Sri is a Sanskrit term meaning “inherent beauty.”
I admire this word and all that it encompasses. It is one of those words that I can remind myself of and instantly connect to my true nature whenever I am in a state of agitation, or have identified an emotional response within myself.
Sri encapsulates so much innate wisdom in just one syllable, reminding me that there is inherent beauty in all things, in all beings, in all situations, in every thing—even in those moments where it seems impossible to see anything of beauty and the world seems like a dark place to live.
I remember the first instance when I realized the depth of the word and true meaning behind it. It was when I first travelled to India, where I encountered quite the cultural shock. My world at the time was small and consisted only of myself, my thoughts, my conditioning, my relationships, and what I considered was absolutely true: my reality according to my perception.
Having been brought up in Canada, I was unaware of what to expect of this foreign country and its culture, with my only “Indian exposure” being the Hindi language, religious views, and Indian food.
My first true experience and understanding of Sri was when I found myself in a small village in the south of India walking along the main road. A group of children came running up to me begging for food. I noticed that their clothes were dirty and tattered, many of them had lice in their matted and unkempt hair, dirt sitting under their overgrown fingernails, skin that had been dirty (perhaps from not bathing in clean water) and darkened from overexposure to the sun, with bloated little bellies sticking out (likely the result of malnutrition).
Despite the physical conditions of these street children, I couldn’t help but notice their eyes. In the West, when I look into people’s eyes, I often see a sort of clouded gloominess that has overtaken them from the obvious suffering that they have endured throughout their lives, often (but not always) from first-world issues. Yet when I saw the eyes of these children who had absolutely nothing—no food, no shelter, no parents, no nurturing, who endure both psychological and physical abuse—I noticed pure light, love, and happiness radiating through.
Not only were these children practically luminous, they all had a smile on their faces, unable to remain serious, as if living on the streets and begging was all just a game for them. This was Sri’s inherent beauty revealing herself to me.
It was as if to say, “Yogita, life dealt you a pretty sh*tty hand, but despite any of the circumstances and hardships that you have experienced, is it not possible to find a place within yourself where constant suffering does not exist? What is it that they have that you do not? How are they able to not let their life’s circumstances define or affect them?”
Little did I know that in following an impulse to jump on a plane and travel to India (almost as if Mother India was calling me home to broaden my mind and discover that there was more to this life than what I thought I knew), that my world as I knew it would be broken open and I would begin to live a life surrendering to my true nature, seeing the world not through my own eyes but through the eyes of the divine, through the radiant eyes of those street children.
What do I mean by that?
I mean that through certain experiences, and through a series of circumstances and events, I would stop living my life perceiving everything as personal, as things happening “to me,” and begin to live life with a higher and simpler perspective—a way of seeing that is more universal, that is understanding and compassionate, that has the ability to put itself into anyone’s shoes, that is unafraid to be bold and to express itself, that is easy to forgive, that has the ability to love fearlessly without expectation, and has the wisdom to purge anything that is not in service to me within an instant (or within a couple of days for those stronger experiences!).
You see, my travels to India began a process of breaking through all of the limiting beliefs I was carrying—beliefs that cause judgement, anger, resentment, worry, anxiety, depression, and insecurities to play out. Beliefs that, in some countries, can lead to terrorism and war if they are held strongly enough. The limiting beliefs that I was conditioned with created a version of me who I honestly didn’t like very much, a person who was unhappy and did not want to exist in this world.
Seeing the inherent beauty in all things and in all situations brought a depth into the core of my being. It was a breath of fresh air and a new way of seeing and being that continuously revitalizes my soul, and it is the very thing that allows me to forgive and heal so quickly, moving forward with gratitude and a positive outlook.
This new found awakening gave me permission to live life with awareness and to acknowledge that there is more than just me, my thoughts, and my perception of things—namely situations that happen “to me.” It was a gift from the universe to be able to replace my “why is this happening to me” attitude with the simplicity of Sri.
So the next time you are being faced with a challenging situation or challenging human behaviour or a challenging politician, ask yourself this: What is the Sri? What is the universe trying to teach me through this circumstance, and how can I overcome my limited way of perceiving this to see the Sri?
Author: Yogita Sharma
Image: Flickr/John Hoey
Editor: Travis May