One Apple A Day #619 – The Golden Rule

Do you know about the “golden rule“? 

I didn’t. Or better, I’ve been taught this rule since I was a kid, but I didn’t know it has a name.

Using Wikipedia words, “the Golden Rule is the principle of treating others as you want to be treated“.

It’s a rule taught in many religions and cultures. You surely have heard it in one of its many forms:

  • Treat others as you would like others to treat you
  • Do not treat others in ways that you would not like to be treated 
  • What you wish upon others, you wish upon yourself

Being raised a Catholic, I’ve learned it as a Jesus teaching; “Love your neighbour as yourself“. And when Jesus was asked “who is my neighbour?”, he said that “your neighbour is anyone in need“. 

I’ll be back to this in a second. Before, let me jump to an ancient Mesoamerican civilisation.

“In Lak’ ech Ala K’in” is a famous phrase in the Mayan tradition. In the traditional Mayan interpretation it means “I am you, and you are me“. A modern-day version is “I am another yourself“.

Whatever the meaning you prefer, it is a statement that recognises the oneness in human beings. It is a way of greeting someone else honouring the oneness and connection. 

It’s the recognition that we are one.

Funny enough, I found this word in the comment to a song on youtube. And searching for info about it, I discover that what I’ve been told as a kid is a “Golden Rule”.

Back to my upbringing. I grew up thinking that this rule was all about reciprocity. If I behave well with others, then others will do the same with me. But there is a profound difference between setting rules for our behaviours and expanding our consciousness, so no rules are needed.

Rules, like the golden one, are useful as long as they help us raise in consciousness. Extending the concept, forms are effective when they help to grow and expand our energy. If we put all our focus on the form, the energy dries out, and we will be left with an empty shell. Maybe a golden one, but still empty.

Loving others as yourself, it’s a not a rule, not even a golden one. It is an exercise to train your humanity and expand your consciousness.

One Apple A Day #614 – love the world

“We live in this world when we love it.” – Rabindranath Tagore

I read this quote a few days ago. 

I read many quotes every day. Our digital spaces are flooded by aphorisms and quotes. Unfortunately too often they are wrongly attributed when not fabricated. 

But this one got my attention because lately, I’ve been often engaged in conversation about “how things are in the world, how they should be and what can we do to change it“.

I’ll be honest, it’s a conversation that makes me a bit uncomfortable. 

In part, because it can quickly become judgmental. 

“Society is broken, but the majority can’t see it.”

In part, because it can easily trigger anger and bitterness.

But mainly because I struggle to have clarity about how to improve myself, imagine the world.

So, when that quote captured my attention, I asked myself some new questions: what would I do with someone I love? Would I try to change them? Or would I try to love them as they are? And what about someone who loves me, what would I desire for them to do?

I’m still reflecting upon those questions. My heart says that I would do my best to love them as they are, and show up every day living in my full potential. So I can hold a safe and sacred space for them to shine. And change, if that’s what they need to do.

My mind, as usual, is a bit more confused.

By the way, when I found that quote for the first time, it was misattributed to Gibran. In my search to find the real author who channelled those words into the world, I also found another quote that will contribute to my reflections.

“Love the whole world as if it were your self; then you will truly care for all things.” – Lao Tzu

P.S. The opening image is a photo of the Earth from the space taken during the Apollo 15 mission. I find it irresistible. How can you not love it?

One Apple A Day #609 – love and presence

“I’ll protect you from the hooded claw

Keep the vampires from your door.” 

— The Power of Love, Frankie Goes to Hollywood

When we love someone, we want them to be happy. We want to protect them from any possible harm. We want to know and to let them feel that they are safe.

We create fences, made of love and affection, to keep all the evil of the world away.

Unfortunately, fences work in both directions. And sooner or later they become cages. Maybe large ones, perhaps beautifully decorated but still, cages. 

