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Musings on Moments of Clarity
Words and Image by Gypsy Mack
“Mystics are not themselves. They do not exist
in selves. They move as they are moved,
talk as words come, see with sight
that enters their eyes. I met a woman
once and asked her where love had led her.
‘Fool, there's no destination to arrive at.
Loved one and lover and love are infinite.’”
- Farid ud-Din Attar
I discovered myself among the soft green rolling hills of Glastonbury, by the ancient and mysterious shape of Glastonbury Tor rising up from the early-morning mist, on top of the rocky cliffs of Cornwall. I rediscovered myself again among streets that coated my feet in a distinctive layer of dust, which I had to be sure to wash off before setting foot in a temple. I discovered myself yet again, on the bank of a river in Virginia, droplets of water and plant material running over my shoulders, surrounded by almost all of my favorite women in the world.
I feel as if everything that has happened so far is a collection of extremely vivid moments of clarity, where colors and emotions and people’s faces seem to shine with white light. I have no special purpose here on this world, only the purpose intended of every other life on this planet: do as much good as possible, bring joy, ease pain and suffering, heal those who need healing. I attempt to learn as much as I possibly can, so that I am able to bring compassion to the wider world in a respectful and intelligent way.
I’m just sixteen, so I don’t know much of anything yet, but I know exactly what I want to do. There are situations that have led me to this feeling, some of which I will speak of, and some of which I will not (because, as my Sanskrit teacher Lakshmish said in India when teaching us about the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, spiritual things should not be shared with everyone, they should be kept very secret).
I remember perhaps the first and most clarity-filled moment I experienced in myself, in Mysore, Karnataka, India. I went there almost two years ago (and I’m going back in less than six months!), with a truly amazing family that my family has known for years, and it changed my entire life and how I see the world. Anyways, the family I went with practiced yoga every morning and came home at about 9 AM every day. I almost always woke up between 6 and 7, and had a few hours to myself. During this time, I would explore both the external and internal. I would wander the streets of our neighborhood, and wander the chaotic expanse of my mind in meditation.
It was early-morning in early January, and I had decided to go to the temple by myself. It was only a five-minute walk away. Before I left, I made sure that my hair was brushed nicely and clipped back, that my clothes were clean and modest, and that my hands and feet were clean. I slipped on my bronze-colored flip flops that I bought on sale from Old Navy in the US, which had at that point practically melded to my feet (I still have them and wear them a lot, and they are perhaps the most comfortable shoes I own, like an extension of my body), draped my dupatta over my chest, and skipped down the stairs to the street. I remember wishing I had some silver anklets to wear, for I thought that the sound of women’s feet jingling as they walked down the street to be the most beautiful and feminine thing in the world.
I walked down the street with an air of confidence, because I get confident when I am happy, and I was extremely happy in India. I subtly observed everything as I walked, drinking in the sights, the smells, and the sounds that surrounded me. To this very day, I smile and close my eyes when I smell burning trash, for it always brings me back to the feeling of walking in India.
I had only been to the temple once before, when the family and I went to see a young boy chant the Bhagavad Gita. He had memorized the entire text, which was amazing, and that day was the first moment that sparked my love for the Gita. It is a truly beautiful text, which I could read and reread for the rest of my life without getting bored. I remember in the introduction to one of my copies, it is said that no one has ever “read the Gita”, one is always in the “process of reading the Gita”, meaning that the Bhagavad Gita’s wisdom is never truly learned to its full extent, for every time you read the Gita, you gain something new from its pages. These sorts of scriptures, like the Conference of the Birds, the Qur’an, the Bhagavad Gita, and the Diamond Sutra, are what I call “mystic linguistics”.
The temple was the local Sri Krishna Temple, a small place across from the children’s home. It had a wall that faced the street surrounding it, with a blue elephant painted on the white surface. The elephant appeared to be friendly and reassuring as I approached the temple. Though I was confident by then that my beliefs validated my visitation of the sacred space, I still of course felt apprehension, as I was a white teenage girl. I didn’t want my intentions to be misunderstood.
I removed my shoes and washed my feet, then walked up to the main building of the temple. I rang the bell with my right hand, then bent and touched the threshold with my right hand’s fingertips, touched my heart with the same fingertips, and stepped in with my right foot first. The floor was cool and smooth beneath my feet, and there was so much to look at all around me, but my eyes were immediately drawn forward, to the inner sanctum of the temple, where Sri Krishna’s presence resided. At that point in my life, I was not familiar with many Hindu deities other than Sri Krishna, or with Hinduism in general, but it called me in a way that I had not experienced before. Sri Krishna’s presence in the temple was powerful, yet gentle and kind and loving. I placed my hands on the ground, and then lowered the rest of my body to the ground in prostration to Sri Krishna.
I proceeded around the rest of the temple clockwise, paying my respects and giving my prayers to the other deities. I did not recognize any others, but one in particular called me, even more than Sri Krishna had.
She was a beautiful goddess, her eyes piercing and filled with powerful wisdom and ancient knowledge. She sat in her part of the temple with grace and beauty, filling it with a commanding presence. In front of her was a small table, filled with incense, candles, and offerings of money and flowers. I wished I had brought something to give, and I vowed to do so next time I visited. She almost seemed to pull me, she took my breath away, and I bowed before her like I had to the presiding deity of the temple.
That was perhaps the first time that I realized that spirituality wasn’t just belief in something “other”, something inexplicable. It was literally something that could move into your life whether you liked it or not, and you couldn’t say no and you couldn’t resist it. I realized that a sense of spirit was something that could just show up, change your life and you yourself, and be with you forever.
As I walked back home after finishing my visit of the temple, I mused on my experience, and came to think about what it would be like to truly identify as a Hindu, despite the fact that I was a white American, and I realized that if my intentions were pure and my belief remained true and I remained unfazed, then it would be perfectly acceptable in the eyes of whatever moved me within that temple. I also realized that I was extremely hungry, and thought about how spiritual practice was just as draining as any physical practice.
#Real #Spiritual Practices #SriKrishna #MysticLinguistics #Clarity #India
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