The Lighthouses I keep – Gratitude

I have many values I base my life upon. They work as light houses along the coast guiding me along. I have acquired all of them myself along the way, and I am also the lighthouse keeper making sure they stay aflame. I am not a preacher or a guide of any kind, or a life coach, but I do keep those light houses burning for anyone who wants to take inspiration from them.

I often hear people who have been close to dying speak about a new approach to life, a beautiful inspiration found after being confronted with death. I think about death all the time. That may sound sad, but that is not what I mean. I like to philosophize over what happens when we die. I have come to believe that when we leave this world all our actions, the good and the bad, are shown to us, we get to witness our whole life in retrospect, much like our own coming-of-age movie being played before us if you like. I don’t believe in karma the way it is presented to us today, even though my theory might sound like it. I believe when we are at that stage of transitioning we do no longer see our life through human eyes, we see our life through the eyes of the soul, and even though our bad actions will sadden us, the intention will not be punishment, but forgiveness. A forgiveness born from understanding and love. It is not easy to be human. A human is not pure soul, our hormones, instincts, biological heritage, psychological makeup and temperament all play a part in our behavior.

But what I want to talk about here is not the mistakes we make, but all the love, kindness and inspiration we share. Imagine all the love you have given out flowing back to you, covering you in softness and light. You have touched so many people with your life. Maybe just by saying hi to someone on the bus, or being a substitute parent/big sibling to the neighbor kid who has two working parents, or by giving food to someone on the street, or giving a compliment to a friend. The list goes on and on. Imagine if you didn’t have to wait until your dying day to feel all that love, imagine it being given to you all the time. What wouldn’t that do to your confidence, to your sense of purpose and self-love?

So that is what I do. Whenever someone has touched my life for the better in any tiny way I let them know. And this has led to some incredible experiences. Because I let everyone know. Whether it is a stranger or a family member or a shopkeeper or someone famous. The famous people who have touched my life are mostly authors. And if you think there is really no point in feeding the ego of these already celebrated characters, you are wrong. Perhaps their egos are being stroked all the time, but I am not talking about fan mail, I am talking about letting someone know they have made a difference in your life. I once received a three pages long handwritten letter from a very famous author who poured out her beautiful heart to me in words I will treasure for ever. A Danish poet, who is the one who inspired me to write poetry, sent me her entire collection of books (in the mail to India!) after I wrote her a mail thanking her for being such an inspiration to me. My point is, every single one I have ever thanked for making my life just a little bit better have appreciated it, and all of them have been surprised! Totally unaware of the beauty and value of their work, words and action.

I want to encourage everyone out there to do the same. To tell people, whoever it is, even if it is the super famous director of the film that inspired you to choose your dream career, what an impact they had in your life. Even if you don’t get a reply. A reply is not what you are after. Once you give something, it is out there, your job is done, and what you get in return comes from the light you have lit in this, often seemingly dark, world.

That is why I always say: create a path of light with your life. What you give away is yours forever, what you hold back is lost forever.

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Be a Pathfinder

Be a pathfinder
Carving your way through days,
Releasing sunny seconds from dull hours.
Sometimes even summer days need decluttering,
Sorting through memories,
Mining diamonds in dark caves
To paint pathfinder marks on rocks,
Leaving a trail of light in your wake.

Hearing Eternity whisper back

A while ago I wrote a piece on the soul and what the soul is. (You can read that piece here) In this article I want to talk about how we can find the voice of the soul and learn to let it guide us. My views are of course entirely my own and I share them to inspire, not to preach.

We have all heard it being said: Listen to your heart/gut feeling, follow your instincts, etc. But what does that really mean? To follow your heart or the feeling in your gut can be easily interpreted as following your emotions, as it is in the stomach and in the heart (here I mean the actual organ) we often feel things like fear and excitement first. Following your instincts is a little trickier. Our instincts are our survival instincts, the guidelines provided to us by nature in order to live and thrive and survive, these instincts are often the driving force of the ego which is, I have to say, not always a negative thing, but can lead to a less compassionate outcome. Some people also talk about the intuition, that mystic force that forewarns us about danger and gives us a good feeling about a positive outcome before it has happened. One can argue that the intuition is closely related to our moral sense, our values, life goals and desired achievements. But perhaps I am being too pragmatic here. My point is just that not all such life advice or guidelines are connected to the soul. They have more to do with moral, emotional health and life goals.

