The Razor’s Edge #46 June 18, 2018
My little 4 year old nephew asked at the dinner table, “so who has a joy they want to share?”
My mother is dying. I am once again moving from a beloved home. This is a tender, sad time. I don’t really feel like there is much joy to share, at least not readily. Yet, there is immense gratitude in my sorrow because I am able to return, in some small measure, the gift to she who bore me into this world, in assisting her out of it. There is a perfect symmetry here.
In this I am reminded of a quote from Gurumayi Chidvilasananda, “In any circumstance there is a sliver of joy. Expand it.”
There is a tension here. I rebel against the well meaning efforts to cheer me up; the invitation to compare my sorrow with the vast sorrow of others as a way of lessening my load. It is only a bandaid and once the temporary patch comes undone, as it surely will, I feel even worse. After all, they are right, there are people far worse off then me. What does my inability to permit this to heal me say about me? I want to lean into the good things that are indeed present but I also want my authentic circumstance validated. It is real and any attempt to cover it from the surface will not dissolve it and is itself an illusion.
How do we acknowledge the truth of our circumstance, our feelings and open that sliver of joy? It is walking the ‘razor’s edge’ of the Upanshad in real time, one side contraction and duality, the other expansion and wholeness.
The light is always present. Even when there are clouds blocking the sun it is still right there. Even when full night has fallen, the sun is still right there. In the first instance, it is the cloud covering that blocks the light, in the second, our perspective, where we stand on the earth as she rotates on her axis that dictates what we see and know. No matter the clouds or the earth’s rotation, the sun, the light is still right there. This is so on the gross level of reality and it is even more true on the subtle and indeed subtlest planes.
How can we shift our perspective? Even just a little bit. The light of our own individual consciousness is always shining, always full just like the sun. The degree we know that light and its fullness is dependent upon the condition of our body mind as well as our perspective, where we stand.
Yoga is that practice that helps us to clear debris, to part the clouds of life’s experiences and reveal the fullness of light always present. In the physical practice of asana and the deeper subtler practices of pranayama and meditation we are using the tools at our disposal to render our body-mind more optimal, light filled, in its registering. Sattvic, from the root ‘sat’ meaning existing, real, true. We shift perspective. We effect this shift on many levels: in the physical body-mind, in the subtle arena of breath, closer to prana, the life force and then deep deep within, to the even subtler, subtlest domain, the source of our very own self.
We want to shift not merely on the surface but as deep as possible. We want to effect the greatest change and we want that change to take hold, to stabilize; to show up. To do so science tells us change at the root, at source. One change on one chromosome in the sequence of DNA results in an entirely different human. Saiva Tantra is the science of consciousness that teaches the theory and method to effect change at root.
So I lean into my practice.
The light only needs a crack to enter.
The nature of light is to move to expand to fill the space. When we flip the switch light fills the room; remove the shade from a table lamp and light spills out past the held circumference.
And we take care to straddle the line of authenticity, how we feel, even as we open that sliver of light. We are not cursing the darkness, it does no good and only serves to tighten the noose; nor are we trying to pretend it’s all OK or that it doesn’t matter or that it is somehow not even real. It is real. It is reality. We seek to expand our notion of reality not as a wish but the truth of experience born of knowing that light; the light of self.
This is the razor’s edge: one side ordinary reality the other supreme transcendence seen, known most palpably on those ‘cloudless afternoons of the infinite sky of consciousness’ in deep meditation. The more we experience this shift, the more spontaneously we call it to mind when darkness threatens to overshadow and consume. The more we call it to mind, even for just a few breaths, the more we stabilize it, root it as our natural default.
I am truly sad, let me work through it. I am also truly grateful that I have tools that permit me to authentically do so and in the doing, expand my notion of reality.
Who has a joy they want to share?