Friday, 1 July 2011


a Moment for Wisdom…




We receive all that we believe we deserve and all that we are prepared to accept.”

Sharif Abdullah



Personal Wisdom:

Societal Wisdom:



a Moment with Sharif…


Are we prepared to accept the ocean?

This quote actually works on multiple levels and layers. I’ll just touch on a few here:


How do we “receive” that which is all around us? When I think about the word “receive”, a couple of instances come to mind:

  • Driving along the highway a few years ago, a beautiful double-rainbow was clearly visible from my driver’s side window. Looking at it, then looking back at the hundreds of drivers around me, eyes locked on the car in front of them, oblivious to the beauty.  Unable to receive…
  • Talking with a young woman in Portland when I first arrived two decades ago. I
    mentioned to her that the beauty of Mt. Hood was one reason I chose to live here. She said, “I’ve never seen Mt. Hood.” I mistook her to mean that she’d never been on Mt. Hood. I said, “It only takes a tank of gas.” She said, “I’ve never even SEEN it.” I said, “All you have to do is LOOK UP!”  (It’s not quite that easy, but not having seen it once in her 28 years represented… an inability to receive.)
  • Several years ago, the Sarvodaya service staff worked particularly hard to make a certain conference a success.  To “treat” them, I, along with another Western advisor, planned and paid for a really nice moonlight dinner on the beach.  When the 30 or 40 staff members arrived, some of them were very anxious and apprehensive.  We later found out why:  it was the first time many of them had ever seen the ocean or set foot on a beach.  (Some of them were in their sixties.)  THEY LIVE ON AN ISLAND.

What eyes do we lack, that we are unable to see an entire world of beauty, all around us? And (closer to home for me — something I still struggle with): what barriers do we create, that prevents us from receiving the ocean of resources, of abundance, that completely surrounds us? As Rumi says, we’re like fish, complaining that we’re thirsty.  Or worse: we’re water, complaining that we’re not wet.


Who is the “we” that’s in my quote? If you mis-identify, how can you receive? Many of us
mis-identify – we think that we are our history (color, culture, nationality), our circumstances (rich/poor, male/female). We mis-identify with our jobs, our marital status, our disabilities, our life circumstances.

If, somewhere in my past, I came to accept a belief about myself – that “I am _______” (fill in the blank with: stupid, ugly, unloveable, bad, poor, undeserving…), the Universe generates the circumstances to confirm that belief.

Also, your identity is related to the community and the society to which you identify. If you
believe that “humans” are bad, evil and don’t “deserve” the Earth… aren’t you talking about YOU?


There’s a well-known statistic: the majority people who receive large lump-sum amounts of money (lawsuit awards, lottery winnings…) “lose” it within 12 months. One year after receiving it, they are worse off than they were before. Why? I think it relates to whether or
not they have expanded their Transcendent Being to receive more than they are used to. All of us have our Bowl of Abundance… but a lot of us are carrying it upside down.


You’ve heard me say this, over and over. To live a new life, in a new society, takes PRACTICE.  We can’t just think ourselves into a new reality. If you are going to spend a couple of days in the wilderness, you will pack food, a tent, sleeping bag… You’re not just going to THINK about packing the tent – your thought-tent won’t keep out the rain.

How do you prepare for that which NONE of us have ever experienced? Actually, that’s not as hard as it sounds. Regardless of what lies in front of us, we know that there are certain VALUES that will make our lives easier and richer.


And, you CAN practice them in advance! You can practice compassion, authenticity, inclusivity and the other key values right now. And, you can practice RECEIVING compassion, authenticity, inclusivity and the other key values from others… for some of us, preparing to accept the gifts of others is our most difficult practice.




All photos by Sharif Abdullah, unless otherwise noted.


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6 Responses to Friday, 1 July 2011

  1. Shirlene says:

    Thanks, Sharif for the words I needed to hear – I will indeed “practice RECEIVING compassion, authenticity, inclusivity and the other key values from others”…….

