"When we start defining ourselves by that which can be measured or weighed, something deep within us rebels." ~Geneen Roth~
This quote inspired my poem. As something deep within us rebels because it knows that ultimately, it's an illusion to define ourselves, or others, and the world by the means of measuring. Like my teacher loves to say: "The most important things in life are not things."
When our approach to life is measuring, we limit ourselves, and our experience of the world, into the world of (dead) matter.
It's consciousness that animates life, and that consciousness is infinite and immeasurable, and so are we as parts of it.
We all know this deep down but we still love to use (measurable) things to define us: for some it may the number on the scale, for someone else the number on their bank account. The list of how we use numbers to define us is endless: it can be the number of achievements, degrees, cars, houses obtained etc. We can even get lost in numbers on our spiritual journeys when we use the number of "rounds" on a japa mala completed as something that defines us, or the number of sun salutations performed on our yoga mats, the number of books read, pilgrimages made, etc., as something to measure our worth with.
My teacher once defined the word 'maya', commonly translated as 'illusion', to also mean 'to measure'. As humans, we tend to love measuring because it's an approach to life that allows us to think we are in control.
But the finite cannot measure the Infinite. Surrendering to the Infinite involves letting go of all the ways we define ourselves and the world, and let the Immeasurable define us instead.
The Measure of a Life
All my life,
I've been a slave for worry
I have counted my way into existence, calculated and controlled Life
into shapes and sizes fitting to me
alluring to my illusions
sewn and seized into my corsets
the fist of fear only knows how to grow tighter
It's a rag doll's existence
a hole and a needle
that keep getting smaller
all my measures
ending up in negative numbers
everything I've tried on
has patches on it, my seams are coming undone
all those numbers sliding through my mind, all those years,
counting, counting, counting
though I've chased the digits and watched them go
the numbers never add up to anything more than me
no costume should cost this much.
I'm losing count and myself,
empty space around me and my shoulders
shoulder blades like swords
when all I needed was just words
all those numbers, all those years,
slipping through my cupped
fingers busy counting on the
thread that's frayed; its a tight grip life
I've been living
hanging on, my knuckles are white and worn-out
the whole world on my shoulders; the blades and the blame
cut into me
oh sweet nothingness
how have I lost myself in you!
This cold shoulder's no comfort
got nothing to lean on
- just sorrow and sinew.
I'm scraping through the empty corners
of my counting mind
looking for room to grow
I've counted, measured, fitted, sized and sampled
every inch of me: I don't think I have anymore skin to stretch
in this search, I've forgotten to wonder:
how to live inside each beat of the heart,
how to be fully alive with the Alive? How to breathe without fear?
I've looked to you, for clues,
you have the Boundless bound in love, and
your loving heart is a space that keeps expanding
You don't count
You don't measure me nor the days
You don't plan
Yet, you are full
and fully yourself.
For so long, I have wanted to place myself
before the Infinite
let the Limitless
melt away all that can be measured
'cause with you
closed hands receive nothing new
there are wings underneath my shoulders
teach me how to befriend the
that dances next to you
how to welcome the Immeasurable
all your life, you've been a slave to love
- Teach me how!
something more than numbers.
Tadiya Dasi: "My poems are the outpourings of my heart. My inspiration comes from seeking the heart of yoga through bhakti. In poems, and in life, I seek to embrace the questions and live the answers of my heartfelt truth to the highest degree of surrender possible. I search for that truth through heart-centered, meditative, yoga practice." You may connect with Tadiya on facebook here, or via e-mail Tadiyadasi@yahoo.com.
~If you are interested in seeing your poetry appear in this blog, or submitting a poem by a woman that has inspired you, please click here for submission guidelines. I greatly look forward to hearing from you!~