Arnaldus de Villa Nova (1240-1311 AD), a physician, theologian and alchemist of the Middle Ages, wrote that verse. The words refer to the philosopher’s stone, the unseemly pebble lying on the side of the road – despised, neglected and rejected by those not in the know. What is the hidden mystery so easily overlooked in the stone? The Tibetan story of the dog’s tooth gives us a clue.
A merchant travels to India. His mother asks him to bring back a relic. He forgets. Before his next trip she asks again and again he forgets. About to return home from his third trip and having again forgotten to pick up a relic, he removes a tooth from the skeleton of a dead dog at the road side and brings it home to his mother, telling her that it belonged to a great saint. Delighted, his mother worshiped this tooth; other women join her from everywhere, and eventually they all see bright rays of light radiating off this ‘relic’.
Thus the old Tibetan saying: ‘When there is veneration, even a dog’s tooth radiates light’.
This is the story of the extra-ordinariness of the ordinary. It does not matter where you are, at church, around the kitchen table or on the battle field, or what you do, walking, working, cleaning, parenting or meditating – it is the manner with which you are attentive to this moment, with which you hold an object, touch the world around you and act in your life that determines the healing power of your influence. If you realize that with awareness and presence everyone of your actions becomes a gesture from your Being, the sacred reveals itself in every detail of your everyday life.
You don’t need to travel to India, visit the pope or go on a pilgrimage to Lourdes to find the sacred. “You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet” (Kafka).
Seek moments of stillness and solitude to make space for feeling the movement of your arm as your hand brings a piece of apple to your mouth. Don’t wait until it is too late after you had a stroke and your arm cannot move anymore, to regret not having seen the awe-inspiring perfection and sacredness of your capacity to move. Everything within and around you is waiting to be felt, heard and seen like a flourishing child seeking her parents’ loving recognition. When you bring this kind of dedicated attention to your life, the ordinary comes alive as the sacred expression of your timeless Being.
Copyright © 2015 by Dr. Stéphane Treyvaud. All rights reserved.