Tuesday, 21 February 2017

RETREAT LIFE 2: THE PEACABLE KINGDOM







Life in the country involves opening yourself to all sorts of interactions involving the senses in an entirely natural and harmonious way, especially if you add deep meditation where everything becomes very open and sensitively attuned. If you are quiet enough you can even hear the very subtle vibrational essence of the earth behind and beneath all the manifestation of creation. Then there is the sound of the earth breathing, and in this place the wonderful sounds of  nature, especially the rich bird life.

I have this view which is as goid as any movie epic of a big bird table just outside the back of the living room. Its a spacious table with a roof, and it sees the most amusing and wonderful visitors, led by two warring Robins and a lot of Tits and other species. Best sight so far was one Robin actually chasing away a little mouse that had come to try its luck and nab some bird seed. The Robin was fearless and the mouse scampered away. It is a tangeable way of seeing "the peacable kingdom", a phrase from Isaiah in the Bible, a great way of summing up the wonders of nature when left largely to itself. Feeding birds in winter is a non intrusive way of linking to the outside world .... And provides hours of fun! 

The other sound which is constant here is the sound of the River just opposite, a ceaseless ever-changing song of its own.  Rivers, or swift mountain streams, have so much to teach those who aspire  in spirituality. 

The third sound is the log fire, and this too is a great teacher. If you have ever had the luck of regularly tending a fire and keeping it going, you can learn.. For free.... Much about sadhana. The classic mistake in building a fire is overload, putting too many logs on in the beginning and thereby stopping the circulation of air. For fire needs wind and space to really take off. Same with sadhana. The classic mistake is to take on some task (i will chant x and y for 7 lifetimes) without having the strength to carry such tasks through. Then the whole thing collapses and you go back to playing games on your mobile phone.

The other lesson from fire is watching how logs burn. Fire brings heat..but in the beginning with the flames leaping up, there is no heat. You have to get the fire so the logs are simply glowing and this is where the heat comes. It takes time to get the logs just so... Same with sadhana. To achieve the "heat" in sadhana takes time and regularity and seriousness of purpose. No, it is not easy and never make the  mistake of thinking a spasmodic partial effort will make you glow. There are forces within you that resent the effort and will trip you up time and time again. Why bother? Most humans do not: sadhana consists of starting from a moment of dissatisfaction, or guilt, or whatever it is and wanting to change. But being lazy creatures we want to get to this changed condition with the minimum of effort. So we tral the internet to find "most powerful mantra" or "most powerful chant" and enact the time worn drama of hoping a chant will do it all for us. Then when it doesnt then back we go to entertaining ourselves.

Then of course.., you need to keep the fire going, and this involves a gentle vigilance. Neglect the fire and it will go out. Make the fire too strong and it will consume all yr fuel very quickly. There is a famous teaching from the Bhagavad Gita about yoga not being for those who do "too much...or too little" and mentions eating and sleeping. The deeper meaning of this passage is not just moderation, but the fact that you are in the world and have to interact with it in a sensible way. You have to be adult about it and not tend to excess. 

Simple stuff, but that steady fire is what gives heat and light. In sadhana it is steady practice.. Not overload...that brings progress.

Now... Back to the bird table!