Appearances

We all seek love in one way or another. But I think very, very few find it. I think this is because love demands a lot of us. And most of us are not willing to question deeply enough what it might actually mean.

There is a story from India about a woodcutter. He was a good man. Even though he was poor, in many ways, his life was better than most. He was a handsome fellow and he had been betrothed at an early age to a beautiful woman. He lived with his wife and his mother in a small hut. In those days, the huts were very simple. The entrance was very thin and inside it was quite bare.

One day he was wandering through the forest and he met a saint. India has a rich tradition of saintly beings who retire to caves or forests to dedicate their lives to God. This man was somehow curious to understand why a man would renounce the world for a life of loneliness in the forest. In a way he pitied the saint. At the same time the saint knew that this man had been sent by God to be his student. The man had no idea about this.

The woodcutter asked the saint how he could live a life in the forest so lacking in love and affection chasing some strange God by the tail. He could see no value in such a life. After all the woodcutter had very little...but he did have people who loved him and this saint had a pitiful life by comparison. "Are you sure that the people you say who love you, love you?" "Of course" responded the woodcutter confidently.

The saint proposed a test to see if this was true. Knowing this to be crazy, but willing to amuse the old man, the woodcutter consented. The saint taught the man some asanas over a period of weeks and then he introduced him to various breathing exercizes. The woodcutter learned to stop his heart at will. He was impressed by this old man's teachings - but at the same time wondered how it could help one to have a happier life. He felt healthy and at peace after doing the exercizes and he pitied the old man living in the forest, so he felt like he had nothing to lose. After awhile the saint asked the man to go to his hut and to sit in the lotus posture and to follow the breathing techniques he had taught. The man went to the hut and sat in the lotus posture. His heart stopped beating as he entered a yogic trance - his breath slowed to an almost imperceptible rate and the pulse was not noticeable either. His wife noticed her husband in the strange position and wondered if he was ok. When she found him not breathing....she went into shock and started wailing. Word quickly spread around the village that the man had died doing yoga. Distraught and unhappy the man's wife and mother wailed about the loss of their loved one.

In the final analysis though, life had to go on. How would they get the body out of the hut?! His legs were locked in the lotus position. There was no way to remove the body from the hut. The women were besides themselves. Either the could shop the walls of the hut down and carry the body out that way or they could chop the man's legs off. In his yogic trance the man was able to watch all that was going on around him. He watched his wife's reaction and his mother's too. They both cried at the loss of the woodcutter...but to cut open their hut....for the sake of getting his body out to be buried...that seemed to be an equal travesty to them! When they opted without much deliberation to cut his legs off with the axe...he came out of the trance and raced away to the saint in the forest. Some love they had for him! The saint had a valid point.

What we call love rarely is nothing more than attachment. The physically beautiful think they find love in the beauty of another - but is it not mostly other's infatuation with their good looks - rather than love? The famous are wooed by the world for their standing and position...but what does it amount to in the end if one does not have inner peace? The rich have money and power - but at what cost? A true friend is much harder to find when you have things that all the world wants...though you may be surrounded by people who profess to care.

No, despite being the most natural thing, in this world, love is very rare. We are all so comfortable, or we are so busy chasing comfort or position or money... that we have lost our profound questions. Rarely is their the intelligence to question appearances; to look with any sustained attention into the ways of the mind with any seriousness. Until we do that though, we are satisfied with lives that are shallow and desperate. We do not see our lives for what they are...until something brings us to crisis, to the deep inner well of serious questions. There are other forces in life...but without sustained attention and discernment...we will not have the "ears to hear."

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Mind is the closest thing to our Reality...Be careful how you use it. Businessman, yogi, teacher, addicted to laughing...