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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

When To Check "Other"

For a while I've had this nagging impassable feeling that my destiny is only mine to make. And I am haunted by a phrase in Vasistha's Yoga (by Venkatesananda) when meditating Lila, surprised her dead husband could not see her during her spiritual sojourn to him, is told that this is because she still thinks she is Lila. Lila has managed to travel in her mind to the land of the dead, but because she still considers herself as that person named Lila who is bodily sitting meditating on the floor she is not yet fully merged with the universal totality of existence. In turn, the totality of existence does not recognize her. The point is that the boundless power of her mind and energy is willingly bound by her acceptance of the labels of person and name, female, occupation. And the list goes on. There is a similar phrase in The Three Pillars of Zen (by Kapleau) when the roshi challenges a western woman studying at his hermitage why she still believes she is merely her puny, sickly little body.

What exactly are you? Are you a socioeconomic type? Do you fit into that little box? What if you are in between? And if your diversity spans more than one option? The control key may accommodate multiple selections, but it is more comfortable for the person who wrote the questionnaire to slot you into a cubbyhole which he or she believes he or she can manage. Although, the most controlling, contriving, and manipulating people actually have no control over anything that really matters, so one should not fear them but disregard or move beyond. How about when a certain type of narrow thinking doesn't begin to relate to the way you approach life? A favorite pop-psychological question is to identify the mistake you most regret and what you would have done differently. Would this stop you in your tracks trying to understand the mindset of the person who thinks this way like a computer program spinning over an infinite loop? Processing. Processing. Does not compute. Albeit some decisions are not perhaps the best choices in a person's lifetime, if you are connected to your choices to the degree that you have to go down that road to see what lies in that direction, these are roads that have to be travelled according to who you are at a given time. There may be detours, landslides, and natural disasters, but there are no mistakes. There isn't even a past. There is only now. And once you discover your weaknesses your improved self will choose a different kind of path, or relate to the same kind in a different manner. Once the lesson is learnt it does not have to be tested.

This brings me back to Lila, also the Sanskrit word for "play" as in the universal spirit playing as bodily creatures here on earth. The equation necessarily implies the converse, that the meek little bodily creatures can also access the great central universal spirit. I often look at creatures' behaviour, smart aleck dogs like Ralph, and know that they are already aware of their true identity. In fact, they are probably waiting for us to catch up. So if we are all-powerful, yet temporarily here at play, it stands to reason that we should really connect to what we are. And what we are coincides with the explicit Sanskrit tat tvam asi wisdom "you are that", meaning, you are every piece of this universe in its entirety. You span worlds. You are undefined. Make the most of it. 

-elaine morrison-

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