Author Archives: Dhanpal-Donna Quesada

Yoga at Woodstock?

In my article, entitled “Woodstock: The First Postmodern Event?” I make the case that Woodstock should indeed, be considered the first truly postmodern event. In it, I explore the difference between modernism and postmodernism, and how Woodstock is different than other festivals because of the way it embraces postmodern ideals. Part of this movement included the influx of eastern ideals, many of which made their way to the festival itself. More below, along with a link to the full article on my other blog. Thanks for following me there!
~DQ

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Eastern Thought—
Part of this all-encompassing desire for social change included the openness to new ideas in spirituality. The interest in Zen Buddhism, Yoga and other religions of the East, arose with postmodernist thought and what came to be known as the “Bohemian lifestyle.” Eastern spirituality was seen as less rigid than the authoritarian western counterpart. The pervasive ideals of peace, acceptance, and nonviolence were seen as welcome alternatives to the atrophied moralistic religious dogmas of the west, which seemed to consider everything a sin. Eastern thought provided the ideals that the countercultural movement espoused….oneness.

Read entire article at my other blog:
http://fiftyyearsafter.wordpress.com

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Get over Yourself! Advice from my interview with Caroline Myss

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I had the unbelievable honor, to interview Caroline Myss, last month. I have, for a long time, counted her as one of my own teachers and continue to be inspired by her books and lectures, so you can imagine how thrilled I was to have the opportunity to interview her for Awaken.com. The first part of the interview will be posted there this Sunday. For now, here is a portion of it…she is speaking about the recent pilgrimage she did through the Spanish El Camino. It contains a simple, but life-changing piece of wisdom:

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Caroline: …The Spanish valley was stunning. And I see all these little hamlets and some snow on top of the mountains. And I thought, my god is this beautiful! And I just stood there and smelled the air, that wonderful way that air smells with water in it. I just filled up my lungs and stood there and thought, this is so beautiful…I’ve never seen this before and I want to remember every single glimmer. I want to make this great, big, huge memory for the rest of my life. I want to remember this moment, standing on this mountain, standing here right now, this day. Then it occurred to me…that I couldn’t remember most of my life. Faced with desire to make a great, big, huge memory. I was confronted with the reality that I had very little memory of all the ordinary days of my life.

Donna: Like dreams.

Caroline: And it took my breath away. And then I stood there and then the second tsunami hit. And I thought, I could die in this moment. Right now, in this moment. So much life is happening on the planet in this moment. People are being born, people are dying. People are making agreements. People are getting married. People are getting divorced. Souls are coming in. Souls are leaving. Businesses are being born. All these things are happening right now, in this moment, that I am standing here. Friends are meeting. Friends are saying goodbye. Strangers are sitting next to each other. New conversations are starting. And I’m imagining all the things taking place in the moment that could be my last moment. And I am looking at this valley and thinking, this could be the last thing I see. And I thought…and I hardly remember this life that I have lived. I remember so much about it, of course, but if you said to me, “where were you on October 4th, 1967?” I have no idea. In high school, somewhere. The truth is, I thought, what a humble experience.

And who would even glance backwards, once I leave the planet and life would go on and that would be that. And then tsunami three…I didn’t remember hardly any of the things that I was once fretting about. Or, what made me so angry, or whatever, and that delighted me. And so, when you say, “what can people do?” Humble up! Get over yourself. There is nothing about your life that is that big a deal. Nothing. Absolutely nothing. You are not that important to anybody, at all. There is nothing that we are doing that someone else cannot do. Humble up! You want a practice? That’s it.
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Follow me on my other blog (next up: postmodernism & Woodstock): https://fiftyyearsafter.wordpress.com

 

The Emptiness of Anger

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While working my way through a thick stack of homework papers recently, I came across one, written by a Chinese student who spoke of his hatred toward the Japanese. I’ve received other papers through the years, alluding to the very same grudge. This common resentment is because of the Japanese invasions into China during the 1930s.

