Monday, December 29, 2008

My Mom's Ceremony at the Mouth of the Ganges

how do you explain the bliss of going into the Himalayan Mountain Range. How do you capture in words what it is like to be surrounded by an endless sea of Peaks that dwarf anything that you have ever captured in your life. How do exemplify the spirit energy of an glacier that feeds the holiest river in India. How do you explain walking 20KM uphill to arrive in a valley set to the backdrop of The Himalayan Version of the Pyramids in Egypt. And last, how do you explain taking the ashes of your beloved Mother, on Mothers Day, and relinquishing them into all that has been mentioned. I really cannot, it is something you must experience and I must be a 10 times better writer to be able to capture it all. Right now, I am in pure bliss. I feel as if I have released a material weight and strengthened my relationship with the universe in essence. I feel like I have just been reborn, again. Every sense in body is alive with Love yet every muscle in my body aches. There is a sense of aliveness that I have not experienced in this lifetime. I feel as if nothing can phase me, yet there is no me. I could say elated, I could say uplifted, I could say energized, but the forementioned words do not even touch the surface on the experience of a lifetime. Why am I so blessed, is it to give hope and determination to those in the world? Is it too feed my own Ego and fall again? Is it to connected at the deepest level with the source of all existence? The universe continues to deliver this being into the infinite sea of blissful experiences that I wish only to share. I love everything, everyone and am so grateful to be chosen for this Colorful Life of Awareness, watching each and every process as if I am watching I, leaving no I, but only a story that is being painted each and every day. WOW!!!

I will start with the morning of the trek to Bhojbasa, 14 KM uphill from Gangotri. As always, post Vipassana, I arose at 530Am for Sadahna. I finished and felt it deep in my soul to leave no later than 9AM for the journey, so that means I must give Justin and Bonnie at least an hour and a half to wake up, get ready, fool around and eat as these are the things most important to them every morning. The lowest part of me wished to judge them for there place in life right now, but I remain centered, making sure they are moving in the direction of leaving. After sometime, Justin began to make the shift and Bonnie wasn’t sure whether she was going to take the journey or not. Most of me knew that if she did go, I would push ahead and not spend anytime with them, as this was an extremely important excursion on this journey, and honestly, I was looking forward to every single aspect of it. Justin even knew this fact as well and mentioned to Bonnie that He and I would make the trek without her and see her when we returned. Inside my being I became light with love when I pictured spending two days with one of my greatest friends in the aim of such a spirit guided ceremonial quest. Subconsciously, I pushed for it. I even mentioned a few things that would try and steer Bonnie away from the mission. Every great part of me would love to have her along for the journey, but I know, in the shape these two are in, they would not last 1KM without calling it quits, this would be the case.

Justin decided to pack a bag that weighed over 40 pounds due to the fact that he didn’t want to unpack just for the journey. 14KM uphill with 40 pounds on your back. If you were in top shape, this would be a challenge. Anyways, we carry on and it was only at the first set of stairs after the Temple where Bonnie wanted to return back to the room. At this point, patience wasn’t even part of my next step, it was pure determination to not let anything stand in my way of this magical Quest, I decided in my heart that I was going to carry on ahead of them. If they were to show in Bhojbasa, then we would have a lovely ceremony the next day, if not, so be it. When I arrived at the gate of entry, I waited for them to meet me at the gate and then handed over the permission. Justin and Bonnie had finally made the decision that they were not going to join on the mission and I agreed and mentioned that I was going to journey ahead anyhow. The next thing that happened was a beautiful part of the determination part of this quest. I had already journeyed 2KM uphill to arrive at the gate for them to tell me that I could not pass through the gate without my passport. I gently to advertently told them about my ceremony and about the importance of arriving today. They would not budge. Like a small child, aggravated with angst, thoughts of running through them, assaulting them and throwing a temper tantrum all came to mind, but the lightness of my being threw a mild tantrum in the air of packing my things, putting my head to the ground and rushing my way back to town in order to retrieve my passport. I didn’t even look Justin and Bonnie in the eyes as I passed, partly due to the fact that I was a little disappointed by them, but mostly because I was having a small fit. This fit turned to laughter after about 500 steps as I realized the little spoiled boy in me getting upset because he didn’t get his way. If was all part of the test from Mom, I believe.

