Your Compassionate Heart

Photograph © 2018 Peggy Kornegger
You have one. We all do. It just gets covered over with a protective shell of fear about your own survival. Or it is buried and forgotten in a busy and sometimes frantic daily life. We get lost in our own worries and concerns and forget about the others we share the world with. We lose sight of the fact that everyone else around us is living lives very similar to our own at the most basic level, beginning with birth and ending with death. Yet isn’t life about more than that really? Aren’t we greater than the events of our lives? Isn’t there a thread that ties us together, in spite of our differences?

That thread is compassion. We were born with a compassionate heart, and it is repeatedly awakened whenever we experience someone else’s pain or joy as our own. Today, on this planet, there is a quiet but universal awakening occurring in which we are finding the compassion deep in our hearts. At times of crisis or catastrophe, the shell of self-protection breaks open, and we feel deeply for our fellow human beings, often giving money, food, clothing, or whatever is needed to help. We feel that way too when we share in someone else’s happiness or good fortune. Our compassionate heart is always ready to shine its light of love outward. It’s a natural part of being a human soul in physical form. That’s why we are here, really: to become aware of our individual separateness as an illusion, and oneness as the greater truth.

Selfishness and lack of compassion are habits. Ones we learn from a very early age in this culture. We are frequently taught that when someone else wins, we lose, and that “on top” is the best place to be. In spite of countless spiritual or religious teachings about love and sharing with others, the overriding voice of this society insists “look out for yourself” and “don’t let anyone else take advantage of you.” It becomes a habitual trigger response to the world, and you lose your connection to that thread of compassion that ties you to other beings on this planet. And to your self as well. Because if you don’t love and have compassion for yourself, you are incapable of having it for others.

The key to stepping out of your conditioning and awakening compassion is patience, with others and with yourself: patience as a daily practice that is cultivated with each conscious breath you take. This opens the door to peaceful loving relationships in all parts of your life. It may take time to reverse the collective trend toward mistrust and separation, but it is possible if we are patient and committed. The kind and gentle child who lives within us is just waiting for acknowledgment and encouragement. Each time one of us is generous or caring in word or deed to another on this planet, we are shifting the energy for all of us. In that shift, the silent message is: “You are not alone.”

Compassion is the reason you were born: love creates life. Divine love and compassion created the universe and lives in your very cells. When we open to the compassion within us, we find the true meaning of life. It’s not about money or fame or accumulating possessions, as we are so often told. It’s about sharing love with others. It’s about generosity of spirit. Caring for self and others with equal gentleness and understanding. Compassion is a circle really. And we are all part of it, at the deepest level. The love you give returns to you and fills your compassionate heart with joy, overflowing into greater and greater expressions of love in the world.

 

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You Are Perfect Now

Photograph © 2018 Peggy Kornegger
Perfection is not something beyond you. Something out there, to reach for and aspire to. It’s right here, right now. This is a small gem of wisdom that I sometimes forget. Small but it is at the core of all that is. There are no flaws in God’s universe (or in you within that universe). Everything is part of a seamless, intricately interwoven tapestry of divine creation. When I fully embrace this truth, I can let go of striving, comparing, and dissatisfaction. I can live with appreciation and gratitude in every moment for the perfection everywhere. I may not know the “why,” but I can trust in the reasonless reason for all Being.

This morning before dawn, I sat on the sofa of our new home in Florida and cried as I remembered my garden in Massachusetts. I ached inside at the memory of my colorful flowers and the butterflies and bees who visited them. There, I was part of the seasonal flow of nature. The robins called to me if I didn’t fill the birdbath early enough each summer morning. The squirrels and rabbits occasionally sat near me as I worked quietly in the yard. The hummingbirds darted rapidly from the bright-red cardinal flowers to the native honeysuckle. The goldfinches balanced atop the purple coneflowers as they ate the seeds in autumn. I missed them all.

