It is said that the soul is nourished by beauty and in my book that makes Fall one of the best soul nourishers around. As we watch the trees change color we cannot help but be awed by the power and glory of nature. More than any other season, I feel like I’m part of an extraordinary painting, part of a canvas done by a sublime artist, displaying visual and arresting beauty.
What’s also interesting to me is the symbolism it brings. The beauty is there because leaves are aging and falling. It is the beginning of the end of the yearly cycle, and winter means death. Can the joy and exuberance these trees exude now give us better ways to view our own old age and death?
Yes! Firstly it reminds us that life, like the seasons, moves in cycles. The tree doesn’t actually die in the dead of winter. Life remains within, dormant, and in Spring brings forth new leaves, a new body. We too don’t die after old age and death have moved us through the cycle of our life. The soul, our conscious self, lives on and gets another body and begins the cycle again.
Once we realize that we are caught in the cycle of birth and death we may ask the question ‘why?’. But, even more importantly, ‘how can I break free from this cycle of birth and death?’
The answer bhakti-yoga gives us is that we can awaken the soul, the consciousness, through the practice of remembering who we are beyond the body, and remembering our relationship with Krishna, the source and creator of all life. By doing that, we regain our original spiritual identity and can transcend the body and all it’s changes. We are then not so fearful of old age and death but rather embrace the natural slowing down and detachment this stage of life offers. We can more easily turn away from the world and towards a deeper spiritual life.
If we are genuine and authentic in such devotional practice, then the richness of the colors of autumn will be like the deep and transformative relationships in our life. And we will fall like the wise and ageing leaves into humility and gratitude, into kindness and compassion, into enthusiastic action and interaction, and eventually we will fall completely in love with beautiful Krishna, who stands beneath a Kadamba tree in the full moon night of autumn, playing his flute for those He loves and who love Him best - the sweet and wonderful gopis of Vrindavan.