So, You’ve Freed Your Mind, Now What?

“We never free a mind once it’s reached a certain age. It’s dangerous, the mind has trouble letting go.” ~Morpheus to Neo
“We never free a mind once it’s reached a certain age. It’s dangerous, the mind has trouble letting go.” ~Morpheus to Neo

If you tried any of the tips I suggested at the turn of the New Year, then you may be experiencing some problems. You’ve probably noticed that as your mind begins to transcend the limited and narrow scope of the material world in which we live, a whole new set of complications arises.  After taking that red pill, you may wonder, “What in the world was I thinking?” In “The Matrix,” Morpheus apologizes to Neo, knowing that freeing a mind, especially past a certain age is “…dangerous…the mind has trouble letting go.”

… Like the sharp edge of a razor is that path, so the wise say—hard to tread and difficult to cross.” ~ the Katha Upanishad

Learning to live in harmony with what is real and what is not is like learning how to ride a two-wheeler all over again. You’re going to fall and it’s going to hurt, but eventually you will learn that delicate balance required to carry you to your destination. Near the end of the 1946 movie, “The Razor’s Edge,” Tyrone Power’s character comments on his searching: “It isn’t easy and it isn’t fun. I’ve known moments of futility and frustration…” well, you get the point. So, let’s take a look at life outside the Matrix.

“The ego lives in darkness, while the Self lives in light.”  ~ the Katha Upanishad

ॐWhen we begin to awaken, our compassion grows. Our thoughts turn away from competition to thoughts of cooperation. Not so concerned anymore with what we can get for ourselves – be it glory or more material things – we become more concerned about how can we alleviate the suffering of others. Tolstoy, who became enlightened in his later life, said: “The sole meaning of life is to serve humanity.” Throughout the past, there have been individuals who walked this path, inspiring others toward peace, justice, and equal rights for all:  Jesus, Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Robert Kennedy, John Lennon, Malala Yousafzai, just to name a few.  It shouldn’t escape anyone’s notice that everyone I just mentioned either met a violent end or, as in Yousafzai’s case, was targeted for assassination. There have been others, of course, who have met similar fates, and many more that will never be known beyond their own small circle of life. Keep walking the talk.

ॐ When we begin to awaken, we become intolerant for anything that might pull us away from the still mind and pure heart we are trying to establish. We may find parts of our old life fall away. This can be scary.  Don’t worry, new will replace the old, as an old friend used to remind me, “You have to empty the cup before it can fill up again.” Don’t resist this process.

ॐ When we begin to awaken, we may want to isolate ourselves from the noisy, divisive world, as it no longer satisfies imagesus. After Tyrone Power’s character begins to awaken to the Truth, he expresses the desire to stay secluded so he never has to leave the bliss he’s found. The holy man tells him, “It’s not necessary to leave the world…but rather to live in the world, and to love the objects of the world, not for themselves alone but for what there is in them of God…” So, while it is absolutely necessary to give ourselves that respite to reflect and renew, it is unrealistic to think that we can isolate forever, however tempting that might be sometimes. Besides, you will progress more quickly by staying in the world and learning how to balance while treading the razor’s edge. It isn’t easy and it isn’t fun….well, you get the point.

“May we light the fire….that burns out the ego, and enables us to pass from fearful fragmentation to fearless fullness in the changeless Whole.” ~ the Katha Upanishad

 

 

 


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Mirror, Mirror

mirrorAs a teenager, obsessed with her appearance, I spent many hours in front of the mirror. It was during those years when I first heard the expression, “The eyes are the windows to the soul.” I remember leaning forward toward the mirror to look more closely into my eyes thinking I might be able to catch a glimpse of my soul.  I began to wonder, “Who am I?” Was I my body, my soul or something else?

Spiritual searching often takes many forms, but defining the goal of a spiritual search can be tricky. I never really knew what I was looking for all those years of doing yoga, meditation, reading numerous books, attending many lectures. All I knew was that I wanted ‘Truth’ beyond what society puts out there for mass consumption. Actually, I’m a little amazed at how clueless I was in my searching. I wanted answers, but what exactly were the questions? If I had to be specific it would’ve been, “What is the meaning of life?”  I didn’t expect to realize that spiritual searching is essentially a search for Self.  I didn’t realize that all those years ago as a teenager I actually asked the right question, “Who am I?”

As it is now, society is structured to perpetuate the identity crisis in which we are all stuck. Everywhere there are distractions keeping us from indulging in any meaningful introspection.  The world is noisy, shallow, and divisive.  Any type of reflection is relegated to prayer on Sundays; however, even that is directed externally since we pray to something outside of ourselves. No wonder we don’t know the right questions to ask. When it’s all said and done, the struggle in life usually culminates with the question, “what was it all for?” since death appears to be the end. Impermanence abounds.  We are never taught that the continuity of the Self is the only constant.

Surprisingly, there are hints of truth from the mainstream media that you can catch. In the 1946 movie, “The Razor’s Edge,” Tyrone Power’s character is asked what he did during his time in India. He remarks, “I learned something about myself.”  As her time in India comes to a close in “Eat Pray Love,” Julia Roberts, portraying Elizabeth Gilbert, sums up her experience with the insight, “God dwells in me – as me.”

You probably think that once you discover who you really are you will find the answers to the rest of the questions. And you do, but really what you realize is that the rest of the questions don’t matter anymore. The struggle of finding your place in the world disappears when you discover your true identity. In fact, all struggles disappear once you become aware that there is no need to ‘strive’ for anything. You are already everything. It is the ego (personality) that is never satisfied, always doubts, and continuously struggles. It is the ego that believes society when it is told that it needs to do this or that to be considered successful or even acceptable.

It is the ego you see in the mirror.  It has nothing to do with who you really are.  In fact, the ego is the biggest obstacle to discovering the truth about yourself.  Next time you look into a mirror, try looking past the image. If you find yourself wondering, “Who am I?” congratulations, the quest has begun.