Satsang has been new-born, these last few weeks.
A new wind, a wind sharp with the fragrance of pine needles, a breath of fresh air sweeps through our hearts. The smoke clears away, the stars are suddenly closer than ever. A wish to express this new glory wells up inside us. How can we speak a waterfall of praise? How can we fail to speak it? All we can do is to step aside, letting go, letting the waters flow.
Words can't do justice to a blade of grass, much less to the opening of a human heart into the sky of meditation. If something is wonderful, it's impossible to describe. Can you put a rainbow into words? Carry it in your notebook?
But if you go out, see a rainbow, go inside, see the light … Now you're talking. And though you still can't possibly describe the rainbow, you can speak from a rainbow'd frame of mind. The rainbow can speak from your heart.
The rainbow, very clear. The moon, very round, reflected in the river. The light, clearly shining in the silence. And if you speak, if you talk too long about the rainbow, the rainbow fades from your sight. If you move, if you disturb the river, the moon's reflection becomes a thousand dancing splinters. If you think, it's goodbye to the light. Words kill the sweetness of silence. Concepts dull reality. Thoughts interrupt the calm surface of peace.
Words offer us a map of life. Words can lead us to wonderful insights. And words can turn wonder stale.
Can you steer your way through New York traffic with a map of Manhattan taped to your windshield? Can you live life fresh each moment, with your consciousness glued to the moment's thoughts?
The road that's drawn on a map isn't the real road. And the way that's expressed in words isn't the true way.
And when we say words can't do justice to wonders, we don't simply mean they can't equal the wonder they are describing. We also mean that we slip very easily from the wonder to the words, and only a faint aftertaste of the wonder is left. That's why a poet prefers a country walk to a book of poems. Words, like maps, give us reality at second hand.
Yet we must speak, for reality is infectious, contagious.
Getting out of the words and into the experience … isn't that what meditation is all about? Getting beyond concepts and into a pouring forth of the heart … isn't that what satsang is all about? Getting away from the advantages of doing something and into the joy of doing it … isn't that what service is all about? Getting into life, instead of standing on the brink wondering about it?
The old zen masters would say, if you're going to walk, walk. Don't wobble. And that brings up another point.
If I go for a walk, and the leaves on the trees are turning a stunning russet, is that just an illusion? If I enjoy a sunset, am I hallucinating? Is my every waking moment a dream? Or an act in a play, a piece of theatre? And should an actor on this world stage play his part to the hilt? Or should he keep turning to the people in the audience and saying, you know, this whole thing's just a show we've put on for your benefit, and Hamlet here isn't the idiot you think he is, he's a small town repertory actor named Harold Wilkins, and his wife's in the stalls, knitting him a sweater? How real or unreal isthis world?
There's an unreal way to answer the question, and there's a real way to answer it. Unreally, we can refer back to some theory, a dogma, philosophy or creed, and see what that tells us about it. Maybe we'll say, Indian philosophy suggests this world is a dream. Or, Christianity emphasizes the realness of this world. Either way, we are looking on the map to find our answer, we aren't looking at "the real thing."
So the real way to answer this question is to experience the answer, and then put it into words. And isn't this what meditation helps us do? The more we meditate on the inner light,the more we see the world transformed, bathed in that light. And the problem of how to relate to the world disappears, as love sweeps us off our feet and carries us through life on its shoulders. No time left to worry about what we should be doing, we're too busy doing it.
Which brings me to worry. Worrying is what a dog does to a dry bone. When you worry about something, you have it stashed away some place in your subconscious, and any free time you have, you tend to fetch out your pet worry and worry it some more. But worrying never
solves anything. And whenever you're not worrying at your problem, it isn't a problem for you.
My problem was my heart. I figured it was as dead as stone, and I kept on worrying about it. But whenever anyone came past who needed satsang, I'd forget my cold heart and start talking with them. And then, when they were feeling better, they'd thank me, and tell me what a warm-hearted person I was. And as soon as they'd gone, I'd remember my heart, and begin to worry about how cold and dead it was. And it was, as long as I worried. But it's always a sunny day, as soon as the clouds blow away.
When we get out from under our fog of doubts, timidities and fears, a whole new dimension opens up to us. Completely fresh, certain, we can be ourselves at last.
We each have a special gift, we each carry the bud of some perfect expression of love inside us. We carry it in our hearts like a rose in ice. Sometimes we try to force our still frozen bloom onto an unready world. And at other times we are afraid to melt the ice, feeling that a flower so special and so personal must be somehow dangerous, must be a trapof some kind.
Both these attitudes are rooted in fear, and when the fear evaporates, we find,we recognize the value of that special gift, but we're in no hurry to force it to flower. We are ready to tidy up life's other details as they occur.
And when we have a spare moment, we can begin to express that special gift in an unhurried, unworried way.
For each of us is special, as soon as we stop trying to prove how special we are. We are like balloons. Some of us are long and have red noses, some of us are round and fat. But we all need to be filled with breath, if we are to take shape properly in this world. And if we fill our balloons so full of the spirit that the molecules are miles apart, there won't be any difference between the air inside the balloon and the sky outside. And if we are completely drenched in meditation, the light will shine through our personalities without any problem.
In Zen they say, not so much as the tile of roof over your head, not so much as one inch of ground under your feet, Not so much as a scrap of self importance, and we'll be dipping and soaring through the skies of his kingdom, and singing like a lark.