Sunday, 16 February 2014

Angel of Light - Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons

"Knowing stubbornness, one can let it go. Knowing what one wants, one can release it." ~ Movie: Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons

This is the power of awareness. 
I can only change what I am aware of. 
I can only know where to find true happiness when awareness differentiates what is life-giving and life-draining to me. 
I can only empty myself of what I am aware is within me.
But awareness is not all.

Awareness is the first step to conquering the demons and perhaps, in our lives, the most dangerous demons aren't those that possess a person, causing him to foam in the mouth or be thrown about in convulsions. Rather, they are those hidden behind disguises, especially the disguise of holy dreams and good intentions. Those, as what St. Ignatius calls the angel of light, come in the form of good but they are actually leading us away from God. Deep awareness helps us to recognise the guise. 

In the movie, a young monk denies human love between man and woman, denies his own attraction to a girl, because he saw this, which he called the "lesser love", as a distraction in his search for the "greater" love - Buddhahood. And because of this, he is always lacking a little something that prevents him from becoming a powerful demon-hunter despite his very compassionate heart. He goes around with a handbook of 300 nursery rhymes, given him by his master. He naively tries to convert demons he meets by trying to elicit the good out of them as he reads to them the rhymes. Needless to say, he always fails and finds many lives lost because he is unable to subdue the demons. He had no power in him. Finally, it was only when he held in his arms the woman he loved as she was dying that he admitted to his true feelings for her. That was his moment of transformation.

Experiencing that deep pain, the monk had a moment of enlightenment. He realised that human love IS a part of the greater love, and that love is not greater or lesser. Love is love in its fullest and any "love" that is measured is not love at all. Only when he realised this truth could he mature in his perception of life. He understood that he is not the one who can deliver the people from the demons, which then began his journey to the West to obtain the 22 scriptures from India. Only in not avoiding out of fear of not achieving something apparently holy was he able to grow and be filled in his lacking. His book of 300 nursery rhymes was then transformed into the Buddha sutra, and he was transfigured from a plain and shabby looking monk into a Buddha-like figure shining out with a radiant aura. From a powerless monk to the monk, Tripitaka, who set out on the long journey with the 3 previously evil spirits, who became his disciples.  

The very method and approach this monk had in striving for Buddhahood (the disguise) became the very hindrance in his attaining it (led him away from the final goal instead). And it took him a great deal of pain and trials to bring him to the awareness of this. He then realised that it is only in knowing (awareness) that opens the door to choosing consciously. That the way to Buddhahood is not to escape from being human with its myriad of life experiences but it is the way of embracing, of accepting and then constantly choosing to purify oneself from all that one realises does not benefit oneself towards the ultimate life goal. 

"Knowing stubbornness, one can let it go. Knowing what one wants, one can release it."

In our time, what are the disguises around us? Taking up a better-paying job to better provide financially for the family but significantly reducing the time and energy one has left to spend quality time with the family. Moving into a prestigious development only to forget the face of poverty and suffering, and becoming increasingly out of touch with the realities and essence of life and love. Pressurising children to perfect their examination scores but driving them to resentment and joylessness in the process. There are many.

Coming to the awareness of the many disguises in our lives does not necessarily mean we will then make the right choices in life. We need to know where these events, beliefs and actions are taking us - towards or away from God - and then to make the deliberate choice to follow the right voice and to NOT follow the wrong voice. 

Where is the angel of light hiding in your life?

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