Common Ground: The Kinship of Metaphysicians
A syncretic approach to esoteric teachings - the golden threads that connect Pagans, Yogis, Rosicrucians and Masons.
A Meditation on Caring and Destiny
For the greater part of our lives, most of us feel the need for someone to say this to, and we all desire someone who will say it to us: "I love you, and I will take care of you."
When we commit to caring for someone, we feel a sense of purpose in life. And when we know that a parent or a partner—or a God or a Goddess—is taking care of us, we feel comforted.
As one who has been a caregiver, I think there is no worse stressor than a chronic illness befalling someone we love. It's almost worse than getting sick, ourselves. The pain of not being able to cure a loved one has dragged millions of us down into the depths of depression. To some small degree, it's comforting to speculate that there wasn't anything more that we could have done; the whole painful episode was written in the stars.
Many people believe this philosophy of predestination or karma, while just as many others adamantly proclaim that we have free will. Americans tend towards extremes—drawing lines in the sand and coming down 100% on one side or the other of every issue—which is why I find Yoga philosophy to be refreshingly reasonable on this subject. Yoga recognizes that crappy things can happen to anyone at any time, no matter how strong they used to be or what spiritual powers they were once able to display; so it must follow that free will and karma are both players in the game of life.
My Bhakti Yoga Guru taught that we come into this world with twenty percent free will, which we exercise within the restrictions of our personal karma—which comprises the other eighty percent. To illustrate the point, he gave us the image of a cow staked out in a field, on the end of a long chain. She can graze wherever she wants to, within a large circle; but she cannot range any farther than that. Her circle comprises only twenty percent of the field's total area.
In like manner, within a circle of limitation we can make a difference. We can effectively care for those we love, but under the limitation that all of us are influenced by past choices and actions, and each of us must eventually die—at a time and in a way which we can guess at but never really know in advance. And when that time comes, there will be nothing we can do about it.
You may disagree with my Guru's percentages, preferring to imagine it being more fifty-fifty or assigning more of the power to free will, but I think you will see the wisdom in this blended concept of the forces that influence the course of our lives.
Vedanta claims that we are all individuated parts of the One Oversoul, or Atman, and that upon attaining this awareness we no longer grieve the passing of individual bodies. But that level of awareness is very difficult for most of us to achieve. We do grieve. We do miss our loved ones. This is in our nature—and Pagans accept and embrace Nature. We don't try to deny it.
And yet we also say, "Merry meet, and merry part, and merry meet again." The same emotion that brings us so much pain will also bring us back together. In the words of the Beatles, "All you need is Love."
Though we must leave these bodies—and the whole physical world, for a time—love is the very essence of our being and it transcends the body. Our love binds us together in a spiritual energy field, regardless of which realm we are in.
Quantum Physics teaches that energy can never be destroyed; it only changes its form. If nothing can ever be lost, then we must be like sparks going back into the fire, or drops of water going back into the ocean. Our apparent separation couldn't possibly last for more than a short while.
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