my prayer for our global community 

This morning I woke up overwhelmed by sorrow for the atrocities that are currently being committed. Innocents  are being killed around the globe as many of us continue on with our busy schedules. As I read about asymmetric warfare and attacks on innocent civilians in Istanbul, Baghdad, Bangledesh and Saudi Arabia all this past week, among others, I hurt for them. So, this morning I wrote this prayer as a way of empathizing with my global family. I refuse to remain silent on these issues any longer. 

This is my prayer for the Middle East. This is my prayer for the world, for areas plagued by war zones, shattered dreams and merciless killing of the innocent. 

This is my prayer for the so called “Islamic” state, Daesh, that the hearts of its followers would change. That individual agents within the group would see the massacre, see the truth: guerrilla warfare that preys on civilians is cowardly. That asymmetric warfare, and any kind of warfare, will not fight off the west or anyone else for that matter. 

Killing of the innocent, war and the spilling of women, men, and children’s blood only creates and perpetuates debilitating fear. It separates the perpetrators more and more from their own humanity as each of their hands become blood-stained.

It’s easy for individuals to turn on the news, read about mass killings, car bombs and shooters and with one click, the channel has changed and they are onto another reality, forgetting about the pain and suffering of the “other.” 

But, what about the innocents who are LIVING in the war zones? What about the children who are growing up without parents, who are forced to dodge bombs as they walk to primary school? What about the little boys who are trained to shoot bullets and kill? Who is stopping this from happening? What can be done? Generations are being lost before our eyes. 

The answer cannot possibly be violence. Violence and killing will only lead to more civilian deaths. And peace cannot be achieved through such horrific means.

I’m not claiming to know what to do or how to fix this or the deep wounds it has caused. But I am asking everyone to stop being comfortable because your current living situation is. Our brothers and sisters just across a few man-made borders of a few western-made “countries” are oppressed, suffering and being killed. 

Coffee shops, concert halls, street side murders, burned shopping malls. Their blood has forever stained each of our hands as we desensitize ourselves and do nothing, say nothing and sit back clicking through the news channels from our comfortable, safe homes. 

Muslims are being persecuted when they should be being comforted. They are the innocent victims being killed by a group that is disgracing the name of a religion that declares peace and tolerance for all people under one universal God or in the Arabic language, Allah. 

Tears continue to flood in as we look for answers. We call on our creator, who we have each given a different name, and we wait for something to be done. But, where has waiting gotten us in the past? It has only brought us to greater losses and more regret. 

So stop being so comfortable and start praying. Comfort the innocent, comfort the hurting, pray for the victims and their offenders. Pray for peace and never lose hope in a brighter, more peace-filled tomorrow. 

Stay true, live justly and always travel on.

Peace and love. 


Candle Lighting at the Ganga

Last week I headed to a river candle lighting ritual with my yoga program group. Upon our arrival we removed our shoes and sat amongst the crowd of people on carpeted steps near the edge of the river. Live music and chanting were performed for about an hour. Then a guru came and greeted the crowds. Many bowed to the guru of the ashram and took photos. Behind the guru were some of his students, all were dressed in orange. 

After the sun set, inscents and candles were passed around in gold colored metal holders. People spun the candles around in circles towards the river as they chanted to the songs. Many believe the water to have healing properties and power. This candle ritual allows individuals to declare the holiness of the water.  

After the candle ritual, the daily ceremony ended. I loved watching the ceremony, clapping along and just observing the people around me. It was like nothing I have ever seen. The people, the context, the ritual. Nothing was like home or was familiar to me. But, I found so much comfort in the serenity and the beauty of the new experience. 

I loved watching people, their eyes closed and faces concentrated as they chanted and lifted up their arms and clapped. It reminded me of our common human condition and tendency to reach towards a higher power, to grasp spirituality and to cling to ritualistic practices.

Another aspect of the ceremony that I really appreciated was the removal of our shoes. The removal of our shoes symbolically represents the removal of our social classes, we are all made equal and our barriers are stripped away when we remove our shoes. It makes us like children as we embrace the literal and symbolic freedom of our feet. The removal of shoes also declares the holiness of a region. 

God asked Moses to remove his shoes when he was in the presence of the burning bush and on holy ground. When entering a mosque, all people remove their feet to declare the holiness of Allah and as a mode of surrender and in order to leave their lives outside of their places of worship. Out of respect in many Asian countries, including India, individuals remove their shoes when entering shops, restaurants and homes. The removal of shoes is very significant and beautiful. I wish that people removed their shoes upon entrance to churches as a sign of surrender and respect. 

All that being said, the when we took off our shoes, all together, and sat by the Ganga as the sun was setting, I was overcome by the simple beauty of the communal situation and the serene setting. 

Stay true, live justly, and always travel on.

Peace and love.