As Above

I woke this morning to the sound of the water running. A creek runs alongside the property. Really, it’s more of a stream. Sandbags backstopped by chicken wire reinforce the embankment. Regal cows graze in a small enclosed space alongside the water, the youngest of whom was born ten days ago. The trash that litters high above the waterline will remain there until next spring when the thaw rolls down from the mountains.

Winter has arrived in Rishikesh. There’s a mist in the air and during the early morning, hours for the ashram have been pushed back, in respect for the Sun and when it comes. It brings a pink tinge, phenomenal in all means of the word, as smog catches the bending light. Locals wear what seems to be an ironic amount of clothing to one who hails from Canada and everyone touches their heart when they meet on the paths.

In 2014, the former dean of my massage school, Randy Prasad and I were in communication. He was off to India to take part in a breath retreat and spend some time in silence. He encouraged me to come but I was otherwise engaged. I arrived here believing I’d only heard about this place one month ago buts that’s not true. Randy had planted the seed years back and one of the things he taught me was that there are no such things as coincidences. When it came to me in meditation that I had found myself in that very place, my certainty marveled at the world we inhabit. I vowed to make the most of my time here.

This is one of those places that marries science with the worship of the divine. Tonight I was strapped to a device that registered my heart rate variance, demonstrating the relationship between breath and the best of my heart. Early in the dawn, prayers are chanted out loud and classes focus on caring for the joints and the glands. I look forward to sharing some of what I’ve learned here in future classes online at oneOeight.

There are a few walking paths on the grounds that I frequent and just outside of my home I’ve noticed something rather remarkable.

It’s actually not remarkable. The significance of it is though.

A collective of ants have begun to construct. With clear directive, they work with a coherence that is willful, intentional and persistent: to build a home.

In two days their space went from nothing to substance. Here on day seven, I’ve come to realize that my view is just a suggestion of what is going on. I’ve searched for the right word and believe it to be an excavation.

I presume they work through the night. I picture a punch clock and 8 hour shifts, to keep morale tight. Their small actions accrue; the growth significant. In the morning the earth is damp with dew that driess in the light of the sun. Come evening, a sprinkle of shade lines the crest of these ants excavation, representative of the fresh earth they’ve tilled from the deep.

I see that each little piece of earth removed is carving out space for a home. It’s mining the depth to compose something of significance. It’s the selfish act of an individual, one done with a mind to the collective.

Einstein said that we have yet to learn 1/1000th of one percent of what nature has to teach us.

I wonder at the veins of their caverns. Little passages that curl off into private spaces. Will they rest there? Is someone focused on a dissertation? What happens when they come head to head in the narrows?

Now more than ever I believe that the accrual of small actions consistently will produce a structure of substance. I’ve danced with this over the years: Sagittarius are archers and though we love to fire off arrows, it’s not a strength of ours to aim them.

Rilke wrote in his books “Letters To A Young Poet” that all great acts require gestation and creation. One calls forth the other.

Dreams being tender things, they require the ability to conjure from the ether. One must know where it is they want to get to in order to point in the general direction.

The watershed moments of the recent past suggest that now is the time and that we are the ones. Change calls us forth to write a new way of being a home to one another: with respect, grace and dignity.

Such begins the real work.

Look to your community for signs of strength and encouragement. Know that you contain multitudes. Whatever you desire or intend, now is the time to speak for it. Lead with kindness and compassion and know that you will be met.

Some small part of myself, left decades ago to please others, rises within me once again. I meet it with passion, excited with the possibilities of what’s to come.

I’ve decided to spend the next five days in silence. It’s an act beyond not talking. Not my longest stretch by any means, the act involves a removal of stimulus: no reading, music, phone calls or google, a little writing and a lot of walks with little contemplation; everything becoming meditative, the activity of the mind is stilled.

In this spacious absence of sound I seek the depths within. Some things percolate, requesting my attention and I’ve been challenged to witness it. Rather than try and sketch it out in a mind map, I’ve decided to allow it to rise. These 🐜 have inspired me with their diligence and craft. I shall employ my own form.

When I look at the shape of their drop off, it reminds me of an ear, which like the hands and feet have all the reflex points of the human body, a microcosm of the microcosm. On special days, rather, everyday, I believe them to be shaping an Om.

Good things take time. I’ve always envied those that could dash off a proof or a website in a matter of moments. Comparing myself with them has limited my scope and vision.

If there’s something that has rested in the back of your heart, worry not about the length of its time gestating. You are worthy of all that you desire and need fear not. The world is shaping up.

We are the ones we have been waiting for.

I pick up my shovel and I turn the earth, wondering what the ants have planned next…

As is above, so below.


For a soundtrack to this thought, check the Peter Gabriel song “Digging In The Dirt.”

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