Maybe Life hit the *shuffle* button on my mind this last week because I feel like the most random things are touching me in practice.
The other day I wrote about the spiritual materialism of gaining knowledge in hopes of adding to the knowledge I already possessed. Last night I’m sitting in the middle of a weekly lecture on the Gita when I wondered “why have I been taking notes in this class for months?” I’ve had to refer to these notes only twice, attempting to tell Katy what we talked about in class. There are no tests, nor will I ever be required to know anything that is said. I’m taking notes because that’s what one does when one is acquiring knowledge…right?
Dylan Brody is a stand up comedian, of sorts. I enjoy the art of stand-up comedy and find that, on the whole, comedians are far more insightful about society and the inner-workings of human beings than almost all other professions. That includes therapists, clergy, and bartenders. There’s just something about the way they see the world. Mr. Brody gave me something the other day that books, lectures, and my own self-reflections had not been able to give. He told a story that was so artful and skillful in execution I could not help but be enlightened. The story took 11 minutes to tell (which is why I won’t link it here…yall wont watch 11 minutes of nothing on the internet) and spanned the course of several decades of his life. It included his father, his therapist, his wife, and his martial arts instructor; all giving small pieces of sage wisdom that culminated into “Leap into the present moment.”
Aha I said! Now I kind of know what being in the “now” means..somewhat….
Back to the “Spiritual Materialism” book I discussed the other day. In Chapter 2, Trungpa talks about a spiritual teacher who went on a quest for more knowledge. He goes through all sorts of strange travails before gaining anything of real value. He says, “Marpa gave up altogether, gave up trying to take notes, gave up trying to receive any kind of secret doctrine. And at that point Kukuripa began to speak to him…..”
My mind flooded with rhetorical question after rhetorical question:
What good are notes on a subject if I have not lived the content?
What good is any knowledge that I cannot relate to?
For whom am I taking notes?
What am I missing?
etc., etc., etc….
Back to the Gita class. After breaking down the 8th chapter, verses 7-9, the teacher goes on one of his long, funny, and insightful tangents about the disillusionment of mankind and our unwillingness to be real with ourselves. I’m thinking he could legitimately turn this into a comedy routine when he finishes up by saying:
“If Self-Realization was Supreme to you, your entire life would look different. So since it is not, you have to ask yourself, ‘what is Supreme to me?'”
There’s nothing wrong with taking notes. Certainly Trungpa’s story was not a warning against note taking…I am not so daft as to only see the literal presentation of the parable. But I don’t play around with alleged coincidences and reading that tale no more than 12 hours after thinking those thoughts lead me to believe something more is afoot.
What is Supreme to me? All of living is either avoiding pain or seeking pleasure. Self-Realization is not Supreme to me because I’m still stuck on the seeking pleasure expression of Ego. This is what has been Supreme to me for a while now…there was a time when the Hedonist in me needed to be acknowledged and honored, but I believe that is behind me. I now understand that as long as I seek pleasure, I will find it in lieu of seeking the Divine.
This ego is constantly seeking pleasure in food, social interactions, alcohol, television, movies, and yes…Taking Notes. It’s an ego boost to fill those sheets of paper with someone else’s insights. It feels good to believe I know what’s important to write down and what is not…it’s a big game of the Ego and I’m at the beginning of being done with it.
There is nothing wrong with the things I listed…life is to be lived, I still believe that…if I were meant to be an ascetic, my incarnation would have been completely different. It is not the things I do that matter, but the frame of mind I bring to these things. Yeah, I’ve learned this lesson before but this Path is a winding road, looping back over itself time and again with the same lessons at higher levels. I need to bring my method of Self-Realization into all of my actions, remembering the Divine in every moment: while I’m eating, while I’m playing, while I’m drinking, while I’m lounging. By leaping into the present moment, I bring my attention to what is at hand, instead of what is to be gained or lost.
This is very incredible for me and I wish to one day do a better job of explaining it….