The Rich Vegetarian

An Examined Life

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Tag: guru (page 1 of 2)

A Ripe Love

It was a love like none other I had ever experienced.

It began with stories of love itself, longing embedded within. Longing for a sense of purpose, a deeper meaning to life, direction. Stories of intense sorrow and pain, alleviated by a look, a touch, a word. Stories of miracles, large and small, inexplicable phenomena, familiar figures, comforting and loving. Stories of death averted, life transformed, birth and rebirth.

I longed for a story myself. I thought that if I wanted it bad enough, it would happen to me.

Did it? Perhaps it did.

Finally the day came, and I had the opportunity for a meeting. It left me miserable. All those beautiful stories dissolved into nothingness. There was no chemistry, no meeting of eyes, no significant glances or words.

Wasn’t I worthy enough? Why others, why not me?

I languished in self-inflicted misery a short while, then resolved I’d do better. I’d prove my mettle. I wouldn’t give up. I’d stick to my promise. I’d prove my love, devotion and sincerity.

I wish I could tell you that it worked. It really didn’t. I tried, then tried again. Finally I mustered up the courage to ask a question, hoping for a life-transforming answer, the word of God, just for me. Sure enough, the answer came but I was unimpressed. It did nothing for me! Was this a joke? Were all the stories mere fabrication? Was I missing something? Was I a fool?

Give me full marks for persistence because I did persist. I stuck along, confident that things would change. I would be deemed worthy to join the ranks of those who got special time. I would be soon sharing my own stories of miracles and supernatural phenomena.

And thus the saga continued. On and on, year after year.

I dropped my hankerings eventually. It was too darned exhausting. My fevered cravings morphed into a resigned acceptance. I started to experience a sweet kind of love, a puppy-like devotion and adoration. Somehow it seemed enough because my life actually felt sweeter, more melodious. There was a sense of dynamism, purpose and meaning. I was going somewhere, maybe not where I’d imagined. But somewhere… No, I wasn’t among the elite few who exchanged knowing glances and shared secret stories. But I was there, trudging along amid the masses, occasionally feeling both lost and found.

Then one day, it all began to change. The flavor of my love changed. It felt like it’d matured, gained in ripeness and understanding. Looks didn’t matter any more, neither did glances or words. Distance ceased to make a difference. Physical presence felt unimportant.

What was happening to me? Had I gotten completely lost? Where had I landed up? Why was I alone? Where were the elite, special ones?

I wondered long and hard. About what I’d lost, what I’d given up, if I had gained anything in the process.

The Sun needs no illumination. It is self-illumined. Perhaps I had become the Sun? Or a sun?

For years, I had watched from a distance, learning and growing. Over time, my inner wanderings finally led me to an orbit of my own, far away from the teeming masses, large and small planets, shining stars and dust. Finally I was on my own, lit from within, growing in light, brilliance and confidence.

Perhaps he would be proud of me today.

(Thank you, Gurudev, for setting this heart ablaze.)

The Guru and I

So this is the story of a cheerful seeker who didn’t know who/what she was seeking, until one day when she met an intelligent, lovable gentleman.

He gave her a little nudge. She was taken aback. But she was a compliant person, and so she gamely went along. Followed his lead, moving towards greater clarity about herself and the world around… until she hit a wall one day. Befuddled for a moment, she gingerly stepped forward, hand outstretched, only to realize that it was not really a wall she had encountered, but a gateway to a hidden path.

As she started on this new journey, she realized that she was somewhat alone. She had left behind nearly all her companions. But it didn’t feel lonesome at all.

She wondered, is it okay to have such a wonderful time, all by yourself?

I met Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar in early 2005. I had recently taken the Art of Living Course, and begun practising the breathing techniques. Soon enough, I came to know about the creator of the program, Sri Sri. The opportunity to meet him arose within a few months, and I took it up. Went to Miami for a Silence Program, and ended up meeting Gurudev. He has a magical persona, what can I say! It is all joy and smiles around him, and you feel elevated. I have often thought that the love surrounding Gurudev is like a tangible object; you can feel its solid presence. He epitomizes love, joy and wisdom for millions around the world. It is a miracle to see people from Latin America, Europe and other places respond to his presence, as if they have known him all their lives. This phenomenon defies logic and explanation.

I was similarly charmed. Then I began listening to his talks/videos, and I was drawn to the simple elegance of his explanations. His words seemed to be filled with timeless meaning. I chewed on them for years on end, as my own intelligence matured, granting me newer perspectives of all that he said.

A wise woman recently remarked that I was currently in a period of “blossoming and blooming intelligence.” And so it happened that I began to view the world (inner and outer) somewhat differently from my cohort. And then I wondered, is this original thought? How can it be so? Surely, someone like Gurudev would have spoken about it?

It occurred to me that words lose the ability to convey meaning beyond a certain point. Gurudev had patiently led us, again and again and yet again, to that point. And he would probably continue doing so for a long time to come. What lies beyond that juncture is an individual, solo endeavor. Or so it seemed to me. But I felt so supported, so strengthened and ready and capable for that journey… it was as though he had prepared me for this moment. It was perfect.

To me, this is freedom.

It also freed me from him. For many years, I lived in deep adoration of Gurudev. I followed him around, too shy to even say a word. I hung on to his very presence, keeping it alive around me in every way possible. I treated the idea of Gurudev (yes, I do mean “the idea of Gurudev” because I believe that it is clearly separate from who he is) like a sacrament, a precious relic that I would sully or dirty if I wasn’t careful or aware enough. Yes, I certainly did my part in ensuring that this idea remained as far away from me as possible.

One day, it struck me, these very words – You don’t need to move an inch to meet the Guru.

And thus Gurudev freed me of himself too… Like every beautiful relationship in my life that gave me the gifts of time and space.

Gurudev gave me wings, taught me to fly, cut me loose.

A Generous Space

“Inside every stone resides a statue. We realize it only when the sculptor uses his instruments and draws the statue out of the stone. What draws our own goodness out of our ignorance, mistakes are our own experiences. At all stages in life, different ideas give us strength. At one age, we become rebels. We disregard our elders, reject God, become rationalists. Later, we may turn into believers again. Then, at another stage, we become scientists, ultimately rejecting that school as well. Thus, changing and transforming, we become our true selves.”

Chinthaavishtayaaya Shyaamala ends on this note. Vijayan is back home with his family, leading the life of a householder, contented and happy. His search has ended and the restlessness in his soul has abated. There is great truth in Vijayan’s words. Allowing oneself the freedom to change is incredibly freeing. The younger me would have balked at the idea of devotion and prayer. She would have outright rejected the notion of a spiritual Guru, a guide and mentor for life. She would have been shocked at the idea of acknowledging weakness and vulnerability. Thankfully, the older me is slightly wiser, a little more sympathetic both to herself and to the world. Realizing how little we are and how less we know places us squarely in a space of humility, instantly connecting us to the vastness of the Universe and its soul. Once connected, all judgment flows away and what remains is the moment, utterly still and silent, waiting.

No matter what I did in the past, no matter where I roamed, I am here now. No matter what paths you traversed, no matter who you met, you are here now.

Such was the generous and non-judgmental space that greeted me as I walked my first dithering steps on the path of Yoga. That unconditional support and love brought me here and I am far grateful than I could ever express. So, how can I not extend the same generosity and tenderness to you, my friend?

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar