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Get off “the endless path” — and be free

dandelionmeadowRabindranath Tagore, the great poet of India, who died in Calcutta in 1941 at age 80, has been a constant companion and inspiration ever since I first visited India many years ago. A new friend gave me a copy of one of Tagore's best-known works, Gitanjali, "Song offerings to the creator."

One of the poems I love best opens in this manner: "The morning sea of silence broke into ripples of bird songs; and the flowers were all merry by the roadside; and the wealth of gold was scattered through the rift of the clouds while we busily went on our way and paid no heed.

"We sang no glad songs nor played; we went not to the village for barter; we spoke not a word nor smiled; we lingered not on the way. We quickened our pace more and more as the time sped by."

The poem describes how after a while the traveler grows weary and lies down to rest, while his companions laugh at him in scorn and hurry on their way, crossing “many meadows and hills” and passing through “strange, faraway countries .“

"All honor to you, heroic host of the interminable path," the poem continues. It ends with this glorious verse: "At last, when I woke from my slumber and opened my eyes, I saw thee standing by me, flooding my sleep with thy smile. How I had feared that the path was long and wearisome, and the struggle to reach thee was hard!”

What I love here is the simple but eloquent reminder that the bliss of eternal love, the bliss of God, the bliss of being is not something for which we have to struggle, nor is it something that takes a long time to reach. Not at all. We can touch it and know it in a moment.

This moment. Any moment.

I have been having a few troubled feelings the last day or two. "Is my blog really going to work? Will enough people be interested in what I have to say so that it will succeed?”

I thank God that somehow, during the past two or three years of a rather unusual, but blessed life, I began to realize, as the traveler in Tagore's poem realized, that what I had been seeking all my life is already present with me. It is the truth of my own true nature. It is the stillness of my own being, already perfect, already free, "standing by me, flooding my sleep with its smile.”

This stillness that I can feel in my physical flesh is my own stillness. It is my own true presence, not affected by time, and not worried by any troubled thoughts and feelings that are part of our present human experience.

The idea that it is hard and difficult to find "enlightenment," whatever that might mean to us, is deep-seated, but it is a delusion. It condemns us to the "interminable path" that Tagore described. Of course, those who chase material comfort and well-being also tend to find themselves on a search that never ends.

Being is timeless. Being is endless.  It is who we are, and it is with us through all the tribulations of our lives. As the warrior-poet David wrote in Psalm 23, “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies.”

In her lovely book, The Diamond in your Pocket, the American-born teacher Gangaji, http://www.gangaji.org, puts it this way, “The ever-present possibility in any moment is to wake up to the truth of yourself as consciousness. That waking up occurs in the mind’s surrender to silence.”


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