Stones and Flowers

Today in class, Master Shree shared a small story of a resilient seed whose stem – despite a journey through rocky and stiff dirt – somehow managed to push through to the surface of the earth in order to find sunlight and grow into a beautiful flower. “If I go and touch the flower now,” Master Shree said, “it will wilt and break immediately.”

He used this as an illustration for the charge to ‘be like a stone for yourself, and a flower for others.’ This is something that resonated deeply for me as I realise that, for many years, I have been oscillating between ‘stone’ and ‘flower’ for both myself and others.

When it comes to ‘inner work’, it’s hard to know how to keep yourself accountable. This is where stone-like discipline comes in. When one can stand firm in their resolve that yoga is a source of strength, calm, presence, wholeness, and health in their life, one will continue to practice.

But the truth is, this will come with sacrifices. Most people do not spend most of their time thinking about their breath, or listening to their body. Most people do not meditate for hours a day on the nature of their self, or how the principle of ahimsa applies to their lives. As such, if one is trying to live a strict life of yoga, one may find themselves alienated, excluded, misunderstood. In the midst of this, it is easy to lose strength; to slow or stop the practice; to postpone what you know you need to do… indefinitely.

As such, it is important that we be a stone for ourselves, ever steady, solid, inching towards the sunlight no matter the number of stones and roots and hardened clay-like pieces of soil in our way.

But (and crucially), the second part of the idiom is still unexplored. ‘Be like a stone for yourself, and a flower for others’, moreover, a flower that is delicate enough to wilt at the gentlest intervention…

Rather than applying the same high standards, the same unwavering resolve, the same harsh honesty, the same disciplined structure… to others, what if we were to maintain our sense of compassion? What if we were to be vulnerable, fragile, delicate?

This might put others at ease, make them feel unconditionally accepted and loved, while also inspiring them to inquire into why – this now wilting flower at the slightest touch – continues to sprout blossom after blossom, from a seed deep deep under the rough, rocky soil.