Gifts #59 September 25, 2018
I was given a compliment the other day. It was offered sweetly and came as a lovely surprise to me. I of course, said thank you and put it aside, as my humility has taught me to do. Later, when I had some time to contemplate I brought it out.
Now what I was complimented on was really nothing of my doing. It was the gift of my parent’s co-mingling of genetics, like the shape of our eyes or the texture of hair. It was gift. We do enhance our gifts, an agile mind is made more so through disciplined study, so in that we have something to hold. But I wondered two things.
First, was this a way to enter more deeply the yogic teaching that we are not the agents of our actions? While simultaneously teaching that there is something for us to do? True this compliment had noting to do with my “actions” but how I receive the compliment, and what I do with it, does. So too does the understanding that each gift we are given, and there are so many that simply go unnoticed by us, a real treasure. When they are brought to awareness then what do we do? This leads me to my second thought.
Why are we so often willing to do one of two things with compliments: gently or firmly push them aside as simply not of our doing, and thus dismiss whatever part we have to play; or take it fully on as ours and as such, permit our ego a bit, or a lot, more air to hold us up.
How do we both accept gifts, in whatever form and also acknowledge that at root, we may have had not much to do with it at all? The answer rests in part, with worthiness, intention and subsequent action and of course, connection to the source those gifts arose from.
To accept a compliment fully, to allow it in requires a welcoming space; this speaks of the opening of awareness, as well as our true value. And what do we do with such attention? Do we permit it to just feed our ego, as nice and necessary as that sometimes is, or do we take it to heart? In taking it to heart then, we may examine it and determine its place; perhaps it is something we have cultivated, can further cultivate and nourish; to what use? Finally, what are the ways in which we may offer this; how might we act on this knowledge?
One of the gifts of deep meditation in the Śaiva Tantra tradition is the means, the path cleared for our talents and skills to be brought “on line” as it were. There is much to say about this subject which is spoken of in the third pada of the Yoga Sūtras. Suffice to say, which of us would not like our talent and skill brought to awareness or made more fully apparent? This is not something simply wished for, and there are pre-requisites, things that must be set in motion in order for it to occur. Again, why teachers, guides, are so important.
We look to the myth of Bhairava, the Pine Forest sage. Briefly this myth speaks of sages seated in the Pine Forest practicing and praying for the divine to show up. They have their ideas of what the divine looks like and so fail to recognize when he/she shows up as a beggar in rags, the very fierce form of S̄iva called Bhairava. In failing to recognize him they turn away and thus miss out on the very things they so fervently devotedly and sincerely wanted. A missed opportunity of a very great magnitude.
Where and how is the divine, for are not gifts and talents divine in nature, already showing itself to us in life and we are failing to notice? The discipline of study, feeding the mind, combined with that of meditation practice permits this pratibha, this recognition to occur. So too does our practice of consideration, of contemplation, of journaling.
Terrible things occur in life; challenges and sorrows of every sort. They often present themselves as tearing apart the life we have come to expect and in that we see and feel it as challenge, even disaster. With the weathering of the storm and the passing of time we may come to see it differently. We may look back and say, that crack was the beginning of restructuring my life in ways I never imagined possible. Of course we may feel that we could have come to this new place without that challenge, thank you very much, but we do begin to see challenge in a new, if not altogether benevolent, manner.
People often say things happen for a reason. I am not one of them. I do however feel in my heart, that we are driven to make reason with our mind for what has happened and then compelled to act on it in some manner, in order to bring meaning to the gift of life. Without meaning, life is indeed tragic. Who’s responsibility is it to bring meaning to each individual life?
These are the big questions asked by many traditions, including yoga, specifically, for me, Śaiva Tantra Yoga. Are the answers you hear assisting you in living your fullest life? Are you hearing any answers at all? Are you asking?
How do we bring our gifts to the world; increase our skill? Practice and study, theory to the degree necessary in order to feed the mind, is called for in order to fulfill the injunction stated in the Bhagava Gita that yoga is indeed skill in action.
Share your gifts. There is a sequence, an order: first experience is necessary, then a more full knowing can occur, naturally your light flows out into the world.