by Jeff Martens
“Ladies and Gentlemen, Happy New Year and Welcome to the Main Event! This is the present-moment you have all been waiting for, the eternal now, the time and place where YOUR life actually IS. Welcome to the bungle in the jungle, the stage in the cage, and the fling in the ring!”
As the announcer’s voice booms in the background, you wink at the referee feeling confident you can end this whole matter quickly. After all, you have some all-time greats in your corner crew, two of the very best in the business: SilentObserver, ConsciousAwareness and LifeItself! You peek up at the widescreen monitor and see the back of your own ring warm-up, the words “YourEverlastingSoul” blazing across the white silk resting cloud-like across your shoulders.
“In this corner, wearing white trunks and a smile, weighing in at 3.141592653589793 breaths: YourEverlastingSoul! YourEverlastingSoul is sponsored by EverLasting and EverLasting Light, a subsidiary of NeverBorn. No beginning, world without end, this Amen is for you!”
You confidently raise both arms and step forward to thunderous applause echoing back to you from distant rafters. The hidden announcer’s voice booms anew…
“In the other corner, weighing in at 800 megapixels and wearing 133 external hard drives for the ever-increasing storage capacity: YourStory! YourStory is brought to you by your very own addictions and the words “I CAN’T.”
YourStory raises upright like a slab of granite rising from a fault-line. And keeps rising. The crowd hisses and boos as YourStory stands to its full height, raising both middle fingers high in the air in response to the crowd’s jeering. Pandemonium erupts. Old insults fly. You study your opponent out of the corner of your eye. As your EverLasting Soul (or EverLasting Light, same great feeling with only 1/8 the presence), you’ve long figured that when it came right down to the actual fight YourStory would be unable to emerge from the corner. You had fantasized that your opponent would implode to the nothingness he is under the weight of his own overloaded hard-drives stuffed full to bursting with fabricated memories and false perceptions. Instead YourStory is looking very mean, very tall, and very, very REAL.
“This Bombastic Bout is being broadcast by Turiya throughout the fourth state of consciousness and is refereed by your frontal lobe brought reluctantly out of early retirement.”
A high squeal from the audience interrupts your first inklings of trouble… Your first kiss from second grade waves at you from ringside, sitting next to the Visigoth warrior you killed in the Fifth Century. Everywhere you look, there are familiar faces. Your friends and enemies from the past 26,000 centuries have gathered for the big bout and are busily doing the wave all the way up to the rafters and back down to the center ring while chanting ‘Hey Hey-Aay, Goodbye!’. You blow them all a kiss, your robe flashes open and you catch sight of your holiday waistline on the big screen. A bout of self-regret erupts, filled with wishings that you hadn’t eaten so much peanut brittle. You ask the ref, your frontal lobe, if you look fat in your boxing trunks but the referee just yawns and desperately hopes the fight will end early because a favorite TV show is on in 15 minutes.
The referee calls the two of you to the center of the ring. You throw off your robe, suck in your gut and glide forward. YourStory looms larger with every thunderous step. This Goliath must be well over nine feet tall and has filled out a full Terabyte in the last three seconds alone. Suddenly it’s awfully warm in the ring. Flop sweat pours down your sternum in a river that soaks the waistband of your shiny white trunks, making it appear as if you missed the bathroom break before the show. You remember the fines for broadcasting shame and worry how your dignity will ever stay in place.
The referee, Your Frontal Lobe, synapses out instructions: “Please now if it’s your will, let’s step together to the center of the ring. We want a dirty fight here, no holds barred battling. Biting is mandatory, as is crotch pinching, toe crunching and elbow shivving. Not only is all fair in this lovely war, the only way to lose is by following the rules. Let He who is without pain throw the first punch! Now touch gloves, go back to your corners and come out a-swingin’!”
YourStory raises gloved paws high in pre-fight glee. The air smells like ozone. Hard drives jangle. Kilobytes sprinkle like radioactive dandelion fuzz all around you as the gloves slam mercilessly down into your offered mitts. Your head spins wildly with the force of the initial blow. Jeeze, that was just the handshake! You had thought this was gonna be a cake walk in the park. When the duality agents from Leela Inc. were promoting this final contest through all your past lifetimes, thy said it would be no problem facing down this foe. But right herenow, your story looks pretty darn big from where you stand. A titanic titanium mountain of memories and mutating karmic expectations ready to avalanche you into oblivion.
Somehow you stumble back to your corner where your crew snaps to action. ConsciousAwareness brings you a subtle glow of wisdom from the inside. QuietObserver massages your shoulders as LifeItself hands you a smelling salt to sharpen your senses. Feeling a bit confused, you crack the capsule, pour out the salt and breathe in the sound of the crack. Your heart beats like a kettle drum in Beethoven’s 9th Symphony. A baby steps through the ropes and walks around the ring smoking a cigar while wearing a diaper, a top hat and a sash emblazoned with the current year, tiny hands carrying an overhead sign that reads “ROUND ONE”. For the first time you can actually hear REAL trouble coming, like the sound of an approaching train’s warning blast entering the far end of a long and winding tunnel.
