After a trek through the forest, you reach the beach at sunset. In the afterglow, you come upon someone eagerly gazing into the night sky. You feel drawn to what he is looking at, so you go over and ask him.
He explains that he is an astronomer and there is nothing he loves more than gazing at the night sky. He tells you his story of how he fell in love with astronomy and asks you if you’ve ever wanted to explore the night sky. You reply that you’re keen to start, and he says he would be happy to share some of his favourite features of the night sky with you.
To begin, he asks you if you’ve spotted the crescent moon. You look around casually for a minute, and then answer that you haven’t.
As the afterglow fades, the astronomer asks you, “Do you see that tree over there?”
“Yes, I see the tree” you reply but wonder why he has pointed out a tree when everything you’ve discussed so far has been about the sky. You decide to go with him on it and nod for him to continue.
The astronomer continues, “Look at the centre trunk of the tree.”
“Okay, I see it.”
“Do you see the thick branch going out to the right of the trunk?”
“Yes, I see it.”
“Do you see the thin branch going up from about half-way out the thick branch?”
“Yes. I see it.”
“Do you see the two twigs at the top of this branch?”
“Yes, I see them.”
“Look between them and extend your gaze.”
You shift your angle of vision and gradually adjust the focus of your eyes. Suddenly, you exclaim, “I see the moon!”
You are charmed by the moon’s beautiful appearance for some time. Then, your thoughts return to astronomer. You are impressed by the method he used to show you the moon and realise you might not have ever noticed it if he hadn’t pointed it out. You feel a mixture of gratitude and eagerness for more.
The astronomer smiles and appears very happy to be able to share the beauty of the night sky with you. A twinkle appears in his eye, and he asks if you’d like to see more. You readily agree.
The forest you came out of is the false hope of material happiness.
The beach you reached is realisation of the necessity of seeking fulfilment spiritually.
The trek you had to get there is samsara: the cycle of action and reaction in the world of impermanence.
The sunset is your realisation of the inherent limitations of the mundane mind, intelligence, and ego.
The afterglow is your residual awareness of material existence after you have realised that it is only a superficial covering over the absolute reality.
The night sky is the realm of spiritual experience.
The astronomer is a sadhu. As an astronomer is devoted to all that is found in the night sky, so a sadhu is devoted to spiritual truth. In Srimad Bhagavad-gita (2.69), it is said,
ya nisa sarva-bhutanam tasyam jagarti samyami
yasyam jagrati bhutani sa nisa pasyato muneh
“The virtuous sage is awake in that which is night for all beings, and all beings are awake in that which is night for the sage who sees.”
Your meeting with the astronomer is your good fortune produced by previous acts of unknowing service to the Divine.
The astronomer’s invitation to share his experience is his loving compassion towards you.
The tree and its parts that he uses to show you the moon are the teachings recorded in the revealed scriptures.
Your hesitation about the astronomer’s initially pointing you towards the tree is your hesitation to embrace the process taught in the scriptures to attain spiritual realisation: accepting a Guru, meditating on a mantra, cultivating virtues, abstaining from vices, and so forth.
Your eyes progressing up through parts of the tree is your sincere adherence to the teachings of the sadhu and the scriptures.
Your adjusting your angle of vision and the focus of your eyes is your internal realisation and the transformation it produces within you on the spiritual path.
The crescent moon you are thrilled to see is Krishna, the all-attractive Supreme Being.
Your deepened appreciation for the astronomer is your realisation of the value of association with and service to the sadhus.
Lastly, your readiness for more is the beginning of your eternal engagement in the loving service of Sri Krishna under the guidance of His beloved devotees.