If I remember correctly day-time television got to be named soap-operas because they were generally watched by housewives who have a vested interest in what sort of soap is being used to clean their families, houses, and clothing. For a time in Jr. High I remember being fascinated with a particular soap opera. When I would get home from school I’d be able to catch the last 15 minutes of it or so, depending on how many stops the bus had to make before I got home. The really intriguing thing about this soap opera is that even if I could only see the last 15 minutes of it, and not even every day, I didn’t seem to ever miss anything. The real truth is that there wasn’t really anything to miss, it didn’t seem as though things actually happened. Well, things happened, that’s for sure. People got tricked into thinking someone else was actually their betrothed and seduced into bed with the wrong person, motorcycle accidents resulting in the death of a son actually turned out to be the long-lost twin brother who had fled the city years ago because of some dishonour or another. While these events happened, they rarely actually happened in a concrete and clear way. Suspense would build throughout the week in scene after scene: would the character turn around and see the person hiding behind the curtain?! Then, right when their glance shifted, there would be a cut to a commercial break and when we returned the situation would have magically diffused. The character wasn’t looking that way at all, oh, but hey, there’s somebody behind the curtain. It must be someone the cable company sent when they phoned saying something wasn’t working.
I see soap operas as circuitous paths meandering around a topic and lightly touching it without actually facing straight-on the reality of a situation. Swami Radha said that spirituality is meaningless if it isn’t practical. To me, practical means having relevance in my day to day living, it means increasing my awareness of what is actually happening and facing that reality with clarity and courage. I’ve been making huge strides in my ability to communicate. In the past I’ve attempted communication in a rather “soap-opera-esque” manner; obliquely touching at a topic without saying it outright for fear I may be taken the wrong way or that the topic may offend a listener. This creates within a separation between the world of my inner thoughts, and what actually is going on around me. Yet another example of duality inherent in life, this one causes separation and builds upon a conceptualization of my inner self as being an amorphous entity, fictionalized and imagined yet not able to present itself tangibly other than as underlying motivations for my actions.
In recognizing this, and in light of a weakness of expression, I’ve come to see how quickly an intention can manifest. I have had multiple occasions this week to simply express the facts as they are. My role at the ashram is absolutely conducive to me learning about exactly the part of me I want to learn about. I’ve been entering into that uncomfortable space created when I have something to say but think it might not be well-received and I’ve been surviving. An influx of Yong Adult Program participants has really expanded my role. More people means more energy – both that they create and require. But meetings about expectations and consideration in community don’t need to take from me, they can simply be an opportunity to let something else flow through me. I come to a deeper and deeper appreciation of being carried by the Light in every space I hold. Cutting away the shrouds of ambiguity lets the light shine brighter and brighter. I can create clarity and suffuse situations with that light.
I recently read “Mind in Buddhist Psychology” a translation of an ancient Tibetan text by Herbert Guenther. In it, mental concepts are explained in a seemingly endless succession of categorical lists; there are 51 mental events including 5 omnipresent events of which one is conceptualization which is six-fold according to the basis which it operates….etc. Reading it reminds me of certain Chinese Buddhist meditations in which infinitesimal details are added to the growing visualization of a mental image of a deity. The mind gets so pushed beyond its limits in envisioning these details and concentration is so complete that something else takes over and bam, Realization occurs. Needless to say, I was still very much on the level of intellectualizing these ideas as I read this book. It certainly did result in small scale realization for me, however. I recognize that each human experience is unique and that my individuation of the Lord is like a snowflake, unable to be replicated exactly by any other human. Every single person has a spark of essential distinctiveness that cannot be completely understood on this human level. Yet every single thought or emotion I have; to use the lingo, every single “mental event” has either been or will be examined or felt by another person at some point.
In some ways this is extremely connective. Here we all are, having this human experience, and I can know within the depths of my being that everything that passes through my mental, emotional, intellectual and spiritual bodies has been present for someone else. Perhaps not in the exact combination and degree, but in some way each of my mental events have been mapped out and understood by ancient beings that have tapped into something deeper than I have thus far. I find this quite reassuring.