The train horn wail inside your head ripens into the “BONG!” of the opening bell and it is surely the sound of DOOM, the thunderous belly-laugh of Nostradamus having tea with ancient Mayan Priests, everyone chewing cacao leaves while pointing to the start of the third millennium. It is the monstrous ringing of Hell’s Bells, a spiraling of direct current up from the down-turned triangle at the base of your Susumna. At this point you try to bolt out of the ring and go back where you came from but LifeItself pops your mouth-guard in place and slaps you on the back hard enough to force all the air out of your lungs, conveniently depositing you smack-dab in the center of the ring.
Oh yes. It’s On.
But first a word from your sponsor, your observer, your Sanjaya, your witness who needs no protection program. Let’s listen in, shall we?
Insert your theme song here. Remember various things you have thought, said, considered and done in your lifetime that you have told no one about. Add in all your ego repair work. Introduce yourself to the New Year like you are on a first date and show ‘em your good side. Dredge up the past, throw it at the wall of the future and see if anything sticks. Point to it and say, “That’s me?” Then ask yourself the following questions out loud:
How do I worship fear? What do I really want? How am I not myself?
And now back to our habitually scheduled PROGRAMMING already in progress. YourStory is raining wicked combinations of justification and judgment below the belt, causing Your EverLastingSoul unending distraction. A knee of arrogance strikes your ribs followed by a darting jab of self pity. Here comes that choke-hold of an alibi for not living up to your promises followed by a one-two combination of excuses related to tiredness and inconvenient choices of not going to bed at a reasonable hour. Each blow lands so easily that you are nearly convinced that YourStory’s sound and fury are actually your own and the Truth itself. A parade of failed fads and life choices are brought up without mercy in right-left combos to your jaw. The fist of craving real turkey flesh and gravy this past Thanksgiving strikes your gastronomical vegetarian gut with unerring accuracy, causing you to double over in a hypocritical oath.
Remembering that you are Lighter than a firefly, you decide to float away. YourStory Grabs your ankle and slams you back to the ground. You choose to defend yourself by deciding to become a floor-chameleon and hide in plain sight. Before you can disappear, YourStory lifts you up and throws you hard against the ropes. It’s a new year and its show-time, and with a ballet-like spin of Gigabytes and flashing lights YourStory lands a vicious hook that rattles your teeth, followed by a one-two combination that you can’t make it and you aren’t living up to your full potential at the start of this (Happy Happy Happy!) New Year.
Oh the drama of it all. The ringside instant replay screen shows you as a silent film star crying your eyes out in black and white, dabbing softly at your lids so as not to smudge the carefully applied makeup. The subtitle “Will our hero make it?” flashes at the bottom of the screen. It wasn’t supposed to be like this. You manage to lean back and prop yourself upright. The ropes burn into your back as YourStory breathes menacingly into your ear. “I am you,” YourStory growls. The words plug your eardrums like 50 weight oil. YourStory rears one arm back like a loaded catapult. Upon release the boulder-sized fist lands a final jaw-morphing blow so complete that you no longer know where you end and the fist of YourStory begins. The lights flicker inside your head as if announcing last call at a biker bar. The floor slaps your backside and then you realize you have actually slammed into the ceiling. You want to curl into a fetal position and rock yourself to sleep but you plunge spread-eagled from the rafters, unable to move. Your scream quiets out into a seductive rhythm: the wail of your own self pity. The floor gives way cartoon-like, creating a temporary crater in the shape of your tattered remains. YourStory raises its arms and stomps about the ring in victorious glee.
ONE, TWO, THREE… Your frontal lobe counts with enthusiasm, already picking up the TV remote control in anticipation of getting back to hibernation.
And then time slows like molasses syrup pouring from a jar left out overnight at the top of Mount Everest where it’s not the ascent, but the descent that is actually more fatal. And here you have descended big time. Here you are lying in a womb-like coma, your lips moving in petite-mal tremors while YourStory dances on top of your fast-approaching grave. “I’m running the show from now on!” YourStory growls at you, “So Stay the %#@* Down!”
(You. Are….) Whispers a voice from so far away it’s inside you. I am what, you grasp for identity, floating through a vast and purple haze.
Your three cornermen look at you peacefully and wait for the resurrection. SilentObserver repeats “You are…” in a Still Small Voice from your own corner, hard to hear through the thickness plugging your ears. The song Auld Lang Syne starts repeating softer than the sound of the blood pulsing in your temples. How many resolutions? LifeItself asks… How many lifetimes? How many lives have been lost fighting this fundamental Lie?
