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Sitting Aboard Life's Merry-Go-Round

--by Karl Renz (Sep 10, 2012)


Welcome! Welcome to the fair! I can see, you’re already sitting on the merry-go-round! It’s great how you are driving! You have a sleek car, with an accelerator and a brake. But most of all, you have a steering wheel, which you can spin around, and that’s just what you are doing; though strangely, as much as you steer it, or put your foot down on the throttle, or jam on the brakes, the car keeps travelling in the same direction.

This is how your ‘I’ (the so-called ‘ego’) works. It steers to the left, it steers to the right, and is never fully content with the result. It thinks, “I’ll take a look at the others. How are they driving? How is that guy doing over there? That one is definitely shifting his weight more in the curve. I think I’ll try that too.” But nothing changes. The car keeps on going round and round.

Every now and then the merry-go-round stops. Short break. The Tibetans call this ‘bardo’. Then you look for another vehicle. “Let’s try the horse. I’ll ride for a while. Maybe that’s my destiny!” Very smart on your part! Or perhaps to be truly wise, you take the small scooter because all this driving has tired you out and left you full of humility.

During all this steering your ego ripens tremendously. And if by chance you were aiming in the same direction as the merry-go-round, then you can triumph: “Wow, I did that really well! Now, I think I’ve got it!” Now you’ve discovered how all this works. “I have complete control. Look here!” You are in harmony with the cosmos, in harmony with creation. An ego which is so coherent, steers in the same direction as the merry-go-round is moving. “Look, how I can steer! The entire merry-go-round moves because I am steering this way! Here, look at me!”

If you have mastered the art in this incomparable way, then you can even tell others how they should drive. “This is the way you have to do it, like me!”

Now you are a fully-awakened driver. “Follow him!” exclaim a few others enthusiastically. The best thing would be if you just take over the entire bus: “Get on board here, everyone, and sit behind me! I am one with the merry-go-round!” Then you are a guru.

If you want to be active more quietly, you can of course take on other important jobs such as driving the fire engine, or the ambulance. Or you may just follow the ambulance, to be on the safe side!

In all this it is important, that you keep the overview. That you press the gas pedal at the right moment and brake at the right moment, and most of all that you steer with great skill. That helps others. In this way you not only keep your vehicle perfectly on the path, but you also contribute to the successful ride of the entire merry-go-round! If only everyone would drive like this! You have everything under control.

Until one day, you accidentally let go of the steering wheel. Ooops! Now you are surprised. It also works on its own! This thing drives by itself! Exactly, the Self is driving. You don’t have to strain yourself. You can lean back and enjoy your Self. It always drives directly to happiness.

--Karl Renz


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10 Previous Reflections:

 
On Sep 20, 2012 Katrina Piehler wrote:
 What lovely timing for me to read this post today! I have found myself in a mode of trying, trying, trying lately. Once in a while, I do step back and experience a deep sense of trust - in my Self, in the flow of the universe. Wrote a blog post myself about that very thing - http://living-from-center.com/lifes-ups-and-downs-find-contentment/ .  Thanks for the reminder and the invitation to take my hands off the steering wheel a bit today. 

On Sep 12, 2012 Ganoba wrote:
 To understand the life situation we often use metaphors. If the metaphor is a part of the reader's/listener's experience then there is a flash of understanding. The problem with scriptural writing is that the metaphors are outdated and don't make sense.
If the metaphor is man made then it does not quite capture the life situation which is organic and dynamic. It is more evocative to use a natural metaphors.
Having said this, I find the write up quite interesting.

On Sep 11, 2012 M K Krishnaswamy wrote:

As Swamy Vigyananda observed, the analogy is not apt. A  Katha Upanisad (1.3.3-4) compares the the human body to a chariot drawn by horses running on a rough road with the owner seated as the soul and the ego as the driver holding the reins. reflects our life  more correctly. To live a blissful life, the ego must guide the horses with the reins held according to the advice of the Owner.



On Sep 9, 2012 Narendra wrote:

 What has been your experience with the reflection that the Self "always drives directly to happiness?"...... The 'Self' or  'Bliss' appears to be an experience of the field of consciousness, in a trance. Peaceful happiness is the 'Bliss of self' in the physical world.  I experience the Self as 'excitement' through the Ego and as a 'pleasure' through the Body. ......The author contrasts the more visible driver to the quiet driver - how do you choose who you want to be?......I am driven by body instincts and subconscious (soul) emotions. I can spend a lifetime fighting these two, looking for 'Moksha or Nirvana' or, enjoy all three modes of happiness: pleasure, excitement and peaceful happiness, with a manageable 'witness' attitude or presence of mind - as a path of Dharma.  I chose the latter because, it is my hope that, with diligent practice, I will experience the elusive   See full.

