18 January 2007

wednesday night at ramana

today is tonight already and tonight i'd like to be proud of myself.
i'd like to be proud of myself for being happy and going to check
email and even receving email and being happy about the email i
received. i'd like to be proud of myself because strangely even enough
even here on sacred mountain (which i climb twice daily to meditate in
a sacred cave and drink sacred water) people think i am some sort of
saint, even here where everyone is dressed like a weird saint. proud
because i played the flute and a child stopped to thank me and later i
played the flute and a frenchman said i had good control of the
half-tones. proud because wilson from memphis had to catch his bus so
gave me 30 points to give a guru meditating on the mountaintop (for
the last 17 years, without moving) and today i met one of his
disciplines. proud because, though close, i haven't fallen into
despair at the shallowness of my will or meditations, or my lack of
progress on the new book, or the fact im 27 years old and still in the
very beginnings of my studies and feel like a totally useless parasite
on the golden green planet.

and proud because on the bus here a child vomited on me and i laughed
and didn't care except for the child and he vomited on me again (this
time in my hair and jacket) and it was till good. proud because a
child pulled my hair and kissed my nose when i was "meditating" under
a mango tree and i only could but smile. proud because the old women
still smile at me and proud because i dont give a though to the "sri
ramana power laundry" because my clothes are already hanging to dry,
every day. proud because i'm a shoeless johnson in this town of
shoeless shivas and at night i'm taking the time to wash (with dr.
bronners) and massage my feet, which carry their load lightly and
without complaint.

it's a very strange thing but the miracles continue to happen.
steadily. that i had very little notion of how to get here and after
twelve hours of buses i was deciding between spending the night in
salem (no joke, salem, they're everywhere) or taking the bus to
tiruvannamalia and arriving in the middle of notime (which i did once
before at an ashram and was wrong-side-of-speared in the chest, a year
ago...) and i got on the bus to see and a holy man in holy orange and
holy dreadlocks looked at me and


why yes

"ramana ashram?"

why yes

"yes. we go together"

and moved his seatmate politely Elsewhere, dusted the seat and bade me
come near. he proceeded to talk in moderate english about his life and
travels until the worst road in tamil nadu rocked us to silence. a
typical instance of the unshakeable Is the man never requested that i
speak or say anything about myself, content to share his wisdom and
energy and holy baby powder from some holy shiva temple in andra

so we got here in the middle of the night and a shop is closing down
the street and he takes one of his cloths and power dusts the concrete
(whipping sounds with the cloth, but the cloth never touches the
ground, and the dust flies) and thats some brown magic in (and of)
itself. he has a spare blanket for me and we sleep cocooned against
the mosquitos in front of the rumbling buses and trucks all night
until its 4 in the morning and i wake up magically to walk around this
mountain neilu has told me is more than sacred, that it is, in many
points of the single fact: god.

the same name neilu, who, in my imaginary email to her today i asked
how _the life divine_ was progress because i knew she would be reading
it and just half an hour she tells me unbidden that she has in fact
been reading. the same miracle

that i walked down the hill behind two spanish speakers (this place is
full of lovely whitey, but not so many americans) and so desperately
wanted to share words with them and when they stopped so that i may
pass the one asked me for my picture (as the offical american saddhu)
and when we parted two conversations later it was the same story i
heard in a barcelona bar once upon a time "but imagine! an indian who
lives in america and talks at you with an argentina spanish. this is
not usual!"

that after my five days at the palacial ramana ashram (hot water in
the mornings and i am loving it) im going to find some other place to
stay and a child my age who spends his days taking care of the 17 year
mountain man at the top and nights driving a rickshaw invited me
unbidden to stay with him.

so yes. india remains what it is, which is the incredible Isness. this
is my first experience of spiritual tourist indian, full of westerners
looking for enlightenment. and finding it, it seems. everybody here is
so peaceful, so reverent. if you can get over the clash of colors with
the white skin and indian dress its actually quite a beautiful thing
-- there's no bullshit, pettiness, excessive conversation, or idle
tourist luxury (that ive seen). its a lot of people getting up very
early in the morning to pay respect to a great master, meditate, walk
up and down a mountain, meditate, meditatate, pray, meditate, and so
on. and apparently the town is full of strange ashrams and gurus and
weird organic restaurants to make gita mehta happy but i dont imagine
ill venture very far into that.

except for the japanese man who makes and teaches bansuri. my lesson
is 14h00 tomorrow.

so the point is, come here. when you go to india come to
tiruvannamalai. its touristy but i feel theyve come to the right place
and doing the right thing for themselvs. happy tourists. and trees and
a mountain that is shiva (after two days here, i no longer have any
doubt). emai the ramana ashram ahead if you want to stay here (the
crowd is noticeably older; those who had it together to email a month
ahead of time) and you should definitely stay here. the food is
amazing. five types of rice dishes for lunch, idli at breakfast,
sambar all the time and even a banana with your dinner.

which i skipped today. the more you meditate the less you eat and
after a monday fast it was 3 meals + coconut yesterday and 2 meals +
coconut today. the only sure thing besides the One Love is the coconut
tomorrow. the rest i'll leave to the mountain.


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