Companions in Solitude

Companions in Solitude

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Man has the wonderful capacity of adapting himself to 
the surroundings he lives in. When I came to stay in 
this hut in solitude, I felt loneliness all around. When the loneliness within comes out it sees loneliness everywhere. But now when the narrowness within is giving way to vastness, I feel everything around to be mine and feel oneness with all. Now where has the solitude gone? Now whom to be afraid of in darkness?

It was a moonless night. The sky was overcast. It was slightly drizzling too. The cold wind was trying to get in, piercing through the blanket. Lying inside the hut on the mat of leaves, the body was today feeling uneasy and unwell. Sleep has also deserted me today. The flow of thoughts gushed out. It began to compare the home filled with loving and caring people and means of comfortable living, with this dripping hut in lonely darkness and freezing cold. The merits and demerits began to be enumerated. 
The mind-body duo was feeling uncomfortable. Why should they bear these discomforts? They are one in conspiring against the soul. Brain is their captive advocate. Its business is to support what they are interested in. The brain is like the royal attendants who are past-masters in the art of moulding their stand according to the situations in order to please the king and to be in his good books. It is expert in easily putting forth innumerable proofs, reasoning, logic and justifications in favour of the changing moods of the mind. It was out-doing the advocates in enumerating the merits of household comforts and the demerits of the troublesome hut in the solitude. Its arguments continued like a tempest.

At that moment a tiny insect from its hole in the wall against my head began singing a song. Getting inspired, one by one all the insects in the hut began singing in chorus. On many earlier occasions the singing of the insects was casually heard by me. Their songs then appeared to be hoarse and meaningless. But today the mind had no work. So it began to attentively hear the ascending and descending order of the song. The mind had also grown tired of blaming and finding fault with solitude. This flirting monkey always needs new kinds of works.  It now began to enjoy the song session of the insects.
The insects sang a sweet song. It was not worded in human language, but the ideas and feelings contained therein were same as of human beings. The idea of the song was like this: “Why can’t we be infinite? Why not enjoy being infinite? Limitation is bondage. In infinity lies the key to liberation. How can those whose happiness is limited to sensual pleasure, to whom only a few things and people are considered to be theirs and whose desires are limited to some petty indulgences, experience the unbound joy available in abundance in the vast world of the Supreme Infinite? Hey creature, you be infinite, expand your soul to infinity; there is happiness allover; experience it yourself and become immortal.”

The insects were singing together uninterruptedly like a group of saints, who had relinquished worldly pleasures, and were singing psalms of liberation to the music of a single stringed instrument. It was not meant for any audience. It was for the joy of Self. Moved by such sentiments I got lost in the song. The discomforts in the hut caused by the rain were forgotten. These companions of the solitude who sang the song of peace dispelled my gloom and charged the atmosphere with joy and enthusiasm.
Old habits began to change. The world began to appear wide and vast, when I tried to extend to all the creatures the intimacy, hitherto kept confined to human beings. I learnt to enjoy the company of other creatures too just like I used to do with human beings. Loneliness was nowhere to be seen now in this un-peopled wilderness.
Today, while I was wandering out of the precincts of my hut, companions began to be seen all around. Tall big trees appeared like fathers and grandfathers. The maroon- skinned birch trees (Bhojpatra trees) looked as if some great hermits clad in their ochre clothes were performing ‘Tap’ in standing posture. Tall trees of cedar and pine were standing erect in attention like guards, determined not to let in any wickedness prevalent in human society.
Small tiny plants and creepers were sitting like tiny kids in rows. Their heads were decorated with flowers. When the wind blew they began to swing their heads and looked like children in a primary class shaking their heads in a rhythmic motion while reciting the mathematics tables. The birds perched on the branches were chirping so sweetly, that it seemed they were heavenly singers incarnated here in various beautiful forms to sing the virtues and praise of the beauty of the woods. Like naughty children, the deer were playing, running and jumping all over. The wild sheep were loitering in the woods as if they were the landladies of this forest. Small worms and reptiles were moving around like the spring-fitted toys. Their colours, shapes and graceful gaits were all worth seeing. The butterflies and flowers seemed to be competing in beauty contest.

