I am in Tiruvannamalai, south India and the mercury is rising – along with my discomfort. I have not been feeling well and every time I eat I feel sick. I am burning up with the heat. Yet even in the midst of this swirl of dizziness and weakness, I am aware of the grace that surrounds me. Downstairs is an internet cafe, upstairs an organic restaurant, and across the street is an Ayurvedic doctor with about eight titles after his name. If I am to fall apart, I’ve come to the right place.
I have entered a kind of personal Hell here at the foot of the holy mountain, Arunachala. I have no props – books, friends, dvd’s – or activities to attend. It’s too bloody hot to do anything anyway! What a perfect set-up to face those parts of me that are covered up by busy-ness and comforts.
Looking back at “my life” I see when I have acted from love, compassion, appreciation and gratitude. and in so doing, bring a measure of ease and peace to my world.
And I have done the opposite probably just as much if not more. I have judged, corrected, shut down, shut out and hurt myself and others countless times from the contracted place of the ego mind. I have caused suffering in myself and others because I have listened to this voice. Many memories, regrets, fears, projections come now. A Devil-like character is accompanying me in my dreams. Thankfully, I witness this from the “silent place” that Mooji talks about. The mind is very active – sometimes morbid and unrelenting. Yet by some grace, I continue to remain as the witness to all of this mental/emotional drama. I watch this from a deeper silence which is also me. I have come to India on a spiritual journey. I am going home in a few days. Is there anything I would like to leave behind? And what shall I take away? This will be my moment of completion and release.
At some point, I realize that I am mentally/emotionally/psychologically purging and with this, a kind of sweetness begins to arise. I know that my life is complete and perfect and that if I were to die right now, all is whole and beautiful. I see that the situations in my life that I held as irritants or unacceptable are my most profound teachers and gurus. Gratitude blooms out the debris of all of that mental chaos and my heart cracks open in recognition of the magnificent life I have been granted. I write a letter of gratitude to my husband, the one who has been my toughest guru and greatest teacher. I am being born to love. My heart melts as I watch the events of my life and recognize the unspeakable perfection and beauty of it.
Intuitively , I know what I must do. I arise at 5am, toss essentials in my backpack (mosquito repellant, kleenex, water, apple) and head to Ramana Ashram and the entrance to the mountain. The day has already begun, cows are being milked by the side of the road, and many people are sweeping the streets. The ashram peacocks are screeching as I head towards the back gate. I take off my sandals and observe my goal. The mountain is still shrouded in mist and the rock is cool to the touch. My heart swells in gratitude as my bare feet seek a smooth rock to begin my climb.
The path is paved with flat stones, making my ascent much easier, but it becomes quickly evident that I do not have the stamina to go very far. Nonetheless, I press on, trusting that I will know what to do. At some point I feel the air change. I have come above town far enough now to see the buildings below. Along the path is a large outcrop of rock, with numerous flat slabs.
There is a community of monkeys jumping in a nearby tree. I survey the land, and notice a medium sized flat rock surrounded by brush, a perfect place for my offering. I gather some round leaves,and some granite pebbles, and make a mandala. I place my mala over it, and sprinkle the whole thing with lavender oil that I had tucked into my pack.
Mooji’s words come to me:
“Beloved, do not follow the turnings of the mind nor try to control it. Simply stay as the self. Once you come home to yourself, nothing in the manifestation can disturb you.”
These words burn their Neon Truth into my awakening consciousness. My heart breaks open in gratitude. I AM coming home to myself.
Arunachala, you have brought me back to my heart. I bow deeply to the altar of my own healing. My entire world will benefit by such a bow. I have come here without a map, have been lost and afraid, but have been found by grace. What remains to be said is a mantra for life:
Thank you, YES!