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Benediction

1 Feb 2016   Shanti Gowans
The entire universe conspires to shower you with blessings.
Thousands of things go right for you every day, 
beginning with the moment you wake up.
Through some mystical power you don't fully understand,
you're still breathing abd your heart is beating,
even though you've been unconscious for many hours.
The air is a mix of gases that is just right for your body's needs,
as it was before you fell asleep.
 
You can see.
Light of many colours floods into your eyes,
registered by nerves that took God, or evolution, or some process
millions of years to perfect.
The spectacular gift of these vivid hues comes to you
courtsey of an unimaginably immense globe of fire, the sun,
which continually detonates nuclear reactions
in order to convert its body into light and heat and energy
for your personal use.
 
 
 
The sun is located at the precise distance from you to be of perfect service.
If it were any closer, you'd fry, and if it were any further away, you'd freeze.
Another one of the sun's benedictions is that
it appears to rise over the eastern horizon right on schedule every day,
as it has since long before you were born.
 
Do you remember when you were born, by the way?
It was a difficult miracle that involved many people who worked hard on your behalf.
No less miraculous is the fact that you have continued to grow since then,
with millions of new cells being born inside you to replace the old ones that die.
All of this happens whether or not you ever think about it.
 
On this day, like almost every other,
you have awoken inside a temperature-controlled shelter.
You have a home!
Your bed and pillow are soft
and you're covered by comfortable blankets.
The electricity is turned on, as usual.
Somehow, in ways you're barely aware of,
a massive power plant at an unknown distance from your home
is transforming fuel into currents of electricity
that reach you through mostly hidden conduits
in the exact amounts you need,
and all you have to do to control the flow
is flick small switches with your fingers.
 
You can walk!
Your legs work wonderfully well.
Your heart circulates your blood all the way down
to replenish the energy of the muscles in your feet and calves and thighs,
and when the blood is depleted it finds its way
back to your heart to be refreshed.
This blessing recurs over and over again
without stopping every hour of your life.
 
Your home may not be a billion-dollar palace,
but it's sturdy and gigantic
compared to the typical domicile
in every culture that has preceded you.
The floors aren't crumbling,
and the walls and ceilings are holding up well, too.
Doors open and close without trouble,
and so do the windows.
What skillful geniuses built this sanctuary for you?
How and where did they learn their craft?
 
 
In your bathroom, the toilet is functioning perfectly,
as are several other convenient devices.
You have at your disposal soaps, creams, razors, clippers,
tooth-cleaning accessories:
a host of products that enhance your hygiene and appearance.
You trust that unidentified scientists somewhere
tested them to be sure they're safe for you to use.
 
Amazingly, the water you need so much of
comes out of your faucets in an even flow,
with the volume you want,
and either cold or hot as you desire.
It's pure and clean;
you're confident no parasites are lurking in it.
There is someone somewhere
making sure these boons will continue to arrive for you
without interruption for as long as you require them.
 
Your hands are astounding creations
that allow you to carry out hundreds of tasks
with great force and intricate grace.
They relish the pleasure and privilege
of touching thousands of different textures,
and they're beautiful.
 
In your wardrobe are many clothes you like to wear.
Who gathered the materials to make the fabrics they're made of?
Who imbued them with colours, and how did they do it?
Who sewed them for you?
 
In your kitchen, appetising food in secure packaging is waiting for you.
Many people you've never met
worked hard to grow it, process it, and get it to the store where you bought it.
The bounty of tasty nourishment you get to choose from
is unprecedented in the history of the world.
 
Your many appliances are working flawlessly.
Despite the fact that they feed on electricity,
which could kill you instantly if you touched it directly,
you feel no fear that you're in danger.
Your faith in the people who invented, designed,
and produced these machines is impressive.
It's as if there's a benevolent conspiracy of unknown people
that is tirelessly creating hundreds of useful things you like and need.
 
There's more.
Gravity is working exactly the way it always has,
neither pulling on you with too much or too little force.
How did that marvel ever come to be?
By some prodigious, long-running accident?
It doesn't really matter, since it will continue to function
with astounding efficiency whether or not you understand it.
 
Meanwhile, a trillion other elements of nature's miraculous design
are expressing themselves perfectly.
Plants are growing,
rivers are flowing,
clouds are drifting,
winds are blowing,
animals are reproducing.
The weather is an interesting blend of elements
you've never before experienced in quite this combination.
Though you may take it for granted,
you relish the ever-shifting sensations of light and temperature
as they interact with your body.
 
There's more.
You can smell odours and hear sounds and taste tastes,
many of which are quite pleasing.
You can think!
You're in possession of the extraordinary gift of self-awareness.
You can feel feelings!
Do you realise how improbably stupendous it is for you
to have been blessed with that mysterious capacity?
And get this: You can visualise an inexhaustible array of images,
some of which represent things that don't actually exist.
How did you acquire this magical talent?
 
By some improbable series of coincidences
or long-term divine plan,
language has come into existence.
Millions of people have collaborated for many centuries
to cultivate a system for communication that you understand well.
Speaking and reading give you great pleasure
and a tremendous sense of power.
 
To go someplace that's at a distance, you have a number of choices
about what machines to use in order to get there.
Whatever you decide - car, plane, bus, train, subway, ship, helicopter, or bike,
you have confidence that it will work efficiently.
Multitudes of people who are now dead
devoted themselves to perfecting these modes of travel.
Multitudes who are still alive
devote themselves to ensuring that these benefits keep serving you.
 
You might be one of the hundreds of millions of people in the world
who has the extraordinary privilege of owning a car.
It's a brilliant invention made by highly competent workers.
Other skilled laborers put in long hours to extract oil from the ground or sea
and turn it into fuel so you can use your car conveniently.
The roads are drivable.
Who paved them for you?
The bridges you cross are potent feats of engineering.
Do you realise how hard it was to fabricate them from scratch?
You're aware that in the future
shrinking oil reserves and global warming
may impose limitations on your ability to use cars and planes
and other machines to travel.
But you also know that many smart and idealistic people
are diligently striving to develop alternative fuels
and protect the environment.
And compared to how slow societies have been
to understand their macrocosmic problems in the past,
your culture is moving with unprecedented speed
to recognise and respond to the crises spawned by its technologies.
 
As you travel, you might listen to music.
An MP3 player is a fantastic invention
that has dramatically enhanced your ability
to hear a stunning variety of engaging sounds at a low cost.
Or perhaps it's the radio.
Through a process you can't fathom,
music and voices that originate at a distance from you
have been converted into invisible waves
that bounce off the ionosphere
and down into your little machine,
where they are transformed back into music and voices
for you to enjoy.
 
Let's say it's 9:30 a.m.
You've been awake for two hours,
and a hundred things have already gone right for you.
If three of those hundred things had not gone right:
your toaster was broken,
the hot water wasn't hot enough,
there was a stain on the clothes you wanted to wear
- you might feel that today the universe is against you,
that your luck is bad,
that nothing's going right.
And yet the fact is that the vast majority of everything
is working with breathtaking efficiency and consistency.
 
You would clearly be deluded
to imagine that life is primarily an ordeal.

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About Shantiji

Shanti Gowans is the globally recognised author and founder of Shanti Yoga™, Meditation and Ayurveda for the self, family and community.

Shantiji has brought the concepts and practices of a healthy body and a still mind to thousands of Australians through her Yoga and Meditation programs on national television... Read more about Shantiji's biography


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