Pliability is a beautiful notion with a profound implication on all levels of life. The quarterback, Tom Brady, talks about pliability on the physical level. The idea is that as a football player, for example, anything that comes his way, be it the impact of a tackle or the need to zig-zag, his body is free to move as needed to accommodate the situation.
There is a big difference between “pliability” and “flexibility.” “Flexibility” can mean the ability to stretch to a great extent in given directions. “Pliability” involves flexibility in every direction. But even more importantly, it involves an integration of the entire physiology with the nervous system. Feedback from the brain to the muscles occurs instantaneously, enabling movement to maintain its own inner stability – keeping its balance, avoiding injury, and maintaining integration of the entire physiology with complete spontaneity. So pliability has its foundation in something much deeper than the stretch-ability or flexibility of the muscles.
On the psychological level, pliability involves the ability of the psyche to adapt and deal with a diverse range of thoughts and emotions. Stability on that level involves an anchoring in what some might call the soul or a sense of inner Self. It is unfortunate, though common, for people to rely on rigidity instead of inner stability. They cling to rigid beliefs and fixed perspectives in an attempt to find stability in their lives. That is at the expense of pliability.
The wind blows the branches of the tree in many directions. A healthy tree bends with the wind while finding stability in the trunk. A rigid tree, by holding its branches fixed, can snap in the wind. Through rigidity, we understand little. Through pliability, we understand everything.
Some mistake rigidity for stability. For example, some people rigidly suppress unpleasant emotions, always striving to give the impression of stability, though false. Some blindly adhere to a belief system, twisting facts or judging as need be to uphold their rigid stance.
Wisdom is infinitely pliable. Stable, yet bendable. Wisdom embraces the paradoxical nature of life. Wisdom eludes the grasp of rigidity, but rests upon the stable foundation of the soul.
Now we can turn to the nature of pliability on the Transcendental level. Within the depth of the Transcendent lies the unbounded nature of all possibilities – ungraspable, undefinable, infinitely stable, but without any rigidity. When awake to that level, the limitless in-sight into the nature of life and the wisdom of the divine is free to well up through the deepest levels of a person’s being, uncompromised, and unobstructed by the limitations of fixity.
This is the key to Pantanjali’s Yoga Sutras. We don’t rigidly hold onto, but rather let go of a thought. Then what comes back is structured, not by our preconceived notions or fixed ideas. Rather, it is structured by the unbounded wisdom and organizing power of the Transcendental source of our being. This is called freedom. Freedom from the fixed limitations that confine and compromise our thoughts and emotions.
The notion of pliability can trigger fear and aversion in those who felt a rigid relationship with life was the key to fulfillment. It’s not so easy to see past things that we have clung to our entire lives. On the other hand, as we awaken to the pliable nature of life and to ourselves, we become free to feel more, to know more, to adapt more, and to move more wisely forward in our lives. Pliability is not just a philosophy. Pliability is a state of physiology to be cultivated, which is ultimately known as the state of enlightenment.
Everything fits together: physics, biology, anthropology, archaeology, psychology, etc. It all unifies and seamlessly integrates into a perfect whole. Where it all comes together is in the very depth of existence itself, what physicists call the Unified Field and what theologians call God.
You can see evidence of unification on a more superficial level through interdisciplinary studies, where a couple of different fields of knowledge fit together. We see different connections all the time, but at the very depth of our being, at the very depth of our soul, everything comes together into a unified whole, a state of infinite harmony, resolution of paradox, oneness.
You can understand unity intellectually, you can even feel it emotionally, or you may have a sense of it deep within your soul. You can even have it as a belief system, attitude, or philosophy. But you don’t fully understand unity until you live it from a state of integrated physiology which is rooted in that deepest level of life.
The principle is simple enough, but the universe that emerges out of that one simple thing becomes complex, riddled with contradictions, paradox, and unfathomable intricacies. Yet we live in a world that we attempt to fathom, attempt to find our way. Though the depth is ungraspable, it can be rested upon and thereby lived. As we evolve, we under-stand more and more. As it has been said, a mango tree’s branches, filled with fruit, bend down to rest upon the ground. Similarly, when filled with the fruit of wisdom, we bow down and touch Mother Earth in humility.
“I’m wondering what happens after life. I see the paradox of just living in a mystery, but I do believe there is some sort of experience after death. I’m wondering if I’ll be able to have fun and spread love after I’m dead. I know consciousness is eternal, but what kind of part do I play in this mix of energy and frequencies?”
Ultimately, every drop of rain gravitates back to the ocean. Like that, eventually, every soul returns to the Oneness, out of which it emerged. That is the highest heaven. However, the journey is long and winding.
Every mind, every consciousness, has a particular tone… a state, a quality. One’s thoughts, feelings, attitudes, and beliefs are expressions of that tone, just as the color of one’s glasses determines the color tone of everything one views.
When the body drops away, the awareness is left in a sort of dream world determined by that tone. However, that tone has a continuum of levels, from superficial emotions to deeper levels of one’s being, to a profoundly deep connection with the Divine Essence that underlies all of creation. The possibilities of what happens after the body drops away are as endless as the spectrum of human psychological states.
Those who have been transcending regularly through deep meditation sail past the mountains of Karma and rest at a very high level of heaven. Others may find a world that correlates with the negativity that has colored their lives. As one lives in that world, the identity with it unravels over time until the individual is freed of it. As ye sew, so shall ye reap. The more deeply consumed by the negative tone, the more time is required to unravel its grip.
However, we must not be too simplistic in this. You see, often it is the ‘good’ (so to speak) people who judge their negativity most harshly, while the ‘bad’ live with righteous indignation. However, deep inside, we all know better. So, who and what we are deeper inside (where we know better) is what determines what we create after the body drops away. In that sense, we become our own self-honest judge and jury. If the negativity does not reach too deeply into the psyche, then the hellish nightmare that correlates with it lasts just a short time and is just brushed away like cobwebs. If the negative behavior is judged as a serious transgression, the nightmare lasts proportionally longer. We all have our value systems, our judgement systems, but deeper inside we all know better than we may be willing or able to see, to admit. Yet, it is that deeper inner knowing, the inner judge, thatprescribes what happens after the body drops away. All we can do in the meantime is our best.
To live better, look deeper. Life goes on after the body drops away. Meditate regularly and do your best. Know that you will stumble, but fear not. You are not judged by your stumblings. It is the deeper theme, the driving force underlying the path you have chosen, that really matters. Ultimately, we all reach the highest heaven. How long that takes, what you endure in the meantime, is up to you. Meditation is your most powerful tool to move forward wisely. The winds of Karma may blow harshly in your face at the time, but just move forward, forward, always forward. In spite of our many stumblings, we should still strive to live life in a manner where we can put our head on our pillow at night and say, “I did my best”.
The part you play in the greater scheme of things depends upon your steadfast commitment to the journey home to your inner wisdom, what some call your inner Divinity or the place within where you are one with God. Whatever you choose to call it… well, a rose is still a rose.
The more you move forward, the greater your part in the well-being of all you touch. Your touch reaches further and further as you grow and grow, until ultimately, you become like the Sun, whose nurturing light touches us all.
I recently had a dream in which an ancient Hawaiian Shaman came and spoke with me. He talked about feelings and emotions. I can right now only remember one thing he said, “Emotions are funny things. Each time you touch one, it changes.” However, the feeling of my meeting with him said a great deal more to me, through feelings. When I woke up, I thought about it a while. I wondered if I heard that sentence somewhere and it just did not consciously register until the dream, but I do not believe so. Then I thought to search “Hawaiian Shaman” on the Internet and up came the following intriguing link about ancient Hawaiian symbols:
I spoke of this movie in the recent California class. It is a beautiful true story. Personally, I got choked up several times while viewing it. I am not sure if all people would react the same way I did, but I do believe it is a movie that you would like to watch.
What a precious gift is kindness. Don’t we all wish there was more of it in our lives! Isn’t the idea of a truly kind friend something we all cherish, but all too often simply long for?
Kindness sees, kindness understands, but kindness doesn’t judge. Understanding is not blind; judgment is blind. Understanding need not be all knowing. In fact, understanding knows that omniscience is the domain only of the divine. Yet, understanding is inherent in the kindness we mortals are capable of. We don’t have to look far to see that judgment and negativity seem to be the way of this world. Agni (fire) and Soma (water) make up this world. There is an excess of Agni in the world these days. It is the Soma nectar of loving kindness that supports and upholds the very fabric of life. Mount Soma was created to cultivate that nectar of peace and kindness. May we all hold one another in that light of kindness.
In my experience as a beginning musician, I stumbled upon an analogy that works in a limited way, but provides, I think, some valuable insight.
It seems there are essentially two approaches to learning music. One is to understand the theory and basically jam on the notes and chord progressions of the theory underlying a particular song or type of music. The other approach is sheer memorization. Memorizing, for example, where to put your fingers, and in what sequence. As a beginning musician, I found the memorization approach tedious and confining. In my observations of others, it seems like a common experience: they get halfway through a piece, hit a wrong note or lose their place, get frustrated, pound on the keys, and start once again.
In contrast, when I learn to jam, I feel free. Mistakes don’t matter because I can just flow right through them and they become part of the music. Now I understand that other people, and no doubt advanced musicians, would have a lot to say in agreement and in opposition to my perspective. So yes, the analogy does break down, but there is a real value to the point of the analogy as follows:
Life is to be lived in a state of psychological and intellectual freedom. It is the foundation of creativity and individuality. The indoctrination of mimicry is confining, limiting, and painful.
However, I’m not talking about anarchy here, or sheer rebellion. As with the laws of music, there are laws of nature. To succeed in life, we must live in harmony with those laws of nature, while enjoying the freedom of our own unique nature. There are laws of nature that we adhere to, but afford us a great deal of freedom. That way, we can jam with the freedom of self-expression in life without overstepping the bounds of natural law. That is the state of liberation. On the other hand, trying to conform to a memorized notion of proper behavior is self-limiting.
