A work of art is the unique result of a unique temperament. ~Oscar Wilde

Posts tagged ‘light’

The safe life

angel light

The pursuers were no longer too close. I could still hear their cries and the sound of them crashing through the undergrowth. I could no longer hear their loud breathing. Even so, I knew that I could not slow down. Whatever had caused them to fall behind would not hold them back for too long, and soon they would be upon me again. Tired as I was, I had to speed up. I struggled to pick up my pace through the bush, hindered by the saplings and branches of trees swinging and snapping into me and the leaves brushing into my eyes. I was running a dangerous course with my eyes almost closed.

The terrain had been sloping upwards slightly, and even though I was not fully familiar with the land, I gauged that I was moving away from my destination and had to get back to flat land before I could get back home.

I ran though the bush, wincing but refraining with from crying out loud as the branches snapped into my face, and the sharp pebbled surface of the floor of the forest cut through my torn shoes. The ground dipped irregularly and I caught myself from stumbling a number of times, each time catching my breath and muttering a roughly termed prayer for my life. I hoped I was not near any cliff, and even as the thought escaped my mind into the dark moonless night, I tripped, fell, slid, rolled down the sudden steep slope downwards, catching at saplings and low branches of trees, desperately trying to stop my momentum. The thundering rush of blood to my heart drowned out the sound of any pursuers, and suddenly I found myself dangling from the edge of a cliff, a branch of a tree growing at the edge cutting into my palms as I clung on for dear life.

It was with tremendous effort that I caught the cry that rose from my throat, petrified of being heard by the hunters. I clung on to the over hanging branch. power rising from my desperation to live and fear of falling. Each limb trembling, I tried to find a foothold, but could only feel smooth rock. I could not heave myself up for fear of cracking the branch that held me to my life, and being found. I tried to quiet my breathing, softening the rasping by degrees. The crashing of the undergrowth brought news that they had come close, and would be at the cliff in moments. I flattened myself into the cliff as much as I could, clutching onto the branch with increasingly sweaty palms, praying that they did not have lights and would not think to look down the cliff side. I remembered that they had not had any lights before, and counted my blessing.

They were at the cliff top, hollering at each other, I was glad I was in deeper shadow under the tree. I dared not look up in case my movement caused the tree to move, and alerted them. I dared not look down terrified that the dark void reaching far to the bottom would overwhelm me. It shames me to admit it, but I am terrified of heights. I buried my face into the slight growth in the side of the cliff, closed my eyes and mingled desperate prayers with the effort to still my trembling. I had no idea how long I would be able to hang on, but I knew that I would have to, for maybe longer than I could.

After a long time, a very long time, my hunters suddenly stopped the yelling and stomping and milling around at the top of the cliff, and following a loud barked command stomped away through the forest. I listened to the noises fade away until at last the forest returned to its nightly quiet. I did not think it would be a good idea to try and climb back out to the hilltop and I was certain that letting go would precipitate me to a sharp and very painful death. Now seemed a good time as any to turn to prayer.

Tears scalding my cheeks I whispered, “Please God, please save me, please show me that miracle I have been waiting for all my life.” Beyond the breeze seeming to suddenly cool and fan my face lovingly, there was no response. My hear still thumped with fear, and my arms still screamed with intense pain reminding me that to let go meant certain death. I tried again, “ Please God!” but could go no further as I did not have any other words. Everything seemed inadequate. I felt like it was getting light, so I opened my eyes a slit wondering whether it was already turning into day, but it was not. All was still dark, it was just that there was a ball of light a little bigger than a humming bird hovering next to me. I thought I could make out wings flapping furiously as the light steadied itself close to my head.

I heard a soft whisper, “Just let go.”

Huh? That was my miracle? Just let go, and plummet to your death? I was not ready to die! I heard it again.

“Just let go.” Then, even more bizarrely, “You are safe”.

Sure. I am safe in the arms of God. I would just be gathered up. Dead! Nope! I was not letting go.

“You are safe. Let go of the branch”. The ball of light seemed to pulsate around me glowing in itself, but without imparting light to the surroundings. “Just let go.”

I heard my own voice speak in a fierce, low whisper: “NO” through shut teeth.

“Could you loosen the little finger of one hand? Just one little finger? You are safe”. Insistent little firefly!

I wondered whether God really wanted me to die, or was this beautiful, seemingly harmless light straight from the Devil? Even as the thought crossed my mind, I nearly laughed out loudly at my religious conundrum. Alright, one little finger could do no harm. Holding my breath, I let go of one finger. I gritted my teeth, but did not fall.

“You are safe” The little light fluttered around, weaving in and out of my field of vision. My head was still pushed hard into the cliff wall. I would not risk anything by moving my head too much.

