From the Ant to the Elephant...
Let me tell you a story. You are the main character. Ready? Ok, here we go. You are walking in a forest along a quiet, gravelled pathway at dusk. You are in an unfamiliar country, say India 😊, which you are happily exploring at your leisure. The air is fresh. Breathe it in and feel the coolness fill your lungs and release slowly. How do you feel? As you continue your stroll, the sun slowly takes rest behind the horizon and darkness settles in for the night. On your next step, you look towards the ground and halt abruptly, as strewn along the pathway in front of you is a long, coiled object. You can’t see properly in the dim light and because of your immediate surroundings, you automatically assume it’s a snake. Now close your eyes. What happens to your mind and body as you are confronted with the snake on the pathway. What might happen? What processes will go through your body and mind? (Take a few minutes to do this.) Now, you find strength from somewhere, pull your phone out your pocket quickly and turn on the torch facility. You realise, the object on the ground isn’t in fact a snake at all, but an old piece of rope. The fear symptoms disappear. What brought the snake? Your mind and ignorance. And I am not using the term ignorance in a derogatory or rude way at all, but in the sense of misconception and not meaning the absence of knowledge. It’s the absence of correct knowledge. The knowledge that corresponds to the the true nature of something.
My teacher made an interesting observation about all expressions of life, from the ant to the elephant, all beings are sincerely working to eradicate and prevent suffering and pain, but do we know the true cause of this pain? We don’t realise that many of our problems, anxieties, issues and worries stem from the ego in our mind, all efforts towards the eradication of suffering are fruitless because we don’t know where to aim. The only way to eradicate ignorance in the sense it was described above? Knowledge. Before allowing fear to encase us in a vice-like grip, we must use our knowledge correctly. Every thought that arises is like the snake, we draw from the vast vault of past memories, conscious and subconscious , which shape our perception of the moment and tell us what we see/hear/feel/think. The snake in the story represents the ego, the mean voice that constantly talks to you and can bring fear, sometimes in monumental quantities, to any situation. But these thoughts do not define you and you are not defined by your thoughts. My teacher said “When thoughts are addressed ego is not there, that is when you discover your freedom and you find you.”
We can control our thoughts for our greatest good. But in the world today, the word ‘control’ has connotations of suppression and being something which can be ‘hard’. But in this philosophy, I learned it means ‘understanding’. The harmony of mind, body and thought. You are not the existence of ego. When you find the distance between ‘I’ and ‘ego’, you have found yoga, the separation, not the union, as typically believed when yoga is discussed. Kind of mind-blowing for a brand new yogi like me. This is me and this is not me. This knowledge is yoga. Rene Descartes the philosopher famously said ‘I think, therefore I am.’ But this yoga philosophy suggests ‘I am, therefore I think.’ – we will always be ‘here’ whether we are thinking or not.
In the world, we are identified by our name, age, race, culture, language, nationality, all told to us, given to us by others before us, but you don’t need this proof to prove your existence. Take it all away and who are you? Your thoughts, beliefs? But are these even yours or were they given to you? Lots to ponder on with your chin resting on your fist in contemplation whilst sitting on a rock 😊 The absence of thought (ego) does not mean absence of mind. When the waves subside and become still, the ocean is still there, it’s just there without disturbance.
Your presence itself is luminous.
Thank you Vimal.