The last weekend was like nothing I have had in a very long time. I was not travelling nor planning or packing for a trip. I listened to my body and gave in to long naps and afternoon movies with the shutters shut close and the A/C and strawberry shortcake ice cream bringing a delicious respite from the outside heat. I did not see any friends, did not go out unless absolutely necessary. I even skipped River Prom! What a splendid way to spend the weekend. I was quite productive, too, as I tornadoed through the unromantic, unglamorous catch-up work required after one has been on the road continuously and after one had guests sleeping over a few weeks before, i.e. unpacking, changing sheets, washing the sheets, folding the sheets, putting away the sheets. It felt good not to be a road warrior for a change. I was just me, sauntering around in my underwear all weekend, in my own little tight cocoon.
On Sunday, I spent the morning at a Vedanta (read: Yoga) retreat in Carnelian Bay in Lake Tahoe sharing the energy of people who are literally glowing (I kid you not). They seriously have sunbeams on their eyes and a red, happy glow on the apples of their cheeks. I call this a sincere, quiet, radiance. Nobody has to acknowledge it or publicize it. It just is. And fleeting as it may, it doesn’t matter. If we cannot dwell in it in perpetuity, or on the California freeway, or in our 9-5, what matters is that it is possible to touch this place that each one of us has within us every once in a while.
It has almost been a year since I have seen Swami Prabuddhananda. He started talking to me the instant he saw me. My typical reaction is to just smile there and nod like an idiot because before you is a man whose discipline and passion for truth-seeking is obvious. How could one not admire that? And what do you say to someone like that? Everything else that is not God seems irrelevant and miniscule. I had to repress my urges to keep bowing with hands folded in prayer. Imagine what I would be like in front of someone like the Dalai Lama!
Now for those of you who are invested in my being a Catholic, repress the heart attack. I still consider myself a Catholic. While I have exposed myself to Hinduism and Buddhism, I have not been converted to either one, nor do I see myself doing so. On the contrary, my experience of these eastern traditions have seriously made me a better follower of Christ. Actually, to take it further, it has made me live a more conscious, joyful and life-filled existence. In short, I truly believe that I am a better person because of it. I remember telling The Italian (who’s obviously Catholic) that I don’t think we should choose a single religion. Man wrote those rules. I think what God would like us to do is Be Love. I know. Sounds like a hippie, slogan, right? Get over it. Or leave this blog. :) In eastern traditions, it is common to hear that man’s purpose in life is to self-realize, to be enlightened, which is done through meditation, study, and relentless compassion. We supposedly go through endless incarnations because we have not attained enlightenment. Once we do in one lifetime, then our cycle of rebirth is over. They say that this phenomenon explains why sometimes we feel inexplicable affinities with people and places, or why we get déjà vu. We feel like we have been in certain places before because we very could well have in previous lifetimes.
I don’t know if I believe in births and rebirths. And honestly, I think that although fascinating, I think it doesn’t really play any relevant role in our quest for enlightenment or being good, noble, happy people. This I will say though. In the last year, I have cultivated a handful of soulful relationships that have almost terrifying magnitudes of connection, most of which are incomprehensible to the logical mind. If I attempt to dissect it, the only semi-rational conclusion I can come up with is this: in a past life, we must have been something to each other.
I met one of them again last Sunday at the Vedanta cabin. Mahadevi had a bright, open face, sunshiny eyes, salt pepper hair and a demeanor with so much tranquility and gentleness reminiscent of a sheer, light curtain, flapping with the summer wind in a nice warm beach house somewhere in the Atlantic coast. She must have been twice my age, but our souls brushed each other and instantly, we both knew. We must have been something to each other somewhere at some lifetime – a mother, a sister, a daughter, a dear friend. She has travelled from Croatia, her motherland, to India, South America, then Canada so that we can meet again that day in California. Isn’t that rad?
A piece of me is quietly grieving with a very dear friend of mine who lost her father recently. I cannot say that I completely understand her sorrow because I don’t. I can only come from my own place of loss after my own father had passed a few years ago. I look back on it and I shake my head in disbelief. How did I manage to live through that harrowing pain and mourning? How did I pull myself through that? But by some miracle and with a lot of love from people around, I did. My mother and siblings did, too. It may be such a far-out and wild idea, but what if just like meeting someone like Mahadevi in this lifetime, it is inevitable that we will meet again the ones we loved most and lost in another lifetime? What if that reunion will be a “Nice meeting you…again”? What if in that rare moment of recognition, you don’t know how or why, but seeing that soul vibrant and alive again resolves all the questions you asked then?