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We’re still in holiday frame of mind here on Mitchells Island, so in that light-hearted spirit, I’ll tell you a little story.

Two mendicant ascetics had been at their spiritual practices on a high, barren tableland for many years. One was a cobweb-covered meditator who sat sternly in lotus pose. The other was a whirling dervish, spinning endlessly, ecstatically.

Unexpectedly, God appeared to the both of them, possibly as a vision. The meditator prostrated himself before God and begged to be set free from the tens of thousands of incarnations he had already experienced. ‘I’m so terribly weary of being earthbound, Lord,’ he complained. God replied, ‘You will have just 1,000 more cycles of life and death, and then you will be liberated.’

As for the Dervish, he was so blissfully into his dance that he scarcely took in his divine company. God turned his attention to the overjoyed dancer, and, in that very moment, the Dervish attained the height of samadhi, dissolving into all-that-is and freedom.

Janma ausadhi mantra tapah samadhijah siddhayah

Accomplishments may be attained through birth, the use of herbs, incantations, self-discipline or samadhi.*

*Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, B.K.S. Iyengar.