Most people who take the AoL course learn some “knowledge points” which are a mix of common sense and over-generalization, do some hyperventilating, make long and embarrassing eye contact with a stranger or two and then go their merry way back to leading their own lives. They might even be better for it. Some do the course, gain something from it (or not), and that’s all there is to it.
What makes us different? Why does one person immediately see a scam to be avoided, another a practice to sample, and someone like me, a place to fall completely in love? Is it possible that many people carry on with their daily lives believing implicitly that life is worth the living of it, that the world will remain solid beneath them, and never once need faith in some god? How does the Absurdity Monster not eat their brains?
(there’s a special providence in the fall of a sparrow.
there’s some divinity that shapes our ends, rough-hew them how we will.
what is a man, if his chief good and market of his time be but to sleep and feed?)
I found the answers in Art of Living, until I didn’t. Everything I was told I believed, until I couldn’t. And all of my reservations I faithfully suspended–until they grew so heavy the suspension snapped. And before that last thread could hold no longer, I was madly and totally and blissfully in love.
(When we love, how much are we only loving what we wish were true? Oh you gracious gods, how terrifyingly alone one can feel.)
I believed in bhakti yoga. Now I don’t know. I do believe that giving oneself over entirely to a religious leader of any persuasion is often an act of self-abdication, an act ultimately counter to self-realization (whatever that means). If it is an act of love, it is an act of the kind of love that often comes from fear
( I am afraid of making the wrong choice I am afraid of loving the wrong person I am afraid of wasting my life I am afraid of being alone I am afraid of a meaningless existence I am afraid of being green and becoming old and never being ripe I am afraid of never knowing truth I am afraid of losing I am so afraid of losing and I am afraid I am alone I am afraid)
or from an innocence one is unwilling to surrender, or a consuming desire for something to give yourself to utterly, or a need for an ultimate authority, or…
(please! just give me anything I can point to and say, “yes, THAT” and never let my heart falter or mutiny please anything but a gnawing agnosticism with its rotund and dangling ellipsis, For there is nothing neither good nor bad but…
Stop. Let me simply be faithful and good and satisfied somehow. please. )
and if those longings seem to be answered by a guru, a political leader, a lover, a gospel–answered totally, leaving no room for doubt, asking only your complete devotion–who can be blamed for diving headlong, passionately enacting a suicide-pact of Psyche and Sophia?
(Oh I could be bounded in a nutshell, and count myself a king of infinite space…)
I miss certainty. I wish I had never tasted it. This freedom frightens me. How pleasant it was to surrender, how much pleasure it gave to pull with all my might and trust that someone else would do the driving. How I loved feeling that every day I did kriya brought me closer to …Something.
(and yet to me, what is this quintessence of dust?)
The one and only necessity is to believe that life is worth living. The rest is chaff and sprinkles. That single beatitude must stay. I must hold on to that, at all costs. Sometimes I feel it slipping, and that frightens me. That way madness lies.
(Where be your gibes now? Your gambols? Your songs? Your flashes of merriment that were wont to set the table on a roar?)
The rest is…
Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow–