The days and nights in the cave in Rishikesh were passing away slowly. I had prepared a schedule as to how my day should go. From early rising and bath and yoga and pranayama and meditation. Then walk in the woods, then lunch. back to the cave for a nap and reading and then again pranayama and meditation and reading and reflections, journal writing etc. before night dinner.
I noticed that my body felt good with all the exercises and meditation and I was eating the right vegetarian foods. The cave was comfortable although I found another scorpion that I threw out but I worried about the bats that awoke me as they flew in at times and by the sound of their wings.
There were some little grey monkeys that lived nearby and sometimes they came very close and I watched them. It was a community life that they lived. They had the most funny little faces and the young ones wanted to come closer but the adults warned them away and scorned their teeth at me. In the evening they climbed the trees to sleep and they took their babies in their arms.
Sometimes I sat near the hole in my cave and watched the sun going down beyond the Ganges. I could hear the prayer bells and conches blowing in the distance. Sometimes there were small lined clouds and as the sun set, the scenery looked like another planet.
And at times the sky turned grey and then bright orange like the robes of the sannyas. One evening the peacock glided in flight from the hill on the left, swooped over the valley and made a spectacular landing in a tree on the hill on the right. It was the first time I ever saw the peacock in flight. It looked sort of mythological.
The winds became stronger and blew… Om …over the valley, or was it my imagination? It began to rain and with it, the smells of the forest arose, a smell of wet earth and foliage so sweet and so tropical. It almost reminded me of my home.
It was moments like this when I felt such gratitude for being alive, for having such a privilege
to be allowed the gift of taking this time for my own spiritual needs. For me, if I had to continue accompanying people in meditation, I had to be able to practice seriously and to try and improve and deepen my practices, not only for myself but for others. I felt gratitude to Maharishi for what he taught me and how blessed a gift it was to receive his teaching and his acceptance of me as a teacher.
Most of all, I remembered the admonition of St Francis when he speaks of prayer and adoration and how for him it was the most important thing in our lives as we went into that space where He waited for us more than anything else. For me, he spoke of that same place, that inner secret place of the heart which Jesus also spoke of in Matthew 6. “pray to the Father who is in secret”
This ‘secret place’ that Jesus referred to, is for me, what is also known as ‘the cave of the heart’.
This outward cave where I lived was but a reminder of the one I will always carry in my heart and its only when I discover His presence within, will I discover it elsewhere.
It begins to rain and I fall asleep to its soothing sounds.
Lalleshwari said: Where have I come from?
What road have I travelled?
Which way am I going?
I do not know the way
Yet here I stand
With courage and determination,
Hoping to grasp the knowledge of the Truth.
(Rendered by Swami Muktananda. ISBN 0-914602-66-4)
Lalleshwari was born in Pandrethan (ancient Puranadhisthana) some four and a half miles to the southeast of Srinagar in a Kashmiri Pandit family.. She married at age twelve, but her marriage was unhappy and she left home at twenty-four to take sanyas (renunciation) and become a disciple of the Shaivite guru Siddha Srikantha (Sed Bayu). She continued the mystic tradition of Shaivism in Kashmir, which was known as Trika before 1900.
There are various stories about Lal Ded’s encounters with the founding fathers of Kashmiri Sufism. One story recounts how, when Sheikh Nooruddin Noorani (Nund Rishi) was born, he wouldn’t feed from his mother. After three days, Lal Ded arrived and fed him herself. She said to the baby that, since he hadn’t been ashamed to be born, why should he be ashamed to drink from his mother’s breast?