There is a place I go, when in London, a place in the midst of eight million people; it is a place of relative solitude. Situated at the far end of a pond in Bishop’s Park, part surrounded by mature trees and thick undergrowth you could imagine that you were miles away from the hubbub of a busy city. Tree, bushes, dryads, elementals, and if ancient text is to be believed then angels are sometimes found under mature trees such as these.
I was in that place today. And, I just sat there and ‘basked’ in nature.
It was a delight to ‘switch off’ from the challenges of listening to the politics from across the pond, and politics of the self-inflicted wound this country has caused itself. The question on everyone’s tongue is: why?
But, it got me thinking.
Is our life, the reason we were inculcated with the Divine ‘spark or crawled out of the primeval swamp a billion years ago, depending on your viewpoint, just to be a consumer or worried with ‘things’, possessions, attachments? Why? Are we just saving up for that moment when we can buy this and that?
I don’t believe so. We are more.
Ofcourse, we do consume things (but hopefully, we do so responsibly, whenever we can), we can get concerned with things and possessions (but hopefully, such things do not become the master of us), and we may have attachments (but hopefully, work towards ‘zero’ attachments or at least ‘seeing’ them for what they are. Perhaps, it’s all to do with priorities?
It’s bliss in this place. Trees and bushes, sensing spring, are pushing through leaves, flying insects are starting to buzz, and an assortment of birds fly overheard or resting near the pond, with others swimming in the pond.
And of all the creatures about this place, me, humankind is the only one that can obsess about inconsequentials. And, yet for a short while I was able to ‘switch off’ and merge with nature, to be one with everything around me as though there was no division (and there isn’t), and any concerns about politics etc were lifted off my shoulders. It was bliss.
The rose is without why,
it blooms because it blooms,
It pays no attention to itself,
asks not whether it is seen.
(Poem, ‘Without why’ from ‘The Cherubinic Wanderer’, by Angelus Silesius (1624-1677), a mystical poet)
In this simple and profound state the rose is, just is. It doesn’t fret about its function or the processes of being a rose. Infact the notion of what and why and how doesn’t enter into the picture. Using the analogy of the rose it is an encouragement for us to exert our original identity, to realise our wonderful status, and revel in the freedom of being ourselves.
We are more than just consumers, voters, workers etc. In one sense, we do not need to strive. Want to be one with nature? We already are! Though I accept that sometimes our actions seem to ‘distance’ us and there is a need to act in accordance with our being. Want to be one with the Divine? We are already at the feast, though we might not realise it, nor act accordingly. Want to step along that path of the journey of your life? You’re already on it, so enjoy it. You’re already there!
Though we need a roof over our heads and we work and buy and sell, I do believe we miss out when we forget the primal calling which each of us responded to, as ‘chosen people’, by virtue of the fact that we are here!
As I sat in that park, today, thoughts ran through my mind: What really matters is what money cannot by. What really lasts in what cannot be quantified? What makes a difference is what is invisible.
We need to develop to look beyond, with eyes beyond eyes.
Once I asked my Master, “What is the difference between you and me?” And he replied, “Hafiz, only this.
If a herd of wild buffalo broke into our house and knocked over our empty begging bowls not a drop would spill from yours.
But there is Something Invisible that the Divine has placed in mine. If that spilled from my bowl, it could drown this whole world.’
In that park, in that place of solitude it was clear: we think our life is empty or it is so because we try to fill it with things that don’t really matter, and the bowl is metaphorically empty. However, if our priorities are correct and we’re aware of our primal calling and status, then when the bowl of our life, our being, is spilled, then we understand it contains invisible contents, and something wonderful spills over.
Now, were those thoughts mine, as they occurred in the park, or prompted by someone else, an angel, a fae, an elemental, a subtle being? Who knows? Ask that question, and we’re back to square one. Ask that and we’ve jumped out of the mystery and into rational thought. When we were infact dealing with the ‘arational’ (above the rational, not irrational). Perhaps the question isn’t important, nor one we should really be asking. Perhaps, just accepting the thoughts from any origin, dwelling on them, mulling them over is what is most important. It is, surely, important to exert our original identity, to realise our wonderful status, and revel in the freedom of being ourselves.
Now, the park as I sit on this park bench seems even more alive, more wonderful, more mysterious than I had formerly imagined. It is the case, with eyes to see beyond, the same where you are, too!
And so, I leave the park. Those concerns I had, and our need for work and shelter etc still persist, but for a short time, the benefits of that time in the park have put those things into perspective. And, it’s bliss.