-Musings by Veronica Yacco
As the leaves begin to change in preparation of falling, it's hard not to notice the trees that are still green. To see that some leaves drop before others, colors form differently on different trees, but they are all destined to arrive at the same place. Even those trees that are designed to be ever green will one day drop their needles and become bare. As the leaves pile up there will also be the blanket of seeds dropped from the trees, hope for the future as well as food for the moment for those creatures that rely on them. Looking at the visible signs of change in the world, observing the endless cycle of birth and shedding, how can we not wonder, "what started it all?" In the acorn there is a sleeping oak tree. In the dying oak there are the births of many saplings and the future home of fungus and animals in need of shelter. Any one part of nature is fascinating. When we can take in the Whole there is a feeling that is indescribable. Maybe "awe" comes close, but even this feeling is not quite big enough to contain the awareness of...everything. There are many metaphors that describe trees as a yogic teaching of non-attachment and selfless giving. But follow this web back to its Source- within the acorn is the energy of a tree that will maintain the integrity of the soil, take in the sky, create air that supports the life of other species, all knowing that eventually it will die. And even then it continues to serve, to become the fertile ground for new life to take root. If we believe in reincarnation (even just as a yogic concept) then we know that consciousness continues from form to form, nothing is ever lost. What if the trees also pass this understanding between them, perfecting selfless service over and over again? Why would they do this? What do they gain? Nothing. But to be what they are is to simply give. Unconditional. To give everything, to be of endless benefit not because there is any gain, but simply because you are here and able to serve - is that unconditional love?
It's an interesting question. If Nature is rooted in unconditional love and all the creatures in it are networked into the web of that Love, then we too are included. Yogic cosmology reminds us that when we see many beings in the world that they are not distinct, different Creations, but all originate from the same Source (we are not so different from trees). We are literally made of the same "stuff" (Shakti) that appears in different ways so that many experiences can occur. Each form ultimately enriches the others. We would not be what we are if the trees were not what they are, or the ocean was not what it is, or even if spiders were not as they are. There is an indefinable connection between all things because we are unified by that energy that fuels us- Shakti/Love. Our challenge, as very intellectual beings, is that we forget that this is the Source that we come from. We learn to label all of the forms we see and to separate them by "knowing" what is different about them. I use quotations because defining what something looks like or what it does is not quite the same as understanding what it IS. When we take in the world we do not often take it in with the intention to love it. Maybe we want to understand something. Maybe we are looking for utility that will help us. Maybe we are looking for entertainment or distractions. What would happen if you started looking at the world with eyes that only wanted to love what you see?
Another interesting question. If you have the desire to love the world, you might run into some obstacles. The world isn't always comfortable. It doesn't always make sense to us. We can't quantify the meaning of experiences that are too far from what we already have felt for ourselves. If you have expectations that you should love the world anyway, you will run into incredible disappointment. Trying to manufacture a feeling that we may not even be clear about when it is authentic is essentially impossible. You will come to the limit of that pretense pretty quickly and at the end of that limited love is what? All sorts of things- disappointment, resentment, anger, guilt, shame, regret, apathy. If we become immersed in THAT we may end up being driven to do all sorts of things to escape those feelings. And we are further from the Love we sought then ever before. So what can we do? Desire isn't enough. Expectation and "faking it" doesn't change our perception. How do we meet the world with Love?
The MOST interesting question. Can you begin the answer, not from trying to figure out the world, but from trying to understand Love itself? It is the Source we come from. It is the energy that holds all things in Creation together. And yet there is a struggle to feel it as what you are, regardless of if there are other beings in existence or not. Take that in. Love, capital 'L', is not something that you feel. It's not generated by you, doesn't belong to you, is not dependent on your ideas and doesn't need your mind's permission to exist. It simply IS. And, like it or not, it is inherent to you. Even if no other thing existed you would have this indescribable feeling within. The heart chakra is described with the term "unstruck", meaning there was nothing that needed to start it. It is without beginning and therefore without end. Love that needs nothing to initiate it and that never runs out. Start with this. If you can find the depth of your heart where this Love is already flowing, know it as the core of what you are (not who you are), then you don't have to question, "how do I love the world?" The only question becomes, "in what ways can I show the world that I love it?" When Love is an unquestioned reality in you, and like the trees, you are willing to give your ideas of yourself to it, your whole presence in Creation might shift. Service is no longer a burden or a struggle. Giving is simply what you do because you have so much that can be given. And other beings are part of the beauty of the Whole, not pieces to be dissected and understood as "same" or "different". If we dedicate ourselves to that Love every step we take becomes selfless service and it doesn't matter which beings benefit in which ways. It only matters that the Love flows through us, carrying us from our birth to our eventual passing, where the memory of that Love, strengthened by our dedication flows more powerfully into the next form that takes birth. May the Love in me fuel the endless renewal and dissolving of the world. May that be my highest dharma.
This sounds remarkably like a Lakshmi conversation. All forms of the Divine Mother look upon us with eyes that only have Love behind them, but it is Durga that purposely steps into the darkest and most turbulent moments and continues to be unshakable in that Love. In Her we are reminded that courage is not limited to certain actions. Courage is the willingness to be everything we are even if we aren't sure that it will get us what we think we want. We are able to enact Love in infinite ways, so may be courageous in confronting the causes of suffering wherever we find them, especially when it is inconvenient to us. In Her we are reminded that the only weapons that can create peace are those that are wielded with this Love behind them. May I act in the way that creates the opportunity for all beings to be free. Unconditional. In Her, no one is turned away from that Love, no one is undeserving. May we find the openness in our hearts to include all beings in our vow for peace no matter what it takes. May we create hope for the future even as we untangle the past. In Her, we learn that it is not up to the world to be loveable and it's not up to us to figure out how to make love work for us. In Her, we come to the inevitable conclusion that Love the most powerful thing that is in us. We do not love as an action, we ARE love at our core. And it is endless and without conditions. May we turn our attention to this Truth so that we live it. Immediately. This breath we begin. And don't stop seeking this inner Source until your eyes are only able to see the world through Love. Durga is the face of Shakti shining through all beings. Her strength is your strength. Victory is assured. Love without limits.