On Spiritual Emergence

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“Did you know that the monarch butterfly is on the endangered species list?”

That was the question posed by her as I was drifting towards sleep on Thursday. Needless to say, I came awake and immediately replied, “No. I had no idea. How can that even be?”

“It was just announced today,” she replied.

I was now speechless, so off to sleep I went, imagining that I would be having dreams of butterflies. But I don’t dream that much these days, so, I figured in the morning that the mind had closed the matter, at least for now. I did the morning meditation, came downstairs, made my tea as the younger puppy came out to the kitchen with her daily morning greeting of ‘toy in her mouth’. We went out to the deck and down the steps for the daily barefoot walk in the grass, and to check on the state of the flowers— both in the garden and the ones growing in the wild.

A bit of background. Mother and daughter have been volunteering at the local nature center, which also happens to have a ‘butterfly house’ as a main attraction. I get stories and updates, photos and videos of some of the butterfly activities, every time they go volunteer. I am planning to go visit soon, but for now, I’m enjoying all the education they bring me about caterpillars, milkweed, pupation and, yes, the emergence of butterflies.

The other backstory is that over the past few years, we have made several attempts to plant and grow butterfly-friendly flowers in our own garden. We have had some success, but none of the perennials have quite made it past a year or so. Until this year that is. This year, nature has seen enough of our fumbling and decided to show us how it’s done. The result has been at least a dozen or so, four to six feet tall, purple colored (loosestrife) butterfly bushes blooming alongside with the wild willows, just behind the fence next to the small stream that feeds the pond.

So, that’s the two-part background. For the first time all summer, in my daily walk along the fence to check on the forest, there was my first sighting of a morning visitor to the butterfly bushes. A majestic creature of black and gold wings, ordinary to many eyes but extraordinary to me in this time and space,, given all the context I shared above. How can this emergence happen, and so ‘quickly’ at that, considering the talk of ‘extinction’ less than twelve hours ago?

I don’t know. I will leave the space and time question for greater minds to ponder. Coincidence? Perhaps. And yet I am reminded of the quote that ‘what we call coincidence is where the divine decides to stay anonymous.’ The energy of the divine is rarely, if ever anonymous, is it? If that is so, then is it an ‘anonymous’ energy that makes our hearts beat, our lungs breath, our ears hear, our eyes see, our tongues taste, and our spirit emerge into light?

Perhaps the nature of the divine is one of constant emergence, not anonymity. This divine emergence manifests in us as our awakening every day to existence itself, to awareness itself, to bliss itself. Emergence of the heart, the spirit, the soul is an integral part of the divine plan.

The grand plan is perhaps for all of us to be like butterflies, spreading our wings as we bring color, light, and lightness to all whom we cross flight paths with, and share the stillness of our pauses as we sit briefly in-between flights, on purple bushes growing in the wild.

On your next walk or meditation, pay attention to signs of emergence being sent your way. Then, take a moment or so, and celebrate your ongoing emergence, will you? It’s about time, isn’t it?

Kumud

P.S. Join us for our weekly twitter chat and gathering on Sunday July 24 at 9amET / 1pmGMT/ 630pm India in #SpiritChat. Bring some photos of emergence, and I will bring tea and questions. Namaste ~ @AjmaniK

A butterfly visits with the wild-growing purple loosestrife in the backyard…

P.P.S. I wrote this post Friday morning. Later in the afternoon, on the very hydrangeas that have been spreading fragrance all summer, there was another visitor. My wife confirmed that I wasn’t seeing things. Yes. It was a Monarch butterfly, red and black wings in all her royalty… my first sighting of the summer. 🦋🙏🏽😌

Video (11sec): A butterfly visits with the wild-growing purple loosestrife in the backyard…

Realms of Friendship

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You can hear the frogs but can’t see them, no matter how hard you look.

You can see the baby turtles but can’t hear them for they bask in the sunlight in silence.

You can feel the embrace of the overgrowth that has narrowed the already narrow trail, and has softened the stone laid path with its soft leaves and branches that you now walk on.

