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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Surrender


Surrender feels  as if the light in me bows to the source of light knowing that that inner light itself is the source that is longing to lose separation.  
There is no inferiority feeling but there is a feeling about the Grandness of the Guru.  Feeling of being relaxed.  
Seems hard to express. 
Swamiji expressed it this way:

When we believe there is a Life-force that is conducting this Universe and is taking care of us, we relax. When we relax and are not stressed or worried, we can live and function to our optimum potential. We can express our creativity and live spontaneously. We experience a great freedom and liberation. This is surrender. This is true knowledge also. This is the knowledge that cannot be taught or picked up. The Master can simply transmit it when our being is ready to receive it.
-PURNAVATAR PARAMAHAMSA NITHYANANDA.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Cutting funds for art is a huge mistake


Funding for the arts and art education is being cut all across the United States. To me, this is a huge mistake. Art is not an extracurricular activity, yet that’s the way most people think about it. Instead, I believe that art, when taught correctly, is a core skill that can inform the way we approach all other subjects.
Valuing art means valuing innovation, creative problem-solving, and the search for every person’s unique mode of expression.
Our children are not the only ones being impaired by these decisions. All of us lose when we let art fall behind. I believe all things can and should be approached as an art – from accounting to sculpture.
At the core of this failure to value arts is a mentality that wants to create automatons who can score well on standardized tests and fit into a broken economic system. 

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

People are the biggest assets on the planet Earth

People are the biggest assets on the planet Earth, said Nithyananda tonight.  He added:"They need right education".
I thought to myself.  Oh, how I wish that Enlightened Masters were in charge of the curriculum in our schools. Our planet would be a kinder and more beautiful home for us.  

Monday, February 25, 2013

Retrieving Russian...

When my daughter had a speech delay, one of the things that I had to do was to use only English around her.  I was born and raised in Moscow, Russia.  I left Russia when I was 30 not 3 y.o.  However, I have to face the reality that my Russian is not that great and I have to work to bring it back where it used to  be.
The difficultly I faced when I wanted to call my baby these cute little nicknames in Russian and had to instead switch to English was huge.  It was not just that I needed to learn different words, update my vocabulary. It felt as I had to do an emotional switch.  We are connected to our native language at our core level.  We hear it  when we are babies, it is in the body itself.
Today when I was making posts on Nithyananda Russia page on facebook I again realized that my Russian was not good enough.  I was later driving around and finally found the words I could not find when I was posting earlier.  Now I am "neither ...nor..."  My English still needs editing and my Russian needs retrieval...Help Swamiji!

Another memory from my childhood...


Another memory takes me back again to our family's wonderful country house; that day there were many visitors including two artists, two sisters, two kids, and all these amazing friends of my parents: a medical professor, a writer, a physicist, a scientist, and other artists. 

There is an argument: Does a person need to be trained to be able to appreciate art?  Can a person from a street without any background or education understand art, or do you need an education?   They are loud and passionate and think totally differently from one another.   I am fascinated as their voices rise, hands waving wildly in the air…

Someone lights a fire and the physicist starts a song and says, “This one is for you,” talking to my stepfather.  Everyone joins in and they sing together his favorite folk song about simple love.  Their voices are in harmony of warmth and tenderness around the crackling fire.  We are somewhere on this planet, not far from Moscow, yet very far from an everyday life.  I just love to be lost among them, unnoticed, and simply feel them; share their exuberance.

The passion and the ideas collide, making static electricity in the room.  I can no longer recall the words, but the feeling of excitement lingers.  
This feels like a different incarnation.  How many lives have I lived through this body?

My Roots


That sentiment applies to our genetic makeup and our life’s experiences.  It is that conditioning (training from our elders in the home and society) that later in life often needs to be reconditioned or just lost altogether, through either hours and hours of psychotherapy or meditation (whatever works but meditation was a faster and cheaper way for me).  
It may also, however, be that same conditioning that will keep you going and will not let you give up; will make you so sure that there is another way or…not.  My ancestors – those little voices that sit on our shoulders - always tell me there is another way.  I just have to look a little harder.  
When we are youngsters, we try hard to avoid family comparisons.  We don’t want to chew funny like Grandpa, or walk weird like Grandma.  We certainly don’t want to tell stupid jokes like Dad or wear old-fashioned makeup like Mom.  After all, we are unique, special, and our own person.  We make every effort humanly possible to separate ourselves from those who contributed to our genetic and psychological makeup, choosing to believe that we sprouted from some superhuman DNA dropped to Earth by alien powers. 
 Then one morning we wake up and look in the mirror, and see Mom’s eyes or Dad’s large nose staring back at us.  The same bushy eyebrows or full lips.  The same expression of perpetual joy or misery.  We discover we can sing like Aunt Clara or play the piano like Cousin Effie.  “Oh, no!”  We decide that it must be a coincidence.
 But along with that realization, can, or at least should, come the wonderful news that our heritage is something amazing, full of surprises, talents, history, and remarkable feats of survival.  I can tell you this is true from my  family.  When I decided to look into it it turned out to be filled with surprises. 
I found that our great-grandfather invented a washing machine for my grandmother before it actually became an everyday luxury. I learned our great-grandmother moved out of the house on her own at the age of 16, after which she became an accountant and much later was able to enjoy that washing machine. And we learned that another grandmother had eight inventions for some kind of space project, despite the fact that we never saw her with a book, and shame on me, I was thinking that she was not the sharpest tool in the shed.   I wish you could have seen my son’s face when he realized that his grandmother was the one involved in the space project.  
 What secrets does your family history hold?  Friends have shared amazing stories with me ; stories of inventions given away out of generosity and selflessness, and relatives arriving at Ellis Island with pennies in their pockets and a dream in their heart.  What are your family stories? 
I tell this story to my students sometimes because it is important to recognize the value of our life’s experiences – the value of our family heritage.  We grow up as one ingredient in a pot of stew, and we can no more separate ourselves from the tomatoes and potatoes than one could remove the flavor of herbs infused into the stew.  It is blended, each flavor enhances the other, and the result is delicious: us.

