I visited my family in Los Angeles area and had a dinner with them to celebrate my father's birthday. I sat next to my sister's boyfriend, Roger, at the table, and he began to engage conversation with me. After a time, he said, "How do you feel in conversation outside of your spiritual circles?" I said, "I hadn't thought about it too much. I am quite animated with people who talk about spirituality. Why do you ask?" He said, "Well, now you seem disconnected and awkward." I said, "Yes, I suppose I often feel that way."
The next day, I explored the feeling. My mind had invented the idea of spiritual talk versus worldly talk. I was afraid of engaging in worldly talk for many reasons. I didn't want to be dragged down into mundane matters. I felt like my state would fall if I engaged in such talk. I looked down on people who did not focus on God all the time. So to protect myself, I withdrew into the Shiva state - a sort of meditative detached state of being. Mixed in this state were feelings of insecurity and indifference. I did not know what to talk about with people and I didn't care much for worldly conversations.
One of my intentions is to develop love toward everyone and everything. The withdrawal state is not in alignment with this intention. In fact, this withdrawal can be full of arrogance and coldness. During a walk, I prayed to Swamiji, "Please assist me in letting go of this pattern. Please show me the way of friendliness." I started to notice that my mind had separated the world into darkness and light. It was running away from darkness and clinging to the light. Perhaps the Light is behind all of manifestation, and the mind cannot see It.
Imagine I want to live in a "dark" part of town and serve the inhabitants. How can I serve if my mind looks down on them or is afraid of being negatively influenced? How can I love everyone when I am withdrawing from the world or always protecting myself? I choose love. As my heart started to open, I began to thank Swamiji profusely. A voice in my mind said, "Thank yourself." And I said, "Thank you, Brian. You are facing the darkness in yourself. You are brave." And I said it again, "Brian, you are brave." Tears welled in my eyes. "You are brave."
At home, I greeted my father warmly. "How was your work today?" He was excited to talk. I was excited to engage. The barriers were falling. A new life had dawned.