Om-work: The Old Man Who Lost His Horse

Hello again, fellow travelers!

Click for a version of the Source Material.

This story really hits home with me.  Basically espousing the premise that we cannot know what is good or bad, that it just simply is.  I think this is an apt follow-up for the previous post because it really puts a nice story to the idea that we cannot know; to save ourselves from the emotional turmoil of judgement, we should simply accept things for what they are. 

Now, I am not saying that we should be passive.  No, I think that what this old story is about is not becoming overly emotionally invested in any particular event.  Why? Because we do not have an omniscient view of life, and as such have no concept of what any one event means for our future.  Why lament something that may turn out to be a boon?  If it does turn out to be a negative thing, then you will deal with that as it unfolds. Would you rather deal with the negative emotions, thoughts and behavioral repercussions, and then also deal with the outcome of the event on top of that?  If it turns out to be a positive thing, then you will have punished yourself, dozens of times over, lost in your suffering before you realize that things did not turn out as bad as you thought - needlessly creating an undesirable space of mind.

This story hits home for me because I truly believe that it's message directly illuminates the vast majority of suffering I see in others (and of course, myself).  This propensity to hang on to judgements about a situation, amplifying feelings until (for some) they become all consuming.  As the old man shows us, if we wait, perhaps something good will come of it, perhaps not.  But what does all of our obsessing and going over it and talking and figuring change?  Has the horses disappearance lessened due to his neighbors judgements? Is it any less gone? Is the future any more certain because of our judgements?  I don't think so.

So, let's take a page from the Old Man's book, and just see what today brings :)

- Jesse




OM-work: The Katha Upanishads Reflection

Hello reader,

For those interested in what exactly the Upanishads are, I'll make it easy and give you a wiki-link.  Now that you are you are up to date, what follows is one of my assignments this week, which is to choose a verse in the Katha Upanishads and reflect on it.

By way of introduction, I will admit that philosophy has always been a subject of great interest to me.  I think it stems back to a moment as a barely-teen when I realized that I, just like everyone else, would have to die. Utterly crushing at the time, still not super stoked about it, but it began a search to find meaning in everything and that journey has been a fun one ( I say now, though it did/does not feel fun many, many times).  I am explaining all this only to say that I like this part of the yoga training.  I enjoy talking about ways of thinking and perceiving space, time and self.  I remember that I used to be able to have these conversations a lot when I first went to University - the people I knew liked to debate it.  I have found that with time however, people aren't as keen.  I always assumed that as we grew older, people were more afraid of hurting feelings through discussion, and perhaps the meaning of life was just too real sometimes.  So I am glad to be back at it!

The Katha Upanishads.

Without going into a post that is entirely too long, I want to say that I don't really know what is and is not.  I seek, and learn and change my mind and that is OK with me. 

Simply put (for the context of the following quote), I like the idea that we are all intricately connected.  That this flesh bag I'm inhabiting is only separated from you or water or the moon by a series of vibrating atoms. I think it's cool, and I think it's a helpful way to conceptualize things (for me anyways). 

So when I dive into a philosophy that, as I read it, basically says we are all everything and that we are only as separate as weimagine ourselves to be, it resonates.  Does that mean that I can suddenly change forms, resurrect the dead and speak to trees? No.  It does mean that intellectually I can get behind the fact that a tree and I are connected by a loooong chain of star-stuff, in some way - or as Sagan said:

So anyways. The quote:

There are two selves, the separate ego
And the indivisible Atman. When
One rises above I and me and mine,
The Atman is revealed as one’s real Self.
When all desires that surge in the heart
Are renounced, the mortal becomes immortal.
When all the knots that strangle the heart
Are loosened, the mortal becomes immortal.
This sums up the teaching of the scriptures.
— Katha Upanishad Pt 3: 13-15

The Atman is synonymous, again as I understand it, as a soul or life force or self or "enter word for your own understanding of your consciousness."   So basically - when we get over ourselves, when we see this and actually believe it, a change occurs.  I am made up of everything, the very basics of matter and when I die, I will will be fed upon by time and a variety of organisms and whatever consciousness I possessed will scatter (i think) but not stop existing (again, I think).  It is more intricate than that, and I will leave that to scholars to explain, but I will explain why this resonates with me in my life.

Time to Reflect

This part is simple. We are always getting so worked up about everything.  Everything.  In my work and personal life I constantly see us holding on to things that almost solely exist in our heads.  Grievances, frustrations, loses, work problems, relationship problems, guilt, fear, pain.  It's all there, to be sure. And I think people need to feel it, that's what makes us human.  But at the same time, we hold on to it for so long thinking and thinking and thinking as though thinking is going to rearrange the past or effect the future. 

I think this quote spoke to me in a smaller, personal sense.  I think it it could be interpreted to say that freedom lies in letting go. That we clutch to things so tightly, even if they are a ball of spikes digging into us, because we are afraid that dropping it might be scary because it is unknown.   That if we practice letting go of the ego, the entitled "I" maybe we might make some room to grow, forgive and just be. (By the way, I think my interpretation is just skimming the process of what the entire quote implies.  But it might be in the right direction)

So, after I assaulted you with a wall of text, dear reader, I hope you return for our next installment.  Perhaps you have a differing opinion or think I am insane.  Either way, let me know if that's what you feel like doing - or smash your computer and go for a walk.  Up to you.

 - Jesse