Since we made the transition from city to country we’ve been struck by how generous, kind and abundant mother nature is: whether it’s silence or birdsong, wood to burn or water to drink, there seems to be a pattern emerging over the last six months of needs being met in ever-increasingly spectacular ways – our recent trip to a freshwater spring near the coast at Oare was one such experience, and the inspiration for our first YouTube video.
“Everything animate or inanimate that is within the universe is controlled and owned by the Lord. One should therefore accept only those things necessary for himself, which are set aside as his quota, and one should not accept other things, knowing well to whom they belong” – Sri Isopanisad
Books of wisdom, passed down by sages and enlightened souls, tell us frequently of the caring, parental qualities of nature – Jesus famously told his disciples not to worry “about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear… Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them”, while the perennial philosophy of the Vedas advise that due to the universal law of karma, our lot in life is set out for us at birth according to our previous activities, and that no amount of hard labour, extraneous endeavour or Machiavellian scheming on our part will increase what has already been kindly set aside for us, be it happiness or distress, money or food, shelter or family.
Our senses are inherently imperfect when it comes to experiencing the vast creation we live in, and our mind is inherently limited in its power to process the meagre data we collect. But when we accept this wisdom and knowledge as it is, passed down from those with greater vision than ours, we find that we ourselves start to see with different eyes, and that these eyes in turn change the very world which they are perceiving.
This change can be profound – from fear (of scarcity, of loneliness, of isolation, of death) to appreciation (of abundance, of nature, of a feeling of constant care and companionship), to a very deep love of life – a love of the creation and the creator. It’s incredible that all this can spring forth from what Sufis describe as “consciously receiving what has already been given to you”.
“Abundance is a process of letting go: that which is empty can receive.” – Bryant McGill
21st century marketing does a brilliant job of creating a need for its products, and increasingly sophisticated technology shows no sign of slowing this onslaught down: the heart of the modern consumer is therefore a tormented and complex place, with its every blind spot and weakness being preyed upon and manipulated incessantly. The myth of scarcity, born out of a simple (and easily rectified) ignorance, fosters a culture of “I, me and mine” where our constant meditation is not only on the ever-changing and never-satiated demands of the temporary material body, but how to preserve or replace the fleeting satisfaction we derive from meeting these needs.
Brahmins in Vedic culture live a life which by these western, materialistic standards would be classified as austere, but from the point of view of someone which greater depth of vision about the meaning and purpose of life, this simplicity is actually considered to be the greatest opulence. Why? Because it creates a space in their life – both internal and external – where the tree of spiritual realisation can grow and bear fruit. Following the basic principles and practices of spiritual life – which have also been given to us – we find that our cup soon runs over, and the abundance of love in our own hearts pours out to everybody we meet.
If we consciously reduce flimsy and superficial wants by showing gratitude and appreciation for the fulfilment of our most fundamental needs – a bottle of water, a fire to sit by – we can be the alchemists of our time and broadcast truth at every step.