  2. Susie says:

    This is one of the best ones you have written. It is fundamental for a happy, successful life. Most people are not aware that they create the world they live in: “The Universe generates the circumstances to confirm that belief.” I always say to my kids that if they don’t like something, they need to change their Mind. I’ve seen this principle at work so many times at every day places. For instance, I used to get my car’s oil changed at Jiffy Lube. My expectation is that I will be treated fairly when I do business with people, including Jiffy Lube. In all the times I went there, I never felt ripped off. I knew the terms and I agreed to them. One time I was there waiting for my car to be serviced and I watched as a person who expected to be mistreated was given service. This person was sure she was going to be ripped off when she walked in the door. She was negative sitting in the waiting area. Sure enough, when it came time to pay the bill, there was an altercation and she left feeling ripped off. It was plain as day that the world fit her expectations, the circumstances fit her beliefs. I felt bad for her because I thought how tough it must be going through life thinking you are going to be mistreated and then you think you are. How much nicer to live life thinking that people are good, that I am prosperous and that the Universe is working for my highest good!

    • admin says:

      I agree with you… what I say below is not to contradict, but to nuance…

      Years ago, I had someone working with me, helping me with book sales. My attitude toward books: I give the books on the promise to pay. As I told her, in all my years, I was never “burned”… people always paid for the books. She argued with me… you can’t trust people, you need security… And, when she worked the book sales, there were always outstanding and overdue amounts… “proving” her point.

      On the other hand: There is not just a one-to-one correlation to my intentions and the Universe delivering. This is, in my opinion, one of the major fallacies of some “New Thought” thinking. There are other forces at work. I think about the horrors that occurred in the “killing fields” of Sri Lanka. (I don’t know if you were able to view the Sri Lanka video I sent out.) In one particularly gruesome scene, a mother is cradling her dead five year old in her arms. She asks, over and over, “What did this child do to deserve this? What did this child do to deserve to die this way?”

      Yes, we create and shape our own Reality. We also create and shape the Reality of others. That mother’s intention to have a happy and long life for her child conflicted with the intention of the soldier firing a shell into her house.

      Like fluid dynamics, spiritual/societal dynamics are not easy, neat or straightforward. Yes, many people experience “poverty” because of their attitudes about money, self-worth, etc. But, the overwhelming majority of the people around the world who experience poverty, one-fifth of our human population, are experiencing the economic systems and structures that were put in place by the 5% at the top. They live in the economic equivalent of a war zone… and we are the beneficiaries.

      While “we create our own Reality” is true, I have seen it used (many times) as a excuse for people not to pay attention to and “own” the systems and structures that they put into place, that they benefit from. Or, the systems that someone else put in place, but which benefit them indirectly. “Creating a world that works for all” means understanding how the systems and structures of the human world work, taking responsibility for them, and changing them — for the good of all.

  3. Susie says:

    I agree with your “nuancing.” I was not looking at what you wrote from a global perspective, just a personal personal “local” perspective. Accepting full responsibility for one’s own life should never be used as an excuse to overlook or ignore the great inequities and injustices in this world. To the contrary. We need to start with ourselves in order to change the world. Peace, love, justice, etc… on earth begins with the individual. We can’t expect the world to change if we don’t.

  4. Holly Wells says:

    Lovely, all. I also want to remember that poverty does not automatically equal misery (although violence might–don’t know about Buddhist and other cultures). Some of the most grounded, loving, generous cultures are amazingly impoverished by our standards. I believe that what many of us have in the “1st World” is the luxury of not struggling for subsistence and the responsibility to use that luxury well, for the good of all. (But we also have the obstacle of overcoming our culture’s consumerism–which can significantly delay our realizing our opportunities and our responsibility to Mend the power structures that mostly reside in our nations.)

    • admin says:

      Very, very clear. I agree with you…

      And… let me tweak this a little…

      You said: “…remember that poverty does not automatically equal misery…” I agree.

      You also said: “Some of the most grounded, loving, generous cultures are amazingly impoverished by our standards.” I also agree.

      The key is: “by our standards”. “Poverty” is seen from the one experiencing it, not from outside. For those “grounded, loving, generous cultures”, they have no experience of “poverty”. (The people of Ladakh had no word that could describe “lack” or “poverty”.) People who experience “enough” are not in poverty — regardless of what we may think about them.

      A word of caution: The idea of a “struggle for subsistence” is very culturally loaded. The person who goes out with a spear to track and kill an antelope is not “struggling to survive”. He KNOWS that the antelope will be there… he’s in a relationship with the antelope (or salmon, or caribou, or whale…). It only becomes a struggle when there are intervening “Breaker” factors: destruction of habitat, mining, overgrazing, industrial agriculture…

      And yes… an economic system based on consumerism is inherently destabilizing and unsustainable. As you say, we have to focus on our opportunities to Mend this and all other SYSTEMS & STRUCTURES, bringing them into balance and harmony with the Sacred Pattern.

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