Isn’t it odd that we are so hard on ourselves? That we, the ones who live in this body and have a pretty good idea of our history and likes and dislikes seem to wrestle with knowing who we really are? We get all mixed up in thinking false ideas. We hook ourselves up to the definitions made by the ego and go on our not-so-merry way. We define ourselves by outward notions — things like our education level, our race, our appearance, our nationality, or income, our family, our possessions, our name, even our weight — and wonder why happiness eludes us.
We are searching in all the wrong places. We have to peel away the layers, as one might envision the thin layers of an onion. In the Yoga Sutras, we refer to this as self-study. We try to honestly and actively pursue the removing of these layers so our true and Divine Self can emerge into the Light. This practice is called , in Sanskrit, svadhyaya. Self reflection.
LESSON FORTY FIVE
Thomas Merton, an Anglo-American Catholic monk and mystic, has written:
The first step toward finding God, who is Truth, is to discover the truth about myself.
There are many means to accomplish this task. Honestly observing our interactions with those around us is one way. Another is by pursuing the reading of spiritual texts that enlighten us as to the traits of loving kindness. For some, chanting a mantra, meditating, doing yoga poses, walking in nature, helping others are effective. Showing genuine forgiveness and kindness to ourselves, perhaps for some by going to confession or following rituals that encourage self-examination. As the external layers are removed, we are lighter and feel cleansed.
I have several times been in Bangkok, Thailand, and, each time, I have gone to The Temple of the Golden Buddha. I never tire of the story. I hope you will like it too.
Over 300 years ago, when then Siam was being attacked, a group of monks, wanting to protect their golden Buddha that was 10 feet tall and weighed at least 2 1/2 tons, covered it with 12 inches of clay. They felt certain that it would be ignored and not taken. They were right but, unfortunately, all the monks were slaughtered, and the secret was lost. Then, in the mid 1950’s, the monastery that housed the statue had to be moved to another location. A crane was brought in to raise the clay Buddha. but the crane was not powerful enough as the Buddha was so heavy. The Buddha was dropped and a small part of the clay cracked. The head monk, taking a flashlight, saw something bright through the crack. As he chipped away, he found what was enclosed inside — a solid gold Buddha that had been encased in clay.
This is like ourselves. We mistake ourselves to be nothing but clay. Common, ordinary clay. But we too have a golden light so brilliant and a love so eternal that we fail to see what is inside of us. But when we look, with kindness and compassion, we will find the treasure and feel the elation. We then know who we truly are and this surpasses the most rudimentary concepts of happiness. It is bliss!
- Look honestly at yourself. You will likely know if there are behaviors within yourself that trouble you. Are you “short” with some people? Are you condescending? Are you even cruel? Begin peeling, little by little and count each change as a triumph.
- Be grateful when you can see yourself more plainly. There need be no fear. They are only thoughts. Be grateful for inner wisdom.
- Is there someone with whom to share your journey inward? Maybe within a religious context? Or a spiritual mentor? Or a trusted friend?
- Do not get lost in feeling guilt or shame. It is easy to do this. Forgiveness and compassion begins with YOU.
- Watch as you become lighter and happier, more authentically you.
- Be patient. It could take some time. Time does not matter. You are on the path.
- Keep saying “I love myself completely NOW,” throughout the process.
August Wilson, the Pulitzer Prize winning playwright said:
Confront the dark parts of yourself and work to banish them with illumination and forgiveness.
Your willingness to wrestle with your demons will cause your angels to sing.
It might delight Wilson to think that we are all actors in a play. The play of maya. That gold at the core of our being remains the definition of who we are. Perfect and the Light of Eternal Love, that’s who. Nothing has changed. It is who we have always been!
With love and namaste, Deanne
For more writings, go to http://www.deannemincer.com