Turning arrows into roses

I want to tell you a story that annihilated me into itself when I heard it. Maybe it will annihilate you too, and point you back to essence…

A story that almost could be from the Mahabharata, that almost could have happened. But it didn’t.
And not the way I am going to tell it. 
And none of this will matter if you feel where it points…

When Arjuna the great Indian warrior found himself on the battlefield of Kurukshetra, across from an army led by the very teachers who had trained him to become the finest archer in the land, full with brothers and uncles- the family he grew up with, he couldn’t lift his bow to fire the first arrow across the enemy lines.

He looked at their faces and his heart broke. 
He knew his Dharma, he knew it had to be such- that he must engage this battle, for it was Divine will, and yet, as he gazed across the battlefield, he couldn’t fire at the enemy.

He just stood there, seeing them with this heart.

And when the very people he couldn’t shoot at, began firing arrows at him, something unusual happened: as the arrows they shot touched Arjuna, they began to transform into petals of Rose and fell at his feet. 

You see, he had become love
Big love.


The enormity of his love was such that it dissolved everything that touched him into itself- back into the essence of the Everything- the core vibration of love.

And the harshness of the arrows, the hate, the anger, the violence that came at him, transmuted into Roses- the fragrant softness of love. 

I feel at the core, this is life’s invitation to us all- to not just know love as a verb, but to become it…and in that becoming, make everything we meet part of the Love we are…

This is no small order. And yet, there are beings who join us here on Earth and embody this capacity.

This morning at 00:00, 1.22.22, in the temple he was initiated in as a young boy, Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh left his body. And as I sat feeling his essence in meditation, this story came up and again made me cry. Because Arjuna’s story also describes him.

Maybe you’ve met his teachings? Maybe this note will inspire you to…I hope it does.

I’ve always experienced Thich Nhat Hanh as the Boddhisattva of peace. I haven’t read any of his books, nor attended any of his retreats. Nor really followed his teachings closely.

But I have heard his voice name the Truth in us all.
I have seen his brush, make spirit into form.
I have felt the power and the radiance of his presence, melt me with love, into itself. 

It’s a gift to be annihilated, over and over again in meeting a presence like his. The best way to honor him, of course, is to live aligned with the Truth in you.

You can read his parting words below, gently melting all the pointy arrows in me, into the tenderness of petals…

in celebration, in honor of a Life lived fully, his, yours and mine- 

with big love,
Ishita
 

Living Gratitude

It occurred to me in words that we are all just growing into ourselves, supported by a magnificent field of Grace. All I ever had to do was be open to receiving it.  

A few weeks ago I had the honor of holding space for two people I love dearly, who are falling in love.

Breaking all the rules of “professional conduct” I asked one to invite the other into our session and when they came, we sat together for a while, listening, seeing, loving…in that profound simplicity, not many words were needed and neither was I anymore. So I declared our session over and went for a walk, filled by love, becoming it…

I walked on the open roads in the countryside, hands held out like a beggar and all I could say over and over, like a poem, like a prayer was “Thank you God. Thank you God. Thank you God. Thank you God. Thank you God…”

It was there when I came home. It was there when I picked up my paintbrush, when I was facilitating…I even went into meditation retreat ready to receive any beatings necessary to tame my spiritual pride, and what melted it instead again, was love.

Feeling the enormity of Grace- love and wisdom ready to pour into me, filled my heart and again what was left was just this:
“Thank you God. Thank you God. Thank you God. Thank you God. Thank you God…”

And I can feel that phrase weaving itself through the fabric of my being. I can’t even pretend not to see how much resource is available to me in every moment. I cry seeing the times I hid it from myself. Even in the midst of pain. 

…sometimes I sing it. Mostly I cry it. “Thank you God. Thank you God. Thank you God. Thank you God. Thank you God…”

What else remains? So much Beauty. So much Grace.

Thank you God. More please.

