Vast Sky of Realisation
Agull happily flying with a morsel in its mouth, suddenly noticed that it was being chased by 10 other gulls. They started harassing and pecking it. Frightened, the gull dodged, flew faster, and tried every move to defend itself from this brutal onslaught. After some time, the bird felt exhausted, both physically and mentally. Suddenly, it dawned on the gull that the entire flock of birds was after that morsel.
So, it just let it go. At once, the entire flock changed its direction and went for the morsel, leaving the gull alone. The gull smiled and said, “I let go of that small piece of food and look what I attained — the vast sky!” This story, adapted from Srimad-Bhagavatam, helps us understand a person’s bondage with misery and, alternatively, with liberation and peace, especially as expounded in the philosophy of Kashmir Shaivism.
Most of one’s life is spent in jealously guarding what one has and striving to acquire what one doesn’t. This clinging to what the individual thinks of as ‘mine’ is termed in Shiva Sutras as ‘mayiya mala’. Mala means ‘impurity’, so ‘mayiya mala’ refers to the notion ‘mine’ that veils the experience of one’s true nature as peace, as boundless as Shiva, the Divine.
But why does one cling to possessions and people? Shiva Sutras explains that the cause is ‘anava mala’. ‘Anu’ means an ‘atom’, so considering oneself to be small, limited is termed ‘anava mala’ at the feeling-level. The visceral notion ‘I am incomplete’ leads to the imaginary boundaries of ‘mine’ and ‘not mine’. This, indeed, is the source of all strife in our lives.