The mountain brook was flowing beside, dancing coquettishly like a maiden unable to hold the freshness of youth within herself. Its fickle, playful, sprightful movements were so captivating that the eyes and mind stay riveted on the sight. Many other rivers also come and join the Ganga. Their meeting at the confluence looked like two emotionally charged sisters embracing each other while going to the house of their in-laws. Himalayas, the king of mountains, might have given his daughters in marriage to the ocean. How intimately and sentimentally the sisters meet at the time of going to the in-laws’ house could be seen here. No duration of time was sufficient to be satiated with this scene of sentiments. One wishes to be looking at it forever

Like old and wise kings and leaders, the mountain peaks were seen sitting in calm posture as if engrossed in deep thoughts to solve some serious problems. The white snow appearing atop was their white hair. The small clouds hovering around appeared to be offering headwear of fresh white cotton and also wrapping the naked shivering body with costly blankets and shawls so as to afford protection from cold. 

Wherever I looked, a large family was seen around me. They had no language; they could not speak; but the consciousness dwelling in their souls was speaking aloud without words. Whatever was said was coming straight from the heart and what they preached was practiced too by them. Such unspelt, yet most touching words, were never heard before. Their words went straight into the soul and set all the cells of the body aquiver with a new awakening. Where is the solitude now? Who is to be afraid of? There are soul companions sitting all around. 
The golden light of the sun came down to the earth from above the mountain peaks, as if the company of noble souls was enlightening ignorant hearts. The sun stays here and there behind the mountains. Only at midday it is fully seen for a couple of hours or so. Its rays fill vigour and vitality in all the living elements. Enthusiasm and energy begin to sprout. The sun of knowledge of the Self also normally stays curtained behind the peaks (veils) of lust and greed; but whenever and wherever it focuses its golden rays they invariably shed divine effulgence all around.
My body too came out of the hut in order to enjoy the golden sunrays and moved on to stroll over the green grassy carpet outside. A little distance away there was a hillock laden with flowers of several shades and colours. Eyes could not resist their attraction and the legs moved on towards it. 

The plants adorned with flowers looked like little children wearing colorful caps, standing together and engaged in planning some game. I too went and sat amidst them, and began to feel as if I were one among them. I wished I were a child again and those little plants accepted me as their companion. 
Imagination flew unfettered. When the inner self is filled with joy, ego-centric thoughts calm down. There is tremendous power in the imagination of man. It creates a world of its own - palpably real, powerful and active. Its power is so great that it has created gods and divine beings and by infusing devotion and dedication made them lofty and venerable. It did not take long to be in that state when the feelings within me began to take flight. I felt that these children standing in rows have accepted me as their companion and have welcomed me to play with them.

The wild plant I was sitting by was laden with yellow flowers. It looked very pleasant natured, smiling and talkative. One of the flowers spoke to me in its language -”Dear friend you have unwisely chosen to be born as a man. Theirs is a wretched life -Always worried, puzzled, tense and grudging! Next time you should choose to be born as a flower and be with us. See how happy and contented we are! We all know what peace there is in living life as a game. Do you not see the unalloyed joy within us coming out as fragrance? 

The flowers are the manifestation of our laughter. We are loved by all. We offer joy and solace to all. We live happily and make happy all those who come close to us. Ours is the true art of living. Man boasts of his intelligence, but what worth is this intelligence when it cannot help him learn the simple process of living in a peaceful and playful way?”

The flower continued - “I have said this neither to humiliate you nor to extol our superiority, but to acquaint you with a simple truth. While we are not rich, wealthy, learned or talented and yet we live life playfully spreading fragrance. In comparison to us man’s resources are many times more. Yet if he lives in worry, sorrow and unhappiness, it can be attributed to his sheer lack of true wisdom. Dear, you are wise in that you have come to live among and play with us for some time, leaving the ‘wise’ people. If you wish you can learn from us, humble beings, an important lesson about the true art of living life.”

My head bowed in reverence. “Dear friend Flower, you are very blessed. Though having little resources, you have mastered the technique of living life purposefully. On the other hand, we waste our jolly gifts in grudging and grumbling. My dear friend, you are a wise counselor. You teach, not by words, but by example. Dear young friend, I have come to learn, and will learn a lot from you. Please teach me like a true friend.”

The ever-glad yellow plant laughed heartily, nodding in agreement and said. “There is no dearth of teachers for those who want to learn. At every step teachers are available. But where are the learners? Who cares to learn these days? Everyone is gloating over one’s own pride. In order to learn, the door of heart should be kept open. Then knowledge, true knowledge will automatically enter into it like blowing wind”

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