Grandmother Imaginings

“So listen, I am imagining.

I imagine that I awaken here on Sacred Mother Earth and marvel that I am alive and part of Creation 

I imagine that Creation has given me a body that I  respect and love.

I imagine that I will learn with my physical existence as long as I inhabit my body….  

I imagine that women and men are equal.

I imagine that Life is challenge and giving-otherwise I would not be experiencing the presence of  Life and Her Balance

I imagine that sex is natural (sacred) -and beautiful.

I imagine that all humans are born to Life to Learn and to Grow.

I imagine that I can live my Life and question my own experience and my Existence.

I imagine that I can help change the conditions of my world and my personal circumstances.

I imagine that I can listen to creation directly and that I need no interpreter.

I imagine that I can be my Self even in those times when I am pained by others.

I imagine that I am my own Authority and my own Teacher

I imagine that all information must be questioned by me.

I imagine that I can be the kind Teacher to myself.

I imagine that I am a Self-Responsible human who will teach others to care for our Sacred Mother Earth (with Beauty).”  

–  Estcheemah

Big Love meets Big Love!

Baby just let it fly! Louvre, Paris. Circa 2007- photo by Ishita Sharma
Baby, just let it fly! Photo by Ishita Sharma. Louvre, Paris. Circa 2007.

Dear one,

In my morning session today a beautiful client and I laughed for a good 10 minutes as she saw how she was playing the game of life, trying so hard to hide the Big Big Love she actually is!

Who did she think she’s fooling? I asked.
And she pointed to herself. We laughed some more.

As she saw herself as this Ocean of Love, there was nothing left outside of it. 

She, me, we, her stories, ideas, beliefs, emotions – all melted into boundless, all encompassing Big Love. And there was nothing left but tears of joy, the sweet mourning of that forgetting, that hiding…

We convince ourselves no one sees the love that we are, but it can’t be hidden. Mostly, we’re hiding it from ourselves.

What if for this one moment, as you read my words, you let this ocean of love that has been wanting to pour through you out into the Everything actually pour out?   

You showed up in the world one ball of innocence- loving everything you met. As a child you knew this- you were here to love and be loved. It was simple. It was easy to offer your heart and receive love into it. 

So now again, come back to the simplicity of that knowing.

Let yourself BE love. 

Maybe for just this moment. Maybe for another minute…maybe for this whole day, maybe just this weekend or this year…this lifetime!

Especially when it feels vulnerable – when you are afraid you’ll lose connection for showing up as it- like writing this email for me, it will feel so essential and so vulnerable…

Come!
Let it melt you.
Over and over. 

Big Love meets Big Love.

You, Big Love, go to the grocery store and feel the Big Love bagging your groceries for you. You walk to the post office and meet Big Love in the line and there it is again, mailing your letters. You come home and there it is again- Big Love pouring out, disguised as your children, your partner, your parents, your friend…what else was ever there? 

All around you. It’s hard not to feel it!

It can be that simple.

To let it be that simple is the most courageous choice we can make- turning towards what you already are- so much love it’ll break your heart and fill it. Over and over again.

That’s the invitation of Murmurations being, having and doing as and from Big Big Love. If it calls, let’s talk.

What else could be more essential, more important, more joyful?

a wink, a smile, and Big Big Love!
Ishita

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Receiving

I’ve come to suspect it’s a living truth that we want to give the world what we most need, and when we do, it comes right back to us.

I’ve come to suspect it’s a living truth that we want to give the world what we most need, and when we do, it comes right back to us.

“Hi, do you want a protein bar?” I said to the old Black homeless woman sitting on a park bench alone away from the crowd of homeless people milling about in Prichard Park. 

I had already gifted away the bags I had made to younger folks on the other side of the park. But as I left, looking for the old man I had seen a few weeks ago, I saw her on the bench by the toilets, alone, calmly watching the world go by. Her spirit called, shining in her eyes. 

