My Ant Teacher

Dada Nabhaniilananda
4 min readMay 28, 2021
Note: this is not an octopus. It’s also not much of an ant as it only has 4 legs…poor ant.

For anyone else who loved the Netflix show, My Octopus Teacher, I know, ants aren’t as smart as octopuses, but there are a lot more of them…

A Cosmic Perspective

My spiritual master in India, Shrii Shrii Anandamurti, once said that an ant is as important as the brilliant sun. His point was that everything, great or small, has a vital place within the harmony of the universe. Yet when he said it, it felt like he was describing not just a concept but his actual perspective.

I want that. I want to be able to experience that sense of cosmic harmony myself. When I was a very young yogi in New Zealand, just starting out on the path of meditation, I was lucky enough to get a little taste of that feeling, all thanks to an ant...

Watching Ants

I was hiking up Mt Kau Kau one afternoon. It’s a small mountain. You can walk to the top in about an hour and half, so there’s no snow or anything grand like that, but there is a great view overlooking the city of Wellington.

The trail up the mountain passed through a forest. It was pretty steep so about half way I stopped and sat on a log for a short rest. Looking down, I noticed some ants running about amongst the dead leaves. Unlike Australian ants, which are large and vicious and are clearly intent upon world domination, New Zealand ants are small, modest and harmless. They’re pacifist ants. True, they occasionally try to share your food and get lost in a sandwich, but that’s about the worst crime they are ever guilty of.

So these pacifist ants were running around, super earnest, intent upon fulfilling mission of their queen. I noticed that they were very polite. If a second ant came in the path the first ant would move aside so that the approaching ant could pass. I wish the drivers around here were that polite.

But I thought, ‘those silly little ants. They think their lives are so important, but they have no idea that there is a big giant human being looking down on them.’

Then suddenly I got this strange feeling and looked up at the sky and thought, ‘Oh!’ as I realized that there is a vast, unimaginable, infinite entity that is aware of me and is thinking of me. To that entity, I’m just like those ants, running around my life thinking that what I do is so important. I wake up in the morning with my big to-do list, thinking, “Oh, I have to write this crazy article about ants, and then I have to do this and I have to do that”, and I sometimes forget what’s really important.

On that mountain, remembering how small I am and how great our Creator is was a wonderful feeling. It was like waking up. I was very new to meditation and already there I was thinking about Cosmic Consciousness thinking about me and my mind was expanding and I was feeling very high, although I was only half way up a very small mountain.

I continued my walk in a new mood with a fresh perspective. When I reached the top of the mountain I looked out over the city. There in the distance, spread out before me were so many houses and in every house were families and every person in every house was living out the story of their lives. From where I was standing they looked no bigger than those ants, yet I knew that to each one of them their life was supremely important.

Everything Matters.

Everyone’s life is important, to them, to their family and to their friends. So is yours, and mine and the lives of those ants. Everyone is important.

And not just living things. The sun isn’t alive, but we simply couldn’t manage without it. We also couldn’t manage without rivers or dirt, or thoughts, or love.

Some people think that only material things matter, so to them, perhaps only matter matters. And some people think the world is an illusion, so I guess that means that to them nothing matters. But I don’t feel that way. I believe that everything matters. This is the true yogis perspective.

Course Correction

At some point I wondered if anyone had already put Everything Matters on a shirt. A quick search and I discovered that they had — there it was, a t-shirt with this wonderful little slogan, Everything Matters. That made me glad. I wouldn’t want to be the only one who believes in this big, beautiful idea.

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Dada Nabhaniilananda

The Monk Dude. Yoga monk for 48 years, meditation instructor, author, keynote speaker, and musician. From New Zealand. Teaches at Apple, Google, Facebook etc.