When we attempt to find the voice of our soul, or our eternal selves, we need to abandon our ego completely. We cannot try to influence the inner sounds by wishing for something to happen, or logically analyzing an event or occurrence. We have to try to stop thinking within the limitations of time and space and solid matter. It will feel a bit like reading between the lines without attempting to do just that. Yeah, I know, it sounds very cryptic. Let’s try using some examples.

When you look at a piece of art, for example an abstract painting, many times something vague, like a feeling you can’t quite put into words, might awaken in you. The same goes for a poem written using one or many metaphors. It might not appeal to your rational self, but if you are open to it it will still awaken something in you, something you can’t quite grasp, but it is still strongly present. An example is Zen poetry. Zen poems are mystic and often irrational, yet holds within something so vast that it will tickle your sense of eternity and enormity. It is a riddle where the answer cannot be comprehended by logic or “common sense” and hence it attempts to steer you away from this way of thinking.

Surrealism is another perfect example of such a means of communication. A surrealist painting breaks free from the bonds of conventional form and creates a completely senseless world where nothing follows the laws of physics, yet there is something there; a coded message just for you that you might not be able to fully understand, but it moves you and gently nudges you in a new direction. And such is the voice of the soul.

The Hindu god Krishna says in one verse in the puranas that none of us need a teacher to teach us anything. All the answers we need is right here in front of us if we only learn to see with the right eyes. He is talking about the natural world. When you look at a tree, do you only see a tree with leaves, bark, trunk, roots etc. or do you see something more hidden within the form that you have learned to call tree? Is a sunset just a beautiful scene where the sun moves away from your part of the world and rises in another? As poets, as artists, as musicians we learn to put these contemplations into words, images and rhythms, hoping that they will inspire others to see those hidden motions too.

When we learn to hear this silent movement, to grasp the vast vagueness within, our life opens up to a whole other dimension. We are moved by secrets we take joy in keeping secret, by quests without solutions and pilgrimages without sacred destinations, we learn to open doors others cannot see and delight in finding another door behind the first one. When we move through the world with this awareness it is like moving in two worlds simultaneously, one concrete and visible world and one shadow world.

To bring this back to earth a little…have you ever prayed for something or wished for something so hard you feel like all your happiness depends on it coming true? For instance, becoming an artist or an actor, or finding love, or moving to another country. Have you ever tried to listen to an answer? Not an answer given in words, but a wordless one, a vague sense of something that may or may not manifest into a metaphorical answer? Your desire will almost always have two sides to it. To put it into a more concrete and comprehensible answer, ask yourself this: Why do you want to become an actor? Why do you feel like you need to find a romantic partner? Listen to the silence within. Perhaps it has to do with needing to feel loved more than it has to do with romance. Perhaps it is not about acting but about your need to be seen or to express yourself. Perhaps you want to be a writer not because you love words, but because you feel you have something important to say? Perhaps you want to move away because you want to discover new sides to yourself? Even beyond these answers there is another door, another truth, more tunnels to follow.

Living with the awareness of this depth or this shadow world is not only inspiring and exciting it also makes you more flexible and makes happiness more obtainable. You learn to find purpose in everything, even watching a flower open its petals or the sound of waves crashing upon the shore. It will also expand your artistic and creative horizon, inspiring you to always look just a little further when you hear a piece of music or study a painting or read a poem.

Learning to find the voice of your soul is hearing eternity whisper back to you, it is about gaining access to your soul-memory, the memory that goes all the way back to creation and even beyond that, it is about always being on a pilgrimage without a destination, a pilgrimage that did not start with the birth of your body and will not end when your body’s journey is over.