I often wonder while reading, if they even know at whom they are angry, and whether the feeling is directed toward today’s generation of Japanese. I even wonder if it is a feeling at all. It is perhaps more like a cultural habit. 

Nonetheless, if the cynicism is directed toward today’s generation, then I wonder whether these young Japanese are even familiar with the history of WWII. If they’re like most young people, it’s just an anecdote in their history books.

They are a good three generations removed from the relevant, and “chargeable” generation. This generation is busy with the same personal concerns we’re all busy with, and worried about issues that affect us all equally, like the economy, or the environment. And in a more personal context, they’re worried about transferring to a good university, the problem they’re having with their girlfriend or boyfriend, and whether they’ve used too much data on their cell phones.

In this light, it is clearly pointless to be angry at these people.

So, then what about the older generation, those who were in their prime during WWII? The culprits. In a similar line of thought, my guess is that the average Japanese person back then, was waiting for news of the war, like the rest of the world…concerned most immediately, about the safety of their families…looking for assurance that life would continue in some semblance of normalcy…hoping that their village wouldn’t be crushed. They weren’t personally involved in acts of destruction, at all, and chances are, didn’t wish for it, either.

So, who should the culprit be? Perhaps the government, but that particular assemblage is now nonexistent.

The Chinese aren’t horrible for persisting in their anger toward the Japanese. If they are, then we all are equally horrible. We all do the same thing. The Buddhists call it ignorance.

 We condemn the Germans, as a whole, for the holocaust. But all it takes is remembrance of the many Germans who tried, themselves, to bring down Hitler, and the many others who took in Jews, at their own personal risk.

Ironically, it would be all too easy to direct the same bitterness toward the Chinese, due to their violent seizure of Tibet, but the ordinary Chinese people of today have not seized Tibet, and weren’t even around when the whole thing started, some 60 years ago, under Mao. They are getting along like the rest of us, doing the things the rest of us do everyday, and probably don’t know much about it, aside from what their Government, through heavy censure, has allowed them to know.

The point is, with deeper consideration, it becomes increasingly difficult to find a target, and to hold onto anger.

Eckhart Tolle — A Hidden Pearl (The Real Purpose of Life)

Below is a treasure of wisdom that is not found in any of Eckhart Tolle’s books. I transcribed it myself, from a talk that I attended years ago. In this exquisite passage, he expresses the true purpose of life, which is, essentially, to awaken. And what does that mean? It casts light on the reason why so many…who have achieved fame and fortune by external measures, still fail to experience joy in life.

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True flowering is not the achievement of this or that. Sometimes, the flowering happens indirectly, through an achievement, which doesn’t help the person, either…if they still identify as the form of achievement.

The true flowering is the arising of presence in you…when you become transparent. And that can happen at any age and it doesn’t matter where you are in your life situation. It doesn’t depend on “success,” by worldly measures. Some people have succeeded, by world standards…and others, who have failed, by world standards…maybe in a year, they’ll be rich and famous.

I was a “failure” in the eyes of the world, 10 years ago…and now the world thinks I’m a success. Completely meaningless…completely meaningless.

It doesn’t matter where you are…what life situation you’re in, at the present time. The ultimate purpose of your existence is…for the form to manifest that which is beyond manifestation…to become an opening for the unconditioned…for the stillness, the awareness, that energy stream, that frequency.

I believe Ramana Maharshi used the expression, a current of awareness that flows through you. That is non-conceptual intelligence.

