Blood Memories book

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Why Your Action Matters

All summer I’ve been thinking of writing a blog article, but it never happened. The topic was clear to me, the desire intense, but I couldn’t get started. I could blame it on the house guests I had all summer. But the real reason, I believe, is my own uncertainty about getting the words right! 

Yet the air (even here in Sardinia) feels lighter and thinner this week, creating clarity and space. The poignancy of late summer has set in, with its darker mornings, ripe figs, and occasional thunder storms. I have always loved this time of the year, which—if you’ve nothing else to do—provides the ideal conditions for contemplation. But most of the time you have way too much to do. You do not notice how each moment of time glistens, beckoning you inwards towards its hidden door. 

It’s “back-to-school time”, and the tasks are many.  Pupils and parents, students and perennial students are busy, busy. Books, copies, new shoes, school bags and these days electronic gadgets also need to be lined up for what is always some kind of New Beginning. Expectation also has a poignancy. What will this new school year bring? 

The academic calendar has conditioned me to the bone. Yesterday, my second granddaughter started Junior Infants and the eldest Second Class. Pictures of all of them came into my What’s App, including the two-year old, who was going for the biscuits at the parents’ coffee morning. 

I forwarded them to my ninety-three year old mother in California. My sister said the timing was perfect. My mother had been reading in the local newspaper about “back-to-school” preparations, and seeing her great-grandchildren with their fresh school uniforms and pigtails triggered so much joy. She too has a wealth of “back to school” memories, all tinged with that quality of hope, excitement and new beginnings. She was my earliest conditioning, and I can credit her for nurturing my enthusiasm for school and love of learning.   

Yet I’m aware too that this time of the year fills many with dread. It was like that for me back in the day when I had two preschool children and a full-time job teaching English.The weight of it all ran me ragged, my perfectionist streak bringing me to the brink of a nervous breakdown. Never a good enough teacher. Never a good enough mother. Only so many hours in a day. And I desperately needed to sleep also! But those nightmare years—reading student essays into the wee hours and praying those babies stayed asleep—are long over, thank God! But that phase of life conditioned me too. 

So right now—totally free to organise my time according to my soul’s desire—I can breathe a prayer of gratitude that the universe brought me here. “Here” is a specific point in time and space. And though I’m infinitely grateful that “here” is such an oasis of sunshine and beauty. It’s the characteristics of the point itself that I want to talk about. A point is where I am right now. Actually, it is what I am. I am a point in time and space—a point where time and space intersect.

Making Sense of the Maya (ordinary reality/world)

You have heard that separation is an illusion. Indian philosophy teaches that Brahman—the eternal, transcendent, infinite ground of being—is One. And everything ultimately is Brahman. Christian mysticism teaches something similar. God is everywhere and in everything. The Gaia concept, which echoes the understanding of indigenous cultures everywhere, perceives the earth as one interdependent whole, an ecosystem seen as the body of the Goddess. Nature is comprised of ecosystems—ecosystems within ecosystems, like Chinese boxes. Our galaxy is one, so is the entire cosmos, and so is an individual human body. 

But Maya translated as illusion creates so much confusion! Illusion does not mean non-existence. You are not a phantom. Your bones and blood, thoughts and action are real. Real too are all the entities science lists and categories. Consider the myriad species of plants that botany defines, or the different muscles, bones and organs that anatomy distinguishes. Obviously, much usefulness comes from examining parts in this way. The misunderstanding arises from taking this perception of separation as absolute. That is the Maya. Maya is the world as it seems through the perspective of the limiting lens of an individual body-mind organism, whether that organism be a human or horse, a fern or flea. Maya is the illusion of separation. 

Everything belongs to something bigger. Boundaries blur. The 650 muscles of the body are really one muscle, or millions, depending how you look at it. They are an interdependent whole. That helleborus niger in your garden, flourishing now as the days grow darker, produces its stunning white blossoms in the dead of winter. It depends upon damp earth, dim light, chilly but not frozen air. It belongs to Irish Christmas—also an “entity” (of the cultural, historical, geographical sort). Yet the minerals your helleborus absorbs from the soil are the same, in their chemical composition, as those that nourish the tropical bougainvillea. Similarly, Irish Christmas propagates in desert sunshine through those who carry it to such places in their heart. 

What coordinates all these parts into one vast unified whole is an intelligence, call it Pure Consciousness. Samkhya calls that intelligence Purusha, and the constantly transmuting Whole it calls Prakriti, personified as Shakti or the goddess. Shakti is the visible face of Shiva, who is the personification of the intelligence. 

Though the myriad parts of Shakti each have a unique dharma to fulfil, they do so in relationship with other parts, in the context of the Whole. Borders belong to Maya. The potatoes sprouting in your cupboard are searching for sunlight. The life force in them knows to grow towards the Sun, the essence of all life. They—as well as every part of Shakti—are bodies of light, vibrations or pulses of energy configured each in different ways to appear as separate entities moving through time. 

