Devote yourself to your spiritual friend, obeying his words with the sense of being like a servant. Devote yourself to your spiritual friend with the sense of being like a garment that gently covers the skin. Devote yourself to your spiritual mentor with a sense of being like a sweeper who has abandoned pride. Devote yourself to your spiritual mentor with a a sense of being like a bull with his horns cut off and who has abandoned conceit.
--A Spacious Path to Freedom; Practical instructions on the Union of Mahamudra and Atiyoga, by Karma Chagme
Translated by B. Alan Wallace, Snow Lion Press
Over the weekend, I visited my friend Charlie who lives across the street from the ocean. Several times a day in the summer time, he crosses the street and dives off the dock, floats around a bit, then gets out to continue his day. If he goes out somewhere, he throws a t-shirt over the bathing suit he wears all day long.
When was the last time I dove off the dock? A long, long time ago....I was hesitant.
While Charlie went in like a Labrador, I thought about it for too long.
What if I touched bottom? What if my ears got clogged and I got dizzy? What if my poor osteoporadic spine didn't enjoy the experience? What if the top of my bathing suit fell off? What if my head hurt?
OK, I had to laugh at myself. I let the over thinking roll like a grade B movie, and when Charlie shouted, "Dive in you baby!", I obeyed.
I kept my eyes open under water and my body instantly remembered this sort of freedom and wonder!
Diving off the dock!
The "spiritual friend" is a changeling.
Sometimes a car honking impatiently behind me at a stop sign. Or the white egret's wing dipping into the river before landing to search for a meal.
The "spiritual friend" is the fish stock in the freezer mistaken for chicken stock, and the soup that results, finally inedible, after all that work.
A check that bounces. A mate who is under a dark cloud...for how long? Why can't it always be a sunny day? And then, the "spiritual friend" is the cloud that dissipates.
Sweeping whatever is in the path is a daily occurrence. Avoiding the cloudy mood and clinging to the sunny mood also needs to be swept away, whatever is there in the path, without discrimination.
I cut my own horns off, but horn-less, I still butt my head against delusion. It's a funny image! Born under the Zodiac sign of the Ram, it's certainly a fitting image.
But the ram, hornless, can be devoid of conceit, of form.
The "spiritual mentor" puts together a little raft, a few strands of sea grass woven together, and providing just enough support to reach the other shore, says, "Climb aboard!"
By whatever means you require, and in whatever form the mentor appears, accept this support and move on.
In gratitude, become the mentor for another.
That's a changeling too.
Gate! Gate! Paragate! Parasamgate!