It is a crisp winter morning in northern Indiana. I woke up to see a gathering of Canadian Geese around the periphery of the pond outside our apartment. The pond has been frozen by the chilly cold. The ripples from the last wind that created them, were also mysteriously frozen.
The geese were still, not a single one moved, or even budged a part of their body. As if time had been stopped in a freeze frame. This continued for a while as I became one with this fascinating scene.
And then one goose across the pond from me, stirred. And took a tiny baby step from the pond’s periphery towards the pond surface. And another and another and then right onto the pond’s surface. With one leg on the land, another on the pond surface, she balanced herself. And then she got on the pond with both feet. And she took another tentative step on the pond, relieved that she could actually walk. And slowly she walked on the frozen pond.
The other geese were still. Some looking at the adventurous goose’s way, others just still in whatever pose they were in, as if to help not jinx the adventure.
Then the amazing thing happened. One after another, the geese carefully stepped on the pond slowly and started their own walks. And soon enough, geese from my side of the pond began their migration on the pond’s surface to the far side. The silence stopped. And the cacophonous honking of the geese began. Some on the pond, some on the land outside it. And it was all simply a continuum of existence.
As their grand adventure unfolded, I couldn’t help but notice that it all began with a single step of one brave and adventurous goose.
In this, dear friends, the Canadian Geese revealed something important for us as spiritual aspirants:
1. Nature’s secrets cannot be found by staying in the mind, but can be immediately discovered in experience. If the geese had stood on the periphery of the pond, wondering what this thing was now that was flowing water just a day back, they’d never have known what the frozen pond felt like. To break from the paralysis of the mind’s wonderings, one adventurous goose, took a step to actually find, from experience, what this pond was. In similar way, we can learn all we want about the nature of Nature, about spirituality, about energy, about enlightenment, and satisfy our mind, but that is absolutely nothing compared to taking that first step towards knowing about the mystery from experience.
2. Take one step after another and continue to do so, and it gets easier and easier. If that adventurous goose had been gripped by fear or worry after taking the first step onto the pond, she would have withdrawn from the pond and the experiencing of the pond would have been lost or deferred to another time. Setting aside doubts, with courage, when we take one step after another, we find that we are laying the foundation of a “practice”, and this transforms daily living into a continual unfolding, a continuous experiencing of the mysteries of Nature.
3. Your practice will be a ripple that will inspire others. One goose took a courageous step to experience the icy pond, and set fear aside and took one step after another, and in doing so, not only was she experiencing the mysterious icy pond, but she gave inspiration to the other geese that they too can experience this mystery. So it is with us. We can get out of our minds and its concepts, and invest in taking one step at a time in the experiencing of the mystery, and our presence alone will inspire others to follow. And in this way, we can be a ripple that creates other ripples, bringing ourselves and others into the flow.
Still your mind, and look keenly, and you can notice that Nature is always reflecting back to you that which you should know at any given time on your own path. Just like these messages from the Canadian Geese.