by Tony, a current member of the ashram team
Don Juan, the ‘spiritual guide’ of Carlos Castenada is quoted by that author as follows:
‘The worst that could happen to us is that we have to die, and since that is already our unalterable fate, we are free; those who have lost everything no longer have anything to fear.’
Simple and profound. I hold that in my mind, and weave in the equally simple profound question, ‘Who, what, am I ? ‘
Not Tony. That will go at death, I think so anyway. Seems to me my personality is tied in with my brain so when that is no more, the complex thoughts and emotions that make up my everyday face will be blown away like the foam on a wave.
Tantric cosmology and ‘science of becoming’ has a level of being from which the mind evolves called Ahamkara tattwa. Individuality at a stage more fundamental than the mind. I do not yet understand this, if or how it contains any ‘tony-ness’, or if it’s just the ‘principle’ of individuation.
Understanding. Don’t get me wrong, I can’t expect to understand with my mind that from which the mind derives. There is ‘experiential’ wisdom beyond mind-level comprehension.
Experiential wisdom? Yoga is a path of experience, practicality. The essence of ‘experience’ is that it’s real when it’s happening, then later on, it’s not real!! It’s a memory. You tell people about your wonderful holiday in Capri, you look at the pics to remind yourself, almost you feel the sun on your skin, hear the waves… but you’re not there!!
So despite the fact that I have had transcendent experiences on the path of yoga, the other day I arrive at the position: ‘I have no idea about anything. I have not a clue, despite all my years of yogic practice, who or what I am’.
My thoughts became: ‘I will die. That I know. Part of me is afraid. A little afraid of the unknown, but more afraid that existence is transitory, a firefly spark in the vastness of the cosmic darkness. Non-existence. Why should I care? I won’t be there in that non-existence to rue the loss of existing. Maybe because now while I exist, I start to see what a glorious thing that is.’
Also, I knew that the next time, or the time after that, when I sit to meditate it is likely that again I will experience a certainty beyond the transience (though such experience comes not from my effort but by something I call ‘grace’). I’ve been there before, it’s convinced me at the time and for a while afterwards. I’ve still got the tan from the Capri sun to prove I was there.
[I dream of living in Capri. Waking up there every morning. As Kahlil Gibran says (‘The Prophet’) ‘to wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving’; to wake each day knowing myself, knowing my place in this astonishing life. And here in the ashram, with guidance from the teacher I always hoped I would meet, what better chance could I have?]
Anyway the very next morning, after meditation, an understanding comes from somewhere. It doesn’t debase that understanding to try and put it into words, because the understanding was on a more ‘organic’ level and I don’t forget that.
‘You are what you are’. Nicely Zen! It doesn’t matter what I think, or don’t understand, about what I am. I will continue to be that which I am, because I don’t create my own existence out of thought. And so full circle to the beginning of this post. I will die. Non-negotiable. I will be what I am in life and in death, even if I don’t know what that is in its totality. That’s beyond my control also.
I’ve had this understanding in the past, related to my experience of meditation. Patanjali’s definition of yoga is ‘the cessation of fluctuation in the consciousness’. Although some days my mind is a typhoon of incessant movement, I’ve understood that even during the typhoon, that cessation of movement is my inevitable destination (there also seem to be deeper fluctuations within consciousness than those of the thinking mind, at the border between pratyahara and dharana, i.e. when one-pointed concentration is the desired practice. Same story). And another thing, add in the fact that spiritual experience happens in the present moment only, then I see that there is no past and future where my essential being is concerned, therefore no time-related stuff like beginnings and endings. And I have been to such a place on occasion, even though it’s memories right now! (Actually I always had a problem with the phrase ‘being in the now’… see my post ‘Always’. (https://tonysugden.wordpress.com/2016/07/25/always/)
This particular physical life, this physical entity, will end.
I will always be what I am, regardless of what I think I am.
Two threads woven in the same cloth.