(Quotation taken from the Advaita Vedanta page)
The swan has a special association with advaita Vedanta. The swan is called hamsa in the Sanskrit language. The word hamsa is a variation of so’ham: I am He, which constitutes the highest realization.
Tell me, O Swan, your ancient tale.
From what land do you come, O Swan? To what shore do you fly?
Where will you take your rest, O Swan, and what do you seek?
This morning, O Swan, awake, arise and follow me!
Songs of Kabir 2.24
Last night or rather in the second part of my sleep, close to awakening, I had a dream and was wondering what it could mean. In the dream, I was going somewhere outside the country and needed to show my papers, pass-port etc. I was working for a company of some sorts and a woman was in charge for the day and she asked to see my credentials and I handed the papers over to her.
The next day, the officer arrived and I was called up to show my credentials to have them stamped so I asked the woman, can you give me back my papers? To this she replied that she did not know what I was talking about. All I tried to explain was of no use as she was totally in oblivion. I was frustrated, for as long as she did not find and give me my papers,I would not be able to leave. It was the energy of this frustration that awoke me and I discovered relief in seeing that it was only a dream.
We are told that concerning pilgrims who follow the pilgrims route in Europe
‘Official’ pilgrims carry with them the credencial, a document that is stamped en route as proof that they have actually travelled the route. On completion of the route, they present their credencial, and in return are presented with Compostela, a certificate that is awarded to all pilgrims who have completed the journey.
A Pilgrim’s mass is held each day at noon in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela for pilgrims. Pilgrims who received the Compostela the day before have their countries of origin and the starting point of their pilgrimage announced at the mass.”
I was looking at my journal and seeing that my visit to the Ganges was seemingly over and I was anxious to begin my trek back to where I started at Shantivanan in the South. Maybe this was the cause of my dream last night. Once we have lived something, there is always a residue which stays in our heart and soul. I needed my ‘credentials’ in order to continue…..thus the story continues……
Thus at breakfast I offered my thanks for the hospitality at the Bishop’s place and I headed down to the train station for the train to Madras. It was a Sunday 18th July 1982
No words can ever describe the confusion that dwells in a railway station in India. There is always a huge crowd waiting the departure and as soon as we are allowed to board the train, there is a chaotic pushing and fighting and I don’t know how some people do not get crushed.
Once we are in, finding the right seat is another big problem. The numbers on the ticket must correspond to the number indicated on a particular carriage and the number on the seat in front of us, hence many people are seated and others are trying to move them. There is shouting and screaming and at times an inspector has to come and settle the dispute.
I found myself in a compartment with three young French people. One was Gerome and two girls, Catherine and Isabelle. They could not understand the question that the ticket inspector was asking and so I translated. They were very surprised that I spoke French. It was arranged by the stars that we should travel together I guess. Gerome was reading a book written by Henri Le Saux…”L’Autre Rive”. We ended up speaking a lot about the spiritual life and I somehow ended up giving a ‘crash course’ in meditation to Gerome.
We arrived in Madras the next day and I said au revoir to our friends. The weather was remarkably cooler and i was happy for the change as my watch began to sweat.
I headed to the bus terminal and got myself a ticket on a bus to Trichy. It was the best way to get back to Shantivanam. I was excited as it felt like ‘going home’.
As the bus pulled out and the lights went out, it became very quiet and i was able to get some sleep before arriving in Tamil Nadu.
In the morning I felt a joy in seeing the rice fields, the coconut and banana plantations and the peaceful little villages on the shores of the Cavery River and soon I was off the bus and wending my way on the path leading into Shantivanam Ashram.
I was welcomed by Sister Marie-Louise as she smiled and said “Oh my, you have lost so much weight”, I don’t know how much I weighed then but at the end of the year I had lost forty pounds!
I was given a hut among the banana and hibiscus trees in a nice cool area. It was so welcoming and I felt so happy to be back.
It was fr. Theodore’s Birthday and there was a small celebration for him that evening at dinner. It was a joy to see those who I had met before when I first arrived and who welcomed me there, except Fr Bede Griffiths was actually away. There were many letters from Canada and from my family in Trinidad.
Here is a Meditation from a sage of the Vedanta Tradition: