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Give What Life is Demanding

By Swami Khecaranatha

1375161 739183006114270 114549040 nOne of Rudi’s most important teachings can be summed up in his following statement: "The formula for growth is to give not what you want to give, but what is wanted and needed." This is such an important message, and it touches on the many conversations we’ve had about seva, or selfless service. For me, Rudi’s statement clarifies how important it is to recognize that the act of not giving is precisely what prevents us from receiving. And most of us spend our lives not giving; or rather, we spend our lives giving what we want to give, instead of what is asked of us. An even deeper capacity of service is to not even have to be asked, but to recognize what is needed and to simply give it.

While this applies to all dimensions of our lives, as spiritual students, what is being asked of us is to discover the joy and freedom that lie within us, as our true essence. When that moment of grace awakens in us some profound longing for a spiritual life, realize that that is what is being asked of us. When that longing happens in you, even if it’s just a flicker, know that that is God's request. If we choose to not discover that truth, whether that’s by perpetually demanding what we want out of life instead of recognizing what life is demanding of us, or by pursuing all the other mundane things we do rather than respond to that request, that is a denial of God. Most importantly, we must recognize the profound changes that are required in our own capacity to give, and therefore our capacity to receive, that is the essence of that request.

This can be applied to your own life and to your own inner practice. Every time you come up against your inner resistance and choose to get caught up in mental or emotional drama, you are fighting against the request that's being asked of you from within yourself. Students often blame me for the changes their life is asking of them. I recently had an experience, twice, of a student asking some direct advice. After fifty years of being asked for advice, I give it without a lot of attachment, especially since most people basically ignore it, if not do the opposite! But here’s what I want to address: When life is asking you to change, it's asking for a change of consciousness. When your teacher makes a suggestion about making a change in your life, it's not about the details or the form of those changes. It's never about the outward change you are being asked to make; rather, it is an inner change that is being requested.

As a hypothetical example, a student might ask, "Should I wear blue?" And I’ll say, "No, wear orange." For a while they won't wear blue, but then, after a time, they start wearing blue again, because they “love blue” and “need to have blue” and they invest their life savings in blue. Meanwhile they feel stuck in their spiritual growth, and secretly they’re asking themselves, "What was he talking about, telling me to give up blue?" But in not recognizing that it was an inner change that had been asked of them, that change could not consciously take place, and therefore could not create in them a greater capacity to give and receive, or, most importantly, a greater capacity for freedom.

I have many types of engagement with students. Some of you have formalized your relationship with me, some of you haven't. But the level of engagement is something that creates change in you, not in me or what I give, or even what you receive through the grace of our lineage. But understand that when you ask something of your teacher, when you ask of life, you have to be prepared to hear the answer and respond to it. The fact that we might get away with not responding—lifetime after lifetime—is not a justification for not responding. What we’re really getting away with is denying our own freedom. And guess what the reward is for that? You end up back in Odessa, Texas, which is, as Rudi would say, "a sad reward for all that hard work."

I want you to understand what it is you're asking for every time you sit down to meditate or come to a class like this. It is twofold: First, that we are conscious enough and grateful enough to respond to the freedom that's being called forth in us. And second, that we have the strength to truly live our response. And make no mistake: that response requires change. As Rudi also said, “If you’re not meeting your resistance, you’re not growing.” So when you meet your resistance, understand that that is the moment of grace. That's the moment to give what your life is asking of you, instead of what you want to give.

Your life is asking you to live in profound abundance and freedom, which has no specific form or conditions. And whatever specific conditions your life manifests do not diminish that inherent abundance. This is one of the most difficult and imperative changes we must make in ourselves: to be free from the incessant attempt to create conditions in our life that we somehow think will make us happy, when it's the very belief that we need to change conditions to be happy that keeps us unhappy! There is no conflict in that clarity of understanding and living an abundant life. This is one of the not-so-secret secrets of nondual practice.

Understand what an extraordinary gift it is to have this possibility of knowing the God within you in this lifetime. When you think of it like that, what are you not prepared to change in yourself? What are you not prepared to give for your own happiness, for your own freedom? These are the important questions to ask.