March 31, 2010

The Ocean

A trip to the Ocean means sand between our toes and the sweet smell of salty air in our nose, fresh and aromatic - delightful and distinctive. Driving trough eucalyptus groves, (although not native to California) with an intense clean smell that complementing the sounds of the waves breaking clears the mind, completely. Spring is in the air, wildflowers are blooming, birds are singing and waves are crashing. What better time to enjoy a long expanse of beach by ourselves, letting our boys frolic in the receding tide and dig in the soft clean sand while we comb the beach for shells and pebbles, letting our senses wander and our thoughts disperse with the cool breeze.

The winter rains have combined with the moist ocean air to bring life to the hills, moss drapes from evergreen branches, bushes and grasses bloom with radiant color. We are spellbound, entranced by the beauty surrounding us. Even driving along narrow winding coastal roads looking down steep precipices to the crashing ocean below is meditative. We aren't in a hurry, we don't need to be anywhere. We can just slow down and take in the natural wonder waiting behind the next bend in the road. Spring has sprung and we are cherishing it's splendor.

Despite being seemingly just a stones throw from the activity of San Francisco, the Marin coastline feels distant. Apart from the fresh sea breeze, only the contrasts between asphalt and sand, concrete and rocky hillsides remain. As we drive in the shadow of majestic coastal redwoods toward seemingly endless sandy beaches, we leave behind the complexity of the city and relax in the serenity of nature's beauty. If only for a few days we indulge in the contrast to ski tracks and snow covered mountains. Winter is not over, yet one foot is now firmly planted in spring.

The Mind and the Stormy Ocean

Swamiananda and his disciple Ranga were strolling on the beach by the ocean. It was a cold day and the wind was blowing strongly over the ocean, raising very high waves.

After walking for some time, Swamiananda stopped, looked at his disciple and asked: "What does the choppy ocean remind you?"

"It reminds me of my mind. Of my rushing and restless thoughts," answered Ranga.

"Yes, the stormy ocean is like the mind, and the waves are the thoughts. The mind is neutral like the water. It is neither good, nor bad. The wind is causing the waves, as desires and fears produce thoughts," said Swamiananda.

"I wouldn't want to be on a boat, in the middle of the ocean, in a storm like this," said Ranga.

"You are there all the time," responded Swamiananda and continued, "Most people are on a rudderless boat in the middle of a choppy ocean, even if they do not realize it. The mind of most people is very restless. Thoughts of all kinds come and go incessantly, agitating the mind like the ocean's waves."

"Yes," Ranga interrupted him, "You don't have to tell me. This is the reason I am with you. I want to calm down the waves of my mind."

Swamiananda looked at Ranga for a while, smiled and said: "You don't calm the ocean by holding the water and not letting it move. What is necessary is to stop the wind. The wind is made of your thoughts, desires and fears. Don't let them rule your life. Learn to control them by controlling your attention, and then the ocean of your mind becomes calm."

"And how do I do that?"

"Suppose it is possible for the ocean to disregard the wind, what would happen then?" asked Swamiananda.

"The waves would cease. But no one can stop the wind."

Swamiananda looked at him with a mysterious smile and said: "Why not? The wind, the ocean, and thoughts are all within the mind. When you can control the mind, you can control everything within it. But first you have to control your mind, which means you have to control your attention."


Unknown said...

Just wonderful, I hope you all enjoy it.