Breathing is the key to life and almost every spiritual discipline starts and ends with it, as does life itself. Every moment we are meditating. With every breath, we are partaking of all the mysteries of the universe. Just for a few minutes pay attention to a gentle in-drawn breath. Within that action is the key to sustaining our life. How does that happen? Whenever I think I need a miracle just to keep going, I stop and pay attention to one or two breaths. Each breath feeds the fire of the heart. Amazing.
Moreover, most of us don’t eat gourmet food three times a day, but we are blessed with sufficient food, and I don’t just mean enough to provide the basic calory intake to keep us alive. We are blessed with all the associations of a loving mother that comes with the taste of some food, the memories of discovering new wonderful tastes every time we eat them again, and the love that we imbibe with food made by those who care enough about life to prepare good food, a spouse or a friend. I believe that food made by people who love to feed people has special nutritional properties.
If you think that nobody cares enough about you to prepare delicious food, let me invite you to go and get a banana, and pay attention to it. What a marvel of packaging, flavour and nutrition. I am not implying that particular banana was grown just for you as an act of love, or may be I am. It grew, it made its way to you and it will sustain you. Now I can hear you arguing that it was provided by a chain of commerce. What if that chain was forged to that banana to you with out any of the links being aware of the chain’s purpose? Might be, and even if it isn’t, the banana is still pretty amazing in its colour, utility, taste and ability to keep us alive. I once knew a man named Henry who only ate bananas, all different kinds and he was very healthy. And think about bread. I know that it is not much more than grain, salt and water but think about what that means. Bread, naan, chapatti, tortilla, or whatever you call it provides us with the elements of the earth. The process of growing, threshing and milling the grain transforms the earth into a form that we can use. What is the beauty! We never feel tired of eating but sometime it is necessary for our survival too. But we do not celebrate it.
Almost every spiritual tradition uses the fruit of the earth to impart spiritual nourishment along with the calories, whether as communion, Prasad, dates at Iftar or Karah Prashad in Gurudwara. I would invite you everyday to take a few minutes to pay attention to the joy that is food. Find something simple to eat, maybe a piece of fruit and take time to eat it with focus, eat it slowly, pay attention to the color and texture than the smell, and the smell, and the taste. Many persons do not do anything while they eat; not listen to music, watch television, or read. I think they wish to experience the transformation of one form of life to another. What a wonderful lesson!
All of us have got enough to drink and wish that everybody enjoys at least one drink a day as much as I enjoy the first cup of tea. Throughout the day we enjoy a wide variety of things to choose from: tea, coffee, lassi, juice and a whole lot more. But how often do we appreciate the miracle that is the liquid we drink? We are 70% water. Without a steady supply of water we would only live a few days. Having access to water is really reason to be joyful, throughout the day. We do not attach due importance to water, the basic element of our life. We waste it many times. Sit in a comfortable chair with a large glass of water and take a small sip of water. Notice something about the water as you swallow. Feel it with you, feel the water’s presence. Take more small sips, noticing different about the water each time until you drink one third of the water. Now take more small sips, this time noticing something about yourself each time. Keep sipping and noticing until two thirds of the water is gone. Now spend time with the remaining third of the water, notice its relationship with the glass, its relationship to you and your relationship to other things in the room.
So, there are a number of really elemental reasons to be joyful. Celebrate them everyday. Is this simple? Yes, but that doesn’t mean easy. We are all too often caught up in the drama of the day, our pain, the effort of work, the demands of family and friends to be full of joy. Yet, we each have a few minutes to celebrate the fire, earth and water and remind our selves to dance.
But there are more than elemental reasons to be joyful. You are reading these lines, that means you know English and most likely at least one other language. Every language is the key to wisdom that only that key can open. Whole worlds are yours to explore, and I don’t just mean Shakespeare or the Vedas, you also have the keys to the Marx brothers and humour in Hindi, Marathi, Kanada French or whatever language you might know. You must smile, you must laugh in all the circumstances, it may reduce your tension and make you live your life joyfully.
Be Happy – Enjoy Life Fully.