When I first saw this picture, I believed it was a portrayal of man and God trying to connect, of man and God reaching for one another.
Beyond my normal sense of humor that suggested man was trying to get some of God’s harem, or that it looked like some women were trying to push the male vestige of God out of their space, etc., I was always taught, and readily agreed, that it portrayed the very basic need of man to connect with the Divine.
Usually that meant believing in the Christian creation of God. And thus, the need itself was created.
Today I look at it differently even if I do have the same sense of humor. I see not a grasping and reaching, but a letting go.
I see man letting go of his ideas, or what he perceives are his needs. I see him settling down in peace upon his space, quietly releasing the attachment and, in the process, freeing his mind. I see man forgetting his shame, his fear, as the remembrance of who he is becomes the light of the world.
Random thought: Right now I struggle…do I continue with my thoughts or cater to my own need to be immersed in my own idea of acceptance? Yes, that immersion is a prison of sorts, and I wish to be free. So, onward I will go.
Religions, in my experience, often create “graspers” out of all of us. We become so busy searching for love, peace, compassion, and guidance out there that we forget we have all we need in here. In that search, we grasp a hold of those things we believe we don’t have, without ever realizing that we have created both the thing and the need. None of it exists beyond our own mind and our own conditioning.
Spirituality, at least for me, is the practice of letting go. It is the practice of releasing, of setting free, and of non-attachment. It is the absence of conditions, and the freedom of experience. It’s a major departure from the Catholic school upbringing that was thrust upon me, and it is a major advancement in my own life. By releasing what needs to be released, I am neither burdened into suffering, nor burdened by the suffering of others who have yet to learn their lesson.
“Nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know.” ~ Pema Chodron
Often, letting go is much harder than grasping. At least when we grasp we are fed some feeling of security. Letting go isn’t so easy until it hurts too much to hold on, and the fear of our own power is lessened by the suffering that fear has created.
There, in the release, transformation takes place, and we learn lessons of who we are in the moments and times when we are finally ready to listen. Until those moments, we will continue to suffer because we are creating the conditions that makes suffering thrive.
Grasping is an act of fear. Releasing takes courage, at least until you learn that you have nothing to fear. Then releasing becomes a way of life. We grasp at nothing, we reach for nothing and, in return, we embrace everything.
When we release we create space in our own existence for the things that bring a smile to our lips and bumps to our skin. When we release we till the soil of life for whatever flowers we wish to sow, and we allow it all to be as we see things through fearless eyes.
Another thing about this picture: perhaps I have always missed the fact that God may not be the bearded man at all, but the wonderful ladies behind him. Maybe the Divine is much more feminine than I was taught, and that feminine Divinity is what we mortal men are reaching for. Hidden, somewhere, beneath all of this muscle and hair and physical strength is a feminine divinity just begging to be heard.
Guys, if you want to see how brave you are, allow your feminine side to rise above the teachings of your ancestors. If your sense of courage isn’t challenged then, well, you aren’t doing it right. (Or you had awesome ancestors.)
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Editor: Bryonie Wise
Photo: elephant archives