It’s dark because you are trying too hard.
Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly.
Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply.
Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.
I was so preposterously serious in those days, such a humorless little prig.
Lightly, lightly – it’s the best advice ever given me.
When it comes to dying even. Nothing ponderous, or portentous, or emphatic.
No rhetoric, no tremolos,
no self conscious persona putting on its celebrated imitation of Christ or Little Nell.
And of course, no theology, no metaphysics.
Just the fact of dying and the fact of the clear light.
So throw away your baggage and go forward.
There are quicksands all about you, sucking at your feet,
trying to suck you down into fear and self-pity and despair.
That’s why you must walk so lightly.
Lightly my darling,
on tiptoes and no luggage,
not even a sponge bag,
~ Aldous Huxley
It’s a visit home, a visit to family. It’s a place where it seems little is happening and yet everything is. Along with two of my trainee leaders from Return To Origin I am in the red sand dunes, of the Kalahagdi desert with the Khomani San Bushmen.
Oum Gert is younger than me. When his eyesight was better he was a master tracker. I last saw him three years ago upright, sturdy, walking far into the desert each day. Within three years he is unrecognisable, and I am shocked. Now his body has taken the brunt of the harshness of the Kalahagdi desert and all that came with being a Bushman in apartheid South Africa. Two years earlier he had a stroke which left his face twisted and his arm lame, he has one lung, walks with a stoop from a twisted spine, and I wondered how he stood up on his painfully thin legs. One morning he insisted on joining us on a 4 hour walk. It was a very hot day. His brother Isaak, who walked with us said Oum Gert hadn’t walked so far in several years.
At night around a fire lovingly prepared, Gert’s gift as a story teller had us following Jackal’s adventures with bated breath, belly laughs that were carried by the wind into the star struck night, the ancestors were listening in too. He speaks softly, you have to lean in, and when he laughs at Jackal and Kop Koppie the tiny bird’s antics it is infectious and Oum Gert our beloved elder, whose body appears twisted with the stroke and years of an unrelenting harsh life, is whole.
“When I am not here and lying alone and I have to listen to everyone arguing and talking, I don’t engage ” he says, quietly “I consider the last thing I saw here in nature and I remember that connection of love and that spirit of love is always within me. I find truth in Nature and I only concern myself with truth. It is what sees me through everything.” He drops his head to rest his painful neck,
“No one listens to me anymore, they think I have nothing to say.” I look for a glimpse of resentment, sadness, I see none. My students and I openly weep not in sympathy, he has struck our hearts and we resonate with a truth. When an elder dies a library dies with him, and we lean in more, we don’t want to miss a single word.
We invite him on every walk and when he speaks deeply lovingly about the animals, we see his spark re-ignite, we see his fire. His eyes which were barely open when we arrived the stroke nearly closing one, are now glistening with excitement and wide open. He carries the strength and resilience of being a Bushmen, and all it brings with it. Oppression, degradation, humiliation not as a victim but with courage and strength despite the atrocities laid on him and his ancestors who were considered vermin and often hunted themselves for fun.
That night the thunder and lightening beings came to visit. It is a beautiful blessing for the work done the truths spoken and heard. The dry red sands soak up the water from the sky giving nourishment for the insects and little animals who would now, according to Oum Gert be able to eat and lay eggs beneath the surface of the earth. We arise at 5 am to sit with the darkness, in meditation until the darkest hour, and dawn breaks and brings with her new beginnings and possibilities. as Oum Gert says when we connect with the earth in this way, there is no separation. The spirit of the earth inspires the spirit of love, it is our value.
We walk lightly on the earth, slowly and focused, where underneath its surface there is so much life, and during the day we walk with the tracks of the animals where we witness Oum Gert transform before our eyes, he becomes vibrant, he is the divine. He gets down to his haunches and leans on his kirrie.
“It’s so wonderful to see you,” he says to a tiny beetle, as he lovingly peers at the tracks it leaves behind, “you are so small but you can find food for yourself and provide for yourself. From there comes the spirit of the divine”
His words are carried by the wind and they reach us with a resonance that only silence can truly honor.
“When you are looking at the tracks of an animal and can see how it goes about it’s life, it connects you with the spirit of the divine. You feel the love and as you see how the hand of the divine provides for this, you see the truth and you feel the love, it’s a spirit of love that connects you with the animal and with the divine in that moment. It connects you to the spirit within you. ” Oum Gert, Khomani San Bushmen, Kalahari Desert, April 2017.
Every moment I spend with Gert, gives me answers to the “point” There was no loin cloth or bow and arrow present in the three days. There was only a fire, his twisted body the vehicle we are given to be here at this time, even what appears to be broken is whole and his wisdom. Love and nature are in us and when all around you is losing theirs hold onto yours, it can never be taken away no matter what. And when we are alone we really never are alone, we can always access this place where nature, spirit, love and the divine live together. And the final jewel from this Bushman, with a lame mouth and arm, half closed eye, and one lung, “I am love and I am nature,” he says quietly, humbly.
Isn’t that the highest vibration of consciousness to reach, isn’t that the only point?
In the process of our sophistication we have lost our natural innocence, our capacity to stand in awe and wonder. We have to cultivate that sense of wonder once again. It is a wonder that this body that was lying like a log of wood on a bed a few hours ago is now sitting here and reasoning. It is a wonder that it can witness a multidimensional universe which was not present during that sleep. The subtle depths from which the content of the dreams themselves come are a wonder. It is a wonder that I can talk to you and you can listen to and understand me. For a baby every moment is a wonder. Out of their wonder-filled minds, small children can create so much beauty. It is yet a wonder, a joy that we can see and touch each other. ~ Nitya Chaitanya Yati
May all worlds bless and protect you always