Cari Shraddha e Dinesh,
Denver, 6 of May
“I praise what is truly alive, what longs to be burned to death…”
I found this quote yesterday and it struck a chord with me. I think he means if you are on a dedicated path of awakening, life will burn away old, stuck pieces of your identity if you don’t let them go. Call them remainders of our ego development, or the inherited aspects of our identities – they long to be burned to death. And they long to be burned to death because they are no longer who we are as we progress toward truth. I believe there is a “legacy” – what you will leave behind that people will remember when you’re gone, your true identity in the world. All the great masters left a legacy behind. The truly awakened masters have left legacies that are perennial.
The inherited part of me is the good family I was raised in, all the schools I went to, the relationships developed, etc. When I think back on the jobs, the experiences I invested time and energy, all those experiences were what I inherited from my personal history. Once I began to see through the vail of maya, I began my journey down the path of my legacy. So my legacy began at 8 years old when I experienced my samadhi. At that young age, for instance, I decided that organized religion held no value for me. But my parents had other plans for me. It wasn’t until I was 12 that I could say to them that I wanted to study all religions to find the core similarities, rather than the particular differences that made each religion different enough to justify, in its founders and followers, that horrible human defect of self-righteousness. I guess it goes back to the expression, not until you are truly lost, do you begin to find yourself. Carl Jung said “The world will ask you who you are. If you do not know, the world will tell you.” I believe that over the last year, I have been listening more to my legacy self rather than my inherited self – the world telling me who I am. Perhaps that has something to do with the cold fact that all of us on the planet had a sudden awakening – if only briefly – of our own mortality.
Career and relationships are probably the two truest indicators of whether I am accepting my inheritance or stepping into my legacy. When we find the work we are meant to do in this world, that’s in alignment with our legacy, there is ease, flow, grace, and energy. That’s how my teaching has been. The end of this semester has brought more feedback from so many students about how the courses I taught have changed their lives. I don’t teach for the praise, and I certainly don’t teach for the financial rewards, of which there are very, very few. I do it because I know intuitively that it is my legacy. Of course there are challenges and struggles, just as there are in relationships, but the underlying driver of the whole equation is one of grace, ease and flow, I think.
Relationships is the other inheritance indicator. The relationship that we three have I believe to be legacy, not inherited. The relationship I had with Linda, my former wife (and yours with Soni, Dinesh) are inherited. Slowly, life burned them away because we learned what we needed from them and have moved onto another path. I believe we are here writing these letters because they are part of our individual legacies – our “paths” overlap. The three of us have stepped from the inherited paths we were on onto the paths of our legacy. It is very much like what Thoreau said in his “Walking” essay…
“We should go forth on the shortest walk, perchance, in the spirit of undying adventure, never to return; prepared to send back our embalmed hearts only, as relics to our desolate kingdoms. If you are ready to leave father and mother, and brother and sister, and wife and child and friends, and never see them again; if you have paid your debts, and made your will, and settled all your affairs, and are a free man (or woman); then you are ready for a walk.”
It’s wonderful to be walking again side by side, my dearest family, Shraddha and Dinesh.