When I left India in January of 2014 to go back home to Canada, I had promised myself that I would be back that same year to spend more time at the Ashram with my Guru and teacher. Throughout my preparations to move to Holland and after I settled in with my parents, that promise and longing did not leave me. Within a month after moving to Holland, I started making plans to be in India and to be with Amma again for a longer period of time this time.
The initial plan was to travel around India for a bit and end up in the Ashram. I also knew I wanted to spend some time in silence at one of the Dhamma centers. At these Dhamma centers there are opportunities to serve those who come to meditate by preparing meals and helping where ever help is required. This selfless service is called Seva in Sanskrit and is one of the paths to enlightenment. It was my intention to serve and be in that environment for a few months before going to the Ashram.
Six weeks after arriving in my parent's home, I left for India with a carry-on suitcase. My return flight was scheduled for September 22nd, which made for a stay of nearly 4 months, the most I could stay on the visa I was granted earlier. I had plans to meet up with a friend in Mumbai to start the journey through various parts of India and also secured myself a spot in the Dhamma center in Bangalore for a 10 day course.
As with so many plans in life, things worked out differently than expected. The time with my friend was not what I thought it would be and plans changed. I ended up leaving for the Ramana Maharshi Ashram on my own and spent a few days there. It was a great experience, but I felt lonely. On my journey there and back, I met lovely people; strangers who were kind and helped me navigate this vast and unfamiliar territory. After returning from the Ramana Maharshi Ashram, I found my way to the Dhamma center only by trusting in a world that was kind and honest. Like so many things with which we are not familiar, it could have gone terribly wrong, but it didn't and a greater power guided me perfectly to where I needed to be.
The meditation was a continuation of the time I spent in silence in Canada. I dove deeper into myself and found a place of peace and inner wisdom. Yet all the while I felt this deep longing to go home, to go to the Ashram. So, no sooner did the course in Bangalore come to a close or I was on a bus on my way to the Ashram. I arrived there early in the morning and felt instantly safe and at peace. This is where I needed to be.
I spent three months at the Ashram, two of which Amma was there. How sweet it was to see her arrive at the Ashram after a tour in the US. I felt excited like a child on christmas morning. I rushed to her car just to touch her hand. My heart was overjoyed to see my beloved Guru again.
During the two months at the Ashram, I learned a few lessons in humility and surrender. There were magical moments and moments of pure clarity, but there were also moments of great confusion and moments of humiliation. I saw my wounds and felt anger, but also saw blessings and felt gratitude. I confronted people with their unrighteous actions and sought forgiveness for my own mistakes and unconscious acts. In the end, my ego was crushed and yet I felt better about myself. I was brought to my knees and at the same time felt more confidence. It was a confusing time. I now realize, that the dynamic I found myself in was an extension of the dynamic which had been playing itself out with my father (and other relationships) my whole life. I now see that I gave my power away to someone who I thought "knew better" (but didn't!!) instead of trusting my own wisdom and inner knowing.
I let myself be pushed, pulled, manipulated and used, all the while doing the things I didn't want to do, but convincing myself that I was growing. I was in Amma's presence and I know that karma is being played out when one is in the presence of the Guru, but it took years before I understood that what had happened there in India was an amplification of my own borderline addictive tendencies being played out. I see that now and can be grateful for that insight and the Guru's Grace.
Time spent in the Guru's presence is a gift. Everything that happens in Her presence is significant and carries within itself the possibility to get greater understanding of one's negative tendencies and to evolve. The lessons are subtle and it is easy to miss them, but if we are open to receive, great insights into our psyche and ego can be made known to us.
I am grateful for the time I was allowed to spend with such a master and to have my vibration be raised to a state of Love. I am grateful for the lessons learned. I am grateful for the Grace She continually bestows upon me and for Her loving guidance, which shows me the way.
India will always be my second home.