The World Goes Ouch
It’s a ‘normal’ to feel raw, a little closed in, as if the Universe is a size nine pushing against a size ten body; something isn’t quite right. For me, it started yesterday, and has puzzled me, I do like puzzles. Instead of becoming a slave to it, I decided to be on alert, I don’t mean the anxious state like someone crossing a busy road in Mumbai, more like a cat watching a mouse trying to escape, although the sensation inside me, is closer to that of the mouse thinking “this aint lookin’ too good, Fluffy hasn’t had his breakfast tuna yet, and he isn’t going anywhere”. From my life’s experiences, I know that being both the cat and the mouse is where the wisdom will lie.
The Stream Out of Contol
The crowning glory for me today, where my rawness peaked, was something that would lead most men to despair, it was when Facebook, the insensitive digital matrix, offered me the opportunity to share a photo of my long deceased beautiful son, send it out into the world of lunch photos, selfies, narcissistic home business posts, yoga-mamas in leotards, poor translations of scriptures, political hatred memes, Donald Trump’s hairpiece, glorious backyard wisdom, Leunig cartoons, tales of my dear friends lives, and other snippets of genius. Fortunately I gave up long ago; it’s not the giving up of a broken man, more like seeing the absurdity of trying to say ‘no’ when there isn’t any way of stopping ‘yes’, or saying ‘yay’ when ‘no’ is going to unleash a tsunami of grief bigger than my ‘island of self’.
Doing Easy the Hard Way
There is a skill, and it looks like it comes easy to some people, I will assure you in most cases it doesn’t. It’s the same as when you watch a master musician play his or her instrument, fingers effortlessly moving in the same way a bird slowly flaps its wings and makes almost invisible body adjustments to navigate the sky-scape, great musicians spend hundreds of hours trying to resolve the idiosyncrasies of all the elements of music in search of the perfect note or phrase, that’s what brought about ‘naturalness’, it is often just a seed given at birth which flowers in time when nurtured properly. The skill that I learnt, is to ‘sit’, to allow things to rise and fall on the screen of life and not overstep its rhythm by one moment and be out of time. The journey to this state of ‘doing nothing’ is like that of the master musician who along the way dropped a lot of beats, missed the cues, some times early, others late. Doing nothing sounds easy, it is and isn’t, this ability has a lot of flexibility and depends on our ever changing emotional state.
I mean Yes and No
I have always liked the ‘yes and no’ answers to things, not the indecisive version of ‘yes,no.’ When we answer a question with ‘yes and no’, the chances are we are thinking, digging in. It’s easy to form a rigid opinion, lock it up safely like an ice-cube in a freezer and just leave it, this is a lazy mans way to resolve things. That type of mind will never find peace in relation to the spirit, it will always be at war because downstream, when the ice melts there will be trouble. Great pain will arise in recognising that everything we believed to be true is always in the process of crumbling, there is eternal transition, (fundamentalists will often roll out the ‘eternal truth’ story, it won’t help you here). By having the ability to see two sides of everything and maybe temporarily accepting one as a truth is very freeing, this is at the heart of ‘sitting’ and ‘alertness’, being able to maneuver our way through what life throws onto our screen and says ‘deal with this, you can’t run, just stay here, it’s not going away, you must be here’.
I had a wonderful teacher, he taught me something years ago at a time when I was struggling with the ‘shape’ of my universe. If I had to list a handful of wisdom tools I use, this would be on my Nobel prize shortlist. It is very simple, it’s in these handful of words, “Do you accept me as this?” That may not seem like much, so let’s go there and extract what’s in it. If I take the Jnani perspective (simply put: Everything is part of the same Being), I have no enemies, only allies; duality brings a double sided coin, it is binary, 1 or 0, true or false; although that type of thinking is the social-norm, it is not where I need to be, it’s dangerous territory. When something happens, whether it be in the field of my life or arising in my ‘thought environment’, I see it as a ‘form’ of the Great Being that resonates in all life, call it whatever you like; this endless shape-shifting entity speaks to me, it says, “OK, this what you are experiencing is just a part of my form, you are always wanting beauty, without its opposite, that splendor you crave is not possible. You are seeking rest, if there is no movement and chaos, how can there possibly be a peaceful state? What’s this wisdom thing you speak of, without unknowing, how can deep understanding ever take its place? Without the depth of emptiness, how is the world of movement, form and shadows ever going to be? Without suffering, do you think the emotions that lead to its fruit wisdom, can take shape?”……. So I sit and watch the show, if I enter it, I am doomed, suffering is overwhelming, if I run it will chase me, but if I stay with it, and move myself to the side and watch it in a manner that doesn’t involve ‘me’ or my opinions, its life-cycle will follow its natural course and at the other side of it, will be a softer more flexible and understanding man. If I go to war with it, I will lose. So I rest in it as it transits through the viewing-screen of my consciousness.
To Suffer or Not to Suffer
We can be a slave to suffering, or we can extract what’s inside it. Inside it is an endless well of untapped wisdom. When I see the homeless, people that seem broken, it would be easy for me to look away, to have judgments or to feel sorry for them, this would be normal. At the time of an ‘encounter’, there may be an opportunity for me to enter into their ‘field of experience’. If I am cautious and sensitive, I can behave in a manner where it is clear to them that we are equal, there is no above or below in our encounter, it is important that they don’t seem more broken by meeting a person who from observation would seem to have a sense of balance. There is a way I can ‘meet’ them because of the understanding of the journey through suffering that we all take; there is no real method, no system or technique to use; apart from being able to ‘sit’ through the experience, in the same way that we go through our own pain and suffering or whatever presents itself.
Compassion and empathy emerge from stillness, from our rawness, the part of us that hurts. Turning suffering to wisdom is at the heart of all life. And this is Yoga without leotards.