The cloud, like anything in nature, is a fascinating thing. It is nothing but a phenomenally beautiful painting that the sun, air, water and the earth jointly paint in their synchronous dance, right in front of my eyes.
The sun shines on the vast swath of water of the Pacific Ocean, thousands of miles away from where I live. The tiny water droplets above the ocean surface get ready to carry the sun’s warmth. The air above the ocean surface rejoices in the warmth of the sun and rises up, carrying the tiny water droplets with it. The earth moving towards the sun’s warmth receives the warm air with open arms. Voila! We have the prevailing winds, the trade winds,the jet stream, the strong breeze, the gale, the hurricane and so on. Whatever the name be, the wind carries the love of the sun and of the earth only as energy and water, and supply them to every nook and corner of the earth.The wind carries tiny water droplets or ice crystals that are so small and light that they actually float in the air. A large bundle of these tiny water droplets is what we call a cloud.
I’m mindful of the cloud. It reminds me of my own mind.
- The cloud is a bundle of water droplets. My mind is a bundle of desires.
- The water droplet in a cloud actually attaches itself to a dust particle in the air and envelops it. My desires attach themselves to the world-objects, which are really dust only, and envelope them
- Clouds appear white because the tiny droplets scatter light. But when the clouds become thick with the water droplets and ice crystals, or when they rise high enough, all the light does not get through them. The cloud then appears grey or dark. The desires in my mind behave in a similar way. Laden and heavy with desires, my vision darkens and my insight turns “grey” with uncertainty.
- The water droplets in a cloud bang against each other, become big and heavy and fall as rain drops. My desires accumulate, bang against each other.My mind becomes heavy. I shed teardrops of misery, suffering and tension.
- The cloud produces lightning and thunder. My mind produces the lightning of anger and the thunder of harsh words.
- The cloud is always in perpetual motion. So is my mind.
- The cloud hides the sun’s effulgence. Desires hide Love’s effulgence.
- The cloud takes many shapes and forms
- My mind takes infinite forms and shapes, propelled by desires. A few examples:
I notice the passing cloud has passed me by and is gone. The sky is dazzling blue with the luminous effulgence of the sun. Not a speck of cloud can be seen anywhere in the sky. I feel energetic, vibrant and in the company of hope-filled life force itself. I couldn’t help but wonder how beautiful the effulgence of Love will shine if only my desires would also pass me by.
The passing cloud teaches me another valuable lesson too. All challenges, problems and difficulties in life are really passing clouds. Nothing more. So too are the successes, wealth, fame and the like. They are no different either. They too pass. Everything in life is a passing cloud. Just as the wind carries the cloud away, the wind of time carries my life away.
The passing cloud is a scintillating symphony of Nature’s orchestra. The music being played is the tune called sacrifice.
Just look at what the cloud does. A water droplet rises from the ocean and travels for thousands of miles in an unknown journey to an unknown destination, bearing heat, turbulence, lightning and thunder. All along it practices the vedic teaching,
Let us live together. Let us grow together. Together, let us achieve great things. Let there be no disharmony among us.
saha naa vavatu saha nau bhunaktu saha veeryam karavaavahai |tejasvinaavadheetamastu maa vidvshaavahai ||
In togetherness and perfect harmony with other water droplets, it does a great thing. Succumbing to lightning and thunder, it falls back on earth so it can offer succour and nourishment to the billions of lives on earth.
After giving life to others, it loses itself as it returns home to the ocean.
What a beautiful lesson in sacrifice! The tiny water droplet leads its life undergoing uncertainties and difficulties, lives in togetherness with fellow droplets, does its work as worship only to serve and nourish others. In that process, it loses its own identity!
This lesson of sacrifice of the water droplet in a passing cloud tells me that the desires in my mind must also follow the same path of sacrifice. They must be guided to get back home, the Seat of Love, where they came from. Regardless of the travails and tension each of my desires goes through, they must be directed to the Seat of Love in me. Just as the water droplet immersing back in the ocean is no more a water droplet but becomes the ocean itself, the bundle of desires called my mind, immersing in the Seat of Love becomes Love itself.
But not all the rainwater reaches the sea. Some fall on the mountain top and get dissipated, some fall on the lake and go back as cloud, some fall on gutters and open sewers that people shun and pigs rollick in fun. Only the water drops that travels the well channeled path of a river get back to their home, the sea.
In the same way, my mind should not be allowed to scatter its desires away. It must travel a well channeled path to reach the seat of Love. This path is sadhana, the path of prescribed and proven disciplines.
“Take-home”s from the passing cloud
- Mind is like a cloud. Evanescent. Not graspable. Don’t hold on to it.
- Sans water droplets, there is no cloud. Sans desires, there is no mind
- Both are always in motion
- Cloud hides the effulgence of the sun. The mind hides the effulgence of Love
- Lightning in the cloud is the anger in the mind; thunder is the harsh words I speak
- Life’s troubles, challenges, successes and disappointments are all passing clouds. Be unconcerned with them. They do pass.
- Turn the mind to Love. Keep the company of Love. Sacrifice all acquisitive desires in Love.
- Sacrifice to serve.
The whole universe is the form of sacrifice only. Divinity is sacrifice only. Sah yajnah, He is Sacrifice says the Brihadaaranyaka Upanishad. Immortality is attained only through sacrifice, Tyaagaina ekena amrutatvam anasuh, says Maha Narayana Upanishad. Sage Agastya also teaches this in Varaha Purana,
You are the very form of sacrifice, the enjoyer of sacrifice, the doer of sacrifice, the lover of sacrifice. I bow to you in worship.
namaste yajna roopaaya yajna bhoktre namo namah | yajna karte namo yajna priyaaya cha namo namah ||
The cloud reminds me of The Cloud Messenger, Meghadutam, the famous lyric-poem in Sanskrit by the greatest poet of them all, Kalidasa. The poem describes a citizen exiled for a year to central India convincing a passing cloud to take a message to his wife in the Himalayas. The citizen describes the many beautiful sights the cloud will see on its way to the Himalayas and convinces the cloud to undertake the work.
I’m no poet. Yet I would like to do the same – send the desires in my mind to carry the message of yearning and separation to the Seat of Love within me, to immerse in It and be Love itself.
Vishnu sahasranamam describes this Seat of Love as Megha Shyaamam. Megha-cloud, shyaamam – dark blue. God is experienced as the dark blue color of a cloud. Shyaamam also means the body. God is also experienced as the form of the cloud. The cloud is an aspect of God itself. Why would it be anything else?
Then, my mind, in spite of all the forms and shapes it weaves on itself, is also an aspect of God. I must accept it as such. When I do that and look at my mind with love, the desires and agitations cease immediately. It begins to think constructively. It begins to speaks kind words. It begins to do compassionate actions. It begins the making of a loving person.
This lesson is the nectarine drop the passing cloud showers on me as it passes by. That I must become a loving person. That I must sacrifice and serve.