So, nose to the grindstone I made my way back, had a much needed bowel movement, grabbed my passport and headed back for the gate. On the way I saw Justin and Bonnie and joyfully and lovingly wished them well, knowing that their placement on this journey was in perfect harmony with what I needed to learn, a little patience and surrender. Now there was a much greater purpose that involved my being and a large glacier surrounded by the Himalayan Mountains. Much love to them on their journeys.

When I arrived back to the gate it was 11:15AM and I was told it takes about six hours to reach the town of Bhojbasa, where I would have rest until the morning. The gate guards told me that I could reach in 4 hours because I was such a strong young man. Knowing my particular state of activeness, I realized it would be pushing it really hard to make it in this time, but, I definitely tried. The first 9KM I spent most of my time enjoying the scenery and the people making their journey back from the glacier. After about 5 minutes my headphones broke so I was put in the magical space to actually be with nature the entire time. Thank GOD!!! Not only was it important to completely take all this magic in, but it was also the safest thing to do as there was constantly rocks and debris coming from the enormous extracted hills lining the path. This mountains were incredible to say the least. They jetted straight up and down like they had been blasted upward in some great cosmic explosion millions of years ago. Their size was monsterous, sinking me into complete humility and disbelief really. When I finally got my first look at the peaks to come, I really started to move toward my destination. Something was pushing me, driving me to witness this full scale sensory overload of natural bliss with complete stillness. This would be the case.

The first 9 KM went by like a breeze and then the lack of physical excersice over the past month started to settle in. My breath became a little tired and then the blessing of the universe sent me a gift in the form of two human beings. If it were up to me, I would have pushed myself up the mountain into an oblivion of exhaustion, but in perfect time, a German woman and her daughter, whom I spoke with when I first came into Gangotri, met me on the path. For the remaining 5KM I spent time with the daughter talking about consciousness and the light of the world. At 16 she was steeped in knowledge and bliss. She had already gotten Yoga Teacher training and was asking me questions about living in a cave for some time. This gave me so much joy to experience the youth of our world living in such a way. We spent most of out time in silence, appreciating the land, and when we did talk, they were only words of wisdom as to preserve our much needed energy. Grateful as always.

The path really began to seen endless as we watched it carry on around the bend. Luckily the guide that accompanied the two women new that we were nearing our destination. So, Within about 1/2 kilometer from our destination I decided to jet ahead for a first look. Again, there are no words, just the pure raw emotion you get to come over into an vast valley at the bottom of the largest peak I have ever seen in my life. My breath was taken, my soul was at ease, so I just laid there in complete peace until my friends caught up. The solid white peaks jetted into the sky like diamonds into crystal clean water. The sight was humiliating in a way that can only be experienced by the experience itself. I felt a strength and presence in the mountains around that was like nothing I have ever experienced. Conceptually knowing that I now rested in the foothills of some of the highest peaks in the world and knowing that these foothills were higher then most of the mountains in America was mind blowing. In peace I rested and the consciouness of GOD and all the greatness of the universe. When the three of them arrived, I could tell they were happy to see the sight, but more importantly, they were happy to rest. We walked down to the Ashram in which we were going to stay and were met with an interesting fellow whom showed us where we would stay. At first I was going to stay in the Dormatory portion of the Ashram, so I made my space and prepared for a night of snoring. I actually have not met an Indian man that does not snore. It is great. Then, all the sudden the Baba, as I was told to call him, called me over and insisted me to bunk up with an Spanish Fellow. I agreed and contemplated on the previous statement that I was demanded to carry out in words. When I met the so-called Baba, I was why it was so important for me to call him by this name. He has an air of Ego about him that was hard to understand, looking at the surroundings. I accepted him for his natural state and gave him a warm embrace and a smile. He chose to just stare at my feet. Then he said, “sandals.” I said, “yes.” That was it. I took my room, and incredibly small area that was full of blankets, the only thing necessary for this evening. There was no exlectricity in the Ashram at all, so it would be an early night. I immediately took a nap and got up to meditate for some time. For 200 rupees the Ashram would provide you with room, dinner, breakfast and lunch. Dinner was a complete treat of full of love. In the below freezing temparature of night, we all sat in the floor, OUTSIDE, and took our meals. After some time, the incredible taste of the food overpowered the cold and then the food finished, that is when the real cold started to settle in. With awareness I decided it was time to go to the room and get under the multiple blankets that would keep my senses in order for the next 8 hours as the temperature was surely below freezing. Actually the proof of that cam eon the way back to the room when a few flakes of natures most intricate creation graced my skin.

Blissfully, I feel back asleep with ease. In this dungenous cavern of awkwardness, there was a presence of grace that blessed the room. From the sound of it, The Baba that lives in the Ashram is an extremely profound fellow. He spends his winters in the Ashram living underground with one of his devotees. His smile was radiant like the sun and he shines of diamonds. It was unfortunate that I did not take the time to meet him. In truth, I was turned off by the other Baba as a reflection and I was too cold for words. Coming from Rishikesh where the temperature is well in the 90’s, this below freezing really got to me. I was wearing most of the clothes that I compiled from Uttarkassi, which consisted of two pair of wool socks on sandals, yes, I only had sandals. Two pairs of wool gloves, one which I gave to one of the German ladies. For some reason they didn’t get the memo that it was going to be a little chilly at 4,100 meters above ground. They were not prepeared, so I helped them out. I also had wool undergarments, a jacket and a warm heart, UHHH. I wore most of it to bed, even with two huge blankets. Yes, it was freezong.

Phillip and I spent about an hour sharing stories and lives, it was quite amazing to find out what goes into putting together an expidition from another country. This embacy meets that embacy, there fare multiple layers of people involved, 25 to 30 porters for all the stuff and most importantly, the determination to climb to such an altitude. They had planned to reach a peak of 7700 meters by the end of their journey. I cannot wait until I hear from this man on that. They also have one of those super fancy video and still cameras to document the whole entire thing. WOW, I am so grateful to have been emmersed, even if it was only mentally, in this particular story. What a gift.

At about 1:30 AM I awoke to the rummaging of Phillip as he had the mid-night smoke binge coming on. Immediately what came to mind was, stars, lots of them. I quickly threw on my jacket as everything else was still in place as I slept and walked outside to what I believe was truth. The vast expansiveness of the sky opened up and was filled by tiny litte cosmic dots ranging in their frequency. The snow capped mountains were just visible under the star lite sky. The snow from the evening had melted away the haze of the day and what we were left with was, again, the Truth, Infinity. I sat and gazed into the open space for as long as my senses could handle, pondering deeper into the “I” and how little that really is and also, pondering on the magical experience that was yet to come in the morning. There was an excitement lingering deep in my being and the collective being of the essence of my mother. I quickly went to sleep like a child that was getting ready for Christmas. By 5:30AM I would awake.

Before I dropped myself deep into meditation, I decided to catch the morning images of the surrounding peaks. This was indeed the right choice. The sky was as the glass in the Louve Museum, actually the surrounding scenery was like a museum. I thought about the gifts of this life and reveled in that for some moments. The sun was lightly caressing the distant peaks and had fully set it sights on the magnificence that would lay directly ahead, toward the glacier. At this point, I have forgotten the name of the peak that filled the morning sky, but it was in the shape of an Egyptian pyramid and was completely mystifying in it’s presence. Images of climbing the giant snow-filled mountain structure came to mind, but the overwhelming cold and lack of oxygen quicly distinguished my fantasy. Maybe one day, with superior preparation, I can conquer such a great feat. This time, this trip was dedicated to a greater purpose, an honoring and an letting go.

