I found my first grey hair yesterday.
Nothing significant I guess… millions of people on this earth have grey hair and live with it. Many get it an age earlier than I did.
But my heart stopped at the sight of that hair.
I have lived half my life already.. it just struck me..
And like everyone else’s – my life is going to end one day too..
If my life ends right now, will I have any regrets, is there anything that will make me want to come back to this earth in another name and form ?
I want to live in a way that the answer to that question is a “No”
Or may be even THIS wanting can bring me back ! quite a thought, isn’t it ?
This thought of coming back has haunted me for a long long time – from the time I was a little kid.. I read the children’s version of the story of Gautama Buddha, and how Siddhartha became Gautama Buddha.. and the same questions haunted me about illness, old age and death.. (incidentally, I was born on the night of Buddha Purnima, the full moon night in May when Buddha was enlightened under the Bodhi tree) .. the cycle of life and death.. and the thought of coming back to repeat the cycle seemed so onerous to me always.. even as a kid..
I grew up in a devout Hindu family, and was also introduced to the Bhagavad Gita at a tender age.. I read pages from it.. and asked my parents these questions.. why do good people suffer.. and I remember my mom telling me – God creates situations for the devotee to remember Him – because we humans tend to forget the Divine in our good times.. and God is selfish that way.. like a little child, He seeks the devotee’s, the beloved’s attention..
That explanation intrigued me as a kid.. I found it illogical and unfair at that time. But as life passed by, I found more and more solace in that thought. Every time in life I found myself caught in those situations where the question popped – “why me” – or “what did I do to deserve this” – this though also popped up to pacify me “god needs my attention”. And of course, why would I remember God in my otherwise perfect life, unless I needed help!
And I took almost a strange kind of pleasure, in my darkest moments, to know that I am His beloved.. so much so that every time I get stuck in all those things that are going to bring me back to this world, again and again, He gives me a wakeup call, rings that calling bell on the front door of my consciousness, brings me my morning newspaper that has the headlines “wake up and see ! I am the only way !”
So right at this moment – all those seeds of “this is not alright” that are burning in me – I offer them to that pyre of love.. I open the door to infinity.. and let the light shine through, knowing that with the light might come some dust that might sting my eyes.. but at the end of it all (or is it the beginning ?) I would have lived a life of love, offering every moment of my existence – however joyful, hurtful, unfair, exhilarating, amazing or unacceptable, and accepting it as “Prasad” (Prasad means literally, a gracious gift. Anything, usually an edible food, that is first offered to the divine and then distributed to the devotee. The Prasad is then considered to have the divine’s blessings within it)
And so, do I offer – my first grey hair, my first wrinkle, my first painful joint – to the Divine, just as I did my first heartbreak, first bereavement, every moment of weakness… and success too
Like an incense stick, whose entire existence is about burning to ashes to spread the fragrance..