Being a positive influence in someone’s life doesn’t always mean making them happy.
Most people think that having a positive influence on someone is to make them happy. I suggest that this, as an automatic assumption, is a mistake and can create as much problem as it can create potential benefit. To illustrate this, I’ll detail examples found in the concepts of the guru and of the bodhisattva.
The most obvious example, of these two concepts, is that of the guru. The definition of guru varies from source to source, but usually always comes back to something along the lines of a balancing, guiding, wisdom –a teacher of the highest regard. Truly, the highest and most trustworthy of gurus is that Guru which resides within every conscious organism, but of which the organism is almost never aware. I’ll denote this form with a capital letter. This form of Guru is cosmic and universal and pervades everything, with a “higher concentration” in beings possessing consciousness. Ultimately, the voice of this Guru would be heard loud and clear if the conscious being was less ensnared in Maya and better able to separate awareness from consciousness. However, because this is virtually never the case, a more obvious and mundane manifestation of the Guru is required. This, too, can take a million forms, but for humans specifically, often comes in the form of another human. This form of the Guru has a little “g” and can seem like a mixed bag.
On one hand, the human guru is able to relate knowledge of the Infinite to others in ways that are easily digested by the under-developed mind. On the off-chance that the mind is unable to comprehend, this form of the Guru might sometimes need to resort to more direct and even physical means of conveying the lesson to its recipient. In things I’ve read, this can take many forms including strong words or even a whack on the side of one’s head.
Another instance of someone/thing affecting a positive influence on someone’s life is the instance of the bodhisattva. For anyone unfamiliar with the term, and to keep this short and sweet, a very basic definition of the bodhisattva includes a fully aware (aka karmically/egoically liberated), yet still individualized portion of the Infinite which has vowed to forego eternal bliss in mahasamadhi in the Infinite to instead manifest, life cycle after life cycle, in the physical worlds for the sake of helping others also find liberation.
This sounds very hunky-dory, but truly is an assumption. The truth is, some must learn the hard way and many times there seems to be no choice except to pull the karmic band-aid, hair-by-hair, from the arm it’s stuck to. In this way, a bodhisattva can be like the guru whopping someone on the side of his head, and indeed, many gurus are bodhisattvas.
I’d like to also point out that, whether someone is a guru or bodhisattva or neither, it’s possible to help lead others and have a positive influence. Further, just as with bodhisattvas and gurus, it’s possible that this can be done without necessarily inducing a smile on that person’s face. I feel many times people have the assumption that to be a positive force, you must necessarily be making people smile or love you or at least want to say good things about you. Not true. Those things depend on two factors.
The first is those being helped must be not only aware of that help, but appreciative. This can seem remarkably rare. The second hinges on their level of ego (ahankara). In my opinion, this factor is the most crucial. Someone possessing a smidge too much ego may well be aware of the benefit being afforded them by the other person, but won’t value it as much on account of their ego having a stronger say than the opportunity they’ve been given. In this case, the reaction of the one being helped is likely to be one of aggression. They’ll often lash out, use harsh words, and attempt to reject the help-often succeeding for the moment.
I think in these situations, it would be incredibly trying for the guru/bodhisattva. I say this, knowing what I know and having tried helping those I’ve tried to help… and being met with responses like, “You can’t see two feet in front of you!” Um… no, I actually can. I’m no guru and nor am I a bodhisattva, but even what little help/perspective I’m able to offer others often feels like throwing pearls to swine (a concept I don’t even believe in, really). I can only imagine how frustrating it would be for someone who can offer so much more for another’s benefit, only to be scorned or rejected, completely unappreciated.
It continually amazes me that the ignorant are ignorant of their ignorance. I suppose this is par for the course in Kali Yuga. This applies to me as well… I look back on some of my actions or words, and literally cringe at my own behavior from when I was younger. Some people, though, who are decades older than myself exhibit traits and behaviors that are worse than I ever did in my most juvenile stages. I mean, I know we all are learning as we go. I’m not talking about that. But whatever.
I think before I begin rambling more than I already have, I’ll close.
Om Sarve Bhavantu Sukhinah
Sarve Shantu Nir-Aamayaah |
Sarve Bhadraanni Pashyantu
Maa Kashcid-Duhkha-Bhaag-Bhavet |
Om Shaantih Shaantih Shaantih ||
Om, May All become Happy,
May All become free from Illness.
May All see what is Auspicious,
Let no one Suffer.
Om Peace, Peace, Peace.
I got a lot out of this posting, bhai, I can never truly tell you. So forgive me for being so tunnel-visioned on particulars, but what do you mean by the distinction between awareness and consciousness?
Consciousness is part of the natural phenomenal world, and as such, is distinct from awareness, which is something else entirely. Awareness exists before and beyond consciousness and is totally independent of it. Awareness observes consciousness in the same way that you watch television. A television cannot see what’s on its screen. It cannot watch itself. Consciousness is like a TV screen. Awareness (the real you) is the pure watcher.
Water has two very interesting properties or qualities: it is transparent and reflective. When a body of water is clean, calm and still, it is like a perfect mirror. You can see yourself clearly reflected in it; and you can also see right down through it to the bottom. You can see what is moving about or suspended in it; and you can also see the sky above and the world around, reflected in it. But when the water is dirty and polluted, or when it is stirred up by waves on the surface, it looses its transparency, and it is no longer reflective.
So too with consciousness! Ideas and emotions, actions and attitudes—whether expressed or suppressed, whether positive or negative, whether chosen or inherited—produce waves and currents that block and distort true perception. But when the mind becomes quiet and still, when it is free of negative and limiting thoughts, it is able to express the truth of our being. When consciousness is not stirred up by thoughts, feelings, sensations, emotions and reactions, it allows us to see through to the depths of life and to reality, to our essence.
The mind is a pattern making, metaphor generating, symbol creating machine. Consciousness is made of the same stuff as everything else in the physical universe, and it is subject to the same principles, laws and dynamics. The problem is we have become identified with this operation or function of the mind, and with its collection of ideas and images. Breaking our identification with the mind opens the way to a direct experience of life and reality. When consciousness becomes still and quiet and spacious, it is more able clearly reflect the pure unlimited awareness that is our very Self (with a capital S).
Every thought, feeling, sensation, emotion, impulse, movement, desire, and every reaction to these things… every energetic rush, or block, or contraction… is an opportunity to practice the art of transcendence. When we can experience “what is, as it is” without reacting to it, or becoming attached to it, or identifying with it… we experience ecstasy, and we take a step toward pure awareness. Through this process and practice, we gain energy and momentum for self-realization. Every time we choose to simply breathe and relax, and to be a witness—the observer of psychological, emotional or physiological or energetic events—we get freer!
Patanjali taught that we should relate to both painful and pleasurable states with the same sort of detached neutral awareness. This attitude helps us to develop and support the stable state of stillness where perfect reflection and clarity can arise. Anything that stirs up our consciousness acts as a barrier to stillness. The most calming waves and currents are those that result from an attitude of friendliness, compassion, delight and equanimity toward all things, in us and around us, whether good or bad, painful or pleasant, whether mine or yours.
An important realization is that body, mind, senses, personality or ego are not necessarily impediments to realization. They need not be denied, abandoned, or destroyed. In fact, they need to be formed and shaped and guided—and made to serve our awakening.
This is the essence of Jnana/Raja Yogas.
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