Biological science caps human growth at adulthood yet there is still a maturation process that occurs in our psychology, hearts, and souls. Throughout our lives we are, and will continue to work through various developmental stages. It’s one thing that signs of our age show in our hair and on our face and body. But what about our spiritual age?
Yoga Sutra 2.5 says, “Ignorance is regarding the impermanent as permanent, the impure as pure, the painful as pleasant, and the non-self as the Self.”
While it’s nice to have long-term relationships, I think it’s also important to notice who lets us experiment without judgment, without applying a permanent label to our behavior. Who can tell the difference between our non-self and self?
For instance, when our parents say something similar to, “Remember when you were five years old and you smeared poo on your face?”
Especially when this is mentioned in front of someone who didn’t know this before it’s like, “Okay…wow! What a great reminder of behavior that occurred when I didn’t know better yet you still attribute that one incident to the present me, thirty years later. Thanks!”
Besides trying the poo, there are those metaphorical, adulthood times when a marriage is ending, a career path is coming to a fork in the road, or a general restlessness occurs with where our lives are; the signs of spiritual aging. And maybe we drink too much, eat to medicate, or lash out in anger at others.
More times than not, some may only see the resulting behavior and not the behind-the-scenes accumulation of what’s really going on. Later, when perhaps we’re faced with these people who had an encounter with our former selves, it can reveal certain attributes about ourselves and them.
Who branded the impermanent parts of us as the permanent? Were our growth spurts used as a form of entertainment to laugh and poke fun at or were they honored as sensitive material and handled in a compassionate and loving way?
Some people are just going to be markers on our journey as spectators, not seers. People have attachments to us that we can’t control. But that’s their attachment, not ours.
We have to be aware of how much ignorance is tolerable in our lives. Is it damaging or healthy? Does it serve our humility or does it cause us to lose what we’ve gained?
Or it may be that it’s ourselves who are designating certain behaviors with unnecessary shrewdness.
Spiritually, we can age gracefully by recognizing those things that were impermanent and not characteristic of The Self, our center, and practice forgiveness. At times everyone needs to act out a little.
We are the only ones who can free ourselves from any form of judgmental prison. Instead can’t we use the past to help recognize the amazing capacity of our current being?
The former fumbles, the cringe-worthy conduct are signs that we tried something different. Whether it worked or not is what helps give us a sense for where our center is. The impermanent allows us to understand the permanent.
So keep investigating…