Running with Scissors
Adults expect children to follow numerous rules, most of which are prohibitive. “Don’t do that!” was a phrase I frequently heard as a youngster. Occasionally, adults make up rules to preserve their own sanity, but most of the time, commands prohibiting certain types of behaviour are motivated by a desire to safeguard children from harm. My parents, for example, would often shout out, “Don’t run with scissors!” – a warning I found myself repeating to my children and, more recently, my grandchildren. The danger of running with scissors is obvious. Since small children fall over frequently, the risk of injury is so much greater if children should stumble while holding a pair of scissors.
The mystics have liberated themselves from the clutches of mind and maya and moved on to higher realms of consciousness. They were successful, metaphorically speaking, because they did not run with scissors. Realizing that spiritual teachers always advise (and act) in the best interests of their students, the mystics followed the instructions of their respective spiritual guides completely, consistently and faithfully.
Mystics know what gets in the way of expanding one’s consciousness. So they advise: instead of wasting your time on activities of little value, why not direct your energies to a practice of long-lasting benefit to your soul? But the problem is that we are self-willed as children (we want to do what we want to do), and we are still self-willed upon becoming adults and initiates of a true mystic. Acting on the impulses of immediate gratification isn’t something we grow out of, so the mind bristles at mystics’ instructions on how to rise above sensual desires. Even though the instructions benefit us, the mind doesn’t like being checked and protests against limits on its freedom. This is because the mind confuses freedom with licence – that is, doing what we want when we like. However, as the mystics point out, reacting to one’s every whim is not freedom but a form of slavery, leading to imprisonment. By continually indulging the senses, both the mind and the soul become entangled in numerous karmas binding them to the creation, one life after another.
Compassionate and ever-merciful, the mystics not only point out the folly of our ways but give us the key to unlock the prison in which we cage ourselves. Yet so enslaved is the mind by the senses that, even while suffering the consequences of its licentious behaviour, it continues with the very thing that hurts it.
Mental stillness is possible. The mystics achieved this by complying fully with the instructions imparted by their respective spiritual guides. Apart from putting in the necessary hours of meditation practice, not only would they have listened to their own master’s prohibitions, but also acted upon them. They would have discovered the obstacles to their inner progress and avoided them.
By contrast, we tend to do a lot of wishing and hoping while pursuing our spiritual goals. However, if we are sincere about wanting our spiritual endeavours to be effective, we should follow the example set by the mystics and stop running with scissors.