Saturday, March 15, 2008

Someday This Pain Will Be Useful To You

Friends. I've been away too long—my bad. Two things were going on in my life. One you know; my disenchantment with Siddha Yoga is complete. Which is not to say that I reject it utterly, or feel that I received nothing good or positive from the path. But I am no longer on that path, and am feeling my way towards the next, which has lessened my need to participate here.

The other thing is that I've been having a lot of stress at work, the result of which is that I resigned this week. The details of the drama that led up to my quitting are not all that interesting to me, and I'm certain they wouldn't be to you. But, there is an aspect of this situation that I find fascinating, and that proceeds directly from having left SY. The decision to leave the job was mine, it was not mutual and I left without another job lined up. In short, I walked. Leaving that way required a kind of moral courage that I totally lacked during my time with Gurumayi. 

To be a good Siddha Yogi is to nurture a tenuous grasp of your own reality. Blissful feelings while meditating or chanting are not taken at face value, but are co-opted as evidence of that mystical belief system called the "Guru-Disciple Relationship". Every event, every feeling, each coincidence is re-interpreted in light of the "teachings" until it becomes subsumed by your beliefs. Critical thought and evaluation are crippled. This is particularly true of negative events. How many times have we dismissed difficulties with a seva supervisor, or a friend or co-worker, as karmic—the Guru's fire burning off our negative samskaras? How often have we tolerated situations that flew in the face of our own self-respect, our true evaluation of self-worth, because it seemed more "yogic" to comply, knuckle under, obey? Speaking for myself, I've lost count.

Patience is not a virtue when it means staying in a relationship that is well past its expiration date. Surrender and capitulation to other's manipulation destroys the fabric of our own reality. Our conditioning in SY too often means that we accept others stories even when we know deep down that they're not true, that they twist reality in order to justify bad behavior against us. Why? Because that is a trick we learned too well during our time at the ashram, excusing those in authority--including Gurumayi--when their behavior contradicted the teachings, finding a way to make sense of those blatant contradictions by confusing, disbelieving, misremembering our own experiences.

When confronted with this dynamic at work this time, I didn't—couldn't—back down. I knew that I had to remove myself from the situation because it would not change. I didn't search for other-worldly yogic explanations of what was going down. I trusted the evidence of my own senses, took them at face value, evaluated events and recognized patterns. I made up my own mind. 

As I write this, I realize it sounds very elemental. But for me, it is a liberation. One of the patterns that I recognized was my own. When I was a young child my father remarried and my stepmother was particularly cruel to me and my brothers and sister. My father traveled a lot, and when he did she would berate and beat us, and mentally abuse us, with impunity. When he returned she would make up stories to justify our bruises, or to counter our versions of what happened. Hauled before him we were told to admit our mistakes and take our punishment. Telling the truth, which meant denying our stepmother's lies, only made things worse. We weren't believed and our punishment was increased. Very early on, I learned that to tell truth to power was futile.

This became a lifelong habit. It didn't stop my from telling my truth, but it did lead me to capitulate to other's "truths" when they contradicted mine, if they were in a position of power and even when I knew what they said wasn't true. It's a habit I broke this week, and it had nothing to do with Guru's grace, and everything to do with the clarity of mind and self-respect that came when I turned my back on the path and walked away from that realm of delusion.