I have always been a fan of the number nine. I was delighted when I first found out that if you added the number nine to any number, and you sum up the resulting digits, you got back the sum of the digits that you started with. Nine is preservative in addition. So, let’s say we begin with 25. Two plus five is seven. Now, add nine, and we get 34. Three plus four is seven. Let’s add ninety-nine. 34 plus 99 is 133. One plus three plus three is seven. Try adding 999. 1132. Still seven.
Now try multiplication with nine. Nine becomes transformative. The resulting sum of the digits will always be nine. 25 times 9 is 225. Two plus two plus five is nine. 25 times 99 is 2,475. Two plus four plus seven plus five is 18. One plus eight is 9. Yes, we can play with nines like this all day long. Magical when we slow down to contemplate, isn’t it?
In human life, when nine is engaged in multiplication, it becomes an agent for transformation. For example, it takes nine months for a human baby to be born. Is there any greater act of transformation than two cells becoming a baby? Can you think of an example in our daily lives where addition by nine represents preservation? I will give you a personal example.
Nine years ago to the day, give or take a few days, a few folks gathered on twitter on a Sunday morning at 11am ET and had a conversation about spirituality. The topic was, “On Slowing Down”. There was no agenda or expectation that there would even be a second conversation the following Sunday. It was simply an experiment inspired by a question posed by me to one of my good friends – why isn’t there any chat on twitter about spirituality? Wayne’s response was — so what if there isn’t one? Why don’t you start one?
Answer a question with a question. That’s the classic way in which a teacher and mentor can nudge us to do something that takes us out of our comfort zone. I remember thinking back then — what will I even talk about? So, I asked Wayne again. What should the topic be? His response was — what do you love doing most? Talk about that. Hmm. What do I love doing most? I love slowing down, sitting and doing “nothing”. I learnt that from my Dad.
He could sit and read the newspaper for hours. He could sit in absolute stillness and silence with a cup of tea at peace for what seemed the longest time. He could stand in the kitchen patiently and tend to the assembly of his seven-layered, seven-colored rice dish for what seemed like forever. You simply couldn’t rush him for anything.
So, in the last week of July, which happens to be his birthday week (he would have been eight six this year), on a Sunday morning in 2011, a few friends of mine gathered and chatted about “slowing down”. There were only three questions. I did not ask the first question until twenty minutes into the hour. We had no idea what we were doing except that we were all simply happy to be there, enjoying each other’s company as we held our cups of tea or coffee and wondered about the merits of “slowing down”.
That was then. Nine years ago. It seems like a life-time or more in online years. And yet, not much has changed in some ways since 2011, has it? If anything, the need for us to experience the magic of slowing down is all the more greater, isn’t it? How else is one to engage in remembrance and gratitude, if not through the active process of slowing down? How else, if not by slowing down, am I to thank all of those who have sent hundreds of thousands of words of hope and inspiration to the #SpiritChat community over the years?
How about slowing down offline? It is in slowing down that I can watch and deeply feel the sun rise slowly at the eastern end of the street at dawn or feel the silvery glow of the sliver of the moon’s rising at dusk. Slowing down allows me to contemplate the beauty of the flower that was separated overnight and fell to the ground in homage to the earth. It allows me to touch the dew fallen in the grass with light feet, and inhale the air of the cool morning breeze before the heat rises and melts it away. And yes – how is one to engage in meditation, if not by first slowing down physically and remembering to bring myself to a state of rest?
So yes, slowing down allows us to return to remembrance. Regularly slowing down within allows us to be in constant remembrance. What kind of remembrance? The external world will be relentless in its demands on us, and yet That stillness will remain in our hearts forever. It shall be patiently waiting for us to accept its invitation to visit with it, to let the outer world be, and to choose to be immersed in the world within. Will we make that choice? How much can we slow ourselves down? Will we observe the observer and remember that there is That permanent, indestructible, all-loving, all-joyous, all-truthful One within All off us?
That remains the great question, the great challenge.
Nature has some pointers for us. As fast as a hummingbird flies or a bee buzzes or a butterfly flaps her wings, they all have to slow down, to come to a moment of stillness, so that they can experience the magical taste of the nectar of life. What can we learn from their behavior? Even the new puppy, who can go a hundred miles an hour, has to pause for a drink of water, a nibble at her food bowl, before she can take off again like an express train towards her next station of play.
Like the piano virtuoso Wayne Mcevilly, who inspired me to start the weekly chat nine years ago said — the greatest classical music compositions are so because the composers put as much care into putting the pauses into the right place, as they did into assigning the notes that each instrument is to play.
Let us condense nine years into nine minutes. That is my invitation to you. Take nine minutes and be still. Watch your breath or the light in your heart or the sunrise or the sunset or a single flower dancing in the stillness. Absolute stillness. There is magic in all of That. Thou art That. That is all there Is.
We all can experience all of That, if we were to embrace the act of slowing down. No magic necessary.
P.S. Join me and the #SpiritChat community on Sunday, July 26 at 9amET as we slow down to create some magic. I look forward to hearing from you about your experiments with pure stillness. I will bring tea and maybe even some cake – you bring your open hearts and we will chat. Namaste – @AjmaniK
A bee slows down to visit a butterfly bush in the front yard