Examine any part you like, and you will see that it can’t stand alone. It depends upon something “outside”; it’s actually comprised of elements that come from “outside”.  You’ll see that the concepts of “inside” and “outside” break down. Your cells right now are absorbing the omega-3 fatty acids from the avocado you ate for dinner last night. That avocado grew on a plant rooted into the soil of Israel, drawing its nutrients from the same earth that Jesus Christ walked upon 2000 years ago, earth containing tiny particles of iron that may once have inhabited his red blood cells. Everything touches everything in time and space. This is Shakti dancing. 

What Keeps You From REALLY Getting This?

Though separate entities may exist in the sense that we can define certain parameters and distinguish them from other entities, what they are not, however, is autonomous or static. Nothing EVER stands alone. And nothing EVER remains still. Everything moves in a language. As the days darken, the birds listen. They whisper amongst themselves, preparing to fly south. The Dark Moon tells the beetroot to stretch deep into the soil; it tells the womb to shed its blood. As our Sun approaches the galactic centre, every 25,000 years, human consciousness expands towards the heavens. Indian cosmology refers to that time as the Satya Yuga, the age of Truth. 

Most people—who pay attention to these things—get this. Yoga students preparing to be teachers study the classic texts and they get this. But the thing they miss, the big blindness that almost everyone has, the big impediment keeping YOU from seeing through the illusion of separation is this: You leave yourself out! You can see the wondrous interconnection of the cosmos, you understand how divine intelligence directs it in its wisdom. But you’re standing apart, deluded by that sense of yourself as proprietor and commander of a “me” that is autonomous. It’s the fantasy of “me” as the lone ranger, sole creator of its destiny. It’s missing the vital insight that Divine Intelligence animates your life too. 

There is no judgement here, no blame implied or guilt to take on. The fantasy of “me” belongs to the mechanism of Maya. It’s how the drama of life works. Each part, each separate “me” identity is a kind of vessel. Divine intelligence fills it. Divine intelligence then perceives through the lens of the vessel that contains (and necessarily limits) it. It becomes ego identity, that sense of me as lone ranger. Ego identity channels Divine Intelligence towards the fulfilment of the dharma unique to that vessel. And whether human or horse, fern or flea, the limiting lens of each vessel exist for a purpose. 

Ego Means “Edging God Out”

Divine intelligence funnelled into the “me” vessel is what defines ego, and ego identity serves the drama of life. It makes it possible for a vessel to move through time and space fulfilling its destiny or realising its dharma. That destiny can involve so many different experiences over eons of time, but the ultimate destiny of all is the realisation that it is not and never actually was separate. The ultimate dharma of every soul is awakening to its own Divine Nature as Brahman, as God, as Pure Consciousness not bound by any container or vessel. 

With that awakening comes the transformative insight that the “me” is merely a kind of working fiction. It’s not in control of anything—never was and never could be—because it is not a real entity. Its sense of proprietorship and command belong to the world of separation, which is illusion, not reality.  

Our minds say that an individual life is bound by birth and death. And though in the sense of ordinary life those boundaries have some meaning, in an ultimate sense, as the Gita teaches, they don’t. There is no birth, no death, says Lord Krishna. There is only Krishna, the One, Eternal Transcendent Spirt—called Pure Consciousness or God. 

Just as the elements that make up your physical body are not created at birth nor destroyed at death, only transformed, recycled and reshaped, so too is all the psychic content of your mind. 

My mother is in me, and not just in my genes. She inhabits my psyche, as her mother does hers. You could trace a thread from the fact that I’m writing this now back to a story my mother read to me well over half a century ago, or to the way she smiled when she waved goodbye as I climbed into the school bus. Small gestures can have powerful impact. The Buddha’s path to enlightenment began with a gaze out his window.

Test It and See For Yourself 

As you examine the Unity of all things, observe how you belong to that unity too. Elements that comprise your body form stones and stars as well. Your emotional and mental content originates from interactions—experiences in the flow of time—with something “other”.  Relationships define us, relationships create us. Through present and past lives relationships are the essence of karma, they keep life flowing. Examine carefully and you will see that relationships have no borders. 

The body-mind organism—that “me” or “you” point where time and space intersect—is an abstraction. Just like the mathematical concept of a point, it has no dimensions. It’s existence is relative, fluid, an ever-shifting thought. Yet when stretched over time through space, a point forms a line, which forms a plane, which forms a multi-dimensional construct. Individual points merge and disappear into its fabric. No point is ever outside, because Shakti’s weave is infinite and borderless.

Think about yourself for a minute. See if you can identify any part of your body or mind that did not originate from or is not connected to anything outside the body-mind vessel you call “me”.  You will discover there is nothing. So just like the mathematical point, the “me” eludes you. You cannot find it when you try to delineate it. Or it expands to include everything when you see it in its context. The “me” is merely a working fiction that mind fabricates and Pure Consciousness animates for a time and purpose. Ultimately, there is no you or me. All there really is, is One—Pure Spirit or Brahman or God. 

