Learning not to take ourselves so seriously

Learning not to take ourselves so seriously

Learning not to take ourselves so seriously
February 20, 2016
Learning not to take ourselves so seriously
February 20, 2016

We spent time today at the Survada Foundation’s Swarga Day Care centre in the basement of the Heart of Bhaktapur Guesthouse a few miles outside Kathmandu. This NGO was started in 2006 by Krishna Khaitu, and he has built it up to a home looking after 21 disabled children between ages 7 and 19. As we were interacting with the children, we couldn’t but reflect on our own capabilities and how fortunate we are to have “all our faculties”. But a simple reflection on how fortunate and able we are is not enough. That would be similar than “finding oneself”. Once you’ve found yourself, what then? Finding yourself should be the easy part. The trick is to transcend and become better than you are. But that may involve some uncomfortable work.

These disabled kids have severely physical and mental challenges. Yet they laugh and dance and seem to help one another. How is this? In terms, the various dimensions that make us human, what sets us apart from animals is our ability to connect to our conscience. What these handicapped kids showed us was that, despite having limited mental and physical abilities, they are able to express themselves creatively and experience happiness. So often our unhappiness and dissatisfaction are rooted in mental constructs made up of who we think we are. We have a mind, we are not our mind yet sometimes we get confused with a perverse sense of self-identification and loose the plot a little. We take ourselves too seriously and dig deep mental holes for ourselves.

What keeps us sane, helps us maintain course and enables us becoming better, is our conscience, or consciousness. From that location, which is above or beyond the mind, we are able to bring to awareness our spiritual realities and behave according to the right moral standards and values befitting us. The message we received today from a disabled child was: “get over yourself, get on with it and be the better person you ought to be”.

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  +27 21 880 0269
   +27 82 554 4614
  klasie@streetschool.co.za
   10 Repens Street, Paradyskloof,
Stellenbosch, 7600

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Get in touch

  +27 21 880 0269
   +27 82 554 4614
  klasie@streetschool.co.za
   10 Repens Street, Paradyskloof,
Stellenbosch, 7600

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Emotional Intelligence Is An Echo

Emotional Intelligence Is An Echo

Emotional Intelligence Is An Echo
February 19, 2016
Emotional Intelligence Is An Echo
February 19, 2016

A lot of great research has gone into establishing a solid body of knowledge on Emotional Intelligence ranging from the work of pioneer thinker Daniel Goleman to the views of Howard Gardner. EQ has become a recognized dimension with which to navigate effectively through life and a key performance attribute with which to succeed at business. Whenever we think of emotional intelligence, chances are we regard it as something we can learn rationally with our brains, to ultimately enhance our interpersonal relationships. And to think we are going to improve our EQ by doing a quick online assessment and workshop is to commoditize our individual uniqueness. As humans, we have a non-negotiable responsibility to be emotionally aware and there is a much bigger aspect to consider which stands at the very foundation of our spiritual growth. This is where I would like to take your attention if you don’t mind.

The ultimate benefit of becoming more aware and intelligently in control of our emotions touches the very essence of being human. Becoming emotionally intelligent requires us to appreciate others with a deep sense of compassion. We need the wisdom to see the difference between the person, and the act – an insight often not recognized. To develop such compassion and a non-judgmental respect for others and ourselves, we need to cultivate a new language. A language of the heart. With a transcendent energy force that speaks from beyond the rational mind. Whereas one could go a long way to understand the finer nuances of EQ by reading about it and doing self-assessments, it’s only when it gets contemplated upon, and mindfully rooted into our hearts, that it becomes second nature. At this level of consciousness, EQ enables us to deal better with our afflictive (negative) emotions like anger, greed, hatred, and resentment on a path of spiritual growth.

Semantically, EQ can be considered as a verb – something we do (acting with emotional awareness), or as a noun – something we are (being intelligently aware of self and others). The two go hand in hand. We first need to transform ourselves internally on a deep level to become more aware, compassionate and understanding of others, before we can act emotionally in an intelligent way. And only when we act towards others in an emotionally intelligent way, can we think of ourselves as being emotionally intelligent.

Finally, to be emotionally intelligent presupposes that we have someone or something with whom to interact intelligently with. Emotional intelligence requires responsiveness like an echo calling us to connect and interact in a way befitting to the full potential of our human-ness. The words of Rabbi Hillel comes to mind when he said, “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am not for others, what am I? And not now, when?

Get in touch

  +27 21 880 0269
   +27 82 554 4614
  klasie@streetschool.co.za
   10 Repens Street, Paradyskloof,
Stellenbosch, 7600

Accreditations
Get in touch

  +27 21 880 0269
   +27 82 554 4614
  klasie@streetschool.co.za
   10 Repens Street, Paradyskloof,
Stellenbosch, 7600

Accreditations
Balance Is A Verb

Balance Is A Verb

Balance Is A Verb
February 18, 2016
Balance Is A Verb
February 18, 2016

We often talk about balance in life and always seem to want more of it. As a general understanding, we therefore refer to rearranging our activities of the day so that we do more of those things we like and less of those we don’t. Now that should not be too complicated. We simply have to figure our what we want to rearrange and get on with it – rearrange it. And if we can’t rearrange it we should look for the reasons why we don’t seem to find balance. This is where balancing gets active.

According to the dictionary balance is “to put something in a steady position so that it does not fall”, or “an even distribution of weight enabling something to remain upright”. The reasons why most of us do not structure our lives are often one of the following: we feel we don’t deserve it and do not give ourselves permission, guilt, we think we don’t have the authority, we think we will miss out on something, or we may feel compromised if we do. There may be more but they all approach the aspect of balancing from only the one side.

