Literary Exploration Series: Sadhana, the Realisation of Life – Ch.4

Sadhana cover

CHAPTER 4: The Problem of Self

Link to chapter: click here
Length of chapter reading: 38:34 minutes

The Problem of Self is really about the relationship we have with ourselves. Every other relationship we have in any given life is but a reflection of our connection with our true Self. That which you enjoy in others is what you enjoy about yourself. The things that bother you and bring you discomfort are those aspects of yourself that you have not learned how to love unconditionally yet. Listening to this fourth chapter can help to remind us of what is real and what is maya (illusion). The confusion of relation – relating to ourselves, to the world around us, trying to find identity in our experiences – all of these are simply manifestations of the little ‘i’s’ that we pick up on the side of the road as we make our journey. What we must remember though, is that we started our journey with empty pockets, and this is also the way it must end. You are free to collect as many i’s along the path as you like, but remember, one day, you will be asked to shed your pockets, and return to the essence that is the true You.

I am that I AM. Not I am who I am, or what I am, or how I am. I am THAT I AM.

 

“…man is never literal in the expression of his ideas except in matters most trivial. Very often, man’s words are not a language at all but merely a vocal gesture of the dumb. They may indicate, but do not express his thoughts. The more vital his thoughts, the more have his words to be explained by the context of his life.”

To assume that what we hear is what is meant to be heard is to create within our own minds a reality disconnected from the rest. Even if the meanings of all the words in the dictionary were implanted in our minds, we would not be able to ensure clear communication because the interpretation of each sentiment is dependent upon the place from which it is experienced. This is why the eyes, the smile, the act of radiating light from within are all so important. The messages that come through us from our Higher Selves cannot be mistaken. They may perhaps not be consciously observed, but the soul knows, and that is more than enough.

 

“We can look at our Self in its two different aspects. The self which displays itself, and the Self which transcends itself and thereby reveals its own meaning. To display itself, it tries to be big, to stand upon the pedestal of its accumulations and to retain everything to itself. To reveal itself, it gives up everything it has, thus becoming perfect, like a flower is blossomed out from the bud pouring from its chalice of beauty all its sweetness.”

In a world that displays proof in its physicality and evidence, it is easy to loose site of the Self. Turning on the television, entering into a store or simply watching people on the street, we see ‘things’ – things we want, things we like and dislike, things we’ve had but now have better. The illusion of the material world is where the little ‘i’ dwells. It is where the ego likes to bask in its glory. To look past the material and to see the essence present in all things, we transcend identification with the little ‘i’ and move into the realisation of the Self. We can only know who we truly are, why we are here, and what gifts we have brought with us to share with the world if we take the journey within. The big ‘I’ is the actor on the stage. The little ‘i’s’ are the roles you play.

 

“…love is an end unto itself. Everything else raises the question ‘why?’ in our mind, and we require a reason for it. But when we say, ‘I love’, then there is no room for the ‘why?’. It is the final answer in itself.”

The moment you find yourself asking, ‘why?’ – why is this happening to me?, why does it have to be like this? – you miss the whole point of the experience. In these moments of questioning, step back – even though it will feel difficult and unnatural at first to separate yourself from something you’ve identified yourself with so closely – and say a prayer of thanks. Be thankful for the experience you have been given, express gratitude for the opportunity to grow your understanding. It is during the moments when we ask ‘why?’ that we have the most to learn. Gratitude for these moments enables transcendence into places of greater connection with the Self.

 

“Whenever the part, spurning the whole, tries to run a separate course of its own, the great pull of the All gives it a violent wrench, stops it suddenly, and brings it to the dust. Whenever the individual tries to damn the every-flowing current of the world force, and imprison it within the area of his particular use, it brings on disaster. However powerful a king may be, he cannot raise his standard or rebellion against the infinite source of strength, which is unity, and yet remain powerful.

“It has been said that by righteous men prosper, gain what they desire, and triumph over their enemies, but at the end, they are cut off at the root, and suffer extinction.”

Observing the state of the world today, is it not the perfect time to take inventory, dig into our pockets, and let go of some of the little ‘i’s’?

Literary Exploration Series: Sadhana, the Realisation of Life – Ch.3

Sadhana cover

CHAPTER 3: The Problem of Evil

Link to chapter: click here
Length of chapter reading: 33:11 minutes

Evil is a concept that epitomizes fear. Fear is a lack of wholeness. Wholeness comes from connection to our Selves. We are all One, affecting each other with every choice we make. When we see our Selves in others, and are able to honor each facet of our brilliance with unconditional love, evil becomes but a part of the Universal Whole.

