A few years back a Zen nun in Japan told me the story of a beautiful woman who had a strange and scary experience.
Enyadatta was a beautiful maiden who enjoyed nothing more than gazing at herself in the mirror each morning. One day when she looked into her mirror she found no head reflected there. The shock was so great that she became frantic, rushing around demanding to know who had taken her head. Though everyone told her, “Don’t be silly, your head is on your shoulders where it has always been,” she refused to believe it and continued her frenzied search.
At length her friends, believing her mad, dragged her home and tied her to a pillar to prevent her harming herself.
Slowly her friends persuaded her that she had always had her head, and gradually she came to half-believe it. Her subconscious mind began to accept the fact that perhaps she was deluded in thinking she had lost her head.
Suddenly one of her friends gave her a terrific clout on the head, upon which, in pain and shock, she yelled “Ouch!”
“That’s your head! There it is!” her friend exclaimed, and immediately Enyadatta saw that she had deluded herself into thinking she had lost her head when in fact she had always had it.
When this happened to Enyadatta she was so elated that she rushed around exclaiming, “Oh, I’ve got it! I have my head after all! I’m so happy!”
At the time I disregarded the story. Didn’t like it at all. Seemed crazy. Of course, I knew it was about seeing past yourself to your true self but it never really resonated with me. It was just too strange.
Then came wrinkly fingers! A few weeks ago I saw a study that showed that our fingers and toes wrinkle in water not because we have been in the water too long. It’s actually a natural adaption so we can grip better in water. It really got me thinking about how many things we have interpreted as bad when in fact they are good.
I made this video proving the hypothesis of the study and speculating as to where this could be taking us. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=udoW0p4h2SY
A few weeks later I read this article that to me conclusively proved that Homosexuality is a natural adaptation that evolved in order to have a member of a community outside the rat race of heterosexual competition who can protect, inspire and encourage and see things from another point of view. So much so that modern studies show that having a gay relative increases the number of children in a family. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-26089486
So after years of misunderstanding and confusion, it turns out that as a race we have been persecuting valuable members of our tribe. Trying to cure something that should be embraced.
For me, it’s an amazing breakthrough. Soon I think we will realise that many of the things we are trying to prevent are things to be embraced. Perhaps one day we won’t put down spikes to prevent homeless people sleeping in areas we don’t like but will build them campsites with toilets with the same money. We will accept that they are part of our race and value them as the ears and eyes of the streets.
Then the meaning of the story of the woman who lost her head hit me. Her egotistical self-worship was in fact a seed of something bigger. The urge to find her true self inside. Through this, she looked deeper and found that true nature.
Then my mind moved to another story I had disliked at the time.
The great Tibetan explorer Alexandra David Neel once witnessed a great magician laughing at a talk by the Dalai Lama. When she asked why he was laughing he answered “He is not telling you the real trick, You have to learn to make stars out of dog dung”
All genuine paths of spiritual attainment involve techniques of self-improvement by removing or transforming. In Hermetics we have four elemental methods, in yoga you’re are encouraged to dwell on the opposite quality. These methods are very useful but the next step is to learn to cultivate that quality. You can only really get the feel of this once your elements are in balance to some degree otherwise your interpretation of it will be imbalanced. Then you can learn to help your vices grow up into what they should be.
Indeed I have come to believe that all our negative qualities are the greatest resources we have and should be cultivated into blooming trees of virtue.
Sometimes we have vice brought around by past events in these cases those events could be seen as the grit that can be made into a pearl.
The trick is to look at what the action or response is trying to do and then to make sure it has results orientated, and broad unselfish focus. Often it’s just a millimetre off target and needs adjustment. Sometimes you can see the noble goal behind the confused outcome straight away, sometimes it takes a while.
Some very basic examples of this could be as simple as someone who smokes, in reality, is looking for inner calm. Someone who is overweight is looking for power or is lacking in nutrition. An angry person may need larger goals.
Before dismissing anything as negative or unhealthy let’s make a practice first of seeing what it may be for.