Tuesday, May 26, 2009

2009 05 26, Tuesday.

2009 05 26, Tuesday.

Rained like the dickens all last night. I was expecting to wake up and find the whole ashram floating out somewhere on the Arabian Sea, with the kitchen crew scooping up stringy piles of seaweed to cook for dinner and dodging crazed wild eyed Somali pirates. If the Somali pirates boarded the ashram, we would just take them to Amma for darshan, and in a few minutes they would be lifelong devotees, chopping veggies and chanting mantras like the rest of us. We're all Amma bots! And you will be assimilated.

(As I'm writing this, I just set down my afternoon cup of chai on the table. Within about 2 minutes the little tiny ants sniffed it out and made a beeline for it. Hey guys! Get your own chai! This one's mine.)

In one of the empty flats in this building, I think someone left and forgot to secure their bathroom door. About every hour or so last night the wind would blow through and some door would slam shut with a bang like a Howitzer going off. Cripes! Monsoon season here sure makes the nighttimes a lot more eventful than I care for. Banging doors and thunder and the wind whistling like a million hungry ghosts as it whips around the building. Jeez. Settle down out there. Kind of frustrating to have my precious sleep disturbed so much, but arguing with the weather is definitely a losing game.

I set my watch to get up at around 5:30, but with all the nighttime excitement I was wide awake at about 4:45am. So I dragged myself out of bed and squeezed in an IAM technique session and just made it to the main hall as they were beginning the Mahay Shasura Mardini bhajan. Sweet. Afterwards, I took my morning chai up to 11th floor of the E building and looked around to the green panorama below and the morning sky all around. It was really beautiful. The rain had stopped and there were dark gray clouds low to the ground in various places. A heavy mist was rising here and there from the palm trees and I could see miles and miles of green all ending at the ocean. On the eastern side the large buildings of Amma's University rose up pink and red above the palm tops making a beautiful contrast to the deep green of the palms. The damp cool morning air added a special richness to the sweet chai. After drinking in this scene for a while, I returned to my room for the usual chanting, bhajans and meditation till 9am breakfast.

OK, so maybe now I can give a little emotional check-in and update. Bottom line is (so far at least) it feels really good to be back. Feels like home. I mentioned to many of you that the last time I was here I didn't socialize much at all and I felt very much at home. Seems I'm in pretty much the same frame of mind this time around. I'm really enjoying eating all my meals alone and feel no desire to socialize beyond the usual everyday encounters. When I think of eating with the westerners and all that chit chat, it makes me feel uneasy. I like eating with the Indians cause I can't understand a word they say and that makes it easy to focus on memorizing some verses or doing mantras during meals. I tried unsuccessfully to learn Malayalam at one point, but not knowing it does have its advantages. Like when the political campaign trucks drive by blaring out some rapid fire canned speech at ungodly volume. Maybe one day the Indians will pick up on the wonderful value and benefits of 'disturbing the peace' laws. I sure hope so.

I'm a bit lazy when it comes to starting sadhana, but once I get going I seem to get in a nice groove without too much trouble. Right now I'm only doing about 2 hours of seva a day from 10-noon so that gives me plenty of time for housekeeping, writing blog entries, sadhana and other miscellaneous tasks. As I mentioned earlier, I'm pretty sure I'll get roped in to all kinds of additional seva before too long. So I'll enjoy this easy time while it lasts.

I think one of the main reasons I feel so at home here is that pretty much every one is crazy for Amma like me. Just knowing that and seeing it manifest all around where ever I go gives me a constant warm comfortable feeling inside. I'm surrounded by hundreds of people who share my deepest passions. That strong and ever-present feeling kind of fulfills all my social needs right there. Pretty much every one I see is a passionate Amma devotee and for me there's not much more to say beyond that. To talk about trivial stuff would actually take away from the feeling of connection. But I do like sharing with someone about our Amma experiences or other spiritual experiences. That seems to happen often enough in the natural course of normal daily encounters so I don't feel the need to seek it out.

One of my fears is that I'll get complacent and not fully utilize the opportunity for spiritual practice the ashram provides. I can very easily get lazy so I have to keep an eye out that I don't fritter away too much time on useless activities. I feel its an amazing opportunity for me to be crazy about Amma and to live at Her ashram. Actually, if I do start to get lazy I'm sure Amma will rear back like a good Kentucky mule and kick me hard in the butt. That's Her job; nothing personal. (smile). However, I will have to edit those parts out; I do have a reputation to maintain, after all. I work hard to make sure my reputation bears little (if any) resemblance to the reality. Hmmm... now that I think about it, perhaps that could backfire on me...