“How about the other little finger?” The cheeky little flicker of my imagination seemed to know all the tricks. “You are safe”.

I hesitated. The light grew closer to me. “You are safe”.

Feeling a little braver now, I pried the other little finger off the branch. My state of dangling hopelessness seemed not to have changed. The cool breeze was certainly cooling off my heated brow, and making my shirt less sticky on my back.

“You are safe.” It said again. “You are safe”.

“Who are you?”

“I am your miracle. Go on, try another finger. Just let go”.

Now this was almost too much, but the soft light, cool breeze and drying sweat seemed to have calmed my nerves. I slowly unfurled one index finger. Wow. With seven fingers doing the work of ten, I was still hanging on securely, and the little piece of light had gone into a frenzy of celebration.

“You are safe. You are safe. You are safe”. It chanted softly as it danced around me, only slightly more tangible than a will o’ the wisp, though the whirring of the wings remained loud and clear.

Slowly through the night I was coaxed into letting go finger by finger.

“You are safe. You are safe. You are safe”.

As I marvelled at the ease with which I could hang on to the branch with a diminishing number of fingers, the little light danced around me.

“You are safe. You are safe. You are safe”.

At last, there I was, hanging on by one hand and three fingers, having let go of the last couple without much prompting from the now dizzily happy little bubble of light.

It floated so close to my eyes, I could not look away.

“You can let go of all three fingers together now. You are safe”. This whisper was urgent in its insistence. A climax seemed to have been reached.

Allowing my head to turn and look straight into the light, I took a deep breath, and so much more easily than I thought would be possible, I let go of the branch that had been holding me to the edge of the cliff. I might have heard some clapping as I slid down the cliff side and suddenly found myself on solid ground. I fell on to my knees, exhausted and triumphant, and slowly straightened up. Far in the East, there was a hint of light, the harbinger of sunrise. I looked up at the cliff. That little bubble of light had been right. I had just come down maybe a foot or two. I had been safe. All along.angel light

 

 

Photo credit: https://pixabay.com/en/angel-light-lichtgestalt-bible-645591/

Etching The Significance

My daughter  and I went for a walk today. It was a cool morning, with the sun behind the clouds, and beside the river, the geckos had not ventured out. Stepping along the paths and listening to her chatter, I realised, however adult she has become, she is still the little girl with whom I shared the awesome feeling of wonder at the beautiful universe which surrounds us.

 She shares a home with fellow students, and one of her friends was very taken with the festival of Diwali which was recently celebrated by Hindus all over the world.

Certainly one of the more glamorous festivals with lights and fireworks and the ever present sweets, and new clothes, it tickles the curiosity of many people. Even the recently re-elected “leader of the free world” has gone on record wishing the revellers well in televised speeches from the White House. My daughter’s friend was interested in how to say “Happy Diwali” in Indian. My daughter, not having such a fascination, went on to BBC online to glean what was happening elsewhere. And on BBC’s “This week in Pictures, she found this, (Note the picture of the iPad being offered flowers and being prayed to.) 

It outraged her fastidious soul. It took me a while to understand why.

She wanted to know why some people prayed to accounting books at Diwali? Is that not Saraswati Puja (The festival of Knowledge) which is celebrated some time in January February? 

It took me a while to understand her context.

From her childhood, growing up in Australia, being sporadically educated in Indian culture,  she has been taught that the Festival of Lights is the triumph of Good over Evil, the celebration of Rama coming back to Ayodhya after vanquishing the demon Ravana, and here was a  story about praying to accounting books!!!

“Is that not Saraswati Puja?”, she asked.

No… It is Lakshmi Puja. People do pray to Lakshmi, Goddess of Wealth, during Diwali.

“I like the idea of Saraswati Puja!” she said, eyes open wide and forefinger raised. “you dedicate all your studies and pursuit of knowledge to the Divine. You set all your intentions. And all year that feeling of dedication carries you through!” (Nerd radar out, anyone?)

Yes… her point being?

“You don’t pray to books at Diwali! You don’t pray to books, anyway, it is a symbol!”

Aah!

She was saying books and I was hearing accounting.

So we had a chat about the belief  that this was the start of the accounting year, and how traditional business men start new accounting books, after dedicating their business intentions to the Goddess of Wealth, Lakshmi.

So now, of course, she wanted to know how Lakshmi got into the picture. We are from the East of India, Diwali is at the same time as our festival of Goddess Kaali! It is not the start of  a new year for us, and we do not start new accounting books at this time. “We” encompassing the general populace of Bengal.

