No True Wish


 Krishna, who, in the Bhagavad Gita, is a symbol of the Ultimate, of God, says to Arjuna, the seeker: "With mind absorbed in Me, you shall know Me completely." (Jnaneshwar's Gita, a rendering by Swami Kripananda, ch. 7:1, The Yoga of Wisdom and Realization, p. 88)  

 Here presented in the Gita is the mind of a seeker which has come to rest, fully absorbed in the contemplation of the Absolute, or God.

 No longer is the explorer's mind pitching and tossing endlessly. Rather, here is a mind that has come to rest in the Highest. 

 Such an arrested mind is no longer fluctuating between one impulse and then another. No longer is there the seasaw battle of one desire replacing another. 

 The inner conflict of competing drives has been resolved and replaced by a steady state of devotion.

 This is the repose of an enlightened state of being.

 Here portrayed is a realization of completion. Krishna says: "This having been understood, nothing further remains to be known here in the world."

 The search, in a certain sense, is at an end. Upon such a consummate realization, the seeker has attained everything worth knowing.  

 The sage, Jnaneshwar, interprets the passage in this way: "You will know Me fully, like a jewel that is lying on the palm of your hand.” 

 Which is to say that the realization of Divine knowledge is not some remote, far-flung possibility, but a present one. 

 The gorgeous jewel of wisdom and realization is to be seen right before one's eyes, there in the palm of the hand. 

 "When a person understands this wisdom even a little," says Jnaneshwar, "many longings of his mind are satisfied."

 Here is a state of satisfaction such that a speaker's voice “becomes silent” and “the listener's longing will vanish."

 Of all possible realizations in this life, nothing compares with this supreme realization

 Even the thought of such a possibility, states the text, may serve to capture, center and calm the mind. 

The question that follows for any of us is: 'Might this be your truest wish - to breakthrough to such an experience of enlightenment in your life?'  

 I grew up in the sixties, and can still hear Jim Morrison of the Doors singing about 'breaking on through to the other side.

 'Breaking through' is what the Gita is about, but without drugs. The message of the Gita is that a breakthrough is possible.

 The Gita is affirming that we can indeed break on through to the other side. We can land on the 'other shore.’ 

 Everything depends, however, on whether such a realization is one's truest wish

 Again the question: Is such a realization of the Divine your truest wish?  

 Your answer to the question may be that you can think of several other wishes currently occupying your mind. If so, you're not alone!

 In fact, much of the world is going in your direction! Much of the world is colluding with you in caring about everything else but, the theme of this article! 

 You are therefore quite radically alone, if your intention is Divine realization. You are some kind of outsider, a stranger, an odd duck.  

 For the fact is, states the Gita, “of thousands of men, scarcely anyone strives for this.” 

 Rather the evidence shows that most entertain many wishes, but no single wish, for spiritual realization: "Among thousands of people, rarely is there one who has an earnest desire for this.” 

 "Thousands may enter the great waters of the search for God, but scarcely one is able to reach the further shore of attainment." (10-13) 

 The Gita describes a world of mayhem. No fluffy, happy talk here about the condition of the world. Rather, Jnaneshawar looks out upon a world that is a dismal sight to behold. 

 Indeed, the young sage, Jnaneshwar, is scathing in his assessment of the world as full of ignorance and darkness.

 Says Jnaneshwar: Most live in "a great flood of delusion, like a flood that sweeps away cities of restraint and self-control. The whirlpools of hate and the cross-currents of envy swirl on its surface, and the great fish of error and sin flash within it.

 "In its course are eddies of worldly affairs and the rapids of action and wrong action, on which the weeds of pleasure and pain are swept along."  

   "The billows of lust dash against the island of sexual love, and masses of souls in the form of foam are cast upon it." 

    "In the stream of egoism, spouts of infatuation with learning, wealth and power gush out, and waves of sense objects leap forth."

     "The streams of darkness are powerful. There is a terrible deluge of illusion. Those who have plunged into this river and have tried to swim across it with the arms of their own intellect have been lost. Some have been sucked into the deep pool of knowledge by their own pride.

      "Others, have embarked on a raft with stones of egoism fastened to them, swallowed up by the fish of infatuation.”  

        "Still others clothe themselves with the vigor of youth, and seeking the support of the god of love, have been devoured by the crocodile of sensual pleasure."

          "Others placing their faith in action, became entangled in the whirlpool of prescribed duties and forbidden actions in the hope of reaching the other shore and liberation."  

 The message is sadly clear that most do everything but, live in a single-minded, focused way

 They do not have one true wish. Many wishes are entertained, but not the most crucial one. 

 So many are like George Kanstansa in a Seinfield episode who said to Kramer that he had entertained many cravings, but knew nothing about an all-absorbing sense of deep yearning. 

 Topping the charts not long ago, was a book called, How Will You Measure Your Life?, by Clayton Christensen, said by some to be the world's greatest business mind. 

 A hugely popular Professer at Harvard's business school, Dr. Christensen begins the book by describing Harvard graduates and Rhodes scholars, the brightest and the best, who launched out into the world full of many wishes, but who then, one by one, descended into chaos.

 At his first five year reunion, Dr. Christensen states that there was a big turn-out of the "polished and prosperous.” 

