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I just finished reading Pilgrimage to the Mother. The house is quiet. The kids are out with Derek. I am alone to consider, to contemplate, and to integrate Ma's experience into my own. The furnace purrs quietly, the house becomes warm. It is snowing lightly in the Rocky Mountains, my home.
I consider the path Ma walked in India, the path of the renunciant which led her through cities, towns and villages, which led through forest, by riverside, Oceanside, and mountainside. I consider the wide-eyed maiden, physician-nun seeking her guru, her mantra, and her name, and the mother, the crone, the wise-woman she is.
Ma, I consider the temple Brahmins and guards blocking your entrance as a foreigner and a woman.
I consider the sidelong glances of villagers who witness two wandering Anglos, "a couple of hippies." I consider how their view changed while witnessing you and Sadananda float down the river after performing daily pranayama. I consider what it is to be an accomplished yogi, a Maharaj.
I consider a life of meditation, prayer, and spiritual pursuit.
I have not walked the path of the 4 great dhamas in India, the four corners which uphold the mandala of the devotee pilgrim. I have not been to the center, to Varanasi, ancient Kashi. I have not received darshan of India's great saints, of the temples, or of her holy places. I have not seen the Himalayas or felt the blast of her monsoon winds.
Yet, in my life I have been the simple childlike Maiden, the black-faced destroyer Kali, and find myself learning at the feet of Mother Durga. I receive the abundance of food that is Annapurna's gift, and I know her through my hands as I cook for family and friends.
I can feel the icy cold waters of the Alakananda River on my skin, and smell the cold monsoon rains in my nose. I can see the light of the linga column in my mind's eye, and of the fires of innumerable agni hotra fire pots.
I recall the darshan of the full moon above Arunachala, the hill of light. I can feel the cool air on my skin as the sun rose over Tiruvanamalai. I can feel the waters of Ganga Ma cover my naked body. I can hear the splash of the corpse enter the water near where I bathe outside of Kashi, and see the scum of the waters as I climb out of the Ganges. Nevertheless, I climb out purified.
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I am one with all pilgrims. I am one with all seekers. I am one with the saints. I am one with Brahma.
My heart aches in sadness, I yearn to kneel at the feet of the Lord with fear and trembling, in awe and ecstasy, I sing with Joy the Song of Creation and feel the longing of mankind.
Tat tvam asi. That thou art. You are That.
The Lord calls himself simply, "I AM THAT I AM." And the Lord lives within me. In my heart of hearts, I AM THAT.