We greet each other: "How's life?" Do we really expect an answer? In a way, perhaps, there is no answer.

For rarely do we lead our lives consciously. A mechanical and programmed, life is a rut. So much so that there is no life in living. That is the ultimate irony. T S Eliot wondered: "Where is the life we have lost in living? Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? And where is the knowledge we have lost in information?"

When was the last time you did something spontaneously? Make an effort to recall what was the last occasion when you stopped by to look at a tree. Not to observe it as a botanist and divide it into its trunk, branches, flowers and fruits. Or subdivide the flowers further into sepals, petals, stamens and pistils. But to live and experience the sublime wholeness of the ethereal being of the tree. To marvel for a moment as to how the tree is able to stay rooted to a spot for years on end. Derive its sustenance with contentment and a peace that passes understanding. Lead a life of profound fulfillment, without frittering away its energy in the restless pursuit of pleasure. In spite of being endowed with only the ability to perceive the sense of touch.


Feel the coarse trunk of the tree, firm, erect and rooted. See the nerves of the roots fanning out with their tentacles into the soil, embedding themselves firmly underground. The roots are like an umbilical cord, strongly binding and bonding the tree to the womb of mother earth.

Like the tree itself, you then begin to resonate with the hum of the earth. Pulsate with the stately rhythm of the celestial symphony. Deep down feel a sense of profound belonging and oneness with the cosmos. With the drama of existence. With the cosmic web of reality. With all that there is.

Look at the resplendent full moon on a languorous summer night. Now and then the moon pulls aside the curtains of clouds, looks all around to make sure that all's well with the world, and then quickly disappears behind the curtains once again.

When you are fully absorbed in the sky and the clouds, when you are in communion with the tree, then you cease to be a cog that is out of whack with the wheel of the universe. You cease to exist as a being separate from the universe, there is a distinct sense of identity. When the illusion of separateness and distinctness peels off like false skin, then you are in a state of selfless self-awareness.

William James testifies to this numinous state of being. "I have on a number of occasions felt the enjoyment of a period of intimate communion with the divine. These meetings came unasked and unexpected, and seemed to consist merely in the temporary obliteration of the conventionalities which usually surround and cover my life. What was felt on these occasions was a temporary loss of my own identity."

Our body-mind-brain complex is a system whose very existence depends on its continuous interface and interaction with a larger universal system that it seamlessly integrates with and is an inextricable part of. It is only our sense of identity that blinds us to this unity. When the sense of self gets removed, we remember that we belong to the cosmic ensemble. Or rather, we are the cosmic ensemble. When your self-consciousness, the sense of 'i' disappears, then your soul radiates the effulgence of the divine with an intense luminosity.


S H VENKATRAMANI for the 'Speaking Tree' column in "The Times of India"


Cosmic Oneness ...

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