Friday, April 3, 2015

The One Ring

by John Boodhansingh of Zero Mindfulness



“I wish it need not happened in my time,” said Frodo
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

--J.R.R. Tolkien: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

A Journey in the Dark

In writing words that can help others find inner peace, it’s not uncommon for me to do so in a way that takes some of our most personal, deeply cherished beliefs and throws them to the fire.

Now although beliefs are merely “preferred perspectives,” one's ego, or belief holder, might see things quite differently. Indeed, a reader’s ego may perceive my words as a challenge to its perception of “who I am.” This can result in the reader feeling some combination of what might be described as a physical, mental, and emotional “burn.”

It’s important to understand that, by the nature of the untamed ego, this discomfort is actually self-inflicted and unnecessary. This is essential awareness should one ever want to heal their imbalanced states (and we’ve all got them!) because the “burn” is precisely indicative of where there's mental, emotional, and energetic patterns of egoic garbage preventing the realization of one's true spiritual nature—that is, the true WHO I AM.

Any “burn” experienced is thus as a blessing in disguise and is best used to one's advantage. For all that happens through rejection and ignorance of it is a repetitious cycle of suffering and further separation from the peace so yearned for.

The One Ring

As a point of comparison, let’s consider the “One Ring” from J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Early on in the story, the Hobbit, Frodo—the innocent character who must carry the burden of the ring—is in conversation with Gandalf—the friendly yet powerful and ageless sage. During their conversation, since Gandalf suspects that Frodo’s ring may be the evil One Ring, the wizard throws the ring into the fireplace. When this happens, Frodo becomes agitated. How dare somebody, sage or no sage, throw such a “precious” thing into the fire?

After the ring had spent some time in the heat, Gandalf picked it out of the fire with a pair of tongs and tried to place the ring in Frodo’s hands. When Frodo refused, Gandalf told him that the ring was, surprisingly, cool enough to touch. Upon Frodo’s inspection, an inscription appeared as proof that the ring in his hands was the One Ring.

This was followed by Gandalf telling Frodo that while the ring may appear to be of value on the surface, its ultimate ends would be for evil. That even in hopes of using the ring for good, even the greatest of individuals will eventually, if not immediately, be deceived by its power and so become a prisoner to it.

Unfortunately, the ring can’t just be set back in the fire until melted. Remember that it was still cool even after it came out of the fireplace. Nor can it be destroyed by any man-made weapon or device. To make matters worse, the ring cannot simply be set aside and forgotten because it wants to be found. The ring must be destroyed in the same place it was forged. As the story goes, Frodo must take it there on what proves to be a harrowing yet transformational journey back to the ring’s source. Once demolished, all evil created under its power will cease to exist.

Returning Our "Ring" to Its Source

Let's now imagine that the One Ring is symbolic of an individual's uncontrolled ego. On any given day, although the ego slowly deprives it’s bearer of valuable life energy, it seems all too satisfying, attractive, and "cool" to be anything less than true. If its bearer always appears in the best of lights, why shouldn’t the ring be worn?

But let’s not forget how easily the ring deceives…

In The Lord of the Rings, the history of Middle-Earth tells how those who held the One Ring came to define themselves by it, only for it to become their demise.

As we progress through life, the “ring” we define ourselves by is our collection of religious beliefs, political biases, fears, emotions, possessions, etc. We come to believe that these things are “who I am.” When somebody tries to put them to the grindstone, we rebel, we become self-righteous, and we get angry; that is, we "burn." Sometimes we lose our temper to the point where we commit self-rationalized hate crimes.

We fail to recognize that every time we side with the ego we are being further deceived; we are further defining “who I am” with concepts of who we truly are not. Because of the tight-handed grip we hold these beliefs with, when the suggestion of a differing reality presents itself—no identity or different identity—we shrink back in fear. How dare it be suggested that something so wonderful—“who I am”—be so harmful or wrong?

But if, on the other hand, we choose the road Frodo did, we would see that our life is meant to be a trial by fire. We would see that only by self-cultivation; only by going through hell to get to heaven—in all aspects of life; only by taking the personal journey through the darkness within and throwing our ego back into the light of Source can we truly find what it means to have life.

As Frodo did, we need to take that dive into the unknown. There’s no doubt that it can be a scary thing. Did Frodo really want to stop gardening or meeting friends at The Green Dragon for drink and song? Of course not. After all, Hobbits love doing those things. But Frodo realized, however minimally at first, that every day the One Ring was in existence was another day the ring’s power became stronger. He realized that the lives of the collective were more valuable than his own.

It’s time for each of us to drop our rings into the all-consuming fire of Source. Whatever is important will stay, whatever is not will go.

As we’ll all eventually find, nothing stays, for our rings really aren’t "who I am" after all.

Yet what we’ve become is unfathomably greater.

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Note: This text is a modified version of a post originally published on 9/8/12 to former personal blog “Without a Story.”

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