The Master stays behind,
that is why she is always ahead.
Because she has let go of herself,
she is perfectly fulfilled.
It’s a tricky business, selflessness. Because it isn’t being a doormat, there’s a power in it, in it’s own way.
Brian Eno once said the one thing sex, drugs, and religion all have in common is surrender (I’ve mentioned this tidbit before). Things get messy when we surrender to the wrong things and a spiritual path sometimes (wrongly) looks like an overly humble, unquestioning, everybody else first, martyring sort of thing. That sort of shit ain’t healthy!
The Master stays behind because she’s not in a hurry, she knows the longer road, her priorities are different, she’s not fighting for the same stuff. Letting go of all that grasping and grabbing actually get you more of what you really need.
A little Sufi poem helps explain this little paradox (ah yes, more with the paradox!)
Before, as was my habit, self I claimed.
True Self I did not see, although I heard it named.
Being self-confined, true Self I did not merit,
Until, leaving self behind, I did Self inherit.
The more I let go of my petty, controlling idea (and often a very rational and just idea) of exactly how things should be, and what I should be doing, the better things actually go. There is something else, it’s not nothing, it’s a very decided something, but it comes from a willingness to let myself be empty and make room for it first.
It’s the letting go of self, that finds true Self, that fulfils you in enduring and sustaining ways.
A spiritual path isn’t a surrender to being a bottom-of-the-barrel nobody, it’s finding the no-self that is real-self.
In a quotation hat-trick, I’ll leave you with Chuang Tzu (Thomas Merton translation):
The man of Tao
And the greatest man
Get it? That’s okay, it kinda hurts your head if you think about it.