Walking the Line

"Sometimes you walk the line
and sometimes it walks you."

Dear Internet,
Noah opened the weekend by telling the story of Shakuntala.  For those of you not familiar with ancient Indian myths I'll give you the Reader's Digest version below.  For those of you who are you can just skip this next part.

Shakuntala was out wandering in the woods, as young beautiful women in these kind of stories are apt to do.  Meanwhile King Dushyanta was out with his army hunting and killing things, as men in these kind of stories are apt to do.  He sees her and immediately has to have her.  So he asks around about who she is.  Finding out she's the daughter of a sage he's bummed because having her is a big no no.  Some caste system thing.

Heart heavy he decides he'll focus on killing deer and rides to the ashram in order to get permission to kill said animals on the sage's land.  Some ancient custom thing.

And lo and behold who's there?  The girl from the woods.  Who upon further inquiry turns out not to be the real daughter of the sage but the ADOPTED daughter.  Thus making his lust perfectly ok.

So they meet and instantly fall in love and birds begin to sing, and flowers bloom, and they get married and all is well.  Except the King has kingly things to do and must ride off and go kill more stuff leaving Shakuntala alone at the ashram.  As a promise that he swears he'll come back for her, he gives her his signet ring.

While he's gone Shakuntala is sooooo in love she doodles hearts and Shakuntala and Dushyanta Forever all over everything and can't really be bothered to properly do her job.  She forgets her duty and slights a very important guy.  In return, he curses her (of course).  The curse is that the object of her thoughts will forget her and will only remember upon being shown a personal token he's given her.  Shakuntala blows this off because she's got the ring she's good (you know where this is going don't you).

Soon she gets tired of waiting for her slow poke husband to come back for her and sets off to find him.  Along the way she loses the signet ring in a river.  Yeah.  Not good.

So she winds up in King Dushyanta's (her husband) court a stranger, pregnant, and claiming to be his wife.  Riiight.  Like single pregnant ladies have NEVER pulled that one before.  So even though she pleads, "Remember you saw me in the forest and we fell in love and got married and you pledged you'd come back for me and I sang Shakuntala and Dushyanta sitting in a tree so many times," he doesn't recognize her.  You know because of the curse.  And the fact that she up and lost the ring in the river.

So she gets thrown out of court and has to make a go of it on her own.

A while later a fisherman gets hauled into court and accused of stealing because he's in possession of the King's signet ring.  He says, "Wait a minute I just cut open a fish and inside its belly was this ring."

Upon seeing the ring, the King instantly remembers Shakuntala, rushes out of the palace, finds her, and they live happily ever after.

Yay.  Love and flowers and hearts.

Now for the moral of the story.  This part you can't skip.

We've all been Shakuntala.  So in love, so stirred by our heart's desires, so full of lust and desire and want we've forgotten our duty.  What we're supposed to do.  We've let things slide.  Wandered off the path.  Not washed the dishes.  Not followed through on projects.  Dropped the ring.  Because doing what feels good is often more fun than doing what's right.

"Sometimes you walk the line and sometimes it walks you."

Because let's face it walking the line is hard.  Our hearts are powerful organs.  They want things.  Desperately.

Sometimes those things are good and true and right and they keep us on the path.  And we are thankful for that burning desire that keeps us glued to the straight and narrow.

Other times though, our hearts want things that are bad and false and wrong.  And we get pulled from the path only to find ourselves wandering around the in woods lost, alone, and without a king to rescue us.

So our practice becomes distinguishing between the two.  Between figuring out what is actually good and true and right and what is bad and false and fattening (as my heart usually wants Ben & Jerry's).

But we're not always good at that.  Sometimes it takes us a while to recognize that our choice wasn't the best most authentic life affirming one.  Hopefully though, like Dushyanta, something causes us to remember.  To wake us up.  To move us back to the path.  And we start walking again.  One baby step at the time.  One shaky foot in front of the other.  One breath to the next.  We walk the line.  Even when it's hard.  Even when our hearts desperately want something else.

Because that's the only good and true and right thing we can do.


PS-I won't pretend there aren't threads of what's currently happening in the Anusara community in this.  There are.  My hope is Anusara can find its way back to the path because right now it's so lost and alone in the woods and it really needs a King to rescue it.

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