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.
SEED QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: What has been your experience with the reflection that the Self "always drives directly to happiness?" The author contrasts the more visible driver to the quiet driver - how do you choose who you want to be? Can you share a personal experience where you found yourself aiming in the same direction as the merry-go-round (or united with it)?
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.
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