31 Dec A New Vision by Lilavati
a new Vision
by Lilavati, December 2020
Here in Victoria we have had no COVID cases for over a month.
As we begin to genuinely move back to normality, I decided it was time for me to take the first tentative steps out of my house. I went on my first car trip to a shop in seven months. It will sound incredibly mundane to tell you that this first trip was to buy shampoo at the Chemist Warehouse, but for me it was close to a religious experience.
As I stood in the hair products aisle, I was aware that my heart was beating a little faster, my eyes felt wider than normal, and underneath my mask I had a beaming smile. The simple act of buying shampoo was filling me with bliss. I felt slightly overcome and so I walked to the next aisle to try and calm myself. Everything about the products before me seemed wonderful: for a start there were so many of them. The colour of the shampoo bottles was wonderful, the ingredients read like a short novel and the slightly perfumed smell of shampoo permeating into the aisle was heady.
Buying shampoo is not something that has ever excited me but this act of normality after so long in lock-down was making the experience extraordinary. When I finally brought my shampoo to the counter the sales assistant said in a wholly disinterested way, ‘Are you having a nice day?’ Normally I would reply in a similarly bored way back, ‘Yes thanks’, but this time I could honestly say to her, ‘Yes! I’m having a wonderful day!’ She looked startled by my enthusiastic response.
As I got back into my car, I sat for a moment and thought about my experience. I wanted to laugh, cry and smile at the same time. It seemed to me that behind the veil of the mundane world lay another place that was vibrating with bliss. How odd that should this reveal itself to me in the chemist! The experience also reminded me of something that Swamiji has said on more than one occasion: it is always good to have a ‘beginners mind’. To see things afresh and with wonder like a child discovering the world for the first time.
I don’t think that Swamiji was thinking about the mundane act of buying shampoo when he said this – he was referring instead to the experience of meditation. After practicing for some years, it can be all too easy to take meditation a little for granted. What was once a remarkable inner journey may feel uninspired and even routine. But if there is one thing that this strange year has taught us it is to look at everything we have in a new and perhaps more appreciative way. From meditation to buying shampoo the possibilities for delight and upliftment are always there: it just depends on our vision.