Carrots, Eggs and Coffee
'A young woman complained to her mother that she was sick of all the difficulties and hardships in her life. She said she was tired of fighting and struggling all the time and that she didn’t know if she could continue to live this way.
In response her mother took her into the kitchen where she proceeded to fill three pans full of boiling water. Into the first she put some carrots, in the second she put some eggs and in the third she placed some ground coffee beans. She let them all boil for 20 minutes without saying a word and then she placed the carrots in a bowl, the eggs in another bowl and the coffee into a jug. She then asked her daughter what she saw. “Carrots, eggs and coffee” the daughter replied.
The mother then asked her daughter to feel the carrots; her daughter did as she was asked and told her mother that they felt soft. Her mother then asked her to peel the egg and feel it; again the daughter did as she was told telling her mother that the egg felt hard. Finally the mother asked her daughter to taste the coffee and her daughter did so commenting that it tasted rich and delicious. “But what does all this mean?” she asked.
Her mother then went on to explain.
She said that each of these objects had faced the same adversity and yet each had reacted differently. The carrot went in strong and hard but came out weak and soft; the egg had gone in fragile but had ended up hard however the coffee after facing the boiling water had actually changed the water.'
When I first read this story I was unsure what to think of it but as I sat with it I realised that it was a story about conflict resolution. Frequently we respond to conflict (the boiling water) with the classic fight or flight response. That is we either harden ourselves against the conflict or remove ourselves from it. This is the habitual response of our bodies and comes from the primitive need to defend ourselves when attacked physically. Of course if the danger we face is real then this is a good strategy to employ however often nowadays the conflict we experience is not a real threat to our safety but rather a response to our thoughts about something that is happening in the world. Because of this the fight or flight response is a somewhat outdated mechanism for dealing with conflict and is no longer the best method of resolving it, rather the opposite in fact.
What we resist – whether by fighting against it or running away from it will continue to persist in some form or other, quite often materialising in our bodies as stress and tension along with all the ill side effects these produce for us.
It is not good to live with stress and tension, on any level be it personal or global. Whether we are after personal health or the health of the world it is imperative that we find a third way to deal with conflict.
The third way is to allow ourselves to be like the coffee in the story – to enter the conflict in such a way as to change it and make it into something good.
But just how do we go about doing this?
The only way to heal conflict is by bringing in peace.
The only way to heal hatred and fear is to bring in love.
The only way to heal sadness is to bring in joy.
Love, peace and joy are all one and the same thing and they are all gifts we receive when we live in-Spirit. It is Spirit that offers us the inspiration to find a different way to resolve conflict. While we stay fixated on our habitual way of responding to life we will block this inspiration from materialising in physical form and so we need to connect with Spirit if we are to find engaging and new ways to deal with conflict.
The world of Spirit is free. Free from boundaries, judgements, thoughts, beliefs, things, attitudes and demands of any kind. Spirit is the free flowing energy of Love that brings all things to life and as such it has no need to conform to anything. At our deepest level we are all Spiritual beings with love as our fundamental nature. All our actions stem from love – they are all an expression of love or a call for love.
Spirit has created a world of diversity and it sees no reason to change this. When we try to make others think the same way as us we go against Spirit. When we have to be right; when we try to make others wrong in order to keep ourselves right and when we refuse to accept differing points of view then we are going against Spirit and therefore blocking the inspiration we need in order to create a more loving response to conflict. We stay stuck in the rut of fight or flight and the old saying that tells us that 'if we always do what we’ve always done then we will always get what we’ve always got' remains true.
Clearly something has to change.
Surely the world has known enough conflict, war, cruelty, abuse and violence? Surely now is the time for the world to experience something different?
In order for this to happen we as individuals have to change.
We cannot expect communities, countries and nations to change if the individuals that compose them stay the same. The work begins here. Now. With ourselves. With you and me.