Yet I knew it had been time to leave. The house was sold, neighbors were moving, and Florida was calling. It was all perfect. Today, that perfection met me when I went for a walk after my predawn cry. The immense stunningly white clouds against the intensely blue sky stopped me in my tracks. The skies are always breathtaking in Florida. At all times of the day I am in awe at the color and light. And then there are the tropical flowers and birds right outside my door: hibiscus, plumeria; ibis, egret, heron. I love my new home, even when I miss my Massachusetts garden.

At times I think I should always be upbeat and smiling. Centered in my inner God wisdom and flowing along life’s path in complete synchronicity with every experience. The crazy truth is that I am synchronized, whether I’m crying or laughing. Perfection is not the exclusion of certain feelings; it’s the inclusion of all of them. There is absolutely nothing that is not the way it should be in my life, and yours. Our human design is so tightly constructed that every part is essential. If any of it was missing, we would not be who we were created to be, and there would be a hole in the fabric of the universe. Everything is unfolding as it’s meant to, for the greater evolution of life.

In essence, none of us is flawed and nothing is wrong with us; we are perfect just the way we are, here on this planet to live an experience that is uniquely ours. God experiences life on Earth through us, and the universe expands through God’s own loving expansion (and ours). The entire cosmos is a finely tuned and orchestrated symphonic work of genius in which nothing is off-key or discordant. This is the “music of the spheres,” which spiritual seekers have sometimes heard on their journeys beyond the individual egoic self.

From this perspective, all is well, and if I accept whatever presents itself in my life moment to moment, with love in my heart, I tap into a deeper awareness and clearer vision which guides me through my life without suffering or judgment (of self or others). No mistakes have been made. The Divine is an all-encompassing energy that moves the universe beyond time and space or human questioning. What exists in your life and mine, and in the world’s, exists for a reason that is not necessarily logical or even intuitive. It just is. This is absolute Being, of which we are an inseparable part. Thus, everything we do arises from the evolutionary potential of the universe. We live and die, we grow and evolve, because we are Being itself, eternally expanding into new levels of beingness.

Sound wacky? Abstract? A little frightening? Only on the surface. At the deepest level, beyond whatever you or I may feel/think individually, this is our collective global direction now at this key time. In the midst of all the extremes of our lives, we are coming into full conscious awareness of exactly who we are and why we are here. We are God, living out infinite variations of the love that created the universe. The more clearly I see that, the more I can relax and just live my life, one perfect moment at a time. So can you.

 

Upside Down and Backward

Photograph © 2018 Peggy Kornegger
When I was a child, I used to lie on the living room rug and gaze up at the ceiling, imagining it as the floor. I pictured how it would be to live in an upside down house and walk from room to room stepping over the doorway arches. My partner Anne used to do the same thing when she was little, even though she grew up in an entirely different part of the U.S. Is this something that all kids do, or just a coincidence? I found myself wondering if it is a genetic code within us for novelty and reinvention, which somehow gets lost as we grow older. How do we keep our vision of the world fresh in an adult world that teaches us that physical reality is solid, unchanging, and that facts and predictability are the basis for living a safe and orderly life?

At an early age, children often aren’t interested in order and rigid perceptual rules, unless they have had it already instilled in them via parental fears. What if, at heart, we aren’t either? What if our souls really want imagination, improvisation, and exploration? The element of surprise. After all, we came to this extraordinarily diverse and beautiful planet to live our human lives fully and completely. Who wants to live it in a box of repetitive, expected events and experiences? I’ve always intuitively felt this way. That’s why I’ve moved and traveled so much in my life, from coast to coast and continent to continent. Every time I went somewhere else, I saw the world with fresh eyes. I loved it. I still do.

This move to Florida has been particularly powerful. Literally everything has been tossed up into the air. Anne and I are beginning anew in a different state, a different home, and a different climate. North to South: upside down. I continually feel as if we have crossed into another dimension. Everything unknown. Each day I see something new. The flowers and birds are unique. Even the sky is different—dramatic and ever-changing weather patterns and clouds in an infinite number of shapes, sizes, and colors. We are acutely aware of the new world we are experiencing and what a gift it is to see every detail of life as if for the very first time.

