by Swami Nirmalananda
As I settle back into my American routines, I can see a gradual improvement in my ability to describe what happened on this India trip. Being immersed in the Grace of the holy sites we pilgrimaged to was an experience, as so many are saying, beyond words. That’s because the power of those sites is such that it propels you past the words you usually use, into the vast innermost beingness that is your own Self. What words will describe that?
An immersion into consciousness is a treasure beyond price, whether for a moment, in your own meditation or yoga practice, or whether for weeks, as we experienced in Ganeshpuri and Allahabad (the location of this year’s Kumbha Mela). The value is found in the experience of consciousness itself, but if it is a true experience, it’s not dependent on place, for consciousness is everywhere. Consciousness is everywhere, everywhen, everyone and everything. The goal is to know, and see, and be That — everywhere, everywhen and with everyone and everything.
So the value of the pilgrimage shows up in the return home. Over 43 yogis have stepped back into their lives, with the same wheres, whens, whos and whats – but the yogi is herself or himself different. Who are you now? Who are you in the same places and in the same relationships – you’re a new you, while you are the you that you have always been. All at the same time…
For now, I’ll describe it this way:
Ganeshpuri provides an immersion into the Grace of the Guru, where the gift of your own Self is being given 24/7/365. Try to avoid Grace in Ganeshpuri — you’ll fail. Bhagavan Nityananda can overpower your resistances, even though He is not embodied any more. His tangible and continuing presence in Ganeshpuri, supported and maintained by those who still serve Him, propels you into your own Self and leaves an indelible imprint on your heart.
Allahabad provides an immersion into the purity and spaciousness of pure Beingness. This is also a gift of Grace, but it’s an impersonal type of Grace — not grounded in the relationship between one who knows and one who seeks. An ethereal type of consciousness, the joining of the rivers bathes you in a pure flow of irresistible consciousness. It a time-sensitive experience, at its fullest only once every 12 years. Ephemeral, it gives you a glimpse of your own Self that leaves an indelible imprint in your mind.
Benares (Varanasi) is embodied Grace. The flow of consciousness, embodied in Ganga (Ganges River), is an external expression of the uprising flow within. Your own upliftment is made real in this Grace, the revelatory power of Kundalini outside and inside. The city of “Siva, every street corner gives you another opportunity to see and worship God. Temple bells sound as you walk by, following the cows and dogs through the ancient alleyways. Life is real in Benares, truly real — and truly holy. Benares shows you the Divine in every form passing by, and leaves an indelible imprint upon your whole being.
I was fortunate to bring a small group with me to Benares, all of us continuing on from Ganeshpuri and Allahabad. While I was there, I received the keys to my new home, a small house alongside Ganga. I’ve been trying to buy something there for more than five years, and was able to complete the purchase just one week before, with the help of my Indian family there.
We gained access to the house on our last day, seeing the “before” – there’s a lot of work to do before a Westerner is comfortable in it. “After” will happen in 6-8 months, and then I’ll be able to invite you to visit me in Benares, when I am in residence there. My primary home continues to be in Downingtown, but now I’ll have a personal home when I’m in India. Finally! After 37 years of visiting India, I have a home there!
My new home does not affect any of Master Yoga’s or Svaroopa® Vidya Ashram’s activities. It is a personal residence, not financed by either organization or through anyone’s donations. How fortunate I am to be able to fulfill one of the traditional functions of a swami, to create a home in a holy place. Perhaps you can visit me there as well as in Pennsylvania. And allow Benares to imprint upon your whole being. OR simply do more japa!