I cannot believe it is already November. And thank goddess the presidential campaign is over tomorrow.Or let us hope it ends tomorrow with no re-count challenges…
At class last week, we were contemplating the five koshas as described in the Taittiriya Upanishad. A fancy way to articulate the various levels (aka bodies) that weave through the ultimate oneness of our human being-ness. The more I think about it, the more I think that while this way of breaking it down into categories has its place in the work of developing mastery, I do believe Mary Oliver says it all way more beautifully….
WHAT CAN I SAY
What can I say that I have not said before?
So I’ll say it again.
The leaf has a song in it.
Stone is the face of patience.
Inside the river there is an unfinishable story
and you are somewhere in it
and it will never end until all ends.
Take your busy heart to the art museum and the
chamber of commerce
but take it also to the forest.
The song you heard singing in the leaf when you
were a child
is singing still.
I am of years lived, so far, seventy-four,
and the leaf is singing still.
When I was meditating this morning, I found my mind contemplating the question, “Why?” Why do I meditate? Why have I been doing this practice now for nearly forty years? What have I received? Have I done it to receive anything? What’s the bloody point of it all? Why do I teach it to others?
And I remembered, being in high school, maybe my junior year. 1964 or 1965. I was reading Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha. I can still feel myself lying on the living room couch in my family’s home absorbed in that narrow paperback. And I came to the end of the story, where he has attained something wonderful. He has attained stillness. And every cell in my being started to pulsate. I didn’t know how to find what he found, but in that moment, my quest began…
So why do I meditate? All those years in Siddha Yoga formed a habit. What began as a quest and became a rigid following of ashram discipline — (really rather fear-based if I speak the truth to you now) — just became something I do.
Like breathing. Or sleeping. Or drinking chai.
And at this point in my life, to borrow a phrase from Mary Oliver, I am of years lived, so far, sixty-eight… And find I don’t need a reason. In fact, I question if having a reason is actually counter to the practice.
Meditating may contribute to my health and vitality —
may help to anchor my insight and intuition —
may foster an inner glow —
but I realized this morning that I don’t do it for any of those reasons.
I just meditate to meditate.
If I have a reason, it’s something like for the sheer joy of being alive and experiencing the sometimes beautiful, sometimes terrible, sometimes wonder-filled, sometimes terrifying life/death dance of life.
Which is more than enough reason for me.
* * * *
Tomorrow is Election Day in the USA. If you’re a US citizen, please vote!!! Because even though it seems like it barely makes a difference. That the status quo remains the status quo. That our so-called leaders remain in the pockets of corporate lobbyists. Still, somehow, in the big picture, it does matter. If only to elect someone who understands the climate crisis is here and it is real. And that is Hillary Clinton. Whether she’ll be able to do anything about it, probably only those incremental steps she’s famous for. And whether incremental steps are enough… I don’t think so. Nevertheless, I’m voting for Hillary. Not because she’s inspired me as a candidate. (She has not.) Not because she’s a woman. (To me it’s less about gender and more about consciousness.) Not because I particularly want to see Bill Clinton back in the White House. (It actually kind of creeps me out.) I’m voting for Hillary Clinton because I think she is far and away the best choice we have. And while I don’t agree with all her policies. And have concerns about how enmeshed she is in politics as usual. Still, I have real respect for her intelligence, wonkiness, and discipline. And suspect that although she doesn’t often show it in her public persona, I think she actually cares. And while I don’t think that’s enough. I do think it’s a starting point. We just need to ensure she is elected. And then keep pushing her to govern from that sense of care. Not from fear. Not from greed. Not from a need to dominate. To govern with care for everything that lives and breathes and is of this Earth we all call home…