In My Meditation Today. I realized that I had a choice. I can tell myself that it is unrealistic to get everything I want in my life and suppress some of my deepest needs because I am afraid of the consequences of asking for them. I can settle.
OR I can acknowledge my needs, walk through my fears and live a life that always aspires to the next level of magnificence. Choosing the latter.
This week we begin the Grand Story of the Divine Mother.
These stories are recorded and recited in Sanskrit. Sanskrit is a complex language, in which accenting one consonant over another can change the context and meaning of a word. Since I do not know Sanskrit and since I have heard these stories either in one of the modern Indian languages or English, I am aware that attempting to translate this myth for this blog could be interpreted as being monumentally arrogant and entirely foolish. However, these myths have played a formative role in my life. As with the SaptaShloki, the focus of this blog is to continue to interpret these stories from my individual perspective and describe their role in applying spirituality to my daily living.
The Myth begins with an introduction to Suratha, a king, and Samadhi, a merchant.
A king who once ruled a large kingdom, Suratha, leaves his kingdom and flees to the forest after a humiliating defeat in a war. He ends up at the hermitage of a sage called Sumedhas. As he wanders around the hermitage, overwhelmed with memories of the past, and worrying about the future, he meets Samadhi, a wealthy merchant who was also forced to leave home when his wife and sons usurped all his wealth.
The two strike up a conversation and commiserate with each other. They recognize the ridiculousness of their plight, in a moment of mutual awareness. They were in a beautiful hermitage, surrounded by beauty, peace, and well-being, but both of them were immersed in the lives that they had left behind. Perplexed by their inability to leave the past behind, they approach the sage, Sumedhas, and ask him, “Why are we unable to control our thoughts? We know our thoughts are causing us grief, but we cannot do anything about them. Please guide us.”
Sumedhas begins by explaining to them the power of Maya. His response begins with the first verse in the Sapta Shloki: “You are caught up in the spell of Mahamaya,” he says, and proceeds to describe the story of the Divine Mother, who is “the supreme knowledge and the eternal cause of liberation.”
(see my interpretation of Maya here.
All of these myths operate at two levels, fantasy, and allegory.
To understand the allegory, we have to start with the names. The king is called Suratha ( su = beautiful / fine; ratha = vehicle ). The five senses are the vehicles that bring the external world to us. Samadhi (Sama – equal; Dhi = sight); Samadhi = he who views everything as equal – or can witness the divinity in all. The sage Sumedhas ( Su = good, Medhas = insight /knowledge)
Thus, Suratha is a state in which we have control over our senses; Samadhi represents a state in which we live in the knowledge of our divinity. Suratha losing the war and fleeing to the forest demonstrates a loss of control of our senses and the shift from awareness and control to ignorance. Samadhi loses his ability to see the divine in everything and also moves from supreme knowledge to the ignorance of separation. When we lose control of our senses and equanimity, we seek guidance from the higher self, who has insight and knowledge.
The most significant moment in the story is when both of them are lost in the misery of their condition but suddenly recognize that they are lost. The mind is completely lost in a spiral of despair, and out of nowhere, there is an awareness, a slight separation, that allows you to see that you are lost.
That is the promise. That is the intervention of grace.
Several years ago, I was on my morning commute, in the middle of a graduate program, with two adolescent kids and a very busy physician husband; I was wholly engrossed in some new tale of misery& victimhood.
In the middle of the story I told myself, a little voice piped up and said, “Gosh! I wish I could stop this incessant chatter in my mind.” It startled me out of my anguish, and for the first time, I recognized the impact the non-stop conversation in my head had over me.
It is worth noting that I do not remember why I was so miserable. However, the memory of the sudden awareness of the chattering mind has never left me. It was the first time I could separate my inner critic from the larger ME. I knew I had to stop the chatter if I hoped to gain any sense of peace. This yearning led to reading about and practicing meditation.
That sudden awareness is what this moment in the story describes. As we lose control of our senses and thoughts, grace intervenes, and we seek answers/knowledge. Knowledge leads to liberation for the moment, and life is magnificent. The next moment, we are lost again; grace intervenes, and on it goes. Forever living a life always aspiring to the next level of magnificence – one moment at a time.