This excerpt from Gibran’s The Prophet was at the bottom of a friend’s email and the words resonated with me. I am sorry to say that for all my spiritual reading over the years, I’ve never read The Prophet. It was a very popular book back in the day when I was a young hippie chick in high school, but I’ve always walked to the beat of a different drummer and if someone turned right, I turned left (no pun intended.) There were books that I refused to read because everyone else was reading them, such as the Carlos Casteneda books about Don Juan and the Lord of the Ring books. I think you can guess that I don’t read the books Oprah tells me to read. This hippie girl was reading the Beat Poets, Alan Watts, and trying to decipher Zen koans.
So when I read this excerpt I had to dig deeper and read the entire passage. My life up to this point has been a mish-mash of reason and passion. Yes, life needs to be about balance and as yogis this is how we are “supposed” to live our lives. But the older I get, the more I lean toward passion. Not overwhelmingly so that it would make my life spin out of control, but as my teacher Gehlek Rimpoche says, there is nothing wrong with passion — it’s the clinging to it, the attachment to it, that causes our problems. And that’s where reason comes in. Knowing when to detach from the outcome, knowing when to let go, knowing how clinging creates our own suffering, and then in that knowledge finding liberation and transformation.
I watched a program the other day with Dr. Christiane Northrup who wrote The Wisdom of Menopause and I loved when she said that the peri- and postmenopausal years of a woman’s life can be a re-birth, that during these years a woman can give birth to herself. Unfortunately, many women do not choose to “re-birth” themselves. To me, it’s all about having passion in and for life and not being afraid of it. Not running from the sensations of your passions but embracing them and using them to enliven your entire being to keep your life juicy and sweet. Using your rasa to touch your inner soul and becoming a Rasa Devi.
The Sanskrit word rasa has two meanings. Literally it means sap, juice, or fluid. The secondary meaning is extract. In Ayurveda rasa means the vital juice that the digestive system extracts from food to be converted into blood, flesh, bones, marrow, fat, and sperm. In other words, the extract that gives birth to our vital energies. In spiritual terms rasa means Divine Nectar – the taste of enlightenment.
I choose to be a Rasa Devi, resting in reason, moving in passion.
REASON AND PASSION
And the priestess spoke again and said:
“Speak to us of Reason and Passion.”
And he answered, saying: Your soul is oftentimes a battlefield, upon which your reason and your judgment wage war against your passion and your appetite. Would that I could be the peacemaker in your soul, that I might turn the discord and the rivalry of your elements into oneness and melody. But how shall I, unless you yourselves be also the peacemakers, nay, the lovers of all your elements?
Your reason and your passion are the rudder and the sails of your seafaring soul. If either your sails or your rudder be broken, you can but toss and drift, or else be held at a standstill in mid-seas. For reason, ruling alone, is a force confining; and passion, unattended, is a flame that burns to its own destruction. Therefore let your soul exalt your reason to the height of passion, that it may sing.
And let it direct your passion with reason, that your passion may live through its own daily resurrection, and like the phoenix rise above its own ashes.
I would have you consider your judgment and your appetite even as you would two loved guests in your house. Surely you would not honour one guest above the other; for he who is more mindful of one loses the love and the faith of both. Among the hills, when you sit in the cool shade of the white poplars, sharing the peace and serenity of distant fields and meadows-then let your heart say in silence, “God rests in reason.” And when the storm comes, and the mighty wind shakes the forest, and thunder and lightning proclaim the majesty of the sky, then let your heart say in awe, “God moves in passion.”
And since you are a breath in God’s sphere, and a leaf in God’s forest, you too should rest in reason and move in passion.