There is Oil in the Sesame

Twice this week I read a discourse by my spiritual teacher called, “There is Oil in the Sesame.” Not necessarily because the discourse is profound, but rather because I couldn’t be bothered to pick a different reading for our special gathering on Thanksgiving. But as I’ve written about before, there are no coincidences so. . .

The passage quotes sages of yesteryear who said, “God lies hidden in everything, like oil in sesame seeds, like ghee in curd, like water in stream beds, like fire in wood. Only those who adhere strictly to benevolent truthfulness, and perform spiritual practices, can churn the mind and realize the Supreme entity out of it.”

Even the smallest thing may be transformed. Photo by Percy Pham on Unsplash.

The quote stuck with me because I’m reminded through force and friction, something new may emerge. We often say through pressure coal becomes a diamond, but that’s a myth. Diamonds are related to coal, but they’re like the more pure cousin so no, if I squeeze coal really, really hard, it will not become diamond. The metaphor still holds, but with a more mundane example, such as extracting oil from sesame, or fire from wood. From looking at a little sesame seed, you wouldn’t know it contains oil. From looking at a piece of wood, you wouldn’t know rubbing it together creates fire. In both cases though, it’s true.

The context of the sesame quote is a spiritual one – my teacher uses it to goad us to practice meditation, to remind us intense spiritual effort is what allows us to realize the divinity within us, but for this blogpost, and my life, I’m thinking about the quote more in the terms of personal hardship.

I want life to be easy. I want to glide through everything without any effort. If I could be comfortable all the time, that would be great. This quote about sesame seeds reminds me I’m not experiencing difficulties for kicks. It’s not because some dude in the sky said, “I need a laugh today. Let’s make life miserable for Rebekah.” No, it’s happening for my transformation.

I don’t know many things, but one thing I know for sure, without a doubt, is life is synonymous with transformation. Even if I had the easiest life, if someone hand-fed me everyday and carried me from place to place so as to never sully my feet, I would still age. My body would still degenerate and eventually I would die. That is inevitable. Nothing stays the same. Nothing. And if life is about transformation, if it will happen regardless of my input, I’m again wondering if every trial I endure is in service of making me into something greater. Of transforming me into someone I otherwise would not have been. Sesame seeds do not secrete oil without pressure, wood wouldn’t burn without friction, and maybe I wouldn’t be who I am without hardship. Maybe every difficult experience I endure, maybe every hurdle in my path, is an opportunity to change me into someone better. Magic and divinity lie latent within me and it seems pressure is the way to force it out.

Do I like it? Of course not, but these days I’m holding the belief these things happen for my transformation, even if I don’t get to see the consequences immediately. And I’d like to believe that’s true for everyone.

I dream of a world where we realize there is more to us than we likely know. A world where we understand difficulties transform us, often into someone greater than we would have expected. A world where we realize everything that happens to us is in service of transformation. A world where we remember we are like sesame seeds and we have the capacity to become oil.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

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Rebekah
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