I don’t want to lose that feeling. Last evening she and I reversed the direction of our walk on the nature trail around our community. We did it “backward,” and it felt like a completely different experience. Even in a month, our eyes and brains had acclimated to our surroundings. By changing direction, we flipped the “predictable” switch in favor of “unplanned.” It was exciting to spontaneously and consciously choose the new in a relatively familiar situation. I realized that I can do that at any given moment. A small shift in your inner vision can have a huge impact on your outer experience. Life is, after all, a reflection of your inner state of being.

This morning as I walked the trail by myself, I was very conscious of all that was new to me: the butterflies, lizards, dragonflies, purple beautyberries, orange canna lilies. It was thrilling just to be outdoors on this bright sunny morning. Halfway through my walk, I heard thunder in the distance and realized there might soon be another sudden Florida rainstorm. I watched one half of the skies darken and the other half stay sunny, as the thunder rumbled closer. Then, as I walked in the sparkling sunshine, it began to rain lightly. I stopped and stood there smiling, enjoying the experience of simultaneous rain and sun, the sky divided like a huge yin-yang circle of dark and light. Opposites and oneness at the same time. All my senses were awakened by that juxtaposition.

The exhilaration of opposites is available to us at all times, and we can hold them in our awareness—an inner yin-yang—in order to immerse ourselves in the full spectrum of life’s experiences. Upside down, backward, forward, inside out. Choose the opposite path, the new activity, the unheard-of option. Every single one is an easy-access restart button for your consciousness to keep you open and expansive, mindful and soulful. A fully alive human be-ing having an absolutely amazing experience here on planet Earth. Perhaps that’s the most wonder-full thing you could possibly do with what poet Mary Oliver has called “your one wild and precious life.”

 

Another Day in Paradise

Photograph © Copyright 2018 Peggy Kornegger
When I used to take walks at my favorite nature sanctuary, Mt. Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts, I often thought to myself, “This is paradise,” as I gazed up at the towering oak and maple trees and listened to the varied birdsongs. Now that I live in Florida, I find myself feeling much the same way. Each morning after sunrise, I walk the nature trail that encircles the perimeter of the community where we live, enjoying the palm trees and flowering bushes and the calls of birds that make Florida home. This morning at the end of my walk, another walker passed me, said “Good morning,” and commented, “Another day in paradise.” I laughed and agreed with him. Most people I pass on my walks make some similar comment about the beauty of the day.

I know the stereotype of tropical climes like Florida is a paradise with warm weather and easier day-to-day living. That vision is not entirely fantasy, in spite of an extremely challenged ecosystem and ongoing political polarities.* Florida is living its own variation of what is happening in so many places in the U.S. Still, I do see paradise here, as well as up north in Massachusetts. In fact, everywhere. It’s all about how you frame life as you look out at the world around you. If I see only environmental loss and breaks in human connection, I miss the larger picture, which includes the possibility of change and transformation. If I consciously “reboot” to a wider perspective, I see every seemingly divergent detail as sacred and integral to the evolution of life on Earth.

Is “reality” as malleable as all that? Well, to me, it’s more like shifting into seeing the truth behind the facade, the inextinguishable light beneath the tarnish, wear, and tear of human existence. Life can be hard, no doubt about it. But there are always those who seem to be able to perceive hope and possibilities in all people and events. They intuitively understand that everything is part of a greater expansion and growth that we on this planet are now experiencing. Solutions arise out of the problems themselves. Life unfolds on so many levels and in so many uniquely diverse human hearts and souls. Yet, as singer/songwriter India.Arie has expressed it: “It all comes down to One.”

If I open my heart, I see this oneness, and the beauty of it, everywhere I go. It becomes a daily practice. I take a deep breath, as I sit in meditation or walk outdoors, and consciously bring myself back to the peace that lives inside me. From this space, nothing is dissonant or out of place. In spite of broken glass, broken promises, and broken hearts in the world at large, I can feel our collective heart beating as one, reaching out for a common vision that will uplift and sustain us. This is not an impossible dream or an insubstantial, unrealistic desire for change. Whatever is within each of us that keeps us moving forward on our life paths is what makes up that connection—to one another and to something greater.

