A very well known Tibetan mantra is” Om mani padme hum” which translates roughly to “the jewel within the lotus” and is a message to let the “mud” of life feed and nurture the beautiful sacred flower – the lotus. There are many ways to translate this mantra, but I am feel uplifted by this interpretation. Scholars, beware I’m not here to debate, and am not clinging to my perspective either, I may well be getting this wrong. Still, on the path of higher truth, being wrong is also good – it leads to humility, which circles right back to the meaning of the mantra.
A couple of weeks ago I was sick in bed for 3 full weeks. One day I was up, the next, flat as a pancake burning with fever. Interestingly it’s quite big news right now as the media is using the latest viral infection as a huge fear tactic (everyone has heard of the Corona virus by now, I’m sure). I decided to consider this a time to purge, physically and emotionally from the pressures of the last year. It was a year of big challenges, lots of loss and transformation, most of it seemingly unwanted. Ahhhh, surrender, accept, let go…. I know all the words, I’ve said them many times, but wow I was in the big shredder and coping was sometimes out of my range. (there’s the humility!)
Just as some of the bigger issues in my life were working out and things were resolving better than I hoped — it hit, the waves of nausea, a high fever and complete fatigue. I was grounded. The timing was so perfect, I could acknowledge that, I had no pressing projects or even engagements on my calendar so I just coped. I took my temperature a lot, and watched the fever just linger and linger. I let shows just run on Netflix, which gave me some comfort and a bit of false companionship. Nobody wanted to visit, friends and neighbors dropped supplies on the porch, and who could blame them, I didn’t want to pass this along. Still, more than a little bit of self-pity crept in. I remembered my two year illness of 2002 and worked to keep myself from falling into despair.
Then, as it started easing up I felt some new lightness. I noticed that old joint pains were gone which felt fantastic, and imagined that I was letting go of old emotions and ideas that had lingered in my body for too long. That felt good, I know how to meditate, I know how to be with my feelings, or so I told myself. As the healing screeched to a standstill I groggily recognized the opportunity to witness some inner dialog that I just don’t want to have anymore, which is the main purpose of a vision quest. It’s a conscious decision to stand still and take a good look around in our often neglected inner landscape. It is so easy to be distracted from ourselves, there is always something apparently more compelling to do besides roto-rooter our emotional and spiritual bodies. My being wasn’t having that. Once again there were no distractions possible. I didn’t have the energy to even read a book. What is the message? Standing still calls for a lot of things including listening to the “small, still voice within”. I generally experience this as a loud voice but apparently there has always been more, beneath and beyond the title pages. This is where I reached.
Wallowing in self pity doesn’t do much for the spirit, or indeed the body’s immune system. Healthy mind, healthy body, right? Having the body rendered useless does send a message of surrender, and seems to force negative emotions to the surface to be recognized, processed and ultimately accepted. Loved? Appreciated? This is the holy grail, and PhD of spiritual work. As this flu experience has subsided and my life has returned to a semblance of its “normal” routines I want to hold on to the precious jewels in the lotus of the illness. Being in the middle of it is painfully challenging even staying positive and grateful, and sending love to my shadow it was all I could do to just get through the day. Nighttime was worse since sleep was almost impossible until I propped myself and slept in a more upright position. This virus wasn’t going to let go until I learned what I needed to learn.
I’ve been known to say “no mud, no lotus” from time to time. The darkness is a rich place, so my latest mission is to enjoy it, or at the very least to drop some of my resistance to it. To be really clear, that doesn’t relieve us of the commitment to honor our body and build our immune systems to stay healthy, so my higher self says…. healthy mud makes for a bigger lotus! Be well, stay grateful and drink your green juice…. I love you!