You pause to take a breath and you notice the almost perfectly camouflaged ducks taking a late afternoon rest on a fallen tree trunk sprawled halfway across the width of the lagoon.

The lilies have come fully abloom since you last visited the newly built bridge that stands firmly where you once had to venture to cross the channel by lightly dance-stepping over just long enough logs laid down by the park rangers.

A young man walking his beautiful dog who wants to greet you with a friendly sniff, mildly apologizes as he says “he’s friendly”; and you smile back and say, “I can tell, for I have two at home” — and he breaks out into a huge smile as he walks away…

A Dad gives softball batting practice to his daughter with a bucket of plastic balls that are slowly filling up the Diamond behind them.

I exit the lagoon trail, look back, take a final photo for the evening, as I say thanks for being a trusted friend to me all these years in my walks of solitude, long before it was popular for people to be able to walk all around you on the newly built walkways.

I walk across the parkway to the other side, to visit and sit for a short meditation with my other best friend, the river, whose small waterfall is gushing after the recent rains. It seems to say, “welcome back; you should visit more often – the blue heron was here earlier – you just missed it.” Ah, my friendship with the blue heron over the years, who always seems to see me before I arrive, and takes off in their shyness.

There are times when we feel like we could use deeper friendships in our lives. And yet, if we examine all the possible realms of friendship available to us, we already have so many, don’t we? There is nature’s flora realm in its ever-welcoming energy. There is the realm of animals and birds that shares its friendships with us. There are of course humans, some of us who we may have long-term friendships and shared experiences with.

Last but not least, there is the realm of friendship with the divine energy, always open and available to us, if and when we choose to connect with it. In fact, all the other realms of friendship are contained within It, for It wouldn’t be the Infinite realm otherwise, would It?

As I walk back along the river to return home, I pause for a moment, gaze out at the peaceful flow which has given me so much unconditional healing, comfort and joy over the years, a question comes to my heart — Can a friendship with eternity ever grow old?

Kumud

P.S. Join us for our weekly gathering and twitter chat, Sunday July 17 at 9amET / 1pmGMT/ 630pm India in #SpiritChat. We will explore realms of friendship, and who knows, maybe you will make a new friend or two… Namaste – @Ajmanik

The crimson-eyed rosemallow (a hibiscus variety) blooms in the wild in Rocky River Reservation…

On Life’s Possibilities

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One of the many landscaping decisions we had to make after moving into the newly built home a few years ago was – what flower bushes should we plant outside the two windows of the main bedroom on the first (ground) floor? I don’t remember the details of the decision-making process, but the result was one small hydrangea bush next to each window. We had no idea of all the learnings and experiences that the small decision held for us in the ensuing years.

Fast forward five years, and I am spending a lot of time on the deck during my July 4th weekend mini-retreat. Both the hydrangeas are in full bloom after going through what often appears to be certain death during the winter months when all the leaves fall off, the flowers turn to dried out shells of their summer selves, and my mind wonders if there will ever be fragrance from them in the air again.

As if to make my mind look foolish yet again, the breeze picks up a bit in the late afternoon, and I have to put down the Osho book I’ve been reading, because the fragrance comes around the bend onto the deck and demands the full attention of all the senses. It is a reminder that the hydrangea, at its own level of awareness, knows who it is, knows it’s nature is to bloom in the summer and spread its fragrance, knows that it can support the fireflies, the yellow-jackets, the bees, the butterflies for nourishment and more. The hydrangea seemingly knows the domain of its life’s possibilities, and makes the best use of them.

The question that the hydrangea bushes seem to ask of me is – do I know who I am? What is the level of my awareness about what I truly want from my journey? Do I know that my winters are temporary, even necessary for renewal? Do I know the domain of my life’s possibilities, and how my decisions affect the ecosystems that I am part of and may even be supporting?

Yes. A mini-retreat can often bring you face to face with the present and the possibilities that it presents. As you decide on which of life’s varied possibilities to pursue, an answer to ‘who am I’ can clarify ‘what do I want’ — which in turn can present the courage and confidence needed to be in motion like the bee, or be in stillness like the flower.

