Harmony In The Universe . . . How Does My Intention Help?

Be present yoga_edited

I’m revisiting a book I published 15 years ago, a wellness book for women, with a view to a re-write and a re-publish. It was such a positive book, and it’s a pleasure to read to myself now how important my intentions were at that time. Here’s an extract:

You have to know exactly where you are right now – what you are changing. So that’s why I ask you to start becoming aware of what is wrong and what you are going to change, in what order and when. You can’t change anything without being aware what you are changing.

You need a clear picture so you can change that picture. Then, when you can see clearly what is ahead of you, and what it is going to entail, then you can start making some informed decisions about how to start. Once you have started you will take control . . . You’ll know what to expect, because I’ve told you. Then you can start thinking about how as you change, other things around you will change – and how do you feel about that ?

And as you change you will be aware of what you are leaving behind and why – and how do you feel about that? Which means that there’s an emotional process you are going through too . . .”

So, obviously this was a book about improving wellness through lifestyle changes, using intention for a more balanced self. And the steps for balancing our physical being are the same steps we take for any intention to bring harmony. What are you starting with, what is your intention, how are you going to plant the seed and make it grow, what are you going to experience on the way: how does your change affect other changes?

What do I think now? 15 years down the road, I can see what my intentions have brought about. And my experiences have brought an amazing knowledge: the Universe is continually creating by manifesting an infinite number of possibilities as at any given moment: in the “gestalt”, the story of the whole Universe in the moment. And to do this it relies on synchronicity to bring order out of chaos. Synchronicity is our destiny . . .

When we create an intention, for our life, our practice, anything, we are affiriming that our individual intentions are part of this great big scheme of things – we’re part of the whole, our minds are part of the universal mind. Our small, individual intentions are important in the amazing process of synchronicity – our change makes other change.

We are part of this great creative process with the Divine intelligence, and how intelligent exactly, leaves me in awe. Part of our minds, in the psyche, is engaged in the spontaneous ordering, or creative process, and it took me years to learn this and experience it as I understood my own creative process as a writer and teacher. What helps the process is trust. And what hinders it is our mis-placed sense of the importance of our small illusions about life. Our individual intention may well just be premonition of our part in the whole of humanity evolving.

In Yoga we know that our hearts are always in silent communication with the Divine, and especially in Meditation we know that our minds are continually linked to the Universal mind, through Bindu Chakra (back of the head), both sending and receiving information to and from  the Universe. How absolutely miraculous we are as human beings, how potentially Divine we all are.

Once we’ve understood, usually through practice or some process of change as we make our way along the path of life, that there is a part of our mind that is about experience versus illusion, then we are open to the understanding that the Divine Intelligence is basically just waiting for us to “call home”. And we do this by intention. Right now, many, many of us are sending our intentions out to the Universe, calling home for some harmony for humanity.

So how can you start this process and practice of harmonising your thoughts, by calling on your power of intention?

You can start by taking time out for contemplation, taking regular time to look deep within. You will find inner beauties and love you may have overlooked or forgotten about. A simple intention for harmony for humanity could be one of the Zen noble truths: May all beings know happiness.

Spend time appreciating beauty and inspiration and music. These all raise our vibrations because they take us momentarily to a Divine, sacred place . . . and then return us to our normality, bringing that sense of the sacred back with us into daily life, leaving us somehow changed for ever for the better.

There was a lovely, still and almost quiet moment at lunch the other day in what is normally a busy lunchtime (and breakfast)  Irish bar. Myself, another woman and an old feller sat at separate tables. It was like a “movie moment” as we listened to the Phil Collins track we became aware was playing: Against All Odds. As it ended, we were all in a private, personal space and the old feller wiped away a tear. Songs can provide special messages just for you. A very simple intention for harmony for all of humanity could be: May all beings know peace.

I’ll leave with a quote from man to whom harmony in the Universe was of prime importance, something Albert Einstein said with great beauty and lucidity:

The most beautiful emotion we can experience is the mystical. It is the sower of all true art and science. To know that what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself with the highest wisdom and most radiant beauty which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their most primitive forms – this knowledge, this feeling is at the centre of true religiousness and art.”

Namaste, Susan

And as inspiration helps with inner harmony, you might like this – it’s just a demo download on my server as I haven’t managed to check out the copyright on using Pablo Neruda’s poetry (so it’s free in other words!).


The Whole, The One, The Way – A Bit of Zen History

The reason why the universe is eternal is that it does not live for itself; it gives life to others as it transforms.

Lao Tzu

 Changing the way we think about life and our world can be one of the hardest things to do, especially when times are changing, but it’s one of the things we have to do in order to thrive, grow and lead fulfilling lives. Sometimes it helps us to expand our thinking, giving us an ability to see our experiences from a different perspective, if we have an understanding of our culture, history and myths. This understanding helps us appreciate how we got here collectively in our history, giving us a framework in our heads for new thinking.

So here’s a bit of Zen history, about the journey and the influence of the Tao on Zen . . . and how “The Regarder of the Cries of the World” became a Goddess.

As Zen travelled through Oriental Asia with the patriarchs, mysticism, deeply rooted in the ethics and discipline of Yoga and India, merged with the spirit of emptiness of Buddhism, the mystery of the One-ness of the true nature of the Tao – the way of Heaven that permeates and guides everything – and the earthiness of Confucionism – the way of Earth, into a deep spirit that is Zen . . . the Way.

