Loving Your Inner Pup…Insight from Martha

pupThe other day I heard something that hit me like a wrecking ball. Along the coast of California, thousands of baby sea lions are dying. The herring their mothers live on have disappeared, so the mothers had no choice but to leave their babies to starve.

Not long  after hearing this, I had the extreme good fortune of speaking with Byron Katie, who I believe to be a fully enlightened being, and whose work has literally kept me alive (check her out on YouTube if you don’t know about her yet).

“I use the tools you teach, Katie,” I told her. “I question all my thoughts. But I can’t get over the sea lion pups. No matter how hard I try, this makes me so sad.”

And Katie said, in the calmest, most untroubled voice imaginable, “Well, sweetheart, why don’t we start by helping the one pup who’s here right now?”

I came unglued, of course. I’d been trying to embody the pain of ten thousand starving mothers and babies, thinking that somehow this might help. (Right. Because that always works.) The pain had closed me up in a “protective” shell of fear and hopelessness. Katie’s words broke the shell. There it was again, that thing that keeps catching me whenever I fall: Infinite love. Grace. Comfort.

I’ll do what little I can to help to the sea lions. And the polar bears. And the pups of every kind, everywhere. And the human beings suffering various forms of misery all over the planet. But to do so, I have to return, over and over again, to the simple act of allowing kindness to touch my own broken heart. When we do this, possibility and healing replace despair and paralysis.

Today I put out water for the animals who are suffering from drought in my own neck of the woods. I encouraged a sad friend. I let myself believe that though we’re always dying, we’re held by something bigger than death. Right now. Always.

Try it. Give love and comfort to the starving pup inside you. Then let the love and comfort guide any action you take. It’s a simple little practice. It might not save the world. But then again, it might.

Photo courtesy of FerrF

The Last Temptation of…You…Insight from Martha

temptationA friend of mine called recently to say, “I’ve been offered a job I don’t want. The money, power, and prestige are huge. I’m not sure I have the guts to say ‘No.’”

If I’d had to, I would’ve shot him in the foot right then—anything to keep him from selling his happiness so cheaply.

Fortunately, my friend prevailed. He rejected all that power and money, knowing it would turn him into King Midas, surrounded by gold, yet lacking the warmth, tenderness, and joy that are his real life’s purpose.

I know many people who are having similar experiences. As they get closer to leaving a dysfunctional way of life, the old way rises up like an abusive spouse shocked by a divorce decree. “Just stay with me!” it begs. “I’ll do anything you want!”

This pressure always peaks before big breakthroughs. Jesus was reportedly tempted with the power to do massive philanthropy just before he started teaching. The Buddha’s wealthy father showered him with wealth and privilege as he prepared to walk into the forest, seeking enlightenment. It may be that many almost-heroes failed similar tests. We don’t know about them, because they never quite woke up.

Don’t let this happen to you.

If you sense that joy, freedom, and love lie in a given direction, go that way no matter what the rest of the world may offer. Peel your ego’s fingers from their grip on illusions like lifelong security (doesn’t exist), your parents’ approval (can’t make you happy) and “the normal way” (disintegrating as we speak).

Your heart is a compass in a chaotic world. Follow it. Resist anything that looks reeeally good, but feels reeeally bad. Be like my friend, brave enough to turn away from shiny objects, and toward the light that makes them shine.

Photo styled and shot by Ken Weiner

How to Tame Your Fears

Fear is a terrible sensation, one we never, ever want to feel. How lucky we are to live in a time and place where it’s so often possible to avoid the things that scare us most: violence, disease, natural disasters, dangerous animals, and, at least until the very end, death. Instead, we get to sit read more…

Leaps of Faith…Insight from Martha

Hello from Londolozi Game Reserve in South Africa, where I’m happily ensconced with several intrepid companions enjoying the African STAR (Self-Transformation Adventure Retreat). When I told an acquaintance that I lead seminars in the African bush, she responded, “Oh, my God, how did you get that job?” The long answer is: 1) This isn’t a read more…