The distance traveled by the soul is often the same.

Kumud

P.S. Join us for our weekly gathering and twitter chat in #SpiritChat, Sunday July 10 at 9amET / 1pm GMT / 630pm India. We will talk about life and its possibilities, or maybe about hydrangeas 😉 Namaste – @AjmaniK

A part of one of the hydrangeas in full bloom… so many possibilities to sustain life around it…

On Spiritual Alignment

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It was a somewhat unusual week of ups and downs, of great calm and turbulence in the inner world for me. It began particularly well in that I used the Monday holiday to read a new book from cover to cover – something I hadn’t done on a long, long time. It felt really good to get back to ‘deep reading’, and prompted me to make a summer reading list of spiritual biographies. That was the high-point of the week, and I was only the first day in.

The next couple of days was where the outer world started seeping in, and it turned into a bit of a flood by Thursday morning. The morning meditation practice was unable to restore calm and stillness, because the mind was highly perturbed and the usual heart-focusing techniques weren’t working. Something was surely out of alignment. I looked in my ‘toolbox’ to see – what was I to do next to reset my alignment?

The first step to realignment was to return to the weekly walk in the reservation, which I did Thursday evening after work. The forest immersion worked really well to do an inner reset, as the familiar trails, the waters of the river and lagoon, the clear blue skies — all submerged me in their warm embrace. The exclamation point was the blue heron that I observed sitting in perfect stillness across the river, for the entire final ten minutes of my walk. Typically, a heron will take off as soon as it sees humans, but today was different. The realignment was going well.

Friday morning meditation was a bit of a test of how well the realignment was going. Things were better, but not quite fully restored yet. It wasn’t till late Friday evening, after seeing my daughter again after a week, overlapping with a long dinner meeting with a very good friend’s mother, Carol, whom we hadn’t seen in almost three years, that the realignment felt almost complete. It must have been Carol’s beautiful, pure, in the moment, loving energy, deep hugs, and childhood stories of living and growing up in the small town of Longport on the Atlantic shore, that helped clear away a large part of the dust of the week.

As I write this post, I find myself asking some questions. How do we know that we are in alignment, and out of alignment in our inner world? What are the happenings in our outer world that shift us out of inner alignment? How often do we lose alignment, and how quickly is it restored? What tools do we have for restoration, and how well do they really work?

I was tested this week in a way that was perhaps not so unique to me. Hence, I shared my experiences with you. The alignment testing helped me identify some weaknesses in my spiritual practices. One result of the week’s testing is that I am grateful for the opportunity to learn, adjust and develop greater awareness on the journey towards answering — Who am I? What am I truly aligned to, and why?

Kumud

P.S. Join us for our weekly gathering and twitter chat with the #SpiritChat community, Sunday June 26 at 9amET / 1pmGMT / 630pm India. I will bring some alignment gauges in the form of questions, and a pot of tea. You bring the cookies! Namaste – AjmaniK

The hydrangeas finally bloom in the garden… helping to restore alignment!

On Paths of Union

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There is an instant affinity and connection when stepping into the trail. A distinct sense of being welcomed with joy, even by the mosquitoes! A sense of delight in the meeting, in the coolness of the slate-lined river bank and the breeze and the ocean of green come ashore. A sense of peace in the silent flow of the river whose bottom can be clearly seen in this late afternoon in the light of the filtered sun that remove all your troubles so that you can focus on the expanse of the invitation that lies in front of you…

And then, after you have spent at least a half hour playing among the stones of the river bed, weaving in the trails and bathing in the foliage of the forest, the river-side offers you a place to pause and rest. You gratefully accept. As you sit on the trail bench, there is something about the slant of sunlight on the trees, and the river’s peace, that prompts you to do a first-time-ever evening meditation in that space. The path has unfolded before you.

