That title has been in my head for weeks it seems. The first day at the ashram I felt the strongest desire to run away. My mind gave me a host of reasons why it would be fine, and how I didn’t “need” to be there. Funny how after waiting years to get to Sivananda Kutir I was so hasty to want to leave.
The 4 weeks unfolded at the pace of letting grace in.
The first week, I felt overwhelmed by negative self talk. My mind rushing churning memories, mean thoughts, cruel judgments, and imagined scenarios. I sighed into it. Will this ever change I thought? I was sleepy, tired, cranky and critical of everything.
I looked forward throughout the weeks most to our silent walks. And on our second one we walked through a village on a perfect morning through the mountains up a hill to a small temple devoted to the Divine Mother.
I experienced a glimpse of my true Self, and that of those who were around me, including the birds, trees, grass, mountains. My soul spoke very clearly to me. Don’t waste this opportunity being stuck in your baggage. Wake up earlier, be excited, fresh, and experience this for what it really is: A gift, or as my teachers would call it, the fruit from my past actions in this or a previous lifetime.
That simple intention unfolded into a new kind of mindfulness while going about my busy schedule at the Ashram. It started to polish my eyes with a new sparkle and I felt like I was understanding why I had finally been given the chance to experience my most challenging spiritual test.
While there were tiny little things like chewing slowly (which I already have forgotten), there are some things that have settled in like glue:
– stuck in illusion, it is impossible to concentrate on the real or know the real. and what is real? It is Brahman, or Allah, or the Absolute, the eternal unchanging source from which the universe exists.
– I kept on returning to this strange conclusion: so if I was ignorant, then whatever happened to me (pain, joy, etc) while I was ignorant was not real. And once I am awake to the real, then only can I discern between the real and unreal, or through the illusions of my life.
– this one loop kept circling and when at the end of our second week Mataji (Swami who took care of us and the ashram) gave me my spiritual name Sathya, tears came to acknowledge what I have known for some time: the real is polishing illusion away from my heart & mind so I can know what is real. God is that truth, and truth is inside me.
(Satya or Sathya is a Sanskrit word that loosely translates into English as “truth” or “correct”. Sathya is also defined in Sanskrit as “sate hitam satyam” which translates to “The path to ultimate truth or Sat is sathya (i.e. the real truth)”. Hence all the deeds, words, and wisdom that bring us closer to the Ultimate Truth are the truth.)
– and by the third week I felt like I was in the midst of absolute chaos erupting. This time it was external, people getting sick, drama everywhere and my biggest test: to not complain about people who couldn’t stop complaining. To not get caught up in their drama, their realities, and stay fixed on my purpose for this journey – to get closer to Truth, to purify and purge, and to accept & let go of the mind’s need to get “caught up” in Maya.
– the fourth week ended in a blur. I’m not sure what happened on which day but I found myself in another temple, this time a Siva temple, with friends. Graduates now of the Sivananda Teachers Training, we had been through the tests that this month presented each of us. Siva, the dissolver and the destroyer of negative energies, brought us through the last week of accepting the impermanence of our experiences. Like everything else, this month dissolved into time & space, has become a memory already, and a few days later I’m back on my red couch typing on my laptop, watching my sweet puppy chew on her bone.
The four weeks followed a spiritual logic. We began with honoring Lord Ganesha, the remover of all obstacles, and suffering, and then we honored Lord Vishnu, the preserver of our manifested universe. In the third week, with the full moon lunar eclipse close by, we offered flower, kum kum, and rice to the Divine Mother. And in our last week we asked Lord Siva, the King of Dance, to pull us through the last of our blocks.
Even the purity, or as us TTC grads call it, Sattva, is impermanent. Before we knew it the balance between the 3 energies that rule our manifested universe through Maya (a mysterious veiling and projecting power, sattva (purity), rajas (activity) and tamas (inertia)) swiftly changed as we journeyed back to Delhi.
There are so many things that cannot be explained through words or pictures. So many paths and so many interpretations yet always it seems like the same Truth is being given for us to see. Some remain blind, some wake up, and others have never been asleep. I take long naps, but moments of clarity are becoming more frequent. With trust and faith in the Grace that has led me so far the intellectual concepts of the spiritual aspirant are becoming tangible & real.
With love and blessings to all of you, the journeys you are on and the ones you will undertake, may you be blessed with the realization of your True Selves.