Having a Beautiful Day Amid Chaos

When conflict becomes a dance

A beautiful summer morning. My teaching for the school year is finished as of today. I am sitting in our garden among three large oak trees. Finches flutter about, and a family of crows that I have begun feeding these days is cawing in the background. I sip my Jasmine tea. And then I am aware of Yama sitting on the stone wall in front of me.

YAMA: Beautiful day, isn’t it.

DISCIPLE: I can’t complain.

YAMA: Tell me, are there ever any days that are not beautiful? Or is this one particularly beautiful because the conditions are right for you?

DISCIPLE: Well, this is a beautiful day. Not too hot, not too cold. Birds are happy. Bees are busily buzzing. I don’t think too many would argue with me.

YAMA: What about someone with a tube down their throat? Or perhaps being evicted? Or being beaten? These are events that are common occurrences in your news feeds, are they not?

DISCIPLE: They are. Far too common. No, you are right. It would not be a beautiful day for any of those people.

YAMA: This beauty that you speak of is one borne by conditions. Without the proper conditions, there is nothing beautiful going on here.

DISCIPLE: Correct. So, it is not a beautiful day? Should I not enjoy it?

YAMA: Sure, go ahead and enjoy it. Just remember, if you are on the surface of the day, walking from one condition to another, you will not ever truly be in joy.

DISCIPLE: Okay. Please elaborate.

YAMA: Soon, you will be turning on your computer, and you will be seeing people having all kinds of days, and all happening on the same day. And some of those days within the day will be pretty shitty.

DISCIPLE: You are not kidding. Each day I am appalled by what is going on, especially by those in power over those who have been kicked around for so long. And I am talking about how blacks have been institutionally kept down, kept in their place. And I have seen beautiful realizations happening of whites that we have been part of this racist establishment, and benefiting from it at the expense of people of color.

YAMA: Yes, that is an awakening of sorts. And it is timely. But that is not the whole issue. Even if your institutions change and everyone benefits equitably, or everyone has the chance for more beautiful days, all this is still happening in time. And time is such a capricious foundation to be trusting.

DISCIPLE: I am not sure what you mean. It would be a good day for all if we unified as one people. Would it not?

YAMA: Unity is excellent, as I have said before. But on the shaky ground of time, not everyone will find unity, lasting unity. Let me show you. Sit back. Close your eyes.

You are about ready to go on a journey. You have to go through these woods to get to your place of happiness, your beautiful day. However, these woods are filled with venomous snakes and are rather dangerous, and you know of no one who has made it to the other side. But you have to go, even though you are terrified. It is twilight by the time you set forth. As you are walking on the trail, you see something lying across it. As the light is dim, you cannot make it out clearly. Then, a thought rises that this surely is one of those dangerous snakes. Fear grips you. And as it does, you see that it is a snake.

In fact, in your rising panic, you look around, and everywhere are snakes. Even what were trees are now snakes. Everything. And that first snake begins to chase you, and you run. But no, you do not run, you slither. For you now are a snake. But that snake is still coming after you. You scream for help. Suddenly a group of rainbow-hued snakes come forth and begin to defend you. A big fight ensues, and you and rainbow snakes fight back against the other snakes.

And you win.

Rewind your mind.

You are about ready to travel through the same woods. However, the stories about the woods are that it is a place of peace, that no harm ever besets a traveler. You set off upon the trail. It is twilight. And you see something lying on the path. You cannot see what it is, so you come closer and investigate. You notice that it is a rope. You pick it up.

Suddenly the rope begins to grow and becomes part of your arm, your whole body, the path, the trees, everything — even the sky itself. Nothing is but the rope. And in this rope are strands — an infinite amount of strands. And each strand moves harmoniously to all the moving strands around it, and each strand has a note, sounding in harmony with every other strand, each with their note, and groups of strands move together and sound together, all in harmony with their neighbors and the whole one rope.

Open your eyes.

I slowly open my eyes. I have a huge smile.

YAMA: Now, that is having a beautiful day.

Carefully listen while you are bathing in that final vision. For this is subtle. There is only the Rope. The snake does not exist. No any of the snakes that emerged from it. A fearful mind created the snake. It never existed. Nor will it ever. And if you see the snake, know that the seer of the snake does not exist, for to behold the snake, you must think you are a snake. But the snake does not exist. So the you who has seen snakes throughout your life, who thinks that you and others have been acting as snakes, do not exist.

That you is an illusion.

That you has never existed.

That you is snake consciousness, and it is wholly fabricated.

