Examine Life, Malas #40 May 7, 2018
Socrates said "An unexamined life is not worth living”. It is in this we find some measure of understanding, comfort and purpose. Implicit in examination is refinement or else why bother? If we are to live fully, aim for our highest capacity then examination is key.
This begs the question, what is the framework we use to examine? What are the tools we use to investigate; how calibrated and powerful are they? To determine what we want of life we must examine life, the one we are continually creating for ourselves. Lifestyle is a buzz word in our society, we take on lifestyle choices. Nothing wrong here except that often we are doing so without real scrutiny; simply following the loudest, brightest most shiny thing in awareness, like a child following the jingling keys.
Pausing is necessary to examine. I’ve spoken for a long time now on why and how meditation assists in creating space. We go deep deep into source, resting in dynamic stillness, refining the mind-body so that wherever we turn our attention on the surface we go deep as well. We automatically increase our capacity to examine. Meditation makes you smarter.
The non dual Śaivite Tantric tradition states that our true nature is one of wholeness and that wholeness is most potently represented as light. Light that is full and pulsating alive, capable of so much more than we grasp. Why don’t we know this? In a word, mala.
The ānava mala is the fundamental crimping of that whole unitary light into the individual light of you and me. Out of its freedom, the absolute contracts into the relative. We can envision an old fashioned camera, when the aperture is wide open light floods in. In order to see detail, the aperture must close. The price of this closure is less light but ability to see shape and form. The price of individuality then is the loss of the fullness of our light. This sets up a condition of lack, of brokenness, of incompletion that rules our waking life. Continually we set out to ‘fill the hole’ as it were. This is not entirely negative; after all it is desire that has us seek and find, that moves examination. The problem is without the experience of inner fullness, anything on the surface is doomed to fail.
The new house, the nicer car, the deeper back bend, the more powerful position will suffice for a while but only if we stay on the surface. And staying there is what set up the problem to begin with. We secretly, and not so secretly, harbor the suspicion that we are somehow insufficient, fraudulent not the real deal.
It’s not just the ānava mala either. There are progeny. This fundamental lack of wholeness, of completion, sets up a constant state of comparison. How do I measure up? And since there will always be someone with a bigger house, a deeper back bend, more money, more toys, smarter, younger, we never quite meet the bar as it is forever moving. This is the work of the māyīya mala. The māyīya mala covers our power to know the absolute and creates constructs that are varied and diverse. Again, not a bad thing. Diversity can be beautiful and awe inspiring if we know that we are part of it not separate from it. How do we reclaim our capacity to deeply know? To know not just intellectually but experientially?
So we set out to do. This is the third of the malas, the kārma mala which covers the power to act. Because of the prior set up, we then act on these constructs assuming them to be the whole truth. A truth which each, in her individual play of consciousness, believes is universal, setting in motion the sense of sole agency. An agency that will always be limited because that is all it knows itself to be regardless of what we express with our words, ‘I am great, I am as good’ etc. If we do not know this, experience this truly deeply, they remain words that may assist but will always be temporary balm because we experience every single day the relentless separateness that is an individual life and in that we measure and fall short.
Even if we are blessed on the surface of life with material abundance there remains this gaping hole, voracious in its appetite that is never quite satisfied or satisfied for long. Its a beast that will not be appeased, convinced, fulfilled, until and unless we go in and nourish the ravenous roots.
We require a framework, we need tools to examine. We may use one and determine that it does not meet our needs and then we choose to find another. But we must commit to one or we risk contamination. How will we ever know what works?
We can view Socrates statement as research. We are conducting research into the highest subject, the subject of who and what we truly are; what we are capable of; how we may contribute in the most potent manner. And as in all research we want our results to be clear.
The framework that the Śaivite Tantric masters offer to assist us in examination is vast and truly amazing; it is scientific. Part of the science put forth is the malas. The ānava mala, the fundamental crimping of the light covers will, highest desire, this is iccha-śakti; the māyīya mala covers deepest knowledge, jñāna-śakti and the kārma mala covers action, the capacity to act in a truly efficacious manner, kriyā-śakti. The tools to examine are incredible but they alone are insufficient if not utilized.
So we have theory. We feed the insatiable mind, beautiful in its desire to know; we offer it fuel and then there is something for us to do in order to authentically experience the results. We practice. There must be both. We must practice, digest and try it out, replicate as science dictates; then re-examine again and again. It is only from this stance, knowledge and experience deepened, refined that we can value for ourselves. Living the ‘style of life’ that feeds the heart, the soul, the mind and renders the individual capable of offering her unique take on life because she has immediate and unmitigated access to the source of true wholeness. In this we heal life and render it whole.
Leverage life, cultivate the distinctly human capacity to reason, to examine in the highest manner. Rest in the fullness of light deep within and naturally, spontaneously use that light to illuminate everything everywhere. Refine your knowing bring the light.