top of page

Okagesamade - thanks to the shadows

This word, Okagesamade, is a Japanese idea. Kage is shadow, the letter "O" is an honorific - a way of showing respect to, or to indicate a long-standing word. Sama is a polite suffix. So Okagesamade is something like "Thanks to the compassion of the shadows".

The shadow here isn't the Freudian shadow of your personality, it is the help from all the sources that are invisible. We can ask for help when it is obvious we need it, but we also receive help from sources that recognize our need for assistance even before we do, or when we are under the illusion that we don't need it.

When I ask for help (as I just did this morning), because of the culture I was raised in, my default approach would be to close my eyes rather tightly and petition some form of divine personality to intervene on my behalf. I'll tell you why I don't do that.

When my eyes are closed in meditation, I try not to put extra muscular effort into the closing. The muscular effort is like a hand resisting a force, and that force is the information that I am a feature of everything else, not a lonely artifact within an adversarial world. No effort is needed in recognition - it either happens or doesn't.

If I were to ask for assistance from an imagined personality, icon or authority, I am imagining this figure is also a separate "thing" outside of a universe it made. I have exiled the figure from this universe rather than including it as the pattern of intelligence or compassion. By excluding this intelligence - if we can call it that - I am imagining this figure is superlative yes, but also alone and there to serve my needs and answer my prayers. Exile in this way is something none of us would pray to receive.

Instead, when I ask for help I am not asking for, but recognizing the help of many unseen hands and the hands not yet even invisible - the helping hands from sources who do not even yet know they will be of assistance. I recognize that I actually don't know exactly what I need, so to request something in particular would be to place a limit on what I might actually be given.

And so, by allowing my eyes to close (gravity will do that for me) and letting particular requests for help dissolve, I become more available for the help I haven't asked for. And more than this, even this simple act of becoming available might be of help to someone else. The reciprocal nature of reality suggests that all currents flow only when a circuit is complete. That to receive there must be a giving, and within that polarity lies the potential for the giver to receive and the receiver to give.

Okagesamade - thanks to the unseen hands, mine and yours.

28 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page