This month I am conducting an experiment. I have humbly requested the universe grant me time to read stories from around the world, stories from people in various lands and with a variety of experiences. I long to be a patient Listener of Stories. Then, I will attempt to ponder these stories through the lens of a meditation technique from Advaita Vedanta, specifically the meditative inquiry into the Seer and the Seen.
Here is one question: What inner experience can I enjoy reading a story while applying the wisdom of the text called Drg Drysya Viveka: An Inquiry into the Seer and the Seen? I hope this will be a fascinating inner space investigation for me, and I am curious what shines forth as I attempt to remain absorbed in Brahmana consciousness, and free expression, as a way to honor various beautifully-written narratives from around the world. The goal of this process is to improve my ability to ask questions that lead to inner contemplations that will make my heart feel lighter and calibrate my mind to be habituated to joy or contentment.
1 of 31 Questions for Reflection. Today’s question is inspired by reading Dṛg Dṛsya Viveka: An Inquiry Into the Seer and the Seen along with reading a short story by Kiprop Kimutai called “The Black Unicorn.” You can find the text for Dṛg Dṛysya Viveka online as a PDF; also, you can find Kimutai’s story online at the literary magazine called, “No Tokens.” Over the month of March, each day, I intend to share a new reflection question that arises from studying this 700-year-old Advaita Vedanta text of uncertain authorship, Drg Drsya Viveka, alongside a literary story. My game here is to focus on short stories as my objects of Vedanta meditation.
“The Black Unicorn” tells of a mother and her son, who were abandoned by the father and then are forced to flee to the father’s homeland to seek refuge from the regional tribe that has assumed power. Mother and son adjust to a destitute life after being run out of their comfortable home. To restore his dignity, the queer boy wishes to become a priest; but, the local father tells him a secret about a unicorn, advises him to radiate his pure heart. The boy does, enjoys mystical vision, and it turns out the boy becomes more than a priest — a seer of the truth. What’s more, the boy’s sage gift helps people see the truth within themselves. It’s a powerful story, and my favorite part is when the boy is riding the unicorn through the cedar forest. No one else can see the unicorn making this experience between boy and unicorn a welcome experience of deep privacy.
After reading the story and hoping that I listened closely enough, I considered the inquiry of the seer and the seen, and I came up with this question for reflection for March 1, 2021.
Question 1: What would I do in a private moment when I know that my worries related to identity, sexuality, desire, mystery, and freedom are but the reflection of the sun in a dewdrop that will evaporate before noon? #AdvaitaVedanta #shortstories
For many years I believed teachers who told me that the way to be joyfully absorbed in Consciousness is through long sessions of sitting in meditation, focusing on the breath or mantra unto absolute stillness of the mind in order to enter samadhi. I practiced with this goal in mind, and it helped to some degree; but not always and not with every kind of human endeavor; plus, my hips and butt hurt from all that sitting. Also, there was a time when — although I was suspicious — I wanted to trust teachers who insisted I be able to “go to a place of ‘no mind.'” In my experience, to equate Cosmic Consciousness and Nirvikalpa Samadhi with the spoken injunction of “go to no mind” is ultimately horrific and misguiding.
That’s why I like Advaita Vedanta. I don’t need to take anything on faith; also, the mind is not an enemy or a monkey or something that needs to be destroyed. Instead, the mind needs to be Seen for what it truly is and does. And if for one split moment I can glimpse what it is that Witnesses the mind, then I will feel that my load is lighter.
See the mind for what it is and needs to do feels like a useful approach to me, especially these days when the world is in such deep despair. I feel that listening to one another’s stories with compassion is urgent at this time. After reading tons of texts from the yoga tradition that all assert that I should be seeking to be liberated from suffering, I guess I have learned that I am not seeking to liberate myself, but like a bodhisattva, wish to see all beings liberated together. And what I have noticed that while exchanging energy through storytelling may not lead us all to the kinds of liberation the yogis aspired to, listening to each other’s stories surely helps to lighten our loads. Hence, I like to experience both storytelling and meditation. I am seeking to find ways to connect to fellow human beings to ensure that we all know one another more intimately, and we can say to one another, in a spirit of friendship and solidarity: I am with you.