Measure of Worth # 60 October 9, 2018
“Comparison is the thief of joy”. I heard this phrase the other day and thought, how true. We compare ourselves, our lives and all the details that give it shape and often, very often, this comparison brings sorrow, a sense of being not quite up to par; not as good. And in that conclusion we are to one degree or another devastated and further separated.
The invitation to stop comparing is a good one. It is meant to have us celebrate our uniqueness and to be grateful for what we have been given and most importantly for who we are. This of course begs the question, exactly who am I?
I am a woman, wife, sister, friend. I am a yogi and a student. Despite what I believe, I am of a certain race, ethnic background and socio-economic level, all of which color the cues, subtle and gross I embody. I do my best to be aware of what this sum total brings to my thinking, my speaking, my being. I take the seat of the teacher in my work and I delight in all these rolls. Yet they do not tell the whole story.
We live in a world of duality, the sun rises and sets; there is light and dark; comparison is an inherent component. We must use the skills of comparison when choosing which school to attend, which home to live in, what car to drive, what philosophy to embrace. We must compare when deciding where our skills are best utilized.
In seeking to not compare we must take care that we are not muddying the water with the brown hue of “its all the same”. It is not all the same. Some things are decidedly better than others; some people more suited to one field of work than another. Some individuals have more resources which brings more choice. You get the idea. We need our facilities of discernment not to be dulled but to be heightened and clarified.
These two arenas, knowing self and clarifying our faculty of thinking and discernment, are key in embracing the uniqueness of who we are as individuals and navigating life with skill. Skill is what permits us to embrace joy and weather challenge knowing full well one is much more desired than the other. Ah, there’s comparison again. Skill, anchored in a true knowing of who we are, is what permits that joy to bubble up without clinging to what will surely end, and to weather what feels as though it never will, without the walls of prison closing shut.
Just as we understand sameness is never the response of life in a world of duality and multiplicity, so too must we come to understand that to announce prematurely that at heart we are all the same is to risk causing harm and suffering both to those who announce and those who hear. The proclaimer may have goodness and healing in mind wishing only to bring comfort, but without knowledge of that unity, it is just words; and the one who hears has a life that perhaps does not measure up to that announcement and so feels even more separate, more other. The question is always what do we experience? Not as a philosophical platform, but what do we truly experience moment by moment in life?
The practice of yoga, and yoga is a body of practices beyond asana, is one way to address those two arenas, knowing self truly and deeply at the core of being and clarifying the space in which all thoughts are received and incubated. In the process we create what my meditation teacher calls a “ledge of freedom” that permits the expansion of space as well as access to the silence necessary to really hear, and then act in a manner of our choosing; one that reflects our deepest values as well as presents our unique offering to the world in order to create the best life possible. In this we freely add to the beauty of diversity while holding the knowledge, via experience, of the wholeness inherent at source. We are able to embrace both the spectacular diversity the world has to offer and know at heart, because we’ve experienced at source, that we are all indeed the light of consciousness reflected in that diversity.
It is the practice of yoga, particularly meditation, that permits the experience of this knowing. Our time on this earth is short, there is none to waste. Are you practicing in a way that supports your deepest desire? Or are you picking from a grab bag of bright things that may or may not be designed to support those efforts?
Without knowing the measure of our true worth, we will always under value it despite what is announced on the outside. What is the method and the ingredients that will reveal this; in what sequence and amount? There are other disciplines that speak of this path, if yoga is your chosen philosophical framework be clear that it includes more than asana and sometime contemplation; be clear that the practices you do include knowledge gained to assist in the blossoming of both. There is a reason, that no matter the path, it is called discipline.
Comparison need not be the thief of joy if we are rooted in the source of our truest self; the colorless light from which each individual light derives its color, brightly, proudly and joyously displayed. The mind rendered clear, focused and expansive, discernment becomes a joy as we embody the freedom of choice a true collaborator in this one wild and courageous life.