If there is no peace inside us there will be no peace outside us. If there is no love inside us there will be no love outside us. If there is no joy inside us there will be no joy outside us.
To access Love, Peace and Joy we must cultivate the Spirit within us. It is there for the asking. It has taken me a long time to realise that Love will never push itself onto us. That is not the nature of Love. Love waits for us to return to it. This truth is depicted beautifully in the story of the Prodigal Son found in the bible where the father waits patiently for his wayward son to return home. When we choose to return to our true nature then Spirit welcomes us home and the celebration of our lives can truly begin.
Love is all allowing. Since it created all things it allows all things to exist. So how do we sit and allow what we think is evil to exist in the world? We can only do this by having a change of heart and being willing to perceive things differently and we can only have a change of heart by opening ourselves to Spirit. We need to invite Spirit into our lives if we are to reap the rich rewards it has to offer us. To do this we need to first of all decide which side of the fence we sit on? What is our priority in life? Is it to be right or is it to be loving? Where do we want to place our energies?
We get side tracked by evil. When we watch the news and panic at all the badness we see in the world, we get pulled off course. We think we have to fix things. We think we have to put people right, tell them where they are going wrong, punish them or change them. We fill ourselves with self righteous thoughts, we fill ourselves with fear, we fill ourselves with worry, and all these stop us from connecting with Spirit and therefore they block our ability to bring the transforming power of love to the world. In terms of our story they stop the coffee granules from dissolving into the water to produce the sweet, nourishing drink.
We can't fill ourselves with fear and at the same time fill ourselves with love.
Love is the only thing that can dissolve away hatred, the need for revenge, the need to punish, the need to withdraw or fight. Learning to love is a life long task. It begins on an individual level and expands outwards.
If we don’t believe wholeheartedly that Love is the answer to conflict then we will continually succumb to the fight or flight response and conflict will never be resolved. When faced with evil, conflict, cruelty and injustice our one and only true response must be to increase our ability to be loving. When we meet with evil let us give out more love – to ourselves and to others. Let evil be the catalyst that spurs us on to be more loving. Surely this is the only way to make sense of evil?
This is the change of perspective that living in Spirit brings us – it accepts that evil is there and it is there because it is not evil at all but a heartfelt cry for love.
Meet evil with love and it will change. Shouldn’t we at least give this a try, for what have we got to lose?
I have found the paradox that if I love until it hurts, then their is no hurt, but only more love. (Mother Teresa)
Ever had one of those nights? You know the kind where you can’t get to sleep for thinking? Well that was me last night except it wasn’t just mindless thoughts that were keeping me awake but the burning need to get something said.
Something has been brewing in my soul for a long time now, demanding attention, wanting to be articulated; needing to be expressed in some way. Last night I lay in bed tossing and turning and feeling that it was vital, important and urgent that I try to find the right words to express what my soul was asking me to say.
Battling between the need to sleep and the need to get something down on paper I eventually succumbed to the inevitable and got up to scribble a few notes hoping that they would suffice to jog my memory in the morning so that the gist of what I wanted to say would not be lost.
Now the morning is here and I have to find the words.
So here goes.
I want to talk about feelings. The uncomfortable kind. The kind that eat you up inside.
The kind that get stuck in your throat. The kind that rumble and groan and moan inside us.
You know what I’m talking about here: fear; anger; bitterness; frustration; hatred; anxiety; resentment; disappointment.
I’m talking about the kind of emotions that we don’t want to feel and often don’t allow ourselves to feel – at least not fully anyway. Often it’s difficult to sit with even the vaguest of uncomfortable feelings without pushing them away, denying them, minimising them or suppressing them in some way.
WHY IS THIS?
I think it’s because we are scared of letting ourselves FEEL the full impact of these emotions.
I think it’s because these awkward emotions are all distortions of a purer, deeper, truer emotion – SORROW and no matter what we will not let ourselves feel SORROW because it is too painful and too risky.
