Humans are seeds of bright immortality sown in dense mortal soil. We plod through insipid routine and, through that dark window, imagine incandescence. It’s such a perfect tragedy. If humankind is indeed the vehicle through which the Puruṣa dreams, then the Absolute Consciousness is a matchless storyteller.
As flesh-bound souls held to finite law, everything we do is accordingly limited by time and space, and every choice we make eliminates every other. All relationships we have are thusly bound, dependent most of all upon preference: We decide our companions based upon some perceived superiority they possess.
But at the spirit-level, bound to deathless Divinity alone, we are no different. Lord does not rank souls in a hierarchy of worth, and thus the divine Love is completely full. Pervasive. Without boundaries. It is the freedom of Indra, who moves heaven for the rains to fall, and earth for the rivers to flow, and whose vast heart overflows in the tears of a thousand eyes.
All uncontrolled wanting seems to grow ultimately from one source: the profound, inborn, tragic feeling of separation from the Beloved. Original need, rather than original sin. Some try to stop the echoing rattle of emptiness, reaching for things to build security, earthly loves to fill the hollow heart. Others attempt to ignore it, numbing the senses with restless activity and noise to keep back the great looming Silence of the Absolute. And beyond barricade or balm lies a third path: the practice of Yoga, through which the agony of loneliness falls away because one is joined to God alone.
By a beautiful paradox, the yogī takes on new fetters in order to become limitless. These bonds are the personal restraints known as the deaths (yamas). Surely an ancient rage and panic arises with the fear of abandonment – and how does this existence feel, but like an exile from the Divine? So the seeker learns first ahiṃsā, nonviolence. The sādhaka controls the anger and panic of the ancient separation, striking not against the world that seems a prison from Lord. Next comes the release of pride, and the understanding that all of the world's esteem is impotent; truth or satya follows this naturally, as the very desire for falsehood is undone. Seeking within, the sādhaka then finds that what is known to the senses is not real, and through this wisdom is able to practice asteya, non-covetousness.
Still the world’s illusions and false comforts are not all broken. Here begins the fourth Yama, brahmacarya, the conduct that allies to the creator. It is not celibacy only, but the death of preference, and the misguided desire from which it is borne. To practice this is like stepping between raidnrops in a storm. Deceptively simple it seems, to cast everything away, to close off the senses and ruthlessly crush all temptation. To become cold. Barren. Or, more extremely, to cultivate revulsion in this ample mortal ground. To practice scorn.
Yet the Beloved is the onrushing storm, not inert ice. His light shimmers everywhere; his force permeates the world. He does not steal his beauty away from admiration and sit detached, unreachable. His is love in freedom. It seems that true brahmacarya is to embrace all, expansively and completely. To see His eyes gleaming in every human glance.
This Yama has been most difficult for me so far. To be controlled and not dead. To practice love gently, even as energy wanes and temper flares. And doubts arise: in turning from human bodies and personalities, and surrendering myself to His forms, His glories, have I really achieved anything in exchanging the multiple and temporal for the Timeless and Alone? Or is it one attachment transmuted into another? Śrī Ramakrishna’s final test was to decapitate his beloved Kālī, to sacrifice even Her into the fire of the Ultimate.
This is perhaps a reason why many see the end of avidyā in an understanding of all as Divine. This realisation would be the end of all attachments, would it not, because an attachment requires a subject and an object, and is eliminated when duality disintegrates.
Yet there is something to be said for the self-sacrifice of service, of never merging with one’s iṣṭa but remaining enough apart to sport together. Perhaps the Devas, too, remain apart to serve us, and the entire universe burns in love and sacrifice. A phenomenal tale indeed.
“Oh, I understand! You were being a bridge.
Well, that’s nice, bridges are important.
But you know, the only problem with being a bridge
is that you, yourself,
never get to cross over.”
Thoughts go best with pictures, yes? And some days – like today – I do find something that pulls at the heart. Here is a brief reward for anyone who read all of those thoughts. The image has a Hollywood flair to it, to be sure, but I appreciate immensely the artist’s respect, in painting an ancient warrior, all mysterious power and strength.
I am too tired for error checks. I trust these thoughts to the forgiveness and gentle tutelage of my mistakes.
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