A soul takes human birth in order to have a series of experiences through which it will awaken out of its illusion of separateness, in each moment.
The physical experience of being incarnated is the curriculum, and the purpose of the course is to awaken us from the illusion that we are the incarnation. Spiritual practices are tools to help us accomplish these goals.
You start from innocence and you return to innocence. A sage was asked, “How long have we been on this journey?” He replied, “Imagine a mountain three miles wide, three miles high, and three miles long. Once every hundred years, a bird flies over the mountain, holding a silk scarf in its beak, which it brushes across the surface of the mountain. The time it would take for the scarf to wear down the mountain is how long we’ve been doing this.”
We are on an inevitable course of awakening. If you understand that message deeply, it allows you to enter into your spiritual practices from a different perspective, one of patience and timelessness.
You do your practices not out of a sense of duty or because you think you should, but because you know in your soul there really is nothing else you would rather do.
In Sanskrit this is called vairagya, a state of weariness with worldly desire where only the desire for spiritual fulfillment is left. The spiritual pull is the last desire, one that really grabs you, but that dissolves on its own because you dissolve in the process. The Tao says, “In the end you will be like the valley which is the favorite resort of the Way.” You become receptive, become soft, become open, become attuned, become quiet. You become the ocean of love.
“The soul is made of love, and must ever strive to return to love. It can never find rest nor happiness in other things. It must lose itself in love.” – Mechthild of Magdeburg
Time is a box formed by thoughts of the past and future. When there is only the immediate now – when you’re not dwelling in the past or anticipating the future, but you are just right here, right now – you’re outside of time. Dwelling in the moment is dwelling in the soul, which is eternal presence. When we’re outside of time, there’s no subject or object; it’s all just here. The thinking mind deals only with subject and object. But from within here now, you watch time go by. You are not being in time. You be, and time goes by, as if you were standing on a bridge and watching it all go by.
Ours is a journey toward simplicity, toward quietness, toward a kind of joy that is not in time. In this journey out of time to “NowHere,” we are leaving behind every model we have had of who we thought we were. This journey involves a transformation of our being so that our thinking mind becomes our servant rather than our master. It’s a journey that takes us from primary identification with our psyche to identification with our souls, then to identification with God, and ultimately beyond any identification at all.
Life is an incredible curriculum in which we live richly and passionately as a way of awakening to the deepest truths of our being. As a soul, I have only one motive: to merge with God. As a soul, I live in the moment, in each rich and precious moment, and I am filled with contentment.
– Ram Dass, excerpt from Polishing the Mirror: How to Live from Your Spiritual Heart. Order the book Here.
17 thoughts on “How can we begin to wake up in each moment?”
Echoes of Grist for the Mill
I think the analogy of the mountain and the bird with the silk scarf in it’s beak is missing a part. “The amount of time it would take the bird to wear away the mountain, that’s how long we have been on this journey”. Excuse me if I missed something, just trying to help.
Quieting the physical mind IS the hurdle to be honed, with this accomplishment, ALL things are possible and available!
I’m captivated by this theory of rebirth. It makes sense. But I must ask, how do we know it’s so? How was this knowledge imparted?
its very easy actually Kathleen. there is hypnosis, dreams, visions… I’ve seen many of my past lives, through regression therapy. This knowledge has been with us for at least 5000 years, from India. read Brian weiss if you’re really interested in this subject it is beautiful…
thank you, I will!
Referring to: “You do your practices not out of a sense of duty or because you think you should, but because you know in your soul there really is nothing else you would rather do.” why is it that some people would rather do anything else but this? Why do they resist it? Any ideas?
It’s exactly what the title of this post is: The Wheel of illusion. Our dualistic perception of the self-aware mind, of our ego, is the cause for the resistance. And that’s nothing bad at all, as Ram Dass elaborates, it’s exactly our purpose to dissolve this perception, this illusion. Therefore, logically, it makes sense that many of us are resisting. It takes a lot of patient perseverance to get to the understanding that “there really is nothing else you rather would do”. You cannot force it, achieve it. That is the domain of the illusionary mind. And think of that sage’s mountain, it will take some time to get there. A really, really long time. And that’s all okay because it’s how awakening actually works. Or as Buddha put it, it will take aeons to free all sentient beings of their illusionary perception. That is why people resist – why the are supposed to resist. To the journey, Joanna!
Love it Ram! 🙂
To me this begs the question: Is the illusion actually Real?
is it only me or this analogy, however beautiful it might be, is actually a bit scary and somewhat hopeless. Thats quite long, yet not much progress I would say. the next question I guess would be; how much longer…
This sentence confuses me: “A soul takes human birth in order to have a series of experiences through which it will awaken out of its illusion of separateness.” Why would our souls have the illusion of separateness? It’s in our human mind that is caught in this illusion?
It is interesting how grammar and context can be important when conveying these profound truths.
In the sentence referenced, I am certain “it” is referring to the “human birth” that is having the experiences of separateness.
Yes, you are correct, our ego mind is caught in illusion and through soul awareness in the present moment we awaken.
“Ours is a journey toward simplicity, toward quietness, toward a kind of joy that is not in time”, I really like this line.
The effect of the bird’s travels is the difference: The real question is how does a soul come into