Thursday, May 1, 2008

A case of mistaken identity?

Yesterday, a friend's hands spun in disjointed spirals as he related his encounter with a stranger. "He just approached me and said: 'What you are now living, I am already forgetting', so calmly, with such conviction - he blew my head open!"

The stranger's riddle left me with my own thoughts to ponder. It reminded me of the story of the 2 monks who met a woman at the riverbank as they were about to cross. The senior monk picked up the woman, carried her across the river, and set her down on the other side without a word. The junior monk remained silent throughout. Twenty minutes later, the junior monk turned to his elder and asked: "I thought monks are not supposed to touch women!". The other monk responded: "I see that you are still carrying her. I put her down by the riverbank 20 minutes ago".

If the unmet stranger is still letting go of what happened in his life 20 years or so ago (based upon my friend's calculations of the stranger's age), I wondered, what could I still be carrying around from my past, and - is it weighing me down? Could I still be reacting to a memory of a life/circumstance that no longer exists?

In the Yoga Sutras Patanjali says that "yoga is experienced in that mind which has ceased to identify itself with is vacillating waves of perception." He defines memory as "a vacillation of knowledge created by not allowing the objects of sensory experience to escape." If the world we experience is in constant flux- money is gained and spent, food is obtained then eaten, night gives way to day, a breeze turns into a hurricane - no wonder suffering ensues when we try to interrupt the flow of nature. Maybe the reason is a case of mistaken identity. Instead of a fleeting role, label or occupation, maybe we are more like a screen that always reverts to blank after the end of each movie. What movie do you choose to play today?