A Flower in God's Garden

Sannyasi Dharmapriya, Amboli, India

When I was a little girl a nun once wrote these lines in my autograph book: "Be like a flower in God's garden and bloom for him alone." I was six or seven and didn't understand what it meant. I remember thinking then that maybe I'd understand later - when I was a grown up. The magical journey to when everyone understands everything. So I carried these lines with me.

Periodically, through childhood, adolescence and womanhood, I've taken these lines out of my heart and examined them in the light of new knowledge and in the hope that something would click. Ever since I can remember I've been interested in God, who or what or where he or she is. These lines were a direct hint given by someone who had boldly declared her intention to pursue the idea of God. By the age of six I had already learnt that people are irritated or laugh at you if you talk too much about God. "Be like a flower in God's garden" - I think I have understood. I don't really know where God's garden is, but this here and now will do. Where I stand is the only place I can be.

Now what do flowers do in their blooming? They express fearlessly the energy of the plant they bloom on. One and all are beautiful because each is unique. They contribute their energy by displaying it, with no thought of comparison, no holding back for fear of not being good enough, no pretence of being a cut above the others.

Like a plant I learnt to revel in the sun on my face, the wind against my body, to accept the sweetness of rain and the mercilessness of drought. With one drive: to express the love, the nourishment, the energy of my roots in an outpouring of fragrance, colour and contentment to the world. I don't know if I've flowered or not. I've only shared all that I had in me with whoever came my way, thus expressing all that I had imbibed from my family.

Now comes the worrisome part of 'blooming for him alone'. After I had concluded to my satisfaction my interpretation of being a 'flower in God's garden', which took many years, I turned my attention to finding this elusive God to whom I could offer myself. My quest was determinedly childlike in that I could not simply accept what I was told and later read about. I was not content with simply believing. I had to find him.

Then one day it happened! The majestic symmetry of a palm tree against the blue sky. The flight of a bird on wing. The great golden sun pouring its benediction. The cool fragrant caress of the Raatrani on the summer breeze ... He started calling my name. Now I was very eager to see him with the eyes of my heart. I had realised that these eyes see better. There are senses beyond those we know. As each one unfurls we see more and more the effulgent form of the one we call God. One of these is the eyes of the heart. They have x-ray vision and can speak. They are also the hallway, the tunnel to a person's insides, where God is.

I discovered this one morning when I looked at a small bird perched on a thin branch, not very far from me. The bird was enjoying the freshness of the daybreak much as I was. We looked each other in the eye and something touched. It was the sameness that was in me and the bird that flowed between us, linking us, joining us without words. It was more intimate, rich and true than anything words can handle. It was the sea flowing into itself - the water is salty everywhere.

Since then I have looked eagerly into every eye to touch that sameness within that I knew lived there. Every tree, every bird, every stone, every human, every monster has that sameness, whom we call God. Some eyes are blind with pain and God is squeezed shut into a very small space indeed, like a pinprick of light. So I bloom for him alone. Because he is the one divided into many forms like me and you. He is the inner space, we the outer shell. He is the plant, we the blooms. He is the master, we the house.