from cave to city

“The real sunrise is in the sky of the heart, the chidakash;
this is the most excellent sunrise.
Just as the entire sun is reflected in the water-jar,
so the entire universe shines
in the heart-space of the Atman.
When you are in a train, the whole world appears to be moving.
Similarly, the whole universe can be known within the Self.”
(Revelations of Nityananda from the Chidakash Gita ISBN 0-915801-02-7)

I discovered some notes pertaining to meditation in my journal when I was living in the cave.
One note was about my conversation with Swami Bascaranand and the instruction given to me by Ananda Mayi Ma. I was writing of my meditation and some experiences. I wrote about my 1) experiencing the mantra and the stillness of the mind, 2) seeing the all pervasive God’s name in the mantra 3) experiencing this within , then 4) experiencing the Void from which proceeds 5) Light. But although these are only words and as such, they fall short of the reality, it meant I was taking things seriously.

Living in such a place, with so much attention and time for the interior life, then, an exercise as simple as meditation takes on a whole new dimension. It suffices to set aside the exterior world and focus within, then one discovers that the human mind is a whole world yet to be discovered.
I had increased the time of meditation and always alternating with yoga and breathing exercises and my sleep had changed. It was more profound and I was arising much earlier.
I desired more solitude and no speaking.

Twice a day I went up to Shankardas’ place to have some lunch as was the agreement and in the evening a dinner, mostly left overs, and he loved to ask questions. He tried to discourage me from going into silence, until finally he saw I was serious and so we agreed no talking for the rest of the six weeks. It was a happy thing for myself but I was sorry to see  that he was itching to talk.

The complete silence was such a beautiful experience. There is a music in silence. It filled the air, it filled my mind and especially my heart. It is energy in itself. In that silence, coming out of meditation at times one can taste a nectar so sweet, sweeter than anything one has ever tasted before. I opened my book of Psalms and read:
“O taste, and see that the Lord is sweet….” (Psalm 38)

The rainy season had begun and it rained now every day. Once in a while some people found me. One day after my bath under the little water-fall, I was standing on a rock drying myself with a towel when all of a sudden, in a flash of an instant a man flew out of the bushes and touched my toes and left.

We see the forest but we don’t always see everything hiding in it. There are some pilgrims who travel through the woods at times looking for a monk’s blessing.  I was cautious going back to my cave yet one day someone came to the entrance calling out “Hari Om”  He wanted just to look at me to receive a blessing.In India it is called “darshan”. I was always embarrassed by these moments.

I received a note from a Catholic sister giving me the address of a priest who lived not too far away from where I was. He was actually on the other side of the Ganges in a small house and she said, he had mass on some Sundays in his house and I could go. I had to leave early and travel down the path and over the bridge and the instruction was good as I found the place easily. We were about six people in all attending. While mass was going on, some lepers in the street below were calling out “Hari Hari”! There were pilgrims to the Hanuman temple close by and the lepers were begging.
After mass I hurried back over to my cave. It was rather a bit tiring as I did not walk such a distance in quite a while.

“The light of the body is the eye; if therefore thine eye be pure, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness.”
(Matt. 6:22-23)

Coming to the end of meditation this evening (Saturday 12th) I felt something fall on my head. It was some mud and looking up I saw a lizard. he had dug his way from the other side somehow and was now on the ceiling of the cave. I looked at him and said  hello but he just stood there staring at me. I began studying the inside of the cave and discovered that some parts looked like a tree, others like an animal and I thought also maybe the inside of a whale. I was told that this whole region was once under water and there could be some fossils in the rock.
We experienced some big tropical storms with thunder and lightening and high winds. It felt secure to be inside a cave in these moments.

My six weeks silence had come to an end and this morning when I came out I discovered how green the forest had become. Some little white flowers were in bloom and the air was so perfumed.
At lunch time some sadhus arrived as they were getting close to the feast of Guru purnimah.
Which is very much celebrated in these parts. One of the sadhus spoke very good English and he asked many questions. He said he knew that my time to leave was coming close but he begged me to stay for the feast. He invited me to come to the rock outside his cave as he had some questions to ask. It was after dinner and about dusk and he said “don’t worry, I will lend you my flashlight so you can go back to your cave safely.”

There was this flat rock on which we sat, it felt almost like a porch overlooking a scene of the Ganges in the distance. He began by asking me to keep this between us. He was reading a little book called “Imitation of Jesus Christ” and he wanted to know more about Jesus. I was so surprised.
We must have spoken for hours under a sky so jeweled with the most precious stars. The time went by and eventually I left and slowly made my way back praying I would not meet the tiger which came each day to drink from the spring.
The next day, it was official that I was invited to attend the feast. I was again told by the swami that on no occasion must I mention I was a Christian. I will sit in silence and will not speak. He said he will tell everyone that I was a silent sadhu from Madras. Lots of preparations arrived and on the evening before the feast I asked the sadhu with whom I spoke, if he could receive me and this time I had questions for him. My question was “what is Guru Purnimah?”

In brief he said “as you live here in the forest, you have learnt from nature, Nature is Guru.
Some of us also have personal spiritual and special teachers. Also as the other evening, I had asked you about Jesus and you were telling me, you were doing the role of Guru. Now its my turn. See, there is the Guru principle which acts in all these ways and there is also one’s special Guru. The one who takes away the darkness, who brings us to see the interior Light.  This and all this is what we celebrate tomorrow.”

There must have been several hundred sadhus who came to the banquet. It was a clear day luckily with blue  sky.  Some banana leaves were spread in lines and we were invited to be seated as we were served the usual chapatis and veges. Some huge cauldrons were in place from where the food was being cooked.
I have never seen such and assortment of sadhus all different. Some were covered in rudruksha beads. Most seemed as though they had never cut their hair. There was a prayer chanted and then we were served on huge round leaves which served as plates. I tried keeping my eyes in my plate as much as possible and on some occasions I was able to get glimpses of this assembly. In the end someone came around and gave each one of us a rupee.

I made friends with one sadhu who stayed to give a hand to clean up afterwards. He told me that he had made himself a guitar and that it was to accompany himself as he sang and danced. “I am a child” he said, “ and I sing and dance and amuse myself like a child, because a child is attractive, because God loves children. Of course i do this when no adults are around as they would believe I am crazy” he said.

I said my goodbyes and was about to leave and there was a sadhu who called himself “the beggar”. He spoke good English and said he wanted to say goodbye and so he came to the door of Shankara’s hut with me and went down and respectfully touched my feet and then he arose and opening his arms said “Embrace me”. It was so unexpected I did not know whether to laugh or cry. I went for the last time to my cave. I looked around inside and felt very sad to leave. It had been such a good companion these last six weeks.

Some time later I was over Lukmanjula and to the residence of Fr. George who invited me to accept his hospitality and rest for a few days before setting out again. The house was situated on a small hill with a beautiful view of the mountains. There were few people in the streets and a cool breeze stirring. The sun was rapidly going down. I could see a huge sign which read “Welcome to the Valley of the Gods”. I smiled, this was the end of an adventure I could never forget.


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