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Saying the mantra (4:02)
February 16, 2010 01:52 AM PSTLetting go
February 15, 2010 01:55 AM PST
(EAT, PRAY, LOVE by Elizabeth Gilbert, pp. 245-9)
I climbed to the top of the tower. I was now standing at the tallest place in the Ashram, with a view overlooking the entirety of this river valley in India. Mountains and farmland stretched out as far as I could see. I had a feeling this was not a place students were normally allowed to hang out, but it was so lovely up there. Maybe this is where my Guru watches the sun go down, when she's in resi¬dence here. And the sun was going down right now. The breeze was warm. I unfolded the piece of paper the plumber/poet had given me.
He had typed:
INSTRUCTIONS FOR FREEDOM
1. Life's metaphors are God's instructions.
For the first few minutes, I couldn't stop laughing. I could see over the whole valley, over the umbrella of the mango trees, and the wind was blowing my hair around like a flag. I watched the sun go down, and then I lay down on my back and watched the stars come out. I sang a small little prayer m Sanskrit, and repeated it every time I saw a new star emerge in the darkening sky, almost like I was calling forth the stars, but then they started popping out too fast and I couldn't keep up with them. Soon the whole sky was a glitzy show of stars. The only thing between me and God was ... nothing.
Then I shut my eyes and I said, "Dear Lord, please show me everything I need to understand about forgiveness and surrender." What I had wanted for so long was to have an actual conversation with my ex-husband, but this was obviously never going to happen. What I had been craving was a resolution, a peace summit, from which we could emerge with a united understanding of what had occurred in our marriage, and a mutual forgiveness for the ugliness of our divorce. But months of counseling and mediation had only made us more divided and locked our positions solid, turning us into two people who were absolutely incapable of giving each other any release. Yet it's what we both needed, I was sure of it. And I was sure of this, too-that the rules of transcendence insist that you will not advance even one inch closer to divinity as long as you cling to even one last seductive thread of blame. As smoking is to the lungs, so is resentment to the soul; even one puff of it is bad for you. I mean, what kind of prayer is this to imbibe¬"Give us this day our daily grudge"? You might just as well hang it up and kiss God good-bye if you really need to keep blaming somebody else for your own life's limitations. So what I asked of God that night on the Ashram roof was-given the reality that I would probably never speak to my ex-husband again-might there be some level upon which we could communicate? Some level on which we could forgive?
I lay up there, high above the world, and I was all alone. I dropped into meditation and waited to be told what to do. I don't know how many minutes or hours passed before I knew what to do. I realized 1'd been thinking about all this too literally. 1'd been wanting to talk to my ex-husband? So talk to him. Talk to him right now. 1'd been waiting to be offered forgiveness? Offer it up personally, then. Right now. I thought of how many people go to their graves unforgiven and unforgiving. I thought of how many people have had siblings or friends or children or lovers disappear from their lives before precious words of clemency or absolution could be passed along. How do the survivors of terminated relationships ever endure the pain of unfinished business? From that place of meditation, I found the answer: you can finish the business yourself, from within yourself. It's not only possible, it's essential.
I said, "Hi, sweetie."
In this podcast, I read aloud passages I like from books that I have been reading.
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