The River of Change
By Owen Waters
Once there was a man living in Northern India, named Ravi. He was a saddhu, a holy man living a simple, austere life. One day, Ravi decided to go down to the river, saying to himself, "If I stay here long enough, I will contemplate my way to further enlightenment." He came upon a tree with roots that ran into the river. This tree was old and large, bigger than a house, and well-rooted in the river bank. When he sat beside the tree trunk, under the shade of its leaves, Ravi sank into silence.
Then, in the quietness of his mind, he saw a vision of pure bliss and beauty. He saw the heavens, where people work and play in the afterlife. He saw angels of light and all kinds of spirit beings. He saw a vision of God in his mind, and was grateful that he had decided to seek such wonderful states of consciousness within himself.
Next day, he went on to another place beside the river and meditated there. Here, there were rose bushes that someone had planted so that the bank of the river would be especially pretty in that location. He smelled the rose perfume and sank into the bliss of heavenly rapport once again.
Finally, after weeks had passed by, Ravi tired of sitting by the river and contemplating his way into blissful states. Something had been stirring inside him for many years and now it bothered him even more. He had always followed the tradition of being a wandering ascetic, knocking on doors with an empty bowl in a land where it was considered an honor to fill the bowl of a saddhu with rice for him to eat.
He was following the tradition laid down by his own teacher and generations of teachers before him, but the world was changing. He could sense it. Consciousness was shifting and, with it, came a call for service. Instead of retreating into a cave to find bliss, the new thought that resonated in the realms of inspiration seemed to say, "Come out into the noise and clatter, and help as many people as you can!"
Now, he had become dissatisfied with living as a recluse, teaching the occasional student here, and another one there, as he roamed the countryside, passing from village to village. It was time to teach many people, not just a few individuals any longer. He wanted to be of greater service to humanity by using his knowledge to help more people than before. And, he knew just where to go to find many more people.
He made his way to the nearest city, where the citizens milled around in eternal noise and confusion. There, he could see that people needed the ability to sink into blissful relaxation, and he knew he could teach them how to do this for themselves. Then, they would become much more capable of handling the stresses in their busy, daily lives.
Soon after his arrival, a kindly, retired couple took him into their home and hosted evenings where he could teach their friends. And teach the friends of their friends. And the friends of those friends. Word of mouth spread rapidly as he was an excellent teacher. Suddenly, one home was not big enough to accommodate all the people who wanted to learn from him. Soon, he was invited to other homes to teach as well, but he really needed to rent a large indoor space to accommodate the demand that was building. He had sought a way to give greater service than before, and the universe had responded by opening up new doorways to new possibilities, and to new challenges at the same time.
As the fall season turned into winter and the weather was beginning to turn colder, his supporters made it possible for him to rent premises which could serve as a center for the teaching of enlightenment. Bliss consciousness was his subject, and he taught it well. People came to him from far and wide to learn how to gain inner peace and to seek the state of enlightenment within.
Soon, winter had come and gone, and, in the spring, inspiration struck. He wanted to offer weekend retreats away from the city for the tired and the restless who worked there. He decided to move back to the river, but this time to find land, and to build a teaching center there in the quietness and beauty of nature. His new center came together quickly, thanks to the dedication of his supporters, who made it possible to buy land and build a modest center there.
During each week, the most dedicated students stayed on, seeking enlightenment, as he had done, by the banks of the river. As part of their daily work to support and expand the center, they planted and tended a huge rose garden so that everyone could enjoy such a wonderful fragrance before going into their meditations.
Many years passed by and, walking by the river one day, Ravi saw what seemed to be a log floating swiftly downstream. As he looked more carefully, however, it turned out to be the body of a man floating face-down in the river. He was deeply disturbed by this scene. Was this some kind of omen; a foreshadowing of his own demise? Was his life about to end?
Ravi went back to the center, determined to see his own future and become aware of what lay ahead. There, he probed deep into his inner book of life, his own life plan, where he saw the circumstances of his own passing from this life to the next. He also saw that the event would be a joyful one; that he would be reunited with loved ones in the spirit world who had passed on before, and that he would be risen up to a place of great joy and happiness.
Satisfied that his life was going to plan, he worked to complete his affairs in the physical world and waited happily for the day that he would pass on. When the day came, he had already instructed his followers that his funeral should be carried out as a celebration and well-wishing toward him in his new life. Not a tear was shed at Ravi's funeral celebration, because he had prepared people to expect his passing, and to be glad for him in his transition to a new life.
Ravi joined with them in spirit, as many spirits do at their own funerals, and then moved back to the heaven world to review his own life and evaluate how he had done. It was then that he noticed that his trust in the natural flow of events in his life had saved him from so much of the grief that others encounter when becoming attached to things that come and go.
He saw that his own life has been lived, always with an ear to the voice of inner wisdom and a sense of what to do next in order to be in tune with the natural flow of events in his life. He saw that God manifests through each and every one of us, and gains experience of life through our own efforts. He saw that there is a flow of natural events and that intuition is the doorway to knowing where that flow is leading at any given time in life.
Whether he decides to come back to the physical world for another incarnation, or not, is up to him. He hasn't decided yet. If he does, it won't be to learn, because he has already learned how to master the challenge of life on Earth. If he does return, it will be as a teacher who, again, serves others in their quest to master the adventure of physical life. And, if he decides not to return, then the universe is a very, very large place, and God dwells within every single part of it. The possibilities, as always, are infinite.