 There was no evidence at that first reunion that trouble was brewing and just around the corner.

 But then at subsequent reunions, fewer and fewer showed up, and stories began to circulate about ruined lives. 

 Clayton recalls that at graduation, it had appeared that "everyone had plans and visions for what they would accomplish, not just in their careers, but in their personal lives as well.” 

 Everyone was full of hopes and dreams.

 Yet within several years, "something had gone wrong. Their personal relationships had begun to deteriorate, even as their professional prospects blossomed."   

 "I know for sure", says Clayton,"that none of these people graduated with a deliberate strategy to get divorced or to lose touch with their children - much less end up in jail." 

 "Yet this is the strategy that too many ended up implementing.”  

  Clayton suggests that the problem was a preoccupation with what could be easily measured: "The danger for high-achieving people is that they'll unconsciously allocate their resources to activities that yield the most immediate, tangible accomplishments."

 "This is often in their careers, as this domain of their lives provides the most concrete evidence that they are moving forward."  

   "They ship a product, finish a design, help a patient, close a sale, teach a class, win a case, publish a paper, get paid, get promoted."  

    "They priorized things that gave them immediate returns - such as a promotion, a raise, or a bonus - rather than the things that require long-term work, the things that you won't see a return on for decades, like raising good children.” 

      "And when those immediate returns were delivered, they used them to finance a high-flying lifestyle for themselves and their families: better cars, better houses, and better vacations."  

       "They unwittingly overlooked their spouses and children. Investing time and energy in these relationships doesn't offer them that same immediate sense of achievement that a fast-track career does.” 

 After all, as he notes: "It's really not until twenty years down the road that, you can put your hands on your hips and say, "We raised good kids.

 But by not making their spouses and children their priority, “many of my classmates inadvertently invested their lives in hollow happiness.”  

  And their worlds eventually came apart. 

  I watched a video once of executive businessmen whose worlds had collapsed. These men had all suffered heart attacks in their 50’s. 

 Determined to change their lifestyles, they were now in a recovery program, supervised by Dr Dean Ormish.

 They had agreed to go on a vegetarian diet. They were doing Yoga and learning to meditate. They sat with each other in circles to learn how to experience quality relationships.

 Having been called up short by heart attacks, these men were now learning to cultivate their inner lives.

 They were learning now to follow higher impulses, or higher intentions.

 They were making efforts towards the attainment of that unified and integrated state of being that Jnaneshwar, in his commentary on the Gita, envisioned as our greatest possibility. 

 Peter Brook has said that our greatest need is to orient our lives around what he calls a new impulse, or true wish.

 Otherwise, failing that, he warns: "Lives decay, enterprises and empires pass into decline, calculations are proved false and heroic revolutions turn back on themselves and betray their great ideals."   

 But, as he says encouragingly: “If at the crucial moment, contact can be made with energies of a different ordera change of quality takes place.”   

 "Consciousness then rises to a higher scale.”  

“ Which then leads to spiritual awakening.”

 “And eventually to absolute purity, to the sacred." (Peter Brook, Gurdjieff, Essays and Reflections on the Man and His Teaching, editor, Jacob Needleman p. 32)   

 My sense is that a choice is always required between the clear resolve, wish or intention, to live fully and consciously, rather than passively to descend into merely existing or surviving.

 As Jeanne de Salzman states - there are men of two kinds - the "wheat" and the "chaff."  

 Says she: "No matter how intelligent, how gifted, how brilliant a person may be, if he does not work towards a true becoming, he will remain as he is all his life."  

 "You must understand" she says, "that all other measures, talent, education, culture, genius - are changing measures, measures of detail."

 "The only exact measure, the only unchanging, objective real measure is the measure of inner vision."  

 In a challenge to passivity, she says: "Try for a moment to accept the idea that you are not what you believe yourself to be." 

 "You overestimate yourself, in fact, you lie to yourself.

 "You always lie to yourself, every moment, all day, all your life."  

 "You are the prey of lying. You lie, everywhere. Your relations with others - lies."

 "The upbringing you give, the conventions, lies." 

 "Your teaching - lies. Your theories, your art - lies. Your social life, your family life - lies."

  Jeanne, for me, sounds like lots of fun! I wish she was still alive, so I could invite her for dinner.

 I mean it! In her stinging words, I sense the power of an awakened consciousness.

 It is my experience to have observed that behind the words of the cheerleaders of cheeriness, is a dull and leaden level of consciousness.,

 "If you observe in this way," Jeanne goes on to say, "perhaps you will suddenly see something you have never seen in yourself." 

 "You will see that you are different from what you think you are."

  “You will see that you are two. One who is not, but takes the place and plays the role of the other. And one who is, yet so weak, so insubstantial, that he no sooner appears than he immediately disappears." 

 "He cannot endure lies. The least lie makes him faint away."

 "Learn to look", she says, "until you have seen the difference between your two natures, until you have seen the lies, the deception in yourself."

 "When you have seen your two natures, that day, in yourself, the truth will be born."  

  Thus the question again: What is my highest intention? What is my one true wish?

   I need to answer that question and live my life accordingly. 

   The alternative is to walk stupidly into the wasteland.