Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Time with Atreya

Thanks to my sabbatical, I am able to spend an equal amount of time with both the kids. Aloka gets full attention in  the morning until 10:30am. In the evenings, after school, I encourage Mallika to take her out to the playground and then she is fast asleep by 7:30pm. After that, it's Areya time. We eat together, watch some crime show together, I read in his room while he studies, and sometimes take long walks at night and talk.

Yesterday, quite late, we went out for a walk. We walked along Sin Ming Avenue and turned on Upper Thompson Road. Then, on an implulse, crossed the road and turmed into the Island Club Road.

The road was isolated, surrounded on both sides by thick forest, and in the next 30 minutes, we encountered 1 person and perhaps 5 cars in all. The first thing that struck me was the smell of the forest. Damp, wild, earthy and suddenly fragrant. The huge Peepal tree, with its twisted trunks and dense foliage was enchanting, bordering on scary. I was reminded of the silly ghost stories of childhood and had to make an effort to change my chain of thoughts. Then Atreya and I started talking. He spoke of his cricket match, the uncouth players from the other team, and I talked about my concerns about the immediate future and my feelings about the people who had let me down.

Once we were done talking about our top of the mind issues, we moved on to deeper topics. The silent strong sounds of the forest were the trigger. What are these....these plants? They are alive, but are they like humans and animals....caught in the cycle of life and death and inter-related? Or are they another form of life, with its own different cycle, unrelated to us? Suddently vegetarianism became understandable. Animals are caught in the lower life states of hunger and animality. Humans can also be trapped, but they have the capability of rising higher. Life after life, and within the same life, we can reach the higher levels and that seems to be the purpose of life. And what happens when we have reached the highest...Buddhahood? Maybe there is another realm for Buddhas where they live and climb up another set of states that open up for them!

Atreya started talking about elegance next. How somethings are elegant and you intuitively know that they are but still it is so tough to define elegance. Maths is elegant. And how the concept of a supernatual God is not elegant but that of a conspiring Universe is elegant. I asked him if he had doubts about Nam Myoho Renge Kyo and moved on to talking about chanting in general, all kinds of chants, Hindu, Buddhist, and how it is elegant that chants can invoke the Universe and also cleanse our lives simultaneously....after all everything is connected.

I then spoke about my recent experiences and how I understand their value. The opening of my eyes was painful. Hearing stories of loose talk and gossip about me by people I really loved was heartbreaking. But it had a purpose, it was a part of my breakthough. A human being is deluded in many ways, a Budhha is aware. I was deluded and ignorant. Removing that delusion was important to my growth. I hope it doesn't take away my natural respect/trust for people.

By then we had reached home, but the conversation continued, moving to infinity. Atreya felt that we "finitize" infinity as soon as we start to explain it. It is not within our scope to ever get infinity because we are limited. Maybe in the other realm of Buddhas, they all know these truths and grasp concepts like infinity and multiple dimensions intuitively! We spoke of the scientists who made discoveries and how they must have had an elevated life state at the moment of their discoveries  (according to Buddhism, the states of Learning and Realization are one of the 4 higher states of life, just below those of Boddhisatva and Buddhahood). When Atreya wants to follow on their footsteps and relive their journey of how the discovery was made, he desires to reach their state. What a noble desire! We also discussed that this constant tug of war between the ideal and the reality (exams) is necessary for him to constantly aspire. And when I had scolded him for not looking motivated last week, I was actually sensing that he was not in the state of Learning and being pulled down to a lower state.

Maybe I haven't captured all that we talked. But I hope I have captured the wonderful companionship I share with this son of mine, who is more my equal and friend than anyone else in the world.

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