 

“The river has its boundaries, its banks, but is a river all banks, or are the banks the final facts about the river? Do not these obstructions themselves give its water and onward motion? The towing rope binds a boat, but is the bondage its meaning? Does it not, at the same time, draw the boat forward? The current of the world has its boundaries, otherwise it could have no existence, but its purpose is not shown in the boundaries that restrain it, but in its movement, which is towards perfection.”

Evil is but the perception of the short-sighted. It is not empowered in the mind that sees beyond the current scene on the stage. How far beyond the scene we choose to see depends on one thing and on everything…

It depends on the seer – who has the choice, the free will to choose whether to see from a point of love, or of one of fear.

It depends on all of us – for we are all interconnected Oneness. All that he does impacts on all of us. The ripples of her actions reverberate upon the surface of the sea of Oneness which we all connect to form.

For now, in this form, the sea has a shore that defines it, that delineates it from what is beyond. This allows us to see in concepts and ideas. This is the imperfection of our perfection. Evil is a concept. It is a tool that is meant to help us move beyond the stage. It is but a theme, a plot twist, a part of the drama. Watch the show. Enjoy the drama. See it for what it is.

 

“Just as a man who has an ear for music realises the perfection of a song, while in fact he is only listening to a succession of notes, man has found out the great paradox that what is limited is not imprisoned within its limits. … infinity revealed within bounds.”

How is it that we can be so profoundly yet unconsciously connected to the wisdom of the All, yet get so caught up in the drama? Think of the magnificence of our inherent capabilities and then look at what so many of us choose to do with each life. I am not saying that we all don’t do our best and proceed upon our paths at our divine paces, but what if we chose to express more of our true Self to the world? What would the world look like then?

Yesterday I met someone new. At a certain point he was talking about his perception of his work-week and how, by the time 3pm on Friday comes along, the seconds seems to tick by excruciatingly slowly. I saw this divine being in front of me, with gifts and talents that only he can offer to the world, and wondered what the world would be like if he shared those gifts with us. What do you think the world would look like then?

 

“When we select for observation a limited area of our activities, our individual failures and mysteries loom large in our minds, but our life leads us instinctively to take a wider view.”

Perception.

 

“Pessimism is a form of mental dipsomania. It disdains healthy nourishment, indulges in the strong drink of denunciation and creates an artificial dejection which thirsts for a stronger draught.”

Do you see the optimist as trustworthy or delusional? Do you see the pessimist as realistic or hopeless? I don’t tend to distinguish between optimist and pessimism. I don’t think in those terms. When someone calls me an optimist, it is usually said in a wistful manner indicating to me that there is a part of him or her that would like to believe, but it’s too difficult to run the risk of being deluded…again. In place of optimism and pessimism, I see imagination and trepidation. To see life through child-like eyes does not mean to be ignorant and senseless. On the contrary, innocence brings with it wonder, delight and joy.

 

“…knowledge is nothing but the continually burning up of error to set free the light of truth.”

How would our children view school if this was the ideal of our teachers? Would the definition of education change?

 

“[Man] is more in truth then he is in fact. He truly belongs to individuals who are not included in his own individuality and whom he is never even likely to know.”

How many times have I wondered where the rest of the souls in my Monad are at any given time?! Have I met all of them in this life? Will I? Would I recognise them if I did meet them? Are they scattered all over the cosmos, or are we all sharing in life on this planet at this time of its evolution?
When I am out in the world – in a car at a red light, at the airport standing in line, walking down a cosmopolitan street – and I lock eyes with a stranger and feel, in that instant, that time stands still and a message is being exchanged, I wonder – do I know you?

