Find the Calm: Advice from Manjushri

In these frightening and turbulent times, there are powerful ways to stay awake and stay calm. Read on!

I woke in a pool of sadness and distress this morning, lonely and discouraged and without energy for any task. Underneath that lay great swaths of grief over the continuing attacks on the essential institutions of the country and the foundational rule of law. I’m overwhelmed by the staggering greed and corruption among people of great power, now so visible, so shameless. One question is why do people do that, live that way? It is certainly not out of need or any privation.

But the question I intended to ask you this morning was not that one. Rather, I meant to ask you for advice about how to gather up one’s small shreds of energy and return to the tasks of the day and of a life, when so utterly discouraged and heart-sore. How can one “keep calm and carry on”? Keeping calm in situations like this seems a small but helpful contribution to those around me, also struggling with the chaos and unpredictability of these pandemic times.

Yes, indeed. And good morning.

When you are swamped by those feelings of helplessness and isolation, it reflects that you have, for the moment, lost your grounding in the deeper reality of the Sacred, of the heart of the universe and its intention that all life flourish. When you light your candles and settle down with your unquiet mind, slowly you settle into that subtle awareness, of what we might call, the layers of reality. For there are multiple layers of reality, and whichever one you pay attention to will tell you different stories about who and what you are. Even a simple meditation can help you let one inadequate story go and allow a more spacious story to arise.

For this to move smoothly, you must be familiar with several such stories. Then, with a little prompt and assistance and intention, you can switch stories. This is essentially what a spiritual practice offers: a new story, perhaps several, reflecting ever wiser and inclusive views of reality and the human condition, on one hand, and then, skills at switching stories. An alert practitioner can choose which level, which story, she needs in any moment. Sometimes, the simplest of all is what is appropriate – to make breakfast, to do laundry, to pay bills. And sometimes it is crucial to drop to the deepest story level you can, to rest, to receive the energy of Spirit, to surrender to the deepest rhythms of your life.

So, if you awake full of discouragement and loneliness, you are caught in a story that is too narrow, too full of defeat. You might say, it is a product of an old version of ego, if you wish. It is respectful to recognize it and its emotional burdens, but it is not necessary to surrender to it entirely. You might ask if it has some message for you, that would be helpful at that moment. And then, message received, you can choose to set the conditions for allowing another story, another level of awareness, to arise.

This is not a method of denial or self-propaganda. It is necessarily subtle and nuanced, and it requires sensitive discernment. A skilled practitioner will recognize when this is being done carefully, in respect of Spirit and truth. That just takes practice and self-awareness. And We are always willing to bring to bear the Sword of Discernment, if you ask.

We might say, then, rather than “Keep calm,” “Find the calm” and then, live your deepest life.

Deep thanks. Deep thanks.

23 thoughts on “Find the Calm: Advice from Manjushri

  1. So true Penny! Finding the calm and grounding oneself is so very important especially now. Still miss you and your wisdom at MHC. Beth

    1. ah, yes, dear Tony…a wise observation…the fears are so many, and multiplying…probably from a single, massive root. We are held by the deep calm, when we “remember.” Thank you!

  2. I so treasure messages from Manjushri and your willingness to speak from your heart. Truly, we are not alone on many levels. Blessings,
    Peggy

    1. Thank you for this teaching, Penny. I received a poem by John O’Donohue from another friend on the same day. It ends…
      “Draw alongside the silence of stone
      Until its calmness can claim you.
      Be excessively gentle with yourself.
      Stay clear of those vexed in spirit.
      Learn to linger around someone of ease
      Who feels they have all the time in the world.
      Gradually, you will return to yourself,
      Having learned a new respect for your heart
      And the joy that dwells far within slow time.”

  3. Thank you. “Find the calm.” Do an act of kindness for someone. Reach out and talk with another human being. To get through this, we need each other.

  4. this is so helpful : rather than “Keep calm,” “Find the calm” and then, live your deepest life.

    Thanks for sharing this question and these words.💞💞

  5. Thank you. “Find the calm.” Do an actual of kindness for someone. Reach out and talk with another human being. To get through this, we need each other.

  6. Penny, wonderful reminder of the true multi leveled nature of reality. We read it out loud twice tonight at my birthday (80) dinner. Sending you our love and gratitude. Tom and Anne

  7. Oh yes, powerful statement of “lost your grounding in the deeper reality of the Sacred, of the heart of the universe and its intention that all life flourish.” so true. Love the suggestion to light the candle, meditate and to find the calm to address the layers to allow the more spacious story to arise. Opening oneself to the possibilities. Love this! Thank you.

  8. My sense from reading your words here is that the writing itself is an important way to “find the calm.” As you reach for the right word to capture a deep feeling or insight, the mind and heart find ways to merge together in the quest for deeper understanding and greater hope. I hope your writing not only helps bring calm to us, your readers, but also to you. I know the depths of sorrow you describe in your opening paragraph, so I hope the practice you describe so beautifully here is healing to you as well. With much love to you, Jeana

    1. yes, yes, dear Jeana…such a deep reader you are. I am just fine, just fine, watching snow fill the air here, gently and relentlessly! All is well…and may it be true for you as well…

  9. Blessings to you, dear Penny, for sharing yourself so openly and inviting insights from your pal, the wise Manjushri. It can be very disorienting when in the chaos of a storm and hard to remember the calm eye/I at the centre of it all. The American people have chosen a wild ride this time round, hence I feel that you must be well resourced to see it through. Meanwhile, your Canadian friends are breathing peace, love and joy to all of you, to every one of you, as you weather these turbulent times. We are holding your hands across the border, connecting hearts.

    1. thanks so much for your kind note, Joanne, and please do know how we appreciate Canadians’ understanding and support. These are surely challenging times, and I’m often so full of fear, as are most Americans.
      May it become the turning point in the troubled history of the US, where we finally begin to face all we have denied and ignored about ourselves. Be well up there!!

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