After a protein filled breakfast in which I was denied thirds, greedy little boy, we put ourselves together and headed out. Phillip, n preparation for his 10 hour journey back up to base camp the next day, decided that he would join me on the walk. Without hesitation I agreed. I know this should be something that I should carry out sacredely in the space of solitude, but really, what does that mean. I felt very strongly about him joining me on the way and he was the most respectful being you could ever hope for on the mission. Also, having him present added a lightness to the whole situation of letting go, which I feel was completely guided by my mother.

Just after the sun first touched the earth of our marked path, we headed on our way. The journey to Gaumukh is right around 4KM although, looking toward the glacier, you would think it was only a KM or so away. Phillipe and I slowly and steadily made out way toward the grand structure of natures gift with lightness and love. The funny thing is the ceremony was just briefly crossing my mind. I felt there was really no need to plan or to make things blown out of proportion, I simply just want to let go of my Mother’s ashes at the mouth of the holiest river in the World. That in itself provides all the spirit and intensity possible, I just have to perform the action.

When we finally arrived and stood under the glacier, there was an energy and vibration unlike anything I have experienced. The glacier, in it’s emmense form, towered high into the clear blue sky and sparked an intense sensation of unknowing inside of me. As the stones fell from the sky and the giant chunk of ice rumbled and cracked, there was a feeling inside similar to what you feel when you are outside in the middle of a lightning storm. It is a small chance that you can get struck, but there is always the possibility and people are always talking about it. There was nothing that was going to stop me from sitting right underneath this massive symbol of sacred love. It truly felt as if all the deities of the past and all the Guru’s of the present were in attendance for the offering. Not even that they were especially there for this day, but more likely that they are their all the time. Just the spiritual devotion and energy that is put into this holy space is enough to make you shout out loud in the name of GOD, whatever you choose to be GOD.

At first, I spent a few moments getting over my fear of the falling rocks and the stories of falling glaciers, then, I went to the bathroom, very sacred, then I began and bliss overcame me like wet blanket in the desert heat. There was no other emotion, no attachment anxiety, no long – winded rememberence party, although I had been consciously bringing in joyful thoughts from our time together the whole trip up. The whole thing just felt really…..wholesome and right. I remember for a second a thought of keeping some of the ashes coming up in my mind. Actually the thought of spreading them in different sacred places all over the world came, but then again, that would not be letting go. In this manner, the physical form of my beleoved gets to float through the valleys and down the spirit filled avenues of the worlds most devoted country, some may say. After the long trek through half of India meeting along the way, other spirits that have been let go into this holy space, she can float free in the infinity of the oceans. There was no regret, no worry, only a complete sense of bliss in the honoring of an particular being on this great planet. I know she basked in the glory of the whole offering and is sharing this same bliss with me, day in and day out. What a gift!!!

The ceremony only lasted a few minutes and, by the grace of GOD, was video taped in a near professional fashion by the great Phillipe who joined us on the day. Thank GOD for that. This will be cherished and honored by so many people in the days to come. WOW. The ceremony was complete after I was told to leave the urn in the Shiva Temple overlooking the great Source of the Mother Ganga. Knowing Indian Culture and their respect for sacred objects, I am sure that in 60 yeas I could come back and witness the same urn, touched only by the grace of natural seasons, still remaining. I look forward to the day.

One last little piece of information. Not one outsider came even near the Glacier during the ceremony. It took place completely undisturbed and in the peace of pure natural harmony. I love this universe!!!

After we finished, we headed back to the Ashram and had a light lunch and then I felt drawn to getting myself back down the mountain. I said a very short goodbye to the greatest blessing of the day, Phillipe and wished him well on his journey into the stars. I do pray that I will hear from him about his remearkable journey. He did mention that he does not use the internet so much in his life. Well, again, the universe has it all worked out. I will hear from him if that is the flow of the conscious wave. If not, he played one of the most crucial roles in my life that anyone has played up to this day. I am infinitely thankful for this man being dropped into the plane of my existence, and what a sincere and loving man he was. Amazing!!

