by Elly van Laar | Mar 19, 2014 | Compassion, Mindfulness
I’m reading “Opening the Heart of the Cosmos, insights on the Lotus Sutra” by Thich Nhat Hanh and learning about the historic and ultimate dimension.
The historic dimension is the reality as we know it in our current body and is bound by time and space. We are born, we live, we die. A car is manufactured, used and disassembled. A song is written, popular, and forgotten. There is a beginning, middle and end.
The ultimate dimension is the continuous flow of life, of unlimited being, of the one and the all.
Once we touch the ultimate dimension, we lose our fear of death, because we understand that we cannot die, that we were never born, that we have always been. Our present appearance is just one of the multitude manifestations of the ultimate dimension. A wave cannot die, it just returns to water, which it has been all along.
I don’t claim that I get it. I think if I did, I would be way more open, loving, and relaxed. I would be less anxious, jealous and angry.
And last night I realized that I am probably seeing a glimpse of the ultimate dimension in the loss of and continued connection with my cat: Toulouse.
She was my buddy, soul mate and Bodhisattva of unconditional acceptance, boundless love, and immeasurable appreciation. She followed me around the house, the garden, out on the street. She used any opportunity to jump on my lap, cuddle with me on the couch, crawl under the comforter and find her favorite spot in my arms.
I left her behind with my ex-husband, when I got a divorce and moved to the USA. I was heart-broken. Whenever I felt upset, I took her picture and held it to my heart. I’d fall asleep like that. Even now, five years later, I feel a raw, scourging pain in my stomach. She was the love of my life.
I went back to the Netherlands twice a year, and always visited my ex-husband and my two cats. As soon as I opened the door, she’d run up to me and claim my lap. She loved me as ever before. She never held a grudge that I had left her behind, as if she honored my choice, and accepted my departure.
The last time I saw her was December 2010. She could hardly walk, lost 10 pounds, and couldn’t get up on the couch.
My ex-husband took her to the vet Jan 21, 2011 to let her die.
I wasn’t there.
Despite all the grief, sadness and loss -that I even feel right now as I write about her- I feel this incredible joy of knowing that I never lost her. She is here with me, right now. She is always available with her love, affection, and acceptance. Her appreciation never died.
I understand it better now.
I am touching Toulouse in the ultimate dimension.
by Elly van Laar | Mar 13, 2014 | Compassion, Personal Growth, Self-compassion
“It takes courage to love yourself. It is easier to hate yourself. To always want to improve and change for the better. To never be satisfied with who you are right here, right now. But to fully say ‘yes’ to whatever is here, your anger, your fear of failure, your striving for perfection, that takes courage. You’re trembling in the nakedness of your honesty and you’re fully wanting to be you. I’m fully wanting to be me. Yes, that takes courage.”
I’m in awe with my client. I’m not sure if I have the courage to be fully wanting to be me. I rather be someone else. Happier. More successful. Less jealous. I’m pretty sure I’m fully wanting to be my future self, an improved version of me. Less needy, more lovable.
I’m in awe with my client, and her choice to unconditionally love and accept herself.
I’m in awe with my client and her choice to say ‘yes’ to who she is in this moment.
She reminds me of the ferryman in Herman Hesse’s Siddharta. He doesn’t do much. He tends his garden, he enjoys the sun, he takes people to the other side of the river. Hardly anyone recognize in him the Buddha, the Enlightened One. Hardly anyone even look at him. They just want to get to the other shore, and he is taking them. He is an instrument to their purpose, and as such not very interesting.
I have always been impressed with that courage. To just live your life, not doing much, not striving for acknowledgment, validation, reassurance of your worth. And fully enjoying being alive. Gosh, if I only would have that solidity in me, that groundedness, that self-confidence.
I giggle. That seems like a contradictio in terminis. Wanting to be someone else, so I can fully want to be me.
Hum. Maybe I could start wanting to be me with all my striving for love, acceptance and belonging?
You want help to fully want to be you? Contact me 512-589-0482. I would be excited to help you on the path of unconditional self-acceptance.
by Elly van Laar | Mar 12, 2014 | Compassion, Compassionate Communication, Mindfulness, Nonviolent Communication
Thich Nhat Hanh has a beautiful story about true love. It resonates deeply with me, because I so wish to love others in a way that nurtures and supports their unique needs, celebrating the preciousness of their unique life. And I so wish to be loved in that same way.
There once was a rich man, who had all the wealth in the world, except for the love if his son.
His son had run off when he was 15 years old, and wandered the world in poverty for 50 years. In search of work, he lands at the doorsteps of his father’s palace, not knowing this is his father’s residence. When he sees all the rich and important people gathering for a meeting with his father, he gets scared and runs away.
In a split second his father recognizes the beggar as his son and sends his servants after him to bring him back home.
