Our Center in the Thomas Fire

I knew I belonged at Gandhi 3.0.  I knew the retreat would be about service and I had a sense of calling.  I knew that Nipun hadn’t confused me with someone better when he invited me.   I felt Centered in Absolute Love… and then a subtle, sneaky voice edged in to give me a to-do list.



This voice told me I needed to qualify this trip to India with Elaborate Spiritual Preparation.

It told me to renounce meat and sugar.  It advised me to meditate on my India purpose every day, opening myself up to the highest energies.  It told me to prayerfully clean out all drawers and closets to release what was no longer needed.

These are great ideas.  But I could feel my ego pumping this rationale:  If you PREPARE – you will GET more out of this opportunity and when you’re DONE, you’ll be MORE SPIRITUAL than you are now.

In other words, I had to do something extra so that this gathering could IMPROVE me. 

The problem was, I kept putting off my pre-self-improvement prep.  I cleaned out a few drawers and tossed a few things in a Goodwill box.  I cut back on meat.  Whatever inner voice told me to give up sugar clearly didn’t understand the seductive pull of Starbucks chocolate chip cookies.  I did my regular meditation practice.  But I did nothing extra.  There was no elaborate preparation for spectacular SELF-IMPROVEMENT in India.

Then my need to prepare and improve literally burnt up.  Ventura County caught on fire.  Friends and congregants lost everything.  A beloved congregant died on Christmas day.  One of my dearest friends died suddenly and tragically.  I was stretched between creating infrastructure for major fire relief, planning a memorial, and spending time mourning with a bereaved family of friends “listening to the sound of hearts breaking.”  (Wayne Muller)

“I should really be preparing for India,” I thought. 

Once again, Absolute Love spoke to me and said, “What you are doing now is the best preparation there is…. This is how you prepare for a retreat about service.  You serve.” 

How true.  The rehearsal and performance are the same thing.  While we’re making grandiose self-improvement plans and rehearsing for a better future, the Absolute Now beckons us to mindfully perform service where we are.  Perhaps mindful service in the moment is the only improvement ever needed.


Reflections:  Where are you preparing to be better?  Can you shift your consciousness to know that rehearsal and performance are the same thing?  How will you practice mindful acceptance and service now? 


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4 Responses to Preparation

  1. Megan says:

    I’m seeing an increasing number of articles and commentary on the rapidly growing “epidemic of loneliness”. England just designated a Minister (MP) to take charge of all things lonely. I suppose the official title is “The Lonely Minister”?. Much of the discussion appears to be focused on our post WW2 aging demographic; the erosion of the nuclear family; technology driven generation gaps; or other such theories. Yet, the concept of “service” appears to be largely absent from the debate.

    Is it possible that being “in service” to others; to animals; to nature; to a cause, could decrease, or even dispel, loneliness for both the server and/or the recipient? Indeed, the moments when I’ve felt most alone were also when, “coincidentally”, I had not been in recent service to anyone or anything. Hmmm?

    A premis: could it be that the depth of loneliness experienced by any one person is directly proportional to how little time they give or receive authentic, heart-centered service?
    Not to be maudlin – yet, does this not seem like a doable equation to resolve…despite not having an appointed “Lonely Minister”?


  2. becky burnham says:

    “Perhaps mindful service in the moment is the only improvement ever needed.”
    ….nail on the head!


  3. Pingback: Holy | Daily Beloved

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