2 days ago, on the 7th day of Navaratri, I was listening to the daily recitation that I often listen to before I meditate. I can’t believe it, but I heard something that had never really sunk in for me before. I have listened to this recitation tens of thousands of times. There is a list of precepts - observances - that I thought I had utterly understood and applied to my life. Most of them are basic - you know, the 8 fold path. But crazily enough - there was one I had never really heard like I heard it the other day, Compassionate Aspiration. Right Effort.
This is not actually all that surprising - I have had some big breakthroughs this year around realizing that life expands according to the ferocity and depth of my willingness. But it is sinking in even more deeply for me; how much freedom we leave on the table because we are often not willing to try that hard. Meanwhile, the voices of conditioned mind are having a heyday, and it’s all happening under the level of consciousness.
Humans can end up terribly confused - experiencing life as a dizzying whirlwind of desires and aversions. The desires - vikalpas they are are called in sanskrit - are often impure. But if we can catch hold of ONE PURE MOTIVE, (shuddha-vikalpa) we can carry that boat to shore.
“Catch hold of one shuddha- vikalpa. That will prove to be a veritable boat by which we can cross the turbulent waters of phenomenal existence and safely land on the certain ground of our noumenal Reality."
Jaidev Singh, citing Abhinavagupta.
You know the whole “in the beginning, there was the word” thing? It’s a God thing, of course, but listen to where else it shows up. In the OM - the primordial vibration. Vibration is sound, the beginnings of and the core requirement of the power of speech. It’s called Matrika Shakti - the power of the word, the hidden mother - that which ensures that we each know our place in the world is as manifestors, creatrixes, source.
In nutshell, these are teachings about making DECLARATIONS and then living into them. These are teachings about one-ness, and teachings about possibility, and teachings about choice.
I know a lot of people who are cynical about our world, and have so many opinions about the myriad ways that other people are screwing our world up, with their blindness and confusion.
Have you noticed that? The world is burning around us, drunk on corruption, greed, confusion, and fear, and most of our days are spent standing around the fire, complaining about the careless narcissists who started the fire, but not doing anything about it.
Until we make a declaration.
I’ve learned so much about managing my mind, and it depends so deeply on that tiny, subtle, inner shift of making a declaration. I used to squander soooooo much time on inner conversation about what makes you you and me me, analyzing all the patterns in our ways of being that determine what is possible for us. I’m not knocking the power of observing patterns - there is a utility in it. It’s probably why I became a therapist. But there is a stronger power, and it’s the power of declaring what is possible. This is the deepest power, the Matrika Shakti - the hidden mother. Hidden because we cannot see it, but it is the MATRIX that links us all - our power to create, to bring a world into being.
If you can stop the endless cogitation of the mind, and simply state “I am…” and then finish the sentence, you have the beginnings of freedom. If you can do that over and over and over again, and believe what you say, and let your actions follow that charioteer, you will be free from the cankers of ignorance and fear.
Today is the ninth and last day of Navaratri.
In Hinduism, according to tradition, today is a powerful moment to make a declaration. But truly ANY day is a good day to use the power of the mind to CONSCIOUSLY choose. It doesn’t need to be a project. This is about living in remembrance of what you love, and who you are, and what you stand for. Navaratri is the day to declare it, to put it on your altar, to begin to truly believe it, and live into it.
Mary Oliver asked the question so beautifully, “What are you going to do with this one wild and precious life?”
Ask yourself that. Feel into it. Look at what is really happening in your life. Life can be bewildering, and often quite painful - but what is life trying to show you? Make a decision about who you truly are in the midst of the swirling confusion. Decide where you are going to put your focus. Now’s the time. NOW is always the time.