August 18, 2014
Recently read an excerpt from an upcoming book by Terrance Keenan that mentioned the phenomenon of the merciful avatar. A merciful avatar is a manifestation of a divine teacher whose role is to teach us not to be such egotistical jerks.
Merciful avatars come in the form of anyone or anything that gets in the way of us getting our way or maintaining our pristine and exaggerated sense of ourselves. They show us who we really are, not who we think we are or who we wish we were. And when we are feeling a bit self-satisfied or superior or thinking we’ve got even a clue of what’s going on, we can hope a merciful avatar will show up to help us get a grip on the reality of what’s really going on.
We know we’ll probably be visited by an avatar when we start to believe we are compassionate or kind or healthy or spiritual. And we can know we’re really gonna get a slap upside the head when we notice ourselves referring to ourselves that way out loud. It’s kind of like talking about how humble we are. The moment we start waxing poetic about our humility, we’ve already unknowingly moved into arrogance.
Self-congratulatory notions of service disappear when we are actually being of service. When it’s real we don’t notice ourselves.
So the next time someone cuts you off in traffic, or your boss gives you a project that’s ‘beneath you’, or someone gives you feedback about yourself that appalls you or creates defensiveness, or says something that you don’t believe is true about you, thank your lucky stars that you continue to be visited by these merciful avatars.
When they show up thank them, welcome them in, and have a good laugh together about how easy it is to fall back into the belief that you’ve got it figured out.