Stories/Koans/Parables: By Any Other Name

Abraham Lincoln once asked one of his secretaries, “If you call a tail a leg, how many legs does a horse have?”.

“Five,” replied the secretary.

“No,” said the President, “The answer is four. Calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it a leg.”

AHA!

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So I’ve been reading this book, “The Untethered Soul,” which has so far turned out to be a dumbed-down version of Non-Dualistic philosophy. And that’s great because that shit can get confusing at times* and it’s good to have it explained in familiar terms. In Chapter Three, the writer challenges you to identify yourself by answering the question, “Who Are You?” This is a basic intervention used by Sri Ramana Maharashi, Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, and even tweeked somewhat by my favorite, Sri Mooji. The technique is not groundbreaking but I appreciate the way he takes the reader, step by step, into an understanding of how you are not your name, your relationships, your experiences, your feelings or your thoughts.

You are not these things and you never could be any of these things. Your name and titles and experiences are merely costumes — to paraphrase Lincoln, “calling you a person doesn’t make you a person.”

To quote Sri Rupal "You are God in drag."

To quote Sri Rupal “You are God in drag.”

Who are you then? Well that’s for each of us to find out in our individual practices, sitting silently or dancing violently into the great Understanding. But when you take that leap into admitting “I am not my body, nor my mind, nor any experience or culmination of experiences that happen in front of me” then you will begin the long and treacherous journey into yourself.

Sat Nam — May you be free today.

K

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*hit me up if you are able to give me a dumbed-down explanation of the difference between Consciousness and Awareness though, for real for real

 

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Stories/Koans/Parables: Legacy of Faith

They call this the "Story of Baal Shem-Tov," but I believe it's more the story of power in presence.

They call this the “Story of Baal Shem-Tov,” but I believe it’s more the story of power in faith.

The great rabbi Baal Shem-Tov loved his people. Whenever he sensed they were in danger, he would go to a secret place in the woods, light a special fire, and say a special prayer. Then, without fail, his people would be saved from danger. Baal Shem-Tov passed on the next generation’s was led by Magid of Mezritch. Whenever he sensed the people were in danger, he would go to the secret place in the woods. “Dear God,” he would say, “I don’t know how to light the special fire, but I know the special prayer. Please let that be good enough.” It was, and the people would once again be saved from danger. When Magid passed on, he was succeeded by another rabbi, the Rabbi Moshe-leib of Sasov, and whenever he heard that his people were in danger, he would go to the secret place in the woods. “Dear God,” he would say, “I don’t know how to make the special fire, I don’t know how to say the special prayer, but I know this secret place in the woods. Please let that be good enough.” It was, and the people would once again be saved from danger. When Rabbi Moshe passed, he was succeeded by Rabbi Israel of Rizhyn, and whenever somebody told him that his people were in danger, he didn’t even get out of his armchair. He could only bow his head and shrug his shoulders. “Dear God,” he would pray, “I don’t know how to make the special fire. I don’t know how to say the special prayer. I don’t even know the secret place in the woods. All I know is the story, and I’m hoping that’s good enough.” It was, and his people would be saved.

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“He didn’t even get out of his armchair.”

He knew the story, he believed that God heard him when he prayed, and that was enough. There was no need for a long trip to the woods; he didn’t ask his attendants to burn sage or light some candles. He didn’t fall to his knees and pray the prayer of petition. His action was not backed by ritual or custom, save for the only thing that was actually passed down to him: FAITH.

Do you find yourself asking, after reading this story, “Well why didn’t Baal teach Magid how to light the fire? And Magid, who already lost a piece of the tradition, surely he should’ve known to at least tell Moshe the special prayer!” The answer is simple — the rabbis did not waste their time teaching rituals and practices, they demonstrated and illuminated the power of faith through connection. Baal knew that God listened, and that is what he passed down to Moshe, who passed it on and on, and now their message is being spoken here today. The Universe is listening, she is eternally responding to your intentions by creating your world as a reflection of your heart. Who knows why Baal went to the woods way back when, maybe it was to get away from the noise of the town. Who knows why he lit a fire, maybe it was just dark and creepy in the woods. It seems to me that his prayer was not all that special, and his meditation may have been a nice way to past the time!

It could be that at some point someone taught Moshe that in order to have a clean heart he needed to do those things. But he was a wise man who quickly discovered on his own that ritualized activitiy does not create a clean heart. He knew this only came by living congruently with your faith on a moment to moment basis. That is what he passed down to later generations. And the message became so clear, so well established in his tribe, that by the time Israel came along he hardly felt the need to move a muscle. Having already been established in his connection with God, he says:

“I know the story: When we need you, you come running; When it’s dark, you bring the light; When we get weary, you renew our strength.  We were hungry in the time of Moshe and you sent bread and milk. The invaders came to the edges of our town and your storms drove them away. I don’t need any more evidence of your grace nor a grand gesture of petition, because you are already here, with us, saving us, delivering us.” 

