What brave souls we are. Running through this world of hurt where all is destined for dust. The pressures here will forge us into something spectacular as a new element is forged in the furnace heart of living stars. These shifting landscapes will inspire us to keep moving forward. The glimmering light of potential will beckon us to grow and we will. Shells will crack and skin will be shed. Metamorphosis. But what will we do when resilience fades? There is no choice in the matter, I’m sorry to say. This is a good thing, however. The wheels of life have long been turning in our favor. There is too much momentum now to stop the machine. Every breath has pulled us here and we are ready for the next opportunity to decide. There is much on the line. Never think that there isn’t! There is a destiny approaching. The tides recede and the bare sands of the shallow shore are exposed. "Step forward," the ocean teases. “But a wave is coming,” whispers fear. “But a new moment is arising,” something else in us responds. What had turned to dust returns alive. What was taken is given back. What was lost is found. This cycling journey is something to be grateful for. Our willingness to bare hurt is something to be grateful for because our growth is the consequence. What brave souls we are. We, who decidedly illuminate the dark mystery of life divine.
What is Samsara, plainly? Samsara translates as cycle but means a world of suffering. In this it is connected to the idea of a wandering and aimless journey through life, death, and rebirth. It’s important to understand that the old mind was a symbolic mind. In this life, death, and rebirth not only refer to the literal death and rebirth of the human being but to the ever-present cycles that we experience as human beings in our day-to-day lives. It refers to the death and rebirth of our days, months, and years. It refers to the birth and death of relationships or careers. Samsara, as cycle, refers to the unbreakable habits and thought patterns that define our behavior and psychology. There is a cyclical patterning to our routines and in that our realities. The observation of the cyclical world is the recognition of Samsara's infrastructure. Imagine the great thinkers of an ancient time pondering in a world so different than our own. See them sitting on hillsides perceiving these truths for the first time. Imagine their exceptionally curious minds. Consider their probing awareness, which had to have been so perfectly tuned with the make up of their world. Through that harmony they earned the right to glimpse underneath the veil! Through that glimpse we now can see what they saw. It is an inspiring notion and in that a potential example to live up to as students and fellow inhabitants of Samsara. It is the pursuit of the yogi to see. It is only with open eyes, so to speak, that we permit ourselves to first recognize these cyclical patterns and then learn to break them.
Samsara as a concept of wandering and aimlessness, as opposed to cyclical, is then tied to pain. It is pain that stops our growth. How? When pain is our reality, as Samsara suggests, we as habitual beings learn not just to except but expect the suffering of pain as reality. We begin very early on to behave and think in a way that induces self harm. Catastrophe at every step! This is the danger. The is the afflicted mind. Addiction is a perfect example of how cycles can very easily become detrimental to the well being of mind and so difficult to escape. The drug addict, unable to escape the clutches of their corrosive bliss. The abused, unable to register that they are the victim. The warlords, so addicted to their hatred and power they joyously lead their people and their lands into hell. Progress halted the spirit withers. When the mind is incapable of breaking these patterns the yogi is unable to pursue themselves. We are all yogi. We all yearn for unity. We all yearn for bondedness. We all move in the direction that we believe will give us most love. When we are unable to break our vices we are unable to pursue our spiritual desires. Dreams will be left for others to destroy or fulfill. That is a tragic thought especially when the dream was yours.
Any pursuit, which in its nature is linear, creates the layer of pain to Samsara. The cyclical element of Samsara, for comparison, is the layer of repetition. The Sun and Moon's orbit has no trace of suffering. It is simply a pattern. Understand the two layers. This will help in the escape of Samsara. Now, as life can be perceived in cycles, perhaps it is time that can be perceived as direction. As we are beings of matter and in that space, which orbits in circles like the planets and seasons, we are also beings of time. Perhaps it is because of time and in that decay that we experience suffering as an aspect of living.That is a thought for the thinker within. There is the sense, however, of moving forward in time. In this we perceive growth along a single axis from past to future and for whatever reason are deeply concerned with our own progress towards that future. We seek to upgrade. This rising growth is paralyzed by the repetitive nature of addiction to pain and less severely the repetitive nature of a complacent or uninspired mind. We become lost in the loop of painful patterns too painful to face and break. Strangely, to feel stuck or lost or incapable are the symptoms of the opening mind! The world tricks us just as the Guru sits harping riddles and illumined nonsense to those that care to listen. It is those very feelings of confusion that in heart beg for the self to recognize Samsara. We stop fulfilling the driving ambition of spirit, which is to evolve. This hurts us. It is an alarm system. Our pain, on any level, is the neon beacon spelling S-A-M-S-A-R-A for our soul to see! And while in thought it can be said that we are always growing, if it is not directly perceived through changing circumstance the self is disheartened. Be mindful of complacent thought. We crave growth. Deep down we are those curious mystics of old. Not only recognizing the cyclical world but then craving to break these cycles. What is beyond this? Abandon comfort and move towards the jagged edge. Born in the whirlpool but destined to escape it.
