Sunday, December 25, 2011

How busy is the Universe?

It’s almost the end of the year and I can’t help but notice that I am saying, again, “This was the most awesome year ever!” Exactly what I said last year. And the year before. Probably because that’s how I see things, not because the year has anything to do with it and not because the actual circumstances support the notion. Yet, I am convinced that this was indeed the best year ever and I can point to a few things that would constitute “proof” in my mind. But that’s just in my mind. That’s also because I get happy just because, so one may say; low expectations go a long way.

One thing I try NOT to say anymore, though I did used to say before, is that the Universe had something to do with how things are. You know the usual expressions: “The Universe is telling me something,” “The Universe is opening doors and helping me along the way,” “The Universe is teaching me a lesson,” “The Universe is responding to me.” Basically, it appears that folks blame everything from good to bad, to strange and unexplainable on the Universe. This means, the Universe is really busy these days!

It actually is, but not in this way. In its own way the Universe is indeed super busy.  Stars come and go. Celestial bodies are moving with astronomical speeds. Galaxies are still forming. Comets are buzzing through space.  The Universe is expanding, than not, than expanding again….you name it. It’s happening in very real terms.

What is not happening is “Personal Catering by the Universe.” I expect folks would get a little confused with all the enlightened teachings out there that they hold dear – from dream boards and the Law of Attraction to the Secret, to all sorts of New Age excitement. What’s even more interesting is that somehow yoga got mixed up with wishful thinking and ended up being “feel good” escapist pursuit. So, now you can hardly go to a yoga class without some enthusiastic yoga teacher, telling you to release your worries to the Universe, or trust the Universe to guide you, or pay attention to what the Universe is telling you….

In all my years of studying yoga I have never encountered the notion that the Universe is my personal goodies delivery system. The Universe can actually be a scary place, with all the gods, goddesses and their relations, according to Hinduism. On the other hand, the Universe appears to be, just like all visible reality, a temporary phenomenon – every time Brahma goes to bed, a new Universe is being destroyed and another one is created in the morning after he wakes up. It’s a good thing a day & night in the life of Brahma is 8.64 billion years, which happens to be more than the age of Earth or the Sun, and about ½ of the age of the Universe according to astronomy. Therefore, our Universe is now longer than a day & night in the life of Brahma, so thank God Hindus were wrong in their calculations, because we should have been dead about 5 billion years ago (The current age of the Universe, as we know it is estimated at 13.75 bill years)
What they did get right is how dynamic and temporary the Universe is.

Yet, I haven’t read anything about the Universe working for me out there.  So, I am guessing the Universe is just not the kind of thing that works for anyone. Not even for Brahma, since Brahma seems to just make it up as he goes along and then leaves it to Vishnu to maintain it until it’s time to start over, in which case Shiva steps in and torches the whole thing. I guess, this shows you how seriously they take it.

So, why  do we feel like when we are doing things “right” we are supported, doors are opening, things are happening, and we end up in the “right” place?…Likewise, if we are finding difficulty, struggling, encountering obstacles, suffering, we feel like someone is trying to tell us something, teach us a lesson, show us where our mistakes are. Why is it that your dream board seems to work (sometimes)? Why does it have to be a “someone,” an “intelligent entity,” of some sort, that opens or closes those doors?

Could it be because we selectively choose what to focus on, have an insatiable need for meaning, hate to be alone, are desperate for approval… Is it all just wiring in the brain that colors things this way or that way, tricking you into experiencing a real connection where one does not exist, drives you out of unexplainable mixture of brain chemicals and hormones and basically has you enacting your species’ survival mechanisms?
No one likes thinking we are just flesh, bone and brain chemicals on a planet in the middle of nowhere, with no purpose and no meaning.  We must be more important than that! Aren’t we?

People prefer alternatives such as the existence of God, a reason for being, and a place to go after this is over. (Then they fight over which version of this is the better one. For thousands of years.)

Meaning, purpose, life…those are the big questions that we all entertain sometimes, or in my case, all of the time. The Universe seems to be how people fold everything into one word, a notion that encompasses all our hopes, dreams, needs and faith. The Universe is just like God, but you talk about God in church and you talk about the Universe in a yoga class and among your non-religious/spiritual friends while looking down on the folks that go to church. So, now we have another layer of discrimination: God vs The Universe. Theoretically God created the Universe, so why not just say God. On the other hand if you don’t believe in God, why attribute to the Universe the characteristics of God?

My biggest question is why do you always look outside of yourself for all the answers? Could it be that you are God, the Universe and everything else, and that’s why yoga scriptures always seem to find a way to point your attention back at your own being? Could it be that because you are all that, you are the inspiration, the motivation and the power for creating reality and that’s why your dream board works, or doors open, and when they don’t it is because you are not focused and acting out of that selfness? Could it be that mystics through the centuries and from all sorts of spiritual roots have been telling you all you have ever needed to know – You are IT, and you have not been paying attention?

“Love the questions.” said Rilke, and I think that’s all anyone should do. Love the questions as they lead you ever further, ever deeper and show you where you are not exactly jiving.   
What is this (reality)?
Who am I?
What should I be doing with “this one wild and precious life?”
Sometimes the answers come. Sometimes they don’t. Either way you are a changed person.  Next time you see me, don’t tell me what the Universe has been doing for you. Tell me what you have been doing.
Happy New Year. 

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