when nothing is left
something is left
a burning ember
ready to flame
life is like that
Some people need Buddha conquering the armies of Mara; I need Siddhartha’s utter surprise at the existence of suffering and his realization that even kings are without immunity. Some people look to the resurrection. I understand the garden of Gethsemane. Some people see the triumph of the Promised Land. I get being chased by Pharaoh’s armies. For someone like me, life is a dangerous and not entirely attractive endeavor. But for better or worse, it’s the only life I’ve got. So, I look for the shafts of light deep in the muck. I look for something that shines.
For my tribe, the preternaturally freaked out, spirituality is a necessity. It is something that is left when everything is lost. Members of my tribe don’t sit on the cushion because we think we’re evolved. We sit because we have to. We don’t pray because we are fundamentally good. We pray because we need something. Yes, Jim Morrison, we hope we can petition the Lord with prayer. We are a very flawed lot. God wouldn’t have picked us. We would have cried out after the first affliction.
So, what does any of this have to do with Parabola and the deep meaning of traditions? Parabola is a balm in the midst of life’s randomness. It can lead you to water and teach you wisdom, even if you are like me and members of my tribe - the “oh, sh-t, I didn’t sign up for this at the reincarnation window” crowd. Of course, most people who read Parabola are not like me and my tribe. They are spiritually evolved for all the right reasons. But if you are like me, constantly surprised that life could be like this: remember when nothing is left, something is left. And like a burning ember, it can flame to life and show you the way.
Read The Story of Patacara in the Alone & Together issue of Parabola.
“No child will be a refuge, Not any relations at all. The one who is taken by death will find no shelter among king. Knowing this, understanding this, the wise one, restrained by virtue, quickly clears the obstacles on the path that leads to freedom.”