All morning I had been feeling a strong inclination to visit some yogis whom I had known decades ago, but with no address at hand I had only a vague destination in mind, trusting that the end of the road would become clear as I proceeded.
Mapless, I entered the car, invoked the guidance and protection of Ganesha and my teacher, started the engine, and waited for direction. For a while I idled in the driveway. Only when I felt subtly moved by the spirit did I then back out, turn the wheels, and move the gear into forward. For several minutes I was moving north at 2 miles an hour, then at a T intersection I `felt’ which way to make the turn, then another turn, and another, and so on until a larger road opened. At last I felt even more direct nudges of guidance and soon was moving at the full speed limit, 65, heading south.
The thought ,”Where is the exit” did not occur, nor concern me.
I had no thoughts, so also had no distractions. I had an idea where I was going, but no names of streets or towns to go by, yet within an hour I was, literally, at the end of the road, and there was a gate, open, and standing in the sunlight was a woman I had not spoken with in over thirty years. This was an ashram, deep in the woods between Malibu and Agoura.
That was some months ago and I have made other visits since, the most recent of which was Sunday, July 8, 2012–but this time when I set out I was running late for a scheduled event there, and at first I drove fast even though I did not recognize any signs along the way. It was as though I not only had forgotten the route but also was driving through deep mental fog. For mile after mile I found neither visible or invisible signs, no inner promptings on when to turn or which way to go. (Before setting out I felt certain I knew the way by heart now–and I had not thanked Ganesha… besides, I was running late.) At last I recognized a street name so turned, but it led me in the wrong direction, so after a half-mile or so I turned around and went back, beyond where I had entered, only to find a dead end. (It was the right street name, but this end did not connect to the road I needed.) Such a foggy day in this old grey head!
Retracing the route was a long slow drive with more false exits and you-turns, and only when all frantic thoughts (I’m late/I’m lost) subsided did I recognize another familiar street name. Upon taking that turn at last I remembered in full the remaining way. Within a few minutes I was turning onto the ashram road, but wait–a hundred feet ahead was an expensive late-model luxury sedan pulled off to the right side. I sensed that driver too was waiting to find the way forward so I slowed…, and sure enough the driver suddenly pulled in front of me, and together we proceeded to, literally, the end of the road.
We each sought parking inside the grounds and I, sitting in the car, chose to close my eyes, watch the breath, listen to the hum in the head, gathering presence* and thanks to all for allowing me again to find this place. This was a scheduled event, and I had arrived late, well after the announced start of the function, but I needed to calm my mind before sharing it with yogis.
When I opened my eyes I found the other driver also had not yet gotten out of the car, and now we both decided at the same time to leave our vehicles for the walk to the temple. That driver, a woman in white, took the high road, while I, in gray shirt and trousers, took the lower path to the bridge leading to the temple. I could see across the bridge were two women residents, also in white, standing at the temple steps, and as the lady driver greeted them, the three went inside together. As I approached the doorway I saw ample ladies shoes left outside, but only one pair of manly shoes, to which I added my own. I opened the men’s white door, and stepped inside onto the deep blue rug. There was silence. The event had not begun.
That Sunday was the 18th anniversary of the re-naming of this forest hermitage, from the The Vedantic Center to The Sai Anantam Ashram. Many residents and devotees soon enough came forward to speak of their experience and love as the event formally began.
An older gent talked about his visit to Los Angeles on the previous evening, where he had learned first-hand something new to him about hip hop, which he defines now as an acronym for
The way he said ‘helping our people’– his sincerity and heartache was so simple and clear I could feel the pain of an entire people speaking through his heart.
Later a young girl sang a new song for this special event, an adult then respectfully chanted a hymn of the Guru, a lady read from a hallowed book, and then songs written by Swamini began, a blend of Indian raag and jazz, so uplifting and energetic I went into deep meditation surrounded in love and devotion.
After only a few songs I found myself rising to leave, and outside as I sat on the steps to put on my shoes, that hip happy gentleman came to me and asked, “You are not staying for prasad?” I raised my head to see his face and said, “I thought I was, but it seems no, I’m not staying… but just the body is going, you know.” He laughed and I chuckled with him and then he said, “I must tell you,” then he paused as if thinking, then continued, “the first time you came here, you… you caused quite a stor…. you know? ” (To this day I do not know if he meant ‘storm’ or `story,’ and did not ask.as he quickly said) “-but you disappeared so fast and when you came again you didn’t speak with anyone, and now you’re disappearing again.” He was smiling, but he also seemed to be waiting for me to explain.
In my first visit I had recognized several residents from long ago, and dining with them I had spoken of things that came to mind from memory, reminding some of details they had forgotten, and others of matters I intuited about them. With this dear man now, for example, a fellow whom I had never met until that first visit, I had spoken openly of things about him which none of his fellow brothers or sisters knew, and when I said them they laughed and said, “no he never did that,” but then he corrected them, and said, “Don’t react so fast… he’s right, I did do that.”
I mention this now because after that initial visit, this chat on the steps was the only occasion any resident had spoken again with me, or I with them. I was very touched by his kindness and so I stood to embrace him, and he in turn embraced me; two old men, standing outside a temple, embracing one another in sunlight.
I whispered in his right ear, “I want to tell you because you have come out here, speaking with me now the way you did: I love You” and holding me he whispered in my right ear, “I love you.” I took his strong hands in mine and stepped back to look at him, at which out of my mouth came these sounds: “so many broken hearts to heal…”
He said nothing. I said nothing more, and we parted for my long, silent drive home, knowing one day, one good day, you would hear this.
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Jai Siva Sai