You are sitting amid the noise of the traffic and people walking on the trail behind you… and yet, after a while, all you hear primarily is the river rustling by and the wind whispering among the trees. The sun filters through the trees behind you and sends warm currents up and down your spine. And then, after what seems like an eternity, and yet is actually less than a dozen minutes, it happens.

You remember Dad and his ability to submerge into stillness and silence in the midst of it all. You realize that That is what he was communicating to you all that time, on all those days-long train trips across India, the road trips in the far reaches of the Himalayas, when as a child you wished that he would speak more words of wisdom into you. He was showing you that the path to a higher Union, the path to awareness, truth and bliss, goes through the deep silence and stillness that quietens the waves created by the “mind stuff” — the path that Patanjali defines as the practice of Yoga.

Pay attention. Do your workings in and for the world, but also do the work needed to walk your path towards higher Union. That has been the message filtering into my heart over the past week or so, and re-iterated in Friday evening’s walk. I am grateful to be sharing the loving message with you. Namaste.

Kumud

P.S. Join us for our weekly gathering and twitter chat, Sunday June 19 at 9amET / 1pmGMT / 630pm India. I will bring some tea, fruit and questions – you bring your favorite walking shoes 🙂 – AjmaniK

P.P.S To all who are celebrating, Happy Father’s Day and Happy Juneteenth on June 19. International Yoga Day and Summer Solstice is June 21. Get ready 🙂

The walk is rarely easy… and yet, always worth it! (Rocky River Reservation, Ohio)

Our Spiritual Roots

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The sun is still low enough in the sky, but high enough to be above the roofline behind me, that I can sit on the top step of the deck and enjoy my morning reflection with a warm cup as the cool breeze rustles the wild willows just beyond the fence line. On and off through the week, my thoughts have been drifting to my roots and foundations.

I have been watching the two water channels that flow into the pond grow from virtually nothing to lush greenery in a few weeks. The stark contrast between autumn’s ‘taking away’ and spring’s ‘giving back’ is virtually complete. The wildflowers, the wild grasses and bushes on which the blackbirds sway all day long, the thick foliage on the sky hugging trees — they are all back. What sustains them, year after year, so that they make triumphant returns?

Yes. The answer is their roots. The one sure way to destroy a plant is to remove it from the ground, roots and all. The one sure way to destroy our physical life force is to remove us from our source of life — the breath. Perhaps this is why, in times of great joy, visiting my grandmother while bubbling with excitement to share my news, she would often say — ‘son, pause, take a breath, then speak.’

I often wonder about having had the privilege of being rooted, watered, nourished by the wisdom of my elders, particularly in my younger years. What would my life look like today without their mix of tender loving and gentle steering of my mind, body and heart? What would your life look like without the roots nourished by those who have channeled some of the best of their own life force into you?

As we grow older, we tend to forget. Some of us may even claim that we are ‘self made’ people. It may be so, and yet, let us take a breath and ask — what are the roots that sustain the layers of us that are beyond the mere physical? What are the roots of our subtle body connected to? What sustains those roots?

Research has shown that the roots of trees in forests have an underground network of inter-connection, which helps trees ‘lean on’ each other for nutritional support. I have often seen ‘above-ground’ evidence of this inter-connection during my walks. As long as the tree is connected to its own roots, or those of its neighbors, life remains, because it is connected to a life-giving source.

Perhaps we humans are the same way. No matter how many autumns we may experience, spring eternal is our destiny as long as our roots remember to stay connected to, and draw energy from that Source.

How will we remember?

Kumud

P.S. Join us for our weekly gathering and twitter chat, Sunday June 12 at 9amET / 1pmGMT / 630pm India in #SpiritChat. Bring some ‘root’ stories to share with the community. Namaste ~ @AjmaniK

Connections… among above-ground roots of trees…

On New Realities

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I have to admit that I wasn’t ready to face the reality of returning to in-person work on a full-time basis this week. After two years of remote work, I didn’t know if I even remembered how to function in an office among people. However, rather than stress about it, I decided that I was going to take it one day at a time, and no matter what, inject some lightness and fun into each in-person work-day.

