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Luminous pearls on a cosmic string

Mira Prabhu


An Enlightened Being can take any form, and wait for just the right moment, to deliver a transformative message — since such a one is unconstrained by human limitations and the element of time does not exist in the Absolute realm. Yogis use the metaphor of luminous pearls on a very long string to depict our successive incarnations. Earth is a school — and we need wisdom, effort and grace to figure out our unique lessons. And yet, if we forget that our true nature is immortal Spirit, we cannot learn these subtle lessons — and so we reincarnate over and over again ad nauseam, until we realise we are far more than our egoic system and firmly decide to graduate from samsara.

Post-divorce, battered by the inconstancies of life and hurting in a thousand places, I had the great good fortune to study for years with a powerful guru; he gave me jewels of wisdom that I still use on a daily basis — just to make sure that my remaining bundle of desires and fears don’t coax me to stray off the narrow and often thorny road that leads to the permanent end of suffering.

Here’s a gem he dropped casually on us – that an Enlightened Being can take any form just to deliver a potent message that can help us transform our life from darkness to light. This perfect being, who has no agenda except to steer us into the radiance of our true nature, could be our biological mother, best friend, nasty boss, acrimonious ex-lover, fierce enemy or conniving maid servant. He or she could wait patiently until just the right moment to deliver this critical message, whether that span of time is a few days or fifty years, because, to an enlightened being — one who has permanently transcended duality and is no longer constrained by the numerous limitations of being human — time simply has no meaning.

Yogis use the metaphor of luminous pearls on a very long string to describe our successive lifetimes or incarnations. Earth to humans is merely a school where we come to learn certain lessons. Who knows for sure what our unique lessons are? We need the beginnings of wisdom, sincere effort and lashings of grace to figure them out. Each of us comes to this realm in order to learn different lessons, for we are all at different levels of consciousness. But one thing is for sure — if we sink into materialism, and forget that our true nature is immortal Spirit (as happens to billions), we cannot learn those subtle lessons — and so we reincarnate over and over again ad nauseam, until we wake up, realise we are far more than our bodies, minds, emotions, track records and ‘possessions’ — and firmly decide to graduate from samsara.

Amazing how numinous nuggets can stay with us for a long time, ripening quietly within. During a long recent illness, during which I was forced to re-investigate higher teachings on Oneness just to keep up my flagging spirits, many revelations flashed. One is that this world we exist within is as ephemeral as a dream; it is convincingly real for two major reasons: 1) the element of time, which seduces us into believing the collective delusion, and 2) the mystical truth that the waking world is supported by the collective unconscious and conscious billions.

We may honestly believe that we inhabit the same reality as the other seven billion folk on our planet, but in truth we each inhabit our own slice of reality. Why is this? Simply because no two beings perceive the same object or person or whatever in exactly the same way; this teaching (investigate Śūnyatā if you care to) is something we have to mull over, investigate and study deeply for ourselves, or it will not make the slightest bit of sense and we are likely to flounce away in a snit.

The powers of delusion are phenomenal; it takes the honed wisdom knife of a Spiritual Warrior to slice through the myriad veils of the Cosmic Enchantress. Nevertheless, it’s well worth accepting this challenge, if only because, if we take waking consciousness to be real and concrete, we can get sucked quickly into its vortex, sacrificing ethics and compassion in order to win the pretty baubles of this world, and making truckloads of fresh bad karma in the process; unfortunately, deprived of or dismissive of Eastern wisdom, billions spend lifetime after lifetime trying to perfect an inherently imperfect relative comfort-zone. Take the pure guidance of Eastern sages if you can and never forget it — that cycling endlessly through the false realm of samsara is a total waste of our precious time.

Recalling my guru’s words made me think of the years in this current lifetime that I have seemingly wasted being seriously ill. And yet, although I could feel Yama’s cold breath on my neck at least a couple of times (Yama is the God of Death), it was these awful times that forced me to find ways to plug the remaining sink holes in my spiritual knowledge. Coward that I am — in the sense that, no matter what its hidden benefits, I would never again ask for sickness — I now believe that some obdurate seekers need to be laid low over and over again before we can fully digest a message.

Since all a High Being wants is to see us turn into the blazing light and love that is the substratum of our nature, such a one employs every weapon in the cosmic arsenal to get us going in the right direction. If this means we have to lose our assets and get terribly ill, be conned and betrayed by close ones — all in order to drive in to our thick skulls the false and ephemeral nature of relative reality —then so be it; there is nothing like the constant battering of the ego and looming physical death to force us to dis-identify with body, mind, emotions and assets — for it is all of this ephemeral baggage that we use to define ourselves as ‘special’ in the mundane world.

To the jnani, or an advanced seeker, an average human lifetime, which can seem so long and convincingly real, is no more than a flash in the cosmic pan. The mystic has fused back into Oneness, and knows the Self to be blissful and immortal — and to a seeker who accepts this mystical truth, nothing that affects mind and body really matters when viewed via the Third Eye. In fact, all the experiences and events of our life, however pleasant or brutal, are designed solely to wake us up to our true nature. There is no Creator God enthroned in a vast blue sky arbitrarily hurling thunderbolts of suffering down at us. We are God, in the sense that we can create our own suffering or our peace by the manner in which we choose to think, speak and act (the simple definition of karma).

An authentic ‘view’ means everything to an earnest seeker; if we do not learn to ‘see’ with the mystical eye, we can easily get discouraged, turn tail, and flee back to the tinsel comforts of samsara. But, in order to cultivate a sound view, one has to study, contemplate and digest the gifts of authentic teachers; yes, the time will surely come when we will also have to drop all these concepts/ideas so meticulously garnered — but then again, which intelligent seeker hangs on to a boat after she has crossed a particular river?

Think about it — we learn an alphabet so we can read, but once we have mastered the alphabet, we don’t have to keep ABC in mind every time we pick up a book, do we? Same goes for the inner path — we do need to know the nature of our ultimate goal, and so we definitely need to investigate the nature of both relative and Absolute reality — but, the good news is, at some point along the path, these ancient diamonds gradually become an inner living truth, and we can then confidently dismiss them from the forefront of our minds.

Mira Prabhu is a writer and novelist based in Tiruvannamalai, India. She blogs at

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