I began to quickly descend down the mountain, stopping when I was drawn into stopping, which was a few times. The bliss that was radiating from my being was attracting passerbyers, so I ended up in a few conversations and I ended up blessed with my new favorite hat. This kind and loving man gave it too me as a gift after I told him the story of what had just happened in my life. I felt loving and honored to share this story with whom ever I felt would like to hear it. There was no pretention or ego behind the story, I just felt like sharing as it touched my heart so deeply and launched me into a unwavering state of pure bliss. Further down the mountain I was met by the man that introduced us to our hotel the first night. What a blessing this man is. We exchanged love and went on our way. Although there were many things to speak of on the descent down the mountain in the light of natural beauty and lanscape, I just want to touch on one specific thing that I did witness that left me a little shocked, grateful and with a strong sense of humility.

Nearing the end of my mission down the hill, which actually took half the time, I noticed a bunch of Nepali and Indian Boys carrying large bags on their backs up this mountain. The first intuition I had was that they are part of another expidition, so, when the actual hikers came, I asked How long and where is the expedition. After getting no answer from a few of the people, as they spoke no English, I finally got one man to tell me that they were going on a 5 day TREK. A 5 DAY TREK!!! There was at least 25 porters with these people. The blessing is that they are all going to make rent for the year off the trip, but I was fascinated by the amount of stuff they were traveling with. I don’t know what you would possibly need for 5 days besides some food, a tent and love the the mountains. You could easily sport the same clothes. Who knows, no need for me to pass judgment. Here goes the best part though. Looking into the eyes of these young men, you could see the all out struggle that was going on their existence at this time. Carrying 60 to 100 Pounds of shit on a flat road for 14 KM would be a great feat. These boys were in for an 80 KM journey that would be mostly uphill at heights of over 4000 Meters, thus limiting your oxygen. Even in this most difficult of situations, almost each and every single one of these boys took it upon himself to lift his head and greet me with an whole – hearted namaste. Most people when I come from great you half heartedly on a daily basis, but in the heat of adversity, they might rather punch you then say hello. These boys were gentle, calm and unwavering. This situation deeply touched my soul and gave me a sense of humility that I have never experienced. These boys are superior in my eyes, true seva warriors, doing gods great work too keep their loved once healthy, happy and alive. Thank you GOD for this realization moment.

OK, so finally I reach Gangotri. On the way, I thought countless times about a hot bath, being that I hadn’t taken one in a couple of days and was ready to completely saturate my body in warmth. I arrived back to the same hotel to find that they had many rooms available for the evening. They gave me a room on the 1st floor and offered me an hot bath. OH BOY. Here comes even more bliss, what do I do. Then, as I went to get my bags out of the storage room, I found a little piece of paradise.

The room that my bags were located in was completely surrounded by windows, set out on a tiny little cliff overlooking the Ganga River. I instantly requested for a change for two reasons. The first was the complete 360 beauty of the space, but the second was that the room was warm, almost hot!!! Being that the room is surrounded by windows, the sun shines in the whole day, giving the space the chance to ignite in warmth. It was so warm that I was not in dire need of a warm bath anymore. I probably could have just taken a cold bath and been just fine. But, of course I indulged a little bit in the warmth of both, as I had toughed some pretty cold parts the last couple of days.

I immediately got myself extremely comfortable, meditated for some time, ate some of the best Kishari that I have had, lit up some candles and insense and watched the whole copy of the Temple Bar DVD. I glorified in the great creation that My mother had brought into thid world. I was blissed for everything in life, all the gifts, all the growth, all the learning, all the sharing, all the caring, all the experiences, all the loving souls and most of all, for being happy in my own skin. It takes a lot to get to that point in the intense conditioning of society back home, but I have torn the layers of that way of thinking to bits and have added the story of gently and compassionately loving myself for all that I am and when I am acting in a way that is not along the lines of my greatest growth and evolution, I easily accept and notice the action for what it is, being unnatached and commit myself to doing the best I can the next time, thus continually loving myself. It is a profound practice. We should all have this peace as it is our nature and the only way to live in pure harmony with the universe. We shall always be in bliss!!

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