“What is it?” she asked.

“Chocolate brownie.” I said, hoping she’d like the flavor.

“Yea- thank you. God bless you.”

“Thanks, bless you too!” I took a bar out and handed it to her. But it was hard to walk away.

“What else do you need?” I couldn’t resist asking.

“What do you have?” she asked.

“I have nothing right now. But I’ll come back for you. Do you need things for the winter?”

“I don’t know, I haven’t thought that far ahead.”

“Do you have a warm hat?”

“No.”

“Do you have warm gloves?” 

“No.”

“Do you have warm socks or a scarf?”

“No.”

“Ok- well I’ll come back and bring you some. What size do you wear?”

“In what? shoes or dress?” She asked.

“Both.” I said.

“I wear a 10 – 1/2″ in shoes and a 10 or a 12 in dress.”

“But you’re so tiny! Are you sure?” I couldn’t imagine how she’d fit a size 12.

“Yea. I like comfortable clothes. None of that small medium. I don’t like that Medium.”

I laughed. “OK. So where can I find you? Here?”

“Well- I don’t know. I got places to go. I’m trying to take the 5 o’ clock bus to go see my Dad. I move around you know. You tell me when you’ll come.”

I pause. Logistics…”I can come back in two weeks on Sunday.”

“Ok- well if I’m not here you can give the stuff to someone else who needs it. You just put it on the wall, they’ll take it from there. Wait, no it’s better to talk to a person. You don’t know what’ll happen to the stuff if you just leave it.”

“Yea- well, I’ll see if I can come by sooner.” I said, realizing this was a thin plan.

“OK.”

I walked away, wondering how to make it work. As we drove away I wondered if I could run out and get her some warm things before she possibly took the bus. She didn’t look too worried about anything so I worried she’d go without. It was 4:38pm, and if she got to the 5 o’ clock bus I’d surely miss her. 

Driving away didn’t feel right. I found 11 dollars between the glove box and the change pocket in the car. It wasn’t much, but it was something. I asked my partner to swerve back around, I had to catch her. 

She was heading into the toilet, I caught her just in time. I called out- “Hi, you! Hold on!” She stopped. “I don’t know if I’ll catch you again, but here’s eleven dollars. Go buy some warm stuff at Goodwill.”

“Yea you right. I was going to go there. There’s two of ’em.”

“Yea you can probably buy some warm socks and gloves with this and maybe a hat too.”

“Once someone gave me warm boots and they were black and and so warm they cleared my digestion right up!” she shared brightly.

“I believe that.” I said, feeling the pain that perhaps she herself couldn’t feel, imagining what going cold and hungry does to a stomach. I saw her wrinkled hand holding the money lightly, spread out.

“Well it isn’t much but put it away in a safe place.” I said.

“No, no- it’s a miracle!” she cried. “See God loves me and God loves you!”

“Yea God does love us.”I said.

“And I love you!” She added, eyes smiling.

“I love you too. You’re so beautiful, you know?” I said. It was all over her face- radiance, contentment, surrender.

“No, no, you’re beautiful! It takes one to know one!” She said.

We both laughed.

“God bless you lady!” She said. “And your soul! May God keep you safe.”

And I walked away laughing crying.

I’d prayed that morning that I would give to the homeless with humility and grace, and here I was receiving the same.

*Image via Pexels.com

My fiercest hope for humanity lies in YOU!


That’s my fiercest hope – is that we come back to the natural intelligence that flows through us, instead of constantly negating it. It’s surrendering to the impulse that is the driving force of life. That’s the impulse of creation coming through you!

What could be more natural?
What else could bring fulfillment?

Click on the image for the full podcast episode!

Dear one,

I had a colorful conversation on my soulful colleague Andy Cahill’s podcast, the Wonder Dome last August. He asked me what my fiercest hope for humanity is- a beautiful question he poses to each of his guests.