And it’s more than that, too. It’s love.

~~~

My new blog: https://fiftyyearsafter.wordpress.com
(Latest article: The Space where Ram Dass & Timothy Leary Diverge)

Timothy Leary and Ram Dass

Hello My Dear Readers,

Besides my work as a Kundalini Yoga teacher, professor, and contributor to various publications, I am now maintaining two personal blogs, including this one. My new blog pivots around the music and the culture of the 60s (my first published writings were as a music reviewer!). I want to take this moment to thank you for following me here…and at the same time, invite you to follow me there. Not all posts will be about music…some, like today’s entry, on Ram Dass & Timothy Leary, will focus on relevant topics from the era. Below is a taste, followed by the link to the entire post:

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… It is one of their last conversations, erupting at the very end of the movie, in which, spawned by a discussion of what happens after death, they wrangle over the existence of the soul, which in Hinduism, is called the atman:

Ram Dass: I’m interested in awareness AFTER the brain gets eaten. I think about the dissolution of conceptual structures.

Timothy Leary: There are neurological and anatomical explanations for hallucinations.

RD: (I’m interested in how death) catapults us into non-conceptual space…my sense of continuity of awareness beyond the brain…is it just my wanting to keep something going?

TL: I don’t have that.

RD: You used the word, “soul”…what do you mean by it?

TL: “Superconsciousness.” And it…she…hangs around the brain.

RD: Well, Ramana Maharshi says, it’s right here (touches heart).

TL: (Rolls eyes)…A wonderful organ to pump blood. These Indian gurus…they’re using the heart as a metaphor? A bad metaphor.

RD: It’s in the lower, right hand corner…the size of your thumb…the atman…

TL: (Aghast) Are you kidding me!?

… Ram Dass had found something that Leary hadn’t, and it has the aroma of divinity….while Leary’s projection carried the unmistakeable flavor of anguish. One of Leary’s five wives offers us some insight, when she explains the disconnect Leary has always had between his mind and his heart… ”the mind was always in charge and the heart got left behind,” she explained…

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Finish article at:

fiftyyearsafter.wordpress.com

The Only Opinion that Matters…

As readers of this blog know, I have been blessed to receive channeled messages, especially at times when I have needed the highest, most elevated and exalted form of upliftment. I usually share this wisdom in my classes at Yoga West, and here, I will share the latest communication:

The Only Opinion that Matters is Source.

The only opinion that matters is Source…or, God…or, The Infinite Divine…or…

Because we invest so much energy and personal reSOURCEs into other people’s opinions and approval. Because we compare ourselves to others. Because we care about what the peanut gallery thinks. And because we create our own disappointments time and time again, as we look for anything consistent at all, from the outside world and from other people…who are not only fickle, but also, by virtue of their own lack of wholeness, incapable of making us whole.

And in their own disconnected state, when others are less than accepting and forgiving, and at the same time, directing their focus on you (it is nothing personal—it could be anyone), it is because they are under the mistaken belief that if you were to change what you were doing, then they would be satisfied and happy.

In other words, those who point fingers or direct negativity toward others, could be satisfied with a snap of their fingers, if they would care more about their own connection, before anything else, just as we all can. But, in a state of separation, we mistakenly look to others to fulfill us. Of course, other people and other things never can. And so we slip into chronic frustration and then say they let us down…or we go looking for new toys and gimmicks that will do the job better…and the cycle goes on.

If we were to truly start caring more about our own alignment with SOURCE, we would begin to not only heal, but also feel good, consistently.

But, when we look within for the only voice…the only opinion…the only thought that ever mattered, we no longer hold up any external conditions for our own well-being and happiness.

This is why mystics from time immemorial have been devoted to some sort of daily meditative routine, before they even engage with the outside world—so as to touch the sacred within. So as to remind themselves that this is it. Right here.

What is the simplest and quickest way to align? Sometimes the most unembellished is best. I recall Caroline Myss’ simple prayer to God:

“I’m Listening.”

Yes…Jesus Was a Yogi

Jesus is Universal—

The great Yogi, Paramahansa Yogananda, once asked, “Many are the powerful churches founded in Jesus’ name, but where is the communion that he stressed…where is the actual contact with God?”

