Friday, March 30, 2012

Roses and Nightingales

As you already know, dear Reader, I have been conducting a regular meditation workshop at the University of Victoria in response to a number of requests from students. I don't profess to be an "expert" on meditation, or anything, but help the group look at and try styles of meditation throughout the semester. My primary goal is to help them find a method that suits them. My secondary goal is to help them begin to see the applicability of both prayer and meditation in their lives. If this happens to lead to what I would call a devotional gathering, well and good. If not, that's ok, too, for my primary goal is to help them use meditation more effectively in their life.

When searching for a style to use this past week, my wife suggested meditating upon simple quotes. My son offered the idea of printing them on white paper and then pasting the white paper on coloured paper.

Well, I did, and it was fun. Some of the participants said that it reminded them of kindergarten, but then quickly said that this was a good thing. What I did was choose three quotes, print copies of them, paste them, put them on the table in the middle, and asked people to just pick one, either at random, by colour, after reading them all. Their choice.

So what quotes did I choose? Well, the first was, "The essence of faith is fewness of words and abundance of deeds." (My short thought on that was, "Well, I guess I'm screwed.")

The second quote was, "It is impossible for a man to speak and to listen at the same time."

The third one, well that's the one I meditated on yesterday. It was, "O Friend! In the garden of thy heart plant naught but the rose of love, and from the nightingale of affection and desire loosen not thy hold."

This is the one I want to write a little bit about today.

As I sat contemplating these words, a beautiful image came to my mind. I saw myself standing there in a garden with a beautiful rosebush, and nearby was a bird, a nightingale. I could smell the heady aroma of the rose, and loved the fact that it was so beautiful. This, I thought, was the love I feel for my wife, my son, my whole family, the faith, and so on and so forth.

But what about this bird?

I wondered about this for a while.

As I meditated on it, I realized that Baha'u'llah does not talk about us watching, enjoying, listening to, or even admiring this nightingale. He tells us to hold onto it. And so my picture of this scene changed a bit. Now I was holding onto this beautiful bird, and I realized that I to hold it gently, or else I would injure it. It also occurred to me that when you hold a nightingale gently, there is a chance that it will continue to sing. (I only say that because I have had the opportunity to hold some birds in my life that still sang quite beautifully while being held gently.)

How does all this apply in my daily life? Can you imagine how easy it would be to love someone and yet take it for granted? Well, I love my wife, but I always make sure to be conscious about it. I still have great affection for her, and yes, I still desire her. Without affection and desire, our love would be a fairly hollow thing, wouldn't it?

Now imagine this in terms of the world, for remember, we are told to love the whole world and not just our family, or those of our nation. This love with affection or desire would be superficial, wouldn't it? But when we have affection for everyone, when we have a desire to be close to all on the planet, when we truly love all humanity with our whole being, then we will see a magnificent change in the world.

But this bird is easy to lose if we begin to take it for granted, even if the rose of love is still there.

I never thought of this Hidden Word in that way before. I will definitely have to meditate on more of them.

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