The Gaza- Israel War Unfolding: Wisdom, Grace & Compassion
By Shama Kaur
As I witness the outbreak of the war on Gaza, I am left feeling helpless, distraught, overwhelmed with a deep sense of anguish, anger, sadness, and immense pain. In my search for solace and to share it with you, I write this piece to spread compassion and ancient wisdom.
My Experience in Palestine
A few years back, I had the privilege to be invited by Palestinians in Bethlehem to run a Kundalini Yoga Teacher Training Program at “Beitashams” translated to the home of light. As I traversed the enchanting landscapes of Palestine, I couldn’t help but be captivated by the land’s beauty and the enduring spirit of its people. My journey, spanning from Ramallah to Jericho, Nablus to Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, revealed stark contrasts between the eastern and western regions. These differences were evident through numerous checkpoints, the infamous wall, interrogations, and disparities in infrastructure.
Yet, this divide isn’t new; it’s a recurring theme throughout our history. Over the past thousands of years of human existence, humans have seen countless episodes of oppression, violence, mistreatment, and inequality.
Take a trip down memory lane
Throughout history, we’ve witnessed episodes of immense suffering and oppression. The transatlantic slave trade subjected millions of Africans to cruelty, and apartheid enforced racial segregation in South Africa. Colonial powers, like the British in India, colonized Africa and Aboriginal lands in Australia, while in the Americas, Native American lands were similarly colonized.
In ancient times, the pharaohs of Egypt wielded immense power and wealth, constructing grand structures like the pyramids while subjecting a labor force, including slaves, to oppression.
In more recent history, wars like WWI, WWII, the Gulf War, Bosnian War, the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan, and the Iraq War have caused widespread violence, displacement, and suffering. Today, we witness ongoing conflicts in Palestine/Israel and Ukraine. Conflicts that have led to war and the suffering of countless innocent civilians who are killed, orphaned, injured, torn apart from loved ones and displaced.
The question is how do we as yogis in the Aquarian age respond consciously to the suffering of others without getting divided, but instead uniting together towards Oneness?
The question is, how do we overcome these divisions and nurture unity in a world where separation often prevails?
First, we must acknowledge that as yogis, peace activists and humanitarians, our shared common values are peace, compassion and non-violence. The killing of innocent lives, kidnapping of innocent civilians, separation of families, displacement of people and destruction of homes, goes against the aspirations of the spirit at heart.
Yet, we must also acknowledge that we continue to operate in a world that is ruled by the laws of power, money and territorialism. Where the loss of innocent lives is a small price to pay for the expansion of political agenda. Where even though violence doesn’t solve issues, but only begets more violence, it continues to be used to gain power and control.
So how can we use our consciousness to navigate a world, where darkness seems to prevail and overshadow the light of consciousness?
1. Recognise, Accept, Agree
Yogic teachings shed light on the law of Karma, where every action has a reaction.
Repetition offers us chances to evolve and alter our course. It’s this pattern that fuels revolutions and sparks transformation. The mantra “Sa Ta Na Ma” signifies the cycle of existence – birth, life, death, and rebirth.
Today’s crisis invites you to break free from the karmic cycle of the past. You can choose to live in blame, shame, finger pointing, hate, division and projection or to focus whole heartedly on the now.
Our Karma is inherited from seven generations back, continues to impact the individual, collective and nation, seven generations forward.
Could there be a deeper karmic lesson beyond our intellectual understanding that is allowing for things to happen as they are?
Could it be that all that is happening by the Will of the Creator; the Cause of Causes?
Is it possible that the dichotomy of right and wrong is merely a construct of our thoughts, as suggested by William Shakespeare who said “For there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so”
If we share this perspective, then accepting the current status quo becomes more possible even if we are unable to change the course of what is unfolding.. We can also pay attention to what is awakening within us in response to the atrocities taking place and agree to serve the destiny of our own soul in the direction that it is being deeply called. .
Most of us feel completely powerless in the face of the ruthless suffering that is happening in Palestine and Israel. But the yogi desires not to gain power over the outside world, but rather to raise their own inner power and act as a saint first before a warrior. To feel powerlessness gives one an opportunity to grow in consciousness so that we do not create so much pain and suffering in the future.
We can ask ourselves, what is my role here in what is unfolding? What power do I have to influence a positive change for the future?
As a mother, you may be nurturing children who embody values of non-violence, peace, and tolerance. As a political figure, your aim could be to shape policies that prioritize truth, equality, and harmonious coexistence. As an activist, your goal might be to sway public opinion towards justice through fostering unity. As a writer, you may strive to articulate words of truth and inspiration. As a teacher, your purpose could be to provide clarity, wisdom, and healing to the hearts and minds of those grappling with the distressing suffering of others. Each of us has a unique destiny, a way in which our unique gifts can be used in service of a higher frequency future. What is your way to serve? How can who you truly are make a positive change in the world?
3. From Separation to Oneness
Wisdom is understanding that oppression and violence have been part of human existence, like the unending interplay of elements such as the sun and the moon, joy and sorrow, and light and darkness, day and night, which are inseparable. Wisdom wants to teach us that without war, we might not fully appreciate peace. Without suffering, the depth of compassion might elude us. While violence is tragic, it can awaken the dormant humanity within us, shedding light on our potential for change and progress.
