“Many an earth on Earth there be.” – An ancient Gypsy saying
Whenever I think about the Earth, the planet, the Mother, the one true home, I find myself swept by a vision of multiple images, real and fictional, conjuring up an idea that is impossible for the mind to grasp, or be subdued into one comprehensive meaning. It takes me tripping into everything from deep time to Beethoven. And one of the first images that struck me today was the mythological specter of Sahas Badan, or the thousand-bodied Shesh Nag rising up from the fathomless womb of Ksheer Sagar, in the center of the Earth. Forgetting the story for a second, I got hooked to the visual. I thought, how immense is She who can contain both Shesh Nag, as well as the boundless waters he rises from? And of what quality is her being that she cradles five oceans—and every bit of the life in them? And plates of shifting continents and islands, and their startling geography? The tallest mountains? Everest, K2, Aconcagua?
It is also said that Shesh Nag holds the Earth aloft on his head, keeping her stable. Another staggering and paradoxical symbol, which fills me with even more wonder. But I understand. For how does an ordinary human make common sense of the stability of this massive Earth, knowing that She’s going round the Sun and round herself, every moment, at an incomprehensible speed? Or even lying still and square in mid-air, for those who didn’t know better back then?
How does an ancient guru explain the baffling concept of pure consciousness, holding the potential of creation, to a mind riddled with ego-centric illusions, if not by employing a mind-blowing symbol?
These symbols seem to be embedded within the mythology of the World in order to give us a sense of proportion — an idea of who we are, with our egoic selves, in relation to this vastness of being. I also feel that these stories of pure reverence arose in response to the pull of awe, which continues poetically to point us in a certain direction. But to where?
Where does being-unable-to-answer the astonishment signal us to? To no-mind… The place where nothing sits. No explanation, no logic, just a strange acceptance of the whole, as it is.
It flows so openly and without reason that it seems mysterious, because the ego won’t take ‘this is it’ for an answer. It simply cannot grasp that a thing can just be that…endless. It is this ordinariness of the realization that sets a mystic laughing, shaking her head in awe and wonder still.
The thing to be ecstatic about is that there are a thousand ways of getting to that point where one is simply struck in the eyes by the divine headlight. Self-enquiry and scientific, love and devotion, art and literature and music, grass (of all kind) and farming, roaming, serving anyone in anyway, rewilding and reforestation, cooking, anything. Any kind of longing. Any kind of soul.
And that brings me back to the beginning, to the tasks I had set myself today, as I began to write this first entry of my blog, ‘A Thousand Ways’. The first task was to arrive at and share with you the introductory raison d’etre of this blog. And here it is: The sole purpose of ‘A Thousand Ways’ is to accept and celebrate bewilderment, curiosity and wonder, the finest instrument of the human realm to view ‘this’ with. Whatever be its vehicle, whether poetry or prose, art or experience, we are here to celebrate the madness of the method we are inside. The second task was to start celebrating immediately, which is how this entry began, serendipitously, and it is how it shall end.
I hereby invite you to rejoice with us in the Mother, together with all her symbols. Her name evokes a thousand images—even as she holds us up from our feet. She bears the name Achala, the Unmoving, Medini, the chalice of abundance, Avani, the one who takes you deep within…and Sharini who protects unconditionally. Wherever a seed may fall, it finds a home to grow and a life throbbing through. She rises with her trees and crops and grasses, season after season, kalpa after kalpa, to feed the multitudes, despite the flagrant misuse of her body and soul. Thus, I am endlessly grateful for the heart of Amazon, the heart of Kailasa, the heart of the Tsang Po in Tibet and for other places that yet lie unapproachable and mysterious to man, for they force him again and again to submit his ego to her nature and to thus know Her fully: Intuitively. He then goes back, deciding to tell his story of utter astonishment and reverence in a thangka painting or on a papyrus leaf, or inside a stone cave. A thousand-headed serpent rising from the water-womb of the Earth, or a one-toothed deity guarding her Earth mandala, gazing across wrathfully… These images remind us of our place of wonder in the scheme of existence.
“There are a thousand ways to kneel and kiss the ground”, said Rumi, the beloved of the beloved, and I ask you to come, roam, and kiss these sacred grounds of the Mother with me, where a Himalayan blue poppy finds the same secret as the Zen master laughing and crying for joy, both becoming symbols of the love of the Universe.