When the going gets tough.

January 21, 2013 § Leave a comment

Gethsemani 0696Once upon a time the king of all gods descended from his high position and took on the body of a bird.  Forgetting himself, he proceeded to live in the trees and the sky, and eventually found another bird with whom he fell in love.  The outcome of their love was a number of young fledglings.  They were all very happy living their bird lives in the forest.

On seeing their king the other gods were horrified and came to him saying, “You are our king. What are you doing here?”

The king replied, “I live in the sky as you. Who says I am unhappy like this? You should become a bird, too, then you’ll really appreciate the joy of it.  Now go.  I have young ones to care for who are waiting to play with me.”

Appalled and seeing reason would not change the king’s mind the gods said; “Since he’s so attached to his children we will take them from him.”

One by one the fledgelings died forcing the king to go for comfort to his mate but the gods killed her as well.  Still the king clung to his bird body so the gods first inflicted it with illness so it could not fly.  Then, seeing the king still clung to his bird life, they pierced his bird body open.  At that point the king came out and looked at the lifeless body on the ground.

“Not only were you in that body, sir, but you wanted to stay there.” Said the other gods.

The king of the gods laughed at how he could have been so deluded as to choose a bird’s life that merely reflected his true nature but could never equal it. “Come.” He said.  “Let’s go.” And he left his deluded life behind.

 

In the original version of the above story the animal the king entered was a pig.  I changed it to a bird because we all to often think of our lives as free and pleasurable, forgetting the Buddha’s pronouncement that “All life is suffering.”  We are also told that “in every life a little rain must fall” as if the price for our happiness is a little suffering.  But there are times when the gods, metaphorically speaking, try us with great hardship and calamity.  We ask, “Why is this happening to me?”  And in so doing cling to our identity, false as it is, rather than letting it go.  There are even those who would take their own life in a misguided effort to preserve their false identity!  Yet at those times when all is falling in on you is there the golden opportunity for recognizing your true nature.

Consider the words of Eckhart Tolle in his introduction to “The Power of Now”.

“… something profoundly significant had happened to me, but I didn’t understand it at all.  It wasn’t until several years later, after I had read spiritual texts and spent time with spiritual teachers, that I realized that what everybody was looking for had already happened to me.  I understood that the intense pressure of suffering that night must have forced my consciousness to withdraw from its identification with the unhappy and deeply fearful self, which is ultimately a fiction of the mind.  This withdrawal must have been so complete that this false, suffering self immediately collapsed, just as if a plug had been pulled out of an inflatable toy.  What was left then was my true nature as the ever-present I am:  consciousness in its pure state prior to identification with form.”

These words are important for those times when life falls apart and we are left with nothing, or face losing all.  See those times as an opportunity to realize self; as the gods coming to release you from delusion and suffering.  You are more than your possessions, life and loves.  Let go of your false identifications and recognize your true glory.

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