– About spiritual evolution and about Manta Rays –
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Usually we must give up something to make room for the new, and we typically can see what we are giving up much more clearly than what we are getting.
* * *
All those times
when I can not decide the way back
where I came from.
Anywhere I go
becomes the road home.
* * *
Today, my head light with thought, I look at the manta rays again leaping out of the water, pretending to fly, fluttering like birds for a few moments, and crashing back into their water world. Oh, this wonderful dream of being capable of flying! Why do they do this? Scientists say, by jumping and causing this violent crash back into the water they try to get rid of parasites in their gills. Perhaps that’s what it is, but I can’t help to see it differently. I’m convinced they do this because it’s fun. It is so obvious! It is such a fundamental expression of life and exuberance. I imagine when they keep doing this for a couple of million years they will eventually make the dream come true, they will learn how to fly. Some slightly mutated individuals will soon fly longer, some will have larger wings, then some will learn to breathe air, and so on… The dream keeps them going: ‘Wouldn’t it be wonderful to move through this other water up there that feels so different?‘ Life playing out a dream. I’m sure that’s how birds evolved from dinosaurs. They also started to jump and feel the thrill and dreamed a dream. And Life is patient, unthinkably patient. We are life too, and we easily understand the message – when we don’t think too much.
I would like to be a manta; I would love to be with them and practice flying. However, I know they would not share my vision. How could they, since they are in it? How could a fish describe water? How could a bird explain air? And when I look around and see who and where I am the vision fades for me too under the remorseless glare of so-called reality. I do know water and I know air, but I’m not a fish. The very part of me that could envisage such a life would prevent me from living it. Does that make it an illusion? In these magical Baja-months it is often so clear how there is more to life than what the senses can perceive.
I see the mantas dreaming of flight. They seem to be so close to enlightenment, as though at any moment they might stumble over it, figure it out, and explode into a new level of consciousness. They don’t really know yet what they are doing; only I see how close they are.
Sometimes I look at myself in the same light. It is not flight what I am dreaming of, I actually figured that out, what I am struggling with is a dream that is so hard to describe – just like the mantas would probably find it hard to describe what they are doing. I want to understand life. This dream to understand life seems to move me almost more at times than the act of living it. What does it take to use the life we already have in order to make us wiser rather than more stuck? What is the source of wisdom, at a personal, individual level? I’ve seen the illusive, dream-like quality of our usual experience of reality; I want to wake up from this dream of delusion. I’ve also felt how the rug is pulled under my feet when the truth in its utterly simple, merciless inescapability is suddenly staring at me. Things become very clear when there is nowhere to escape. Like explorers, we are drawn to discover what’s waiting out there without knowing yet if we have the courage to face it. Like the mantas, I sometimes feel I’m close to getting it, I’m experimenting with the first few clues I have, I’m excited and practicing, prodding, trying to stretch my concept of life into different shapes, wanting to jump out of it, dropping it and picking it up again, rubbing my eyes but still in dreamland, so to speak, suspecting always that it must have some meaning, tantalized and frustrated by it but always unable to make complete sense of it.
If I would be the already enlightened watcher of myself – like I observing the mantas – how would I view myself? Sometimes an almost unbearable latent power of perception is stirring in me. What advice would I give myself?
What advice, from my “advanced” state, could I possibly give the mantas other than: ‘don’t give up, you are on the right track, you can’t understand it yet, it’s going to be so incredibly more than you think, keep practicing, be patient, don’t let the fact that other fish don’t fly deter you. Other fish may think you’re crazy, but your dream is real‘.
And would any advice to myself be so different? ‘Your goal is comprehension, and the only way to comprehend the world is by making yourself vulnerable to it so that it can change you. The challenge is to lay yourself open to everything that comes your way, and, while risking the real danger of death by exposure, enabling the death of deceptions, the end of illusions, errors and misconceptions.‘
I sleep, eat, feel, think, act, and on and on; I live. The journey continues, as it always did, with this close interweaving of action and reflection. The journey: the thread connecting those mostly random events. For a lifetime, as we say, I’m weaving this single tapestry. The pattern on the tapestry mostly eludes me, but there are moments when I clearly see a most wonderful pattern shining through, moments when the magic is not baffling but breathtakingly beautiful, moments which I feel could justify one’s entire life. Like the mantas, perhaps I unknowingly anticipate what I haven’t fully grasped yet and, equally unknowingly, respond to a message that, unfathomably subtle, is not at all registered in my mind but loud and clearly received in my heart.
The clip and the pictures of the jumping mantas are taken from the Internet and not mine.
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Manta rays are amazing creatures. This time of the year they congregate in huge numbers and seem to go crazy. From a distance you see these white foaming patches of 150 feet across, it looks like an underground volcano is about to erupt. It sounds as if a huge wind gust is coming. The entire boil pretty slowly moves around for minutes and suddenly disappears. They swim very close together, overlap each other and violently flap their wings. It might be a mating ritual, but I don’t know at all.
* * *
The Silver Chair
by C.S. Lewis
“Are you thirsty?” said the Lion.
“I’m dying of thirst,” said Jill.
“Then drink,” said the Lion.
“May I – could I – would you mind going away while I do?” said Jill.
The Lion answered this only by a look and a very low growl.
And as Jill gazed at the motionless bulk,
she realized that she might as well have asked the whole mountain
to move aside for her convenience.
The delicious rippling noise of the stream was driving her nearly frantic.
“Will you promise not to – do anything to me, if I do come?” said Jill.
“I make no promises,“ said the Lion.
Jill was so thirsty now that, without noticing it, she had come a step nearer.
“Do you eat girls?” she said.
“I have swallowed up girls and boys, women and men, kings and emperors, cities and realms,” said the Lion.
It didn’t say this as if it were boasting, nor as if it were sorry, nor as if it were angry.
It just said it.
“I daren’t come and drink,” said Jill.
“Then you will die of thirst,” said the Lion.
“Oh dear!” said Jill, coming another step nearer.
“I suppose I must go and look for another stream then.”
“There is no other stream,” said the Lion.
Klaus Baja – third week of November 2010