I realized my fiercest hope for humanity lives in you. It breathes in the way you and I show up in the world, and in these catalytic times, our way of being is more important than ever.

In this intimate conversation we talked about being human and whole, and the juicy possibility that emerges when we come together as one- in service of a world that consciously and lovingly includes and transcends all its parts.

If you’ve been in one of my group courses you know this place of possibility, and if you haven’t, I hope you’ll join me. The world is begging us to show up fully for ourselves and eachother.

You can meet me in all my colors if you listen in! 

with hope and love,
Ishita

SHOW NOTES:

Come to Center
Call to Coherence Intensive
Un Becoming Podcast
Sanskrit
Bhagavad Gita
Francis Briers
Stoicism
Dharma

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What drives me, what drives you?

Ever wonder what it is that drives you? What you yearn to bring forth?

It turns out, purpose is always about something bigger than ourselves that we are asked to stretch into.

What is your yes to in life? That’s the elemental question of purpose.

I get asked this often, and I’ve been thinking a lot about what drove me to end a decade long career as an architect and start Come to Center — a holistic transformational consultancy, that constantly has me walking the edge of discomfort, asking me to face my demons every step of the way.

And the answer is L O V E!
Big love.

A love of life itself, a love of something bigger than me, love of those in search of light, of truth, of something bigger than themselves.

So often in our world we go looking for fulfillment outside of us- marketing is great at perpetuating a paradigm of lack- get the new outfit, the perfect job, the perfect partner and then you’ll be happy! And we believe them, until we actually ‘get it all.’

We can have the perfect job, the perfect house, a helluva lot of money and still feel empty, disconnected and meaningless. We can have three PhDs and a lineup of accolades and still know nothing about our own nature- who we are, why we came to be, how to live a joyful life!

We can go through a whole lifetime in unconsciousness, driven by compulsive consumption- without ever honoring our deepest yearning, without ever knowing the exquisite privilege it is to be alive!

Seven years ago I saw through the illusion I’d been living in a way I could no longer deny. I had always suspected there was more to reality than met the eye.

And this seeing shattered everything I thought I was, I wasn’t, everything I thought I knew and my whole worldview itself.

It gave me absolute response ability. It silenced the yearning in all my questions. It plunged me into a bottomless hole that grew so big, it swallowed everything up and left a Wholeness that has never since left me, even in the darkest of times, even as I’m still falling through the hole! It’s the wildest, most fun ride I’ve ever been on!

So fun that it had to be shared- you know, like when you find the most incredible secret, so simple and profound, you want to TELL EVERYONE? Like that! So I listened to my heart and let my spirit drive.

I now live and share a simpler, more authentic and fulfilling way of life. I know what I am, I know why I’m here:

I’m here to know myself ever more deeply in relationship- with life, with all of creation, with you.

To be unapologetically me.

To heal inner division.

And I’m here to embody and teach a new way of being- one that lets us love ourselves fully and deeply.

To provide an alternative to existing in stress and turmoil.

To empower conscious evolution.

To bridge the wisdom of the East with the gifts of the West.

And holy shit, is it scary!

It turns out, purpose is always about something bigger than ourselves that we are asked to stretch into.

You will be tested along your hero’s journey. Every day I face some flavor of my shadow- my shyness, my reticence to really be vulnerable, shame in asking for my needs, to allow myself to be seen in my power, to let you know I know what I’m talking about and a hundred other defense strategies I’ve perfected over lifetimes…

But beneath all of that, there’s the love. It permeates everything. It shines from behind the fear and guides me through and to the light. There is much to learn and be and do and share!

So, what are you driven by in your life?

What is your yes to? Can you let your deepest love be your guide?

Come to Center is an invitation to join me on the ride. To turn suffering into growth. To return home to yourself. To live from the center of your being- to align with your truth, your beauty and your power- and bring it through in how you meet life, in this moment. And this one. And this one…

Come with me. Collective transformation starts with us!