Swami Ramananda wasn’t really all that prepared for the satsang on Sunday. I think the topic was something along the lines of “the obstacles of commitment” or some such. I think the original point of the topic was for him to discuss issues that come up for those committed to yoga as a spiritual path. At some point, it kind of devolved into relationship advice from a single dude who’d never been married and took a vow of renunciation (mostly material things, I think, though it’s technically ‘everything’) twenty-something years ago.
I’ll give you a quick thread I pulled from the satsang overall and probably leave it at that.
One of the things Swami Ramananda touched on repeatedly was “sustained effort”.
Crap. I think this is going to turn into more than just one thread.
Ok, whatever (“starting on the left…” – “That’s the right foot, Daddy!”) it’s too late; keep going:
I think what he was really doing was defining ‘commitment’ as “sustained effort” – that even though the path may sometimes be rocky or uneasy to walk upon, commitment means staying on that path in order to find out where it takes us.
Swami Ramananda told the story of a seeker who was on his way to heaven – this one passed two other seekers who were still on their respective paths (of the eight-limbed path of yoga). Both asked if he would bring back some news for them once he reached enlightenment. The first was on the path of meditation (as a means of achieving enlightenment – I forget the name of this path), and the second was on the path of joyous celebration (also on the way to enlightenment – I think this is called Bhakti yoga).
The first seeker had been sitting in unmoving meditation for so long that an anthill had grown up around him. But no matter how uncomfortable the ants were, he wouldn’t move. The second was dancing and singing and smiling and doing lots of happy things. When the seeker returned from heaven (being now enlightened), he kept his promise and stopped by the other two on his way to I don’t know where – maybe Katie’s party last Saturday. Anyway, the meditating seeker asked the enlightened one how much longer until he achieved enlightenment. The answer was “two more births,” to which the seeker replied “Jesus effin Christ on a stick, I don’t know if I can make it that long” (I’m paraphrasing here). He doubted his commitment.
The second seeker asked the same question and the enlightened one pointed to one of the trees and said “you have as many lifetimes left to go as there are leaves on that tree over there”. This seeker (who was partying pretty hard) said “sweet! A finite number – so it’s totally countable!” He immediately became enlightened.
The overall point being that the joy is in the journey – that if one is joyful about the journey, that is the quickest path to enlightenment.
Were I the one telling the story, I probably would have flipped it around and told it the other way as well – where the first seeker said “two more births? No prob, I dig meditation” and the second seeker said “f*ck me, but my legs are tired!” – and the first being enlightened, while the second was stuck with partying. Just for the sake of illustration, would I have told it this way as well.
So toward the end of the satsang, when Swami Ramananda was answering questions and most of them related to marriage or some other relationship-type commitment, one dude said in that nasally stoner-sounding voice (with the all-famous I’ve-just-had-an-epiphany-and-I’m-sharing-it-with-you tone of voice) “I’ve been realizing more and more that love is a choosing. A choosing. . . [blah, blah, blah] . . . a choosing.”
Seriously, dear reader, he said “a choosing” like six times – I think those two words were like 45% of his statement’s word count.
And me, in my infinite wisdom (I mean, c’mon the dragon is my current totem), sitting behind him, subvocalized “shit, bro – have fun with that anthill”.
My point here is that, yes, “the joy is in the journey”, but more so that the journey is about finding the joy. For me. I’m not going to speak on behalf of anyone else. It’s about finding the joy in life for me. Because, as I mentioned in yesterday’s post (at the end – the part after the mundanities), there’s nothing but the here and now.
I’ll tell you what: enlightenment sounds pretty cool, but it’s like any other projection or pipe-dream: it’s not here, and it’s not now. Not for me. Maybe not now, maybe not ever. I’m not even sure I feel like believing in enlightenment. Hell, give me a sunny day and a good book or some good company or a full tank of gas and no traffic or a spreadsheet full of data with secrets buried inside – or a million other things – a blank screen and some thoughts to tumble onto the pixels. Shit, life is good right now. I’m one happy camper. If you can tell me enlightenment is better than the here and now, then I’ll probably say that you have no idea what you’re talking about.
Go ahead: tell me you’re enlightened. I dare you.
Not that this site is really getting all that many hits from www.Nirva.na – you know?
Anyway, one more digression before I go:
The thing with the stoner-sounding dude talking about love being a choosing – I don’t know that I really buy that. During the satsang, the Swami talked about commitment as being kind of a grey area – that it’s not always all-or-nothing: sometimes one needs to leave the path one has been committed to walking. Take it from a guy who’s walked the path of ‘the hard way’ for a real long time: the rough patches aren’t the ones that define commitment or the right path. Oh, they’re there in both cases, and commitment must necessarily be tested, but there are a million ways up the mountain – not all of which are rough all the time. And the one that’s rough all the time, well, as much as I like to think myself the tough guy for making it through, I don’t necessarily know that it’s the best way to the top of the mountain – it’s just a way.
Fuckit – I’m starting to think in thircleth right now. Pick a way up the mountain – there are a lot of them – I’m going to try to enjoy myself as much as possible on the way up; I’ll meet you at the top either way.