As a final note, I’d like to once again acknowledge that this analogy only goes so far. There are many great musicians who find tremendous unique self-expression by performing memorized pieces of music. However, understanding the essential concept of this analogy is something we all do well to understand.
It’s not uncommon for a competitive athlete to thank God after a victory. It’s also not uncommon for some people to assert that God picks a side in a sporting event. Let’s take a deeper look at this to figure out what is going on.
On the deepest level of existence, God is universal, supporting all things equally. We can say that God is like the trunk of a tree, supporting all of its branches. However, as that divinity wells up through different levels of existence, it, like a tree, branches outward.
Nations, communities, and individuals align with that divinity in different ways. That is one reason why there are different religions. Each religion aligns with a branch of the tree of divinity according to the laws of nature of the land. The laws of nature are different on the mountaintop than they are in the valley. Thusly, this births different religions. Each religion has with it a different and unique face of the one God. In that way, there are an infinite number of different faces of God. Some correlate with entire continents and some with small communities.
An athletic team is supported by the spirit of the community it represents. That spirit is fed by the unique face of God (the unique aspect of the one God) that correlates to the laws of nature of the community represented by that team. On a team level, it is called “team spirit”; on a national level, it is called “patriotism.” We feed our team, our community, our nation, and our world by aligning with that quality of divinity, that face of God, that soul which supports, nourishes, sustains, and feeds each particular group consciousness. Just as different branches of the same tree can sway in different directions simultaneously while still rooted in the same trunk, diverse personified aspects of divinity can lean in different directions.
If they know it or not, this explains the mechanic of how an athlete can validly thank God for their victory. If we know it or not, we all rest upon the same one God as that life-sustaining value wells up in an infinitely diverse number of ways.
In different parts of India, different aspects of divinity are worshipped. Even small villages have their own chosen aspect of, for example, Lakshmi, that they worship as the God/Goddess of their small village.
Said simply, God is on everyone’s side. The degree to which we align with natural law (with God’s nature) is the degree to which we receive the support of nature. That can play out as worship of a particular aspect of God, as team spirit, as a devotion to family, to nation, to community, or even to the group consciousness of a small business. That spirit breathes life into the community.
Dr. Shen was a famous Chinese medical practitioner and my dear friend. He once told me, “I don’t deal with disease. I support health.” Similarly, we support health on all levels of life by maintaining a positive dedication to what is healthy in the society. It is not that we bury our heads in the sand with respect to problems. Rather, it’s that we understand the source of true health, success, and prosperity. So, feel free to cheer for the home team!
The laws of nature are very different on the surface of life as opposed to the depth. For example, on the surface, you are you, and I am me. We are separate. Whereas in the depth, we are all one. For that reason, behavior oriented around the surface of life can look very different than behavior oriented around the depth. It’s as if there are two different fronts that we are negotiating simultaneously. Proper behavior is a matter of the integration of the two.
When a person is disproportionally oriented toward one front or the other, imbalanced behavior is the result. For example, people may favor spiritual reflection with a love for the transcendental depth of existence. However, when they go out into the world, they cease to be practical or effective in the material world. On the other hand, when the imbalance is excessively toward the material world, behavior can become petty, selfish, cynical, and polarizing. Oftentimes, individuals may enjoy reflecting upon the spiritual, but when it comes down to living their lives, they disproportionally become superficially oriented. It is easy to be spiritual on the weekends, but how much do we retain as we live the rest of our lives? How wisely do we integrate the surface with the depth?
Those overly entrenched in the superficial front tend to become overly materialistic and cynical. Those overly entrenched in the spiritual tend to become impractical and unrealistic. Those living a life that integrates the two are often not recognized by those living a less integrated state. That usually is a matter of projection. People tend to project their value system, based upon their level of integration, upon others, and judge them accordingly. For example, the cynical and materialistic scrutinize the behavior of others, assuming they too must be equally cynical, materialistic, and not to be trusted. They spontaneously assume ulterior and selfish motives are at the root of others’ behavior. This is what we face as a society these days. Those immaturely spiritually-oriented judge pragmatic behavior as being superficial and not deep.
However, a life integrating the two is subtle. Attempting to integrate the two in an unsophisticated way becomes a matter of cross-realm projection (i.e., trying to impose the laws of nature of one front onto the other front). For example, just because we are all one doesn’t mean you give away all your money and abandon all pragmatics.
Proper integration of the two is a sublime and exquisite dynamic. It is a state of physiology, a state of being. The majesty of an artful navigation of life integrating those two fronts of life is not easily recognized or appreciated by those living a less balanced state. An imbalanced relationship between those two fronts precludes wisdom, maturity, and artful living. Such imbalance is the source of negativity (e.g., suspicion, mistrust, misunderstanding, hatred, resentment, judgment, polarization, and conflict).
Through meditation, as well as reflecting upon the nature of life and the nature of our own personal psychodynamics, we can cultivate a healthy, wise, and mature relationship with life (i.e., the integration of the surface with the depth). When feeling challenged in life, reflect upon the subtle nature of life. Aspire to understand the sublime relationship and harmonization between the surface and the depth. Aspire to wisdom. Aspire to a pragmatic relationship with the material world integrated with an unending adherence to the Divine.