As the last days are passing here at Sivananda Ashram the satsang lectures continue. There have been some interesting points of view for me to evaluate and to see what comes up. And what comes up are the still unresolved feelings and beliefs around the car crash. Not surprising! There  is quite a bit of work to be done to clean up the mess, and I find myself more than slightly annoyed and distracted. Though I decided not to pursue any legal recourse over the harm done to my property for reasons I explained earlier, my mind, heart and pocketbook still feel the pain. (See honest truth is that I have been feeling a large resentment toward a whole community of people who I feel have let me down.

Along comes Kathy White, long time student of Byron Katie. Katie is a non-dual (Advaita), consciousness guru. Her story in becoming who she is now is extreme. The result of her “awakening” is her ability to accept what is happening exactly as it is and remain completely peaceful. Her students attest to this fact. Now doesn’t that sound nice?

At the end of last night’s satsang Kathy gave us a page titled: Judge-Your-Neighbor Workshop. She had already explained that in The Work (as it is called by Byron Katie) there are four essential, starting questions related to each and every belief around any stressful situation in life. For example, in regards to feelings around the car crash I write:

I am angry at (name of person) for breaking his agreement to take care of my car.

Next I ask myself these questions:

1. Is it true? Yes. He did not take care of the car. He crashed the car due to his own negligence and then he refused to make any reparations. Only a yes or no answer is allowed here which keeps you from falling back into the details and complexities of the story in your mind–but of course more beliefs arise as you can see in what I just wrote. Each of these beliefs may need to be dealt with separately, eg, I am angry at _______ for being negligent. Or: I am angry at _____ for refusing to take responsibility for his actions, etc.

2. Is it absolutely true? Only to be answered if you answered Yes in No. 1. Doubt about having absolute knowledge and wisdom may start in No. 1 or it may not.

3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought? You list all your feelings and attitudes, eg I blame, get angry, feel disgusted and judgmental, am deaf to any excuses or explanations, only want reparations paid NOW!

4. How would I be if I did not have this belief? Eg. I would be open, supportive, able to hear and to listen to his story, generous about finding a solution together.

Doing The Work with the worksheet has helped me get clear about my feelings and beliefs. I actually emailed the person asking him if he would speak with me to share his thoughts and feelings and to hear mine. Whether or not he responds is not the point–and I really doubt that he will respond. Writing the email asking only for dialogue without any agenda, allowed an opening of the tight space in my heart. With this opening I began to look at promises I have made to myself or need to make. And how I may be being negligent in life by taking obvious risks and not taking care of myself responsibly. And how I might take better care with myself.

I may not be taking good care by putting trust where it does not belong. Or by having unfounded expectations. Or by not asking directly for clarification. This is hard stuff. Most people –myself included–do not like to be held perfectly accountable or to think things through. Most people do not care to strive for such clarity. It takes time and effort between people. It is rare in life to find people who are willing to take the time and spend the effort for such honest, clean and clear communication.

As I grow in my ability to care for myself by keeping promises to myself, by being responsible to myself for my well-being and by paying the dues I owe to myself when I make a mistake, I will be more able to see in others the level and quality of care a person is able to enact in a relationship with me. Those who have learned that self care is an essential part of loving others begin to offer freely, and more selflessly, yet with boundaries that are appropriate for themselves. I know as I grow in my own self care I will be able make better choices about with whom and in what way I entrust my life (and my “stuff” such as a car) to others.

Life is a process we are all learning.

Om shanti