Saturday, August 9, 2014

Surrendering from surrendering.

Years ago when I first began to practice yoga, I heard a story of a revered yogi who arose one morning before dawn and went to mediate on the banks of the Ganges. The heat of the day was just beginning to rise and he removed his robe to be more comfortable. Not wanting his robe to blow away while he meditated, he folded it carefully, laid in on the river bank, covered it over with a mound of sand and then proceeded with his practice. Some time passed and when he opened his eyes he saw he’d been joined by many young aspirants all with mounds of sand shaped neatly in front of them.

Young seekers all aspire to achievement and many times adopt meaningless rituals believing they contain some magical properties that will transport them to Nivana. The following is excerpted from Mokchokpa’s Song of Advice in Nicole Riggs’ book on the Shangpa Lineage, Like An Illusion: Lives of the Shangpa Kagyu Masters. 

“Immature beings with but a twig of awareness 
Are incited by the demon of death. 
Where they’ll be in the future depends on the karma they gathered in the past. 
Doing evil deeds is meaningless.” 

If you’ll look at the two images above, the comparison is shocking. Both images are of The Buddha at different stages of enlightenment. On the left is the figure of a person determined to the point of death. At that stage he had surrendered a life of luxury and everything except the one thing that mattered most. He was austere and relying purely on the unreal part of himself. In contemporary vernacular, he was pulling himself up by his bootstraps. That road nearly killed him and he was “… incited by the demon of death.” In his dying breath he broke the chain of death, dropped mind and body and, giving up the final vestige of what he was holding onto, he suddenly become Self aware. At that precise instant he realized that to which every seeker aspires and had nothing more to surrender. He then shed the baggage of fear and turned into a person of serenity and love (the image on the right).

The process of Self realization is like this. We move from reliance on illusions to surrendering to all illusions, even the illusion of God. It was Meister Eckhart who said this was the final frontier: giving up the idea of god to fuse with God. Whatever we can imagine is the barrier. When all imagination and ideas are gone and we dwell in silence of the mind, the only thing left is our True Mind/True Self: the source of all ideas and none.

Many times, in our desire for spiritual achievement, we replace the work of Self realization with the surrogate of enhancing our self-image, thinking that if we look the part, and reach down deeper into our limited reservoir to try-try-again, it will be enough to impress those upon whom we rely for the transparency of self-worth. The truth is that while the treasure of our True Self lies buried beneath our feet, it takes much digging to rid ourselves of the impediment that blocks access to who we truly are. And once we complete the mining, there is nothing more to surrender. Then we are in the home we have never left and realize, like the ancient “stupid men,” there was never anything to surrender.

“When we renounce learning we have no troubles.
The (ready) ‘yes,’ and (flattering) ‘yea;’⎯
Small is the difference they display.

 But mark their issues, good and ill;⎯
What space the gulf between shall fill?
What all men fear is indeed to be feared; 
but how wide and without end
 is the range of questions (asking to be discussed)!
The multitude of men look satisfied and pleased;
 as if enjoying a 
full banquet,
 as if mounted on a tower in spring. 
I alone seem 
listless and still, my desires having as yet given no indication of 
their presence. 
I am like an infant which has not yet smiled. 
I look 
dejected and forlorn, as if I had no home to go to. 
The multitude of
 men all have enough and to spare. 
I alone seem to have lost 
My mind is that of a stupid man; I am in a state of
Ordinary men look bright and intelligent, 
while I alone seem to be 
They look full of discrimination, 
while I alone am dull
 and confused. 
I seem to be carried about as on the sea, 
drifting as 
if I had nowhere to rest. 
All men have their spheres of action, 
I alone seem dull and incapable, 
like a rude borderer. 
(Thus) I alone
 am different from other men, 
but I value the nursing-mother (the Tao).”

Chapter 20: Tao Te Ching

It was the great Rabindranath Tagore who wrote in his poem: Journey Home:

“The traveler has to knock at every alien door to come to his own, and one has to wander through all the outer worlds to reach the innermost shrine at the end.” What none of us realizes, until we awaken, is that we are always at home in that innermost shrine. We always have been there and we always will remain. AND it is impossible to make a journey to where you already exist.
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