Today is Ash Wednesday. During Lent, I’m definitely going to be following the postings of Francis Clooney, over at America: The National Catholic Review. More on that another day.
Today’s post is the conclusion of Viveka’s story, as told by Stephen Cope in the Prologue to his book: Yoga and the Quest for the True Self.
Among these wandering sadhus, Viveka discovered Rudra, his first important mentor, whom he met as he huddled in a cave during a wild thunderstorm on a mountaintop, and with whom he lived and studied for a year and a quarter. With Rudra, Viveka studied the secret practices of yoga and meditation. Through the “whispered wisdom” he learned from this great sage, Viveka eventually trained himself to enter deep states of concentration, in which his awareness could penetrate the unmanifest realms. In the last days of his apprenticeship, Viveka learned to merge his consciousness with the one transcendent ground of being, brahman. He mastered the art of transcending time and space, and could send his body anywhere he wished. Eventually he used his supernormal powers of bilocation to visit his mother and to reassure her that he was coming home.
Viveka now saw clearly where he had to go. In order to arrive home, he had to cross a final obstacle–a dangerous forest, filled with tigers, vipers, and evil spirits of every sort. Just at the end of his perilous journey through the forest, at the far edge of the darkest section, Viveka was seriously wounded in an encounter with a tiger-spirit. His battered body was dragged from the forest by a wise woman who lived in a small hut in the marketplace of the village, just at the forest’s edge. The wise woman was known in the village simply as Mother, and she was to be Viveka’s next important mentor. She brought Viveka to her hut, where she tended him. Over the course of the year and a quarter he spent with Mother, Viveka learned the next stage of yoga. Mother taught him to see God in all beings, and to see the soul in the phenomenal world, even in the tiger who attacked him. Viveka learned to open his heart to himself and all of life, practicing reverence for the many beings and dedicating himself to the awakening of all beings.
Viveka’s final lesson in yoga still awaited him, however. Having taught him many of the secrets of life and his true nature, the wise woman told him that he must now finish his pilgrimage. He must reach home in his physical body, to embrace his real mother, the queen, and to take up his dharma, his rightful place in the order of things. When Viveka finally entered the doors of the palace, he was greeted with great celebrations; he was told that his father had died during his long war in the north and that Viveka himself was now the king. At first, he could not comprehend what this meant, and he shrank from his duty. He could not find “king” anywhere inside himself. Under the patient tutelage of his final teacher, a renowned seer who lived near the palace, and over a period of many months, Viveka was eventually able to see through the final remnants of his mistaken identity. He discovered his true royal nature inside. He knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that he was a king. Finally, Viveka assumed the throne, where he ruled wisely and well for many years.
Commentary to come on Friday! Stay tuned…