Photograph © Copyright 2018 Peggy Kornegger
The universe is not an accident. Pause and look carefully, and you can see the intricate interweavings that constitute our lives and our world. The key is to stop periodically, step back, and allow the larger picture to fill your consciousness. This is not something we are taught to do in our society, but sometimes we stumble upon it by accident or through someone else’s help, and it begins to sustain us. I hold to this awareness in my own life in order to remain centered in what some call universal wisdom, or God.

We are not alone and we are not lost. In spite of what seems to be catastrophe and conflict on a global level, something else is occurring. We are evolving and expanding with the universe itself. It is my deep trust in this that helps me to walk through my front door each day and experience paradise, wherever I happen to be. To see paradise in the eyes of those around me and to hear it in their voices. Visible or invisible, we all hold paradise in our hearts; it lives in our souls. We have but to shift our vision slightly to see it everywhere, every day. And live it, going forward.
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*e.g., toxic red tide on the Gulf Coast from pollution flowing out of Lake Okeechobee;
on gun control, immigration, environmental protection, etc.

 

Finding Home

Photograph © 2018 Peggy Kornegger
It seems that we are always getting ready for something. Always preparing for the next step, even though the next step will come whether we prepare for it or not. We think we have control of our lives but we don’t. We pack and unpack our memories, accumulating more and more—until death arrives to show us how memories fall away as does the illusion of control. To move from one place to another is to experience a death of sorts and a loosening of control. Every ending is an opening to something greater.

When I moved to Florida from Massachusetts last month, I could feel my consciousness loosening and opening up as we drove south, state by state. By the time we reached Florida, I felt completely detached from any one place. It was almost as if my awareness was free-floating over the entire eastern seaboard, perhaps even beyond that. In moving, I had been letting go of former selves as well as physical objects and familiar places. Even time. As I traveled from New England through the southern states, time and place became almost meaningless. There was nothing but the present moment, in a very intense way. Nothing was familiar, everything new—something I’ve experienced in every major move I’ve made in my life. Yet, this time it’s a little different.

In this key transitional move, the letting go is deeper, the awareness more expansive. I am older than the 20-year-year-old self who left the Midwest to be a California flower child so many years ago. The past and the future seem equidistant in my mind. Soul guidance is at the forefront of my life now, and that shifts every perspective, inner and outer. Even that distinction loses its meaning because everything is within me. The external is just a reflection of my infinite soul’s progression through time and space.

My soul is non-localized: unattached to Massachusetts, Florida, Illinois, California, or any of the other places I’ve lived in or traveled through over the years. I am experiencing myself as Being, without location or identity. Almost as if I am a visitor from another planet or galaxy. Actually, aren’t we all that? Dropped down from some other dimension onto this blue planet floating in a sea of stars called the Milky Way. We are stardust ourselves, shining light on the world around us as we move through our lives. When we meet as our separate paths merge, there is recognition, an awakening realization that we are here together to embody connection and love, to transform our lives and everything around us with that love.

As I passed through Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, the Carolinas, Georgia, and finally reached Florida, I watched the skies themselves transform, the heavenly towering white clouds dramatically darkening with daily thunderstorms and lightning flashes in the humid heat. Palm trees lined the road; tropical bushes and flowers proliferated. Observing it all, I was neither here nor there, but everywhere. I was part of the eternal movement into the unknown. Yes, this is why I moved, not knowing anything except that I was to go. To let go and go. Spirit is moving me, all of us, on our soul journeys.

Spirit survives the packing and unpacking, living and dying. It is within us and all around us and has no beginning or end. It moves to its own cadence, beyond human events and activities. When we step into this perceptual field—this greater awareness of the source of all life—beginnings, endings, arrivals, and departures fall away, and we are Home. No need to hang on or resist; the entire journey exists in this very moment. Breathe deeply and see the far horizon that lives within you. This is infinity; this is God. This is who you are.