 What has been your experience with the reflection that the Self "always drives directly to happiness?"...... The 'Self' or  'Bliss' appears to be an experience of the field of consciousness, in a trance. Peaceful happiness is the 'Bliss of self' in the physical world.  I experience the Self as 'excitement' through the Ego and as a 'pleasure' through the Body. ......The author contrasts the more visible driver to the quiet driver - how do you choose who you want to be?......I am driven by body instincts and subconscious (soul) emotions. I can spend a lifetime fighting these two, looking for 'Moksha or Nirvana' or, enjoy all three modes of happiness: pleasure, excitement and peaceful happiness, with a manageable 'witness' attitude or presence of mind - as a path of Dharma.  I chose the latter because, it is my hope that, with diligent practice, I will experience the elusive 'Self', as more of my 'soul' or subconscious, disappears with presence of mind and my ego and the body gradually disappear with age...... Can you share a personal experience where you found yourself aiming in the same direction as the merry-go-round (or united with it)? ......When I struggled with 'my goals' as defined by the culture, competing with the environment and 'Taking care of number one', I was struggling to steer the 'race car' on the merry-go-round in my direction..... When I realized that the 'merry-go-round' is my environment and that, if I am in tune with my environment and co-operate with it, objectively, I can enjoy the excitement and wisdom of the ride, as a play of consciousness and help others enjoy their ride. This open awareness made me feel more peaceful, happy and ‘successful’.   I can even meditate better and keep my body instincts and emotions 'under control. ;-)'..... I have a Guru to inspire me on this path

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On Sep 7, 2012 rainbowSmiles wrote:
 This piece is beautiful as in a subtle way, giving merri go around example, it presents life's ultimate truths. Do I really need to strain myself or should I even feel that I am driving and taking things further.  Can I support others in the journey and take the journey with others caring for their comfort?
What would happen if I leave my hands off the steering wheel and just let it be.
Thought provoking indirect messages, thanks for posting.

On Sep 7, 2012 david doane wrote:
 My self is genuine me.  Trusting my self and going where self takes me may result in problems for me, such as my standing out as different from others and being criticized and possibly alone, but it results in a deep happiness.  It typically takes courage for me to trust my self and go with my self, and it results in satisfaction and happiness which are worth the price.  I think it was Janis Joplin who said don't compromise yourself, your all you've got.  I've compromised my self plenty over the years which has typically resulted in a superficial fitting in, feeling cowardly and not being happy, and I've sometimes trusted and been myself which has resulted in feeling good about myself and experiencing a deep happiness.  There's no doubt that for me, being myself is the road to happiness.

On Sep 7, 2012 Narendra wrote:

 What has been your experience with the reflection that the Self "always drives directly to happiness?"...... The 'Self' or  'Bliss' appears to be an experience of the field of consciousness, in a trance. Happiness is the 'Bliss of self' in the physical world.  I experience the Self as 'excitement' through the Ego and as a 'pleasure' through the Body. ...... The author contrasts the more visible driver to the quiet driver - how do you choose who you want to be?......I am driven by body instincts and subconscious (soul) emotions. I can spend a lifetime fighting these two, looking for 'Moksha or Nirvana' or, enjoy all three modes of happiness: pleasure, excitement and happiness, with a manageable 'witness' attitude - as a path of Dharma. I chose the latter..... Can you share a personal experience where you found yourself aiming in the same direction as the merry-go-round (or united with it)? ......When I str  See full.

 What has been your experience with the reflection that the Self "always drives directly to happiness?"...... The 'Self' or  'Bliss' appears to be an experience of the field of consciousness, in a trance. Happiness is the 'Bliss of self' in the physical world.  I experience the Self as 'excitement' through the Ego and as a 'pleasure' through the Body. ...... The author contrasts the more visible driver to the quiet driver - how do you choose who you want to be?......I am driven by body instincts and subconscious (soul) emotions. I can spend a lifetime fighting these two, looking for 'Moksha or Nirvana' or, enjoy all three modes of happiness: pleasure, excitement and happiness, with a manageable 'witness' attitude - as a path of Dharma. I chose the latter..... Can you share a personal experience where you found yourself aiming in the same direction as the merry-go-round (or united with it)? ......When I struggled with 'my goals' as defined by the culture, competing with the environment and 'Taking care of number one', I was struggling to steer the 'race car' on the merry-go-round in my direction..... When I realized that the 'merry-go-round' is my environment and that, if I am in tune with my environment and co-operate with it, objectively, I can enjoy the excitement and wisdom of the ride, as a play of consciousness and help others enjoy their ride. This open awareness made me feel more secure, reduce stress and be happy.   I can even meditate better and keep my body instincts and emotions 'under control. ;-)'..... I have a Guru to inspire me on this path.

