I was so ready to get back to India. It was the thing keeping me going for the last two months when many other aspects of my life began to feel as if they were slipping from my grasp of control. My self practice and study were basically non-existent, and my lack of connection to Self caused me great frustration while my focus remained largely fixed on the external happenings of work and social life. But it was manageable, because soon I would be in India.
Now here I am and the ancient powers of this land have indeed begun to work their magic. I wish I could say, as if a switch flipped upon arrival, all were well and peaceful. But the fact of the matter is, that it is not always comfortable to meet yourSelf. No matter how much you’ve nourished this connection in the past, how deeply you understand the importance of being your own best friend…the truth is that confronting our deeper natures after periods of disconnect is not without agitation, burning, tapah. I was anticipating some generous reunion, a homecoming, in which my Self greeted me with wide open arms and nothing but love as I stepped upon Indian soil. It wasn’t totally like that. If anything, I arrived even more exhausted and exposed than when I’d left Canada. Luckily we had a couple of days to regroup before flying south to a retreat in Coonoor where my much anticipated meeting would actually take place.
We were set to study for four days at this stellar vacation home belonging to one of my teacher’s students, hidden within the tea fields and eucalyptus farms of Tamil Nadu state in southern India. I’d been before, two years ago for a different retreat, and so looked forward to being nestled high up in the mystical blue mountains (despite the very long and winding, stomach churning road to get there). Bare feet on green grass and hot sun on face, as if this weren’t enough…but here I found myself, with my Guru and a group of such beautifully kind and insightful seekers, ready to study my first Upanishad: Amritabindu, translated roughly as ‘The Essence of Immortality’. When my Guru speaks, the words and energy which pour out of him are like cool, crisp and so clean of water for my dry and thirsty soul. I was drinking it all in greedily. Our four days were a mix of lectures, leisurely mountain walks, asana and meditation practices, only the freshest of local fruits and vegetables, sincere smiles and hugs, and thanks to still being on Canadian ‘time’, one 4am tea time out under the wide open starry sky with one of my dearest friends. But even more valuable than all of this, what will carry me strongly forward in this life and beyond, are the love and wisdom passed on to me from someone who lives what he studies and teaches.
The Amritabindu Upanishad is one of the Bindu Upanishads (ancient scriptures) and centres a lot around the idea of detachment…a hot topic in the spiritual world, though one which often evokes nervousness and much misunderstanding. I don’t know about you, but when I think of detachment, unbinding, release and letting go…it kind of sounds like loss. And in a world of greed and grasping, who is fit for such insanity? But what we will each ultimately realize is that the things we choose (or are eventually forced) to let go of, were never really ours to begin with. We bind ourselves to desires created by the physical senses; a tasty treat, a beautiful bag…bigger, better, endlessssss pursuits of the material world have our heads spinning and souls weeping. Yoga, through scriptures and many great examples, shows us that only in releasing these things we cling to so confusedly can we gradually become what we truly are. And I don’t think anyone has ever really been able to put into words what this mysterious ‘True Self’ entails. But again, scriptures and examples point the way…My understanding is of something so great and limitless and undefined, all powerful and beginning with that one tiny drop, that essence of immortality the Amritabindu Upanishad offers to each of us. We can never lose anything that is real, anything that was meant for us anyway so fear should not even be a question from here.
I get all of this and my commitment to my Self and this path is very sincere. So the real question was; What did I need to let go of to get closer to a realer me? And now this list could be just an endless as the hidden potential of my True Self (should I ever in fact arrive there) and I was determined to get to the real root of the problem. Could it be my expectations of others causing me such grief? This is something I’ve been working on for months and probably lifetimes and have not yet been able to release. It’s a world of exchange, karmic and cosmic connection and it may be that it’s part of the game to have some expectation of others. To let go of this seems a great task. But ah, I found something deeper. After days of berating myself for not being able to give up this thing which I know binds me to the false world of suffering, I gave up something else. Not the trying or the hope. I gave up the over-analyzing, the severe critiquing of self, the mind spinning of imperfect human reality. I gave up my unattainable expectations of me. I cut a little cord between that voice which drill sergeants me forward and the so-loveable-in-all-forms being that I am. Whew! I’m not sure if you’re sighing as deeply as I am in this release but I hope so. This being so hard on myself, it surely isn’t done with completely, not even close. But for now, however little space was created by that letting go has in fact opened room for my Self to move in a little bit more permanently. Set up shop in which to produce the good and lasting, to welcome me in for love and genuine council. It’s in this space I had my reunion and already, it’s been worth the trip.