Bug-Eyed Buffoonery

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  My brother, at the age of fifty, has a new baby boy. It's his first. And we who love him, family and friends, are thrilled for him and his young(er) wife.

 But not overly so. I'm delighted, but not 'going all bug-eyed' about it. I've tempered my response. 

 Not because I'm cynical. I'm not. I am full of delight to hear the news. Yet I'm also full of something deeper, an inner satisfaction that prevents me from leaping whole hog into anything.     

 Thus I care - in fact, deeply care, but stand back a little, watching, observing, listening.

 I don't lose myself in the event. Or any event, for that matter.  

 I thought I observed an awareness of that 'something deeper' in the sixteen year old gymnast, Gabby Douglas, as she received her second gold medal last evening.

 There she stood, looking so collected and focused. Not giddy, I was thankful to see.

 Her way of being present made me think: 'She's more than her performance and knows it. There’s a developed level of self - awareness in this teenager. She's in touch with a dynamic inner core.  

 A television commentator had said before the floor event that Gabby would have to resist her tendency to 'bounce too high,' if she was to win.

 As I watched her performance, it was apparent that an inner poise contained her. A practiced restraint led to gold.

 If Gabby continues to cultivate an awareness of that deeper dimension of equipoise, she will, I trust, live a full and meaningful life. 

 If, however, she loses touch with that, it won't matter that she won gold medals at the London Olympics when she was sixteen, just as it didn't matter that Judy Garland once sang Somewhere over the Rainbow, at the same age. 

 After The Wizard of Oz and several other early achievements, Judy's life began to spiral downhill. It was a story of disintegration.  

 It's an oft repeated pattern - to accomplish something great - to go outward magnificently, and then to fall apart internally.     

 It has, in point of fact, never mattered for any of us, whatever we might have achieved in the world, if we fail to learn how to collect ourselves into the abiding experience of what Yoga calls satchitananda. 

 Satchitananda is a word used to describe the heart of reality as Being, Awareness and Bliss. 

 Life’s greatest challenge is to become attuned to That, and not instead to be lost in diverting activities.     

 Thus I do not trust all of the 'over-the-top' enthusiasm about the birth of a baby, miraculous as it is. I maintain a certain distance. I will not be a part of the mob of well-wishers who descend like vultures in their bug-eyed exuberance.

 I will not be a part of the swarming and smothering onslaught of  sentimentality. 

 For the tendency of the bug-eyed is simply to make too much of this or that: "Look at the baby! Isn't he adorable?  Isn't he sweet!" The soppiness goes on and on. Enough already. Mercy, please.

 The bug-eyed seem automatically and predictably to lose all perspective at the drop of a hat, at the news of some big event somewhere.

 Typically, the tendency of the bug-eyed is to go gaga over the baby, but to fail to be meaningfully present with the adults in the room.

 Hence the feeling of emptiness after the gallery of bug-eyed bloodsuckers have left the room.

 And, were the bug-eyed really 'present' anyway? Bodies appeared. Extravagant gestures were made. But was anyone really there as in intact and aware being?

 Over and again empty, restless minds get caught up some big event, but fail to find splendor in the ordinary. As Steiner expressed it: "My self threatens to escape, powerfully attracted by the world's light.”  

 Thus there may be, for instance, the distracting prospect of winning a prize somewhere! All it may take for some are the words, ‘Come on down!’ and some hysterical, dazed buffoon will charge up to the stage to compete in some innane contest.

 And any sense of soul integrity is lost, as she becomes like a child in a candy store, eyes darting everywhere.  

 Now, the remedy for the restlessness that drives us outward towards empty event after empty event, is to sit quietly every day. 

 For a few minutes at first. But, after a while, for much longer periods of time. Until you cannot live without this practice.

 "When you sit quietly," says Gurumayi," everything comes to an end, because that which is transitory must end; that which has begun must also cease to be.

 "Only the beginningless beginning, the Self, which is always new and yet always the same, is unchanging."  

 "When you become quiet, this is the abode that you find within yourself. 

 "Different sages have called it by different names. Some have called it the Great Void; some have called it the Great Bliss; some have called it the Eternal Light. Each one has explained it in his or her own words, but it is a true experience." (Gurumayi Chidvilasanda, in The Splendor of Recognition by Swami Shantananda, p. 63)

 Samuel Taylor Coleridge, was someone who longed for this experience of union with the Eternal Light, with the Great Bliss.  

 He had fallen into deep despair at one point in life because he had lost touch with his capacity for poetry. The inner fire was barely flickering. He longed for former blissful moments of poetic vision.   

 He had tried for a time to find fulfillment in the outer world, but came to see that that focus would get him nowhere.  

 In time, however, his blessed realization became: "I may not hope from outward forms to win the passion and the life, whose foundations are within.” 

 He came to realize that "life-giving power must come from the soul itself."

 He knew that what the physical eye could see was not going to fill up the emptiness. 

 He came to call that kind of seeing 'the despotism of the eye,’ or, 'the  slavery of the mind to the eye.’

 He knew that a deeper seeing, the seeing of the mind’s eye, had to be developed.

 The remedy therefore for the tendency to go bug-eyed over the latest event or sensation is to affirm Steiner’s words: "Come now, prescient, intuitive feeling. Sturdily assume your rights. Replace for me the power of thought that tends to lose itself in the senses' blaze of seeming."

 It is time yet again, when I am in danger of losing myself, when I’m on the edge of going all bug-eyed about something or other, to find a way to collect myself.

 It is time to sit, meditate and be. 

 It's time again, to "let everything come to an end," so that I can find and dwell in That which remains.

 My bulging eyes then begin to soften as the mind relaxes into the heart.