by Sharada Ishaya
Have you ever asked yourself, "What is my heart's greatest desire?". It is such an important question to ask and such an important question to find the answer to. It is worth time to contemplate, soul-search and discover the answer.
I will be presumptuous and assume that as you are reading this, it is a safe bet that your answer will be one of the top five universal answers: Peace, Love, Joy, Freedom or Purpose. Or something very similar.
Hooray!!! This is a cause for immediate and massive celebration! Knowing what you want beyond all other things, what your Heart's Greatest, Purest and Grandest Desire truly is, is the beginning of the most incredible adventure ever.
The journey of Self-discovery, recognising the Truth of our own being and nature and the everlasting revelation of this moment, here and now. Nothing less. The full caboodle. And that, dear reader, is nothing short of a giant cosmic party!
Clarity Opens The Door
In the moment that we recognise our Heart's greatest desire, the whole of Creation lines up to fulfill that desire. Situations and opportunities arise, people present themselves, and moment-by-moment invitations are given to recognise the endless Peace that exists within each and every one of us. That has certainly been my experience. Is it yours?
I learnt the Ishayas' Ascension nearly 18 years ago. I had been at a friend's Winter Solstice party where we were invited to write down the things we wanted to leave behind, and things we wanted to bring into our lives.
Mine was very much about relationships. I wanted to leave behind unhealthy, unsupportive relationships and friendships and bring in new, positive, life-affirming and nurturing connections. Lo and behold, out of the blue, ten days later I was invited to a talk given by two Ishaya monks. Little did I know what an extraordinary and life-changing effect that talk would have!
After learning the practice, it was as if the lights had been switched back on in my life. I felt like a child again, in awe and wonder at the magic of life. Even with the simplest of things; the beauty of the moon, of nature, the inherent Goodness of everything. Things I had previously missed in the humdrum and busyness of life.
It was almost like I had jumped on a rollercoaster that was rocket-launching me to new heights of awareness and appreciation. But, incredibly, nothing on the outside had actually changed.
Controlling Stops The Flow Of Life
The only thing, and I mean the ONLY thing, that made this new adventure difficult, was when I resisted something - my thoughts because they seemed ugly or uncomfortable or too many, or my emotions because they were too overwhelming or extreme.
When I tried to change anything that was naturally occurring in my experience, that was when it became painful and uncomfortable.
And of course it did! Because inherent in resistance is fighting, judging and conflict, totally at odds with my Heart's Greatest Desire of Peace and Joy. It was only when I stopped judging and resisting my thoughts and emotions (and I needed a lot of help to do this, by the way, thanks to the endless patience and kindness of teachers and ascenders) that the inner Peace, which had always been holding me, was allowed to reveal itself.
One of things that made an enormous difference to me in the earlier days of learning to ascend was being told, "Resist nothing". Essentially, stop trying, give up the fight and let the Ascension Attitudes (the meditation techniques of the Bright Path Ishayas) do the work for you (which they do!).
Allow the innate Goodness and presence of your own being to reveal itself, endlessly, always. It was a true revelation for me to hear that and I saw how I'd been trying to hold back the floodgates, futilely and laughably been trying to hold back Infinity. And what a relief! To stop resisting what is naturally presenting itself and be flooded by and bathed in awareness. Simple, alive, radiant presence. Is-ness. Pure, Unlimited Being-ness. What joy!
Allow Perfection To Unfold
There is a complete allowance, total acceptance and 100 percent surrender in "resisting nothing". It is a willingness to put aside 'me and mine' and allow the bigger picture, the infinitely enormous and beautiful picture, to take over. It is beyond trust, it is complete faith that the Universe has got it all in hand.
That there is an ultimate perfection and untouchable Goodness and therefore no mistakes are possible. It is allowing yourself to be taken over by the River of Grace, surrendering to the divine and natural flow of life and what is presented here and now.
But this is not a blind faith or a helpless surrendering. Quite the opposite. It is an 'eyes wide open' faith, guided by true intuition and our heart's knowing.
We are given a paddle with our canoe on the River of Grace to navigate the rocks and riverbanks. The Serenity Prayer is a beautiful invocation of this: God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.
So, what is it that we cannot change? Well, we can't change the events of the world, we can't change the words and actions of others, we can't change the weather (particularly relevant for those of us in the UK, haha), we can't even change the quantity or quality of our thoughts or emotions. It's all out of our control. We can try and change it, but then we're back to resistance and struggle again, and we know there is no peace in that.
What we can change is our attitude and approach to all those things. Rather than judging things as bad or wrong or feeling that all these things are done to us, we can shift our attitude to something altogether more empowering and liberating and perceive that everything is done for us. Much easier to say or write than to do when we are feeling in the thick of it. But still, there is a choice to be had there and it will shape how we experience life and directly impact our levels of peace and contentment.
One the greatest, most humbling and inspiring examples to me of choosing empowerment in the most horrendous of circumstances is Viktor Frankl.
Frankl was an Austrian psychiatrist who survived several Nazi concentration camps during the Holocaust and observed that the prisoners that coped best with the situation were the ones that comforted and helped others and found purpose and meaning in their lives, despite the desperate conditions. He said, "Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms – to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances".
It is an extreme example, but one that shows the extraordinary drive and capacity for people to find Peace and how that is possible. The first step is acceptance and allowance of the things we cannot change – the big things, the little things, all of it - and then choosing to follow our Heart's Greatest Desire no matter what. From that place, change happens from the inside out, without control or effort or trying, allowing the natural unfolding to occur as it does.
Gently Coming Back To This Moment
The Ascension Attitudes are the most magical tool to gently direct us inwards, back to the Here and Now. They empower us with the choice to positively affect our attitude and approach to life in the most magical and incredible ways. We no longer feel helpless victims to the events that carry us along but can be actively steering and navigating our way through life, proactively choosing our pathway with the ongoing support and guidance from teachers as required.
Ascension has undoubtedly been the greatest gift for me. I am so grateful to have found it, to be more accepting and allowing of life, and to be more and more gaining the wisdom to recognise what I can and cannot change.
Crucially, to have the tools to make the choice for Peace as easy and joyful as possible.
All that remains from there is watching, enjoying, and showing up for that giant cosmic party!