If there is anything about life that bewilders me the most, it is its simplicity. Life buds from anywhere there is energy and spirit, it does not need any support to grow and it prospers in spite of all the complexities around it. Life is a form of hope and faith, it breeds on that, and that is the only support system it requires to grow. It is as carefree as a green leaf swaying in the wind, as humble as the ground beneath us, as delicate as a flower bud, as strong as the mountains and as clear and transparent as the sky. What I have mentioned must have shocked us by now because we have heard the opposite of this all our lives.
That life is a trick played on us by God, a maze that we try to figure out all our lives, and I do not disagree to any of that. It is a trick indeed; something as simple and plain as life seems to surround the world’s greatest optical illusion around it, it appears complicated to the most of us! It is a maze, in fact the most confusing one, but we often forget to enjoy the journey. We are trying to solve something that is not meant to be solved, but experienced. However, it is not a maze created by God, it is a way in the woods that we carve ourselves. ELRI helped me reaffirm my belief in the simplicity of life.
It took me to a corner of the world where good energy and spirit promoted the life around it, the mountains spoke to me of the strength the human spirit held and the lake showed me the huge expanse of life, undisturbed by the ripples created by the wind or the dead leaves falling in it, serene and calm as nothing else, because it felt ornate with all of them. ELRI taught me a lesson that in turn brought me closer to my meaning of life again. The facilitators showed me how my biggest fears, the pain that I had been running away from, the world that I found so tough and cold – all of this was really my own creation.
And, just by the simple act of sharing and introspecting, one could get over all of them. ELRI showed me how the problems I felt were arduous could really be solved by getting to the core of them. The empty core that held nothing, no pain, no joy, plain neutrality covered messily with the thick layers of fear, sorrow, hurt and pain – this program helped me break this shell made of long years of calcification of all this malice with love, warmth and forgiveness – the three simple things that we are all capable of.
ELRI gave me the clarity to understand yet again that life is indeed simple, it is just the baggage of unnecessary things that we carry which makes it so difficult for us to move ahead. I would divide this essay into two small chapters of experiences, with a title that summarizes the learning that came from these lessons, unknowingly taught to me by the participants, facilitators, and the nature during ELRI. 1. “Dreams are like paints in the hands of an artist, you envision and paint with them on the canvas of life. When you’ve painted one, you paint more.
If you remain unsatisfied with one, you paint another. What you should not do is stop painting, otherwise the paints would dry out leaving cracks that could never be mended. “ In one of the group sharing, a member shared how a broken dream that got shattered for no fault of his, embittered and agonized him endlessly. The dream was something he had kindled since he was very young but he could not achieve it ultimately and from then on, he believed that life would give him whatever it had to and all he could do was passively accept everything and go with the flow.
The fear that yet another dream he envisioned would collapse like the one before had made him stop dreaming at all. He did not want to participate in anything that happened to him anymore, just accept it all with no questions asked whatsoever. Yet there was a question that he asked himself all the time, it was why that dream did not come true. We could all relate to him instantly as we all had some dreams that did not get fulfilled but something about this guy’s agony was so intense that it had killed in him, all the hope and faith that one holds in life.
The mentor listened to his story quietly, she listened to him until he could speak no more about it. She asked him to go on until there was nothing left to be shared. He followed, and went on and on peeling away the layers of his past, shared what his family went through, how he suffered, and how he lost faith in his own dreams and in the possibilities life held for him. After all that was over, he got to the core and there was nothing left, a neutrality that we all knew made him feel liberated. The facilitator offered him something else too, she asked him to take a bunch of pencils of different colors in his hands.
We all collected pencils, confused what was going on and offered them to him. She asked him to pick the one he liked the most and break it. He took the one that was his and broke it into two. She then asked him if he’d ever be be able to write. He answered amused, “That was not the only pencil in this world, y’know, there are so many more. Of course I’d be able to write. ” The mentor smiled and asked the second question that struck us all like a bolt, “Then, why not dream my child, there could be so many of them too! ” 1. “Silence is a gift offered to many, accepted only by a few! ”
We live in a world full of people, a world filled with voices and noises, cheers and wails, callings and distractions – a world crammed with people and faces and memories and chaos. We are like specks of dust lost deeply in a heap of this world. So lost, that we don’t know what it feels to be liberated. So lost, that we believe being lost is the way of life for us. So lost that we are afraid to be free, afraid of aloneness, of quiet, of silence. Every session of ELRI started with silence and introspection, it was very simple, we just had to close our eyes and sit silently until we really felt the need to talk.
If there was anyone who was very bad at it, who found it really difficult; it was me. I felt very uncomfortable when everybody fell silent for a long time, everything seemed so dead and vain that I could not understand the point of it. Nevertheless, we kept doing it in every session and I did it with the others until one day when I just could not take it anymore. By the fourth day, I got so restless that I decided I would not stay silent at all. So, when she asked us to be quiet, I asked her to everybody’s surprise, why we needed to be in the first place.
Why we couldn’t just talk and begin the session. Why we were wasting time doing absolutely nothing. Why the silence? Such a long spell of silence? She looked into my eyes for some time and then asked me calmly what was so wrong with being silent. I spoke confidently of what I felt, “It is so irritating, it gets so awkward after a point. I don’t see why we need to put us through it, through the terrible silence. ” She asked me very patiently, why I felt silence was terrible. I replied naively that talking was much better, it helped me connect more with the others.
She asked me, “And then how do you connect with yourself? ” “I don’t know what that means. ” “It means to look at yourself through your eyes and not anybody else’s. It means to be quiet to the world and open up to what is within. Have you tried that? ” I had no answer. All my life, I had cared a lot about what others thought of me. I had tried to build an image, a projection. But she was right that day, I had never tried to find out who existed behind this mirage. If there was, anyone left at all. I remained silent throughout the session after that, troubled with not having been able to ‘see’ myself ever.
I had talked so much to others all my life, sought so much confirmation from people around me that I had never tried to feel what I felt about myself. After the session got over, she asked me to stay back. I burst into tears not knowing why really I was crying. I got so disturbed, felt so helpless. She put an arm around me and repeated two quotes of Osho, “What is needed is not something in which you can forget your loneliness; what is needed is that you become aware of your aloneness – which is a reality. And it is so beautiful to experience it, to feel it, because it is your freedom from the crowd, from the other.
It is your freedom from the fear of being lonely. ” “So whatever happens in silence — either sadness or aloneness — remember, in silence nothing wrong can ever happen. Whatever happens is going to enhance the beauty of it, deepen the charm of it; anything that happens will bring more and more flowers, more and more fragrance to it. ” Conclusion: There are so many incidents that happen in our lives through which we could learn and change. But as we remain so ignorant we fail to even notice these incidents.
There are so many teachers around us, teaching us something all the time- nature, comrades, enemies and objects- it is on us to either absorb these lessons like a sponge or keep moving ahead like brick walls, too egotistical to learn anything from life-the greatest teacher of all. A tree only makes its fruits available when it bends low because of its heavy branches. It becomes humble, resilient, and ready to provide to the world only when it has ample. All things in this world work with the same principle. The universe is brimming with these precious learning and it keeps revealing that knowledge to us.
We absorb until we can no more and become providers to the others. This divine cycle of knowledge keeps going on like that. And only those who are made of bricks, those who are ignorant, who walk through the maze of life trying to find the end, not caring about the means, remain lost forever. Liberation lies in smelling the fragrance of the earth, feeling the thorns in the road, admiring the mountain peaks, wondering about the strength of the human spirit, and enjoying the journey. Learning each second of our time in this world, observing and absorbing, consciously and unconsciously and providing to others when we have ample.