Saturday, September 19, 2015

Fall has Fallen Upon Us! Let's Celebrate the Equinox!

So called "modern" man has lost touch with the seasons. As if to prove it, our pollution of the environment has caused the seasons, moreover, to spin out of control, crazily, disturbing traditional weather patterns.

Nonetheless, here in the greater Seattle area, Fall has come! The trees are turning to their Fall colors, bright yet hinting at nostalgia or self-reflection. The sky is mostly gray, with periodic drizzles, hardly worth even the wearing of a hat.

Having for so many years experienced the height of Fall while in Frankfurt, Germany, accompanying Padma to what was her annual trek to the international Book Fair (on behalf of showing [mostly] Swami Kriyananda's books to publishers in other langagues), I receive memory-born glimpses of the colorful trees, the ring of mountains (hills) surrounding the city, bright blue skies alternating with Seattle-like drizzle, the beautiful city park next to the home we stayed, the Fall trees lining the railway tracks that took us to and from the Messe each day......even the fresh, brisk air.

I have come to appreciate, however, in more recent years that Fall is somewhat different for those in the harvest mode. Not yet quite reflective or nostalgic, Ananda Farms staff on nearby Camano Island are busy with the harvest which must get "in" before the weather turns more seriously Fall with hints of Winter!

I suppose each season has at least two, perhaps three, subsets: early, mid and late. Early Fall is characterized by the so-called "Indian summer" of warm days and cool nights. These are sometimes a refreshing change from the unceasing heat of summer days. This is the time of active harvesting, and is a kind of extension of the active nature of Summer.

Consider, too, that school begins in Fall. Early Fall finds millions making key decisions: people move, change jobs, change or enter into new schools, projects start up and summer vacations come to an end. Fall has a quality of beginnings, too!

As a child I recall my own dismay for the undeniable fact of actually welcoming the reappearance of school, even of the familiar routine! Yes, we tend to need structure just as we also need free play!

Mid-Fall includes the October height of Fall colors and the clear transition of nature into withdrawal. The leaves turn and fall; the summer plants drop and wilt, frost may appear in the early mornings. The pace might slow a bit (or, at least we drop into our routines) and the period of reflection begins.

Late Fall might be touched by an early Winter-hinting storm or two but we have been pushed indoors now. This is a great time for Thanksgiving and personal reflection. Being driven indoors symbolizes our coming back together from our "going out" of being outside (in the fields of activity), on vacation, travelling or just being so busy as to not have time to connect.

This is the time of year when I have been blessed to take a week's seclusion at the Camano Island Hermitage (house) which was acquired for this purpose and is shared with many friends.

Fall, perhaps more than the other three seasons, represents for me the "tense and relax" cycle of activity and reflection. Nonetheless, this yin and yang is experienced in all four seasons. For example, the intensity of activity of summer is balanced by vacation and nature. Spring awakens our energy to break out of our routines and get outside: our reflective nature now moves outward into appreciation of nature, beauty, life, and diversity. Winter, while obviously indoors and inward, is yet also a time of deep focus upon our work and life's dharma.

Still, Fall is "my" season, for I was born on a Sunday, October 1st, 1950, and I shall soon be 65 years old! Hard to believe. 65 is the new young, right?

Some days I feel that I've "seen enough" of this world and I want only to be free of the unceasing play of desires, fears, self-identities, success and rejections. I think of the song my teacher, Swami Kriyananda, wrote towards the end of his life: "I don't want to play any more." This feeling (and the song itself) is not a rejection; nor is it sad, either. It is an affirmation: a hard-won affirmation, I might add. I feel the tug of omnipresence, the infinity of God-consciousness.

Other days, the sweetness of pure friendship, the joy of deep meditations, the loveliness of nature, and the diversity and amazing scope of human creativity and inventiveness, are endlessly inspiring as if God has incarnated in so many forms.

I hope for each of us that we commit ourselves to personal soul-time this Fall. Time for reflection. Time for taking retreat or personal seclusion. Life is short and our habits are so deep that too often we live like zombies wandering at night thirsting for life but devoid of joy.

The "Christ" within us yearns to be harvested, but the old habits born of the past must first be shed like Fall leaves. Oh, they might take a "Custer's last stand" by glowing brightly just as you intend to withdraw from them, but fear not, Fall they will as you reach up to pick the harvest of self-reflection in the form of inner, divine joy.

Right about now, mid-September, the night and day are poised in equilibrium. This is an excellent time to feel the growing stillness that is now accessible and which alternates with the intensity of daily activity.

Fall into Joy,

Swami Hrimananda