Om Shanti Shanti Shanti
I dedicate these words to the Highest Good of Everyone and Everything, and to the Supreme Truth That Is Omnipresent, Omniscient, and Omnipotent.
Mmm…well after starting this post out like that it seems like anymore words are excessive! Alas, a fairly traumatic experienced ‘happened to me’ this morning and me thinks there are likely an abundance of lessons to be learned from it.
The key word that pops out: Remember.
And secondly: One thing at a time. Single-handle. Take nothing for granted. There are no guarantees beyond this present moment.
(So now is probably a good the best time ever to pray, think good thoughts, meditate, know God, etc.)
Here’s what happened.
Thursday afternoon, this body put a hose in a pond to fill it up with water. Generally, the pond takes 1-2 hours to fill. So, the thought was this body would return in 1-2 hours to turn off the hose.
Friday morning, sitting in meditation, suddenly this mind/body remembers about the hose in the pond and the running water. The first instinct was to jump up and run over to the pond to check on the pond and the fish. Despite the imagined horror of a flooded pond and fish out of the pond sitting dead on the grass surrounding the pond, i resisted the initial instinct and thought that whatever damage was done was done and there was no ‘urgency’ to act. The thought also passed that this was the perfect opportunity to practice meditation as the mind began to seriously feel disturbed and wander and speculate, etc.
While sitting in meditation, the traditional method for meditation left, and what seemed way more appropriate was intense prayer. Feelings of sorrow and sadness overcame the mind/body, as well as compassion for the suffering of the fish and also the swamis at the monastery who had likely experienced the gruesome scene of dead fish. I thought that these feelings could not be serving any good, so instead i shifted mental focus to being grateful for all kinds of things in Life and in the wonderful Creation.
These ‘gratitude exercises’ lasted for a few minutes, and generated some better feelings, but alas the image of dead fish everywhere kept coming back to mind, and eventually this body jumped up from meditation and walked over to the pond.
Upon arriving at the pond, i first noticed that the water had been turned off, and that the area didn’t appear to be flooded. I then had the great gift of seeing many fish, alive and swimming in the pond. Ah, what a relief. Yet, feelings of guilt and failure still ripped, and prayer continued to seem like the appropriate response.\
This mind/body stood over the pond for a while, praying for the fish and for the swamis who likely prevented the mass death of fish from occurring.
Anyway, despite the actual death of the fish being postponed, this mind/body still feels strongly shaken from the experience and not quite sure how is appropriate to live henceforth. In many ways, i still feel like the catalyst for a genocide of fish, which would have also likely led to huge ripples of anxiety / stress / agony throughout the monastery, amongst the swamis, and throughout the entire ashram.
So, what is to really learn from this experience?
1. Certainly it is a reminder of human fallibility. No human being is perfect and all humans are susceptible to errors.
2. On a practical level, it makes sense to have a watch and set an alarm with a reminder. And / or, write down the task on a note and put it in a pocket. But really, with time-sensitive issues, an alarm seems nearly necessary. Yet, perhaps the more spiritual solution is simply do one thing at a time. Instead of turning on the water and leaving with plans to come back, simply sit with the water running for an hour. If you don’t have an hour to give the fish, is it really worth it to leave and risk forgetting about them or being dragged on another adventure, only returning to see all the fish dead?
3. Realize the magnitude of what you do. Sure, filling a pond with water seems like no big deal. But, what if the pond floods and all the fish float out of the pond and end up on the grass, dead? Life or death are much closer than we sometimes think. This reminds me of the Taoist teaching about water. Water is simultaneously the most peaceful and most destructive force. It supports all life in moderation, but in excess it destroys like none other. Consider the difference between drinking a glass of water verses a hurricane hitting your home.
4. Reflecting on the above, perhaps a great lesson here is the difference between abundance/moderation and excess. A Course in Miracles says, “The truth is always abundant.” In this way, abundance is always a positive quality. Excess is abundance’s step-cousin who is just a bit twisted. So, this event reminds me to live life abundantly, not excessively. Which certainly mirrors this mind/body’s approach to food on Thursday…it was a bit excessive…so no wonder i’d have this semi-traumatic wake up call.
5. You never know when is the last time that you’ll see someone or something alive. So don’t take it for granted! Life is not meant to be taking for granted. Better than taking life for granted, why not cherish it? Why not treat all life as special, as sacred, as divine? What is holding us back from sharing Love with everyone and everything? What perpetuates our false sense of separateness? What excuses do we make for not loving that which is before us, Here and Now in the only Moment that ever is Real?