On the third day, which was Friday, I ended the day by returning to the trails in the Metro-parks near work which I used to walk regularly before the two year pandemic hiatus. An hour or so in the reservation helped me process the new realities, and reminded me of some old ones that I had forgotten.

The first reality is that Nature doesn’t forget, even when we often do. The hidden entrance to one of the trails, the welcoming oaks, the river almost covering the embankment, the lightest of light blue flowers – they were all still there. I had forgotten their soothing nature, but it all came flooding back in the first few minutes, once I chose to be present to them. Their welcoming embrace was complete, the sense of familiar joy was full, and it was as if two years of absence had collapsed into a single moment. I experienced the reality of nature’s power over time and space.

The second reality was about Nature’s beauty. It is in full display, but we often close our eyes and ears to it. One section of the trail, about a quarter of a mile long, was resplendent with white on both sides. It was as if someone had taken canvases of green, sprayed them with white flowers in all kinds of random patterns from head to toe, and then spread them on both sides of the trail to create a tunnel. Why had I never noticed these when I walked this same trail dozens of times before in years past? Maybe I had developed a new awareness, a sense of slowing down after two years of being away? Was this my new reality?

The third experience of reality was a heady mix of the new superimposed on the old. After emerging from the tunnel of flowers, I was going to bypass circling the lagoon. I thought that some sections of the perimeter would be impassable, as used to be the case in the past after heavy rains. I walked by the first entrance with the intent of visiting one of my favorite benches that overlooked the other end of the crescent-moon shaped lagoon. As I got closer to this other end, I noticed that the trail entrance at this end looked a bit different. Where did all the gravel on the trail come from?

This deserved some exploration, and what followed was an amazing walk along the lagoon after all! I met with new wooden bridges and walkways constructed over all the previously impassable parts of the water. I simply couldn’t believe the brilliance of the newness of it all. I admit that I did miss the unpredictable nature of the natural paths which used to often abruptly end, and have me turn around at random points on the three-quarter-circle trail.

New realities of bridges and walkways had made the beauty of the lagoon accessible to so many more people, as evidenced by the people fishing, dog-walking and bird-watching on the trail. Time will tell how the increased human activity bears out for the lagoon’s waters and its wildlife, but so far so good.

As I drove back home after the work-day that ended with my heart and mind full of new realities, I slowly absorbed the new conditions I had experienced over the week. Nature exists to remind us of what is permanent and what isn’t so — what we do with such reminders depends on our inner state. Is it perhaps true that we have the ability to create our own realities by choosing the degrees of awareness, bliss, truth and attitude that we bring to any given moment? If yes, then we can be creators of our own destiny connected to permanence, can’t we? If no, then how do we get out of being immersed in the state of our mind’s illusions?

Kumud

P.S. Join us for our weekly gathering and twitter chat in #SpiritChat, Sunday June 5 at 9amET / 1pmGMT as we explore reality and such. I will bring some questions and banana bread. Do visit. Namaste – AjmaniK

A steel and wood bridge over the East branch of the Rocky River…

Moments of Silence

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The dog sitting by the screen door, watching the heavy rain falling on the deck, as the storm finally arrives, and then leaves quickly.

The stars emerging slowly and showing off their light as the moon is yet to rise.

The rising sun emerging from behind the clouds in the distance, and the lingering of the moon fading in its light.

The drops of overnight rain sitting on new leaves that emerged over the past few days.

The pair of geese escorting their newborns through the lake, teaching them to feed themselves as they go.

The two turtles sunning on a bed of reeds by the shore as the geese swim by.

The rush of white flowers on the wild bush that I almost cut down last year because I thought it was too close to the fence.

The stillness of the dragonfly caught by my camera as I went to take a closeup of said white flowers.

The eyes that welled up, and stayed so, during many of this week’s meditations.

What are some recent moments of silence you have experienced? How did they affect you? What kind of energy did they create within you?

