Friday, April 26, 2013

Meaning of Life, Take 2--Live It!

Another blast from the distant past.  Remember before the end of the Mayan calendar?   First draft:  March 22, 2012, heavily edited to bring it up to date.

“How would you feel if at the end of your life you still had questions?”   Recently, a friend posed this hypothetical to me and I shuddered.  The quest for the answer to the riddle of life has been the bane of my life--the big WHY?  For decades I have pursued an answer, as if life was a big game with a trophy at the end for whoever finds out. And like most seekers I turned to the East in my quest.

Ganeshpuri Ashram, India 1981
In July 1983 I traveled to Swami Muktananda’s ashram in India. I had met him a couple years prior at the big tent in Santa Monica.  That day I went to the platform for a personal darshan (blessing), he mumbled in Hindi then whacked me with a peacock feather--his watery eyes drowning me in bliss.  I knew I wanted whatever he had.

Traveling around India severely tested my spirit and body, until like Alex in Clockwork Orange, I stumbled into the ashram at Ganeshpuri--weakened from fighting dysentery for weeks.  The receptionist glared at me and said “Everyone does seva (service)."

Assigned to the kitchen cleaning the pots and pans, I pouted to myself--‘I have two college degrees, I make good money on my job, I’m too good for this.’  Then one of the ‘old timers’ (could have been maybe 50) said, “Pots and pans is the seva of enlightenment."  (Yeh, right.)   The next morning I faced a stainless steel sink filled with pots and pans in a dark basement with only a sliver of light from a window.  Remembering the purpose of my trip, I buckled down and grabbed the scrubber.  By the end of that shift it hit me--Everything was perfect just as it was.  

I got it-- and peace within was mine--and all I had to do was surrender my egoism and do what was in front of me.  Unfortunately, my awakening was fleeting and I soon fell into thoughts of judgment, separation, and questions.   Not present to what is, I lived as most do in the past, future, or distraction.

Recently my handyman tossed me a zinger:  In a rush to finish a remodeling project on my house, I spilled some paint.   While methodically painting the wall he said, “Your impatience comes from not liking what you’re doing and you want to get it over with and make mistakes.”  How true!  (the pots in the ashram again)  He continued, “Impatience becomes a habit, then nothing is good enough for your full attention and you’re never satisfied.”  Bulls eye!

Many years ago in Thailand I encountered the happiest people in my many years of travel.  Everyone from the taxi drivers to the shoe shine guys to the prostitutes were smiling and laughing.  Thais are 90% Buddhist.  In Buddhism the basic teaching is impermanence, the cycle of life and death, endings and beginnings, everything evolving but without a destination—infinite.  Why? Their answer?—Because!

I've finally run out of questions and believe answers are opinions anyway.  So, what is left? Focus on the here and now and act--live in the world.  Sometimes I lapse into futility, cynicism and lethargy, but then I remember it's getting late--mature age adds urgency.  At the same time, patience kicks in--take it easy.  I've got nothing to prove and hold my goals and desires lightly. Once achieved a new one always appears to distract me.

Each day I do my best to be present and give thanks for things the way they are and keep 'why' to a minimum. Tomorrow is another day with mystery, challenge, and experienceI zig and zag toward my visions and goals, but whether I get there is not important.  I put one step in front of the other and pay attention--no questions, just experience...Success!
Wisdom from Ras Marley

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