When I was around 24 I had a dream that was so powerful, I knew it was real while I was having it. When I woke I knew I had no soul. My experience was that there was nothing inside me. There was no ground of being. Nothingness, emptiness. I was sure there was nothing there, I was a façade with nothing to back it up. In the horror of this reality, I went to my Tai Chi school to teach. As my students came in I confessed to them that I was the first person in history without a soul. It was going to be on the cover of the Boston Globe that night. As the day proceeded and I continued to communicate my truth, I began to laugh and this truth began to lose its grip. By the end of the day there was a freedom from a belief that had felt so real, that had been sitting there informing my existence and creating a sadness and pain. It was gone. That experience had been a clue for me, something I was to face and move through, not something to run from or deny.
We tend to deny clues or experiences that seem unreasonable or feel painful. And yet these are the very opportunities that will free us to take the next step in our lives. When I give someone a clue, it may look arbitrary and tyrannical. Depending on the situation, I may be very emphatic. It is not my idea; all I am doing is conveying a message. Most of the time I am unaware of the why of the clue and where it will take a person. Usually, following the clue will free the person of something. When the person does not take up the clue, nothing changes, and they remain stuck.
Baba used to say that whatever God does, He does for good. God is always providing clues; we may fail to understand them, or we may even ignore them.
In Mastering the Art of War, Zhuge Liang discusses clues as opportunities: “There are three avenues of opportunity: events, trends, and conditions. When opportunities occur through events but you are unable to respond, you are not smart. When opportunities become active through a trend, and yet you cannot make plans, you are not wise. When opportunities emerge through conditions but you cannot act on them, you are not bold.”
The opportunities have to be discerned even though they are actually right in our line of vision. Life is a treasure hunt, but we have to know the clues in order to proceed. So many times our reasoning intellect will discard or pass over the clue that is crucial to our hunt. These clues are there for us; they are there to help us, and yet we cannot or will not see them. Strategy that is off the grid never seems reasonable, and the small self is determined to maintain its sense of reason. The treasure hunt then does not move forward, and we remain trapped in the mire of our own reason.
Back around 1980, Baba started to give me the clue to have a child. I told him I was fine, that I did not want a baby. He was so patient. He just kept telling me this clue. Baba would say, “If you don’t want a baby, then you should become a sannyasa”. My response was always, “I am fine the way I am”. Gradually, the desire for a child arose, and when I went to tell Baba, before I could open my mouth he said, “So you have finally come to ask permission to have a baby.” He knew this was an important opportunity for me and had kept at it. He was so right. Parenting two sons was the hardest and most rewarding job I have undertaken, and it moved me forward in my sādhana. Quite the treasure hunt.
The treasure hunt is here to clean up the effects of something we once caused. It is sad when we see the clues and fail to recognize them as opportunities. The clues are guiding us to the next effect we must clean up. They are moving us to freedom, to the stillness and bliss of the Self. Following the treasure hunt detaches us from what is not us and removes what covers Us.
The treasure is our true Self.
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