People seem to be doing a great deal of ROARING these days I’ve noticed. I often see it from people finding and announcing their inner voice, their inner power. Today there seems to be a lot of focus upon manifesting our own reality and self-empowerment. Generally considered a good thing. And I totally get it! That rise of primordial energy feeling, like it could almost explode out of you. Out of every molecule in your body. Reminds me of this clip of kundalini rising set to the artwork of Alex Grey. Gets you pumped up and feeling enormous! Like a Great Lion on top of a mountain booming like thunder from the bottom of your guts over the vast expanse beneath you.
However, isn’t a ROAR designed to impress or intimidate others, really? I mean, look at a pride of lions? It also seems, well, rather wrapped up in the me, myself and I, and less of the compassionate service to others. Unless it’s fiercely defending someone. But it leads me to wonder if there is so much intent on finding that ROAR these days that we are forgetting how to purr?
My introduction to the spiritual path started very early in my life and ok, maybe not exactly with a purr, more of a joyful snow lion. I’m not saying I’ve been the greatest student of course, but when I’m off balance, I come back to these early year influences. My teacher, the now highly venerated Geshe Namgyal Wangchen, was young, new to Europe and fresh from the enforced escape from his home in Tibet. Like so many others, he had to flee, enduring months traversing the Himalayas where many of his colleagues perished. Finally crossing the borders where he discovered the comparative luxuries of India before being introduced to the wonders of the West. He was immediately an advocate of the profoundly significant marriage between Eastern spirituality and Western materialism. Like so many of his peers who had endured tremendous hardship, he greeted the world with a compassionate purr. With a warm smile, playful nature and light touch. But don’t mistake that light touch for lightweight.
He, as with many other enlightened teachers, saw how the new scientific discoveries in the West were underscoring what the ancients didn’t have words for. In fact the Tibetans had had to create words especially. They say that much information was kept secret until the world was ready. In the meanwhile however, more simple yet some fundamentally important lessons were taught. “Do no harm. Treat others as you would wish them to treat you and tread lightly upon our Mother Earth”. Is this congruent with a ROAR? In our desire to ROAR, do we not run the risk of forgetting gentleness and underestimating the power of the purr? Does the ROAR not somehow feel slightly volatile? How do you feel after this clip? Same animation, different music. Same situation, different reaction. To me, it now feels like a gentle expansive serine excitement. But that’s just me.
It does get me thinking though. If we are truly wanting to walk a spiritual path, is it correct that we should be ROARING so much? Craving to shine bright like the sun when even the Dalai Lama refers to himself as “only a reflection of the moon”? And is it correct that in those moments of such self-assertion, that the ROAR energy is how we want to interact with and treat others? Imagine ROARING in the face of a young child. Imagine you were the young child. Is there a possibility that we may become deafened by our own noise, that we can’t hear their suffering?
Hinduism has a beautiful term. It is ahimsa. It is the way of no harm. In my mind, it is the way of the purr. However, don’t misconstrue a purr with passivity. In everyday lives, a cat’s purr has been found to bring much healing to patients. It is not passive, it is pervasive. Naturally, I am aware of my own hypocrisies in this life. Many are far more lightfooted on our planet than I am. I drive, use electricity, consume imported foods. It is a part of living in our modern world, where the most practical thing most of us can do, is what we can; with as much compassion and integrity as possible.
I am an artist and the substrate I fell in love with was silk. In fact I am quite passionate about it. It is my way of communicating things I have no words for. But I knew I could only continue if my art was not causing suffering and the death to thousands of little lives. It takes approximately 5500 cocoons, 5500 little creatures typically boiled alive, to produce 1kg (2.2lb) of raw silk. I searched and found a supplier of ahimsa silk in India. A stunningly unusual silk that suits me down to the ground. Not only because it’s so beautiful, not only because now I know the moths fly free after they hatch, but the entire process also helps sustain a community*. Isn’t it possible to marry integrity with our material world? Do we really feel the need to consume at all costs when there is a way in which many can benefit?
Ever since the dawn of humanity, art has tied us together as a species. There is also an ancient oriental proverb that states that we are connected by an invisible and unbreakable thread with the people we are destined to meet and silk is one of, if not the strongest and most enduring protein fibers found in the natural world. It is organically produced to protect the caterpillar whilst it undergoes its extraordinary transformation and evolution into it’s flying ascended form. It is diaphanous yet tough. Flexible yet strong. Understated by nature yet exquisite and most highly prized.
Couldn’t this somehow be a metaphor? Something so delicate and underestimated as the fine, almost invisible thread with its purpose to protect and connect? Gifted silk thread from the moth that can also be created into something beautiful. Something as beautiful and subtle as the reflection of the moon?
The world needs the ahimsa way maybe more now than ever. Maybe after the initial ROAR, that first call to power, that sometimes awkward shift in our energy, that we discover something so innately calm it’s almost primordially pervasive. A deep cosmic purr if you will.
Last clip. Same situation, different response. How do you feel after sinking into this one? We are all in a state of evolution, doing what we do, given many factors in our lives. But maybe we should just remind ourselves that whilst the ROAR maybe needed and it’s good to know we have that raw power if we need to call upon it. And as much as a ROAR may feel good at the time and it may even impress others for a moment, the subtlety of the purr should never be underestimated. Anyway, it’s just a thought I thought I’d share.
*Sadly still a carbon footprint in the transportation of course.
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