This Mortal Coil

Posted by on Jun 26, 2012 in Blog | Comments Off on This Mortal Coil

This Mortal Coil

While I was in India last November for the completion of my advanced teacher training, I had the opportunity to have my palm read.  This practice is quite common in Indian culture (my friend Dipa tells me about having her star chart gifted to her as a child, having her palm read with family and so on), and I must admit, I’ve always been curious about it.  I was pretty excited about the possibility of having my own reading especially because this particular reader came highly recommended.

I sat for my reading in a wicker chair beneath the shade of a palm tree overlooking the ocean.  I remained still, held out my palms and watched as the reader measured various aspects of my hands, using a magnifying glass to closely observe my fingerprints.  After about 10 minutes he began his 2 hour explanation of what he found.  This mound here means I’m social and approachable, this tiny line means I have a strong creative drive.  This is difficulty trusting, this is a strong intellect.  The left hand is apparently imprinted with information from my past life, which for me was one filled with pain and struggles.  It was a long life, and I was a near martyr in terms of living a life of service (he looks over at my right hand, my current life, and chuckles, noting a definite step back in that area).  He emphasized my strengths and pointed out my weaknesses, suggested that I must begin to use my creative side more often, teach more yoga, write more, to apply my strengths more fully.

Then he moved on to my life line.  Here he noted that in the early part of my life, things seemed to come to me.  It is filled with gains and inward moving energy.  At about the halfway point, he notes a turn.  More losses, more energy moving outward, more pronounced illness, weakness.  And he said I’m about there.  At the halfway point.  He noted that my life line is not very long, relatively, before it breaks off into a gap.  He told me that a gap is a dissociation with the confines of life, so it is either a step into enlightenment, or… death.  When I pressed him for an approximate age, he looked pensive and then said, finally, “about 65.”

So here’s the thing.

I’ve been working very hard at the Buddhist principle (and yogic philosophy) of non-attachment.  When my husband vocalized in clear terms his desire to shift work and life to Toronto, my immediate reaction was to cling to what I knew and to turn it all down.  But after some thought I was able to see that we can be happy anywhere.  It wasn’t about our house or the lake or our friends or our jobs.  We could walk away and build something new and find happiness because it already lives within us.  I have also been able to let go of the pain that usually accompanied the loss of sentimental objects because I see them now as just that.  It’s all just stuff.  What I have is all that I need.

What I have is what I need.  I need.  I need my family, I need to be with my family, and this runs deep.

The night after my palm reading, we were gathered together in a circle in the yoga practice space to have a philosophical discussion about non-attachment.  Vidya, our teacher, was saying that it is possible to reach a place of understanding where you are able to feel non-attachment towards your own physical existence and to the lives of those you love.  Eventually you realize that to cling to the mortal is also a fallacy, that identifying with bodily life is one of the deepest tricks of the ego.  I raised my hand and began to share what I had learned in my palm reading.  In the event of this all unfolding as predicted, I may die at 65.  My son would be 32, my husband 67.  To know their ages, to picture this eventuality brought me to tears.  And why?  Of course I will die.  And at 65, why not me?  Wouldn’t I have been lucky to have made it that long, to have loved and have been loved by my family for so many years?  But it’s not enough.  I realize that it’s never going to be enough.  I don’t want it to end.  I cling.  I want.  I need.

Every once in a while I come across a story about a child who, confronted with terminal cancer or another terrible illness, has come to terms with his or her own mortality.  They organize and contribute to the planning of their own funerals, they leave special mementos for their siblings and friends, they tell their parents how much they love them and appreciate them.  And they are filled with gratitude and acceptance and dignity and complete non-attachment to the mortal.  Even in children, or maybe especially in children, there can be this simple awareness of what’s true.  Don’t we work on kids for years to teach them to begin hiding their truths, to be polite and appropriate and follow in line?  But before we kill their instinctual understanding of what’s important, they know.  This is just a body.  It’s filled with love, and that lasts.  Unattached to what holds them here they slip away with the grace that comes with knowing.

I watch and I read and I listen and I learn but I’m not there yet.  Not even close.  But to know that it’s possible, that there exists this ability to live beyond the desire to cling to and control life inspires me so much.  It’s the carrot that moves me deeper into this whole exploration.  I like to imagine myself at 65, thankful for being given the chance to live among all of this greatness, all of this love.  A high five, a namaste, a salute to the beauty before a bow towards nothingness.  Or maybe everythingness.

 

 

All content by Lisa Veronese. Please do not publish or copy my material without my consent.