Three simple words on the lips of so many people I know. Three simple words appearing on my screen in advertisements algorithmically sent my way. Three simple words scrawled in my own hand on our kitchen wall calendar.
Three simple, loaded words. Loaded with feelings of melancholy for the passing of what was, for us, a glorious summer. Loaded with a strong tug back to great collective pause, to the heat, the languor and the pure and utter joy of shared time. Loaded with the itch to get going, the draw of productivity and progress, the excitement and expectancy of what is new and what is to come, of learning, of growth. Loaded with the dread of ‘packed lunches’ and ‘workloads’ and ‘commutes’ and ‘home learning’. Loaded with ‘Back to School’ pasts; my own and those of my girls, and loaded with an awareness of a dwindling amount of their Back to School futures.
And so these three simple words (and as I sit here writing them and indulging in what they mean to me I an also wondering what they mean to you whatever stage in your life you are at?) are prompting me to share this passage, from the Taittiriya Upanishad…beautiful and practical advice from teacher to student:
‘Having taught the Vedas, the teacher says:
“Speak the truth. Do your duty. Neglect not
The scriptures. Give your best to your teacher.
Do not cut of the line of progeny. Swerve not
From the truth. Swerve not from the good.
Protect your spiritual progress always.
Give your best in learning and teaching.
Never fail in respect to the sages.
See the divine in your mother, father,
Teacher, and guest. Never do what is wrong.
Honour those who are worthy of honour.
Give with faith. Give with love. Give with joy.
If you are in doubt about right conduct,
Follow the examples of the sages,
Who know what is best for spiritual growth.
This is the instruction of the Vedas;
This is the secret; this is the message.”’