Here’s A Fanciful Analogy Comparing Plastic Bags With Human Spiritual Awareness


Yesterday I was reading my old manuscript written about my first around-the-world journey. When I arrived in Pune, India, I discovered a beautiful Ashram, with a modern, Westernized flare, and I happily stayed there for almost two weeks. I remembered that I had enjoyed meeting people from all over the world who followed the Ashram’s Teachings. However, after a few days of attendance in their meetings, I realized that our spiritual conclusions diverged after a certain basic agreement. So, I was trying to analyze the differences in my personal journal entries.

These particular opinions did not make it into my favorable mention of the Ashram printed in my first book, Hey Boomers, Dust Off Your Backpacks: Travel The World On A Limited BudgetBut, I think they make interesting copy here.

I was analyzing the part about my philosophical divergence from the international group of people at the  Ashram. Basically, I realized that they were focusing only upon storming the Gates of Heaven.  I feel that, through my constant conversation with the Holy Spirit, I have already achieved that whole Transformation Agenda and am now conscious of the difference between seeking it and experiencing it. This conclusion would also surely apply to those of any Religion, who have sincerely accepted the Tenets and Teachings and have moved into applying the Heavenly Admission which they have gained.

My frustration was, that none of these Teachings of this Ashram dealt with that Moment of Truth. Everyone acted as if the Search was all there was. As if it’s too much to hope for that the Door would actually open for you. According to them, it seemed to me, that the whole purpose of life was to be “On The Path.”

And so, their perception and comprehension was all about Method and Detachment from the limits of former beliefs and systems and they seemed to be involved in a lot of jumping about to attain that.  Plus, they had no God Image or belief that Someone Greater was waiting for you to attain Their Presence.  It was all about Self, going within the Self (which I agree is necessary) but there was no clue, in all the literature, about what one would find in there. Just generalities about the vast universe and getting off the endless wheel of life and death.  Mostly, similar to the Buddhist Teachings, but completely vague.

In all my conversations there, I found no one who had any original thoughts or hints of Transformation, other than ways that this ashram had “changed their life.”  But, that concerned living habits and nothing internal.  So, I became fed up with the lack of substance and simply enjoyed the luxury of eleven days there. Now, for last night’s analogy. Let’s see if I can develop a clear enough description.

This analogy concerns “Things That Won’t Open” or “Things That Are Very Hard or Frustrating to Open” and we Westerners have plenty of experience with that in the form of either, modern packaging – jars, candy bars, medicine bottles, etc., or what I was playing around with last night, plastic bags.  New, unused ones, whether dry cleaning sheaths, garbage bags, or trash bags, newly out of the box….or my experience at the health food produce aisle: flimsy vegetable bags.

Yesterday, I must have gone through several of one type of lightweight plastic bag, pulled from a certain dispenser, before I gave up on getting any of those opened, and I tried a different kind which was slightly thicker, with good results.  Those bags which simply elected to behave as single sheets of plastic, for which I had no use, wound up in the bottom of my cart and would, eventually, be discarded.

Okay, this parallels the human attempt to “become opened human beings,” which, let’s face it, is only practiced or desired by a relatively small percentage of humans.  Behind that impulse is a desire, realized or unrealized, to become more in some way.  More useful, in a greater and vaguely cosmic sense.  Well, let’s say that all efforts put forth by our human plastic bags have the inevitable effect of somehow adding to their inner and outer tensile strength.  Spiritually, this could be interpreted as adding to their character.  And, yes, people on a spiritual path generally do exhibit a stronger character than those people who don’t even recognize or consider their inner, spiritual realities in any way, shape, or form.

With a plastic bag, this would translate to mean a thickening of the quality, a strengthening of the fabric, so that even the most flimsy of all, and the most maddening to use: the dry cleaner’s garment bag, might become as strong as the outdoor leaf collecting bags,  theoretically.  Now, why is this an advantage?  It’s easy to open!  We have all rubbed futilely away at flimsy plastic bags, as I did yesterday.

All we get with a weak bag is a set of mashed fingerprints on either end in our frustrated attempt to get those two individual sheets to rub against each other and open up; thus becoming useful for the purpose in mind.  Sometimes, we get rough with the bag and even tear at the edges, hoping to force a split between the two clinging sides.

Whereas, bags with high tensile strength and an adequate denier, which desire to be used,  have been dreaming of the moment their name will be called when they get plucked from the dispenser.  Well, such a bag is probably going to open easily and will go on to live a fruitful (perhaps literally) and useful life. A life for which it was specifically designed and provided.

And, the flimsy bag, which clung tightly to its own sides and would not admit the air into its body? Which feared that inevitable pop with which we all shake an opening bag to make it wide enough for our purposes? Well, that bag will die a virgin death, having been found seriously wanting in the few seconds that it was given a chance to perform.  I am simply one of those plastic produce bags which fill my cabinet drawer for re-use.  In effect, I have already carried my cantaloupe  and am eager to talk turkey with other well-used   veterans.

What has happened to me at this popular and beautiful Indian Ashram is that I see that I’m mostly hanging out with some still-virgin bags. But they are ones who’ll be well-prepared at the moment when some Bag God rips them from the dispenser or yanks open their nice, safe storage box. This spiritual Boot Camp is a very good idea and a wonderful experience.

Surely, no one can define exactly how each of us will be used and what it will feel like. Maybe that’s why the Moment of Truth topic isn’t covered in the ashram? Such a vast, vast, vast range of uses for plastic bags! So, here, they concentrate on the building of tensile strength. That is done by increasing desire for a mysterious transcendence and inner change.

This must not be their time for swapping tales in the recycle bin. They haven’t felt the impatient Hand of God yank them suddenly from sleep and begin to rub their edges hard, expecting them to open; and then to snap them rudely in the air.  So, it’s still possible for them to deny that there is a God.

Think about this the next time you handle a bag that you need opened wide (like a kitchen garbage bag). You’ll snap it “rudely”… at least, from the bag’s point of view. But, can any bag simply flap itself, install itself, and fill itself?  I don’t thiiiiiiiiink so!

About Linda J. Brown

Linda is a solo around the world traveler, having slowly explored the world's two hemispheres. A third trip around the equator has just begun, planned to last at least four years. After living for a year in the spiritual and beautiful town of Santa Fe, New Mexico, she has transferred to the beautiful and spiritual town of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. Feeling honored that the mysterious Hurricane Patricia paid her a call during her first week; she is none-the-less, eternally-grateful that this "worst hurricane in human history" decided to leave the planet alone, after all.
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