Aug 232004

“Master, you are wonderful” A student, asking his leave, gazed ardently at the patriarchal sage. “You have renounced riches and comforts to seek God and teach us wisdom.” It was well known that Bhaduri Mahasaya had forsaken great family wealth in his early childhood, when single-mindedly he had entered the yogic path.

“You are reversing the case!” The saint’s face held a mild rebuke. “I have left a few paltry rupees, a few petty pleasures, for a cosmic empire of entire bliss. How then have I denied myself anything? I know the joy of sharing the treasure. Is that a sacrifice? The shortsighted worldly folk are verily the real renunciants! They relinquish an unparalleled divine possession for a poor handful of earthly toys.” (p.75, Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda).

I’ve been pondering over different types of relationships. There was a time when I had many friends then I went on the “spiritual path.” Or rather, I surrendered to Love. My whole world quickly changed; majority of my friends vanished. Did I miss them? It really wasn’t an issue at all, it was simply my new way of relating to the world created the appropriate circumstances.

In terms of intimate relationships, while I value this type of relationship I also understand that the most important relationship for me is between me and Self. If it’s a choice between being with someone who claims to love you and not know Self, I would rather be in Inner Silence, thank you very much. I believe that not everyone is destined to be in marital type relationships, particularly those who are on a “spiritual path.” I’ve had problems with people trying to understand my way. A dear friend has teased me that I would find it difficult meeting someone like myself as I am not the norm. I agree with him that I’m not the norm, nor is my life conventional. There was a time when I wanted what the world had to offer but Self had a different idea for me. I think even my mother has accepted my unconventional approach to life.

I watched two movies on television yesterday that mirrored my thoughts about intimate relationships.

The first one was called “Naked Jungle” starring Charlton Heston (Christopher) and Eleanor Parker (Joanna). Christopher is a plantation owner in a South American jungle and is looking for a wife to settle down with and have a family. He arranges with his brother to select a mail-order bride. Joanna, his new bride, arrives from America. She has to come to terms with the idea of living in the jungle as well as a husband she doesn’t know, and a man who doesn’t understand how to relate to women for that matter. Christopher has spent his whole life building his plantation dream and has never been with a woman. He has his own ideas about what a wife should be like. Christopher is shocked that his brother has selected someone so beautiful, talented and intelligent. He believes there must be something wrong with Joanna. He soon discovers she’s been married before. Christopher prefers to have a “piano that has never been played.” He decides Joanna is not right for him and asks her to return to America.

In the meantime, Christopher’s plantation is being overrun by a “brigade of ants” bent on destroying everything in sight including humans. Christopher and his hands are in a battle to protect his plantation. During the crisis, Christopher and Joanna draw closer and fall in love. In his final attempt to defeat the ants, Christopher’s only option is to flood his plantation, which will leave him with nothing. But he has something that is worth a whole lot more – he has Joanna’s love.

I stayed up till dawn this morning to watch the second movie called “The Big Blue” starring Jean Reno (Enzo), Rosanna Arquette (Johanna) and Jean-Marc Barr (Jacques). When I first saw this movie I loved it, I thought it was wonderful though I didn’t like the way it ended. Now I am in a different mental space, I was curious to see how I would feel about this movie. The Big Blue is basically about Jacques’ passion for free-diving (diving without oxygen); while Enzo, Jacques’ childhood friend, is interested in competing to see who can dive the deepest.

Jacques has been so focused on the sea and playing with dolphins he hasn’t a clue about how to relate to women. He is given the opportunity when he meets Johanna and they fall in love. Jacques is faced with a dilemma. Will he choose the sea and the dolphins over his new love? He continues to follow his passion for free-diving and competing with Enzo, pushing each other to the limit until the deep sea claims Enzo. Jacques takes a final plunge to prove to himself whether he can dive beyond what is possible for humans. While he’s in the deep, he has to make a choice: come back up and be with his girlfriend who is now pregnant and wants a house, a family, a dog, and a car; or swim for eternity with the dolphins. Jacques chooses his passion – the sea and the dolphins.

So we have two movies that are similar in that both male characters had focused on their respective passions rather than on women. But Charlton Heston’s character follows the traditional route of falling in love and living the life that society expects from you. Jean-Marc’s character is also very much naive about women but he knows what his real passion is – the sea. He loves the freedom he enjoys when he swims with the dolphins. While he loves his girlfriend, he realises that the world’s idea of freedom is bondage, so he chooses his passion for the Big Blue.

I have to admit that when I watched “The Big Blue” years ago, I had a lot of empathy with Johanna and thought Jacques was being selfish. How could he reject the love of a good woman, who wants to offer him a family and more, for the sea? Now I can relate to Jacques. If given the choice there will be no choice, I would follow my passion regardless of what society thinks.

The way I see all types of relationships is about either you’re having friendships the way the world thinks they should be or you’re following your joy; and along the way, you meet similar people who share your passion. I am free to be and share with friends if I choose or to enjoy a solitary experience. So while I would love to have an intimate relationship, it will have to be with someone who shares my passion for Self-realisation; someone who doesn’t mind when I delve into Silence for hours or days at a time and doesn’t feel abandoned; someone who has a passion for what is Real.

I guess I’m a lot like Jacques – I would choose to follow my passion for freedom anytime than what the world has to offer.

I am Freedom,