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Reader comment on Andrew Cohen's passage ...

You Are Not a Prisoner


On Aug 20, 2011 Somik Raha wrote:

This is in response to James' comment. Some years back, my professor shared a gem with me. The context of our conversation was Ayn Rand, and someone had praised Rand.

Me: I find it very hard to follow Ayn Rand's philosophy, after learning that she died insane. I was very influenced by her writing, but decided to throw it all out after knowing about her personal life. (I was wrong about her dying insane, don't know how I came to believe that)

Prof: I used to know a Buddhist teacher many years back, who was very high up in this country. He used to give wonderful enlightening sermons. Then one day, he was found to be a pedophile. I found myself questioning whether the knowledge I'd received from him should be thrown away. It was clear to me that whatever he had said about truth, compassion and love was invaluable, and had helped me in my own life. Nothing he did changed the value of his message for me, so it made no sense to throw out what he said because he could not live up to it. The value was for me to keep.

This was an eye-opening conversation for me. Prior to this conversation, I would leave gold behind just because it was offered with dirty hands. The moment I learned of some weakness that someone had, I'd throw out all the value I had received from that source. After this conversation, there was a great sense of freedom. It didn't matter to me what the person had done. We are all human - and we make mistakes all the time. I don't care who is carrying gold in their hands - I will take gold when I see it. I know that my life is so much richer because of this change in my mental operating system. I am happy to learn from all. (Of course, it took some years to format the system, and the work is still in progress).

Stepping it up, this philosophy has big implications. What if someone tells me that Krishna/Rama/Jesus/etc. were mythical characters - never existed! Suppose all of modern science backs up this assertion. The real test of whether I've understood the Gita/Ramayana/Bible at all is if I can say, without batting an eyelid, "Makes no difference! I have read and consumed the Gita/Ramayana/Bible, and it helps me every day of my life. My thanks to whoever concocted it- it is most helpful." This test can be applied to every religion, every sect, every order, and yes, even to science. It should not matter to us if Darwin or Galileo ever existed, or what indiscretions they indulged in. 

What they have left behind is for us to experience in our own lives, and if we find value in that, why should we impoverish our lives by throwing it away?

In this piece, it seems to me that the value lies in reflecting on our "conviction in no-limitation," a grand idea that is entirely worthy of our time and attention. There may be edges - many people don't meditate and are yet convinced about their limitlessness. But the idea of our limitless creativity is an empowering one, notwithstanding our personal failings in living such an idea.

 



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