“Make sure that every day, you place your hands in the earth where you live and give thanks to it.”
– Patricia Damery
Imagine life as a tree. A seed is planted in the soil. It grows, rooted in the earth and seeking the sun. Seeds need to survive,
Seeds have adapted to grow in the wild, and not your fertilized soil and potting mix. Many survive the gut of animals before germinating, others wait years in the desert for water. The Hakea or Banksia serrata of Australia need fire to germinate.
But they all need water to soften the husk and activate proteins, starch, hemicellulose and pectins absorbed by the process of imbibation and. eventually the germ within sprouts in search of light, called photomorphogenesis.
I see life, in its material and spiritual forms as a tree. Subject to the law of the farm, fruitage require patience. Rooted in the soil of the heart, we both draw sustenance from above and below, from above and below, from within and without.
Like growing a seed, the journey can be tough.
When I consider the Himalayas I am reminded of my rootedness both to this earth, by the first chakra, that can grow into more lofty goals.
It seems to me that the first step in a spiritual journey is to connect to the earth and to appreciate what is.
It is said the first chakra connect us to the earth. The animists may see God in all things, whereas the Buddha, found that everything was not God, characterized by impermanence, suffering and not-self, part of an endless cycle of dependent origination.
St Francis walked with the animals, Jesus fasted in the wilderness with wild beasts, which is why I considered
“Understanding impermanence is important not simply for our practice of the Dharma but also in our daily lives. How often do friendships deteriorate and end because one of the two persons involved fails to notice that his or her friend’s attitudes and interests have changed? How often do marriages fail because one or both parties fail to take into account the fact that the other partner has changed?
It is because we lock ourselves into fixed, artificial, unchanging ideas of the characters and personalities of our friends and relatives that we fail to develop our relations with them appropriately and hence often fail to understand one another.”
-Buddhist teacher Peter Della Santina.
When we “get out of our heads” and be open to experience.
All cultures speak of a golden age of Edenic beauty lost to us. In the Biblical story Adam, a word meaning man, hides after the primal sin.
He is asked “Where are you?” by God. The question is not geographic, but of existence. It asks an aswer to all our life. It is a question both natural and threatening. It places us at the nexus between where we have come from and where we are going.
Some of us avoid it in the distraction of achievement. Or in Adams case, to seek to know what we need not know – at least not yet.
For at first we must connect and appreciate what is if we are to answer the question ‘Where a I? Where am I going? What I am doing?”
Forgive me if, for lack of ability, I allow my thoughts to be expressed by Swami Rama. For the Swami was touched by the earth. He saw sundhya, the twilight in between sacred in worship, as the kiss of the sun on the earth, the union of right or left energy channels, when ‘day weds night’.
For me, the Himalayas are my spiritual parents and living there was like living in the lap of a mother. She brought me up in her natural environment and inspired me to live a particular style of life. Once when I was fourteen years old, an unknown sage blessed me and gave me a leaf of bhoja patra, the paper made of bark on which the ancient scriptures were written. On it he inscribed, “Let the world be little with you. Let you be on the path of spirituality.”
The love I received from the sages is like the perennial snows which form the silvery glaciers of the Himalayas and then melt into thousands of streams. When love became the lord of my life, I became quite fearless and traveled from one cave to another, crossing streams and mountain passes surrounded by snow blanketed peaks. In all conditions I was cheerful, searching for the hidden sages who preferred to remain unknown. Every breath of my life was enriched with spiritual experiences which may be difficult for many others to comprehend.
That gentle and amiable sage of the Himalayas had only one entrancing theme: love—for nature, love—for creatures, and love—for the Whole. The Himalayan sages taught me the gospel of nature. Then I started listening to the music coming from the blooming flowers, from the songs of the birds, and even from the smallest blade of grass and thorn of the bush. In everything lives the evidence of the beautiful. If one does not learn to listen to the music of nature and appreciate her beauty, then that which impels man to seek love at its fountain may be lost in the remotest antiquity. Do you need psychological analysis to discover in nature the source of so much happiness, of so many songs, dreams, and beauties? This gospel of nature speaks its parables from the glacial streams, the valleys laden with lilies, the forests covered with flowers, and the light of stars. This gospel reveals that emphatic knowledge through which one learns truth and beholds the good in all its majesty and glory.
When one learns to hear the music of nature and appreciate her beauty, then his soul moves in harmony with its entire environment. His every movement and every sound will surely then find its due place in human society. The mind of man should be trained to love nature before he looks through the corridor of his life. Then a revelation comes peeping through with the dawn. The pain and miseries of life disappear with the darkness and the mist when the sun rises. Mortality finds its way in the awareness of immortality. Then a mortal being suffers no more from the pangs and sorrows which death seems to shower upon him. Death has for ages been a constant source of misery, but at death man learns to become one with the infinite and the eternal.
When one learns to appreciate fully the profundity of nature in its simplicity, then thoughts flow spontaneously in response to the appeals of his delicate senses when they come in contact with nature. This soul-vibrating experience, in its full harmony with the perfect orchestra of melodies and echos, reflects from the sound of the ripples of the Ganges, the gushing of the winds, the rustling of leaves, and the roar of thundering clouds. The light of the self is revealed and all the obstacles are removed. He ascends the top of the mountain, where he perceives the vast horizon. In the depth of silence is hidden the source of love. The eye of faith alone can unveil and see the illumination of that love. This music resounds in my ears and has become the song of my life.
This discovery of the sages binds the whole of humanity in the harmony of the cosmos. Sages are the sources from which mankind receives knowledge and wisdom to behold the light, truth, and beauty which show the path of freedom and happiness to all. They make humanity aware of the mere shadows and vain illusions of this world. With their eyes the unity of the entire universe is best seen.
“The truth is hidden by a golden disc. O Lord! Help us in unveiling so that we can see the truth.” The gospel of love as taught by the Himalayan sages makes the whole universe aware of the fountainhead of light, life, and beauty.
Who could not be impressed as the Himalayas blend red at the setting sun? Few of us will ever experience the serene calm of morning loved by those mountain mediators.
But the first chakra is more than just a connection to the dust of the earth, it connects us to the groundedness of our being.
What is there message for us? Do we see the clouds as water in a cloud or ‘the calligraphy of god in the sky’(Pierre Chardin)? Or can we see both and enjoy the meaning we give life in this moment?
Is ours a dead universe that accidently gave birth to life or is it alive?
Our neurology forbids us from seeing life in neutral terms. In everything we give life personal meaning that colours our experience.
Touching the earth centres us. We are more able to disengage the stories of blame and justification of our pettiness. We step back and can experience the wholeness of our purpose including its shadows.
In the mountains Swami Rama heard the lyrics of mountain girls that have been immortalised in classical rhythms. He was the clouds as a divine message to the beloved.
Why don”t we hear it?
In the Eden story Adam becomes aware he is hiding from divinity. Similarly we must be aware that we are hiding from divinity within, even if we do not know we are hiding.
A yogi may find solace by facing his inner demons in a cave but for most of us the pursuit of the spirit is found wanting and illusory. We look without, perhaps seeking the centre of our being in the wholeness of existence.