Have you too chosen to undertake a Journey?
When one undertakes any Journey, there is a destination to reach with a few resting halts in between. Knowingly or unknowingly, we too have started on a Journey. The final destination of which, rather paradoxically, is not somewhere far but the wise say is somewhere within us. It starts as an inner struggle to get away from perceived sufferings. The seeker within wants to know of Peace amidst madness; I speak of the madness of our own mind.
Of this Journey unto our self, Sri M offers throws some light.
He says, ‘The first step is to find out about myself as I am and not pretend to be something that I am not. Then, I know where I stand. There begins the journey. Otherwise, the journey doesn’t begin. I may cover myself up with various layers of devotion, this and that, but I am not changed. I have not dissected myself and seen myself as I am.’
Simple words these may seem. But how does one begin this dissection, amidst the ebb and flow of our busy daily lives or in the busy minds. The famous sage of Tiruvannamalai seems to suggest – ‘Being in Silence’.
So here I was in between change of jobs, with some days on hand. A right time to immerse myself in Silence, I thought. But for that I had to be in Solitude – a stay in a Monastery or an Ashram in the hills or a jungle or by a river? I kept thinking and somehow zeroed in on Madanapalle. A place I knew existed on the planet, thanks to my distant acquaintance with a Mystic. In spite of being aware of him for the past three years, I had not visited his abode.
One afternoon, in the month of October, I arrived at Madanapalle. On first impression, the town seemed to be like any other Indian unplanned town of brick and cement. The Satsang campus located on the outskirts of the town, is a refreshing sight, contrary to the dusty city, on route.
A smiling Mr Reddy greeted me. I was directed to the campus kitchen for a refreshing cup of tea. Here Anjamma told me the timings for daily breakfast and meals. I also had the option to get the meals packed and have it as per my convenience in the dormitory.
After tea, I went up to the dorm assigned to me. I had the place to myself as I was the only guest on the campus. After refreshing myself, I undertook a small walk around observing the details of the new place.
The Satsang Foundation campus comprises of The Satsang Vidyalaya , a handful of ”second homes”, Guest rooms for visitors, a meditation hall and a space built to honour Sri Guruji and Babaji and a simple, elegant earthy sacred temple space. Not to forget the sprinkling of different varieties of trees and floral plants that dots the landscape. The sun set while I was taking my leisurely stroll. Contrary to my expectations there was a nip in the air.
Standing near the Shivalaya, I was marvelling at the Peepal tree nearby. This is the tree under which satsangs are held on Gurupurnimas and Shivraatris. Having seen it on You tube videos only, this was my moment to touch it, to hug it, to bow before it, to receive from it. For a young tree, it has grown quite tall, receiving nourishment, i suppose not only from the process of photosynthesis, but also from the wise words of a Rishi.
I stood there, imagining the solace this tree will continue to provide to tired seekers, in the years to come. I imagined how a Master and Satsangis may have found shelter under one such tree, in a distant past. Imagining the young prince from distant lands finally finding peace under a Peepal tree, the peace around quietened the otherwise noisy mind; I went quiet within.
The fierce attacks from mosquitoes after sunset time compelled me to move back to my room and seek a cream to keep them away for the time being. By then, it was dinner time. A simple spread of chapattis, sabzi, dal and pickle, suited the lightness that my spirit too was experiencing.
Waking up fresh and early, setting aside the curtains I could see the sun about to raise. I went up to the terrace wanting to see the rising sun in all its glory, a rare sight for a city dweller. The pink rising sun, changed from light orange to fiery orange, from light yellow to bright fiery yellow within a matter of ten to fifteen minutes.
Thereafter, I proceeded to Babaji’s room to meditate. As one enters, on the left hand side is a painting of a Sahastrabahu Maa Durga but with compassionate eyes and poise of Maa Tara. Opposite, on the right hand side wall, is a handmade sketch of Shirdi Sai’s graceful face. Inside Babaji’s room, I bowed down to the picture frame kept on a Gaddi. I sat crossed legs on an aasan and closed my eyes. No sooner had I settled down, I was in a quiet, intense space within me. Yet it was disturbing. When I thought later of this disturbance, the following words by Osho made sense –
We are interested in attaining the soul or existence, but we do not have the courage to have a direct and simple encounter with ourselves. The soul and existence are very far away. The first reality is our mind. One has to see it, know it, and recognize it.
Glimpses of seeing oneself as one is can be scary. Ego is a subtle force; it does not easily let go of the self-image created over time. This is going to take a while I thought! At least the fear to be alone, for a while, with oneself, eased out a bit. Such ease helps in being meditative.
Later, in the evening, once again, I was near the Shivaalaya and the Peepal tree. On the sky above, a full moon was blooming. It was the night of Kojargiri Poornima – an auspicious day for Lakshmi Puja in some parts of India. The moon seemed to appear as Somnatha himself. What a wonderful day, I thought. Waking up with the rising Sun and at dusk looking into the loving face of the moon. Maybe tears had welled up in the eyes.
Back in the room, I kept pondering how this humble dwelling, had already made an impression. How nothing here seemed to be an eyesore, everything seemed to be in harmony. The buildings with the earth, the earth with the trees, the tress with the squirrels, the squirrels with the flowers, the flowers with the butterflies, the butterflies with the sky and the sky with the total space here. All seemed to be in harmony.
For the next two days the routine of meditation and contemplation followed. Some time was spent reading a book that has been with me since long but not opened even once. I may not finish it here, but at least I have started reading it. Then there was leisure to interact with the humble and sincere people who work on the campus.
The process of knowing a tiny little part within has continued. I didn’t have to try, it was happening. Strangely enough the vacillations of the mind had stopped. The prison door has been opened, only because of the un-anticipated gift of this space. Madanapalle now does not seem like a geographical location on a map, but is a sacred place, where it feels like being in the lap of silence.
My stay has come to an end.
Oh Seeker, come here even when the mystic is not around. Come here, be alone and don’t be afraid. You will be amazed by what you could find here.
May we all stay well on this journey?
Love and Pranams.