Self Portrait for my Students

I am a political theorist by training and a runner by choice, both of which are uninteresting features of my identity independent of this fact: I strongly reject the notion that either my body or my mind constitutes my Self. My true nature is Love, as is yours. Although I have a body and a mind, I practice remembering that these are merely instruments to be used wisely while I inhabit this particular form, and that I will in time totally unhinge myself from both.

I am a bhakti yogi, which means that I like to sing and wave my hands around in the air and pray to God. I also like to flip upside down and fly through the air and sit for hours, eyes closed, breath moving in and out, mantra taking over, just me and the Universe. I often do this with a baby crawling all over me, suckling, gurgling, humming. We laugh and he crawls away. This is my practice of yoga, which aims at the experience of Yoga. And that experience is simply coming fully into who I AM. A-U-M. Not this body. Not this mind. But the Atman.

Like Plato, I am comfortable believing in lots of things I cannot see.

I like to play at doing philosophy.

I live a life of nonviolence whenever possible. But, of course, it isn’t always possible. (Thank you, Nietzsche, for that teaching.) I don’t eat the things I love, so I practice ethical vegetarianism. I also don’t eat humans. I love plants, of course. But I have to survive somehow.

I can be cruel, like anyone else. And small-minded, too.

I love music, touch, and food best. Not always in that order.

I’m queer because I prefer to sleep with women and always have, though I happen to be in love just now with someone who is not a woman. So I am with him now and, God willing, always. This is a good reminder that…I am not this body, I am not this mind. I do not overthink being queer. I like women of all kinds best. Preferences are okay, as are aversions. The problem, for someone on the path, anyway, comes in when we get too attached to those preferences or aversions. How do we know when we are too attached? When the mind is disturbed either by having what we don’t want or wanting what we don’t have.

Have what you want and want what you have. I cultivate that. (Thank for that teaching, GuruMa.)

I take the seat of the teacher a lot. I prefer the seat of the student, which I try to take every moment of every day.

I’m not always a good student.

My best teacher has been my suffering. So has yours, I’d wager.

I used to be an outer-warrior. Now I’m more of an inner-warrior.

Discipline keeps me on the path. I write a little every day. Writing is a practice that helps me to transform myself, as well as to discover my Self. I practice meditation, chanting, or asana nearly every day. I do pranayama, which means that I sit with and study the subtleties of my energetic body. I study French and Sanskrit, because learning a language is a form of learning a world. It is deeply pleasurable to discover a world, like magic. I run a lot, though not as much as I used to. When I can’t anymore, that’ll be okay.

I love the concept of movies, so I watch them often. Stanley Cavell has taught me a great deal about how the best films reflect and inflect ordinary life. My life is hopelessly ordinary.

I like to be right. And, yet, I realize that being right is being nothing at all but worked up most of the time.

I like it better when someone shows me how I am not right.

I am aware that others are drawn to me. If I were more modest, I would lie and say this made me uncomfortable. But it doesn’t really. It does, however, still cause me some disturbance from time to time, as when I don’t have time for those who think they need me. I want to make so many things better.

I am aware that some others also do not care for me. I have made my peace with this, and learned to love them anyway.

I struggle to remember that loving others does not have to mean taking care of them. In fact, trying to care for those who cannot be healed, or are not ready, can be an act of unkindness, to them and to myself.

As you can see, I am okay with saying things like, “I am.” This is a necessary part of making sense of my world, speaking in an ordinary way, with ordinary people, about ordinary things.

I have an authentic self, but I do not yet know it fully. Here are some of its features: immaterial, steady, unchanging, joyful, Light-filled, Divine.

Same as You.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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