6. Last night, upon going to sleep, i remember feeling really good/proud about the amount of ‘sadhana’ practiced that day. 1.5 hours of meditation, 30 minutes hatha, 60 minutes pranayama, service, etc. But, what would all that sadhana amount too if it turns out i was also largely responsibly for the death of a whole bunch of fish? So let us remember what really matters. It’s not about how long you sit in meditation or how much so-called ‘spiritual practice’ you perform. It seems like what really matters is how we care for all of life, including humans, animals, insects, and our own physical bodies. From my experience, nothing seems to cause more sadness / grief / sorrow / depression than the idea that one is responsible for the death of another, or even many. I do not recall a time when i’ve felt more ‘down’ than this morning in meditation, considering all the death i was responsible for. Peace reveals Itself when we live a fully integrated, loving life, doing and being everything we can be, each moment, with full Love and Gratitude, appreciating and cherishing all life, equally and in all conditions. When we live in support of all life, consciously knowing that we’re doing the best we can, we only realize Peace. Peace is natural when we know we are doing our very best, instead of making excuses to be less than our best and make the same mistake over again, pretending we haven’t yet learned the lesson.
7. As i’ve been learning from A Course in Miracles, forgiveness is nothing without correction. Forgiveness without correction is just judgment. So, when and if we embrace forgiveness, it demands correction. Otherwise, what’s the point? Sure, we can ask for forgiveness over and over again each day for the same thing, but would any human being or God want that for us? For years now, i’ve been making the same mistake over and over again – excessively indulging and overfeeding the body, giving the body way more than it needs and more than is best for its optimal health and flourishing. And this excessive indulgence/ lack of moderation with food likely ripples out to all dimensions of life. Like, this blog post – for example – might very well be excessive in words, yet…oh well ;-) And, speaking from personal experience, making this same mistake over again does stir a bit of pain every time – both emotional, mental, and sometimes physical. So why keep doing it? When will i truly accept the forgiveness and embrace the learning and growth? Satchidananda mentions that we really only ‘drop the coal’ when it is truly too hot for us to hold. In this sense, the pain has not necessarily been ‘too much to handle’ just yet, but am i really asking to be responsible for the death of a bunch of fish before i finally ‘drop the coal’?
To share a bit…earlier this morning during meditation, when i thought myself the assured murderer of a bunch of fish…i was thinking about all the things i was going to change in my life and what was the best course of action to take. i thought i might give away all my stuff, or at least give away the stuff that at one point another i took without asking…i thought i might go join a monastic order (not necessarily this one because i thought they’d want me to leave the ashram, reasonably so too)…i thought i’d quit the job i’m in and leave yogaville…i thought i’d fast for a long time…
And now that the crisis has somewhat been averted, i wonder how it will really change the way this mind/body lives in the world. What will it prioritize? Will it still value excessive indulgence more than conversation with people? Will it still put its own nourishment before the welfare of all?
(Hehe…i write this as the body is now calling to go the bathroom…yet the flow experience is so precious! Ah, perhaps another wake up call to consume in moderation instead of chugging a liter of water in the morning. Sip, sip, sip. Moderation, moderation, moderation. Alas, be right back!)
Ah, that feels better. But yes – why do we keep binding ourselves? When will we finally let go of our attachments and false sense of obligation? In Reality, our only obligation is to God, the Truth that resides Within and Beyond. Nothing else really matters. And sure, i write this, but then i go chugging liters of water like that’s some great act, when meanwhile it then binds the body to the need to go to the bathroom, which might quite unexpectedly drag it away from a Perfect Present Moment and a wonderful opportunity to Love and Give and Serve.
What stops us from loving more abundantly? Is it our attachment to food? to people? to books? to television and mass media? Maybe it could even be an attachment to our spiritual practice.
What is holding you back from realizing God more fully in every moment of Life?
For me, attachment to certain ideas/dogma seems to be a culprit. Like the attachment to the idea of ‘hydration,’ to the idea of ‘not letting healthy food go to waste,’ to the idea of ‘acquiring spiritual knowledge through reading books,’ to the idea of ‘exercising/practicing hatha yoga before eating anything in the morning,’ to the idea of ‘vitamins first thing in the morning.’
Ha, funny looking at the list above, noticing that virtually of the attachments listed are relating to caring for the physical mind/body.
Which reminds me of perhaps the greatest teaching of the Bhagavad Gita about letting go of body-identification and realizing Self as Spirit.
And back to the fish.