Literary Exploration Series: Sadhana, the Realisation of Life – Ch.2

Sadhana cover

Chapter 2: Soul Consciousness

Link to chapter: click here
Length of chapter reading: 36:50 minutes

I am so deeply touched, inspired, impassioned, released by the effortlessly meticulous way in which Tagore weaves words into golden strands of the most brilliant poetry. Poetry of truth, timeless understanding, gentle compassion. These words were written in the beginning of the 1900s yet still resonate the deepest of truths for us today. Tagore’s words perform a dance, frolicking to the tunes of the aged and wise, lacking any sign of tiredness or uncertainty. To reach such a point of clarity…would be divine…

 

“…a truth opens up a whole horizon. It leads us to the infinite. That is the reason why, when a man like Darwin discovers some simple general truth about biology, it does not stop there, but like a lamp shedding its light far beyond the object for which it was lighted, it illumines the whole region of human life and thought, transcending its original purpose. Thus we find that truth, while investing all facts, is not a mere aggregate of facts. It surpasses them on all sides and points to the infinite reality. As in the region of knowledge, so in that of consciousness, man must clearly realise some central truth which will give him an outlook over the widest possible field.”

Is it possible that we generally tend to overestimate the impact of the discovery of a fact in the short-term, and underestimate its impact over longer periods? Does this mean that the attainment of a wider field of view can only be attained after a process of discovery of truths, rather than in the instant of one discovery? If the All is within all of us, if it exists right now, why is there a need for time to discover it? Is the experience what we really seek?

 

“…our soul, when detached and imprisoned within the narrow limits of a ‘self’, looses its significance, for it’s very essence is unity. It can only find out its truth by unifying it’s ‘Self’ with others, and only then, it has its joy.”

Perhaps I am learning how to build words, and sentences, and ideas out of letters. Perhaps it is my time to make sense of the alphabet. Perhaps it is time for joy.

 

“The chick knows that when it breaks through the self-centered isolation of its egg, that the hard shell which covered it so long was not really a part of its life. That shell is a dead thing. It has no growth. It affords no glimpse whatever of the vast beyond that lies outside it. However pleasantly perfect and rounded it may be, it must be given a blow to, it must be burst through, and thereby the freedom of light and air can be one and the complete purpose of bird’s life be achieved.”

Much of my life has become virtual. Perhaps it is due to my travels and coupled with my personality for I have left many friends behind and seem to prefer maintaining relationships from a physical distance. For whatever reason, I find myself communicating through written word more than through any other form. I have found, through this practice of faceless/bodiless connection, that deeper truths and more fulfilling relationships can be cultivated – at least this has been my truth. The lack of physical interaction has opened the door to deeper spiritual contact.

Does this make sense to you? It is as if the virtual space has allowed me to forget about the shell, and connect with a greater vastness. Yet, I remind myself that I am still in physical form for a reason. What that reason is, I haven’t much of a clue. But because it is still a fact that on this plane of existence I have a body, there must be some purpose for the vehicle. So, as I write this, I am experiencing an intense period of caring for the vehicle. I am more intent then ever to nurture it, pay attention to what fuel I give it and what activity I perform with it – all this, in the name of devotion for the chick inside the shell. Perhaps this is my way of attempting to create balance between the virtual and the physical – trying to respect both equally through the discovery of the qualities that make both states divine. Can Spirit reveal more of itself through the virtual world?

 

“In his sermon to Sathu Simha, Buddha says, “It is true, Simha, that I denounce activities, but only the activities that lead to the evil in words, thoughts or deeds. It is true, Simha, that I preach extinction, but only the extinction of pride, lust, evil thought, and ignorance, not that of forgiveness, love, charity, and truth.”

How often does it occur that we consciously decide from which of these we will make our next choice? How often do we watch the moment from the perspective of an observer?

I once attended a talk in which the speaker reflected on some of the beliefs held within Raja Yoga. After her resonating talk, she walked around the room and shared a sweet biscuit with each person. She also held out a small container, in which there were pieces of paper, one for each of us to take. Each piece of paper had a message written on it. I still carry the message that came to me on that day. I am grateful each time it falls into my hand. I share it with you now:

I am an observer. Being able to observe enables me to be creative, productive and effective because I have made space for true and better understanding.

 

“Our pursuit of truth in the domain of nature, therefore is through analysis, and the gradual methods of science, but our apprehension of truth in our soul is immediate and through direct intuition. We cannot attain the Supreme Soul by successive additions of knowledge acquired bit by bit, even through all eternity, because He is One. He is not made up of parts. We can only know Him as Heart of our hearts and Soul of our soul. We can only know Him in the love and joy we feel when we give up ourself and stand before him, Face to face.”

Many have asked what the difference is between intuition and the ego – the little voice inside of us vs the loud scream that so often disguises itself as a whisper. Perhaps through the observation of the ways in which we pursue truth – that of nature and of the soul – we can distinguish the voice of the essence.