A child born and growing up in difficult and even terrible circumstances can survive and thrive, providing they have a glimpse of something better. A teacher, parent or other relatives who gives genuine care and encouragement can serve as a small light in the darkness, and as the child grows up, they always know it is there.
In our lives generally, tough things happen that can lead us to put up protective barriers around our hearts and minds. This is an understandable step taken for survival, but there can come a point where it does us more harm than good. It holds us back, prevents us from fulfilling our potential. We may refuse to accept love and care even where it is freely offered and available. Or we may refuse to listen to signals that we are off track, and persist in acting in ways that harm ourselves and others. In time, this constant fight with life can take its toll on us physically, leading to ill-health and premature ageing.
Something that acts as an antidote to this tendency is what I like thinking of as a taste of honey. It first happened to me 40 years ago, when I met some experienced yogis from India. Yogis do not just have a taste of honey, they live in a honey jar of sweetness. They spend a lifetime remembering an inner dimension of our being that has kindness as its essence. This practise enables them to give a taste of it to others.
There are many ways of reviving our awareness of this inner dimension. However, an attitude of “seeing life as a drama” offers a way of finding sweetness even in situations that might otherwise have a bitter taste. It takes me into inner awareness of myself as an actor, playing out my part on the stage of life, rather than thinking that I am that part.
When I develop this knack of standing back, I do not feel I have to withdraw from the play. I can continue with the game of life, but refreshed and strengthened by developing a wider, wiser perspective. I am much more likely to become aware of benefit being hidden in every scene, so even an apparent failure brings progress, and I am soon ready to engage again. As I become more detached about the scenes that pass, I also have a better chance of staying in the sweet awareness of the inner being – the soul.
Neville Hodgkinson is a UK-based author and journalist, and a long-time student of Rajyoga.