india diaries: THE BEGINNING 

May 19, 2021

O Lord of the Dance look at these people dancing in illusion. People cry when they are born. Some cry when they die. But how many will cry when they come to know the true self? Bestow the real knowledge on us, O Lord of Death.

May 3, 2021

I was born on a Monday so it’s fitting that we should officially start the diary on the Day of Shiva under a waning Shiva-eque Moon under the sign of Aquarius (and the one who rules my house of writing in my horoscope (third house).  I landed in India on January 1, 2020 and here we are just a little over sixteen months later. 

To say I am procrastinator by nature is an understatement. I have been wanting to sit down and start writing either a diary, a book, or get something flowing to document this mythic experience for months. As all procrastinators do, I kept waiting for the perfect time. Now it’s like where to start, how to catch up. It’s 12:12am and there are few sweet birds still tweeting against sleep in sweet solidarity with this night owl self. One of the things I missed the most whenever I would leave my home in India to return back to an urban setting, either NYC or San Francisco were the birds. The only exception to this was when I lived in the West Village between 2005-2012 and would make a morning ritual out of walking down West Fourth street to the corner of Perry where there was a special tree with the best bird song soundtrack in all of NYC to pull me out of my dark NYC melancholy on the way to my beloved breakfast ritual at Sant Ambroeus. The nostalgia is clearly kicking in under this extended lockdown in India. People often ask me after this rather impromptu but not surprising complete life change what I miss most about leaving my “old life” behind and I would say it’s those years I lived in the West Village between ages 36-42. 

I’ll come back to that but the point of the diaries is to not lose the invaluable transmissions coming through each day living with a Mahatma. There is nothing “typical” about living with the Divine Mother. Today I woke up at the extremely late hour of 8am (3:30am is the desired wakeup time-5am latest which somehow rarely happens during COVID times). And then passed out again during the evening program as if I had taken some kind of sedative when in fact the only thing I can trace back was maybe overloading my kitcherie (rice and dhal and spices) with too much ghee. Either that or the second shot of the vaccine is still taking hold and my body continues to detox. If you saw the neurotic amounts of Chlorella, Amalaki, and other Ayurvedic herbs I down on the hour, it’s no surprise I knocked myself out into oblivion I vowed to only use my phone time with intention and kept it on airplane mode, flipped on there 108 names of Amma to start the day while I got dressed and brushed my teeth. Did a few paltry rounds of lazy woman’s Sun Salutations, threw on some semblance of an outfit. Getting dressed in the hot hot season of India when you’re supposed to be covered up modestly from head to toe in white clothing without stains when you have no hot water to wash your clothes is an endless challenge. It is said the reason spiritual aspirants wear white is to remind us how hard it is to keep the mind pure of any stain. You know how quickly white material can be ruined by one second of lack of awareness, the mind is even worse. For me it’s inevitably my coffee making it’s way on to the garment as I bop from one corner of the ashram to another blissed out on the morning sights and sounds of bird songs, chanting and the sweet adopted grandma’s taking in their morning Vitamin D under the 8:00AM sun. I am grateful nobody from my former life is living here. Zero glamour and they would not recognize me hiding under this saree.  But the point is to go beyond the body and the mind identification. When you look like hell and just go out there anyway, that’s much easier than the filtered selfie culture of social media reinforcing the false self. It’s all about turning inward.

Amma keeps working on us to attune to her more subtle teachings. The mask to get over persona. She said tonight that the smile and laughter should come from deep within rather than merely the movement of the lips which nobody can see now anyway. She also said instead of wasting time talking, we can chant our mantra and reflect. We can use this time of being shut in again to do something useful to the world.  I will pray to my Beloved Guru’s Lotus feet that anything I share might uplift, inspire, heal or provoke deeper self-inquiry. Only with Her grace. I’ve made the vow to do a Shiva puja every Monday at 9am. The Goddess loves vows. I am also vowing to write at least fifteen minutes before bed in this diary. Third vow is called ARCHANA and ASANA daily. We have to sometimes start small. If we fall, get up. Don’t just lie there comfy as my guru says. Get up and try again. Merce Cunningham says, “falling is another way of moving.” It is my way of moving for sure since this Pandemic. It seems we require a lot more rest, recovery time.

Almost the way nature is recovering from what Amma calls 4th stage Cancer, we too are recovering from a lifetime of stress. I had the realisation that my stress levels here compared to how it was back in NYC could be compared to something like this. Within the 16 months I have been here I have in totally probably experienced less than one hour of daily stress of life in NYC. I can’t even imagine putting my nervous system through that again. As exhilarating as it was and how my mind can twist the Maya into longing for those sweeter moments between the high stress, there is no turning back. Just as most of us cannot go back now. We can never return to the world or life that was. Mine is not an uncommon story of people having relocated during this Pandemic and completely overhauled their lives. Now my biggest stress is feeling annoyed or judgmental of people who act selfish, entitled, disrespectful or cruel to others in the midst of the pandemic. We’re getting down to shadow 101 here. Some things never change regardless of how much meditation you do, you still want to smack people (quoting a meme). Amma also says that the world of spirituality is not logical. It’s mystical and mysterious. We have to stop trying to figure out everything with our heads. Learning to read between the lines to the deeper teachings, Shravanam. Really deeply listening has been the practice of 2021. 2020 was all about Vedic chanting, reconnecting to nature through taking care of the sweet creatures here and moving into Silence. 2021 has been about deep listening. Speaking of which, a pack of street dogs are wildly howling now. 2021 has been this mix of eery foreboding, trepidation, tinges of hope or light in the darkness, and mostly deep surrender and acceptance. It’s astounding what we can adapt to in the end. Currently the Pandemic is raging like wild fire here in a way that is so tragic I have lost any ability to speak about it. I have just been watching the news incessantly the way I did in 2001 after 9-11 with my Saturn Sister huddled in bed eating Greek Yogurt and scrambled eggs for comfort food. The illusion of control.


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