India - a spiritual pilgrimage
We had traveled non-stop for eight hours on a road that had forgotten its identity, and was doing its best to once again merge with Mother Earth.
Coconut tress sprung around rice paddies and dotted the countryside in a picture that held a primitive beauty in its hand … the hot, humid climate, no longer a sticky annoyance, was now an appropriate touch that completed our sense experience.
The trail that had once been a road now ended at the edge of a forest which skirted a sacred mountain … and there it was - the ashram that was going to be our spiritual retreat for the next two weeks.
Carved out of the woods, it rose with exotic architecture, painted in turquoise, aqua, pastel pinks and white - a temple [unique in the whole of India] dedicated to the Great Mother and Her many forms - a dozen flower gardens scenting the morning, lotus ponds, parrots and the inevitable monkeys [and insects like I’ve never seen before] … a place to inspire fairy tales …
But greater than all this was the breath of Nature, heavy in the air with Her pulsating life, gently drawing us in, Her lost city children, back in Her arms.
I would get up at 3.00 am simply to be with this holy land, to walk the grounds in quiet solitude, trying, once again, to remember a long forgotten truth.
At 4.00 I would enter the meditation hall, pleasantly to find that one or two others had preceded me, and would spend the next hour in my private spiritual practices.
We would start formal meditation at 5.00, greet the sunrise at 6.30 and take a short break. At 7.00 we would meet in Amma’s private garden to chant and find within ourselves the tone of our day.
Breakfast was a simple affair, followed by teachings on spiritual consciousness, and more meditation. Sometimes we would go into the forest to meditate, at other times the locals would put on a festive program of song and dance - beautiful little children in
multi-colored saris and silks.
Lunch was sumptuous, dozens of dishes both eastern and western, inviting us to ‘gain spiritual weight’… and very difficult to resist.
We would meet four hours later for more teachings, meditation and final chants before retiring to a light dinner and sleep, usually by 10.00 pm.
For two weeks I filled myself with something I never knew I lacked: Beauty.
Everywhere I looked there was a natural beauty which came from within …
a peacefulness which glowed and radiated with a vibrant vitality, removed from the
artifice of modern compromises, a beauty of thought and form - a truth I had forgotten in my ‘modern’ setting.
I watched myself and my fellow westerners struggle with our little egos to find our new [true ?] identity … and fervently hoped that whatever insight I gained would stay with me as I returned to the other world.
Two weeks pass too soon, and here I am, looking at my environment, my life, my work, my relationships, with new eyes, trying to rekindle the Beauty, the Truth, that I once knew to be there … I may succeed, or I may not ... no matter, it’s been a great gift, a glorious experience …
Thank you Great Mother - I will be back ...