The Ultimate Insight 

This insight is the foundation of all mystical experience, the universal Truth of every authentic spiritual tradition. The “I AM” which speaks to Moses from the burning bush is the ground of all being. It is Pure Spirit, undifferentiated yet the essence of all. It animates the cosmos. The Hindu tradition clarifies this further, saying, “Thou art the doer,  Thou art the experiencer, Thou art the experience”.  Or as poetry puts it so succinctly: “Shiva is the world from the point of view of appearances. But the world is Shiva from the point of view of reality.”

Ponder those last words, because they say it all. They point to the essential fact that two perspectives are possible. You can see (or more accurately, be) reality, which is Shiva as One (in which case “you” are no more), or you can see appearances, which is Shiva manifesting as Many. But actually, there is always only Shiva. 

So Why Bother? 

Many people confuse these two perspectives. They get stuck between them and end up in a very dark place.  

If upon hearing that you are not the author of your action, do you feel like giving up?  Do you wonder what is the point of doing anything? If my destiny is determined, do you think, why even try? If Divine Intelligence is in charge, why need I bother? Why not just check out, make no effort, dissipate into nihilism and paralysis? 

The answer is really very simple. 

You are a vessel with a purpose to fulfil, a destiny that unfolds through time, like a point extending into a line, into a plane. But the vessel is an inert container. Its intelligence—the momentum, the energy animating it—is Pure Consciousness or God. Just like the potato sprouts stretching towards the Sun, the vessel that is you is travelling purposely. 

Divine Intelligence is at the helm of your vessel! And Divine Intelligence directs every other vessel too. Only through the infinitely diverse vessels that comprise the manifestation can Pure Consciousness operate.The vessels are instruments, and Divine Intelligence gives them life, making the music they’re designed to play. Pure Consciousness needs that instrument which is YOU. 

As the Gita explains, you cannot NOT act. The energy of the body-mind organism must, by its very nature, do something. Even crawling into your bed in despair is an action. Pure Consciousness animates each vessel according to its inherent design—its genes, its karma, its conditioning, So what will it be?

How To Decide What to Do? 

So many teachings out there will tell you what to do!!!  . . . Follow this or that practice format. Say these mantras or prayers. Be kind, compassionate and generous. Don’t cling to possessions or people. Eat sattvic food. Don’t buy plastics. There are SO many belief systems, so many lists of moral precepts and ethical standards out there to guide you if you so wish. I’m not going to advise or dissuade you from any of them. 

Everything you know up to this point comes from whatever conditioning you have experienced. It IS as it should be. Trust it. This is my advice to you. . . . Examine it all with the inner eye of wisdom. Ponder it as deeply as you feel called to. Ask questions. Breathe. Listen to the voice of Truth, the voice of Pure Spirit speaking to your heart. 

Then do whatever you want. The action you take allows life to flow. Without it, Divine Intelligence has nothing to work with. God needs you to participate. Listen to the two spiritual masters quoted below. They come from different traditions but speak a similar Truth. Take their words to heart. Then take action. And Let Life Flow! 

Ramakrishna said: “Be absolutely convinced that you are merely a machine which is operated upon by God, then you may do whatever you wish.” 

Mother Teresa put it this way:  “Each one of us is merely a small instrument. When you look at the inner workings of electrical things, often you see small and big wires, new and old, cheap and expensive, lined up. Until the current passes through them, there will be no light. That wire is you and me. The current is God.”

Om Namah Sivaya!

4 thoughts on “Why Your Action Matters”

  1. Such a beautiful message beautifully expressed. Thank you Marianne it really is an honor and a privilege to study with you.

    1. You’re welcome, Aoife, and thank you for your comment! I was hoping the message came across clearly, because it is so beautiful. We execute, but Divine Love designs. What a relief not to be in charge! It’s a privilege for me to work with you too. M xx

  2. Thanks so much Marianne, for this wonderful post. Lots to digest here and I always love reading your posts several times. I find something new to think about each time! I hope to join you on your Jyotish course at some point in the future, it sounds amazing. Maybe next year. Thanks again for taking the time to write this, I really get alot out of your writing so I hope you never stop. Love, Brigitte

    1. Thank you so much, Brigitte. It makes me very happy that my posts get you thinking! Sometimes when I’m writing them, I imagine I’m speaking to you! It helps me to draw up dialogues with certain students from the past to clarify my thoughts. These topics are very subtle, and for me it’s always a work in progress. I can’t imagine I’ll ever stop. As I said in the article, an uneasy feeling wells up in me if I haven’t written in awhile. Once I get the thoughts out in a piece, the agitation subsides. That’s how it is on my end. But the real icing on the cake for me is hearing that the post uplifted someone’s spirit or got them thinking in new ways. The course is going to be amazing! It would be SO wonderful to have you join it next year. Much love to you in Norway! M xx

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