“ You have been a long time devotee of Bhagwan, aren’t you ?” someone asked me.
“ I have tried for a long time to develop devotion”.
“ You have lived with God for many years now. You must have learnt a lot of valuable lessons at His Lotus Feet”, he insisted. The usual enthusiasts, the usual questions. I was going to break into a run; but someone whispered, `Hold’.
The question of my good friend struck me with such bluntness that it took me a few seconds to steady myself. Well, I have tried to practise devotion for God for years now, and I must have learnt a number of lessons directly from Him, and I am expected to share them with others ! Expectations are legitimate.
Can I say I haven’t learnt any lessons ? Can I say they are too personal to share ? Can lessons be too personal ? The World Teacher is here and now, to lead the mankind to its goal, and here I am calling myself His devotee, admitting I have learnt no lessons ! Too negative an attitude. This won’t do.
When I tried to look within to find an answer the small voice spoke. He asked me gently, “Lessons ? What will you do with all that ? Teach others ? Collect some admirers ? Prove to them you are a few bits above them, ahead of them ? And you deserved all this by your good work ? Go ahead.”
I was flushed. Really, what will I do with all those lessons I am supposed to collect from Him ? I wouldn’t dare do all that is suggested. But… probably improve myself. Shouldn’t I ? Listening to the great lessons God teaches, one can come closer to God, and help others too in their journey. That should be a kind of service to mankind, wouldn’t it be so ? And service to man is service to God.
Very tempting indeed. God would allow me draw some money from His bank, help me spend it in some charity work under my signature, and let me earn some credit for doing His work. Then, to expand this good work I will ask for more funds, more conveniences, more conveyances, and probably, expect in secret some promotion in my status with Him ! And when they start taking my pictures to preserve in their albums, well, what more does a humble devotee want ?
“O God!”, I cried out. “help me unlearn all my lessons, and keep my mind and heart an empty chalice.” I don’t want the lessons to jostle in my mind, and make a lot of noise I-have-learnt-this. They would absorb so much of my attention that I would fail to notice when you pass by, and fail to hear when you whisper `roll up your mat and follow me’.
If ever I have learnt any lessons, I want to unlearn them. Each piece of `lesson’ is a marble pool with some unageing gold fish swimming in it. I wouldn’t change the water for fear of infection, but forget that
the stagnant pool could be infection itself. Then I would begin to compare other pools with my pool; or worse, begin expecting you to behave in conformity with these lessons ! Then Lord, the learner, and the learning both would begin to stink. Than this I would rather have a river, ever flowing, ever singing, ever running towards the sea, filling the countryside with cool moisture to fight the heat of living, but never forming a pool. I would rather witness the ever changing landscapes, the fluttering birds, the playful clouds, the sage sunrises and sunsets, and your uncertain moods in all certainties. When you hum a tune, I break into a song; when you fancy to paint I carry your paints and brush; and when you drop your eyelids with the drooping leaves, I go into trance. Why should I stick to a lesson, and try to define you in it ?
Dear Lord, what shall I do with learning ? It would separate me from you when I start counting them, and checking them with their lessons. This learning would invest me with an identity of my own, a face different from their faces. Then I would adorn my face with marks of that which you have given me, and denied the others ! I may chuckle with satisfaction, or feel the heat of envy. That means I would face away from you, and the devil shall be too pleased, for I will see his face, not yours. When you get into a playful mood, and fancy to humour me, and my learning, I would raise my eyebrows, and doubt the sanity of what you say or do. My learning shall be my undoing, my curse. The ghost, my new lesson, shall drive away the old ghost, and while I am furiously engaged in updating my lessons, you enjoy the fun behind the screen, and pity my foolishness. Who will not, if in order to grade the fruits I throw away the juice and preserve the skins !
Dear Lord, if in one of your creative moods you begin upsetting standard ideas, concepts, theories in order to help us with an insight into their relevance to understand you, I would raise my eyebrows, search my notebook to quote you to yourself, remind you of contradictions you commit, and get stuck in the mud of my lessons ! My lessons, which I have borrowed from you, become frames in which I would confine you and hang you on my walls ! Then I would accuse you of confusing me, using unstable syllables to teach important lessons. Dear Lord, how funny, you fall a prey to your own lessons ! They draw a boundary around the boundless, separate the drop from the ocean, and judge the ocean by the standards of the drop ! I shall have none of them.
Dear Lord, learning is not being. Though the end of all learning is being, they do not suggest each other. Learning lessons, and the ability to expound them hasn’t often led to being. Then why should I spend my little life in concentrating on something which has little end value ? Why should I want to learn lessons instead of being ? Learning lessons is taking a part from the whole, to trace the whole from the part, in order that the part may find its wholeness; while being is like taking the part to the whole, and then no more see the part in the whole. Then why should I try to learn instead of being ? Does the word find its fulfillment in the meaning, or meaning in the word ? Does sound merge in silence, or silence in sound ? Dear Lord, like an omnipresent fragrance, you are everywhere; like a whisper you are everywhere; like a mother’s compassion you are everywhere. Then why should I need a process to reach the one who is never processed ? Learning is a product; how can a product define the one who never produces two similar things ? Learning is what I am; can I become what I am not by preserving what I am ? Dear Lord, free me from all the urges of collecting lessons from you, so that I may break through the imaginary boundaries, and be the boundless.
Dear Lord, let me not question your deeds, but see you in your deeds. Let me not try to find a lesson in what you do, but find you in what you do. Let me not seek to understand you in your words, but seek to find all words in you. Let me not see the flower in the bud, or bud in the flower, but see the flower and the bud in their fragrance. Probably, that is why you said being is lost in the becoming. When I look at the tree, don’t I see the seed and the flower too ? If you are present in all time and all place, where is a way to you ? Where is a lesson to learn ? Instead of defining boundaries, and listing lessons how to cross them, can’t I just melt into you ? Does an ice-cube need to have knowledge of water before melting into it ?
Someone chuckled, and, “You should be practical in your mind, my friend. All these men of God, who have left legacies behind for us, teach us great lessons to reach God. Can you, which is the mankind, do without them ? Can you say they have no relevance for you ?”
Dear Lord, I still don’t think they teach us anything. The puddles realized that they are in fact part of the sea, and the part is in the whole. They have left behind what they saw, not that one learn to see, but be to see. In other words, one can only be. All their words have only one centre, being. The moment I am aware that I am in your eternal embrace, I ceases to be, only you are. I can not be where you are, and you are not where I am. Being is lost in becoming, so becoming must return to Being. There is no seeing apart from being; and since one does not learn to be, one does not learn to see. When you are around me, why should I ask to learn to see you ? And what do I learn ? Can any lesson define you ?
Dear Lord, then what am I asking of you ? Nothing, and everything too. Don’t try to teach me a method to see you. Do not try to show me a path to reach you; I may be too unsure to recognize the method, and too blind to see the path. Here I am, standing before you, poor as a rat. You are at the start of the road, at the end of it, and all along it. Then why should I pretend to use a road to reach you ?
The small voice within me heaved a sigh, I hope a sigh of relief, and said, “If you can recognise the end at the beginning, God bless you.” And Lord, should I ask for your blessings ? Let me be a part of it.