By Karuna (Carolyn) Beaver
When my sisters and I came running to our mother with a scraped knee growing up, we were likely to be sent in search of a band aid. We had to take care of our wounds ourselves. We were unlikely to be coddled by her kissing our “boo-boos.” This is not to say our mother didn’t take care of us. She absolutely did. If we were really ill, she was right there with chicken soup, baby aspirin and all the time in the world. Still, part of me wanted to be coddled all the time. My mother taught me a lot about the duality of the world, as mothers can. She loved me and pushed me hard. But it felt like she was either “nice” Mom or “mean” Mom.
In the February contemplation “It’s All for You!”, Swami Nirmalananda and Rukmini explain the sages’ two-fold map of duality. Duality makes you feel separate from everyone else. That sense of separation makes you feel small. It’s there in childhood, which is not as idyllic as everyone thinks it should be. As a child, I experienced the world’s opposites: good/bad, black/white, me/you. I felt that smallness when I didn’t get what I wanted or what I thought I needed to feel safe and loved.
Even as an adult, I much prefer it when everything seems to go my way. I don’t like pain and suffering. Who does? But my mother taught me a valuable lesson. I have figured out my mother was loving and pushing me for a purpose. It was so I could learn to take care of myself. It’s not about what happens to you or even necessarily what you do about it. It’s about who you are in the midst of whatever is occurring in life.
I’m still learning this lesson, sometimes daily. I imagine you are too. Family members know you best, and they’re experts at pushing you past your limitations. Swami and Rukmini say, “They want you to be a saint and they are doing their best to help you get there.” In fact, the contemplation article says my mother was pushing me right into enlightenment. Thanks, Mom!
It is just as the yogic sage Patanjali says, “The purpose of the world is solely for the sake of the Self,” your own Self. Everything in the world, seen and unseen, is for you to discover svaroopa, your own Divine Essence. This even applies to taking care of your own “boo-boos,” especially from an expansive and deep place within.
Living this world view can be difficult in the midst of hardship or conflict. Do you give in to the small-s self or dive deep into your Self — to soar past your limitations? I hear Swami’s familiar phrase, “do more yoga.” My yoga practice and Swami’s teachings help me choose to let go of my desires and fear. I tap into my deeper essence; I am reminded of who I really am. I am Consciousness. The world is providing me the experience I need in order to know that, more consistently. Thanks, Swamiji!