The Journey to the Infinite Depths starts with one question: Who am I? Ramana Maharshi is famous for this teaching. Before I ever got to this level, I asked a different question and not of myself.
When I was 16 years old, I casually asked my mother, not “what will my future be,” but what was in the book she was reading. I had seen her read the same book for several years, but never stopped to really notice, much less to ask her about it. She replied briefly, “Why don’t you read it and find out for yourself?”
She was reading the Bhagavad Gita, the Hindu scripture that is like a Book of Answers to one seeking esoteric knowledge. If anyone asked me about a book I was reading, I would certainly jump to give them a summary, my interpretation or at the least, show off my own knowledge and taste. But not my mother. Her answer had a deep impact on my inner journey and I am forever grateful.
I took her advice, and read a few chapters that were her favorites. I was totally impressed by the lilting poetry of Chapter 10, and the powerful two chapters that followed. I stuck with those and read one each day. ‘Everyday’ is key to any practice, I suppose. Eventually I traversed all 18 chapters and became very familiar with the text and even memorized a lot of it. I used a translation because I was pretty good at reading Sanskrit but not understanding it and the rest of my learning was helped by listening to discourses.
My interest in spirituality deepened. I read many, many books and I learnt meditation from at least 4 or 5 different sources. I prayed desperately for a guru. But I assumed that gurus can only teach directly, so I pretty much thought that my only option was to go to an ashram. It didn’t seem practical and I wasn’t that adventurous – and there was no guru for a long time.
My spiritual practice was mainly limited to the confines of my puja room but I grew more and more restless, because my mind never came in with me. One day, I heard Eckhart Tolle – thanks to Oprah, he did a web series on his book, A New Earth. My sister had given me the Power of Now almost 10 years before that, but it went over my head. His teaching resonated with me and I subscribed to his online teaching. Life changed. But not dramatically enough.
(To be continued…)