Deep down we believe that feeling sorrow will break our hearts; that it will shatter them to pieces and scatter them to kingdom come and back. It may even cause us to die.
Because of this we go to great lengths to avoid feeling sorrow.
Here are a few examples from my own life to illustrate the point.
· A friend is feeling distressed. He says that he thinks his life is a waste of time; he’s feeling disillusioned. Instead of letting him feel his pain I rush to reassure him and give him a long list of all the great things he’s got going on in his life.
· While out driving a car pulls out of a junction in front of me and rather than feel my annoyance I shout out a load of verbal abuse at him, pushing my pain away from myself and transferring it onto the other driver without a CARE in the world.
· My husband switches on the TV to get the latest news report and immediately he’s up in arms judging and condemning the evil doers of the world, demanding that the government do something about it and declaring that if they can’t abide by the rules they should all be shot/sent back to their own country/ given a taste of their own medicine etc.
BUT we are misguided in believing that feeling our sorrow will lead to our demise.
Yes if we feel our sorrow our hearts might be broken BUT not into a million pieces they will be broken OPEN and this is vitally important to our health and wellbeing.
When our hearts are open they allow our bodies to function correctly. Our bodies are meant to act as a conduit for the love that is held in our soul. When we harden our hearts in an attempt to protect ourselves from pain, we interfere with this function. An open heart allows our emotions to move through us and the energy of this movement softens them, transforming them into the primary emotion of Love (love being the primary emotion because it reflects our truest nature).
An example of how emotions can be transformed into love this way was seen on the occasion of the death of Diana Princess of Wales. For those of us that allowed our disgust, outrage, anger, hatred and frustration to settle into SORROW we found that deep at the heart of our grief was an enduring compassion, a need to reach out, to connect, to share, to CARE.
Opening our hearts to each other (and this can be through feeling our joy as well as our sorrow) unites us. It breaks through barriers of class, culture, race and religion and yet despite this our culture still perpetuates a myth that caring is dangerous business.
Consider the following sayings.
· Don’t trust your feelings.
· Whatever you do don’t show you care.
· Don’t wear your heart on your sleeve.
· Keep your distance.
· Don’t get too involved.
With this sort of misguided advice we are left to struggle along dragging our hardened hearts along with us.
It’s just sheer madness and it comes with a cost.
We are meant to know the feeling of being filled with love – when this feeling is absent all we feel instead is a void, an emptiness at the centre of our being. We then try to fill this with all manner of things – food, drugs, sex, money, success, power, entertainment (the list is endless).
It could be argued that this emptiness is the root cause of much, if not all, the problems we face in the world.
When we insist on not feeling, on not caring then we become isolated. We risk falling into the belief that we are the only one that matters. We can become immune to the suffering of others and if we are not careful (that is if we are not FULL of CARE) we can even begin to condone suffering, justify it and even inflict it on ourselves and others– all because of our ‘couldn’t CARE LESS attitude!’
SO what can be done about all this?
The only conclusion I’ve managed to reach is that we must relearn the art of feeling.
We must allow ourselves to soften and let the energy of our emotions move through us. We must work to keep our hearts open.
This isn’t going to be easy. It takes courage to care when we fear we will be taken advantage of. We will need help. We will need to be supported. We will need encouragement.
We will meet with resistance. We will risk being called foolish, naive, innocent, simplistic, an idealist.
But I think it’s a risk worth taking.
It’s a risk worth taking because it will help us all feel happier than we’ve ever felt before.
It’s a risk worth taking because it will help us all feel more peaceful.
It’s a risk worth taking because this is how a new world will be born.
Right, I’m about done. I’ve achieved what I set out to achieve. I’ve said what I needed to say. The sleepless night was worth it. My soul is singing.
But now what about you?
If you’ve read this far (and “thank you” if you have) then how are you FEELING now? Perhaps you might like to sit with your feelings a while and see what happens? If you’d like to tell me about your response to this blog then I’d love to hear from you.
