Om. Asato Ma Sad Gamaya
Tamaso Ma Jyotir Gamaya
Mrtyur Ma Amrtam Gamaya
Lead me from the unreal to the real
From the darkness to the light
From mortality to immortality
I recently took some time to reflect on the meaning of one of my favorite chants…
It is easy to get stuck in the unreal, the darkness, this mortal life – which would be to live from our base chakra level with base emotions such as survival, power, jealousy, anger, greed and passion. Of course, as humans, we all experience these emotions. But if we aren’t doing our practice, we can end up identifying too closely with them, and therefore not seeing things clearly. These emotions begin to absorb us – we label ourselves as this or that, and we may think things such as “I am powerless” or “This person has hurt me and now I have no choice but to suffer.” To live in this way would be to remain in a state of suffering.
Sometimes it is harder to elevate ourselves out of this base chakra level to experience the real, the light, the immortal Self. It takes a lot of work to get there. Patience. Time. Practice. We can get lazy and forget to make the effort, therefore remaining in a place of suffering. But making the effort (yoga practice, meditation, etc.) helps lift us out of this delusion, and the base emotions of survival, power, jealousy, anger, etc. begin to fade away and we can again see clearly everything as it is. We begin to see the real, the light, immortal. We step away from our delusions, our projections and fears and can more easily experience pure, raw, real life. As it is. We feel freedom, love and light in this place.
Not to say that it is possible to stay in this place of light and bliss forever – we become enlightened yogis floating with our feet off the ground. After all, we are human. As long as we still need to tend to aspects of our physical self, we will continue to fall to our lower base chakra levels. But the more we experience life and the more we practice, the more tools we acquire that can assist us in reaching the real, the higher level chakras. Patanjali states in his Yoga Sutras, “By sustained practice of all the component parts of yoga (the eight limbs), the impurities dwindle away and wisdom’s radiant light shines forth with discriminative knowledge.” With time, it becomes easier to get there, and every time we slip, just knowing that we have the tools to return again keeps us from staying in a place of suffering.
In my personal practice lately, I have found that writing mantras can work as powerful tools in different times when I am feeling stuck in my base chakra levels. Play with writing your own mantras and meditating on them. For example: “I ACCEPT that some situations are out of my control.” “I choose to move forward with LOVE and LIGHT.” “I RECOGNIZE that all of life is a process, and to take one step at a time.” As you quietly repeat them to yourself, think deeply about their meaning.
Can we playfully dance this dance of the unreal + real, darkness + light, mortality + immortality? Can we fall down gracefully and pick ourselves up with love and lightness? This is the test. It’s not a matter of reaching Samadhi and staying there; it’s the way in which we dance through these two extremes of darkness and light.
Om Santih Santih Santih.
Om. Peace. Peace. Peace.