When Jesus spoke, he was imparting deep truths, which he himself, received through direct experience and genuine communion with the divine. We may refer to this state of consciousness by many names, such as Christ Consciousness, or God Realization, in which the oneness that exists among all revelations, regardless of name, sect, or geographical location, is perceived. Truth is Truth is Truth is Truth, no matter its name and irrespective of what costume or scripture we wrap it in. This means that The New Testament is no more Christian, than The Bhagavad Gita is Hindu. They are written records of enlightened revelations available to any seeker by any name for the purpose of upliftment.

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Not Through Rituals, but through Yoga—

Thus, Christ Consciousness is beyond category, and can only be known through experience, not by dint of ritual, costume or temple. Not even by the arrival of Jesus himself. As Paramahansa-ji put it, “A thousand Christs sent to earth would not redeem its people unless they themselves become Christlike by purifying and expanding their individual consciousness.”

Through the technology of Yoga—a word meaning, Union with Divine—a seeker can expand his/her consciousness to the frequency of the divine. Or, said differently, he/she can unite his/her finite awareness with the infinite awareness, often called God. The technology of Yoga was first revealed in written form, in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, about 500 years before Jesus. In these sutras, it is said that through various daily disciplines, culminating with meditation, the omniscience of cosmic awareness may become known.

The Soul of Yoga has been Lost—

These practices, known by sages and Yogis…and by Jesus himself, have been held in secrecy and passed down with discretion, from teacher to disciple, for millennia, long before they were ever written. Unfortunately, through the commercialization of mainstream Yoga, through its importation to the west, this technology, as well as the original intent of Yoga—has been lost in the morass of poses, products and popularity.

The Hidden Truth in Jesus’ Parables—

And the disciples came, and said unto him, “Why speakest thou unto them in parables?” He answered and said unto them, “Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given….Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.” 

Like the Yogis of old, who carefully guarded this technology of enlightenment, Jesus, too, selectively revealed the higher and more advanced teachings for those that were able to receive them, which is why he taught in parables.

When asked by his disciples, why he often taught through parables, Jesus said, “Because it is so ordained that you who are my real disciples, living a spiritualized life and disciplining your actions according to my teachings, deserve, by virtue of your inner awakening in your meditations to understand the truth of the arcane mysteries of heaven and how to attain the kingdom of God, Cosmic Consciousness hidden behind the vibratory creation of cosmic delusion. But ordinary people, unprepared in their receptivity, are not able either to comprehend or to practice the deeper wisdom-truths. From parables, they glean according to their understanding, simpler truths…”

Esoteric Practices—

As is taught in all practices, the ultimate truths of heaven, that Jesus spoke of, can not be grasped by the senses, nor the rational mind, but can only be known through intuitive awareness. In other words, only through direct experience, can we ever really know the reality that lies behind the trappings of logic and beyond the illusions of the senses.

Through direct personal practice in the myriad techniques of Yoga and meditation, transcendental consciousness may be achieved. For example, through the awakening of the energy centers in the spine, we open the gateways into what Jesus called “The Kingdom of God.”

When man is settled in that inner kingdom of divine consciousness, the awakened intuitive perception of the soul pierces the veils of matter, life energy, and consciousness and uncovers the God-essence in the heart of all things…. ~Paramahansa Yogananda

Resurrection—

An example of Jesus’ mastery over the materialistic laws of earthly life are seen in the act of resurrection, something that has been understood by accomplished yogis of India for thousands of years. These Yogis consider Jesus to be a realized yogi: one who knew and had mastered the spiritual science of life and death, God-communion and God-union.


Jesus Misinterpreted—

In his book, The Yoga of Jesus, Paramahansa-ji, points out that even the most basic principles of Jesus’ teachings have been distorted, while “genocidal wars have been fought, people have been burned as witches and heretics, on the presumed authority of man-made doctrines of Christianity.”

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~Donna Quesada

 

 

Be Neutral; Be Knowing; Be Glowing

Yogi Bhajan - in whiteOn occasion, I receive messages from Yogi Bhajan, who I think of as Yogiji because the ji functions as a term of endearment. Sometimes I share these messages and others, I simply tuck away into a journal, to be compiled in a book, one day.

