As per daily routine, today also I set out in the afternoon
to enjoy the lovely beautiful scenes of the forest. It served
many purposes. Primarily the stroll served to keep the health and physique in order. But the main motive was to meet and talk to the companions in this solitude and enquire of their well being. When the narrow vision of considering oneself as the member of only the human species began to expand, intimacy and oneness with plants and trees, birds and animals, moths and insects began swelling up on its own. These kins do not speak in the language of man, nor do they have the social order like that of man. Yet the worlds of these non-human life forms have their own place of importance due to their special characteristics and attributes. Man has created many narrow distinctions between man and man on the basis of caste, creed, colour, region, state, nation, language etc. Similarly it is also a narrow concept of man to consider himself to be a member of human community only and other creatures to be of a different origin or to consider them as objects of serving his needs and greeds. Man is only one of the many children of Nature. Though he has many superior qualities and qualifications, the other creatures also have their own special qualities which man does not have. These qualities and specialties are also so wonderful and great as to make man feel humble.
These thoughts were rising in the mind while strolling today. In the beginning the creatures and plants who are the members of this solitude seemed silly and unimportant. But now when they are observed closely and carefully they are found to be great in their own domain of consciousness. It seems that even though nature has given greater measure of intelligence to man, it has given many other gifts to these unintelligent offsprings of hers. Having received those gifts, they can, if they choose to, feel more proud than man.
Here there are numerous species of birds that fly to visit far off places very early and comfortably. They cross over mountains and change their habitats with the change of climate. Does man have the ability to fly? He has succeeded in flying with aeroplanes, but can it be compared with the ability of birds to fly on the wings? Man has made a lot of cosmetics and other things to beautify himself; but has he been able to achieve the beautiful colour, shape and design of the birds and butterflies, who are as attractive as the celestial maidens?
Many kinds of clothes are used by man to safeguard himself against cold. But could any man ever obtain a warm coat of hairs grown on the body itself like that of bears and sheep? Should not man whose body emits bad odour every moment through every pore feel ashamed before plants and trees whose flowers spread fragrance every moment? Does man whose body becomes weak and useless and ends up in death in a span of about 60-70 years, stand any comparison to pythons, who happily cover a life span of 400 years? Banyan trees live upto thousand years.
The musk deer sprinting over the mountains here can easily defeat any man in race. Can a man defeat a bear in wrestling? Is there any man who is as industrious and hard working as an ant? Who can collect honey from flowers like the honeybees? Is human eye capable of seeing in darkness, like the cats? Can any man identify men and materials on the basis of smell as dogs can, or live in water like the fish or separate milk and water like the swans? Has any man the strength of an elephant? When these virtues and specialties of plants and animals are considered, the vanity of man in considering himself to be superior to all other life forms in the world is baseless.
The thought that man is not everything, prevailed in mind during today’s stroll. Not only that he is not superior to but he is not even the leader of all. True, he has intelligence and power. True, he has amassed a lot of means of pleasure. At the same time it is also true that he has misused this gift. The other creatures of nature are his own kith and kin. This earth is the mother of them all too. They too are entitled to grow and prosper here. But man has enslaved them all, lorded over them, destroyed their habitats and trampled upon their freedom and happiness. He has chained the animals and tortured them to work for his comforts and pleasures. He takes away the milk due for the calves and drinks it himself. He kills them mercilessly to eat their flesh. He kills birds and aquatic creatures so as to pander to his taste buds and fashions. When you think of the cruel behaviour meted out to these creatures by man for the sake of flesh, medicines, fashion, pleasure and luxury, the morality of man appears to be simply a sham.
The territory where my solitary hut is situated is abundant with terrestrial, aquatic and aerial creatures, apart from plants and trees. While roaming about, I meet them naturally. In the beginning they used to be scared of me, but not so now. We have now developed a sense of kinship. They have accepted me as a member of their family. Now we are not afraid of each other. Day by day a sense of mutual bonding is increasing. It seems underneath the chaotic outer layer, there is a world replete with heavenly attributes like love, compassion, friendship, co-operation, generosity, beauty, peace and contentment. But man has shut himself away from it and has enclosed himself in a jail-like world of his own - the man’s world. This conceited creature boasts of the achievement of material science. He speaks highly of his greatness, superiority, education and morality. But his cruelty towards fellow creatures of this earth unveils all the false claims he makes about morality, superiority, compassion, etc.
Today I was so much engrossed in thoughts that I lost my way. I have been fondly watching birds and animals without keeping count. They too were looking at me approvingly. Man cannot be adjudged great among the creations of nature only because he is intellectually superior. If might is the yardstick of greatness, dacoits, demons, evil ghosts, spirits, etc. should be respected because of their superiority in might. The symbols of greatness are truth, love, justice, character, restraint, generosity, sacrifice, prudence, friendliness etc. Without these virtues, a man possessing intelligence is a much more cruel animal than the ferocious wild animals. The ferocious animals resort to attack only when hungry; but the intelligent human beast is ever on the prowl to attack, in order to satiate his greed and vanity.
It was getting late. By the time I reached the hut, it was already dark. Till very late into the night I kept pondering. We take pride in having contributed to the betterment of human conditions. But is it not communal partiality? Is it not a narrow outlook to think this way? Only on the basis of virtues can man be considered great: else he is the most wicked among all the creatures. Why should our outlook be restricted to the problems of humanity only? Why should not we extend our kinship with other creatures and contribute towards furthering their welfare?
A good part of the night passed in these thoughts. The intense pressure of thoughts disturbed the sleep. A number of dreams were seen. In every dream, the scenes of playing and conversing with varied creatures were appearing. The substance of it all was that the consciousness within was experiencing kinship with all creatures, just like we do with human beings. Today’s dreams were very pleasant. It was felt that the soul was expanding in order to play a much larger role. A few days back the solitude of this place was boring; but no place appeared to be solitary now. Playful companions were everywhere. Though they do not speak like men or their traditions differ from that of man, their feelings and emotions are more authentic and nobler than man’s from many angles.
Waiting for Fulfilment of Aim
The duration of sleep is lessened due to light food. Fruits are very rare now but vegetables serve to provide the Satwik (pure and pious) elements in food. If Satwik food is taken, four to five hours of sleep is enough for a Sadhak (devotee).
Winter nights are long. Sleep is completed quickly. Mind is rather uneasy today. When will this Sadhana (spiritual pursuit) be over? How long will it take for fulfillment of the aim? When shall I achieve success? Thoughts like these were coming up. The current of puzzling thoughts tends to disturb inner peace. In the flow of such random thoughts it was not possible to concentrate on Sadhana. Boredom overtook the mind. So I got out of the hut to get rid of this boredom and began to stroll. I simply felt to move ahead. The legs moved on. The cold was intense. But the pull to sit in the lap of Mother Ganga was too strong to care for the cold. A stone lying close to the edge of the stream was protruding into the flowing current. This was my favourite place to sit on. Wrapping the blanket around, I got there and sat over it. Judging from the position of stars it was about 2 O’ clock in the night.
Sitting there for a long time induced sleepiness. The gurgling music of Ganga induces concentration of mind, as a swing provides relaxation to the body. When a child is put in a swinging cradle, it soon falls asleep. The atmosphere of the place where I am put up these days is so gentle that the divine gurgling of the stream sounds like the lullaby being sung by the mother. In order to get concentration of mind, this gurgling sound of the stream was as useful as the heavenly melodious music. Mind becomes calm and relaxed. I felt sleepy and wanted to lie down. Curling up my body I lay down there on the rock using the blanket both as bed sheet and wrapper. Sleep slowly began to rock me.
It seemed that the soul of the stone was speaking. Piercing the blanket, its voice reached through the ears right into the heart. Even in that dazed condition the mind began to hear attentively.
The soul of the stone said, “Hey Sadhak, don’t you feel the blissful experience of the soul that you started thinking of attaining? Is the joy of journey any less interesting than reaching the destination? Is the ticking sensation in separation less exhilarating than the feeling of joy in union? You better learn this truth.
God indwells the devotee. So why should there be delay in union? It is only in order to let the devotee enjoy the pleasure of Sadhana that He has hidden Himself behind the veil and is watching whether the devotee is getting immersed in the sea of joy of devotion or not. When he gets fully immersed in this joy, God too comes and starts dancing with him. Siddhi (attainment of self-realization) is the stage at which the devotee tells God that he does not want merging in the Supreme Self, but longs for the continuation of separation; so that he gets happiness and joy of the Divine play.”
The soul of the stone went on telling further. It said, “Hey Sadhak, you look in front of you. How eagerly is Ganga rushing down to meet her Beloved! How pleased she is in this race! Her union with the ocean has already taken place, but she is not content with that. How can the joy in playful action and imagination be had in the union? Ganga is not content with union which is the end. She has pledged to keep on her endeavour to attain the union. So, Sadhak, why should you be impatient: Your goal is great and your path is noble. Great patience is needed for great purposes. Childish impatience won’t do here. What is the use of worrying about as to when the aim is going to be achieved?”
The soul of the stone was proceeding non-stop. With self-confidence, it said -”You look at me. I too am lying here to merge my identity with that great Being. I am performing Sadhana of merging myself into the great ocean by breaking my gross body, this huge piece of rock, into subtle colloids. With every stroke of waves a part of my body breaks away from me and by turning into colloid it flows towards the ocean. In this way I get rubbed and enjoy it moment by moment. I am trying to prolong this enjoyment of separation for the sake of the Beloved as long as possible. Had I been impatient like the stones lying in the middle of the flow, I would have been broken fast and the destination could have possibly been reached long back. But that would have deprived me of the pleasure of getting chiseled for the sake of the beloved.”
“So don’t be impatient. Impatience generates jealousy, anger, disappointment, inconsistency, meanness and lack of faith. Has anyone having these vices ever become great or achieved the goal? The foremost attribute of a Sadhak is patience. Impatience leads to failure. The allurements of greed, fear, disappointment and anxiety confronted by the Sadhak are nothing but tests of his patience. What kind of a Sadhak are you who did not learn even this first lesson?”
The soul of the stone finished its sermon. My drowsiness was broken. This admonition jerked the conscience violently. ‘You have set out to become a great Sadhak without studying even the first lesson! My head bowed down in shame and shyness. I was blaming myself and kept trying for long to understand the point. I looked up; the eastern horizon was putting on a purple hue, heralding the dawn. I got up and went back to the hut to attend to the daily routine