“Things also have a consciousness of their own….The Divine is in things also and that is why they must be treated with care.” (The Mother, 17.05.1955)
I have this small side table at home. It is a lightweight table with simple wooden legs. The charm of the table is in its top, a simple sheet of plywood covered by handmade paper with small dried leaves rolled in giving it a wonderful texture. The paper surface is laminated but in order to further protect it we have placed a sheet of clear glass of the same size as the table top. But enough about the outer details of the table.
It is the function for which this table, any table, is used that makes it important. No?
Well, not really. Not always. Often we have many objects at home, including pieces of furniture that are mostly or even merely decorative. So can we then say that these objects are important only for their aesthetic value?
Or maybe there is something else too in those objects.
Sri Aurobindo: …In material objects there are physical forces trying to maintain the forms. But there is even some life-force gathered round the form by the universal consciousness which is behind it. (Evening Talks with Sri Aurobindo, recorded by A.B. Purani, dated 04.02.1926)
At least that ‘something else’ is there in my little side table. For me. Seen only from the outside, it has become a little stage for me to experiment with interesting ‘vignettes’ or ‘table tales’ as I sometimes call them.
But nothing is only what you see on the surface. This table has also become an important means for me to consciously slow down and reinforce for myself the truth that nothing, not even any object, can be experienced only from outside. One has to try and carefully listen to the ‘inside story’ – often that is not spoken or is spoken very mildly – in order to ‘know’ someone. Or oneself. Or an object. Even a table.
Sri Aurobindo: Do you believe that there can be life in a watch?
Disciple: Children believe that!
Sri Aurobindo: And I agree with children. The watches behave differently with different men. It is also certain they answer to man’s thought and will.
Disciple: So watches have life!
Sri Aurobindo: You are getting surprises one by one.
Disciple: Flowers have souls — watches have life! It is baffling. I have heard that motor cars have also life.
Sri Aurobindo: Yes — engines and tools also.
Disciple: What is called “fatigue in metals”, may it not be a sign of life?
Sri Aurobindo: Fatigue is a sign of life. There is a consciousness also in metals, as well as mind. Life is everywhere. (Evening Talks, dated 17.08.1926)
Every time I think of changing something on this particular table, I get one more chance to listen to its inner story.
Now, to be honest, it is not that I don’t move things around on other surfaces in my home – be it other side tables, dining table, kitchen counters, tops of bookshelves, display cabinets etc. In fact, sometimes my husband says that I move things around too much! But in my defense, it is not I who moves those objects around, it is just that the objects are telling me that they want to move. What can I do? I have to listen, no? Each object has to find its right home, and until it has been found it will need to move. It must.
Kind of like us.
A continuing journey of discovering that right “home.” The inner one.
But there is still something special about this little side table. Every time this table calls for a changeover, it is never only about changing its ‘look’, the outer form. It is almost always an opportunity for me to somehow get in touch with something that is trying to express the real ‘essence’ of this table.
What? Does a table have something like an essence? What are you smoking? Yes, I can hear the questions.
My answer: Of course, it does. This particular table surely does. Let me also add this – I think if you pay attention to some of the tables (or chairs or bookshelves or other pieces of furniture in your homes) you may also begin to notice that they each have their unique ‘table-ness’ or ‘chair-ness’ etc.
For this little table in my home, the essence is all about the gods who make this little table their home from time to time. And how I adorn their home. No, this is not the main ‘mandir’ in my home. That is elsewhere. But this table also wants to be one. Or at least, that’s what I hear when it speaks to me.
Don’t believe me? Take a look at some of the ways it has expressed its mandir-ness, and decide for yourself.
This was the day when a single but richly blossoming branch of pink-lavender Bougainvillea (‘discreet protection’*) delighted my Krishna, merrily engaged in his Raas-Lila with Radha and gopis. But just to give him something little extra, a small white blossom of Rose Periwinkle (‘integral progress’) was placed in the nearby empty essential oil diffuser. Perhaps as a reminder for myself, that only in His Protection any real inner progress is possible.
Disciple: What is this psychic prayer that flowers represent?
The Mother: The psychic, when it manifests in a plant, in the form of a flower, is in the form of a wordless prayer; it is the élan of the plant towards the Divine.
On that day a beautiful sun-dried leaf caught my attention as I stepped outside the house for something. This provided the necessary contrast to the bright red hibiscus (‘dynamic power’) which was offered that morning to the ‘Giridhar’ Krishna standing in a most beautiful tribhanga pose balancing the Govardhan mountain on his little finger, protecting his entire village. Who knows from which tree and when this dried leaf had fallen, but the glorious sheen of it somehow reminded me of the golden yellow of Krishna’s Pitambar, perhaps a tad bit faded in colour but nonetheless magnificent. And the leaf found its home at the feet of the Lord.
And what of that little bird behind the Giridhar Krishna? Well, it was the bird that had first landed on the table. But soon it got lonely and restless, and Sri Krishna in His Supreme Grace agreed to grace the table and show the bird how to ‘tune’ its music to His Flute. And from that day on, they were inseparable.
More golden yellow this time. But in addition to Sri Krishna, this time Lord Vishnu also shares the offering. I had meant to offer each one of them – the Lord and His Avatar – a separate little blossom (you can see the empty tiny jars there), but somehow that day this task remained undone. I am sure, however, that the gods were mighty pleased with the golden Gerberas (‘frankness’) who were given to me by a visiting friend the day before. But frankly speaking, I have no recollection of why that morning I never managed to bring more flowers from the garden.
This is the most recent form this table has taken. I think from a morning last week. A small floating arrangement with tender white blossoms of Parijat (‘aspiration’), a small white Frangipani (‘perfect psychological perfection’) topped in the middle by a dark purple Globe Amaranth (‘immortality’) definitely made it necessary for that bright red Hibiscus (‘dynamic power’) to be there. Even gods need help. I mean, without His dynamic ‘Shakti’ even Lord Vishnu can not convert a seeker’s weak-willed yearning into a burning flame of aspiration. And just to make sure that gods get all the extra help they need, a small tea-light holder was also placed for when it will be dark.
So, are you now convinced that this is no ordinary table? Didn’t I tell you so? It is a table that is kind of living, changing, evolving and in the process discovering its true purpose, to be a home for the gods.
Kind of like us.
* The spiritual significance of the flowers as given by the Mother
Linking with ABC Wednesday, C: C is for Call
Linking with Vidya Sury’s The Gratitude Circle