Walking over to the pond this morning, part of me thought that the small-self-i wasn’t really the one responsible so much as collectively, the death of the fish was the result of the collective consciousness, thereby serving as a wake up call for us all to become more conscious and aware and glean whatever lesson is most applicable to us at the time. No man, is an island, after all. In many ways, individual responsibility is really collective responsibility, and one person’s pain affects all people. Why is this? Perhaps, as Nisargadatta Maharaj says, “You are not a person.”
We are more than human beings. We are more like…consciousness! One with the Whole, connected with All, Spiritual, even One with the Creator.
The more we remember our level of connectedness with all and our oneness, the more we embrace individual responsibility more and more, down to caring for the quality of every single thought, because we realize the creative power in thought. As a Course in Miracles teaches, changing the behavior of a human body isn’t so much the issue as it is changing the thoughts, because everything starts in thought. Behaviors don’t happen by themselves – the seeds of every behavior are in a thought. So it’s significant that we train the mind and elevate the quality of our thinking so that we continue to consciously will the Kingdom of Heaven before we go unconsciously willing this and that and the other.
The clearer we discover what Heaven is like, the more we realize Heaven. To mention again, the truth is always abundant, not excessive! In many ways, abundance is moderation. Abundance is more than enough for everyone, and the best way to treat abundance is in perfect moderation, so that whatever it is, it is thoroughly enjoyed. When abundance tips to excess is when over-indulgence and greed and lust and anger and everything else negative starts occurring.
When we truly love Creation and truly love our mind/body, we treat it abundantly. We feed it abundantly, just the right amount for it feel as good as it can. We hydrate it abundantly, just enough so that it does not feel thirsty. We cultivate relationships abundantly, just enough so that we do not over-extend ourselves and feel bound to so many people and feel obligated to talk with everyone. The life of abundance is a free life, a moderate life, a balanced life, a life of truly listening to the calling of the Present Moment.
As a friend shared with me the other day, the foundation of Ayurveda is, “Wake up early and poop in the morning.” He continued, “Eat when hungry and drink when thirsty.” Why do we not trust the ability for the body/mind to communicate needs of hunger and thirst, and instead we feed it when it doesn’t ask for it and we hydrate it when it is really doing just fine? In so many ways, less is more. And, on a very practical level, giving the body less to consume allows the organs more time to rest and relax. And, systematic undereating is supposedly the only consistently proven method to increasing longevity. So, if you want to live longer, eat less! Give those organs a rest.
As much as the method of eating ‘just enough’ might sound like some sort of austerity, it is really about eating ‘just enough’ that is best for the flourishing of mind/body. Anything consumed by the body ideally raises the level of consciousness and awareness, and definitely never lowers it!
Moreover, let us remember our truest and highest responsibilities, live in balance and moderation, see God and God’s Will in All, and surrrender our personal will to Divine Will so that we more fully realize Supreme Love and Peace in every moment of Life.
From experience, some of the moments of greatest pain come from exerting personal will to defy what another asks ‘me’ to do, thereby resisting ‘God’s Will.’ Or…perhaps it is that God’s Will is that we realize Love and Peace every moment, so whenever we allow anything to disturb that connection with and as Love and Peace, we are resisting God’s Will. God’s Will might just be being Supremely Present.
As the sign in Vegas says, “You must be present to win!”
How are we to ever ‘win’ if we keep binding ourselves by all these obligations in the fictitious future? Let us surrender more and more to the Divine Moment in which God abides eternally. Let us let Love lead the way! Instead of focusing on acquiring and possessing, let us just focus on Loving and Being Love and Peace and bringing Love and Peace wherever we go
Of course, if you are going to engage in worldly affairs where wearing a watch and setting an alarm would help you, please do that! Just, remain connected with the Peace and Love. And, actually, wearing a watch and setting an alarm, relating to the whole fish experience, is a perfect example of the usefulness of material objects. Nothing is bad about ‘having’ things, it’s only when ‘things have us’ and we become attached to them that is the ‘problem.’ By all means, have that which is useful to you. Embrace usefulness! If it’s not useful, then it is excessive and you can do without it and might actually be much better without it. When we possess ‘excess,’ it seems a very natural response that feelings of guilt arise. Why possess more than we need? Excess only burdens us.
The Truth is always abundant. – A Course in Miracles
Gloria in Excelsis Deo!
So grateful for forgiveness…forgiveness that leads to correction…to live in moderation, abundantly, refraining from excess and indulgence, and embracing the usefuleness of worldly things.
Love, Love, Love,
Om Shanti Shanti Shanti