Lila and the Great Swan

Sri Ramakrishna and his teachings...


Sri Ramakrishna and his teachings had been accompanying and comforting me throughout that whole day, as a joyous accomplice of my own exalted mood.  His radiant presence had been doing so during  an entire week, since I had started reading a book written by a follower of his, narrating anecdotes from the mystic’s life and paraphrasing many aspects of his teachings.  In the Great Swan’s eyes, existence was perceived as an indivisible reality where the transcendent and the immanent played each its own significant role in the unfoldment of individual and universal actions.  The sage’s non-dual perception of the universe encompassed the Brahman’s loftiest heights and the projection of Mother Kali’s divine lila as two aspects of the same indivisible reality.

The experience came in the midst of a normal and agitated day while I was carrying out my daily responsibilities as a language teacher.  It was not until much later that I realised its fulness and significance, as a natural consequence of what had been simmering inside my heart and mind after having read and meditated on Sri Ramakrishna’s words for several days.

And so the perception revealed itself to me once again, with the full strength of its reality and the selfsame truth contained within its own irony, that the whole setting in which I found myself was a mere performance, the moment and the place and the people and the actions the set-up of just one more cinematographic projection.  And so the stronger the irony of the drama became, as I could observe myself as from the audience –myself one more actor, my actions fulfilling just another role, the classroom merely a different stage–; and, paradoxically, the stronger its reality, as the inner witness of my outer actions realised not only the contingency and arbitrariness and absurdity of it all but, simultaneously, the relevance of its completion as an integral part of the universal drama constituting not only this chapter of my life, but a chapter in the lives of so many others, and, above all, a chapter in the book that the ultimate dramatist had assigned for me and those around me since time immemorial.

And so what would under a different light have been considered to be the absurd and worthless lightness and triviality of my daily existence, revealed itself as a comically fleeting but meaningful act of a higher will acting in and through me, my personality a simple instrument of a bigger and deeper reality than what my normal consciousness could have ever envisaged.  Happy and unannounced came the familiar but long missed experience which, despite the initial tremor and restlessness it generated, continued cradling my inner being lovingly and filling my outer being with poise, freeing my normal personality of its self-absorption and senseless self-loathing.   And my joyous accomplice, that Immaculate Swan full of wisdom and love and light, showed himself once again as much more than a mere character on a printed page, rather an actor playing by my side, both teacher, companion and friend, showing me his understanding and sharing my inner growth and joy.

(Reykjavík, 28/01/2005)


1.  Lex Hixon, Great Swan.