoned. It might show up as pleasing everybody, so you are accepted and liked by everybody, not to feel the pain of rejection. It might show up as a “fuck you”, I don’t need anybody, because I don’t want to face the pain of feeling so utterly helpless. It might show up as the need to be successful so people can admire you, and recognize you, so you don’t have to feel the pain of not being seen and noticed. It might show up in dysfunctional and unhappy relationships, where you hold onto each other, and yet hate being with each other. It might show up in being a workaholic, so you don’t have to feel the pain of not being loved for who you are, instead of being loved for what you produce. As one can see the woundedness can show up in so many can ways.
We’ll do anything to avoid that pain. It reminds us of a state of helplessness when we were small babies, so powerless and when nobody was there for us.
It was too much to bear, too much hurt, your needs were not met. Our ego and personality structure comes into existence to create strategies to avoid that pain. Although it is at times needed for survival, it brings you into the mind, so that you can have a sense of control. Pain of separation is at the core of our being and nobody is alone in this. As human beings we all deeply long for oneness.
And here is the key: The access to serenity, harmony and peace is through feeling that pain of separation. And even more surprising, in the center of that pain is eternal and unconditional Love waiting for us. The more you hide the pain and compensate for it, the more confused and lost you will feel. The way out is in: Feel your feelings, share your feelings in a responsible way. Dare to be authentic in your expression. Once you start with it, it is not so difficult.
The Key: Opening Our Hearts
So how do we open our hearts after years of shutting down and playing safe?
It needs practice and it needs a bit of courage. Just as we develop awareness and mindfulness through meditation, so we can develop heart fullness by paying attention to our hearts, and listening within. Allowing ourselves to feel all that is there slowly gives us room to open up. Acceptance of what is there, creates a true ground for experiencing our feelings. To allow our fears and hurts to speak to us, enables us to a much deeper sense of compassion and empathy.
I don’t think that you can change anything inside, and make yourself a better person. In my experience of 35 years of intense self exploration and therapy, I find that actually nothing really has changed, yet I have found a ground to accept myself in its fullness. That means with all my difficulties and all my gifts, with the darkness and the light. The personality or ego is still there functioning in its own way, yet it has lost its charge. And with it, it has lost all its hostility and darkness. It just is as it is. Through acceptance I have a ground to stand on, a ground that is not entangled with the ego, but embraced it with love and compassion.
I often just sit for 15 minutes and put my hand on my heart and allow myself to open up to feelings. I give myself permission for any feelings, not only the “good” ones. Without effort or pressure, slowly my heart and its sensations and feelings start to reveal themselves. Slowly I learn to really trust my feelings and see that they are not so threatening as I thought they would be, and learn I to deal with them gracefully.
As a result I can see that my spiritual activism and involvement has changed my life. I am more open to my feelings, and less blaming of others. The more I am in touch with my own heart, the more I can feel the heart of others. This creates peace instead of polarization.
At the core of spiritual activism is the notion that when I am connected with my heart, I am acting in honesty and transparency with the whole. If everybody would be transparent and open, there would be no need to hide any more. Everybody would know where you are at. We could learn to trust, instead of hiding and performing. What I put out, is what I get back. The universe is an echo system. If my heart is truly compassionate it will be reflected, if it is closed , that will immediately felt and reflected by the world too. Spiritual activism starts right inside my heart and inside my being. The change we want to see in the world has to start right inside me.
All the Barriers Are On My Side
Whatever is separating me from you, is my wall, is my belief, is my righteousness, is my victim hood or unwillingness to take responsibility for my action. As long as I can see that it is my way of putting up a separation, I can recognize, why I need to blame the other for my unhappiness, thus owning my feelings instead of creating war or fights on the outside. We have to face our inner struggle, our inner saboteur, and our inner terrorist and tyrants, before we can truly bring peace to the world.
It takes courage and tremendous willingness to own all our feelings and not make others responsible for it. It is a challenge not to blame the outer but to face our inner demons and darkness. But only through this inner transformation can we authentically live a life of spiritual activism and oneness.
Once our heart awakens we can experience a greater power and knowing of our infinite potential. Once we experience our true nature all the old restrictions fade away and reveal our divineness. This becomes a simple part of our everyday existence. Our heart, once it is open, connects us to the heart of world and thus we can step into being the guardian of this beautiful planet and into our global responsibility.
This is the time! Never before so many people are waking up and getting ready for this enormous collective shift. This is the time, now is the moment.