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Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Quoting...is such sweet sorrow Pt. 7

"Your only obligation in any lifetime is to be true to yourself." - Richard Bach

Another one by Richard Bach, and rather simple and straightforward. In fact, it is so straightforward that it's a bit overwhelming as I read it again and again. It has a lot to do with a question of one's identity, as has been discussed on other blogs, but also with things like what we do from one day to the next, or the choices we make from one second to the next.

Being true, what does that really entail? I mean, what does it imply? That we're somehow 'false' most of the time? Or even some of the time? Who are we, then? And, why are we this way? Is it the world that shapes us? Is it our culture/society/family/friends/etc? Or is it just that we turn out the way we do? Is there even such a thing as a "true" self?

And having thought about this for years now, I've discovered there is one answer that seems to make a little sense. That's all we really need, isn't it? A little 'sprinkle' of what we think to be logical, to make sense of the chaos of the world around us. I believe that there is balance...ultimate balance. I've spoken about this before, and I believe that a good example of this is the character of Ravana in the Ramayana. Here's an excerpt from Wikipedia about Ravana:

"In the Bhagavata Purana, Ravana and his brother, Kumbakarna were said to be reincarnations of Jaya and Vijaya, gatekeepers at Vaikunta, the abode of Vishnu and were cursed to be born in Earth for their insolence. These gatekeepers refused entry to the Sanatha Kumara monks, who, because of their powers and austerity appeared as young children. For their insolence, the monks cursed them to be expelled from Vaikunta and to be born in Earth. The all-merciful Vishnu agreed that they should be punished but agreed to mitigate their curse. He asked them whether they would want to be undergo seven births as devotees of Vishnu or three births as enemies of the Lord. Since they wanted to get back as soon as possible, they agreed to be born in three births as enemies of God. In the first birth, Jaya and Vijaya were born as Hiranyakashipu and Hiranyaksha. Vishnu incarnated as Varaha and Narasimha and killed them both. In Treta Yuga they were born as Ravana and Kumbhakarna and were killed by Rama. Then in Dwapara yuga, and in their final birth, Jaya and Vijaya they were born as Shishupala and Dantavakra and killed by Sri Krishna. After the end of three births, they returned to Vaikunta."

The point of this excerpt? Well, I decided to look into the nature of Ravana after someone once asked me if I was aware of the fact that eventually, Ravana went to heaven. What? I mean, he was the big daddy of bad guys, what was up with that? But, he did what he was supposed to...and, as the story goes, he did it well. Now, I must point out that I'm not entirely familiar with many of the other characters/incarnations of Ravana and Kumbakarna as pointed out in that little bit; my focus was more on the fact that staying true to one's character is quintessential. Even as the bad guy, Ravana wreaked havoc on the world, and followed his heart and whims, only to carry out what he was truly supposed to do, from the perspective of the "bigger picture". Or, if you want to look at it another way, then, think of it as this world needing someone to do something bad or for something terrible to happen so that we appreciate the good that comes after it. It seems to me, a sad trait of human beings to have to live between the ups and downs, even though the 'middle' is always visible.

So, think back to a time when you've really questioned yourself. Back to a time when some of the strangest thoughts have crossed your mind. How have you reacted to them? What did you tell yourself that helped you get over it. Maybe, it was a fleeting glimpse into the mind's eye, and areas of that eye which you never really knew existed. Maybe you saw it, or identified it as being one of the things that you knew you were capable of manifesting, but only in the deepest, darkest recesses of private solitude. Have you ever embraced this thinking? Have you ever let it get out of the little casket that you try and lock it into, and shove under your bed hoping never to see it again? Have you ever toyed with the idea of whether or not you're really meant to be doing any of the things that you're doing now...or if you were really the next despotic tyrant waiting to enslave nations and murder countless innocents? No? But what if that's you? Can you deny your destiny? Is any of this about you?

From the simplest of beginnings we come to this unholy mess of an end. What is our 'true' purpose? And how can we fulfill it to the best of our ability?
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