When we at Bhoomi, received an invite from Alaap to co anchor a programme on Leadership through Self Exploration in Kumaon, our spontaneous response was very John Muir like-
“The mountains are calling and I must go.”
Part of the pull was the deep love and reverence for our lofty Himalayas, the sheer joy of being amidst its pristine environs. Part of the appeal was also Alaap, the fledgling young organization whose mission it is to bring back to Himalayas its native forests. Another compelling reason was to meet and interact with the youth from the hills to build communities to live wisely and tread gently in the bountiful yet delicate bio-region.
If one looks at the expansive sweep of over four billions years of existence of our alive, animate, miracle Earth, the entry of our species is a very recent phenomenon. However, even in this small time frame we have managed to alter the biosphere like never before. There are obviously a multitude of reasons which has led to where we are today. And it is not a simple cause effect equation either. There is complexity involved. There are also many myths that humanity has lived with which has brought us to where we are. We probably need new stories, new lenses, new ethics to live by if we are to flourish and thrive as one of the many diverse species in Earth.
In the stillness and the movement
In the soaring and the anchoring
In the part and the whole
In the journeying and the coming back
In the breaking and the joining
In the incompleteness and the perfections
In the patience and impatience
I see myself, I value myself
I see the kaleidoscope, I see the lotus,
I am Life, Life is me
And the song and dance of Life continues...
Through me ,around me!
When Suka the son of Ved Vyasa renounced the world and went in to the forest Vyasa went in search of his son and called out to him asking him where he was. It is said that it was the trees, the animals, the many beings in the forest who responded to Vyasa saying,”Father I am here!”
This story is open to many interpretations and raises many questions to ponder on and reflect. Did Suka experience such a sense of oneness with nature? And so it was nature who responded on behalf of him. Does one need a certain distance from the man made world, a renouncing, to experience the being embedded in nature? Or was it Vyasa who embraced the earth and her beings in her entirety that they responded to him with such initimacy?
Sharing a story that so powerfully illustrates how ones's fear of invalidation can often impede the flow of one's expression .And when ambition,the desire for validation and approvals become the riding factor the pure joy of work gets diminished. In that the opportunity of work being a pilgrimage, a path to unknot the mind and clue in with the essence is lost.
How often do we do this to children when we split work and play? How often we give them the message that something that flows from affection be it a verse or a story or a picture or something they do with their hands is not worth it unless it matches standard benchmarks?! How many Hanumans have not found the space to flower? And how many Hanuman's Ramayanas have been lost?!
When Valmiki completed his Ramayana, Narada wasn't impressed. 'It is good, but Hanuman's is better', he said.That monkey has written the Ramayana too!', Valmiki didn't like this at all, and wondered whose Ramayana was better. So he set out to find Hanuman.
In Kadali-vana, grove of plantains, he found Ramayana inscribed on seven broad leaves of a banana tree.He read it and found it to be perfect. The most exquisite choice of grammar and vocabulary, metre and melody. He couldn't help himself. He started to cry.
'Is it so bad?' asked Hanuman
'No, it is so good', said Valmiki
'Then why are you crying?'
'Because after reading your Ramayana no one will read my Ramayana,' replied Valmiki.
Hearing this Hanuman simply tore up the seven banana leaves stating " Now no one will ever read Hanuman's Ramayana.'"
Hanuman said, 'You need your Ramayana more than I need mine. You wrote your Ramayana so that the world remembers Valmiki; I wrote my Ramayana so that I remember Ram.'At that moment he realized how he had been consumed by the desire for validation through his work. He had not used the work to liberate himself from the fear of invalidation. He had not appreciated the essence of Ram's tale to unknot his mind.
His Ramayana was a product of ambition; but Hanuman's Ramayana was a product of affection.
That's why Hanuman's Ramayana sounded so much better. Valmiki realized that "Greater than Ram..... is the idea of Ram!!!! "
( राम से बड़ा राम का नाम ).
The world needs a mystic's universal and inclusive love, not the exclusive love of a faithful. - Rabindranath Tagore
How do we find it in ourselves to expand our world to include all earth beings, when can we see ourselves primarily as earth citizens and members of a large biotic community?? Maybe being in touch with the mystic’s love within us as expressed by Tagore, we would find it in ourselves to make ethical choices and decisions and move away from speciesism. Maybe it will help to shift away from an anthropocentric focus to a more eco-centric world view…this is what the world certainly needs at this point in time.
Tending to my garden and being with the beauty, the mystery, the complexity, the joys and challenges was when this flash of inspiration suddenly dawned on me. Since then I have been mulling over the idea and the more I think about it the more certain I feel that there is a lot for the teacher to learn in the garden.
Why a gardener, would be a relevant question to ask??
“There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth; not going all the way and not starting at all.” Buddha
Quite often when one encounters this question- “Are you really making a difference in doing what you are doing?” one is at a loss especially so, when the problems we face seem insurmountable. At times like that this beautiful quote by Buddha can be a beacon of hope as well as possibilities that one anchors in…