Magnificent Mantras Part 3: Do Good, Avoid Evil, Appreciate Your Lunacy.
This last installment of Magnificent Mantras, ties it all together. Its purpose is to allow our practice to “oscillate between two levels, the profound and the mundane.” Meaning, if we’re too full of wonder in our practice, it does us no good because we allow our thoughts to be too existential; we’re not able to look at it from a real, everyday perspective. We can be, as Fischer explains, ‘soaringly metaphysical and movingly compassionate,’ yet lack the ability to relate to others and/or the worldly problems around us in real life.
The reciprocal, if the our practice is too mundane, we “sink under the weight of obligations, details and daily life concerns.” This is what happens when we become caught up in the thoughts and feelings of it all too deeply. We’re tied up in the needs of others, as well as our own, which doesn’t allow us to experience the magical qualities of life.
Our goal should be to find the sacred space between the ‘profound and practical’ and live within it; continually contemplating how to stay in the balance.
Fischer explains, “This double need, according to circumstances, seems to go with the territory of being human.” As such, how do you get your mind prepared for accepting and acknowledging both sides of our practice? It’s easy—
Do good. (And mean it.) Anna Quindlen said it best, “All of us want to do well. But if we do not do good, too, then doing well will never be enough.” Smiling at a stranger, saying hello, holding a door for someone—they’re all social norms that we’re accustomed to automatically apply. When being mindful of our practice, it’s important to take that a step further. Allow yourself to be actively present in the moment; be genuine and kind. Experience all of the senses surrounding the situation— process the seconds deeply, with compassion and gratitude. Put good energy into the universe, continually allowing it to spread pure light instead of pure pleasantries all around you.
Avoid Evil. In the powerfully inspiring Desiderata, Max Ehrmann cautions us to“avoid vexations to the spirit.” One of the most powerful ways to do this is “to pay close attention to our actions of body, speech, and mind, noticing when we do, say, or think things that are harmful or unkind.” The more we are mindful of this, the more easily we recognize our moments of mean-spiritedness—and that disheartening realization helps us change our ways.
We want to shield ourselves from trouble or pain, so we’re ultra-protective of the ‘me and mine’ and how things affects us. Instead, we must practice a spirit of generosity whenever possible. Try to allow openness within your heart— practice positivity instead of negativity, avoid letting anger or fear spill from you into the universe and onto those around you.
Appreciate Your Lunacy.
Lunacy, for our purposes here, is really about honesty with oneself. Fischer suggests, “Bow to your own weakness, your own craziness, your own resistance. Congratulate yourself for them, appreciate them. Truly it is a marvel, the extent to which we are selfish, confused, lazy, resentful, and so on. We come by these things honestly. We have been well trained to manifest them at every turn.”
When we allow ourselves to be human, to be okay with being fallible and sometimes dim-witted or vulnerable, we see that everyone around us, as mentioned in Part 2 is just “groping around in the dark,” too.
When we’re able to let out a collective sigh of relief that we’re all just trying to find ‘it,’ whatever that means for us individually, we can accept each other, and ourselves with a much deeper understanding and compassion. Most importantly, we can laugh at ourselves, and the peculiar nature of this incredibly complex and wondrous existence that we all share— because, as the mantra states, we can’t take it all too seriously.
Now that we’ve concluded these ‘Magnificent Mantra’ examinations and have provided insight to put them into practice; give yourself the opportunity to be open to the gift of awakening. Allow these thoughts and ideas to enter your everyday consciousness and set you free. Enjoy!