4. Living in the Aquarian Age
Yogi Bhajan taught that the transition into the Aquarian Age comes with great gifts but also challenges. Known as the age for the rise of the feminine, this age emphasizes communication, technology, and cooperative networks. It encourages innovation, individuality, and personal growth for the sake of social change and freedom, shifting towards humanitarian values over materialism.
But not everyone has entered this shift. Many continue to operate in the old way, known as the Piscean Age, where hierarchy, competition, and material gain held greater sway, often resulting in division and conflict. You might notice a significant division within your own family and household. Newer generations often hold contrasting values and perspectives compared to older generations who are more rooted in the Piscean Age.
5. Understand Through Compassion or Misunderstand the Times
The fifth sutra of the Aquarian Age invites us to understand through compassion, or else, we risk misinterpreting the current times.
Compassion, at its core, means to “suffer with.” It’s about immersing yourself in another’s pain and genuinely feeling it as your own. It entails imagining that you are the one facing the violence, oppression, and abuse. You become the person who lost their home, land, family, and dignity. Only then can you authentically understand and share another’s suffering.
Compassion involves not only understanding the suffering of the victims but also empathizing with the aggressors. It means stretching your imagination to fathom the pain that might have driven them to resort to violence in search of solace or survival.
The ability to sense another’s pain as your own is a remarkable gift. It’s like a divine grace allowing you to truly empathize with the suffering of others. But once you feel that pain, what comes next?
6. From the “I” to “We”
Why is it that the unquenchable thirst for wealth and power continues to drive individuals and nations to prioritize material gain over fundamental truths? Is it possible that a “wrong knowledge” of reality obscures one’s vision and leads to a belief that violence serves the best interests of someone or something?
The mind is keen to understand, but just imagine for a moment that you are seeing the world through colored lenses. Some see it in red, others in black, obscuring the truth. Some view the world through the “I” and “My”, what can be referred to as the lower chakras, while others view the world through the “We” and “Us.”
In these times, it is ever more important to focus on the “we” vs. “them”. It is a time to awaken the muscles of the heart center which is the key to balancing the polarities of earth and heaven; worldly desires or spiritual transformation.
In the heart there is no division. It is only the mind that creates duality. But the heart does feel pain. In a fast-paced, chaotic world, it’s easy to fall into this state of “feeling nothing,” coldness or apathy which Yogi Bhajan referred to as Cold Depression. The solution is to allow yourself to feel the pain without reacting to it.
7. From Pain to Love
In my spiritual journey, I’ve discovered that emotional numbness serves as a shield against overwhelming pain. It’s our defense mechanism that creates filters to make life feel more manageable. This explains why some find silence safer than confronting the world’s suffering. But the truth is that we all have different ways and capacities to deal with the pain and suffering of the world. Everyone grieves in different ways.
Through my own journey of pain and love, my teacher always taught me to keep my love one step ahead of pain. In his words;
“When the pain is so great, we point the finger at the one who caused the hurt instead of taking responsibility for our own pain. The reality is that your pain is showing you that you do have a heart. Behind and within that is the simple truth that pain goes with existence. It can not be avoided or numbed by blaming others.
Pain is when your nervous system is being asked and challenged to take on a new level of experience. Even ecstasy and bliss can be painful when we are not acclimatized. This pain can become the power behind prayer and can fuel your
love in action and service. You can choose to be with your breath, your heart or to avoid your heart and let your mind and body steal the breath from you. Only then can you take action that is out of love and service, rather than emotional reaction and blame.” ~ Shiv Charan Singh, Spiritual Teacher
Exercise for transforming Pain into Love
Meditation to Heal a Broken Heart
To heal the emotional wounds of the heart, we need to bring calm to the nerves that hold the wound. A break in relationship (to others or to our Self) has almost identical reactions in the nervous system and brain as a physical injury or loss of limb.
This soothing meditation allows the autonomic system to relax, and the breath to slow to a meditative pace, bringing renewal and relaxation to the heart and mind.
Posture: Sit in Easy Pose with a straight spine and a light Neck Lock.
Mudra: Palms together, lightly touching. The tip of the Saturn (middle) finger is at the level of the Third Eye Point. The forearms are horizontal to the ground, elbows high. Look within.
Continue for 11, 31, or 62 minutes. Then inhale, exhale, relax the breath, and with clasped hands stretch the arms up for 2 minutes.
This kriya is courtesy of YB Teachings, LLC.
In 2012 Shama Kaur became the first Egyptian Kundalini Yoga Teacher & Trainer. In Arabic ‘Shams’ means sun and ‘Shama’ means candle, and together her name means ‘the one who shines the light of her inner soul.’ She began teaching yoga in Egypt and is the founder of YallaYoga, an innovative Social Enterprise serving as both a yoga educational institute and a healthy lifestyle community center. Her passion for this mission has taken her across the Middle East and North Africa, where she has taught in Jordan, Kuwait, Palesinte, Dubai, Morocco and Tunis. As a Professional Trainer in ATA, she has also launched or taught in Level I and 2 Teacher Training Programs in the Mid East including Palestine, Egypt and Dubai.