“I guess it’s time for me to abide in faith”. These words from “The Dark Night of the Soul” by Gerald G. May, M.D. really struck a cord with me. The context is when you are undergoing a ‘spiritual crisis’ of sorts – when you ask yourself if you believe in anything anymore or even care about it. I think we are so caught-up in the need for results or the need for clarity that we often fail to see the wisdom in the uncertainty. This great book talks about the ‘darkening’ of our senses, perceptions, intellect, intuition and soul in terms of divine ‘obscurity’. It is in the obscurity of our lives that God is doing his greatest work in us and through us. This must happen at a level that is inaccessible to us, obscure to us – to the ego – in order to allow for the miraculous to happen. We simply get in the way of grace and the ‘darkening’ or obscuring is the way in which God makes it ‘safe’ for our passage – otherwise we wouldn’t go where it is we have to go.
I have been questioning everything these last few years. My relationships, my family, my work, my decisions, my values, my faith, my yoga practice, my teachers, my ideas, etc. Sometimes my frustration with one or all of these facets of my life leaves me in a place of despair. Why can’t I seem to ‘get better’? Why doesn’t my life ‘improve’? Why is everything difficult? Why are my decisions all crap? How can I find peace? Why won’t God talk to me?
Then, in a moment of ‘alignment’ (grace?) everything appears to be fine – perfect even. I experienced such a moment a couple of weeks ago at an ashram in southern India. I was at the nightly puja in the magnificent Hanuman temple. Swami-ji was chanting something beautiful in the background and the Pundit was performing the ritual for blessings in the inner temple and tears just started rolling down my face. The moment was exquisite. The moment was pure beauty and that indescribable mix of joy and sorrow. Joy for the ‘perfect’ moment and sorrow for the knowledge that the moment wouldn’t last.
I was blessed to have been able to spend three weeks in Mother India. It was my first trip there but it most certainly won’t be my last. It’s as if I found another home-away-from-home in as much as Encinitas, CA was (is) for me – as I related in a previous posting. The Dharmikam Ashram is a very powerful and beautiful place and Swami-ji (Guru) Hanuman Das (Balachandran Nair) is a great, fierce man of God. A true warrior sage and healer. To witness his life’s work (the Dharmikam Ashram), his unconditional love and sense of duty, everyone's love of him, the healing work (Kalarichikilsa), the Indian children learning Kalaripayattu, the indescribably beautiful Hanuman Temple, the villagers, the staff and workers, the volunteers, the humbling devotion, the disciples, the other visiting westerners, etc. is a very moving experience and leaves one feeling very blessed to have been a part of it - if even for a short period of time. And the poverty of the people and the area (and the country) makes you count your blessings and be grateful for having been born an American. Yes, gratitude is one of the principal lessons that the Guru and the ashram teach.
The ashram is quite small – currently seven rooms for visitors – but this is what makes it so special. I feel as if I’m one of the lucky few that have been able to spend time with Master (Swami-ji) while the ashram is still small. Who knows what the future will bring? I’m just not someone who goes for the large ‘crowd’ or organization. So I feel very fortunate to have found my way to him – perhaps before he is ‘discovered’ by a larger audience. While a visit to a large ashram with hundreds if not thousands of other devotees may be a special experience of its own kind, I prefer an intimate situation.
Now I am back in New York City. It made the change to winter while we were gone. So coming back means many adjustments – a different practice, different clothes, different food, different pace, different season, different energy, different me, etc. I decided to quit my job. I’m tired of living in fear and holding onto something (a miserable something) just for fear of losing it (especially a paycheck). I want to live a life where fear isn’t a factor in my decisions. I want to live a life where love is the universal factor and the motivating force. I don’t know what’s next for me. I have lots of ideas but no planned steps. The path ahead is obscure. I guess it’s time for me to abide in faith.
PS – I’ll try to post my India photos gallery ASAP. It’ll be on DharmaBuilt.com