Where is the fountain that throws up these flowers in a ceaseless outbreak of ecstasy?
- Rabindranath Tagore in Stray Birds
Nature is mostly self-sustaining. The mighty Amazon forest does not require Miracle Gro!! The beauty of God’s creation is eminently appreciated by going into a forest. Look around at the innumerable species of plants, flowers, insects and scurrying animals. See how they all live in the present moment without worrying much about the past or future. A squirrel looking around for nuts is doing just that ‘looking for nuts’ – he is not worried that his female mate may leave him for another mate. If that does happen then, guess what, the next day he is still nonchalantly continuing his search for nuts. Observation of nature in a quiet unobtrusive manner, without mental commentary is a great sadhana for spiritual growth. Sit on the bank of a stream in the forest and silently observe how the miracle of life operates. Watch the twig of a tree float past you in the stream, gently colliding with a jutting rock or another twig and disappear from view downstream. Observe the crane that arrives in a graceful swoop and lands in the shallow water, pecks around the water for sometime and then takes off. Hear the many sounds around you – the chirp of a robin or cawing of a crow. Notice the tiny waves raised by a swift swimming insect as it skims the water. Deeply understand and appreciate the ease with which these creatures live. Don’t you wish you could be so carefree and liberated as these creatures of the forest? Do you think it is difficult to be free of suffering? If you answered ‘yes’ then your very belief is the obstacle to your freedom.
To be free, ask the question that the Nobel Prize winning poet Tagore asks in the quote above. Yes, where is that fountain? Ashtanga Yoga lays out the roadmap for getting the answer to this question through the practice of Pratyahara, Dharana and Dhyana. Where is the ‘fountain’ that throws up your emotions and feelings. Look for it and KEEP LOOKING. When you drop all concepts and ideas, what remains is Chaitanya – the faculty of consciousness. The consciousness cannot be dropped because even the attempt to drop it is noticed by the very consciousness that you are trying to drop. As it has been said ‘consciousness is required even to deny the existence of consciousness’. Consciousness is not a faculty that we HAVE but rather what we ARE. Our very nature is consciousness. Patanjali outlined the path of Ashtanga Yoga to take us step by step to Samadhi – the state of realization of our true nature of Chaitanya. The chaitanya has taken up the identity of the body-mind-intellect (BMI) and is pretending to be the BMI, and in the process of pretending, has forgotten its true nature. The path to samadhi or self-realization consists of abiding in the nature of chaitanya which is ‘knowingness’. Chaitanya ‘knows’. Just be the ‘knowing presence’ without adding the interpretation and analysis which is the domain of the mind and intellect. Just ‘look’ as Eckhart Tolle advises. Can you look at a flower without giving it a name or specifying its color and categorizing it in anyway – much like what a small baby does when it sees a flower for the first time? In its fervent excitement to possess the flower, the baby looks at it as pure creation or presence. When we take that same viewpoint toward everything we slowly start to experience the ‘fountain that throws up these flowers in a ceaseless outbreak of ecstasy’. The supreme message of the Upanishads ‘Tat Tvam Asi’ will then arise spontaneously.
May you find the peace within