Wow. What the hell is going on? What the hell has happened to my life and who I thought was me? Sadhguru happened. Isha happened. Truth happened. Is happening. Constantly happening.
I am sitting in the lobby of the Soaltee Crowne Plaza Hotel – the first time in my life (I think!) that I have paid to stay in a 4 or 5 star hotel. My belly has been full for the past 36 hours eating 5 star buffet hotel food. 6 months ago I would have thought this to be unthinkable, much less enjoy it, but my constant giggles are a telltale sign that things have changed. Drastically.
I first came into contact with Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev and Isha Foundation in January by a strange series of coincidences which I won’t go into now – and took the intro course, Inner Engineering, at his ashram near Coimbatore, in Tamil Nadu, South India. I hated it. I’ve never hated anything as much in my life. But I realized early on that for me to react so strongly, negatively, to something, meant something was going on. Something deep. So I stuck around; and within days of experiencing nightly darshans with the Guru, my body began reacting physically to him. Strongly. Oh, all those people convulsing and making funny noises and acting possessed are um, not faking it. I’m having it too.
Since then it’s been a true roller-coaster, a psychedelic drug, the most potent substance yet the intoxication comes with complete clarity, no hangover, and the deepest sense of fulfillment I have ever experienced in my years of seeking, urgently, desperately, around the planet. And so here I am, in the first group this year headed to do a pilgrimage of Mt. Kailash and Lake Manasarovar. So much resistance came in joining this trip; the cost, my prior commitments in the US, the idea of being with a group of Isha people for 2 weeks, so many things…but some crazy signs in April, with very strong effects, showed me it had to be done. So here I am.
What is going on, though? I know we’re not supposed to talk about the content of Isha programs, and I totally understand why; but – the closest thing I can say to describe what I’m going through right now is how I felt during BSP when we thought we were going to die in a matter of hours. Really. I don’t think we can experientially know what that feels like unless we actually are in that situation, or you go through BSP. But now – it’s like it’s that same situation, so strong, so real, so urgent. And what is the reaction? Supreme love, gratitude, and joy. No fear. Well, that’s not true, there’s a bit of terror.
I arrived in Kathmandu a day early; I wanted a bit of time to acclimatize to the situation, not the altitude, and it was a good choice. It seems not like a coincidence to me that Dries, the couchsurfer I stayed with, is somehow aware and respectful of the ideas of energy and yoga and healing, yet in some way is critical and one of those ‘investigators’ and doubters – which I don’t criticize – but he had 3 Belgian girls over at the same time, 2 of whom are reiki and energy workers, which resulted in a very very interesting debate and discussion about spirituality, medicine (Dries is the head of the Belgian Red Cross support in Nepal), and pretty much anything in that spectrum. I was fascinated to see my reactions (or lack thereof) when challenged, criticized, doubted…I used to be the fierest debater. Way too much pitta (don’t worry, people that have known me forever, all that agni doesn’t disappear overnight) – but now – I don’t know – it’s like my faith and certainty in Him and the path are unshakable. In 7 months?!?
Friday I spent the afternoon with Pempa, Dries’s driver and got some errands taken care of. My first Isha lunch, the full-on buffet, was wonderful and I sat alone, giggling as I ate baked Alaska. Somehow pilgrimage and 5-star hotel just don’t go in the same sentence. But if they’re going to do it this way, I might as well be 100% present and love it, no? I was terrified that the whole group would be Isha-drones. I was scared there wouldn’t be that explosive joy and laughter, that I would once again be the loudest person here (hmm I still might be the loudest…sigh) – but I have been refreshingly surprised. Many of the people here have only done Inner Engineering, and openly say they never do the practice. Yes, some are Samyama veterans – but it doesn’t feel as heavy and serious as the other Isha stuff. A total wide spread of age, nationality, religious background – it’s really amazing what this man touches.
Friday evening we had a sathsang where we watched videos of Sadhguru talking about the pilgrimage, Nepal and mysticism in Nepal, and so forth. Halfway into the rules, people in the back of the room gasp, some start shaking, uttering Shambho – and there he is. He is a living paradox; so graceful and elegant yet so laid-back and relaxed; he sits and says, I thought I would surprise you. Yup, you know how to do it. When he speaks, it’s really enrapturing. I can’t take my eyes off of him, and it’s like every cell in my body is fully fixated on him. The energy is fully flowing; fingertips are pulsating.
So I know my body is physically tired but the past few days I find it nearly impossible to sleep. The mind is going 1000km/hr. And the energy in the body is just at such a high frequency.
Saturday the Indians were taken to Pashupatinath – this is where Shiva’s head is, when his body came up in 5 different places as 5 different body parts (I don’t know enough about this to say more). Well, this is THE epitome of insane Hindu temple. I snuck in with my Indian clothing and trying really hard to be invisible (although um, I look really Nepali) – everything you can imagine; cows with red vibuthi smeared on them, a dozen pujas with a dozen different intentions and sounds accompanying them happening at the same time; a huge gilded nandi (the cow at the entrance of the temple); a huge Hanuman, a gorgeous Ganesh at the entrance downstairs; a constant flow of people coming through with burning ghee offering bowls; the smash of coconuts being cracked as offerings; so much different drumming; funeral pyres…sensory overload x 10000%. The energy here, from my experience, is diffused in so many different directions it would almost be possible to not feel it. But find as quiet a corner as possible, close your eyes, and BAM! It’s on.
It was, however, exhausting and after a nice afternoon break I spent some time in Thamel with two awesome women I’ve connected with. But back to the inner situation. I feel like I’m about to die. And I guess in some way it’s just like that. So many different traditions say so many different things about Kailash and Manasarovar – the Hindus say that you take a dip in the water and 108 lifetimes of karma are washed away…hope the water’s not TOO cold! ; ) I keep having this sense of wanting to tell everyone in my life how much I love them and how grateful I am to have been able to experience life with them, through them, and I am just like overflowing with this gratitude and love. It’s kind of bizarre though, no, to write to someone you may not have spoken to in months or years, even, and tell them you love them so much? I guess though, maybe that’s the intensity and love and gratitude and bliss that we are aiming to be at. I don’t know. I don’t know anything anymore.
All I know is this trip has to happen. I MUST go to Kailash Manasarovar. I MUST break myself before it. I must disappear. I must cease to exist. My likes, dislikes, my attachment to my body, my mind, my intellectual capabilities and sensibilities – they must all become non-existent – to let this mountain happen to me. I pray with 100% of my mind, body, and soul to let this happen. Kailash calls you, and when it’s time, it’s an intense burning inside of you. It has to happen, it’s a mission that won’t leave you for a moment until you JUST GO.
I’m on my way.