I love to read in-depth obituaries for the deep questions they ask about life. When well-written, they focus on the why of who we are, individually, in relation to one another, and to this planet. Such obituaries humble me. They ask me to step up, to be accountable, to make something of my one and only life. To go for dreams, to do the best I can. This summer, an obituary for a man named Amjad Sabri and published in The Economist left me shaking. It's relevant today.
Sabri, a Pakistani, was 45 years old when he was killed, on June 22nd, 2016. He was a qawwali (sufi music) singer, loved by his country. The obituary captured the essence of this man: Here was someone who knew and followed his calling with absolute clarity, regardless of challenge. Through the wild power of his music, Sabri entered the untamable heartbeat of life, without any hesitation. Untamable himself, he led others into this space regardless of their ethnic or religious beliefs. Sabri offered the ecstasy and possibility of losing one's self, of transcendence and surrender, of deep happiness no matter what the circumstance, indifferent to manmade rules, perceived differences, or dogma. "Indeed, his whole performance radiated calm, confidence and joy," says The Economist. He lived on purpose, and his message for our planet was clear: Love. But the Taliban didn't love him nor did it appreciate the happiness that Sufism brings to the world. They killed Sabri for his message.
That message will live on. That message can never be killed. But the radiance of an open, harmonious heart such as Sabri's can be scary for those whose hearts are closed, for those who feel like victims, for those whose anger or greed remains unexplored. That's true for the Taliban. And to some degree we are all familiar with the heart that wants to close off. The American elections have been a horrendous example. Our own hearts know that tightening pull. We may at times begrudge someone else's happiness or success. We may fear our own happiness, thinking that we don't deserve it, thinking that we aren't worthy. We hold back. We prefer to close off when the going gets rough even when we know better. It happens in our own communities. It happens in our families. It happens in us.
Great leaders such as Sabri inspire. They live and radiate their essence day to day, in mundane actions and in larger missions. Amjad Sabri radiated his essence while performing qawwali, but it doesn't matter what a great leader's essence is. In everything that great leaders do or say, their truth remains clear. They live their values impeccably. And in their presence, we, the audience, get the message. We feel touched and humbled. We too want to live in this way. We say, Yes, yes, yes.
And guess what: We can choose an open heart. Over and over. Radiance is within our reach. Happiness and success are possibilities for each one of us, right now. We can be like Sabri. And when we deeply know this, when we have the clarity that happiness exists right now, we can have that same calm, confidence, and joy. We can know and live our calling, uncover dreams and goals, radiate and shine. We can face fear and resistance. Regardless of the fearful who seek to be in charge, our message too can live and live on.
What is your essence? Are you ready to follow your inner truth with passion, integrity, and above all with a clarity and charisma that inspire? Today? To live in harmony with our inner truth and our deepest values is our key to happiness and success.
Trained to follow rules and traditions, we don't always know anymore what our truth might be, though, right? From childhood on, we have learned to play it safe, to fit in, to not question how to live. We are lulled into a non-rocking dream. I love this quote by Mohammed Ali: "If your dreams don't scare you, they aren't big enough." That gives you a clue about inner truth! Truth is not for the faint of heart. It isn't just that you must be prepared to drop old habits and question the status quo. It isn't just that it may take hard work. It is that both you and others may resist your truth. And yet, this is your path. This is your Yes, yes, yes.
Follow the path and from the quiet, deep happiness that you are living your true north, you can go after dreams. It no longer even matters so much what the dreams are about, you'll find out. They are important to you, yes, but your happiness no longer depends on their external outcome. That is so freeing! Wholly aligned with your truth in the present moment, you are already a success. This is the freedom that can give you the flow and focus to work on goals and dreams—for the best possible outcome. You are simply doing your best aligned with who you are, happy. While opening your heart, you are closing the gap between who you are on your deepest level and what you bring to the world. That's powerful stuff.
What is the why of who you are? What is your essence about? What is your dream? Jot things down, and see if you are committed to explore what the images that arise might mean in day-to-day living and action. In this post-election world. Think of Sabri. And here are some of my favorite words by one of my favorite authors: "Stay open, forever, so open it hurts, and then open up some more, until the day you die, world without end, amen." (George Saunders, Tenth of December.)
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