This story is a reminder to not get stuck in tradition and ritual while forgetting about the connection they were created to symbolize. Light your fires, but remember who you are. Say your prayers, but remember who you are. Sit in silent contemplation while remembering who you are. It is never the practice of the ritual that sets us free — it is always the faith in our oneness with divinity and the living of that faith on a daily basis, that gives us power. Do not be fooled into thinking that you ever have to go somewhere, pay some fee, or prostrate yourself in front of some altar, in order to be heard by the gods of your heart. Right here, right now, is your altar.

"Wherever you stand, be the Soul of that place." -- Rumi

“Wherever you stand, be the Soul of that place.” — Rumi

It is impossible to be separate from God, it is only by being deluded by the dominance of the mind-body that makes us believe such a thing could happen. You can immediately and constantly affirm your worthiness for healing, for peace, for “worth-while success,” with no ritual required.

May you know yourself today.

K

 

 

 

*DAILY DOUBLE* Here’s a bonus story!

When the spiritual teacher and his disciples began their evening meditation, the cat who lived in the monastery made such noise that it distracted them. So the teacher ordered that the cat be tied up during the evening practice. Years later, when the teacher died, the cat continued to be tied up during the meditation session. And when the cat eventually died, another cat was brought to the monastery and tied up. Centuries later, learned descendants of the spiritual teacher wrote scholarly treatises about the religious significance of tying up a cat for meditation practice.

 

Stories/Koan/Parables: Mother’s Day

Eshun

“Eshun was a nun at the monastery of Saijoi. The abbot of Saijoji wanted to send a message to the abbot of the great temple of Engakuji, which was known for it’s rough treatment of outsiders. None of the monks from Saijoji dared to go; only Eshun was willing to volunteer. When the Engakuji monks saw her walk through the main gate, one of them rushed forward, raised his robes to expose himself, and said: “This monk’s thing is three feet long. How about it?” 

Eshun calmly lifted her robes, spread her legs and said, “This nun’s thing is infinitely deep.” She dropped her robes and continued down the corridor, unbothered.

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Happy Mother’s Day lovers. I am posting this story today because it is the best thing I know that illustrates the untouuchable wizardy of womanhood. Eshun was a nun in a Japanese monastery during a time when being a woman and being a reclusive meant you were treated as one of the most pitiful of society. Most nuns would have no husband and no children; they were driven only by their practice, something considered to be of little use to a functioning society. But even as the ‘lowest’ of the low, Eshun stood out as the most brave, most bold, most daring of them all.

The abbot of he monastery probably decided to test his students, see who was up for taking on the Engakuji challenge. But none of his male students would take the bait while Eshun easily accepted the task. I presume she did not agree out of any sort of arrogance but simply because she knew she could.

Here is a difference between gods and goddesses. The gods put in effort when they feel like the outcome is reachable, through enough effort, after overcoming enough obstacles. But goddesses simply move freely into their prosperity, propelled only by knowing it’s theirs to be had.

I don’t think Eshun was at all worried about the ‘little boys over in Engakuji.’ Even as a woman without children, she was most surely skilled in dealing with them. And #letsbehonest, most men who have not surrendered to a powerful woman in some form or another are mostly likely still operating like a child.

isaidwhatisaid

These monks she would meet, although honorably surrendered to a reclusive, restrictive, renunciant lifestyle (trying really hard), never married, and therefore never had to learn how to deal with women. Eshun was not afraid of children.

She arrived at the monastery and of course the first thing one of the men does is show her his “thing.”

*I’m just laughing right now*

Isn’t this exactly what we men do when we meet a woman who ‘threatens’ us in some way or another? I’ll show her my thing! My status, my wealth, my intelligence, my social skills, my friends, my car, my blah blah blah blah blah. 

In the case of the monk in this story, it can be assumed that he was not only showing off his masculinity but also investigating her spiritual understanding in the manner that many Buddhist/Zen monks were known to do in those days. This is what made the Engakuji monks so difficult to deal with for newcomers, their ability to challenge your compentence was astounding. They would do something so outrageous, so nappropriate, and so incomprehensible — and if you react? AHA! You’re just a person, clearly not having reached their level of enlightenment.

This is what kept Eshun’s peers back at the monastery in Saijoji: They did not want to be exposed!

But what I love about Eshun — well one of the things I love about Eshun — is how this confrontation was of absolutely NO concern to her. The power play, the spiritual challenge, the crudeness, the audacity, and the basic rudeness of meeting a guest in this manner, was completely inconsequential to her. HAVING attained Herself, she did not feel the need to prove anything to him. I know this because she made no remark about his claims, or about him at all. This nun, this goddess, simply demonstrated her divinity by showing him THE path through with all Buddhas and Enlightened Beings must pass.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

Eshun: “There is what is born and that which gives birth. I AM THAT!” *drops mic*

In this moment she not only demonstrated the absolute power of femininity and motherhood, but also the inviolable power of the great beyond, the emptiness from which the universe is born, the undivided, the supreme eternity, THE creator of this little Universe that y’all playing around in. I Am That.

The day Eshun visited Engakuji may have been the world’s first Mother’s Day celebration.

“May you give birth to many beautiful things today and everyday of your life.”

K