I’ve decided to have a little rest from the Celtic Book of the Dead, somehow I’m not getting inspired by it right now. So I was rummaging around my HUGE box of Oracle decks and came across one of my old favourites – The Osho Zen Tarot, which I’ve had for a long time but have not looked at recently (well for a long time actually). Suddenly I felt that this deck was something I had to be using right now. I don’t pull a card every day – just when I feel the need to and the one I pulled a few days ago was Courage (Major Arcana VIII). Here’s what the LWB says:
This card shows a small wild flower that has met the challenge of the rocks and stones in its path to emerge into the light of day. Surrounded by an aura of bright golden light, it exposes the majesty of its tiny self. Unashamed, it is equal to the brightest sun. When we are faced with a very difficult situation we have a choice: we can either be resentful, and try to find somebody or something to blame for the hardships, or we can face the challenge and grow. The flower shows us the way, as its passion for life leads it out of the darkness and into the light. There is no point fighting against the challenges of life, or trying to avoid or deny them. They are there, and if the seed is to become the flower we must go through them. Be courageous enough to grow into the flower you are meant to be.
In his book Tarot in the Spirit of Zen, Osho describes each one of us as a seed. That is how we begin life, a seed full of potential but nothing else. In fact a seed only has four potentialities: to be a seed forever, closed, not in communication with existence. He even likens the seed to being dead because life means communion with existence. Being fully alive means having a dialogue with all that exists. to remain a seed for ever is sad because it means your potential is never realised and you will never receive the blessings of the Universe.
The second possibility is that the seed is courageous enough to dive deep into the soil and drop its outer shell of hardness, which Osho likens to our egos. The outer shell of the seed acts as a protection for the seed and this is what our egos do – cuts us off from fully experiencing life and keeps us within a hard armour-like shell. to cast off the outer shell means taking a huge risk. for the seed, who knows whether or not it will survive? It may not survive, it may die but without taking the risk, which entails great courage, it will never know, never possibly realise its potential of becoming a flower. So too we need to take the risk to cast off our armour-plating and leave ourselves vulnerable to all life will shower us with. But if we don’t cast off our protection we too will never know, we will always remain dead.
It is a risk, it is a gamble, to cast off our egos. It means dropping the protection and security of the ego and opening the doors and windows to life itself…and who knows what will happen. There are no givens, no securities, no sure things when it comes to playing the game of life. By emerging from our protection we become vulnerable that doesn’t feel very safe or pleasant at first. That’s what seeking is about. The explorer goes off on his expedition and while he might take along a map, GPS, equipment and so forth, he doesn’t really know what’s going to happen. Will he come out of the jungle alive? Who really knows.
So, if we are courageous enough we become tiny plants – seedlings – and oh so weak, soft, delicate…and vulnerable. Remember, while we were seeds we were never in danger, we had our ego protection but we were also dead. Now we have taken the huge risk to cast off the security and become small growing plants, growing in the beautiful and nourishing soil of life. But we are in danger, just like a physical plant, we can be uprooted, squashed down, poisoned, eaten by a multitude of creatures. But the seed (ego) is dissolving and becoming part of the earth – we disappear as an ego and we are transforming into something else – a plant!
The third stage, as Osho points out is very rare, when the plant actually blooms. Some plants will never develop enough to bloom but all plants have that potential if they have the right nurturing. We, as plants, in order to bloom need love. The poisons that can stop us from blooming, that stunt us are greed, non-sharing and unlovingness. If we are not willing to love, to share and hoard then we will never reach the third stage – that of flowering. It’s not just about sharing with and loving others either. It’s about sharing with and loving ourselves too. So courage is needed to become the plant, and love is needed to become the flower. The seed only takes – it only takes from the soil. so we too, within our protective ego state only take; we do not give. But once we have dropped the ego we can give and share our flowers with life. We have become something more than ourselves, our personalities.
The final possibility is that of fragrance. A plant and a flower is still material, physical. But fragrance is subtle – you cannot hold it, or see it…you can only sense it. Fragrance always moves upwards – it is ethereal and moves upwards from the physical and finally disappears into the Universe and becomes one with it. This can be likened to pure enlightenment. Or I guess in a more tangible sense it can be likened to the death of the physical body. I think it is both actually but I think very few people really reach this state of pure enlightenment while living on this earth. However, that does not mean we just don’t bother. We all have the potential to reach perfect enlightenment, in whatever way is right for us. But we need courage to drop our ego, drop our securities, drop the safety nets and become vulnerable. But once we have become a plant we then need to continue the work in order to blossom, to share and to love ourselves and others in the Web of Life – and that means all others, human, animal, plant and mineral.
These stages take a lifetime, and perhaps for some of us many life times, but the wonderful thing is we are always…ALWAYS given the opportunity and that is a very great blessing.