Hanuman’s Secret to a Radically Inspired Life
This week in yoga class I shared Hanuman’s pre-birth conception story with my students.
This is the story where Visnu decides to incarnate once more on planet earth as Lord Ram to help humanity remember how to live the righteous life. As the story opens we are in the presence of Parvati, who is fretting and obsessing, over her husband Shiva’s strange behavior. To a prepubescent love-maddened melody, Shiva is chanting the name RAM over and over again. Parvati thinks “what is Shiva, the great Lord Nataraja, the Divine Dancer, Supreme Consciousness in its purest form, doing chanting the name of someone else?” In an uncontained fit of curiosity warped with suspicion, Parvati climbs up the slopes of Mount Kailasa to Shiva’s personal mountaintop retreat, interrupts his trance and demands that he tell her what he is up to.
After a frustrating pause, Shiva emerges from his meditation with a sparkle of mischievous delight in his eyes and tells Parvati of Visnu’s plan to incarnate once more. “There is a buzz in the universe, all the Gods and Godesses are talking, the latest craze is manifesting. Everyone wants to go with Visnu and be together to celebrate. This will be an epic festival, an awe inspiring adventure, a wanderlust of galactic proportions.“ Shiva continues, “Parvati, I want to go too.
This time I want to manifest into a form where I can be of complete service to Visnu and his mission. I am sitting here chanting and contemplating what form to take. If I choose human form, I will be on equal terms with Ram. If I come as a dog, a form too subservient, I will not be able to fully serve.” In an awakened flash of ojas-infused inspiration, Shiva exclaims, “I have got it! I will go as a monkey. “
Parvati reels, unconvinced. “Shiva, you can’t trust a monkey! Embody into a nice form. Monkeys are dirty; they are mischievous and rascally creatures.”
Alive with the enthusiasm, Shiva explains. “Parvati, monkeys are the perfect maya. As a monkey I will be truly free, I will not be constrained by class system requirements, I will not need a house or clothes, I will not need to cook my food or pay a mortgage. I will be truly free, radically unencumbered, and able to offer this freedom to Visnu’s worthy mission. Who would think that monkeys are devoted enough to serve? I will incarnate as a monkey and be all a monkey is not.”
Caught up with Shiva in the pulsation of a great idea currently manifesting, Parvati exclaims, “Oh Shiva, I will go too. I will join you; I will come as your tail!” And so Pure Consciousness, in consort with a Shakti filled tail, takes the form of Hanuman and the famous bhakti yogi takes form.
Philosophy of the Story of Hanuman
Firstly, a great, present day philosopher, Douglas Brooks, passed this story of hanuman and a road map for its interpretation on to me. His road map is to invite us to think of ourselves as every character in the story. To think of ourselves as in possession of every attribute that every character has. For me, placing myself into the story in this way invites some pretty profound reflections. Mostly in the form of questions—deep questions that I often don’t take the time to find answers to.
You will notice that each character in this story of hanuman — Visnu, Shiva and Parvati—has taken form to be in service to something greater than themselves. The very first question then, is, “What am I, and what are you, in service of?” “In this embodiment, what is your highest purpose?” The world is in need of positive transformation. It needs us. What is your unique contribution to assist that?”
Interestingly, in the story of hanuman, Shiva spent time deep in contemplation being very intentional in his decision about how he would incarnate. He chooses the form of a monkey in order to experience absolute empowerment, unencumberment, and completely free. He offered this freedom not for selfish gains but to be completely in service to Ram and Ram’s mission.
Did you, did I, do the same? Did you intentionally choose your current life, in all of its complexities and sometimes what appears as imprisoning limitations, in order to recognize and embrace your own empowerment and freedom? If so, do you, do I, do we support ourselves enough to honor our full empowerment? Do we make the choices we need to make in order to cultivate our powerful, luminous unencumbered and radically free nature?
Additional lessons from Hanuman’s Story
Additionally, the story of hanuman implies that we can’t be a liability to what we serve. We need to let go of or rise above the things that get in the way. In the story the things that get in the way are metaphorically represented by class system requirements: clothes, cooked food, and bills to pay. Lets keep this real. We all need to wear clothes to function in the world, but what are your liabilities, what are the attitudes and practicalities that hold you back?
Hanuman’s Story as an example
Also, the story of hanuman shows that to be that positive change maker, we need to have the basics covered. We need money, home, relationship, self esteem, compassion and ability to live in truth. Certainly, we need to have the time to listen and honor our intuitive voice and see our inner vision. The element of faith and trust comes into play. When we are aligned, the universe will support us. It will provide the means for us to carry out our deepest vision in support of positive planetary transformation. Once we are aligned enough, we can make manifest our unique gifts. Then we can offer these in service to that something greater. In order to fully serve, we need to first create a fully empowered life.
Imagery of Hanuman
Many images of Hanuman show him with his heart wide open— ripped open, in fact. Inside of his heart sits Ram’s image or sometimes Ram with his consort Sita. Indeed, Hanuman placed his highest purpose, what he was truly dedicated to, directly into his spiritual center. He did so rather than, you will note, placing it into his mind. He placed his highest purpose into the very fabric of his being.
Overall, this Hanuman story provides a few secret keys to leading an empowered and fulfilled life. It tells me, “Lead that radical life. Gain clarity around your true purpose. Allow yourself to be empowered. Make it happen. Recognize where you play small and begin to shift that. Place your unique vision into your spiritual heart. Nestle it into the fabric of your being and allow Grace to unfold.”
And that, from Hanuman himself, is true Monkey power!