The brahmachari pilgrim Prakasha, nearing the end of his journey, asks himself: “Am I doing something which is unnatural? Is my quest an extraordinary one? No,” he reminds himself, “no, God is the natural goal of the soul. Sufferings in life are reminders that the soul is not going straight to its goal.” It is natural for flowers to unfold and release their loveliness and fragrance, while artificial unnatural flowers do little save stare blindly and collect the dust. What is the secret of natural unfoldment ? The seeds have been sown in conditions that allow for growth; they are buried in the right soil and they have what they need around them, the very elements of nature.

Then the miracle occurs, how we do not know, but reflecting on the principle of growth we realise that everything that is really natural is really a miracle. So with the quest for God. By the discipline of devotion the soul allows itself to rest quietly in the conditions that will promote spiritual growth, rooting itself in the mother earth of right and harmonious living and exposing itself to the sunshine of the Spirit and the showers of compassion of the Lord. Sufferings are reminders that the roots are not deep enough, or that the spiritual elements are being blocked in some way. Then life becomes unnatural and artificial, dusty with desires, releasing not beauty and fragrance but rancour and resentment.

Sufferings that come, however, in the course of the love of God can serve to help the pilgrim on his way, to drive home the truth that there is only one Reality, one God and that He is the very Self of the seeker. The seeker of the Self experiences losses and disappointments as does the ‘self-seeker’ of the world, but slowly he must learn to recognise them as godsends, as the ways in which the veils are being tom from the face of the Beloved. Slowly he will mature as he learns how to sorrow not despairingly, but creatively, rising above the personal plane to the impersonal one of beauty and pure love.

At the beginning of the great epic, the Ramayana, the poet Valmiki describes how he was watching a pair of Krauncha birds disporting themselves in love, when the male bird was killed by a fowler. Valmiki was so moved by the grief of the female bird that a verse of rare beauty and perfect metre sprang spontaneously to his lips. This metre proved to be the metre of the divinely inspired Ramayana, the story of Rama and Sita, and the foundation of the verse of many poets to come. How many hearts have been charmed by this great work, and how many have been lifted up from grief by the sheer power released through sorrow poetically expressed! The poet Clare must also have known something of this releasing love-power when he wrote:

When sorrow sinks below distress,
The deepest griefs are sorrowless.

Is the quest for God unnatural? Is it unnatural to rise above all sufferings and to help others to do the same? Is it unnatural to unfold the hidden powers and glories that he buried in the spiritual heart of man? If everything that is truly natural in the world is a miracle, is not the quest for God and its consummation the most natural and the greatest miracle of all?

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