Once back home, I went on to BBC Online, and found the BBC school offshoot of the website. There were pages of descriptions of the Hindu festival of Diwali, and while they were all correct, I was left cringing at the superficial nature of the definitions. It was all about new clothes, sweets, lights and gambling. All the folklore and none of the philosophy. Kaali does get a mention, so there was that to be appreciative of.

The image of Indian dance and music has become encapsulated in the Western mind as “Bollywood” dance. Similarly, the knowledge of Indian festivals have become condensed into a few traditions that really have nothing to do with what they supposedly symbolise.  There is nothing wrong with this. Living is as much fun and gaiety as it is deep and meaningful. But I am glad that there are people around the globe who understand and love the sublime philosophy that has also taken birth amongst the loud, flashy, colourful, breaking-into-a-dance-at-the-drop-of-a-hat civilisation. Perhaps that is the nature of an all rounded life? It is what we draw in the air around us, and live within. 

How do you celebrate your favourite festival? How important is the symbolism? Would you rather celebrate the rituals only?

Love 

 PS Photos courtesy Raka Mitra, my very good friend. 

Bodhi Circle: Towards a Greater Good

Let us not get into what is good or bad. Let us just agree that good is good, because we know it to be so.

One thing that is admitted as being good world wide is or working towards achieving peace. We have Nobel Prizes being awarded to those who fight(?) for peace. And we salute those who go to war on those who would threaten our right to peace. But peace in the outer, larger domain, is very different from peace within. Or, is it? Since the 1970s, there have been scientific studies to discover and show that inner peace achieved through meditation can reduce levels of crime in urban cities.

Click here to read about The theory and the effect

Click here to read about The 1993 experiment:

I am not a fan of procedure, or joining groups, or following rules and rituals. I do not know Transcendental Meditation, I am a novice at any form of meditation. I have added the above links just to offer readers, if interested, to see a little of the history that interested me in setting the first point to my circle.

Reducing crime rates is a worthy goal, as is reducing war, strife, sorrow, injustice, inequality, and a whole barrage of other strife that surrounds us. In my own tiny home, in my own heart I wish for world peace, world happiness, world joy.  There are sages and teachers galore, and there are methods and journeys innumerable. One has to just seek and the answers just pop out at you. Thank you Mr Bill Gates, for the Information Highway.

I believe that today in the interest of the safe haven of a life surrounded by basic comforts, each self is caught in a spiral of an ever widening definition of “basic”. We need to pay our mortgages, we need our electricity, gas, and let us not forget the television. How else would we keep in touch with all that is happening in the world, and shake our heads over all that shouldn’t? How else would we create bandwagons to jump on and get involved in, and bring about a change to the world? Make it better? We need to educate our children, prepare for our old age, look after the old and infirm in our families. We need to hold truck, and develop our relationships and networks. We need so much to make us basically happy. I am part of this crowd, never fear. I do not stand in judgement of others. I totally get it.

Yet we also have an ever increasing hankering for peace. Not the kind that we go to war against. The kind that wells up from inside, and envelops us in warmth and caresses our brow with tender love. We need assurance that this race is taking us somewhere. This assurance comes from within. It arises out of a belief in the Self, the Inner Being. It permeates through those parts of the being we cannot touch, and we ignore, it, for the most part.

I believe that we each have enough time in our day to devote to ourselves. That self within us that is waiting quietly since we were born for our attention. That self that still trusts us, and is eager to join energies with us, and help us just be. So let us find those minutes

Let us find 5 minutes or 50. Let us sit down and meditate.

Let us commit to any time within our day that we can positively say, yes, this will do. Once we commit let us follow it through. Let us get out that cd, or dust off that cushion, or lay out that rug, or light that candle. Whatever works. And let us for our own nominated time, at our own nominated hour, close our eyes and find that little flame within us that guides us unfailingly, and unflinchingly. Let us connect to ourselves. Make a pact with a like minded friend, partner or colleague. Maybe your personal trainer? Or your Boss. There are those of you who already do meditate, Please accept an invitation to join us, widen our circle and share your experience.

Even though there are no rules, I would like a show of support. Please leave a comment with your commitment, and once in a while, update us. Let us see how the circle is going. Wherever you are, your show of hand is crucial. It will encourage others and our circle will widen, enlarge and blossom.

Here is my commitment. Today I will set my alarm to 15 minutes earlier than before. I will wake up, wash up and sit down, to my 10 minutes. And every night I will take five minutes before I lay me down. I will report back with my experiences and journal, once a week. Please join me. In my quest to accomplish… nothing specific,  to just meditate.

For the initiates, like me, here is one starting point: Beginner’s Guide to Meditation

There is enough information in this site to satisfy most beginners. I am sure there are many others that you can find, if you find one you like, please share, so we can visit as well.

Thank you!

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