So, here’s another tension for me to reflect upon. The tension between the need to protect and make someone happy and the need to see them expressing all their extraordinary potential.

And then, while I’m writing these words, I realise that it’s my ego who’s talking. My ego with its needs and fears. 

The fear of my own pain if someone I love gets hurt. The fear of my own ego if someone I love is not happy. 

While I’m here, pondering on all these thoughts, my eyes go back to the card I picked this morning.

“Showing up for others.”

And that tension, all of a sudden, sublimes into something else. 

It’s not about protecting. It’s not about supporting or helping.

The best I can do is to show up for the one I love.

To be fully present.

One Apple A Day #549 – Make it personal

Don’t take anything personally” is the second of the four agreements shared by Don Miguel Ruiz in his most famous book, The Four Agreements.

Ruiz reminds us that nothing other people do is because of us, but it is because of themselves. Using his words: “Even when a situation seems so personal, even if others insult you directly, it has nothing to do with you. What they say, what they do, and the opinions they give are according to the agreements they have in their own minds.

This is a powerful reminder that would remove a lot of tension and stress from our life. We spend so much time worrying about the opinions of others. In doing so, we let those opinions shape our behaviours and, in the end, our lives.

As Ruiz wrote: “You take it personally because you agree with whatever was said. As soon as you agree, the poison goes through you, and you are trapped in the dream of hell. What causes you to be trapped is what we call personal importance. Personal importance, or taking things personally, is the maximum expression of selfishness because we make the assumption that everything is about me.

What happens around me is not about me. It may impact my life, indeed, but it is not about me.

Though, in my experience, I’ve learned that only when I make something personal, I really give everything I got to make things happen.

So, my agreement becomes “Don’t take anything personally, but make everything personal.

Whatever happens around me, it is not about me, but it is part of me as much as I am part of it. So, I won’t take it personally, but I’ll make it personal infusing my whole being into my doing.

“If we understand and feel that every animal, person and object is our very own self, we cannot go wrong. That is the experience of love.” — Rupert Spira

One Apple A Day 524 – courage and love

Courage: c. 1300, corage, “heart (as the seat of emotions),” hence “spirit, temperament, state or frame of mind,”from Old French corage “heart, innermost feelings; temper” (12c., Modern French courage), from Vulgar Latin *coraticum (source of Italian coraggio, Spanish coraje), from Latin cor “heart” [source]

If I ask you to place courage or love somewhere in the body, I believe that most of you would associate both of them with the heart. An organ that we don’t control and that relentlessly pumps life in our body.

There is a powerful connection between courage and love. They are both about surrendering to something bigger than ourselves.

I’m not sure where I’m going with this morning reflections. It all started with my morning Be The Change card that has the word “Courageousness” on it. The drawing that accompanies the word is a human being with a stream of energy flowing through his core.
And I thought that love is the same; a stream of energy flowing through all of us, connecting people.

So, maybe to be courageous is just to open up my heart so love can freely flow through.

“The opposite of love is not, as we many times or almost always think, hatred, but the fear to love, and fear to love is the fear of being free.” — Paulo Freire

One Apple A Day #510 – free, love, fear

I’ll be honest. This morning I couldn’t find anything to write about.
So, I started by looking back at the conversations I had in the last few days. Since I started this project, I discovered that there are always a lot of hidden nuggets in-between the words shared in every conversation.
Sometimes these gems kept lingering in my mind without me being aware of it.
So, this morning my mind went back to a conversation I had with two friends while we were walking back to our cars. We started by talking about “Free Solo”, the documentary about Alex Honnold climbing El Capitan without any ropes or other protective gears. We ended up talking about fear.
How can someone do something so risky?
I mean, fear would paralyze anyone else.
So, this morning I thought I could write about fear, but I couldn’t find the spark and 15 minutes ends quickly.
Luckily for me, I always have the Be The Change cards with me.
I pick the card “Power + Love”.
And I remember that a dear friend and mentor once told me that fear is the opposite of love. So I did a quick search, and this is the first quote I found.