This afternoon I finally got some time to post my initial round of blog entries. By some miracle, I was able to spend a whole hour on one of the ashram internet computers without getting kicked off. Normally there's a line of people waiting and we're limited to a half hour. But if no one is waiting we can go longer. At one point the guy in charge was going to kick me out (I was over my half hour time limit) but some other lady popped up and said in a wonderful French accent "OK, I'm all done, he can stay." Cool. Definitely Amma's grace. Gave me time to get all the blog entries posted and catch up on all my emails. I'm sending all my favorite science and technology news emails straight to archive without reading them. That is difficult! I really miss keeping up with all the latest sci/tech news. Actually I'm unsubscribing from all of them.

By the way, thanks to all of you who've emailed me. I really appreciate it and it feels good to stay in touch. Unfortunately, because my internet time is limited, I will (usually) only be able to give short replies. I wish I could write more, but I'm a slow writer and it would take me a lot of time to give a full proper reply to your emails. Hopefully this blog will keep you up-to-date on all my misadventures.

Outside my window I can hear Amma on a live video feed leading the Atma Puja in Japan. They're playing it on a big screen in the old temple and the big hall. I was watching Amma on the screen and I got a nice feeling that She's keeping a sharp eye on all of us.

OK, its 5:30pm and my chai buzz is in full swing. Time for sadhana! Usually my sadhana consists mostly of just watching mind running around like a chaotic pack of highly caffeinated puppies. And, just like puppies, I gotta be gentle on myself when trying to train my mind. It took me a LONG time to learn that lesson. My first years of meditation practice was just endless unnecessary fighting with my mind. Finally I gave up the struggle, waved a white flag, conceded defeat and now just gently watch my mind do whatever its going to do anyway. Paradoxically, that makes it much easier to gently guide my mind (just have to practice guiding it without expectations). Seems my mind only fights with me when I think I need to fight with it. I learn, but I usually learn the hard way.

When I listen to bhajans on my MP3 player I try to visualize in front of me in detail the particular deity of the song (like Krishna/Radha, Amma, Hanuman, Rama/Sita, Durga, Kali, Lakshmi, Shiva, Devi, Ganesha, etc). I can keep the image in my minds eye for only a few seconds or so before wandering off on some random and irrelevant thought train. I call them thought trains but in my case it may be better to call them thought train wrecks. Very easy to get on these trains but getting off is a bear.

As you can surmise from the above paragraph, there's a lot of deities to keep track of in Hinduism (aka "Sanatana Dharma", literally; "Eternal Path"). I love 'em all but feel a special affinity for Krishna. Maybe because at one point he had 10,000 lovers, wives and concubines. Now *that* is worthy of some worship. Just teasing, of course (although the part about 10,000 lovers is straight out of Krishna's life story, or it may have been 100,000). I like Sri Krishna because he's a very playful and fun loving deity, always mischievous and getting into trouble. While at the same time constantly (with great heroism and aplomb) saving his village from this or that marauding wild demon or monster. I also like it that all the demons He kills immediately get enlightenment and go straight to heaven. Thus, after he kills them, the demons all become loving devotees of Lord Krishna. But the Bhagavad Gita (spoken by Lord Krishna to His devotee Arjuna) is all about how to go straight to being a loving devotee and avoiding all the fuss of becoming an evil demon and getting your head chopped of by Sri Krishna. Sri Krishna sees everyone and everything as a pure manifestation of the Divine Oneness, so perhaps either path is fine. I'm frantically clawing my way back from the evil demon path. Well, not actually evil demon; more like self absorbed narcissist. But Amma takes all kinds!

I was really tired before dinner. I had to lay down for a few moments and recite the Amma Arati in my mind while trying not to fall asleep. I think part of it is due to the fact that we do A LOT of walking around the ashram. I'm definitely walking much much more than I usually do in a typical day back in the States. I think my body is just getting used to the much higher level of movement.

On the way to dinner from the 10th floor elevator landing I saw in the nighttime darkness what looked like hundreds of twinkling lights out west on the horizon of the ocean. No doubt all the local fishing boats taking the opportunity to grab some catch between bouts of intense monsoon rains. Considering all the fishing thats done here I'm surprised if there's still a single fish in the water between shore and 10 miles out. But I see the boats out there all the time so they must be catching something. Or maybe all the fishermen head out there just to sip some chai, gab about the latest cricket matches and take a break from the wife and kids.

I also saw some stars for the first time since returning. Under the stars and over the ocean was a thin yellow crescent moon oriented like a perfect peaceful smile. A Cheshire cat purring in the sky, content and happy because it gets the cosmic joke. I smiled back. I don't yet get the big cosmic joke, but tonight the moon gets it. Maybe thats more than enough.

Above the lunar smile was a dim halo like the ones surrounding the pictures of all the Hindu deities. I took my cue and gave a 'namaste' and bow the the moon. The waves reflected the dim moonlight and continued their endless watery kirtan crashing to the shore.

After dinner I went to bed early. I was really pooped!

No comments: