Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Beauty of Life

One day I was sitting on a hospital bed with my uncle Luis who was very ill. He was a very simple man who lived his life around nature in farming and mining. The bed was overlooking a beautiful grassy place full of all kinds of trees from the serrado in the hospital’s backyard. I was the only family member there and suddenly there was this incredible moment of silence between us and from that silence came out something unexpected to me. I saw him looking outside intently and suddenly he said: “This is so beautiful isn’t it? What a marvelous beauty this world is.” He said that and felt silent. The silence went on for a while as if we were just affirming what he expressed from deep within him being so true at that moment. I cannot put into words how that sounded like in that moment and how his voice sounded in that moment. His voice, his movements, his looks and everything about him seemed changed at that moment that he was making that observation. Suddenly, I felt surges of happiness and joy around my whole mind and body. It was a moment in Heaven I would say and this is the only way I can explain it.

Lately, I have been awakening more and more for that beauty that my uncle was talking about as I listen, observe and feel intently everything around me. Everything sometimes seems amazing beautiful and I cannot put into words that conspicuous beauty. It is simply amazing. You hear, observe and feel that beauty everywhere be it in the birds, in the trees, in the clouds in the sky and even in people when one of them happens to cross your vision from afar in this retreat.

I have been struck particularly sometimes by the banana tree that only survives to bear its fruit and then it dies. It seems that the banana tree purpose established by its nature is simply that and it exert all its power and its intelligence to accomplish that goal perfectly. I have had many in the backwards over these three years and the later one bore its fruit now although it has been there for quite a while. It is one of the oldest here and only now it bore its fruit. Its bark is tilted to the side what makes it odd to bear its long bunch of bananas which when they are almost ripe, they can be very heavy for the tree to handle. So this tree took all this time to bear fruit, I notice that perhaps it took all this time because it was building up its bark as strong as possible, I guess, to support its bunch of bananas. Isn’t this amazing? It is some kind of intelligence demonstrated by that banana tree that I have never noticed it before in nature which I believe is full of it. This to me is so beautiful, that intelligence and perhaps some wisdom from an unknown nature to accomplish its purpose the best way that its possible for that tree in this moment in time, in this place and in that odd position. I believe only human beings can have wisdom but who knows and my mind is open for something that we don’t know.

Other aspect of nature that amazes me are the birds mainly when they give birth to their offspring and have to take care of them until they are full grown to defend for themselves. It is a tremendous work they do day and night to take care of those youngsters mainly when they are out of the nest and wants to fly everywhere. Their parents are all around them protecting them against predators and feeding them constantly and the younger they are, the more they request from their parents.

I notice one day a whole phenomena happening, a whole scenario happening in my backward with the Bentivis. They had two youngsters of the same age and they would spend their whole time feeding them initially. Then the time came for the parents to teach them to feed themselves. I observed this around the swimming pool. The adult Bentivi is the only bird that I know which has the habit of feeding themselves out of the insects that fall in the pool. This to me makes them more resourceful than other birds because they can feed themselves in the pool, on the ground, on the fruit trees and on the air where they catch flying flies. So one parent had two offspring with it and they were around the edge of the swimming pool. The parent would observe the pool intensely and dive to catch something which I believe to be an insect and would come back to the edge of pool. The two youngsters quickly would come to it trying to get food but they would get none. The parent continued looking at the water, diving in it and getting its food, I believe, showing the offspring how to do it. This happened until one of offspring decided to look for the food in the water and take the dive. It was successful at first but took more water on the wings than normal. As time went on little by little it could manage it better. Its sibling took more time to try it but finally did it and it was ok. So the parent continued to show them how to do it as the learning was slow but the parent seemed not in any hurry and they stayed there doing this for quite some time. This learning process took some days and they always wanted food when the parent would dive to show them how to do it but the parent would not give to them. They had to do it themselves. It was really captivating and fascinating to observe this teaching lesson attentively without anything else in the mind.

The intelligence of the banana tree and the intelligence of Bentivis seemed to be so beautiful, so in place, so ordered and so complete that those things stayed with me for days. The Bentivis can teach a lot of parents of today how to raise the children in this exquisite way teaching them like no other to survive the daily life. Anyway I cannot put in words why I found these things so beautiful and perhaps when you observe something with your mind fresh, clean and clear having a one mind dedication to what you are observing, this kind of beauty that I am talking about just happens in relationship to the most simple happenings around you, and takes over your whole being in that exquisite and conspicuous moment. When you observe like this, everything seems so perfect and ordered happening in the right place and at the right time because you are not judging, evaluating or comparing things. It is marvelous to observe in this way without adding or taking anything from what is being observed. What is there is there and nothing else. Even if there is something not quite right about that experience, it continues to be ordered and perfect in your mind.

Yoga teaches that there are three concepts working in nature which is called the Gunas, which are the strands that permeates everything happening in nature. The Gunas are light, fire and darkness and they are always active with one of them sometime being predominant over the others until another takes a predominant role. Light is the grace of life that brings happiness and joy, fire is the intense activity of life that brings stress, pain and sickness and darkness is the inertia of life that brings fruitless activity, ignorance and disaster. When we are in the moments I have talked about, even the activity of the fire of life that produces pain and the inertia of life that produces nothing substantial teaches us in a profound way while the light of life opens our minds for the beauty and the wisdom within. If the banana tree falls because the bunch is too heavy or if it does not produce good and well formed fruits, we learn from it, if the offspring of the Bentivi takes more water than necessary to feed itself or is slow in learning, we learn from this. However, if the banana tree is successful in producing beautiful fruits and the parent Bentivi is successful in his teaching of the offspring, your heart and your mind simply become mesmerized, happy, full of energy and amazed by what is happening.

When we, humans, are part of nature being moved by the tree Gunas in the wheel of life moving from light to fire and from fire to darkness back to light, our lives are like a script of a movie that is already written like the script of the banana tree going from birth, growth, development, producing its fruit to decaying and death. According to Buddhism, we are the only species capable of enlightenment and therefore able to break out of the cycle of birth and death. If that is so, we are the only ones capable of stepping out of the Guna cycle, out of the script written for us or that we wrote for us and then go into the beauty of life where, if we work enough at it, we can navigate beyond the ocean of life and death as we know it into a real life. When my uncle entered that state of observing, seeing and experiencing so much beauty around him although he was sick there was no awareness of sickness at all and he seemed more health and alive than ever. This reminds me of a piano player who had arthritis in the hands and fingers but when she was playing that arthritis seemed to disappear and she could play beautifully. I know that this is a big jump but perhaps that beauty was a slice of heaven where we become immortal and sickness and death does not affect us at all as it did not seem to affect my uncle at that moment.

I know now more than ever before that the beauty was inside my uncle as I have been realizing that it is inside of me being expressed in these exquisite moments of life. However, when you are living it, it does not matter if it is inside or outside and what matters is that you are living it. It did not matter much if the beauty was inside or outside my uncle and what really mattered was that he felt it, expressed it to me and I was profoundly affected and engulfed by his expression of it that sparkled my own experiencing of what was happening at that moment. What took us into it as what took me into the experiencing with the Bentivis and the banana tree, it is not easy to discern or realize. Was is it the silence or was it the presence or is it the encounter between two entities? I really don’t know at this point and I am not confident that I will ever know intellectually although inside of me beyond the words I have a feeling that I know it. However, I am still discovering more about it each day. Perhaps it is not one thing, not one factor, but a series of things or factors that move us to jump into the beauty moments of life.

We suffer so much when Yama, the lord of death, plays a visit be his visits real or imagined. When our fears overtake the visit, we normally think and feel tormented by all kinds of thoughts that for some people are demons. When we have no fear experiencing the beauty of life, Yama hardly come by. However, if he comes by he is received with a gentle laughter because we know that it is just another kind of illusion who has no real effect on the truth that we really are. The beauty of life seems to make Yama ineffective as it did for my uncle. So if we are blessed to experience the beauty of life in moments of sickness or death, I guess we will have no awareness of the sickness and no fear of the sickness and death and, the Angels of Light will just guide us to wherever we are going.

It is incredible how we are losing this side of life, these conspicuous moments of life by being so busy hand and foot all day long without taking time to just sit for one quiet moment without judging, evaluating or comparing anything but just sitting there and observing what is around us experiencing the moment without any objective or goal at all and not even with the intent to experience these moments that I am talking about. This can be done so easily be it in your desk at work, be it in the park, be it in a crowded street or whatever place we can find ourselves in the moment that we remember to go into this quiet place in our minds. I believe few people in the world do this naturally in relationship of the billions of people alive today although when we do it, we come back refreshed, full of real energy and creative to face the demands of our busy lives. I hope this will inspire the ones who read this to start spending a quiet moment and with it perhaps to open a new life for themselves and for the world around them where the beauty of life often goes unnoticed because our busy eyes are blind although there is nothing wrong with them, our busy ears are deaf although there is nothing wrong with them and our busy feelings makes us insensitive although all our senses are working fine.

Open your eyes, your ears and place aside insensitivity my friend and in a quiet moment let the beauty of life manifest itself bringing in its wing the Glory of a real life that lives beyond words and that no word can express. Give this gift to yourself and to others because this is the most valuable gift that you can give yourself or someone else.

God Bless all of us,