You Are That

In the Ramacharitmanas, an ancient Hindu text, we have the telling of a deeply poignant interaction between Ram and his humble servant, Hanuman.

“Lord Ram gave Hanuman a quizzical look and said, ‘What are you, a monkey or a man?’ Hanuman bowed his head reverently, folded his hands and said, ‘When I do not know who I am, I serve You. When I do know who I am, You and I are One.’”

We were born with a case of amnesia. We do not know who we are. Where we come from. Why we are here. What to do.

Our job is to re-member, which means to join again.

In our forgetfulness, we look to others — experts, authorities, gurus, saints, sages, Gods, inspirational characters of all sorts — to re-mind us.

In spirituality (and in many other domains) this external seeking to join again is best represented by the guru-disciple relationship. Or, the relationship between the one in ignorance and the one in knowledge.

However, we are not in ignorance. We are in amnesia. We are in a temporary state of forgetfulness of the who, what, where, why, when of our existence. Therefore, any true teacher or guru or expert will help you to remember who you are by skillfully pointing you back to yourself. That’s the job they are uniquely suited for, hard-earned through years of dedicated practice and forbearance.

Believing another has the answer we are looking for, we naturally feel inclined to serve and get close to them. We are enamored, humbled, in reverence, and feel moved to do what we can to ensure this person can enlighten the world.

This voluntary service is an essential part of the journey and will happen, in one form or another, to every one of us. Through service to the teacher — i.e., the one we feel has something we do not — the disciple or devotee slowly, over time begins to merge with the object of their service—as what you connect with with sincere devotion, you become (to a startling degree).

It reaches a point where the devotee finally wakes up from their state of amnesia. She begins to understand that, “I am also that. My guru and I are not separate. We are one and the same.”

Of course, this has always been true from the start but such remembrance takes time and unthinkable amounts of patience to realize.

Guru and disciple can now release one another and detach with love. Each has performed the job required, as determined by nature’s law. The servant becomes the master, which is really just a slightly higher and more self-realized form of servant.

You are That.

Always have been and always will be.

Healing Miracles

Through fasting, prayer, meditation, certain disciplines of yoga, and other medicinal rites, a power is awakened in you — some have called it Kundalini — that begins to purge everything and anything that is not the light from every corner of your mental-emotional makeup.

This can, does, and will include healing miracles of various shapes, sizes, and forms. A healing miracle is the resolution of a personal issue through extraordinary, seemingly otherworldy means.

Many among us pray daily and ardently for a healing miracle. We pray for the immediate end to a problem. We pray for a quick fix. We pray for things to go back to normal.

As well intentioned as these prayers are, sadly, they tend not to find realization. They tend not to find realization because we are not interested in the holistic learning the problem offers and we are not interesting in doing our part to resolve it. We might as well pray for rain in the middle of a desert.

So why are healing miracles visited on some but not others?

The power of the universe, in most cases, is not revealed to the uninitiated. If it were, egoic tendencies would be given jet fuel and there could be gross abuses of power that do serious harm.

The power of the universe, including episodes of miraculous healing, are mostly visited on the initiated. To be initiated means to have chosen to merge.

This means we recognize the presence of an effortless, no worry space where we can live in total bliss and harmony. We further recognize that to access this space we have to give ourselves up.

We have to let go of everything personal that keeps us separate and in a survival state. All of our ignorance. Our darkness. Our pettiness. Our competition. Our preferences. Most of all, our sense of “I.”

We have to reduce. Get smaller and, eventually, completely dissolve into nothing.

We become zero, which means we become everything. That’s merging.

With such a lofty, noble intention, similarly lofty and noble resources are marshaled (like Kundalini) to assist in its unfolding.

When miracles of healing are received, the initiate does not broadcast them to the world. She does not even feel the need to tell anybody about them.

All they do is inspire gratitude.

She bows her head and takes the next step.

Darkness to Light

Tamaso Maa Jyotir-Gamaya

Keep me not in the state of darkness, but make me go towards the light.

This is a line from an ancient Sanskrit prayer, which perhaps sums up the entire spiritual journey and experience.

The movement from darkness to light.

It sounds good and well enough. Who doesn’t want to move from darkness (ignorance) to light (self-understanding)? We somehow intuitively understand that this is a good and needed thing.

If there is a movement from darkness to light, there must be a middle to the story as well.

In between darkness and light is surrender.

This middle part is discussed less because if we knew what surrender entails from the beginning, we might not take the pilgrimage.

To surrender your darkness means to put your head on the chopping block.

It means you must sacrifice everything — every little (and big) thing — in you that is not the light.

Psychologically — all of your conditioned responses, conditioned beliefs, and personal sense of identity (the “I” thought).

Emotionally all of your patterns of resistance, past trauma, and fear.

Physically — your physical vehicle becomes a conduit for this purging, which means you must tolerate illness, maladies of mysterious origin, and sometimes violent outbreaks.

Surrendering or “letting go” is not a pretty process (though it is beautiful). It is long, tedious, and continues to get more difficult, as we pass through the various stages on the darkness to light journey.

We know what’s on the other side. That’s what urges us on. All of the strain and difficulty, like the summit view from Mt. Everest, will seem trivial once we get to the other side and directly experience what has been called the Kingdom of Heaven. We might even say, “That wasn’t so bad.”

We are aided by knowing that whatever the tribulation we are presented with to address, is never beyond our ability to resolve or our tolerance threshold.

We are further aided by knowing that there is only ever one thing to do. We don’t think about the one million things that need to happen or might happen in the future. Like laying brick to build a home, we do what is required of us now and proceed step-by-step-by-step.

In faith, we trust that through our ardent prayer of Tamaso Maa Jyotir-Gamaya and willingness to do the hard work required to realize it, we will get there some day.

What’s ironic is that the “there” will look a lot like the “here” you already occupy.

The difference?

You find an abiding, causeless smile and peace that knows no end.