Random Fragments To Help Along The Way

Lately, I’ve been unable to hold a cohesive thought and bring it to any kind of conclusion, logical or otherwise. Instead, I’ve had a string of thoughts – prompted by a number of isolated quotes – come to my attention. These quotes are fragments I had saved with the thought that I would use them one day to punctuate a longer piece of writing. I hope you find them inspiring or thought-provoking in some small way. Perhaps you will feel urged to seek out more writings by their authors, who have been fortunate enough to reach the end of their searching and attain true wisdom through Enlightenment.

These first are by the Sufi poet Hafiz (given name Shams-ud-din Muhammad, c.1320-1389) – (taken from “the Gift” Poems by Hafiz The Great Sufi Master – translations by Daniel Ladinsky- published by Penguin, 1999) I love the dedication page. It reads, “ To God’s magnificent masquerade ~~as us!”

The Sun Never Says

Even

After

All this time

The sun never says to the earth,

“You owe

Me.”

Look

What happens

With a love like that,

It lights the

Whole

Sky.

And there is this fragment from another of his poems:

“…..I saw two birds this morning

Laughing with the sun.

They reminded me of how

We will one day exist….”

And now a couple of quotes by another great Sufi poet, Rumi (Jalaluddin Rumi – 1207-1273):

“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”

~

“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field.  I’ll meet you there.”

And finally, a quote I came across when I was in the 5th grade while reading a book, Step to the Music, by Phyllis A. Whitney. It is a quote by Henry David Thoreau – (Transcendentalist, 1817-1862 from his book, “Walden”)  –  Even then I knew it would sum up my life:

“If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.”

Namaste.

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There’s No Place Like Om

Repetition of the Om mantra (called the ‘Omkara’) is a useful practice. Simple yet complete, it is the primordial sound of the Absolute. And it is really the only mantra we need because all the other mantras are derived from that one vibration. Oh, I still chant other mantras thinking ‘maybe this is the one I should be doing– or this mantra is better than that mantra…’ You know the drill we put ourselves through. But the truth is any mantra, if you really resonate with it, is fine. So why all the questioning, searching, judging and analyzing?  We are all searching for something. And that looking, that searching, is fueled by the feeling of incompleteness we endure.  Which is why we’re on a spiritual path in the first place. To feel complete – to go home.

Everybody’s out there looking for the meaning of life, whether they’re aware of it or not. People who are not pursing a spiritual path look outside of themselves by turning to the material world for that ever-elusive sense of completeness.  But this kind of searching is a bottomless pit because the ego is never satisfied. Once it gets one thing it wants it’s off wanting something else. But it’s not so different with those on or looking for a spiritual path.  They search and search trying this method, listening to that teacher, all with the thought that perhaps this one is the right one. The grass is always greener….right? And if the technique, such as chanting the Om, is too simple we discard it because we think there has to be more to it.

But what’s wrong with something being simple anyway? Thoreau knew the benefits of simplicity when he isolated himself at Walden Pond.  He said, “Our life is frittered away by detail… Simplify, simplify, simplify!” adding that we should aim for, “… Simplicity of life and elevation of purpose.”  But we continue to clutter up our lives in order to fill some big black hole.

Maybe it’s the rhythm of our days – the structure of them that feeds the need to continually look for fulfillment. Most of us who go to a job everyday probably feel stifled in some way. Even if we like what we do, there is probably a ‘wanting’ that steals the joy of life away like a thief in the night, unseen but nonetheless damaging to our sense of contentment. Thoreau also said, “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” He meant that we resign our lives to being a certain way, and that resignation is the desperation we feel. But it is, in fact, this desperation that propels our searching.

The searching, whatever form it takes, is aimed at one goal: wholeness.  When we reconnect with the Sacred, when we go home for that period of time we spend in contemplation/meditation, we find that wholeness.  And we don’t need any fancy equipment or expensive program touted by some self-help guru; we already have everything we need. Dorothy found that out in the Wizard of Oz when the wizard and the good witch told her that she had the power inside of her to bring herself home. The scarecrow, the tin man, and the lion each searching for what they thought they needed to obtain from outside of themselves realized at the end of the story that they too already had everything they needed to complete their journey – knowledge (spiritual knowledge, that is), heart and courage; the three qualities of the spiritual seeker. L. Frank Baum, the author of the Wizard of Oz, was a Theosophist and it is thought that he meant the story to be a metaphor for the spiritual seeker. Following the yellow brick road is the path that will lead you home and it is packed with lions and tigers and bears, as well as the occasional run in with the evil witch, suggesting that the path is long, hard and at times scary. Even the Beatles’ song, “The Long and Winding Road,” is a tribute to our seeking. It asks to “…let me know the way…..lead me to your door.”  The lyrics also propose a lonely and sometimes difficult road.  As many of us are discovering, sadhana is not easy. But it allows us glimpses of the goal – Home – that keep us going.

Thomas Wolfe may have said, “You can’t go home again” – but we can. When I chant the Omkara that’s where I feel I am. This is what sadhana is all about. Going home.