Asarlai is a friend of mine. He has been a friend for a very long time. He is old for a badger, his fur lost its distinctive markings a long time ago yet his mind is bright and alert. With Asarlai I can sit, mull over life’s intricacies, laugh and be irreverent. We all need friends like him.
Asarlai is wise; he never believes in the answer and thinks the question isn't much help either. To him, life must remain open to paradox; life must be capable of surprising us and making us laugh or at least smile. Despite his age, Asarlai is still sprightly and nimble perhaps his body is simply the physical resemblance of a mind that refuses to grow fixated and arrive at the point of complete understanding.
I have learnt with Asarlai it is pointless to come to him with a question you want the answer to. That is only an exercise in frustration – yours not his. I have watched with amusement on many occasions where younger badgers come to Asarlai with a question they think is profound and must be answered so they can know the purpose of their life. Asarlai will quietly chew the end of the stalk of grass he has in his mouth – a pipe smoker for years Asarlai finally relinquished his pipe but now enjoys a stalk of grass at one side of his mouth. He will listen with eyes half closed, looking very ponderous and wise. He will wait after the person has stopped speaking for a minute or two and then let out a long mmmmmmmmmmm, after which with a glint in his eye he was ask “now what was the question again?”
In variably badgers think that in the silence Asarlai is channeling wisdom from the Great Badger in the sky or some ancestral badger who has long crossed over but alas Asarlai is never thinking anything so profound. His thoughts usually consist of a continuum of “why are badgers so fixated on having their questions answered” on his good days to “what the f*#k!” on his bad days, which are the days he is usually grieving giving up smoking and the stalk of grass, which really is grass, isn't that high quality grass he prefers.
I confess I was once, one of those badgers that needed to have their questions answered. My questions were few and repetitious, how could I be spiritual, how could I be really spiritual, how could I make an impact and how could I make a really big impact. If I got the answers to those questions I could be content and happy until of course I saw another badger who I thought was being more spiritual or making a bigger impact than I then the cycle would begin again. So I tried fasting and praying, reading sacred scriptures, mediating both Christian and Buddhist, I contorted myself into downward facing dogs and upward facing dogs, gave myself high blood pressure saluting the sun. I tried to un-kink the kinks of yoga with tai chi, I tried belly breathing, aura cleansing, and chakra sounding and joined a monastery as a lay member. I have devastated forests in the books I have bought and provided employment for countless in the self-help industry both authors and shop attendants. I have been known personally in many shops for my commitment to buying the latest self help manual that will definitely ensure I achieve spirituality and once, only once I attended a healing workshop where I was the token bit of testosterone amongst a sea of heaving oestrogen. After a morning of wailing, burping, farting women discovering parts of their psychic histories that I wished had remained undiscovered I took my slightly tattered and battered testosterone and fled.
Am I now spiritual and do I make an impact? God no!
No, after all my exploration, I am content not to be spiritual, just a badger who sits and enjoys the company of my friend Asarlai. Often we sit in silence, he with his stalk of grass, no word needing to be spoken as often Asarlai is not coherent enough to speak. When we do speak, yes we are still searching but the search now is not how to be spiritual it is how to be truly human. Having searched with such seriousness and earnestness to be spiritual we can now enjoy our journey in being truly human with some light and laughter.
Perhaps, I will write next time of the discussions Asarlai and I had the other week with the passing of Valentine’s Day and the nature of love. In the meantime if you are still searching for spirituality and require a self-help book to assist you, e-mail me. I’m sure in the boxes of books I have stored away there will be one that may assist in your journey. Or you could forget the books and just go out, live and enjoy the day you have to the best of your ability.