Spiritual Principles behind the Traditions
A young medical student in India was sitting in physiology lab one day. There was to be a demonstration on “the power of intent”. Who better than a ‘well-accomplished’, 28-year-old yogi from the Himalayas to demonstrate the power? This was India, after all.
During said demonstration, the yogi plunged a knife into his bicep, and, much to everyone’s surprise, when he pulled it back out there was no blood.
How was this possible?
Because, as a yogi, the man inhabited a different state of awareness, one in which he realized that all physical matter, at a deep enough level, is light or consciousness. Bicep muscles realized as light or consciousness, the blade went right through what is normally perceived as muscles or sinew, unable to puncture that which cannot be punctured. Light does not bleed.
The explanation not satisfying enough? Too far-out, however groovy, to be true?
You aren’t the only one dissatisfied. A senior professor interrupted the silenced awe in the classroom and asked what other “tricks” the young yogi had to show them.
After the pointed question, the expected blood began to rush out of the bicep. “It opened up like a fountain of blood, and it sprayed everyone in the front row.”
However, the yogi quickly realized what happened (he was a Himalayan yogi), and the fountain of blood stopped gushing as quickly as it had begun.
Interpretation, in the end, may define the quality of our lives more than any other single variable. It’s not the events in our lives that are so influential (in terms of behavior), but the stories which we tell ourselves about those events. I was beaten as a child because I’m unlovable. I didn’t get the job because that’s just life, and life is unfair.
Even science and its scientists, for all their insistence on objectivity, fail the temptation of interpreting their hard-won facts. Just the other week, the big news was the confirmation of the Higgs-Boson. Which, if sticking only to facts-based, non-interpretation, gives the flaccid confirmation that the standard model of the physicists’ understanding of the particles that make up the universe and the forces that govern them is correct as originally thought.
In the interpretation of course. In the direct words of one prominent professor, the story proves all religions wrong. What’s more: there could be countless others of universes which popped like little bubbles like ours once did. Still more: the idea of parallel universes may not just be fiction anymore.
Unfortunately, interpretation can’t ever really be certain (sorry, science!), even though it greatly influences our behavior and approach to life. So we’re once more left a little bit in that uncomfortable, “faith” zone.
Going back to our on-and-off-again yogi, what interpretation to make of this story?
To realize that an arm is not muscle and material in the first place, one has to go to a higher awareness. This awareness would transcend the physical realm and its normal awareness that interacts in the physical realm: ego. Even by Freudian definitions, the ego is that part of the personality which resides in the physical realm and understands the laws that govern it. Very rudimentarily speaking, if I have a biological impulse of hunger, my ego (being and interacting on the physical realm) is able to interpret the physical reality and drive to McDonalds (or any other, non-offensive, vegetarian alternative) in order to appease that drive.
Of course, the other extreme of the ego the sages and spiritual teachers throughout the ages have warned us about is its tendency to clutch and grab. Think the business tycoon who understands the “laws” to acquire money. It can manipulate the environment to grab more of what it wants at the expense of…
But the yogi was coming from a state the Vedanta tradition calls, “Samadhi”. The state is outside of space time restrictions, and resides in the knowledge that there is no separation in the “Universe”, that all is composed of light and consciousness and part of the one, Self.
However, what happened when the professor and physician asked if the yogi “had any more tricks”?
The professor challenged the self-image of the yogi. The separate, self-sense, the projected self-image of the space-time bound yogi. The yogi’s ego was challenged. To defend it, the yogi came back down from the state of “Samadhi” where all is consciousness, and the blood started spurting.
And the front row got wet and red.
Luckily, the yogi recognized what happened and once more abandoned the ego-consciousness. His power, in other words, came not from his small, ego-encapsulated self, but his Higher Self.
I thought of another great example of this principle of not acting from ego when challenged. It’s a story we all know well in Western Civilization.
Jesus was ridiculed and scorned during his last, tortured moments on this plane of existence. He was famous in our recorded literature for his yogic, “little tricks” of healing the sick and a list of other miracles. Jesus often pointed out how “religion” got it wrong, and that the intimacy of God was immediate, and not separated from some impossible moral law humans couldn’t live up to. Jesus invited us to experience the deep, Samadhi state of inter-connectedness with “the Father” and others, for the greatest commandment was to love one another, and to experience the “Kingdom of God within us”. And for those efforts he would gain enough fame to be crucified on a cross.
And I couldn’t help but see the parallels in the Gospel narrative with those of the “medical-school yogi”. Jesus was challenged to bring down the legions of heaven and fight his way out of the predicament he found himself in. But he was a spiritual teacher, not the political messiah others had hoped him to be. As such, and as a guru in every sense of the word (a guru, as opposed to merely a teacher, is one who actually lives and embodies that which he teaches. A guru is an embodied vehicle of a teaching. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”), Jesus taught until the end.
He couldn’t battle on the physical, ego-driven realm, and he didn’t bother with trying to defend himself. He did remind everyone that his Kingdom was not of this world, and practiced love and forgiveness, somehow staying in that deep, Samadhi, connection to the Source, pleading with that Source to “forgive them, because they know not what they do.” I don’t need to tell you what Jesus might’ve been saying if he was acting out of ego.
“Burn them all” would be the Disney-rated version.
Of course, this is all just interpretation, and depending on your interpretation I might be a quack, a heretic, or someone in between. But, as we’ll see in the next post, our interpretations may affect our lives and the quality of them more than we may like to think. Can dreams really come true simply by desiring them to be? Can I really achieve whatever I desire simply by thinking hard (and positively) enough?