Won’t you pick the Pearl over the Shell

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From the windows at the House of Dharma, I see shells scattered along the beach. They are beautiful shells despite their obvious irregularities, strange shapes, ashy tones, and rough textures. They are not about becoming the most beautiful shell in the ocean but about protecting and sheltering their passenger inside. So, they may not be gorgeous to look at but they surely are hard, strong and totally capable of performing their role in nature.

Pearls don’t develop their prized flawlessness because of their strong casing. Furthermore, nobody really cares about the casing once the pearl arrives at the market. The making of a good pearl normally involves years of careful attention and immaculate patience; it is a daily task of tireless self-awareness, ever watching which faults need mending, ever looking for an aspect that needs to be improved. It is an inside job, inside the shell that is, away from the multitudes at the beach, never thinking of the prize that will eventually be paid at the market once the job is completed. This is how nature works…

From the windows at the House of Dharma, I see bodies scattered along the beach. They are beautiful bodies, ripped through years of devotional work-ups, lean through years of devotional diets.  As the oyster, there is a divine jewel that shines inside every one of those bodies, its effulgence a million times more striking than the best-defined six-pack on the beach.

Then, why so much infatuation on steel biceps and ultra-flexible backs, on gymnastic cabrioles and open chests, on upside down stances and physical feats? Why so much chiseling, so much pampering, so much beautification? Surely a healthy, strong body is paramount. We don’t want our bodies to crash the same as the pearl doesn’t want its shell to crack. But what good is it really doing to us to be so focused on this body that, as the shell, will eventually be discarded?

How are we to truly understand this mysterious trip called life if we never care for the needs of the passenger inside? How are we going to find full satisfaction in trying to keep young and alive something that is bound to be reduced to dust? How is the cultivation of the body going to bring any kind of real polishing at the level of the mind? How can methods, techniques or programs, no matter whether they are physical, therapeutic, energetic or spiritual, help our inner passenger understand his role which is far from rationality? Why do we devote so much time to the dry, temporary crust and so little to the juicy, everlasting filling? This is how the ego works…