In Ramana’s cave, the stillness is profound. The chorus of horns in the town below the mountain fades away, also the drip in the close-by spring, and thoughts subside into emptiness. Appreciating the sweetness, I do consider the perfect air, temperature and humidity controlled for the body to have no need. Perfect merger with earth, air, body, the fire stilled, the water quiet, the town removed.Ramana had no desire for an ashram to be built in his name, for worshippers to come prostrating themselves on the marble floor, the garlanded throne, even for those few devotees to save him with food from starvation when he first arrived, content with bliss alone of being, no need.
You said you would not return, could not bear it, felt so relieved to arrive in Thailand even, the pungent streets of Bangkok, calling that home by contrast. You said you were done with the crazy cities, the impossible trains, the buses without shocks or brakes, the decrepit bicycles and oxcarts in the roadways lined with rubble, the same as Kathmandu, as Conakry, as Iquitos, only worse. Apocalypse not only now but forever, this misery you must face and accept, for this is your body, our body, our human earth, our waste and destruction, and kindness in coming back for more, among the beggars, beggars, beggars, this is after all where we all are headed, our once-sleek North American cities, our Eurozone of comfort and cleanliness, when the public funding runs dry into the pockets of the filthy rich, we come back to India, to Guinea, to Brazil and Peru, to El Salvador and Greece in the meek stones, Jaipur and Varanassi, Mumbai, Chennai, Malawi.
In the room awaiting Shivashakti, the diminutive woman in orange sari who appears daily at ten, for fifteen minutes of silence in front of a few dozen sitting in meditation, I sense an intelligence around me, awake and aware, reminding me of its presence here as elsewhere, in Peru for instance, in the ceremonial yurt; or Maui, in Daryl’s truck by Little Beach, when I glimpsed that entity again in grace of crystal clarity ... In that moment she appears, gliding into the room to take a seat in front of the crowd. Her gaze, quiet and slow, scans the room, face by face, eyes by eyes, making contact, acknowledging and confirming the presence of that awake, aware intelligence which is not personal to her, nor to me or anyone else in the room, but pervasive in existence itself. A smiling and all-embracing gaze that says, Yes, welcome, we are one.” Like Guillermo the curandero, like Famoudou the djembefola, she rises and glides again through the room, her small stature and absolute silence no impediment to the mastery of her powers, which is only to be a vehicle, a channel, an embodiment of the infinite.
The orchestra is tuning up, its mode both classic and pastoral, heavy metal and pop, psychedelic and spiritual all rolled into one, on the dusty street past the temple, the swept dirt in the ashram, where all the seekers come and go, mute and prostrate, before this or that saint, looking for someone to lead the way out of themselves and ignoring the message to look within, to rest and stop the search, right now. The cafes are full of us, or half-empty, depending on the season, and India doesn’t care. There is an enigmatic head nod that lets us come or go, or stay a while longer, offering a small coin of contribution to the passing of the age, and we compare our experience, our temporary lodgings, our stomach disorders, our revelations in the cave before the relics of the saint.
Home we go again to tell our stories and post our blogs, upload our pictures and pay visits to our specialists of intestinal disorders, entering the rat race once again, even if for the last time, while India remains. India is India, and in the dusty street the beggar still waits, the shopkeeper still does a middling trade, the heavy truck rumbles past blaring its Bollywood bop, and the auto-rickshaw careens around a cow eating cardboard. Somehow in the midst of this madness, watching India be India, in the midst of India being India, we catch a glimpse of a pearl of truth, how to be oneself.
At dawn the barnyard stirs to life, water running, cows lowing, a man coughing, and at first my reaction is resentment: we have to move, this isn’t working, what kind of home is this? In a little while the mountain gathers light, and the sounds subside. A feeling of peace and contentment returns, deeper than before. There is no need, really, to go anywhere. Home is home.