Spiritual Yardsticks

”Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.”

~Marianne Williamson

Many moons ago, when I started hanging out in joints where ‘seekers’ congregate, I noticed pretty quickly there was a recurring question that popped up early on. Someone would sidle up and  casually ask ” So-oooo………how long have you been practising yoga, (sitting for Zen, studying Buddhism, reading philosophy, seeing the signs…insert arcane past-time of choice)?”.

Always that strange look of almost frightened curiosity. (The grasping. A noose is placed.)

Ahhh. Here it comes again. The spiritual yardstick. Cue visualisation of calipers being withdrawn from the back-pocket, primed and ready to size up the dimensions of my innermost unknowable being. (Am I a threat? The noose tightens.)

”You gonna try measure my soul?” I sometimes replied, but mostly I said nothing. Instead I wondered when dinner was going to happen. Would it be poxy salt-less porridge? Wondered why everyone looked so pale. Felt an urge to tell a filthy joke. Or curse. Or, more often, to leave.

Mostly, I left. (Here, have your rope back, and tuck away your funky measuring stick.)

We do it to ourselves often enough though. Berate ourselves about not ‘getting there’, wherever ‘there’ is. Flounder when a bad mood hits or depression strikes or negativity wells up, as if we have betrayed the breadth of the vast Divine.  Feel fraudulent for not experiencing something more convincing, as if ‘something’ aught to blast up from the roots of our feet (or our red hot coccyx) and rocket into our brain (bindu baby, here I come) in some obliterating cataclysm to finally convince us.

And maybe it will, and maybe it has, and maybe it won’t.

What does it matter?

Would we know if we are already enlightened? (What the heck is that anyway?) A dear one sometimes jokes with me that nothing less than a flaming hand writing the perfect flaming words on a flaming wall will do for him. Biblical-style. The whole nine yards of blazing glory. After all, in the ultimate field of exploration, why settle for anything less than a blistering theurgy? Who wants to be a square?

And yes, maybe it is loud. Maybe it does obliterate. Maybe we have already been obliterated, we just did not notice. Or it happened long ago and the past fell away from our heels. Or maybe it, whatever it is, will take as many lifetimes as the uncountable leaves on the bilba tree. We cannot live with tightening nooses or calipers.

Maybe it is quieter. Something that happens differently for everyone. An immeasurable thing. Present eternally in light and shade, in joy and sorrow, in anger and love. Maybe it is a quiet walk through an occasional forest with silent raindrops suspended from leaves reflecting ten thousand things in fragile prisms.

Japanese poem Haiku by Lady Izumi Shikibu (978-unknown) "The dewdrop / on a bamboo leaf / stays longer than you / who vanish at dawn"


Generally just Being. Nothing in particular, no claims to fame. I like gardening and the sea, nature, art in all forms from poetry to films and everything in between, and being in the company of my family.

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