“The opposite of love is not, as we many times or almost always think, hatred, but the fear to love, and fear to love is the fear of being free.” — Paulo Freire, a Brazilian expert on education.

I think the quote above closes perfectly the loop of my thinking this morning.
All the words I need for today are there; free, love, fear.

I love how things connected if we just stay with the flow.

Oh, I haven’t watched Free Solo yet, but I’ll do it soon.

One Apple A Day #504 – being the mountain

This morning I was reflecting on compassion, sympathy and empathy. And then I remembered this beautiful cartoon based on a talk given by Brené Brown on Empathy.

It’s less than 3 minutes so it won’t take much of your time, but she beautifully explains what empathy is.

“Rarely can a response make something better. What makes something better is connection.”

A few days ago I was reflecting with some brothers about compassion and empathy. We came out with this inspiring image of being the mountain in the storm. Being able to share the pain of others without hiding from it, feeling it as if it is mine. But at the same time, being centred as a mountain, offering a grounded presence where they can find peace.

One Apple A Day #502 – create space for stories

The last workshop that I co-facilitate was held inside a gorgeous farm. The whole area was a delight for the senses; the blooming cherry trees, the peacock welcoming us in the morning, the shiny green of the spring all over the fields.

The area is quite vast, so to have lunch we had to walk for about 10 minutes from the building where we were working to the restaurant. Midway on the walk, we passed by a vegetable garden where an old man was working. When he saw us, the old man stops what he was doing, and he asked us if we knew how to smell a plant. We were late for lunch, but earlier, at the beginning of the workshop, we made a commitment among ourselves to slow down.

So we stop and, like a group of curious kids, we naturally spread around him. We learned that to sense the scent of a plant the secret is being kind and loving.

But we learn a lot more than that.

Mario, that was his name, told us a personal story of how he discovered love holding his one years old niece in his arms.
It was a magical moment for him and for us.
And it happened because we intentionally slowed down and left space for the unexpected.

Every story needs someone willing to listen. We all have extraordinary stories to share but too often there is nobody there to listen to us.
Our life is to busy. There is always something we have to do and somewhere we have to be.

When we slow down, we can create space to welcome the stories of others.
And discover extraordinary people.

One Apple A Day #495 – we are one

“Everything in Life is Vibration” – Albert Einstein

Yesterday I wrote about our natural frequency.
This morning in my meditation, this idea of vibrations came back to me. I remember reading on Rupert Spira book, The Nature of Consciousness that “The body appears in the mind as a series of sensations and perceptions, and the mind is a vibration of awareness. As such, the body is not something solid made out of matter but a condensation or localisation of and in awareness.

If everything I experience – myself, others, the world – are different and unique modulations of the same awareness, then to hurt anyone or anything means to hurt myself.
I believe that when this awareness grows in us, then peace is the natural outcome. It is so simple, yet not easy.
To most of you, this thought may sound naive.
Though, I believe that only if we realize that we are one, a sustainable transformation will be possible.

“If we understand and feel that every animal, person and object is our very own self, we cannot go wrong. That is the experience of love.” — Rupert Spira

One Apple A Day #489 – it starts within

I just came back from a conference where incredible people and leaders discussed how to make the world a better place. Last week millions of students all over the world walked together on the streets to ask adults to do something instead of just talking. A terrorist attack in New Zealand reminded us of the fragility of peace.

Before all these big challenges it’s easy to feel small and powerless.
What can I do? What can a single person do?

One of the speakers at the conference said that “without peace at the individual level, we can’t create peace in the world“.
We cannot change the world without changing ourselves before.
So, the question shifts from how can we make the world better to how I can make myself better.
It all starts within.
A friend reminded me that the best gift I can give to the world is to fully express my potential.  And love.

This is what I can do.
This is what I will do.