Grace, Love, will ripen you
with Itself through patient marination,
to enable you to "want to" and "to do"
* * *
The sage began a discussion time by telling a story.
Virupa was a famous practioner of tantra. For many years Virupa applied himself to the method of transformation of Hevajra, his methodology of tantrism. In particular he recited a mantra called in Tibetan the mantra of Damema; Damena was a consort of Hevajra. One day, while in a state of contemplation of total clarity, he suddenly got up and threw his mala, which he usually held in his hands when reciting the mantra, into the toilet. Then, returning to his room, he threw onto the ground the mandala offering he had prepared for the practice. He, then, went away, never to return. Virupa had awakened, but everyone thought he had gone crazy.
Someone asked the sage...
What does this mean for us?
Better that you ask, "What does this mean for me?" And, then, even better that you listen. Different persons will hear different things, for this will apply differently to each one, even if in a common likeness.
After a time of silence… another said…
I think it means for me that I may be misunderstood if I follow the path.
And why this misunderstanding?
I may appear unconventional, not normal, not respectful of tradition, like a fool to some.
Yes, possibly. A Scripture from the Christian Bible reads, "Consider your own divine calling, brothers and sisters. Not many of you were wise by human standards, not many powerful, not many of noble birth. Rather, the One chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, what is weak in the world to shame the strong, what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are, so that no one might brag in the presence of the Divine.” So, learning freedom is a humiliating thing.
What do you mean by "humiliating"? That sounds negative.
You must be willing to be a nothing, a nobody. You must be willing to be a fool, really seen as a fool. One is no one in the Light. If foolish people consider you wise, that is not commendable. One writer speaks of this as melting. We could say, "Your thinking you need to prove something, to be important, to be noticed by others must melt in and by the Grace of the Light, of Love.” There is nothing to gain for yourself by taking a spiritual path. There is no reward, no commendation to wait for, no merit. You want get any credentials, you will lose the ones you think you have, and you will be thankful you did.
Another time of silence… and the sage continued...
Another story from the Christian Scripture shows Jesus asking, "Who among you would say to your slave who has just returned from ploughing or tending sheep in the field, 'Come here, now, and sit at the table'? Would you not rather say to the slave, 'Prepare supper for me, put on your apron and serve me while I eat and drink. You may eat and drink afterward'? Do you thank the slave for doing what he or she was charged to do? So, you, in the same way, when you have done all that you were charged to do, say, 'We are worthless slaves; we have done only what we ought to have done!'" The point here, for us, and put in hyperbole in this Gospel, is simply that we do what we feel we need to do. We engage a path for we feel that is what we are called to do. And, then, we know we deserve no commendation for that, we need and want no reward.
So, this is what the guy above experienced, this becoming nothing and nobody, not needing some praise for himself?
No, he did not experience becoming nothing and nobody. He realized he never had been anything or anyone. He came to his senses. This is wisdom. Real foolishness could be said to be what we often call "normal," the "right way," even the "spiritual way." Many persons are not interested in seeing the truth, they are miserably comfortable going along, as some say, with the herd. You can see this in a lot of argumentation, no one is thinking, just talking, parroting what they already believe.
But what about this throwing the mala in the toilet and all that?
He had identified with being a tantric guy. The same way persons tend to do when taking any spiritual path or being devoted to a religion. They become, in their eyes, a spiritual or godly so-and-so. They take the label very, very seriously. Some or even out to save the world. They are out to colonize human society in the image of their way. Virupa was awakened to his true Self, our true Self, and his throwing away the ritual meant he no longer needed all that, he no longer was a someone or something, not even a trantric practitioner, not even a nobody tantric practitioner. So, to some he was being crazy for throwing away what appeared to be holy, even being irreverent.
Will I need to throw away what I use for my spiritual devotion?
You may. You may not. The path, as I have said, is moving. There is no rule here. If you throw everything away, that can simply be taking on another identity. Now, it is, "Look at me! I don’t need all that. I’m beyond all that. I’m enlightened. I’m holy. I'm liberated." So, one thing very important is not to assume you are more holy or spiritual or enlightened because you do something like that. If you use a mala or prayer rosary, okay, if you decide not to, that you do not need it, okay. Yet, if you need it, or a ritual, or some form of rite, you need it. You need it until you do not need it. You may let go of some things and not others; regardless, you will be called to let go of everything in the sense of not clinging to it as your own. What you have is for everyone, that is the wisdom of compassion. And that is how you can hold an inward posture in all things, in formal practice and mundane life, that is, a humble dignity, a sane pride that you are living with all beings, that you are not apart or alone, and you are engaging life with courage, not shame that you are a human being like other human beings.
This sounds difficult, this letting go.
No, unless you make it so. Otherwise, it is simple, and easy. The path ripens you for the changes it presents to you. What is most important is not what you let go of, but that you are willing to let go of anything you are called to let go of. Letting go or not of such is not of prime importance; in fact, you can let go of something and still be clinging to it.
Has this radical letting go occurred for you?
Some would say "Yes," some "No." I say, "Neither way." I now see what I engage in spiritually more as being playful, like joining in the Cosmic Dance. I sometimes use a mala, sometimes chant, sometimes pray, sometimes sing, sometimes do bowing, sometimes sit in a chair or lie on a bed quietly … but I do not feel any of it is a must. The freedom exemplified in the above story is beyond "I must," for beyond "I" and "must." As Augustine of Hippo wrote, in his Confessions, "Love and do what you desire." All spiritual practice to me now is playful, it is all, like life, the play of energy. The Hindus call this the Dance of Lila; we could say, "The Dance of God, or Goddess." I do it not for I ought to, but for I want to, for I enjoy it, for it is one way to dance with the Universe, to enjoy God. I love the path, so the path naturally is a means of my being loved; but I do not see love as a reward, as in, "I've been a good boy, so cosmic daddy, or mommy, will be good to me." Love is, like all the Good, True, and Beautiful, never a reward.
So, all this spiritual practice, we'll not get anything for it?
No. You will not. Yet, you will miss out on much blessing if you do not remain faithful to the path. Still, you will get nothing. Now, I see some of you looking perplexed, and we can speak on this our next gathering. For now... I would leave you with this, to realize that the path leads us to integrate, not dissociate. For most persons, you will continue engaging the path in much the same way outwardly, even though you change inwardly. To integrate the opposites of duality, this does not mean denying form, including the forms of spiritual devotion or the forms of our daily life among and with others. Yet, it does mean relating to form differently, in a lighter, lipid, and playful manner. Still, as I have sought to make clear, you never know the extent of letting go the path might lead you to. Also, you cannot assume that you will not be called to let go in a way that seems foolish, even irreverent, to some. Some persons may be called to a radical departure from norms as a sign and inspiration to others. Buddha was. Jesus was. Most persons who engage this marked letting go will never be known by but a few, for they feel no calling to engage the outer world so to be known. Now, we depart in Silence.
*Brian Wilcox. 'Feeling Blessed to be Together'. Flickr
(C)Brian K. Wilcox, 2019
*One who speaks of "melting" is Anam Thubten. See his works, where he speaks of this: No Self, No Problem and The Magic of Awareness.