Commentary by Tarun & Celia Cherian: “To see a World in a Grain of Sand/ And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,/Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand/ And Eternity in an hour.” – Was William Blake writing about Ravi Tiwari, when he said these words? And indeed Ravi has seen heaven in a flower and has held eternity in the palm of his hand. Or is he closer to Lord Buddha sitting under The ‘Bodhi’ Tree?
Ravi does not just stop where The Immortal Poet Blake did, with just holding eternity, or cupping a heaven. Ravi allowed himself to be pulled into the Tree’s embrace. He did not just see a vastness within the flower. He saw himself from the Flower’s Eyes. We often think of the flower as a flower, tree as a tree, here we see two things, first that it is vast, that every inch of our world opens to a vastness. Every atom is a palace. Yes, but secondly, he sees every inch of creation is alive. Every tree lives. In the Tree is a Sage.
Now many respectfully describe Siddartha with the apellation, Lord Buddha, but rarely do we make the extra mental step… As we see the Temple Tree experience we see what few have realized, that Lord Buddha was not self realized, he had a great guru, the Bodhi Tree. Few say Lord Bodhi Tree, or Maha Bodhi Deva, or Bodhi Maha Rishi...
Now it is not easy to walk in a world where every inch opens to infinity, where every weed is a spirit.
For as we are awakening we go into deep mystic reveries, and the people we love may feel abandoned. There was a time when Celia and I experienced precisely what Ravi and Smriti are going through. I was having a humungous experience where sheets of gold was pouring down and Celia kept trying to get me interested in lunch. I sat for lunch and every morsel became a gourmet’s delight, every spoonful a meditation. So quite similarly, Smriti walks in on Ravi lost in a flower, what does she do? Okay and that’s at personal time where people care… but what happens at office?
On the one hand, Ravi is one of our most advanced students, but most know him as a hugely successful Analytics Manager… But mystic joy does not always make these distinctions… for sometimes heaven stirs when Ravi sits in office, and he literally sees a storm in a tea cup, and an ocean in a drop of coffee. Every inch of his world opens its great majesty. But it can be disconcerting when in the middle of a meeting, the table becomes a whirl field of worm holes… And then after heaven reveals itself he has to return to graphs, bell curves, and 6 sigma’s, and bosses looking curiously, and friends wondering at his far-faraway eyes!
There are two words that describe the process of spiritual growth. The first is awakening, which may be likened, to a plant raising its head above the earth. But realization is greater, it is the time when the plant grows and roots deep, and branches high, and obviously as it grows it faces hungry cows, windy days, screeching monsoon nights, scorching summers…
Now many think we need a teacher only till awakening. Actually it is when a student is awakening that he or she needs us the most. For it is not easy to walk in a world where every inch opens to infinity, where every weed is a spirit.
Consider this, a few weeks after the experience, Smrithi and Ravi had to tear down part of a creeper, as the neighbour’s objected. Ravi was haunted by the pain he was inflicting, the death he caused. In fact, he fell desperately ill. When we went to visit Ravi post a surgery we discovered he had been enmeshed in a dark thicket of energy, it was the pain of growing plants, so generously giving, so little respected.
The truth that the world is alive, the every inch is infinite has another side, of responsibility, of caring. Should Ravi go one step beyond the strictest Jain monk, and not just avoid injuring a single ant, and be afraid of walking on grass, of crushing a single leaf?
The infinite turmoil of walking in an infinite world where a word may spark a Tsunami, and 12 lifetimes of pain follow a beetle’s death adjoin each other… The vast and the mundane, the wondrous and the practical, the power and helplessness can paralyse us. But if we look again through the eyes of the flower it is easy. For it is not enough for the leaf to raise its head out of the coffin of the earth, but like Jack’s bean stalk, peek its head above the cloud’s celling and see the magnificence of the giant’s world, and not enough to see the giant’s world but to climb higher still, to dare the heavens, to rush into God’s chamber… aah there we may expect a towering figure in gold, but may just see in the centre of infinity a little tree with sweet smelling flowers that fill a universe.