By Suma Varughese April 2004 Among the many conflicts the beleaguered seeker must resolve is the gulf between what she is and what she wants to be. She wants to be in a state of equanimity, to love and care for the larger world, to give until it hurts, and to be above anger, greed, lust, envy and jealousy. Just patient slogging is what I would advocate. And sooner or later comes that wonderful, serendipitous discovery that you are who you wanted to be. You always were whole and perfect Among the many conflicts the beleaguered seeker must resolve is the gulf between what she is and what she wants to be. She wants to be in a state of equanimity, to love and care for the larger world, to give until it hurts, and to be above anger, greed, lust, envy and jealousy. In actual fact, she has a brawl with the lady whose elbow almost put out her eyes in the morning commute, fusses when she finds that her desk has not been cleaned, and responds to the news that her colleague has drawn a bigger increment than her with a jab of envy and insecurity. When her mother-in-law grumbles about the salt in the dal, she feels not compassion but a quick stab of irritation. When the kids won’t do their homework, or won’t get up from in front of the TV, she even lets loose a couple of smacks. She knows that her unemployed brother-in-law with the inferiority complex needs loving acceptance but all she can fetch up is resentment that despite being homebound he takes no responsibility for running the household. All the while, she winces and cringes at the thought of how little she measures up to her ideals. And it doesn’t help to listen to the advice of gurus and realised souls. When she confesses to her guru about her constant anxiety and worry, the great man looks at her and says stoutly: “Have no fear. Surrender everything to the Lord.” Oh, she thinks, uncertainly. So what is she to do with that huge burden of fear that threatens to consume her? How is she to dump it? She goes through spiritual texts, but there is little consolation to be found in those beautiful but oh-so difficult-to-practise concepts. Be a witness, says one. But how, when your thoughts are running at 1000 kmps and dragging you with them? Be choicelessly aware, says a second. But how do you access that state of mind when resistance has crocheted your insides into a ball? Love your neighbour, advises the Bible, and again she groans. She would love to do it, she wants to do it, but there’s this little matter of anger, rage, contempt, irritation and frustration that rises up each time she gets into love mode. She loses her job and as she struggles to cope with her mountain of anxiety, sense of failure, anger, depression, etc, someone tells her breezily to see it as an opportunity and not a problem. So she tries. How she tries! She tries to focus on the welfare of her friend who is being unnecessarily argumentative about the fact that she just gave a beggar child some money. She tries to see it from her point of view, tries to put a good face to it, but when the said friend continues to whine on, she snaps and bites off her head. Momentarily, she feels better, but the onrush of guilt takes care of that. She tries to be sympathetic and empathetic the next time her daughter tells her that she does not feel the need to do homework because she knows everything anyway. But all the time a quiet little fury is building up and soon sweeps her good intentions down the drain. When her husband tells her he has invited two of his colleagues home for dinner on a working day, she tries to tell herself it’s an opportunity and not a problem even though her jaw is clenched. Alas, the harder she tries, the further away she gets from her goal. So what is the way out? There are no easy solutions. The seeker must set her sights on both vistas simultaneously, the person she presently is and who she wants to be. Both are required to spur her to go the necessary distance. However, in my opinion, the gulf between the two can be bridged if our focus is set on who we are presently, without bothering too much of where we want to go. We must learn to see ourselves as we are with all our flaws and imperfections, and we must be able to stand that seeing. What if we cannot? What if we find the most unwholesome thoughts surging through the mind, painting us as a cross between Genghis Khan and Rasputin? Then we must be able to stand the fact that we cannot stand the truth. And if we can’t stand even that, then we must be able to stand that we cannot stand that we cannot stand the truth. Sounds like gobbledygook? Perhaps, but the truth is that we are cocooned in a vicious cycle many layers deep, made of resistance to resistance to resistance to resistance to some aspect of ourselves or circumstances. Therefore, we must start with the outermost layer of resistance and work our way in. We learn to ignore all the things we feel compelled to do or be, and focus patiently on what actually is at the moment—our feelings of hurt, anguish, rejection, dejection, etc. Even this is not easy. For being able to stand who we are calls for a strong sense of self, and a commitment to the goal of transformation. If the seeker does not have these qualities, he must cultivate them. How? Not easy but possible. Affirmations help. Tell yourself you are whole, perfect and complete. Repeat this like a mantra until it becomes an experienced fact within. The other important thing to remember is that transformation takes time. I know that many trainers and teachers seem to feel that 21 days is all you need to drop a habit or start a habit. I don’t know. I don’t think deeply entrenched conditioning like anger, lust, envy, etc, can be shrugged off so easily. In my own case, I have been getting rid of my internal garbage for the last 10 years without reaching the end of the load. I admit I had more than my fair share of garbage, but I have not seen too many instantaneous transformations either. So just patient slogging is what I would advocate. And sooner or later comes that wonderful, serendipitous discovery that you are who you wanted to be. You always were whole and perfect! It was the garbage in between that stopped you from seeing it. In your own slowcoach way, you will have arrived at journey’s end.
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