The tour guide I who took me through south Mumbai my last day in India was very curious to know what I found different in India from the time I was there 9 years before (when he was probably like 3 years old, lol). I told him then that the signs on the roadways encouraging drivers to not blow their horns, to save water, to be mindful of trash were all new to me. That and also air-conditioned cars with seat-belts. I wrote him later to add that I noticed more people on motorbikes texting (yikes!) and that there were more western toilets. I think though the biggest difference was within my own microcosm body! (I mean, other than being almost a decade older.) The difference was more from my involvement in spiritual practices and what I was “seeking” this time.
I think it is safe to say that whenever I have gone to India I have hopes that I will get the “Thunderbolt” in some way. I will be knocked off my feet by an experience, or have a sudden download of something extraordinary. While there was admittedly a little of that going into this trip I feel like it was far less than before, perhaps because I have come to appreciate the steady climb into my being that has accelerated in the last 5 years or so because of my trainings and my practices. There does seem to be a natural inclination towards fulfilling a hunger, searching for the self and the highest something that accompanies big journeys like this, and I am in no way against that! But I didn’t leave this time with that hunger, instead I feel that packed my bags with the desire to offer something to the places I was going to visit, namely the places my teachers Gurus came from.
A Guru desires the liberation of their disciples, at least that is my understanding. The Guru who gives practices does so with the intention that the followers engage in those practices because the Guru knows that is what will lead them to liberation. And if the Guru desires your liberation, what is wanted is that you liberate! It is a show of love to give the medicine to cure samsara and reduce the suffering inherent in life. To take that gift of love and use it is, well, a way of showing gratitude, right? Unlike taking the cut glass vase Aunt Sadie gave you and stowing it in the closet until her annual visit, if given this gift we need to use it! If we have been offered a spot among the multitudes of beings who have done this practices for thousands of years, we should stand tall and active in that space! So now that I have landed in a consistent rhythm of practice (of sadhana), I felt like I was able to give something to those Guru’s who have given so much to so many people. What I was giving was my dedication, my discipline and my devotion.
When I met people in Devipuram who were from London, Singapore, Cananda, India, etc and found they do the same practices I do, I was touched. It was like meeting long lost family members. There was a mutual respect as we were all attempting the same thing-that is to embody the light the Guru offers to the world. We know we will not do any of it perfectly, but we attempt, we practice and then we show up to learn more. That in and of itself is a beautiful connection, one that runs very deeply without any words needing to be exchanged. It is just known with a nod, with a “swaha”, with an “om”.
As with many things, we may not realize what we are wanting until we either have it, or we recognize we absolutely don’t have it. Really, I didn't necessarily realize what my deep desire was going into the trip until I recognized it in the moment, many times over. I can ask myself the hard questions Ramana Maharshi asks in Arunachala, I can participate in a Guru Puja and Homan in Ganeshpuri, I can sit for an Agni Mukham in Devipuram. What I feel this showed is I trust and believe in the work the Guru gives. What else is there that I can give?
Well, I can also give this sweet story: On my way to the airport to go home the cab driver who picked me up a the hotel told me there was no way I was going to make my plane. Too much traffic! He has a huge shrine on his dashboard to Ganesha (by the way, this was NOT one of the air-conditioned, seat-belted cars I had grown fond of). I chanted mantra to Ganesha the whole trip, when not commenting on the sights around me. About 15 minutes out from the airport the driver began to exclaim “you are a lucky lady! Very lucky! We made very good time, lucky lady!” I told him it wasn’t my luck, it was Ganesha grace. “Ganesha Kripa!!” he sang out. He stopped the car in front of the terminal and I handed him the last cookie I had in my bag to offer Ganesha as I chanted the mantra. He tucked it under the Ganesha statue closest to the steering wheel, held my gaze with his smiling eyes (we had a moment) and off we went in our separate directions.
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