Blown along, or Guided?

stranded bluebottles, aka portuguese man of war

This morning on the beach I found thousands of stranded jellyfish, a stinging Portuguese Man of War, blown ashore by strong northeasterly winds. They look so beautiful, fragile and delicate transparent blue, it is hard to imagine the pain they cause when the tentacles touch you in the surf!

shining clusters of bluebottles on the sand

I felt so grateful that we are not helpless in the wind like the jellyfish, we can direct our lives rather than be blown along willy nilly. In yoga there is a story from the Katha Upanishad (around the 5th century BC) to help us understand how to guide our lives, so that we are not at the mercy of outer influences, but guided wisely by that eternal part of ourselves, the Self.

The parable of the chariot states:

Know the self (atman) as the lord of the chariot and the body as, verily, the chariot, know the intellect as the charioteer and the mind as, verily, the reins. The senses are the horses; the objects of sense the paths; the self associated with the body, the senses and the mind – wise men declare – is the enjoyer. He who has no understanding, whose mind is always unrestrained, his senses are out of control, as wicked horses are for a charioteer. He, however, who has understanding, whose mind is always restrained, his senses are under control, as good horses are for a charioteer (Katha Up. 1,3,3-6).

My favourite way of contacting the Self, the enjoyer, is to spend time in stillness, dadirri.


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6 thoughts on “Blown along, or Guided?

  1. Such an intricate looking creature… Delicate, insubstantial, and impermanent… We dislike it so much just for what it can do to us, that I realize that I have never really asked or thought about why it is. Thank you for sharing these images of a creature that I have never seen on my own.

  2. The Portuguese Man of War… nasty if you get stung by one. But I think the most amazing thing about them is that they are not a single creature but a colony of many individual organisms each reliant upon the others to survive.

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