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On Sep 7, 2012 conrad P. Pritscher wrote:
 I don't know.  My total life experience and genes, and in particular, my experience with people like those from awaken.org helps me choose to want to be a quiet driver.
By accepting things as they are, paradoxically, while changing those that are unjust and unkind, I can notice that it is never myself that is doing any doing.. Rather, it is my participation in the larger Self , of which my ego is but a very small and hopefully nonexistent part.
Not knowing has been very helpful for me so that whether I'm going in a circle or straight, the direction is in my mind, rather than in the universe. I do not know how things really are, and my not knowing is helpful and helps me peacefully accept where I am and the direction I seem to be going.

On Sep 7, 2012 Swamy Vigyananand wrote:

 The fundamental fault with this analogy is that (a) A Merry-go-Round is static, passive amusement with circular repetition, i.e., no direction! (b) Life is a linear graph against time where the person or being in control to the extent of the knowledge, intelligence and technique (KIT) and opportunity. Life is an art of drawing without an eraser (i.e., ‘turning the clock back’) It would be unfortunate & tragic if someone has to passively go through life (more like the mundane water-wheel Monday-to-Friday, 9-to-5’) or ‘sorry-go-round’ cycle! But is impossible for anybody on a merry-go-round to attain the status of a bus-driver Guru, s/he is on the same merry-go-round, ‘in the same boat’, in the same rote! It is defeatist, wicked & pompous at the same time for some ‘guru’ to use such an instrument of passive merriment as analogy to one’s journey of life, let alone to try and draw useful conclusions from it, or claim  See full.

 The fundamental fault with this analogy is that (a) A Merry-go-Round is static, passive amusement with circular repetition, i.e., no direction! (b) Life is a linear graph against time where the person or being in control to the extent of the knowledge, intelligence and technique (KIT) and opportunity.
Life is an art of drawing without an eraser (i.e., ‘turning the clock back’)
It would be unfortunate & tragic if someone has to passively go through life (more like the mundane water-wheel Monday-to-Friday, 9-to-5’) or ‘sorry-go-round’ cycle! But is impossible for anybody on a merry-go-round to attain the status of a bus-driver Guru, s/he is on the same merry-go-round, ‘in the same boat’, in the same rote!
It is defeatist, wicked & pompous at the same time for some ‘guru’ to use such an instrument of passive merriment as analogy to one’s journey of life, let alone to try and draw useful conclusions from it, or claim leadership of a sorry-go-round!

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On Sep 7, 2012 Austin Correia MSFS wrote:

As I read this merry-go-round... the first thing I saw was a round wheel in my hands, which is different from the steering handle/s I operate with on my motor-bike... and the beauty of it is I sometimes ride my bike like I would sail a ship, mostly ride it like I would fly a plane and at crosses and U turns ride it as I would hover like a helicopter... the other day my satellite launching debut failed, when my bike which was parked amidst cars was carted off by the traffic police for being incorrectly parked in space reserved for cars.  I got misled by a lack of knowledge, by incorrect and/or out-dated information.  I retrieved my bike after admitting my mistake and paying the fine. Have been thinking for some time that I have to get to a four-wheeler, as it is I am already learning and enjoying chair-dancing... this morning I learnt that I could gallop with the muscles that inform my lips... try it!  us  See full.

As I read this merry-go-round... the first thing I saw was a round wheel in my hands, which is different from the steering handle/s I operate with on my motor-bike...

and the beauty of it is I sometimes ride my bike like I would sail a ship, mostly ride it like I would fly a plane and at crosses and U turns ride it as I would hover like a helicopter...

the other day my satellite launching debut failed, when my bike which was parked amidst cars was carted off by the traffic police for being incorrectly parked in space reserved for cars.  I got misled by a lack of knowledge, by incorrect and/or out-dated information.  I retrieved my bike after admitting my mistake and paying the fine.

Have been thinking for some time that I have to get to a four-wheeler, as it is I am already learning and enjoying chair-dancing... this morning I learnt that I could gallop with the muscles that inform my lips... try it!  use a mirror to assure thyself it is true! 

My experience with the Self "always drives directly to happiness" is that it took me nearly forty to begin to discover my Self... I began in my 39th year and now at 47 happiness is something I carry within when I do and when I don't.

It may be that I am bugged by this piece that unless I trust my driver completely, I have to be alert whether or not I am in the driving chair.  I am the driver of my life, if not of this car.  I would insist on remaining aware until I hit the bed.  Yes, many a time I don't bother where in my own self-circumscribed area, the driver takes me because I know to enjoy the ride without being in the driver's chair.  The chair may not be mine.  My life is. And as in Hindi I would say, Meri Jan Pyari, meri-my, jan-life, pyari-beloved.  My life is beloved.

And yes, this was about the merry-go-round and reminded my of a novel by Somerset Maugham (?) by that title, The Merry-Go-Round... and what I liked most in that novel besides a very dim remembrance of the names, is the fact that in that novel the author also spoke of a hub...  that's where the rub is...

In the minutes as my body goes completely numb, after my last exhalation and no water has flooded into my lungs... as and when I surrender completely that is, I may think differently... I may just even KNOW!

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