20 of 31 Questions for Reflection. Today’s question is inspired by reading Dṛg Dṛsya Viveka: An Inquiry Into the Seer and the Seen alongside the novel Turtle Boy by M. Evan Wolkenstein.
I read Turtle Boy with my daughter. Both she and I are very familiar with what it is like to be an introvert. Reading Turtle Boy together gave us a lot to think and talk about regarding coming out of our shells.
What questions arise when I focus on “mortality” as an object of Vedanta meditation?
Will is twelve years old, and his favorite thing to do is to walk in a nature preserve behind his school, the back 40. He catches wild turtles and keeps them. He avoids all social activities. He has a slight facial deformity and often tucks his head between his knees. Peers call him Turtle Boy. He hates that nickname. He has two close friends, Shirah and Max. As part of preparation for his Bar Mitzvah, Rabbi Harris requires Will to pay hospital visits to a sixteen-year-old boy, RJ, who is terminally ill. After their relationship gets off to a rocky start, they warm up to each other. RJ teaches Will to play drums. Will learns RJ has a bucket list, things he’d like to do before he dies: swim in the ocean, go to a rock concert, ride a roller coaster, attend a school dance, perform in the talent show, date a girl. RJ cannot do these things in his poor health. So Will, very reluctantly, agrees to do them on RJ’s behalf. These tasks cause great anxiety to Will, but eventually he learns about the joy of connecting to RJ and coming out of his shell.
Meditating on mortality, a Jnana yogi might ask, “If my body is too sick, and someone else must complete my bucket list on my behalf, which gives comfort: 1. Realizing my benefactor’s experience and my experience are one; or 2. Realizing I am an Ocean of Consciousness upon which every completed bucket list, plus the whole universe, floats in one tiny boat?”