When I was 16, my guru gave me the name Sreejit and I immediately went to the courthouse to change it legally. Everyone in my school knew the reason for the change, so I didn’t have to explain it. When I joined the workforce, people would constantly ask me where my name came from and I wouldn’t want to go into the details because that would require a longer, deeper discussion. I hated the presumptuous question of, what is my real name, because that would require and even longer and even deeper discussion. They were asking a simple question and I developed a simple answer for it. “My Dad is black and my mother is Indian,” I would say. “Oh cool,” they would say. A simple question, a simple half-truth and we’d all move on.

As we call our guru, Amma, or mother, it wasn’t a full lie, but was completely misleading. I had said it so many times by the age of 25 that I wouldn’t even think twice about it. But then I got a new job and the manager asked me the same question and I gave my same answer, and the manager was enamored with it. He would tell everyone that I was half black and half Indian (actually, I’m half African American and half European American, which you would think equals “all” American but that is a term generally used for another color). My half truth had suddenly turned into a full lie that I had to double and triple down on and evade as much as possible. I didn’t stay at that job more than a year but I never used the lie again. Instead I would just smile and say it’s an Indian name and move on. Actually by then, I had grown a full beard and people would just think I was an immigrant and so stopped asking me the question entirely. The new question became where I was from.

What makes our species unique in the animal kingdom is our ability for complex thought; to have ideas that we can prove into existence through the power of our own reasoning. Not only can we make shit up, but we can also sway each other to our own way of thinking. We can create whole factions of logical thought dedicated merely to the strength of our cult of personality. Furthermore, under the influence of our dedications we are able to cleverly misunderstand whatever we don’t want to believe in.

This article wasn’t meant to debate the art of lying; I am more interested in the art of believing; believing and then molding our whole worldview around those beliefs.

When I hear someone talk about evolution that doesn’t want to believe in it, they explain what evolution is in a way that completely misses the point of it. They give reasons why it can’t exist by arguing against points that its proponents also don’t believe in. But, you can’t legitimately disprove evolution by explaining it in the wrong way. In the same way, I hear people who don’t want to believe in God talk about the soul, and why it can’t exist, in a way that people who believe in a soul don’t actually think of it. You can’t disprove a concept by defining it wrong. There is no point in disproving pop culture definitions of evolution; you have to tackle the scientific definitions if you want to properly argue against it. But that would first require that you study it in a scientific way. You can’t argue against atheistic definitions of the soul and have it mean anything, you have to first go through a mystic training regimen of meditation and scriptural study before you have any right to talk on the subject. in the same way, you can’t have corporations that create climate damaging pollutants write up environmental protection science that benefits them financially by making up scientific evidence and calling real science fake. You also can’t claim a political propaganda station as real news and call all other journalists fake news. But of course these things happen every day.

We cannot factually examine any idea while under the sway of an opposing opinion. We have to be willing to momentarily set aside our belief system if we want to be open, however briefly, to another’s idea. In our current state, we wear our ideas like battle armor. We have to do that, because many use their ideas as weapons.

Let us examine an idea that we might have less of an immediate gut level resistance to discussing, such as borders. There is not an animal in nature that recognizes the borders that we are willing to go to war over. Animals may be territorial just like us, but we believe in a God given, or inalienable right to territory just because we’ve pissed all over it. A border is not an unchangeable truth. It is an idea. Just like the concept of an unchangeable truth is an idea.

The lingering awareness we have of spirituality is that it is something which is beyond the realm of ideas, but we are such magnificent creatures that we are able to put even a concept of limitless infinity in a box to sell and fight over.

I have an idea that I was born for great things. I have an idea that the stars will align just so, to bring about the glorification of my illusory self to the point where I will forget the pain of being out of tune with my true, unchanging consciousness. I use my ideas to fortify my illusions, because I’ve grown to enjoy the pain of an ever-changing world in the same way that I’ve learned to enjoy the pain of getting a tattoo. I’m attached to being scarred and heartbroken. I seek out the darkness in whatever “acceptable” forms I can find it. I hide from the light. I walk as slowly down the path I’ve chosen as possible so as not to lose my grip on my likes and dislikes that ensure I’m wrapped constantly in the struggle between joy and sorrow. I do all of these things because I have an idea that freedom from sorrow will cause my identity to disappear and that the bliss of union, and consequently dissolution, will be the same as death. I have all of these ideas because of my lack of true experience in freedom. Someone who is truly free will never be shy about their distaste of shackles.

When I was 16, my guru gave me the name Sreejit and I immediately went to the courthouse to change it legally. Because even before the idea of speaking truth into existence was a thing, I knew where I wanted to lay the foundation of the fight I wanted to rest in. We can make of this world whatever we want. The world is an illusory thing because it completely changes depending on from what perspective we are viewing it. That is the beauty of the complexities we wrestle with. What is the truth that you’ve chosen to stand in?

20 Comments

  1. Such an interesting read.. I agree We humans love to make things complex by lying not only to others but to ourselves.

    We humans find it difficult to think outside of the box, for we have been conditioned and programmed to own, and control so we constantly think others will come and take what we have, So we put up fences and create borders to state our control ..

    I loved what you said here ” I have an idea that I was born for great things. I have an idea that the stars will align just so, to bring about the glorification of my illusory self to the point where I will forget the pain of being out of tune with my true, unchanging consciousness.”

