Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field. I'll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase "each other" doesn't make any sense.
A little over a week ago, I attended a Krishna Das kirtan. I haven't seen KD live since 2007. Maybe that's why I was so nostalgic, finding myself thinking back to that evening in NYC so many years ago. At that time in my life, there were some folks in my life who didn't know what a kirtan was and questioned why I would attend one (they thought it was odd and wanted no part of it).
I struggled to explain something that needs to be experienced rather than explained. Afterwards, I found myself feeling disgusted by the fact that there was such judgment around what I was doing. I was going to a kirtan, not murdering anyone, after all.
Then I remembered my first time at a kirtan, and my first time at a satsang, and my first time at an organic foods market, and my first time at countless other events and experiences. I, too, would have the thought, "This is weird." It's sort of like brushing your teeth with your non-dominant hand -- at first, it feels a bit odd, perhaps unnatural. After a while, you get used to it. And get used to new experiences, I did. Some of them, I loved and repeated, while others I tried and decided that it wasn't quite for me. The point was that I tried. I kept my mind and my heart open rather than categorically dismiss something that I've never experienced before as weird/different/bad and something to never try because it "just wasn't my thing."
I think about flexibility and yoga and laugh when I realize how flexible I've become since starting my practice. And when I say flexibility, I don't mean the physical kind. I'm talking about mental and emotional flexibility. It's the opening of yourself to something outside of your comfort zone or something that you'd normally judge as bad or wrong or weird or something that is completely new and not in your typical range of experience. It's amazing how polarizing we can be -- labeling something or someone before we've even given it/him/her a chance.
Before the kirtan, I went to one of my favorite local restaurants that specializes in organic, local, and farm-to-table vegetarian cuisine. I enjoyed a delicious brunch along with a fresh green juice concoction. Ah, the typical yoga person meal, right? Actually, there was a time when I disdainfully scoffed at the natural foods market down the street from my apartment thinking, "I would never shop there." Erm...I guess the moral of that story would be never say never.
Yes, my friends, I was inflexible. And I spent time with some inflexible people who shared my inflexible ways and views. And then, in the spirit of what goes around comes around, I changed and was judged by the inflexible people who I used to be in agreement with. At first I hated it -- I felt ostrasized and rejected and a whole host of unpleasant feelings. I began to drift from them. Then I turned around and judged them back -- after all, I was the open minded one here. Therefore, I was good and they were bad. Yeah, judgment is like that -- a vicious cycle that can be hard to break (especially when you're in the throes of self-righteousness). That's when I figured it out -- where there is judgment, there can be no love. I was feeling distant from these folks because we were all in judgment of each other rather than being in love.
As I sat swaying and chanting at the kirtan, I found myself remembering that time in my life. I remembered when I, too, judged so many of the things that I now do regularly and enjoy. And I realized how much more love I have in my life -- all because I've dropped the judgment (not to say that I still don't have my judgy, holier than thou moments, of course). So many things start out as new or different or what some would deem weird. If you choose love, you might be surprised by what you discover about yourself and the world (and people) around you. If you choose judgment, then you go back into your box cut off by your small idea of right and wrong, good and bad. If I hadn't chosen love all those years ago, I wouldn't have even been at that kirtan a little over a week ago. And what a shame that would have been.
Here's one of my KD favorites and one that reminds me of the right choice for me: