When I hear the word "nature," conditioning makes me think of trees and forests. Deeper reflection reminds me that nature could also be my nature. Infact, from the same vedic sources that Deepak Chopra cites comes an exhortation to find that knowledge, knowing which, all becomes known. Pondering over this aphorism, I felt that it is my own nature that if known, reveals all nature to me, for then, the distinction of "my" or "I" is no longer present. When I am established in my nature, there is nowhere to go, nothing to do, just peace and harmony with all that is. Once established, the hardest problems look puny and all action from this space becomes the right action. The problem is, getting to this space can be very hard. Smita's mother pointed out that we get into this space only when we have given up trying. I could resonate with that as some of the decisions I've taken came from insights that leaped up when I completely gave up. I stopped trying to be something else, and accidentally got into the space of connecting with my own nature, where there are no dilemmas, for there is no mind.
Again, as Smita's mother pointed out, we may know this insight several times, but we also know that we're going to lose it and will have to work to regain it again. This was her last visit to a Wednesday in this visit and we are going to miss her smile, wisdom and presence. (She cooked a few Wednesdays back for everyone, so she is now our CFMom from Minnesota!) She plans to hang out in Karma Kitchen DC and Wednesdays in DC.
The idea of love in this passage is profound. To me, it is what takes all this discussion of awareness of nature from the intellectual to the real. Going deeper, what is the experience of love? The author is giving us a key to a very big mystery. We all experience love in so many ways. It is that moment when we cannot put any label to what we are feeling, but our whole body trembles, we feel expanded, and a tear-drop rolls down our cheek. We feel connected to someone and in that moment, we cannot distinguish ourselves from them (by the definition of connection, and by the experience of it). It is love then, that gives us access to our nature - for we have practically broken the limitations of our identity and connected to something bigger.
The funny part is, we are not aware that the experience of love connects us to a deeper awareness. However, we can see the power of it - for a moment of genuine love is indelibly printed in our minds. It is so deep that one is forever touched by it. When one makes a practice of love, it becomes a great tool for developing awareness as we can be engaged in it all the time. Suddenly, a meditation practice that I'd learned years back, made a lot of sense. In this practice, the meditator starts by giving love to all four directions, to everything that is around, and then enters into silence. If done right, it takes us straight in to the zone of awareness. In other practices, love is given at the end. One effect of that (for me) is to ensure that even if no awareness has developed during the meditation (which is very unlikely), the awareness sets in for sure at the end. Love is what explains the development of awareness through service. In other words, service without love is of no use to anybody. To get to the practical, I am amazed at how easy life looks when I surrender and develop love for those who are trying to help in my research. And, by the same token, how hard it seems when I get defensive. The other day, I chatted with a good friend on the phone and got all defensive when he started getting critical. We agreed to meet to discuss further. At the meeting, I decided to honor his love for me, and at every criticism, I kept sending love and gratitude. And surprisingly, everything he said make sense. And, he kept getting happier and happier with my research. We ended the meeting on a great high - he felt it was great work and that he had been able to help me (which he indeed had).
As we went around the group, Reepa shared her reflection on Amma (Mata Amritanandamayi) who is also known as the hugging saint. When asked how she could do what she does, she replied with a question, "How does the river flow?" This metaphor struck a chord with many and was repeated by others as well.
Viral shared a story, building on the idea of "knowing that by which you know all." It was the story of a sword master's challenge to a tea-master (Japan's tea ceremonies). The tea-master decided to take some lessons from another sword master. In the duel, the tea-master drew his sword out so perfectly that the challenger conceded defeat - for he could find no flaw in the action. When one is a master in one area, one finds the ability to master other areas too.
Hafeez shared an aphorism, "Love what you do. Do what you love." Pavi shared a dissenting view on nature - for it is true that nature also has examples of the cruel and the difficult. The March of the Penguins is a great testimony to the struggle of the penguins. Others shared how getting to the awareness of nature was the hard part - lot of struggle needed to get there.
After the sit, had a lovely chat with Dinesh uncle's brother, who was the entrepreneur behind the STD-ISD PCO (phone booths manned by people) that revolutionized the telecom landscape in the 90s. It was incredible to hear about the patience with which he had to convince the government of India that a payphone is not just a phone into which you can put in coins (as defined by law) but also any phone that you have to pay to use. He managed to get the government to recognize something a child can understand, and the rest is history. What I observed was a lack of bitterness at the government. I requested a write-up from him - hopefully we'll manage to get it and put it on the CF Blog.