Now, if life can be seen as a lesson through and through where every single expression is an opportunity to learn and grow Samsara becomes quite an inspiring idea. We can’t deny the reality of our hurt. We can’t deny the draw to comfort zones. We were born into a world of war, disease, death, hatred, gore, loss, greed and confusion. It’s helpful to remember we are only human, animals after all, and fear is a guiding force for all animals within the natural world. We are used to these circumstances. We accept this. We evolved within lethal landscapes as both prey and predator. We know what it is to be fearful and to be the feared. Perhaps this is another loop within our neurosis. We evolved with anxiety and stress coursing through all nerves and thoughts. Within our world, within each other, and most elusively within ourselves we have learned to ally with fear. We've learned to mistrust the unexplored, to fear the stranger, to close the heart, to shut our eyes. It is where we came from but not where we or the world is going. This is the great hope of soul. Those that deny the truth of our allegiance to pain are clouded. It’s when we can accept the responsibility of our position within Samsara and the cycles of suffering which ultimately stem from fear that we are then capable of change. This is obvious but why do we not? We are children, too afraid of the dark to open our eyes to actually see there is nothing hiding in the shadows. Perhaps we need each other. Of course we need each other! But the path is in the end walked alone. The leap is yours to take. Ultimately, we cannot sense with the current quality of our minds that there are other ways such as love, compassion, and faith. Fear will doom us to stay forever paralyzed by a monster that never was. The paralysis is real however, and that is Samsara itself. It is our numbing response to life's imposed grief. So, we strip ourselves of power by not recognizing our terror, our doubt, our blindness. But pain will continue to rush us until we learn. That is the accountability provided by Samsara. The lesson is reincarnated through a thousand forms until we do. One day the pain or the confusion or the distaste of circumstance will be enough to provoke a response. “I must grow! I must leave this place!" This is the beginning of the journey. The student of yoga is born. It's the same moment of insight that tells a seed to sprout or a baby to walk. The epiphany always comes. However, a healthy mind is necessary to prevent that epiphany from fading. Know that the epiphany will always fade just as a candle's flame will always consume the wick and eventually burn out. A new way is hard to maintain. Your wick burns out quickly. It is a new thought, a new caliber of light, sustaining it demands a new level energy and a new quality of mind. Break the pull of what is familiar by developing the wick, which is mind, which is awareness, which is self. The self will always move forward if mind and also energy are nurtured through yoga. Remember Samsara. Dismantle the cycles. Support the mind and collect energy!
It’s debatable whether we can ever fully escape the thralls of Samsara. It is a constant effort that demands a constant diligence. But, when its grip loosens we’ll realize it has shaped us into something exceptional. Like a piece of clay in the hands of an artist, perhaps the molding hurts, perhaps the process is redundant, perhaps the kiln terrifies, but when the artist is done and we are left to be we can easily see it was worth it! In this, the value of trust is immeasurable in moving beyond the cycles of hurt. Life is intelligent and divine because it functions as perfectly as it does. We can trust that the forces that balance the immeasurable dials of life are balancing us as well. Error is human error. But error is only error in human perception. Life in truth is perfect as all things are. Samsara, while something to escape from the inside is understood as not just necessary but beneficial from the outside. It will demand our best. It is the eggshell that demands to be broken. It's only a beginning and not as thick as we might fear.
Think of your comfort zones. Find one and disrupt it through will and focus! Change a single behavior pattern and evolve. Learn to love this sort of resistance to what is. Start small and see what that does to your spirit as you decide for yourself to grow.