When the son sees the servants, he gets terrified. He fears he will be falsely accused of theft, and punished accordingly.
As the servants bring him back, the father sees his mistake. In his immense love for his son and his longing for connection, he acted in a way that terrified his son. He realizes he needs to build a bond based on where the son is at. He understands his son won’t believe this wealthy man is his father, so instead the father treats him like a beggar. Seeing the low self-worth and lack of self-confidence his son has, he offers him the lowliest of tasks: dragging out the pig’s dung. His son accepts and works diligently and sincerely at the job. His father recognizes the moment to ask his son to take on more responsibilities. His son can gladly accept and performs his new duties with equal commitment. The father keeps adding responsibilities, to contribute to his son’s sense of competence, confidence and self-worth. After a while the son runs the whole estate.
Then, at his death bed, the father reveals the true nature of their relationship. By that time the son is able to hear and accept this as the truth.
We, too, can find the skillful means to support our loved ones to open up to their true nature: children of God, heirs of Buddha, soul mates of Christ.
May we all wake up from forgetfulness and realize our true nature.
You want help to support your loved ones with understanding? Contact me 512-589-0482. I would be excited to help you on the path of true love and understanding.
by Elly van Laar | Mar 3, 2014 | Compassion, Compassionate Communication, Mindfulness, Personal Growth, Self-compassion
Listening to the bell, I feel my afflictions
begin to dissolve.
My mind is calm, my body relaxed.
A smile is born on my lips.
Following the bell’s sound,
my breathing guides me back
to the safe island of mindfulness.
In the garden of my heart,
the flower of peace blooms beautifully.
Namo Shakyamunaye Buddhaya
Thich Nhat Hanh, The Great Bell Chant, Youtube
I sit on my meditation cushion. I breathe in and feel my somberness, my listlessness, my lack of purpose and meaning. Who cares whether I live or die? I’m not sure I do. Do I even like my life? I don’t know. Do I even like myself? I don’t think so.
A wave of shock rushes through me.
I would never talk to my clients, my friends like that. I would never judge them as losers, failures, nobodies, when they experience this much despair, this much existential fear and sadness.
I would sit with them, listen carefully, opening up to their pain. I would embrace their suffering with compassion, letting them know that I am here for them. My heart would soften as I listen to their despair, their struggles.
I feel tender as I see myself sit on my cushion. A woman with such a sincere intention to contribute, to relief suffering, to bring joy, love and harmony. A woman who’s just trying, really trying and sometimes feels overwhelmed by her inner demons. Her sadness and despair, her regrets and sorrows.
This woman doesn’t need disapproval and rejection. This woman needs a tender, loving embrace. Someone who tells her how special she is and how much happier their life is with her in it. I feel a tenderness growing. Like a little daffodil, arising from the dark earth into the sunny meadow.
I can do that. I can hold myself with that gentle love, accepting all parts of me.
A smile is born on my face.
I don’t have to be happy and cheerful all the time. I can accept myself as I am, right now. And in that tender, safe embrace the flower of peace blooms in my heart.
You want help to embrace all parts within yourself? To bring loving-kindness to yourself, because it is such a miracle that you’re here? Contact me 512-589-0482 for a complimentary, discovery session. I would be honored to help you bring self-acceptance and compassion to yourself.
by Elly van Laar | Feb 28, 2014 | Compassionate Communication, Nonviolent Communication, Personal Growth
True love requires understanding. Understanding your beloved one’s pain and sorrow, joys and aspirations. What he delights in, and what he abhors. What gets her excited, and what turns her off. What contributes to his happiness, and what doesn’t.
And then take action. Because you want your loved one to be happy. You want to see her smile, relax, enjoy life.
Understanding needs love too. Without love, understanding doesn’t open your heart, nor inspire compassion. Understanding without love becomes a mechanical one plus one equals two. There is no drive to contribute, no desire to see your beloved one flourish and bloom. Understanding without love is -at most- a tool to please and satisfy.
I feel embarrassed as I hear our Dharma Teacher Terry Cortes talk about true love. I think of Valentine’s day. I bought my love a little chocolate cake in the form of a heart. It looked so sweet, so cute.
My husband stays away from gluten. He refrains eating sugar. He doesn’t snacks, only fruit and dates.
I knew all that.
Yet I insisted on giving him something that was an expression of my culture of celebration. I insisted on introducing something that was me. It had nothing to do with him. It had nothing to do with making him happy. It was about supporting my needs for inclusion and acceptance of who I am.
I realize if I want to show my love to him, I need to ask him how I can best do that. I see that if I want to celebrate our love, I need to ask him what celebration looks like to him. If I want to deepen my love, I need his help to deepen my understanding.
The love is there.
I’m sure a little more understanding will bring miracles.
You want help to deepen your true love and understanding? Contact me 512-589-0482 for a complimentary, discovery session.