Roaring Karma is the second in a series of posts by Jaya Kula students.
After four years of doing sadhana, I’ve gained some clarity. I actually see more, for which my housemates must assuredly be thankful! But clarity doesn’t distinguish between what’s pleasing and what’s painful to see. I’ve had my nose rubbed repeatedly in the reek of my fixations. It stinks, it stings, it catalyzes.
Those who know me know I often struggle to fully follow through. I start enthusiastically, stutter, trickle off, forget altogether. Like a small, flickering flame abandoned to the rain. I want to be able to follow my teacher’s suggestions, I want to be able to really follow through. It hurts to look at myself sometimes, to see all the straining, feigning, slinking and lazing that I do.
Recently, my teacher Shambhavi has given me precise deadlines by which to complete certain tasks. Opportunities. Opportunities to disappoint or surprise myself. I’ve felt anxious, hesitant and afraid. I mean, I want out! I want to be comfortable! I want it to be easy. (Those reasons that I engage in patterns of numb-out and distraction are often the same reasons that I do spiritual practice.)
I doubt myself. I doubt my sincerity and capacity. Together, the fear that I’ll end up failing to follow through and the fear of simply following what I know I need to do in a practical way, roar ferociously through my bones.
Drowning the doubt, diving into the ordinary ease, I put on my headphones, read music reviews online, look them up on Spotify, listen. Browse through Related Artists, compile cursorily enjoyed seconds of songs into playlists for people I know, for varying seasons, situations and moods. Repeat, repeat.
I slink away into Game of Thrones, or dive deep into that novel I checked out from the library a few weeks ago, the one about the parallel society where poets are trained to control people’s minds with words and what happens when we slide too far in some misdirection. I resurface at 3:15am only to turn the light out.
Or I find myself with thirty tantalizing Google Chrome tabs open. Images of bodies glisten, charge and hook. Hours pass – and where was I, and where was Ma, and where was my practice in all that aching numb?
Taking a long, sober look at myself takes real effort. Opening my heart toward myself takes real effort. Invoking my practice in the midst of a full blown karmic storm takes real fucking effort. Tending the fire day in and day out takes real effort. Stepping into the flames takes real effort.
Shambhavi has said that everything, all our fixations, must become ash. God l feel like I have so much still to burn. I’ve wanted the comforting light of the fire without the discomfort of the heat. It’s time to drop the sense that I shouldn’t have to experience difficulty, because it seems now like all of Samsara, even the pleasure, is itself a Crucible. The friction of my fixations coming up against my natural movement toward waking up is the fire under me, prodding me to change, to do whatever it takes to discover and embody who I really am.
When I put in the effort, my experience is transformed. Every moment I remember to embody my practice is a pebble on the rails to derail that roaring karmic train. In this Crucible – this practice, these teachings, my Teacher, my community – with real sustained effort, I know what needs to fall away will fall away.