A few months ago, I wrote in anticipation of the birth of our first child. I was imagining the love that I would feel as a mother and how it might reveal a glimpse of what the Beloved feels for each of us. Since then, we have celebrated the birth of little Isaiah Rumi Downs, and been consumed in the initial weeks of parenting. The opportunity to write this column provides the rare moment to sit down and reflect, so I thought I’d revisit some of the themes I explored in my last column now that the little rascal has arrived.
It seems to me that Baba’s message can be boiled down to: Love God. And to love God, forget yourself, and remember Him. Most of us have no idea how to forget our self. Indeed, Baba said, “if I tell you to jump over yourself, you cannot do it.” and, Eruch, probably the most humble man I have ever met, told countless stories to remind us that, “the ego is always present.”This is something that has always seemed inescapably true to me, the great spiritual puzzle — how to use the self to forget the self.
Now, I am not going to say that becoming a mother has made me forget myself but it has shifted the focus of my life like no other experience I’ve ever had. Like many new parents, I find myself staring at my baby for hours, hooked on his every expression, on each new sound and smirk. The hours slip by in a cycle of baby rhythms — eating, sleeping, changing, playing and so on. Days on end, this is what I do.
It doesn’t seem like much. But, life’s little moments are imbued with a new sense of fulfillment. This morning, I leaned over the kitchen sink eating a slice of ripe cantaloupe as the sun streaked in through the cobwebs in the screen window to touch the roses collapsing into their little green vase. In the next room, I could hear my husband reading aloud to little Isaiah, something about a tugboat and an owl, while Isaiah babbled on in complete delight. The nagging what nows of life’s endless to do list were suddenly wiped clean by the sound of father and son working their way through the story one colorful page at a time.
Baba was clear that there is no use denying worldly experiences or in meditating to clear the mind. To the contrary, He instructed His lovers to be in the world but not of the world — to enjoy all, but to imagine it is Baba doing each thing and to entrust word, thought and deed to Him. As I tend to Isaiah, bathing him and changing him and rocking him to sleep, I try to imagine not only that “this is Baba doing this” but that this is Baba doing this for me, for all of us, tending to our calls, anticipating our every need before we can even name it.