Only the Rope exists and has always been nothing more than the Rope, and will always be the Rope. The you who sees the Rope and knows you are the Rope has always existed, and will ever exist as nothing but the Rope.

There is only the Rope. The Rope only knows the Rope. The Rope has no idea of the snake, for the snake does not exist.

The Rope is Truth. And lies cannot exist in Truth.

Trying to wrap my mind around what Yama said made it swirl. And then images of protests, and riots, and police brutality came crashing in.

DISCIPLE: But what about fighting for what is right? Martin Luther King, Jr. admonished people who just sat and watched evil happen in the world. Is it not right to stand up for justice?

YAMA: Do you remember the time when you found yourself in front of a man who was beating another?

DISCIPLE: Of course, I will never forget that moment. It was the most beautiful thing to have happened to me.

The memories flooded in of when I was working at a metaphysical bookstore, called the Bodhi Tree Bookstore. It was a Sunday, and I was working the cash register.

Suddenly, a woman came in yelling for help, screaming that her boyfriend was getting beaten up. Immediately, I felt a kick to my butt (and I am standing next to a wall of cassettes) and then felt a yank that pulled me around the counter. The line of customers quietly made a space for me to pass through, and I found myself in front of a huge man, a black man, homeless perhaps, and there is a white man on the sidewalk, blood coming out of his nose.

And I start chanting, “Hare Krishna.” Between the chants, I tell the bleeding man to go, while the other was striking at me. But his strikes were in slow motion, and I parried them easily. And then the words came out of my mouth, “You do not have to do this. You are loved.”

And he stopped. “Everyone is always picking on me,” he replied in anguish. And off he ran. And this bubble is how I can describe it best, popped. And I was back to my usual self.

YAMA: Was there a conflict between you and what the world would call the assailant?

DISCIPLE: Not at all. It was a dance. A joining. A communion between my brother and me. It was love — only love. I felt no adrenaline rush. I have been in fights before, and there was always that shaking effect afterward from the adrenaline. There was none of that. There was an afterglow.

YAMA: That is the Rope. And in all that is happening in the world, it is nothing but that. Few will experience it as such, will have glimpses, and those glimpses will be moments when the love that is always present, becomes revealed.

However, those watching saw not the Rope, but two serpents fighting and one winning.

DISCIPLE: I know what you are talking about, I think. There are these beautiful moments of two sides coming together in reconciliation and forgiveness, such as with protesters and police. I find myself crying daily at such events.

YAMA: Yes, all acts of forgiveness are rays of light, dispelling the illusion of the serpent, to reveal the Rope.

DISCIPLE: So, back to my question about action. Not everyone is going to have such a drastic pulling that I did (or not do, as such was my case, as I did not do anything of my own volition) to come to action. What do they do?

YAMA: Everyone who needs to be acting (and not everyone does) will feel this pulling. Now, they may ignore it. But it will persist and cause disharmony in them. That pulling is me as Dharma, as a duty.

DISCIPLE: But what about those on the other side, the ones who are using force, are they following Dharma? They are doing their duty.

YAMA: Dharma is Duty that arises from the Heart. Indoctrination is a way of thinking, a code that seeks to form those of a particular group into a set of actions they deem correct. Most people do not go beyond indoctrination (which may be cultural mores) and listen to the Heart.

DISCIPLE: The Heart that you speak of is that the Rope?

YAMA: Precisely. Have a beautiful day.

And Yama was gone. I sit for a while, taking in what he said, listening to the crows and now someone blowing leaves with a loud blower. The blower did not bother me. Why should it? Then it was time to go in and read the news. I go to my computer, thinking of the Rope. And I turn it on.

--Janaka Stagnaro

Yama is the name of the Hindu god of Death as well as a name for Dharma, which is a Sanskrit word that may be translated as doing what one is allotted to do. It can also mean following the Still Small Voice instead of the loud urgings of the ego. Yama has said in my book, The Teachings of Yama: A Conversation with Death that he comes as Death when we do not listen to him as Dharma. When we are following him as Dharma, there exists no Death for we are in the Eternal Flow of Creation. Yama came to me after a dream that turned into a poem and then into the book. Yama is not a channeled entity. Yama is only a point of focus in the ocean of inspiration. I am fully conscious, and there exists no separation between Yama and me.

In these essays/stories/teachings, I use the term disciple to indicate that I am speaking, for I seek to know the truth of who I am. For without knowing who I am, all is filtered through that ignorance. I wrote it in the format of a play. Why? Because it is a play. A Divine Play, or Leela in Sanskrit.

Related writings

Intro to Yama

Compassion in a World of Idiots

The Coronavirus and Ways of Karma

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