So much of the condition of our heart and mind is affected by the energy that we experience in our moments of silence. Many of these silent moments, particularly those in nature, tend to catch us unawares. These are often the moments that tend to bring us great joy.

However there are other personal moments, planned and unplanned, which force us into temporary silence. The impact of these moments on us is so strong and deep, that we revert to silence to process their energy. These are often the moments of grief, sadness, anger, and even bitterness.

Regardless of our physical and emotional response to the positive or negative energy brought about by moments of silence, there is much that we can learn from them. If we make space for the silence, pay attention to the timing of their arrival, we can honor the message of every such moment.

With greater awareness of the moments of silence happening around us and within us, our hearts and minds have the opportunity move towards greater peace, equanimity and stillness. As a result, we can emerge from every new moment of silence with renewed strength and resolve to take actions for the greater good of all.

Kumud

P.S. Join us for our weekly twitter chat with the Spiritchat community, Sunday May 29 at 9amET / 1pmGMT / 630pm India. Please come and share some moments with us, as we reflect on the power of silence to heal us. Namaste – @AjmaniK

P.P.S. The USA observes ‘Memorial Day’ this weekend, to honor those who ‘gave their all’ for the country. We also mourn the many innocents, including young children, taken by gun violence in the past week. May they Rest In Peace. Peace. Peace.

A moment of silence… in the company of a dragonfly

On Embracing Diversity

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Sometimes, all it takes is a few drops of early morning rain falling on you as you walk, to erase the heaviness that you have inadvertently awakened to, despite a good night’s sleep. Little that you realize that the drops are actually harbingers of a drenching which is on the way!

The weekly Friday walk around the lake is colored with a wonderful cool breeze that precedes the warm front bringing a couple of forecasted hot days after some unseasonal coolness. The tree almost sound like the beginning of autumn. The lake surface is agog with waves rippling against the heavy, inch-thick layers of algae, which has taken over two thirds of the lake surface. I pause and lean against the wooden cow-fence, as the seeds of the river-birches welcome me back in much delight and ask – where have you been all week? Why don’t you visit more often? The four wooden and weathered steps in front of me invite me to come closer, so for the first time ever, I accept and sit on then last one step, where if I stretched my legs out, they would touch the grasses growing on the edge. A single goose flies over from the grassy knoll and joins me, loudly announcing the weather coming in as the wind picks up a couple of notches. I wonder if I should head back, to heed the warning of the heavy rain in its way, but I decide to press on. The forest cover will take care of me, I perhaps wrongly presume. In addition, what else do I have to do on this Friday morning?

The same rose-bush that be-friended me last week, grabs my shirt again as i walk by, reminding me of our budding friendship. The tree-lined part of the trail is still heavy with mud, what with all the rain of the past week and the now heavily dense leaf-canopy that prevents the sun from reaching the ground. I pause at the bend, as the swift breeze calms down for a bit, breathing in all the goodness created by the stillness and the soft murmurings of the fledglings from the depth of the forest. More seedlings fall on me on their way to the earth.

If and when we open all of our sense receptacles to it, without any filters, and embrace all of the diversity of the world around us if only for a few moments, it can help lighten our world within. Yes, it is said that what we see in the world around us is a reflection of the state of our world within, and yet, until we get to that stage, the outer can help bring peace to the inner. The diversity of the outer tableau is designed, often by our own selves through our seeking, to fulfill our greatest inner needs. Perhaps that is why some love the water, others the forests, and some are attracted to the mountains, and even the skies.

No matter what aspect of diversity we are attracted to as individuals, they are all necessary in order to meet the need of the hour or season of each individual. Why else would there exist millions of species of plants and animals, with their variations in behaviors in different seasons, if not to remind us of the necessity of diversity and the infinite possibilities of the universe? Does nature not mirror the need for the infinite diversity of humans in the human race, and serve as a reminder that there would be annihilation of any society that is intolerant of its diversity?

