09 Nov Post-Election Shock, Birth, Death & Sūtaka
Today, in the wake of the 2016 US Presidential election, there is shock, daze, awe, grief, disbelief, or all of the above, on all sides of the political totem.
It feels familiar to me.
I think maybe because I have been involved in birth and death before.
What the US and anyone connected to the US, which is to say–everybody–is going through right now is both a birth and a death. We have one foot in something familiar and one in something quite unknown to us.
There is a word for this, in Sanskrit. And some wisdom around it.
The term, “sūtaka” refers to the experience of transformation from one state of being to another. It is therefore related to the Sanskrit words for, “charioteer”– someone who transports precious cargo between the heavens and the earth and, “mercury”— a metal capable of alchemical transformation from liquid to solid states. It applies to powerful transitional events like death, birth and anyone associated with death or birth. In birth, the baby transits from one fundamental experience of reality to another, as does anyone present at, or related to, the birthing process, including the mother, family members or midwives. Similarly all present at, or connected to, a dying person experience profound transformation, as the soul moves from a mortal reality to a more ethereal one.
Sūtaka begins in earnest with the altered state of awareness many of us enter during these kinds of transitions, and is said to remain strong for two weeks following the birth or death. But, in my experience, it can extend for a full year after a birth or perhaps especially a death—to varying degrees. Being present at a birth or a death, we connect with the mother, the baby or the person dying and, in so connecting, empathically feel one foot in this reality and one in another. In this altered state we could call, “a daze” or shock, we are more malleable. More amorphous. More like the fabric of reality is being altered. Like the matrix in which, “we” are established is rearranging.
I realize this sounds abstract, but I feel it in a tangible way. And I feel it today in the wake of this US 2016 election. There is both a death and a birth and it feels like a powerful transition. I feel that familiar feeling of one foot here and one foot in a reality with which I am not yet acquainted.
In India, the sūtaka time is considered quite an inauspicious one in which to do anything practical. I really get this. For one thing, it is hard in the face of these transitions, to even think about numbers, details or the physical stuff of day-to-day life. It is said to be an ideal time for meditation. And I get that too. I find it most beneficial to let my mind go off board; to take as much time, emptiness and space—either alone or in gentle and Good Company—as I can for the rearranging to happen. Without too much input from my head. Don’t try to avoid it, distract myself too much, force myself into action. Just wait. Do some visualizations to keep prāṇa (life force) flowing. Just stay as empty as possible and let the Good revision run its course.
If I am to be rearranged by this, it is my hope that it will be in the best possible way for my betterment. And if we all are to be rearranged, that it will be for the highest good, ultimately of all. To do this, it might be time to do (or appear to do) nothing for a day, two or a couple weeks, to rearrange in the best possible way for what is to come.
Thank you for being here.
Slowly slowly O mind, everything in own pace happens
Gardener may water with a hundred pots, fruit arrives only in its season. Kabir