…and it shall follow as the day the night…thou can’t then be false to any other man (or woman or child or animal, for that matter)….thus spake Hamlet and he spoke true.
When I first came to Tiruvannamalai almost seven years ago, I rented an apartment that looked great from the outside, and was more than adequate as temporary living quarters, but it was also surrounded by noisy families and the morning din in particular was terrible for one hypersensitive to noise. As a result, I did not care to use my kitchen. Since I lacked personal transportation at the time, I began to eat all my meals at the little restaurant connected to nearby Seshadri Ashram.
Here I happened to connect with a well-educated middle-aged renunciate who, one sleepy afternoon as we sipped our hot chai post-lunch, told me his story:
He had done so well in engineering college, he said, that after he graduated he became a sought after star lecturer. Then the big questions of life and death began to haunt him and he took to eastern philosophy with a passion, seeking answers to his angst, and even donning the robes of a renunciate.
Soon he got so good at spinning Advaita that he was asked to speak publicly. But once again he began to feel uncomfortable playing this role—this time because he himself was not yet enlightened, and because he had come to believe that only a sage (one who has gone beyond desire and fear) can truly teach at the highest level.
So another coin dropped as he acknowledged that the job of becoming free begins and ends with oneself: Fix the little self and the Big Self is known; or else, he said ruefully, no matter how much we know intellectually, we are no better than the blind leading the blind.
Over the years I have lived at the base of holy Arunachala, I realize the profound truth of what this man said to me that sleepy afternoon. Today I accept that the truly committed seeker of wisdom must be willing to travel alone so as to focus on the awesome task of breaking down the egoic self.
This does not mean that while we are journeying we do not connect with or help others along the way; we do so, with full hearts, as long as we are not hurt or blocked from onward progress in the process. (I myself have terrific friends, but I did not seek them out; we come together in odd ways, and I welcome them into my life if I feel we can be of mutual help to each other on this path less traveled.)
Back to the true sage who has transcended both desire and fear and consequently does not need anything because s/he is complete, reunited with cosmic Self. Whatever comes, the sage says, comes from the source of all being, and those committed to this wisdom accept all things, seemingly good or bad, with grace. We do not struggle with “what is” because that would be struggling against the consequences of our own actions. This is the path of jnana, of wisdom, and it is a path that most shy away from.
However, it works perfectly for me. What does this mean, relatively speaking? I help those I can help, and I do so as generously as I can, but I also keep the focus on myself—because if I am reeling, emotionally or physically, drained by the demands of others, I can be of little use to myself or others.
You see, I still have vices and vasanas (blocks) that need clearing; until that work is fully done, I cannot bring illumination to others, as brilliant sages such as Ramana Maharshi, Nisargadatta Maharaj and so many others keep doing via their extraordinary spirits and powerful teachings. Instead I make sure that every single day I do something to bring me closer to my own light; still, the curtains of darkness fall from time to time, and then I do not hesitate to use the tools given to me via the sages, in order to restore me to balance as I continue along this razor’s edge to perfect freedom.
Greetings from Arunachala, Shiva in the form of a mountain, who promises to destroy our false coverings so that we can realize who we truly are beyond name and form—the Self, blissful and immortal, fearless and wise, intrinsically connected to all things manifest and unmanifest, One.
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Thank you, Mira, for your most honest and wise words. Yes… it is one thing to ‘understand’ concepts with the mind, and another to truly connect with the Divine. I am constantly reminded of my mind’s tendencies to dream, fantasize, and regret; among other things. How can I put much stock in my mind to truly grasp Reality until it finally ‘gives up’? We are taught; time-and-again, by the Great Masters that True Wisdom lies beyond the individual mind, but inquiring minds still want to know! Lol… Blessings from one work in progress to another!
Yes! You’re describing ALL our minds. Fortunately there is a way out…love, Mira
So nice post.
Thank you, Prem.
It might seem selfish to focus on ourselves first, but I see as well where
without that, there is no way to really give any support, inspiration and
encouragement to others. As the blind can’t lead the blind, so the sick
can’t heal the sick. I can refuse the role of teacher in the sense I have no
real interest in telling others who to be, what to do, or how to go about
getting there, but I can show an example, be a friend, and walk along with
someone for a little bit. I don’t think they should necessarily follow,
or be like me however. Being personally responsible for my own
actions seems enough. If you follow me, you might not be so lucky…
The unknown will always be greater than what we do know, no matter
the size of our intellectual capacity. So I realize that mostly I don’t know,
that I’m always learning, and new possibilities exist in every moment.
I guess it’s sort of like that “beginner’s mind” that allows us to learn.
How do we get to “beginner’s mind”? Maybe that’s the point of teaching?
To lead the way within, as the true way to knowing what’s without.
Who is the teacher, who is the student? No difference perhaps?
“There are no answers here… only minds in transition”
Beautiful response, Saf! As thoughtful as ever. Love, Mira
Wow, Mira, what a teaching! The razor’s edge indeed. I’ve been working my way down your posts and have found this one to be the most profound ~ for me. “We do not struggle with ‘what is’ because that would be struggling against the consequences of our own actions.” I need to remind myself of this every minute of every day. When the road gets especially difficult, all I can do is close my eyes and breathe. Sometimes I find myself moving into gratitude. Sometimes a leaf of wisdom flutters in and settles. Sometimes I just am. And that’s when I most feel one with The Divine. Thank you ❤
Thank you, Tina, for resonating so strongly with my own convictions – we all need support along this narrow path. So few are willing to accept that we create our own reality. Much love!
Many blessings to you Mira. I am thankful for life’s little blessings given to us from nature such as the sound of a brook, birds in a tree or the sound of a sheep – for it is the simple things in life which speak to me and make me feel not alone, afraid or without meaning, as they lift my spirit and remind me that we all exist as one.
Yes, Advaita is for you. Love, M