Imagine a toolbox with only one tool in it, say, a screw-driver. Can you build a house with it? Imagine eating the same breakfast every single day. How healthy would that be? Imagine having only a single vowel in the alphabet. What kind of communication would be possible? Would we able to write prose and poetry without diversity of vowels? Imagine.

Progress in love, and towards light, is only possible through our embrace of diversity. The diverse streams of life that flow within us, when they mingle with each other, become the universal ocean. Is it not that when we commit to the work of finding the unity within our diversity, that we come closer to the experience of Oneness?

As I walk under the canopy of tall trees on the trail, pausing occasionally to write this post, the rain is getting increasingly heavier. My phone’s screen is filling with droplets of all sizes, varying from about a hundredth of an inch to about an eight of an inch in diameter. The beauty of this impromptu canvas is perhaps living testament that diversity creates peace and beauty. It’s a long way back to the car, so I find a tree with a heavy leaf cover, and try and ride out the downpour. As I wait for the rain to lighten, I am filled with a rush of gratitude for the fact that no matter the season, the diversity of nature has always embraced me, whenever I have visited with it.

Maybe it is in the unconditional embraces of nature where I have learnt my best diversity lessons. How about you?

Kumud

P.S. Do join us for our community gathering in our weekly twitter chat, Sunday, May 22 at 9am ET in #SpiritChat. We are a diverse group indeed, and are welcoming of all as we chat over tea and cookies. Namaste – @AjmaniK

The diversity of nature… beauty brings peace

The Big Picture

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And just when I thought that all the light blooms were off of the flowering trees, in the stillness towards the end of the trail, a thicket of tall bushes bearing soft pink petals is still alive and blooming! Not only do they add color to the trail, they also give shade to the young wild roses yet to bloom.

As I start my journey back, the tall trees shower their lightest of leaves onto me as I walk. I can see that the wet and muddy trail is getting covered by a thin, first layer of green. It is perhaps akin to the first layer of the fine carpets that my ancestors were expert weavers of?

A thin branch of a rose brush reaches out and snags its thorns on my shirt as I walk closer to the edge to avoid a puddle. I pause and feel its kind welcome — nature’s hand on my shoulder, reminding me of the bigger picture, lest I rush by. What is the big picture of my existence, it wants me to ask?

My thoughts go back to the lecture hosted by us earlier in the week. Our guest speaker, who has been a Vedanta monk for almost sixty years, spoke about ‘The Big Picture.’ How often do we pause to remember who we are, and our connection to the universe? Why we do tend to so easily get entangled in the small, unimportant things in our lives, and get distracted by the BIG picture of our life? He gave a beautiful analogy to our dilemma.

“We often wander through the WiFi zone of life, looking for the password to connect to the higher network. But we already have the password. We have always had it. We have always been connected. We are just unaware of it!” – Swami Sarvadevananda

I pause again as I walk by the old house, turn around and look back. All of a sudden, I see that there’s green everywhere — green in the grass on the ground, green in the leaves on the trees against the sky, green in the algae on the water. How did so much green get created in a week or so? How much energy did nature have to spend to create this transformation?

I cross the tiny bridge and step out from the shady side of the pond to the sunny side, and the warmth of the sun already crested above the forty foot tree line greets me with aplomb. More questions came. What kind of transformation can I create within me and the world around me, if I focus on the BIG picture of my life and my walk through it? How do I stay focused on this BIG picture?

As if on cue, as I stand facing the sun and the lake, I hear the fog-horn sound of a bull-frog bellow above the birdsongs and the heavy highway traffic nearby. It is perhaps a reminder that a message transmitted with a singular purpose will always make its way through the noise of the world. Yes, I had to cross a bridge, stand in the light, and be in the right heart orientation to receive the BIG picture reminder.

Perhaps that’s the essence of spiritual work, isn’t it? What do you think?

Kumud

P. S. Join us for our weekly #SpiritChat gathering, Sunday May 15 at 9amET / 630pm India on twitter. We will talk about the BIG picture, hopefully with a good WiFi connection, and some cookies 🙂 Namaste – @AjmaniK

Spring flowers… still blooming on the trail