But along with this particular message, was the injunction that it be shared. It came as a response to a personal plea for strength, as I have recently been going through a demanding life-challenge. Here is the message, followed by my interpretations of each of the three parts:

Be Neutral; Be Knowing; Be Glowing

Be Neutral—

Meaning, don’t “emotionalize” as you go about your business; just go about your business.

In other words, refrain from running stories in your head about how wrong the other person is…how out of line the company is…how unjust the situation is, etc., etc. It’s not for us to play the role of judge. And anyway, victim consciousness is the lowest form of consciousness (since nothing that happens is personal—more on this below).

But it also doesn’t mean you sit and do nothing when conflict or wrong has occurred. When you’ve already tried to settle the situation peaceably to no avail, you proceed by going through appropriate channels, but without additional energy wasted on vengeful thoughts. (As Zen says, that would be like wearing two heads!)

In short, don’t “personalize” the situation or the other person’s actions, since, those actions were never about you, anyway, they were always about the other—betraying their own state of consciousness. And on a more metaphysical level, those actions are merely impersonal obstacles, like little mazes meant to navigate, so as to reap the lessons they offer, and to able to then move on, and nothing more.

Be Knowing—

My own teacher, Guru Singh, was one of Yogiji’s first students. This is a line from one of his devotional songs, called “Fortunate:”

To be confident that the infinite will take care of it…

This line best sums up the meaning of the second part of Yogiji’s message. It asks us to know, to really know, in our heart, that the universe is truly supporting us.

You are divinely guided! You really do have angels. And what’s more, you have more inner resources than you ever imagined.

Whatever name we call it by…God, the divine, the supreme infinite...doesn’t matter. It means there’s no reason to worry.

Don’t live in fear—have faith. Surrender. And once you do, you’ll see the beauty all around you, as well as all the signs that your angels (in the form of helpers in your life or in spirit), are carrying you.

Consider that whatever challenge you are facing is akin to what mystics have characteristically referred to as “the dark night of the soul,” which always precedes the light! It is a time of reordering, in which something has to die in order for something more beautiful and infinitely more liberating to be born. And this necessitates a kind of chaos, as all birthing experiences do.

But open your heart to faith throughout the process—outrageous faith…faith in your own mission, which comes in the form of divine instructions and your courage to finally listen and follow these instructions! This is freedom, this is light.

Be Glowing—

This is a reminder that our true power and strength is on the inside and this will supersede any physical situation. Meaning, whatever your situation or challenge is, it is of little consequence to fret about possible outcomes, especially those based on what other people’s experiences have been, based on google searches, or based on hearsay. Your inner glow and light, which radiates outward and is felt by all who come near you, will affect the material context in ways that others are unable to understand. It’s like a secret.

~Donna Quesada

Our True Self (and a koan)

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Spiritual guides often say that the end of suffering is found when the true self is realized.

What is the true self, anyway, and how does it make life “better?”

Before explaining further, consider this random list of everyday concerns and experiences:

  • I can see signs of aging
  • I need to lose weight by summer
  • I feel so rejected
  • Is she going to call?
  • I’ll beat him at his own game
  • That was MY idea!
  • Is he ever going to shut up?
  • Will this traffic never let up?
  • I will make sure they notice me
  • I should be making more money by now
  • My colleague just got promoted; I better be next
  • When am I going to find the right love match?
  • There’s never enough time in the day
  • I need a new car
  • I bet I appeared nervous
  • I looked stupid when I said that
  • Daylight savings makes me depressed
  • I will prove that I thought of it first
  • I’m no good with public speaking
  • I always have problems with her

So, how will relating to your true self eliminate these everyday concerns? Firstly, consider the prevalence of judgment, comparison, lack and expectation in the list. Where do judgment, comparison, lack and expectation come from?


There is a Zen koan that says: “Show me your original face before you were born.” A variation is: “Without thinking of good or evil, show me your original face before your mother and father were born.”


Like all koans, this perplexing question reads more like a riddle and is not meant to be answered logically. Rather, it invites us to let go of the analytical mind and melt into a place that resides beyond the realm of thinking altogether.

