It had been an exhausting day and a half of work as I was trying to wrap up the technical paper and presentation that was to accompany it. Finally, after what seemed like a really long day by the time it came three o’clock, I made some time for afternoon tea. I could tell that it was a brisk day outside what with the almost leaf-shorn trees standing still against the clear blue sky and the brilliant sunshine quickly fading to the south east.
Walking upstairs to “close up the office”, I noticed that the sun had created hundreds of spot-lights off of the stained-glass-like lamp sitting by the window. The reading chair called to me, and I walked over with the cup of tea, pulled the “Rumi” book off of the shelf and let the sunshine soak into my soul.
The next half hour felt like I must have traveled into a different universe where the silence becomes you. The sunlight lit up each page as I read poems about love without rules, the nature of what we are given when a loved one holds us to their chest, true silence that makes you feel like the soul’s belonging, and how spring awakens autumn from its slumber. Who says you can’t stumble into spring in the middle of a late afternoon on a late November day in autumn?
And so it went as I faded in and out of what seemed like forever. My tea sat on the small round table by me, slowly exhausting its warmth like the setting sun as it was fading quickly behind the rooflines of the homes in the distance. The thirty minutes of warmth felt like the fourteen years that I had spent being raised with love by my Aunt who had been born on this day ninety two years ago. The divine had blessed her with the ability to share her light. She gave of it freely to her kids, to strangers, to the fruit and vegetable sellers, to the part-time maids who came to do myriad home tasks, and so on. I was fortunate to bear witness to a lot of her giving.
Giving and its lessons can come to us from any direction at any time. The nature of giving is such that we often do not not know what we have been given until it comes our turn to give in a similar way. She would often remark that I would understand why she acted in the ways that she did, even when exacting discipline, when I would become a parent myself. When that day came, my understanding began to dawn, but it happened in an unexpected way. The medium was the giving nature of the one who gave birth to our child.
And so my slow learning continues. Now, our child teaches me through her peace and her gentility and her passion for social justice. The spiritual masters teach me by about limitless giving by their transmission of spiritual energy to all those who are willing to receive. And so on it goes.
Some of you may say that I look at life through rose-colored glasses. And that is okay. For one, I like roses. The rose keeps on spreading its fragrance, regardless of how many thorns are nearby. The rose knows who it is, and what its purpose is. Is that not a great example of the nature of giving? In addition, I can use the same rose-colored glasses to look at myself with love, kindness and compassion. If I only look at my own thorns, what is the world going to see when they look at me?
Yes. The spiritual path can be long, arduous, daunting, and even seem futile for the seeming lack of progress. There seems so much more work to do. Tagore says in his translation of one of Kabirdas’s poems:
“So, when I give up passion, I see that anger remains;
And when I renounce anger, greed is with me still;
And when greed is vanquished, pride and vainglory remain;
When the mind is detached and casts Maya away, still it clings to the letter.
Kabîr says, “Listen to me, dear Seeker! the true path is rarely found.”
So what is a practitioner to do? ‘Rarely’ does not mean ‘never’. One solution is to keep on practicing our nature of giving. Sustained practice improves our inner state, which enables us to create tangible changes in our outer state, create a new lifestyle. If we embrace giving by fully engaging our heart, we can find ourselves in oneness with the rose, whence the petals and thorns are indeed one flower. The fragrance of our giving than shall then know no limits.
P.S. Join us for our weekly Twitter conversation, Sunday Nov 28 at 9amET / 730pm India in #SpiritChat ~ come share your fragrance with the community. Namaste ~ @AjmaniK