There were once two sisters, both very beautiful, one 11 years older than the other.  Both sisters happened to marry great artists – men of incredible talent.  The sisters were my aunt (Clara) and my mother, and the marriage to my stepfather, Mikhail, was my mother’s second.  So entwined were the spirits of these artistic men that they died in the same year.  

Mikhail Biryukov, my step father and my God father was a man who felt responsible for everyone in the family, as well as his friends. He loved good company, was extremely talented, and was well respected by his fellow artists.  He was very similar in many ways to my biological father, but not in the political views.  My father was and still is a believer in communist ideals and he always lived his life by those beliefs and standards.  Not many others in the country did. They frequently said one thing, yet did another thing, and never seemed to see the disparity.  He was true to himself and I have always loved and respected him; I also drew inspiration from his life.  I am not sure if he ever knew the song “Imagine” by John Lennon, but he lived his life as if this song was and is the best expression of his world views.  My daughter performed this song this year at the concert and my only wish was for my father to see her.
My mother had chosen Mikhail to spend her life with. He hated communists and all the hypocrisy associated with this totalitarian regime.  The divorce of my parents made me suffer but then brought my second father, my godfather, my teacher, into my life and was maybe one of the best things that ever happened to me.  "Everything is auspicious" as my Guru teachers.  I felt the connection with my stepfather the second I met him.
 My mom, although she was a scientist, stopped working very soon after they got married and enjoyed the life of a housewife, dutifully driving her husband around to locations for him to do his open-air painting.  He was wise and friendly to life itself.  He loved to do sunny things, even when he was sick.  Once after having a heart attack and spending a week in the hospital, he started blowing up balloons to improve his lungs’ function.  Soon, even this painful exercise was turned into a joyous event, and the whole hospital ward took on the appearance of a happy party, filled with color.  He gave balloons to patients, nurses, and visitors.   This simple act changed the mood of the entire hospital.   

Interesting fact – he was sharing a room with a younger patient, who had the same ailment only on a smaller scale.  The young man should logically have recovered nicely and much faster than my father.  But in fact, he died in one year. My step father stayed in touch with him and tried to convince him that a good attitude towards life would change the illness itself, but  it did not work.  I wonder why people, even faced with illness or death, continue to stick to their mind set even if it is harmful for them.  What tricks does the mind play on us to prove that we are not in charge?

My Aunt Clara, however, had chosen to marry a stereotypical starving artist, and she loved and supported him all her life.  They were high school sweethearts and remained together until her death.  My mother relied heavily on her artist for strength, but Aunt Clara went to medical school, intent upon becoming a doctor.  By the end of World War II, however, she switched universities and studied engineering, believing that the country (USSR) now needed builders more than healers.  She became a construction engineer, a professor, and even authored several books.  Nearly every penny she made went to buying paints, brushes, and canvases for my uncle, the artist.  Her sense of humor was amazing; she acted in the community theater, sang beautifully (even tried to teach me to sing!), and was at least on an emotional level, a mother to me.  She disapproved of my mother’s divorce, but she remained close and supportive, not judging.  It is perhaps her strong voice that has given my daughter her ability to sing.
This is my stew and I am so blessed to have all these people in me.

Monday, February 18, 2013

One plus one equals?


Have you ever noticed that your child thinks or expresses him or herself differently?  And although it is not a conventional way of thinking it is still quite amazing if we only stop worrying about their future or ‘fixing the problem’ and listen. 
   
Early one morning at my kitchen table, a tiny five-year-old sits staring up at her seventeen-year-old brother Lev.  They are doing math.  My son is exhausted because he just spent 25 minutes explaining the complicated concept of addition to his little sister.    He looks very serious and hopeful that she got it.  He rubs his eyes and asks his "test" question:  "So, Alice, one plus one equals ....”

