The hearth fire was particularly friendly and comforting this morning, crackling with occasional sparks that sent micro-meteors of light shooting across its burnt brick backdrop. I was sitting in silent leisure while contemplating the rippled textures of the sea as the rain fell in softly layered veils across a slate cast sky. My eyes suddenly caught an unpredicted glimmer of something, something white gold moving across the distant contrasts of the grey. It was ignited into expression under a brief touch of sunlight that broke through the eastern horizon. He, or maybe she, was a lone swan pushing through the cloudy expanse on its path south for the winter. Unexpectedly, I felt a subtle touch of sadness brush my heart. It was elusive, barely there, but convincing enough to call up a fleeting moment of nostalgia, which morphed into an affectionate memory of my distant Himalayan tradition and my beloved Amartya companions. I found myself missing them, and then fondly reminiscing those moments we had shared in laughter, and played so joyously with that generous freedom they always provide, allowing each other to simply be, —that kind of freedom that so easily turns to love. The feeling of wistfulness had awoken through recognizing my own spiritual journey in this distant white swan traversing the sky on its own, seemingly separated from its kind, but so fully dedicated to the journey. Despite the daunting weather, this lone swan remained true to its nature, to fly uncompromisingly forward into the promise of its chosen path.

In the East, the swan is at times used symbolically to represent the purely discriminative mind. Having won the ability to persistently choose the path of true Self-knowledge, despite any opposing odds; is the attainment of Paramahamsa, the way of the spiritual swan. Everyone on that noble quest, who has tuned his or her listening to their secret soul-self, and is ready to take up their dharma nature, is bound to fly this discriminative path. But once in flight, for every one of you, it will at times appear that you are alone, like that single swan, traversing your sky as a sanguine solo light, flying resolutely through the gravity of a darkened world.

Whether you are soaring yet or not, the problems of life will undoubtedly test your resolve, possibly bearing down with the full gravity of our sleeping world. But if you have found that authentic source within, if you have realized that secret place that fills your wings with the promise of a higher destiny, it will in its discrimination-invoking manner make you stronger. In first setting off, your friends and family might imagine themselves vulnerable in the presence of your willingness to walk your truth, and may respond with resistance out of fear of losing you or their selves in your brightening presence. They may work to bring your inspiration down to the manageable size. They might criticize you, ridicule you, or even attempt to sabotage your efforts. —This is not really so difficult to understand. It could be that your willingness to set yourself free, will threaten their choices to remain where they are. After all, you are only in their lives because you are somehow tied to those investments. Because you have chosen to let go of those contracts that bound you together, that threat of change, may conjure up the anxieties that so often cause the human heart to shrink in fear. You would have chosen to listen again, and to honor the call of your luminous nature, which is otherwise kept hidden in their anxious world of conditions and limits. But secretly, in your flight you become the voice they too unknowingly yearn for. This is the great hurdle on the spiritual path; a difficult circumstance for them to come to terms with.

So, when you feel your flight is a solitary one, take solace: You are never truly alone, the sky may seem empty for a while, but there will come a day when you will look beside you and find there other swans in flight.  In that sky, there truly is no other, there is just you with many wings, and the call of the eternal Sun, and the sound of your luminous dharma presence blessing this world.

There is an immortal Knower above that sky, even now, who seeks endlessly to set you free. In your waking journey you enter relationship with that one Beingness, that one Presence. That is your undying connection to all that truly matters.

What inevitably becomes your flock of swans, your spiritual Sangam, and what you are destined to find in life, can only truly be discovered when you listen humbly and sincerely into the heart of your swan-being; when you surrender into the Sun’s eternal call, and feel there the great promise ignited in your heart. So fly high my dears, to that place where the skies become ever more radiant and clear. And above all, let your love be your compass.

Text by Aaravindha Himadra, written on a retreat on Orcas Island

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