The Enlightenment Stone


The-Enlightenment-StoneShe had always been moved and deeply touched by her Teacher’s comments about the spiritual value of giving, and at some heartfelt and intuitive level felt that she really understood what this meant and how it worked in that preternatural inner world where everything connected, the giving that enabled receiving, of love deepened by desirelessness, the happiness she had known in penury, and how gratitude attracted grace and humility won power, the polarities and opposites all interwoven, the paradoxes untangled and resolved. So for many years she practiced non-attachment, made a point of giving away as much of what little was hers, especially the things she most cherished. Like the splendidly serene stone image from that roadside stall in Asia, which more than anything she had ever seen embodied the feeling and flavor of enlightenment, its utter detachment and unshakeable calm.

She had chanced upon this particular treasure at a roadside stall near Ubud, a random stop along a road of paddy fields and distant temples. An old villager sat in the sun, oblivious of everything around him, chiselling a face out of stone, a piece of cubed river sediment layered in variegated creams and yellows, the pale strata of ancient sedimentation solidified in beautiful colors. The old sculptor had fashioned a strikingly peaceful face, a Buddha, but only half of it was complete, a half-face emerging out of stone as though summoned from a mineral world, then pausing as though hesitant to venture further into our troubling human world. It was a perfect metaphor, man evolving out of stone, the unfinished portrait of a nascent God peering out from this clod of earth in calm wonderment.

When she held it in her palms, the partly open eyes watching her but withdrawn within, it comforted her, it was her own future Self. It lay at the heart of her life and summoned some intimation of her own final purpose, that freedom which was the only thing that had ever really interested her in the endless verisimilitude of life. The cold yellow stone warmed her heart, its meditative half smile soothing, hushing the mind – its composure was eloquent and breathtaking and beautiful. Only her own guru had surpassed this image – she recognized in her smiling teacher that even greater attainment that cannot be described or grasped …its orbit from the familiar earth too far away to understand.

Till one day even this she gave away, a gift to someone she really cared for. When it had gone – there was only the pale mark on her shrine where it had sat – she knew that she had gathered it even more closely into her heart and that the act of giving it away had brought it closer, its consciousness now a part of her.  The carved yellow river stone smiled through her eyes, meditated in the dawn stillness, watched peacefully her own unfolding life, and her life ending.  The enlightenment stone was the last thing my wife Subarata ever gave away before her passing.