Saturday, May 12, 2007

Pancakes and Ice Cream

In Rishikesh, back in January, talking with a friend...

We were talking of desire, of how desire could be focused purely in pursuit of God, or can be diverted into unimportant distractions. He says, "imagine you're on fire. You are running to the river, and someone tries to stop you and offer you ice cream, what do you do?" Of course you keep running to the river!" Pure spiritual desire is like that – all consuming.

Historically, I've always lost interest in (or needed to bring new awareness to) friendships and situations where it's all been about "ice-cream," about aimless distraction - whether that be sex, food, idle chit-chat... So many times I thought there was something wrong with me for not wanting ice cream! But what use do I have for ice cream, which will only distract me for a moment from the deeper truth that I am on Fire! And fire melts ice cream to a tepid, useless river... But why lament the lost ice cream! Come in the fire with me! Come, let's race to the river!

As a complement, just a month or so ago, at a talk given by my yoga teacher, Richard Freeman, he talked of the process of "Neti Neti," not this, not that...

The practice, it is said, is to withdraw the senses and the labeling of objects - withdraw all our tendrils of thoughts and attachment back into the pure center of the heart. In doing so, we "deny" the world - "neti neti..."

This process, he says, is like cooking a pancake. If we do it fully, the pancake becomes ripe for the flip. When it is truly ready, we flip it, and suddenly we open our eyes to see the world we've denied as beautiful and full of life. But in this embrace, there is truly no separation. I am you and you are me, the birdsong, the river, the wind in the trees... Even the sex, food, and idle chit-chat becomes an expression of God! Love is experienced as endless, regardless of the appearances of situations...

Of course, if we flip the pancake too soon, he reminds us, we're left with a big, sticky, gooey mess.

Time to pour another pancake - Set our intentions, sit in meditation, offer ourselves to the fire of the divine...

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