    Yes this world is an illusion and I feel greatly that mankind will soon be viewing it from a very different perspective, When we dig deeper into our own BE-ing we strip away the layers we have carried often embedded deep within our childhood.

    And bravo in this statement of yours

    ” You can’t argue against atheistic definitions of the soul and have it mean anything, you have to first go through a mystic training regimen of meditation and scriptural study before you have any right to talk on the subject. in the same way, you can’t have corporations that create climate damaging pollutants write up environmental protection science that benefits them financially by making up scientific evidence and calling real science fake. You also can’t claim a political propaganda station as real news and call all other journalists fake news.”

    I enjoyed reading your thought.. Have a Peaceful weekend.
    Sue

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Yes, if we carry on the way we are, the direction we are heading is not going to be pleasant..
        Too many have already interfered with our planets weather systems, and not only poisoned our water and oceans but minds too..
        Society will either collapse via the monetary system or the weather and Earths own changes will sweep great changes via natural disasters..
        The weather is now causing crops to fail from drought and flood, Food prices I see set to rise and food shortages will be the result.. Which in today’s world of plenty for those who are used to having everything will be catastrophic and cause chaos, when supermarkets run dry.
        While being realistic about the nature of humans, I am also a big believer in our Energy..
        What we see today is created by our past, our thoughts put into motion..
        If we want a future at all, we have to start now and re-create the kind we want our grandchildren to inherit now.
        So yes, I am ever the optimist.. because I need to keep pouring love out into the world in the hopes it becomes less dark..
        Wishing you a Peaceful Sunday Sreejit.

        Like

  2. I think if we are honest, and open to growth, that truth changes, evolves, as do we. I use to think I had so many of the answers, and now I realize how little I truly have the answers to. sighs… and I’m tired. The only thing that transcends this is love. We are remembered by the people who love us, who we impact while we’re here. I try to move forward every day with love. Some days are exceedingly difficult. Right now with all the crap going on in our country it’s hard not to be filled with hatred. That’s my struggle… not to hate. So far I am failing miserably. LOL As Americans we like to think that women have it pretty good here compared to other places. And while we’re not routinely having our genitals mutilated, we have far to go to be equally valued in society, and to receive equal justice under the law against those that harm us. So maybe we’re not so different after all. 😦 I like what you said about borders.

    Liked by 4 people

      1. I really miss being “riled up” by LOVE. I want my grandchildren to have some Woodstock, some Farm Aid, some We are the World, some Hands Across America in their young lives too. I loved being with thousands, millions, “riled up” for a social (spiritual? Political?) cause rooted in love.

        In my imagination, that’s what you and your family and community members get to experience in your lives now. I hope I’m right.

        Liked by 2 people

    1. I struggle with that too. With the horrendous things that are being done in our country, in our name, it is near impossible for me to not go to hate. What saves me from going fully there, is that I also have optimism. I can see that there is value in having our country’s dark side come to the surface so we can do something about it. I think it is also good that our arrogance is being challenged. I’ve cringed for a long time when I’ve heard leaders say that we are the greatest nation on earth. So we as individuals and as a country are being given an opportunity to grow, but it isn’t pretty and it isn’t comfortable. I hope we learn before we destroy the world.

      Liked by 3 people

  3. Sreejit, this is an incredible reflection. They get more profound every week. I’m so glad you are doing them.

    I had no idea you used to say you were half Indian…. and that I was Indian. That is so funny. It also makes me remember that when I was really young I told people I was half Mexican and half Indian (Native American). I came to that conclusion because I was born in New Mexico. I imagine that people were very puzzled by that statement since I was as blond and white as it is possible to be.

    I remember the day when you were still in high school when I took you to some kind of interactive art exhibit. The staff person didn’t want to let you in because she said you would have to be able to understand English. I said that you understood English. She didn’t believe me. In all fairness, her confusion was heightened because you were wearing an Indian dhoti. I finally said he isn’t Indian, his father is black. She still didn’t believe me but gave up. You were already in the room by then.

    People still think you are Indian.

    The other piece that came to mind as I read this. In Wayne Muller’s book “Legacy of the Heart” he talked about how much easier our life would be if we gave up our belief that we are special. We may believe we are “especially wounded” or “especially gifted”. Regardless of which side of the continuum we are on, we use it as an excuse to not change.

    This piece is outstanding!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Sreejit, your “thinkings” are always enjoyable to me, not just for what you say but also for how you say it. The flow of one point into the next is lovely, and as well said as any essay I’ve read in the NY Times Opinion section. And I like your photos equally well, by the way. I’ve read several pieces lately about the insensitivity of asking about the origin of people’s names and skin color, and I like your solution of saying half-black, half-Indian (Amma, your spiritual mother, IS Indian after all), and then finally “it’s an Indian name.” That simultaneously solves the dilemma of avoiding a lie and of hurting someone’s feelings (since their motive in asking may not necessarily be racist or derogatory, and one of the spiritual teachings is to avoid harming others). Even better is your conclusion that two hyphenated halves produce “all-American.”

    Like

    1. Hey Lin! Cool to see you over here. I like how you called it flow instead of ramblings. 🙂 And also this is the first time my post and NY times has existed in the same sentence so that’s kind of you.

      Like

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