Often we want to balance and only have the good stuff, which is not balancing at all. We need to recognize that life is a challenge and that certain things need to be done because we owe it to something or someone other than our self, whether we like it or not. If we consult our conscience (not our mind) we will soon enough hear that guiding voice deep inside of us calling us to do the right thing and balance our life’s activities the way we ought to (not the way we want to). Notice the strong undertone of personally taking responsibility here.

But up to now, we have been referring to balancing what we do – balancing our time or activities. What we have missed is a balancing act of a completely different nature. Before we can begin to balance what we do, we need to balance what we are. Balancing what we are, suggests we recognize and accept all the parts of us – positive and negative. But our minds and ego’s are not very good at this and quite reluctant to accept the not so perfect. We shy away from recognizing our weaknesses and faults and want to only have strong parts. But like in any organism, organization or social structure, we are not perfect.

We need to accept and embrace our shadows and only then can we become balanced as a whole. To not recognize the negative parts is to live lopsidedly, unbalanced in denial. Only when we have the awareness and courage to accept our imperfections can we begin to deal with those aspects constructively on the way of becoming more balanced. And like with balancing our activities, we have to personally take responsibility to do this.

Get in touch

  +27 21 880 0269
   +27 82 554 4614
  klasie@streetschool.co.za
   10 Repens Street, Paradyskloof,
Stellenbosch, 7600

Accreditations
Get in touch

  +27 21 880 0269
   +27 82 554 4614
  klasie@streetschool.co.za
   10 Repens Street, Paradyskloof,
Stellenbosch, 7600

Accreditations
Believe It Or Not

Believe It Or Not

Believe It Or Not
February 17, 2016
Believe It Or Not
February 17, 2016

Coming to a place like India, one is crudely confronted with the question of beliefs. Like at the Golden Temple in the Punjabi city of Amritsar, the spiritual home of the Sikhs with their strong beliefs of ethics, morality, and values. And their teachings to remove anger, lust, greed, attachment, and pride from one’s life. It all comes in a shockingly different package, however. And then moving on to Dharamsala, one is again shown a set of values and beliefs to reflect on. It can all be a bit overwhelming and confusing to distil but it is important to see the essence of it all and remember that the map is not the territory. Some beliefs and values are universal and actually very similar despite the dressing.

The point, however, is to be aware what beliefs serves us personally, and which don’t. In terms of world-views, so many people go through life thinking that they don’t have the power to make their own decisions, conforming to what others do, or what others tell them to do. Or that life is short and meaningless so let’s just have fun and enjoy it. Or worse even, that there’s only one way to do things and fanatically follow the herd.

Beliefs are those deep strong convictions that prop us up as we go through life – like the legs of a table. And if we adopt weak beliefs, or beliefs that are not true to our essence, the table will be shaky. So many young people (and old ones) struggle with some fundamental personal beliefs ranging from “I’m too short, too fat, too tall, not good enough” to even more dangerous ones like “I don’t have a choice” or “I don’t have a say”.

We owe it to ourselves and to Life, to stop, think of what we actually believe in and courageously decide what our right beliefs are. There are so many beliefs we can adopt and this is ultimately a deeply personal choice. But to be secular for a moment and quote Viktor Frankl, consider the following four key beliefs: Firstly, believe that we always have a free choice in life. We may not be free from conditions, constraints or obligations, but we are always free to decide which attitude we are going to adopt or how to behave. Secondly, we have a responsibility to be who we ought to be. We are tasked in life to become the best we can, tough as it may be. Thirdly, believe that reaching out to someone or something other than our self will ultimately be more fulfilling than having lots of fun or enjoying lots of power. And lastly, believe that we have the defiant power and strength to overcome any “how” if we have a strong enough “why”.

Get in touch

  +27 21 880 0269
   +27 82 554 4614
  klasie@streetschool.co.za
   10 Repens Street, Paradyskloof,
Stellenbosch, 7600

Accreditations
Get in touch

  +27 21 880 0269
   +27 82 554 4614
  klasie@streetschool.co.za
   10 Repens Street, Paradyskloof,
Stellenbosch, 7600

Accreditations
Gratitude & Happiness

Gratitude & Happiness

Gratitude & Happiness
February 16, 2016
Gratitude & Happiness
February 16, 2016

We arrived back a couple of weeks ago from our 18th journey to Asia. Streetschool has now taken in excess of 200 people to the Tibetan community and Nepal. This has been an amazing few years and I feel extremely blessed to have taken all these people. I wish to thank every person for the trust in me and Streetschool.

Every time we return to Dharamsala or Kathmandu we build new relationships, strengthen existing ones and enhance the workshop journey. True to the nature of growth and discovery, the journey is never done. The highlight of the August 2015 trip was probably our session with Geshe Lhakdor, Director and head of the Tibetan Library of Works and Archives.

He has such a simple yet powerful way of dealing with complex issues. I will never forget his comment to one of our questions. We asked him: “How does one maintain a feeling of gratitude and happiness?” He simply said: “Go meditate for a whole morning that you are a street-dog, then come tell me you’re not happy with what you have!”

Get in touch

  +27 21 880 0269
   +27 82 554 4614
  klasie@streetschool.co.za
   10 Repens Street, Paradyskloof,
Stellenbosch, 7600

Accreditations
Get in touch

  +27 21 880 0269
   +27 82 554 4614
  klasie@streetschool.co.za
   10 Repens Street, Paradyskloof,
Stellenbosch, 7600

Accreditations