FOOUUUUR… FFFFIIIIIIVVVVVE… SSSSSSSIXXXXX…
(You. Are. Not…) SilentObserver’s StillSmallVoice finally breaks through… Not what? Not real? Not a vegetarian? Not conscious? Not alive?
(YOU. ARE. NOT…)
ConsciousAwareness rips a tunnel through your ears and slams you into a wall of screaming faces. Gittup!” they chant, “Gittup!” Vocal chords are morphing into bullhorns in your ear telling you that now is the time, right now no time like the present, to rise up and start anew! You can smell the crowd noise in your left maxillary sinus: a stew of perfume, sweat and mashed potatoes mixed with dead turkey flesh (yum yum!) The light comes back on behind your eyes. Is that a quadriceps below your shorts or are you just happy to see yourself? Slowly you attempt to stand and catch one more glimpse of the flat screen at ringside. After an advertisement for an airline which you desperately wish you were patronizing at the moment, your own pummeling is being shown in reverse as an instant replay with such clarity that TimeItself stands to watch from the judges’ box at ringside.
Incredibly, the screen shows nobody fighting but you. There is no opponent in the ring.
The ring goes silent. You pull yourself up rope by rope. SilentObserver’s StillSmallVoice becomes very clear now as you watch the replay replaying over and over again offering you proof of what you always suspected but never actually knew.
(YOU. ARE. NOT. YOUR…)
There is no YourStory with a Right and Left of wicked punch fabrications, just your frontal lobe, the referee, counting you out as the crowd from your past lifetimes does one more wave. And there you are bouncing up off the floor in reverse and dancing around punching and kicking yourself like a clown on smack. At the bottom of the screen in a small ringside commentary inset, a reporter is interviewing Buddha, who is happily quoting himself from the Dhammapada: “The greatest victory is victory over ones’ self.”
Somehow you don’t think that kicking your own rear-end is quite what Buddha had in mind.
The replay stops and now you see yourself clearly on the ropes. EEIGHHHHHT…NNNIIIINNNNNE… You realize that you are back in the present, wobbling against the ropes in the ring of life and NOT FULLY STANDING yet. At the last second you straighten your knees and raise your head to the rafters shouting with every ounce of courage you can muster: “I AM THAT I AM!”
Your heart swells and burst in a shower of deepest compassion. The groundswell of cheers erupts like the bone-melting crack of an atomic bomb. You lift an arm, bellowing “Yo, Adrian” to your spouse from the Civil War eight incarnations ago sitting in the cheap seats. The crowd goes wild and begs for more.
Speech! Speech! Speech! the renewed crowd chants. The voice of YourEverlastingSoul you booms from the inside out from your mouth through the PA in exact synchronicity to your thoughts:
“YOU! ARE! NOT! YOUR! STORY!”
Eardrums pop. Hearts burst. Eyeballs shatter. A lightning burst of insight singes the mat where YourStory had been towering only an instant before, leaving a fast vanishing binary hail of ones and zeroes. The crowd erupts (quite literally) in a cacophony of cheers and visceral organs. Your Frontal Lobe drops the TV remote control and raises both of your arms in victory. Reporters scurry into the ring shouting questions while flailing voice recorders, video cameras and fresh fowers in your general direction. “What’s your secret, Champ?” “How many pounds of holiday peanut brittle did you eat?” “Can you share your training regimen killer?”
The flashbulbs glitter like starbursts from your sweaty pectorals. Electronic shutters click as you gesture to the now vacant seats and take a deep breath to answer:
“What did I really want back then? What do I really want in this life? This day? This breath?
And then you as YourEverlastingSoul, the you who has trouble pronouncing the #2 entree at the neighborhood Thai restaurant, somehow continues to speak in a thunderously spontaneous impersonation of Krishna addressing Arjuna from the Bhagavad Gita, pronouncing ancient Sanskrit with unerring aplomb:
sreyan svadharmo vigunah paradharmat svanusthitan/ svadharmo nidhanam sreyaha paradharmodayad api//
As the words emerge from your lips you feel yourself in the deepest presence of truth. Even though you don’t intellectually know what the Sanskrit means, you can feel an absolute undeniable power vibrate its thunder into your bones. In the following stillness a perfect quiet echo fills the ring. You look to the translation that appears in scrolling text beneath your face on the big screen:
And do thy duty, even if it be humble, rather than another’s, even if theirs seems great. To do one’s duty is life itself; to live in another’s is death.”
Happy New Year to all EverLasting Souls. May we evolve together by embracing the desire to find out what we truly want in this life! And may this knowledge lead us all to do our unique work with passion, joy, an irrational rationality and a respectful lack of consideration for our stories!
Jeff Martens is a teacher, writer and co-owner of Inner Vision Yoga. All suggestions are voluntary and slightly irrational. Consult Your EternalSoul before you embark on any practice in which you are unfamiliar.