If you have been able to live today doing something proactively for someone, which cannot be repaid to you, then you have led a meaningful day.
This morning, while on our walk, we spotted a home, outside which someone had drawn a beautiful kolam (a design, a.k.a rangoliif it is drawn with colors, drawn on the ground using rice powder – a prevalent daily practice in south India and used in north India on special occasions). A hungry crow pecked merrily on the rice powder oblivious of the walkers who rushed past. My wife paused to admire this beautiful sight. She remarked to me: “Look, how meaningful is this ritual of drawing a kolamusing rice powder. It serves the purpose of beautifying the front of the home no doubt, but it works as a simple method to feed ants and birds.”
As we continued on our walk, I reflected on the thinker-guru, Eknath Easwaran’s (1910~1999; it’s also his birthday today) book The Compassionate Universe that I had read some time ago. Easwaran had written: “My grandmother lived in a Universe filled with Life. It was impossible for her to conceive of any creature — even the smallest insect, let alone a human being — as insignificant. In every leaf, flower, animal, and star she saw the expression of a compassionate Universe, whose laws were not competition and survival of the fittest but cooperation, artistry, and thrift. . . .The earth was our home, she would have said, but no less was it home to the oxen that pulled our plows or the elephants that roamed in the forest and worked for us. They lived with us as partners whose well-being was inseparable from our own.”
And so, this morning, I learnt the value of the ritual of drawing a kolam with rice powder. Most people of today’s generation have given up on this practice as they perhaps find it boring or irrelevant or both. But this is a practice, as I understand it now, that sows the seeds of compassion early on and helps you to not just think for yourself but to think for the entire ecosystem. To be compassionate is to do something meaningful, proactively, selflessly, in such a manner that it can never be repaid to you. Compassion is when the love within you – for creation, for the Universe, for all beings – overflows. Even if you can’t do anything physical for anyone, just sending them positive energy is compassion.
Being compassionate in these times needs more intent than just reason. And our compassion is urgently required to make this world a better place. There’s something compassionate you and I can do today, right now, apart from possibly drawing a rice powder kolam outside our homes – we can send positive energy and a long distance hug to all those parents and families in Peshawar who lost their children in yesterday’s dastardly Taliban attack. If misplaced passion, as in the case of the Taliban, can continue to cause destruction, our compassion can and will heal the world!