In this particular koan, we are called to relate to ourselves in a way that is pure, in a way that precedes the experiences that shaped our sense of identity and even our habitual ways of thinking.

By transcending the analytical mind, we also transcend the learned tendency to challenge, argue, or squabble over aspects of the koan that may seem “nonsensical.” In other words, if we were to appear before the Zen master and try to impress him/her by our astute observation that I couldn’t have had a face if I wasn’t born yet, so the koan must be flawed to begin with, our teacher would shoo us out quicker than we could make our exiting bow.

In our contemplation of this well-known koan, we can return to our original face, meaning…who we were before we had anything to prove. Who were we before we adopted ideas about ourselves that were based on other peoples opinions (which became our own), and thus, before the judgments, comparisons, sense of lack and consequent expectations developed?

In the purity of this unshaped Self-ness, there was no sense of lack and nothing to prove.

Every judgment, e.g., I looked stupid when I said that, piggybacks on an insecurity and an implicit comparison to something else (a child has no sense of “looking stupid” because she also has no sense of “looking cool”).

What is it that gives rise to these kinds of insecurities?

The ego, of course. And ego is not your true Self. It is a masquerader shaped from those expectations and opinions mentioned above.  Although commonly associated with arrogance, it is much more subtle that that. It is the insecure part of us that needs constant recognition, approval, and reassurance. And because it is born when our sense of separateness is born, it is competitive and comparative. It needs to be right. It needs to be better. And because of the fear generated by its exaggerated sense of self, it is in a constant state of anxiety and distrust.

How many of the issues on our list would vanish if we were engaging with life from a higher place than ego. What is that place? Where is that place?

It is our original and true Self, of course!

Or, put differently, if ego is the head, than our true self is the heart. The ego worries about what the Yogis call “lower-chakra” concerns…getting and having, issues that go back to basic survival needs, and there’s always more to get and others who have more, so competition rules the day.

And the heart—as corny as it sounds—is love. And in love, there simply is no room for self-doubt and insecurity, and all the comparisons and judgments that come along for the ride. And by love, I don’t mean mushy romantic stuff—which is just more ideas that come from images and stories—I mean, rather, total acceptance, trust and knowing.

Knowing what?

That everyone has their own place, purpose and is supported in their mission…and that no one else can fulfill this mission in quite the same way, so there’s no sense in worrying about what others are doing. Just congratulate them and mean it wholeheartedly, because they’re doing what they’re supposed to be doing and you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing and there’s room for all of us and so, we can all just relax and be happy.

To put it in even riskier terms, we could say that when we live from the heart, we are dwelling in God. And God doesn’t take things personally or get involved in drama. God doesn’t compare, judge, get wrecked by anxiety and unfulfilled expectations and certainly has nothing to prove and no sense of lack.

So, that takes care of the entire list!

And it also takes care of the conditions we place on our own happiness. We can also read that list as a list of conditions that we think need, in order to be content and fulfilled in life.

So, in answer to the koan, our original face is free from the struggles that accompany the ego and of the judgments that come from other people’s opinions and expectations. So, when we strip off the masks we took to wearing as a kind of armor plate, we become free, in turn, to live in a natural and relaxed state, where the only thing lacking is drama.

Free Will & Faith (Say Yes)

We, the descendants of the Age of Reason, have been nurtured to raise a suspicious eyebrow at suggestions like have faith, or, trust the universe, or worse, let go & let God, because it insults our conviction in the power of our own free will…our capacity to be self-determined, autonomous individuals…masters of our own destiny…captains of our ship.

Then, by means of direct experience with the tumultuous and liberating changes that occurred throughout the sixties, or else by dint of our good fortune in happening upon a teacher, some of us became “spiritual.”

Part of being spiritual is the realization of our inter-connection with the world, and by extension, our influence on it; through every action, every word, and even every thought, we affect everything in known and unknown ways. Coming out of a God-fearing era, in which one didn’t dare assert one’s power over the mysterious workings of the divine, this was huge. By reclaiming our power, we assumed our role as creator, or at least co-creator. And we liked it. We took to the idea of manifestation like a cat takes to a newly-emptied box. It pleased our sense of doing and gratified our need for control. After all, if we can simply choose our thoughts and direct our intention, then we can shape the world we want to live in.