I wrote this poem many years ago after a friend confided in me that she often felt as if there was as scream living inside her. Something triggered my memory of that conversation and so I resurrected the poem.
I don't abide in the usual places
dark abysses and lonely places
are my home
I live in tortured minds and aching souls
their suffering is my abode
I stretch and strain along muscles tight
tense and taut
pulsate my venom into cavities
fraught with fear and pain
Powerfully I spread disease
through sinew and vein
my mission to constrain
manipulate and control
the torment of the anguished soul
In silence I dwell in an iron cage
supressed by anger, entrapped by rage
I have no voice, I make no sound
you cannot see me
I won't be found
I don't think of freedom
to escape is not my dream
BUT if you dare to look
and if you dare to touch
you may just release
I wonder what your thoughts are on the SCREAM? Here are some questions to ponder.
Is it something you have experienced?
What do you think the SCREAM is and how do we release it?
Do we need to release it?
If we released it what would be left in its place?
The poem suggest that we daren't look at the SCREAM never mind touch it. Why is this?
Is the SCREAM trying to tell us something? And if so what?
Lets explore the SCREAM together. Please leave any comments in the boxes below.
"Sticks and stones may break my bones but calling never hurt me!"
So goes the old school ground chant but IS IT TRUE!!!
It appears not. Words are sound vibrations and there have been studies that show these vibrations can have an effect on the molecular structure of water.
The work of a Japanese researcher and healer Masaru Emoto reveals to us the power of the spoken word. According to his research when water was subjected to positive words such as "I love you" or "Thank you" it showed a different molecular structure than water that had been treated with negative words such as "You fool" or "I hate you."
The water molecules that had received positive words displayed a structure of beautiful hexagonal crystals whereas the water that had received negative words did not form crystals at all but rather showed messy, fragmented structures.
As the human body is composed of between 60 - 80% water it is reasonable to assume that our molecular structure will be greatly affected too by the words that we hear and even words that we think, as thoughts too have their own vibrations.Walk into any room that has just witnessed an argument and you can literally FEEL the vibes. Words, it seems, leave an imprint behind them.
Casting my mind back to my childhood I can see how this relates to me. I remember once on holiday a lady was singing songs with a group of children. She was making up rhymes to go with the children's names. When it was my turn she sang, "Janet, Janet who thought she could but cannot" and when everyone laughed it was like a knife in my back. I carried the imprint of that remark long into my adult world struggling for a long time with a lack of belief in my own ability. I literally took on a 'can't do' attitude that was hard to shift and was the cause of many on going problems for me.
Of course as children we lack the cognitive ability of adults and therefore are unable to reason and think things through the way an adult would. If I had heard this remark as an adult I might have been able to shrug my shoulders and pass it off without it affecting me as strongly as it did. However I have a sneaking suspicion that many of us pass off similar remarks in our every day life but that this passing off is often just surface deep and can mask a hurt that has still lodged itself somewhere deeper within our bodies or minds.
Are we willing to take the chance that our often casual, off the cuff remarks won't cause pain of some kind to the people that hear them? Or are we willing to believe that our words do have the power to harm or heal and therefore consciously take on the task of trying to speak more considerately and kindly to each other?
I am not talking here about slick remarks or false flattery. Our words should be genuine and authentic and we need to be aware that the intent behind our words carries as much power as the words themselves. However surely it is not beyond us to find ways to speak our truth that don't involve inflicting pain on others?
I leave you with this:
THINK BEFORE YOU SPEAK
T is it TRUE
H is it HELPFUL
I is it INSPIRING
N is it NECESSARY
K is it KIND
The opinions I express here are my own. However I offer them with the word 'syat' next to them. 'Syat' is a word used by the Jain Tribe in India which means 'To the best of my knowledge SO FAR.' In the spirit of openness I invite comments from anyone whether you agree with my point of view or not. In this way we can all learn and grow together. Thank you.