“Friends,” Alice answers, smiling. He starts all over, using his fingers, fruits and other objects.  He tries really hard and then he says again, “One plus one. . .”

“Love,” she says.  

I laughed so hard I nearly choked.  He was so big and strong.  She was so small and insistent.

Friday, February 15, 2013

From Swamiji about "You and Others"

"...Not giving up on people is neither keeping quite nor discarding what people are saying.  Remember,when you  give up on people you give up on you.  Decide today: I will not give up on me based on my past record.  Do the same to others..."

"If you are not serving others you are hurting others.  Either you are serving others or you are harming others.  Life happens to you from outside so you have to positively contribute to other's lives.
Commit to enrich other's lives.  It is the law of nature, if you do not enrich other's lives you are harming others."

Discovery

There is a saying that nothing really is what it looks.  Well, I am thinking that depends of course on who is looking.  Ordinary eyes - probably yes.  Enlightened eyes - I do not think so.
I do not have enlightened eyes yet but often find that I see much more than what I used to.  By seeing I mean understand and feel.    Much, much better but still ordinary, conditioned to see things.
I did my first proteksha pada puja in 2010.  As I wrote many times, all these things were really foreign to me.  Proteksha Pada puja is when your Guru accepts your puja and you are right in front of him.  I was there for about 40 minutes and then you can speak to him and ask questions or ask for healing or whatever seems important to you at that moment.
Anyway, After the ceremony I got gifts, his framed footprints and my photo of the ceremony.
Footprints were framed and I brought them home without ever opening the frame.  They were not really visible, just a little pink color on what I thought was a white paper.
I have another set of footprints from my second one that I did with my daughter and these footprints are so bright that when I brought the second set I put them to my puja place and left the first one in the other room.  My thinking was the second one is brighter and since they are "the same" I do not even need the first one that much.  I did not disrespect the first one but I did put them away...
I was rearranging my house for holidays this weekend.  I moved the frame with my first footprints and the glass broke.    I put the set with a broken glass aside to take it apart later.  I did not open it still.
In a day or so, I opened the frame thnking I would put the frame up wihtout the glass for now and then when I have time I would get a diffrernet glass.
When I opened it up I discovered that it is a cloth, not a paper.  It has such a tremendous healing energy too.  The whole cloth!  How could I have thought that I would get "the same thing" from Swamiji?!
I am going to design a special healing box and put it under glass there.  Can you imagine if you put this cloth on a sick person?  What a gift!   

Why have I started an art school?


One day when my cheerful, smiling three-year-old sat on the steps and cried with grief changed my life, plans for the future...
I sent her upstairs to tell her brother that lunch was ready.  My goal was to push her to speak more clearly and deliver the message to her brother.  (I was somewhat concerned, but our last appointment with speech evaluation had convinced us that the root of the problem was in our bilingual family.  Denial…)
She goes upstairs and in a couple of minutes comes back crying and in despair.

She sat on the bottom stairs and huge tears roll down her cheeks, “No one understands me, no one understands me, Mommy.”  

 My heart just goes into such a strong shock that I can almost feel the heart muscles clenching like a fist; I feel overwhelmed by her pain.  There is no space between her being and mine.  I feel that my whole being goes into resolve that I will change it, I will change it.  I will do something, whatever it takes, to help her.  Eventually it all turned into Biryukov Academy.  It feels like a long time ago, different life, different person.  I often feel I lived several lives within this life-time.




Dreaming up a life...


jump, jump. Left foot, right foot.  Brown dress, black apron, red scarf, two braids… Moscow, 1973.  A girl is walking the streets of Moscow and dreams intensely about…bananas.   One day, she thinks, many years from now, I will be living in Canada and I will have a kitchen and every day I will have a bowl of fruit on my table with lovely yellow bananas.  

 Why Canada, you may ask?  “No clue,” I tell you, but I think perhaps that it is because there was so much negativity then toward the U.S., and a neutral attitude toward Canada, and so it was okay to dream about it.    

Three years later the banana dream is still there, but it has grown: I can clearly see myself speaking English as if it is my native language.  Oh, and of course presents, presents, presents for my two best friends.  I have a house and money and I am packing a suitcase full of awesome stuff for them.  For one, I would bring a fur coat that is red because she would look so good in it and for another one I would bring a fur coat that is black and white and she would look so fancy.  They will be very happy and we will laugh so much.  

I still have my best friends from childhood.  I have never bought them the fur coats from my dreams and with my outlook on life as it is now, I most likely won't but I do have immense pleasure buying presents for them when I visit and so do they...

We really dream up our lives.  So how important it is to realize that early, very early.  When we are children we do need to dream up something great, something that might be of help to humanity.  We are so powerful.  We need to give our children the guidance so they realize very early that they have the power to create their lives.  We need to give them guidance or better bring them to an enlightened beings where they will learn to create a better life for all of us and our planet.  How blessed are the children who have that guidance.