We can’t stop our thoughts, the reasoning went, so we might as well learn to master them and so we willfully embraced our role as co-creator of our destiny. The idea of activating our ability to manifest tangible things, like cars and money, as well as the more elusive intangibles, like health and well-being, made us feel powerful.

I eagerly stepped onto the bandwagon.

But, then I asked, what if this, too, were but a stepping stone, a bridge, to a more exalted plateau, still? What if, all of life amounted to this one question:

Can you release even that—the need to make choices at all… can you release the need to co-create?

In other words, can you say yes to life on its own terms?

But, rather than seeing it as a denial of free will, why not look upon this gesture of renunciation, as “the ultimate act of free will?”…as the most courageous choice there is, which is to melt away, that you may move about, like two feathers on a bird, where no difference exists between your will and divine will.

Yogis have always been renunciates. And by Yogis, I mean all seekers, who have abandoned material comforts, mundane temptations and distractions in their passion to find God. So intrinsically a part of spiritual life, renunciation is considered to be the final stage of life in India’s religious traditions.

I propose that the truest gesture of renunciation is internal, rather than external, which is to say, unseen. It is implied in our courage to let go of even the pretense of control. And to the extent of our willingness and ability to do this—to truly surrender—we are Yogis without necessarily looking like Yogis…Yogis as householders…as ordinary people in ordinary surroundings, wearing ordinary clothes, doing ordinary things.

The only thing extraordinary (but doesn’t have to be extraordinary) is the degree of presence one brings to one’s life, since presence is proportional to the extent of surrender, as every wily attempt by the mind, to grasp at anything, is a step out of this moment.

I am reminded of an old Zen Koan about the man who encountered a tiger.

A man was traveling by foot, when all of a sudden, a tiger came running after him. When he reached a precipice, and could run no more, he caught hold of a wild vine and swung himself down over the edge. The tiger sniffed at him from above. Trembling, he looked down to where, far below, another tiger was waiting to eat him. As if things couldn’t get worse, he then noticed two mice, gnawing away the vine; the only thing that sustained him. It was at that very moment, that the man noticed a luscious strawberry within reach, so he ate it. How sweet it tasted!

Can we laugh at the ultimate paradox of life? The exquisite beauty that exists within and alongside the ephemeral. The moment we try to possess it, it vanishes.

Like the man hanging off the cliff, we all have the ability to “transcend” our situations and dramas, but that transcendence is discovered through the relinquishment of our perceived identities in this life, especially our role as the “doer.” More profoundly, it is expressed through our willingness to offer up thanks and laugh with the beauty and apparent absurdity of it all. But really what we’re doing is giving the whole thing over to a higher power.

And, “giving it over” isn’t to “give up,” in the ordinary sense, it’s rather, to begin to relate to a larger field of creation. Giving up, in the ordinary sense is the ego’s way of saying, in a passive-aggressive voice, “I can’t have my own way,” so I’ll act like I never wanted it, anyway.” There’s a lurking resentment there. Whereas, in the truest form of surrender, it is of the soul, rather than the ego. It is not only to identify with a larger—so large so as to be infinite—perspective, but to come into a genuine state of allowing. It’s as if the you, that you thought you knew, disappears into this infinite self. So that you are nothing, but at the same time, everything.

And this expansion occurs to the point where, even your need to figure things out, e.g., the hows & the whys, begins to fade. You just trust. It’s not that you trust any being in particular…you just trust. It’s a state of being.

And this brings us back to the ultimate act of free will; it’s a choice to trust. To trust that everything is going to be OK…that everything is already OK…that everything is unfolding just as it should….that even this tempest you’re in the middle of right now, is part of it all…and it’s perfect. It’s to know that the workings of the divine, and your purpose within it all, is beyond what the mind can comprehend.

So, you just live. And, like the man on the precipice, rather than trying to figure it out or outsmart the process, or improve God’s timing, you surrender to this moment and eat the strawberry. And everything is delicious. And perfect…as it is.