Thursday, September 12, 2013

Friction, Freedom, and the Pearl Diver's Treasure



"The soul is causeless, and from this follow all the great ideas that we have... [The soul] is by it's nature free...that it cannot be acted upon by anything outside."
   Vivekananda


             Friction is a rather uncomfortable noun and even less comfortable as an effect. Simply put, it's resistance. It happens all on it's own in nature, usually the active part of a slow process that reshapes a feature, or an en-tire landscape. When you look up the word friction in a thesaurus, it seems to be everything difficult about life: the natural chafing, scraping, and drag; then comes the discord, strife, conflict, contention, argument, rivalry; hostility, animosity, resentment, bitterness, and on and on. It's a lot of human baggage for one little natural process. You'll notice all of these effects are the result of ruffled senses, external discomforts, and hurt feelings. It's the stuff that makes life a grind.

In that natural sense of it, the wear and tear of life will become uncomfortable it's unavoidably true. But a lot of those other synonyms for friction, the ones that describe friction between people and not just surfaces, are really only superficial as well. Psychologically superficial. So much of what means so much to us, of what hurts, only comes about as a result of the way we think about it. It only seems important for a little while – unless we repeat it over and over, and embellish upon it in our minds.

That's the (deeper) surface stuff Buddhists call selfish cravings – those feelings we hold on to in order to experience life's pleasures, or in this case life's anxieties. But like the bits of grass picked up off the river bank and carried along on the surface of the passing water, that stuff is always moving on. The rocks on the river bottom always stay right where they are, with just the shadows of our leaves, our bits of anxiety, passing over them. 

Our day to day lives are twisted and turned by the flow of time; our spirits can be tortured and stretched and tested; but our souls are always solid, steady, and smooth beneath the surface. The changing challenges of life, the spiritual lessons we all know we have to learn are a product of cause and effect, things we've done and places we've put ourselves in that have led us to where we are and what we've needed to pass through right now. That can be the rough stuff. But our souls aren't subject to cause and effect. They're grounded in our greater being, and the little (or big) abrasions of life pass right over them smoothly, with fluid ease.

 That ground where our souls firmly sit is always steady for us as we pass over, particularly if we make the effort to dive beneath the surface and take hold of  it, even for just a moment  and especially when life's a drag. It's a little like diving for pearls, that way. An irritation, a grain of sand can create that treasure to be discovered, if you are conscious of your breath, and your "selfish cravings" long enough.

"Where you stumble and fall, there you find your treasure."
Joseph Campbell

The shortest path between two points is a straight line, from our surface to our bottom – and that's what I recommend here, the straight, short line from your head directly to your heart. Don't give it too much thought, just move directly past all the surface stuff around you and make contact with the smooth solid ground beneath us all. Stop, relinquish the need to recycle that rough stuff, and re-link to the natural grounding and lubrication of your soul's connection. 

Coincidentally, that's what religion really means – re ligio – Latin for re-link.

Yes, the bottom of the river is subject to that long process of friction, of natural transformation. Growth requires destruction.  We are like that too – our spirits, that is. We're always being slowly transformed, our lives being shaped by the flowing story that carries us through this world.




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