Yes: you read that right.
I never claim to be enlightened: I have had enlightening moments and recognize them. In fact I believe enlightenment happens on a daily basis; in effect it's another part of the Yogic journey. There may even be certain degrees of enlightenment: not that I could ever imagine any benchmarks. That's really the extent of my knowledge of enlightenment.
I've heard from more experienced Yogis and Gurus that if a person claims to be enlightened: chances are they are not. The subject falls under the category of "the more ya' know, the more ya know the more ya need to know" in my opinion.
I've been practicing Yoga for a couple of years now. When I see where I was mentally and emotionally just a few short years ago or even months ago I'm amazed. See, there was a time that I didn't practice Yoga or any form of spirituality. Of course that changed when I began a regular asana practice. However, as most know…the asana's are only a small part of the overall equation.
I've lived what I consider the 'Average Joe' lifestyle. I served 10 years in the US Marines followed by 9 years as a Police Officer and another 7 years building an army to fight in a war. There are some who contend that serving in the military or fighting in a war conflict with Yoga: this is not about that. Let's just agree to disagree, Okay?
I've always enjoyed camping and fishing but never cared for hunting. I'd imagine that watching Bambi as a young child had a positive effect on me. I can't tell you how many worms I (for lack of a better word) drowned. I wouldn't even begin to estimate how many worms I snuck up on with my worm-can in one hand and flashlight in the other. It was always in the middle of the night after a good rain and I'd rip them from the ground only to use them as bait. Yet, I rarely - if ever - kept the fish I caught. Of course at the time I had no idea what I was doing (karma).
I didn't care for those folks I called 'hippie-peace-freaks' either: I rather detested them and looked down on them with the same disdain I perceived from 'them'. Same goes for 'tree-huggers'.
So, there I was. It was my day off. I went to the store to pick up some weed killer and a few other things to clean up my flowerbeds. When I read the label it read to avoid contact with the skin and that results would be readily apparent within 3 hours of application. Yes, I took an Environmental Sciences class and I have an understanding of compound effects on nature. Yet, I chose to ignore my conscience. My only thought: "That's going to save me a lot of work!" I left the store with the chemicals in the bag and ready to tear up that flowerbed.
As luck would have it, the sprayer malfunctioned. No matter what I did I could not get it to function properly or even squirt a drop. My only thoughts "Damn. I'm gonna have to do it by hand now". Let's call it 'providence in a malfunctioning spray bottle'.
So, I proceeded to weed my flowerbed by hand. Let me tell you: it was work. Yet it was peaceful work: just me working with my hands pulling weeds.
Then it happened: a worm appeared from under the dirt. I watched it squirm; trying to get out of the sunlight and back into the dirt.
Samskaras can be a bitch. I was taken back to all those nights after a good rain; yanking those worms out of their homes only to be drowned or eaten the next day. Next I recalled all I learned in that Semester of Environmental Sciences. I then recalled the Yamas and Niyamas… specifically satya (truthfulness), svadyaha (self-study) and ahimsa (non-harm/non-violence).
All of these thoughts occurred in an instant. I suddenly had this feeling that the worm was running away from me. Of course that wasn't necessarily the case but I went with it. Let me tell ya: that was an awful feeling. My eyes began to sweat as a result after all I had no intention of doing it any harm.
Then the truth occurred to me: that worm was doing what worms do. By doing what worms do I gained a beautiful flowerbed: just because worms do what they do without any thought for the flower or the pleasure I, as a human, derive from the beauty of a snap-dragon or the memories snap-dragons hold for me of my dear departed Grandmother. Cue the eyeball sweat.
Just as instantaneously I thought of those chemicals that wouldn't be drained from that gallon jug no matter how hard I tried. That was followed by gratitude for faulty manufacturing. After all, had it worked and my plan succeeded I would have sprayed without thinking it through possibly killing that worm and whatever worms were as yet uncovered in the dirt. I would have denied it the opportunity to live out its own dharma.
As the worm finally found its way into the cool dirt I did the only thing I could think of. I whispered "Peace my friend. Go on about your work". I guess I'm becoming a "Hippie-peace-freak"…I couldn't be in better company.
Fishing? No, thanks. Chemicals? Nope.
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