From Dior to Dharma – an excerpt

~ Excerpt from From Dior to Dharma by Shruti Bakshi. Available on Amazon.

***************Book excerpt start******************

“So for now, just one question,” the teacher said. “When was the last time you planted a tree?”

I really needed to keep a conscious check on the number of times I raised my eyebrows here. Luckily it was a rhetorical question because I wouldn’t have been too happy with sharing my answer of ‘never’.

So off we went into the garden. It was a large garden bordered with dark green trees and bushes, opening into a small forest at the back of the building. There was a cluster of flowering potted plants with yellow, red, pink and violet flowers that separated the garden from the forest. Luckily it wasn’t raining despite the many dark clouds gathering overhead. We each picked up a small sapling and found a spot near the potted plants, to dig little holes and plant our trees. I couldn’t even recall the last time I had taken a handful of mud in my hands. It felt nice doing something so simple and rustic. The dirt was sticking to my hands and little twigs were leaving visible white scratches, but I forced myself to ignore them and not make a fuss. There was something therapeutic about holding another life in my hands and tending to it. I felt like this is what I also did during meditation – tended to the life within me.

I was quite lost in thought watering my sapling, when a voice behind me almost made me jump.

“Why are you so serious?”

I turned to look at the man who had suddenly appeared behind me. He was a bald white man probably in his late sixties, of sturdy build, no taller than myself and dressed in light orange coloured robes of the kind I had seen Indian religious people wearing. He wore clear frame glasses and had one of those mouths that seem to always be stuck in an open-mouthed smile.

After my initial surprise had somewhat worn off, I considered his question. He wasn’t the first to ask me why I was so serious. That was just who I was. Once when I was ten, I refused to go to school because I had forgotten to do the homework for one of my classes. I was debating whether or not to share this anecdote with him when he spoke again.

“You are a perfectionist. Very exact and focused. They are great qualities, in the world and on the spiritual path.”

I was surprised he could tell all that just from the way I was watering the plants. I was about to thank him for the unsolicited compliment when he continued, “As long as you also accept that life does not happen that way.” He took the hose of water from my hands and watered the saplings and the flower pots nearby rather haphazardly. I watched with suppressed disapproval as he put a little too much water in some of the flower pots, too little in some others and let water generally spill all over the place. I had been so careful in trying to gauge just how much water a plant might need. Not that I had any way of knowing, not having much plant-watering experience, but still, his lack of precision was annoying.

I kept watching attentively though, open to learning what I had to, either about watering plants or about ‘how life happens’ as he said, or preferably both. Suddenly a small bird swooped in to drink some water that had collected in one of the flower pots.

I realised what he meant.

I never allowed water to collect in my watering. No bird could ever drink like that after I watered the plants. His way was indeed proving to be better. Point well made, I thought feeling simultaneously impressed and humbled.

“You mean life is not perfect,” I said, confirming the lesson.

“That’s not what I said.” He continued with the watering. “Life does not follow your ideas of perfection, that’s all.”

That’s all? Who says the most profound thing ever and ends with “that’s all”?  He must have seen the stark confusion on my face because he tried to explain.

***************Book excerpt end*****************

~ Excerpt from From Dior to Dharma by Shruti Bakshi. Available on Amazon.

Read more excerpts:
‘Nature and spirituality in South India’
‘And now, yoga’


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  1. Pingback: And now, yoga – Living-Wise Project

  2. Pingback: Nature and spirituality in South India – Living-Wise Project

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