As the Bodhidharma (6th century first Zen )Patriarch taught, everyone has a buddha mind, part of the One-ness and uncovered in meditation. There is no hierarchy or superiority and anyone can become a Buddha through meditation’s transformation. The foundation for learning Zen, direct transmission, mind to mind with the teacher, became the spirit of Zen.

Korea’s greatest Zen Master, Chinul (1158 -1210) taught that there is a sentient intelligence within each person, the principle behind seeing and hearing: the individual mind, the buddha-nature. This principle is what makes it possible for human beings to become enlightened – human beings are capable of using all aspects of their intelligence for enlightened living. Each has its place in the grand scheme of buddha nature.

So the essence of Zen, learning the nature of our own minds, became established in the journey that is living in the moment: a journey that is grounded in daily practice.

Master Chinul also taught that all external sign-oriented phenomena are invitations to experience a truer, deeper understanding at the absolute level of wisdom. In the caligraphy of Cha’an (Chinese for Zen) the symbols are translated as “Solitary person opens heart and mind to signs from Heaven”. The path of enlightenment is here and now, through symbols and words, as well as through experience.

And, experientially at the time that all this discovery and learning was going on as the Masters travelled geographically and culturally thro Oriental Asia, another journey and transformation was taking place: by the time Zen reached Korea, via China, the mythical Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara had changed gender. By now the god had become a “she”.

That the Gods of Yoga in the Hindu tradition could be both male and female, and there being no sanskrit male/female pronoun for Divinity in India, was a strange concept when Buddhism arrived in China. But as usually happened with myth in culture, benign deities could be easily assimilated, and so when the Buddhists imported statues of Avalokiteshvara to China, the Chinese didn’t have a tradition of bisexual gods containing all the Divine male/female energy of creation, they understood the figure to be female. He/she became the “Goddess of Compassion” Kwan Yin, and in the manifestation as “The Regarder of the Cries of the World” in the Zen tradition, became “she”.

There is an ancient Taoist story of the separation of the yin and yang, which seems to be an origin for the Tao version of the Avolokiteshvara myth, The Regarder of the Cries of the World, and it’s about the origin of The Cry: tens of thousands of years ago just as humankind was beginning to be able to think, we were also beginning our separation from the One, in order to evolve and develop as humanity. The Yin and the Yang separated and the pain of separation was expressed in the deep cry of the heart of mankind – a hunger and a yearning. In the story, our cries are always heard and our yearning to return to the whole is watched over with great compassion. And in order to return to the whole, we must learn to surrender our thinking-mind back to the One Reality: Consciousness.

The early Chinese Zen patriarchs were well versed in the Chinese classics, and they integrated Zen with the accepted philosophies of China, particularly Taoism. Each of the patriarchs contributed in their own way to integrating Buddhism and Taoism to form the uniqueness that is Zen: Taoism sees all phenomena in the world as yin and yang opposites, whilst Buddhism views all as emptiness, and Zen blends the two in the “vast Great Way that is neither easy or difficult” (Seng-ts’an 6th Century third Zen Patriarch).

As usual, Zen changed with the culture and the culture changed with Zen.

And so, compassionately and non-judgementally, caring for the Whole and all the while watching over the innumerable, countless numbers of humanity . . . . the goddess/god of compassion had made her way through India, through the lands of the Tao and Confucious, to Zen in Japan and, in listening to our cries of hunger . . . eventually to us in the West.

In one of the elegant, completing-the-circle brushstrokes of Zen, a couple of years ago we in the West heard the deep-heart cries of those in difficulty in the land of Zen, Japan.

As a final aside, Zen Master Eisai who established Zen in Japan in the 12th century, was responsible for bringing the tea ceremony with him from China to Japan, in yet another blending of art, culture and Zen – he brought tea seeds back with him and planted the first tea garden on monastery grounds which eventually lead to the Tea Way: tea drinking as a Zen Art. Elements of the Tea Way are to accept, appreciate and revere what naturally occurs, exactly as it is – in an atmosphere of harmony, tranquillity, purity and reverence: we are all equal when we take time out for tea, with the concerns of the world temporarily distant.

I’m leaving with you with my own words that the light dancing in the dark brought to me this week, in contemplation of what a struggle times of shifting change can be for some of humanity:


Our lives are so fleeting, floating motes

dust on the light of the Universe’s dark canvas

that is the night of the soul

and still, we dance in the mystery

 namaste susan

Sources: Sheldon B. Kopp: If you meet the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him!; C. Alexander and Annellen Simpkins: Simple Zen; Simple Taoism: A Guide to Living in Balance; Dainin Katagiri: You have to Say Something; The Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara: The Myth of the Great Secret: An appreciation of Joseph Campbell (Celestial Arts, 1990); Brenda Shoshanna: Zen Miracles: Finding Peace in an Insane World.

Founder of suZenYoga, Susan Ni Rahilly is a published author, Meditation and Hatha Yoga Teacher.  Her teaching typically draws on breathwork in deep Hatha practice, as well as Raja Yoga (the Yoga of Meditation). She lives in West Cork, Ireland where she writes and teaches. Susan’s Hatha Yoga teaching is inspired by Zen and her ongoing research into our innate abilities for deep listening and intuitive practice.