“Asatoma sad gamaya”
“Lead me from the unreal to the real.”
--Morning prayer of the Himalayan Yoga Tradition
What we experience is reality, but what we think about what we experience or what we decide to do with our experience may not be reality.
A friend of mine is suffering from the loss of his younger brother. All the memories and pains of growing up together in a tough family, in a tough city, are now pouring into his mind. He is deeply involved in the grieving process, because acceptance of his “kid” brother’s death is not an easy thing. His brother’s death reminds me of my younger brothers’ deaths. Even though I believed that we are spiritual beings and that we are here on earth only as long as our body is able to house our spirit, I felt deep pain. Like my friend, after the initial denial of their deaths, I began to bargain with myself (“If I would have protected them more, they would not have had to suffer so much and would not have followed such destructive and challenging paths.”), and angry with myself (“It’s my fault!”).
My friend wants to stuff all his feelings down and cover them with the beliefs that he learned from yoga (“He’s in a better place.” “He’s feeling no pain now.”) Even though his statements of belief about life being a physical journey for our spirits, he, like all of us, struggles with his attachment to this physical journey.
For us to deny all these feelings of hurt, sadness, heartache, anger, frustration, etc. is to deny the real. Therefore, we end up moving toward the unreal, instead of as our opening prayer states, “lead me (O God) from the unreal to the real.”
All of us must experience emotions we feel. We have to become aware of our painful attachments, our grievances, our desires because they are the physical reality (“the real”) that is happening in our lives. All those physical emotions lead us to Ultimate reality. We reach the reality of being spiritual beings when we move through and beyond the reality of our physical experiences. There seems to be no other path for the grieving person, and no other path for all of us physical and mental humans on our journey to realizing our true identity, our true self.
The interesting thing about this journey from the real to the REAL, it tends to take a long time and many emotional experiences.
We come to the Ultimate Real (that we are Divine, Infinite and Perfect and that everyone else is too) only as we journey in the “real” physical world of our lives. Only when we reach the Ultimate Real (Our spiritual Self) do we realize that the physical, which we thought was real, was really Unreal.
What a paradox!
Oh, Divine Mother, lead us from the unreal to the real (asatoma sad gamaya).