"I was once asked why I don't participate in anti-war demonstrations. I said that I will never do that, but as soon as you have a pro-peace rally, I'll be there."
I just wrote this whole e-mail and then it got erased, drats! Oh well, here it goes again ..
I wanted to thank everyone for the overwhelming positive support I received for my last e-mail from Israel. It took my over 5 hours to write it, and probably just as long for you to read it - this one will be shorter.
When I last wrote, we were two days away from what was titled 'The Great Experiment' where over a million (yes, a million!) people were to gather around the world at the same time for prayer and meditation, focusing on Peace in Israel and the world.
The day after I wrote the e-mail I joined with the group again to visit the Dead Sea. The dead sea is a large body of water that is so super-saturated with salt that you literally can sit on the water and read the newspaper. You cannot drown in it unless you REALLY wanted to, and if you did, you might as well just swallow it.
We spent the afternoon swimming in the sea, jumping into some sulfur hot springs (also floatable) and rubbing the mineral rich mud all over our bodies (photos to come later).
Earlier in the day we visited the ruins of the ancient Jewish Essene community. The Essenes were a sect of Judaism which flourished about two thousand years ago, they were very secretive about their life and it was difficult to enter into their community. What we do know is that they led an extremeley simple life dedicated to high spiritual ideals (they were also vegeterian). Many believe that Jesus, or at least hus family were Essenes, though he ultimately transcended even their teachings.
The tourist part was somewhat boring, so we instead decided to climb into the hills and have a look for ourselves. After exploring a few caves, we settled around a water hole in the desert mountains. We proceeded to perform a Native American Peace Pipe ceremony (how a Native American and pipe got there is another story). During the ceremony many synchronicites and coincidences took place, furthering our conviction that we were being guided by a higher intelligence, all we could do at that point was laugh and enjoy.
The next day we gathered at the village of Neve Shalom - a village housing both Palestinians and Israelis who are committed to peaceful coexistence. This village is also a good model for ecological and mindful (meditative) living.
Over 300 people gathered together in a tent, Jews, Christians, Muslims, Hindu's, Buddhists, Yogis, and many others who love so many traditions they can't choose one (better known as new-agers, of a sincere kind).
I've attached a letter from James Twyman describing what took place when the experiment commenced at 7PM, I can vouch for the validity of what he wrote. Personally I felt like we were being rained upon with light and blessings. Many were indeed crying, gasping, ecstatically laughing ... I myself couldn't stop shaking, hardly able to contain all the energy that we flowing through me. Even my grandmother and uncle (whom I managed to convince to come) very tangibly felt these blessings pouring in, and they are generally of the skeptical kind. All in all, the experiment was a grand success from our vantage point.
Throughout this experience I deeply ingrained a really important lesson - the Wisdom and necessity of "I Don't Know" .. I don't know what is to come, I don't know what is needed, all I know is how I should behave, moment-to-moment, and the rest will take care of itself. Practiced sincerely and ever more deeply, this has only proved itself true to me 100% of the time .. I can't lose with those odds ..
Straight from the Tent, I went to the airport, and off to India I was.
I landed in Mumbai around 1am, February 11th (I left Israel 5am february 10th). I was gracefully picked up by my Gurudev's wife (many are turned off by the word 'Guru', all I can say is that I feel blessed to have found a Master so true, for anyone interested, you can find out more at www.hamsa-yoga.org). We started the drive from Bombay to the Ashram near Pune, about a 4 hour drive. From what I saw of Bombay, the streets were very run down, and the pollution was so thick that even in the middle of the night you could not see many feet ahead of you.
It had been so long since I slept soundly .. maybe in the past 14 days I had slept for 6 hours one or two nights, usually averaging anywhere from 3-5 hours. Since I was travelling with such a high-energy group in Israel I had barely felt the effects .. but the plane ride had caught up with me ..
I nearly fell asleep in the car ride, but as I was drifting into sweet sleep the driver started blasting Hindi Techno music .. I decided to take it as it comes.
We arrived at the Ashram around 6am, at which point I did some exercise and took my first bucket bath. A bucket bath is literally you standing in a bucket and pouring water over yourself. Though this was new, this seemed somewhat familiar and was quite enjoyable actually (my roommate in Berkeley often preferres bucket baths even in California).
I proceeded to meditate into the dawn hours, soaking in what I had just experienced in Israel, and what we coming up for me in India.
Ashram life is very simple. So simple in fact that I have room to make excuses about 'no time to meditate' ..
The grounds are situated in the hills near Pune, in jungle land. Even though technically this is a jungle, it feels much more like the arid agriculture of Israel, and towns like Ojai, California.
We managed to spend a quiet day in the Ashram. Eating amazingly delicious Indian food and sitting by the fire in the evening chit chatting. Meditating there is a breeze - many hours of meditation by Yogiraj have created hallowed grounds for us begginers to revel in. The feeling here is not unlike it was in many of the holy spots of Israel, except the living presence of the Teacher here really adds a whole dimension.
We follow no regular routine of discipline - it is up to each of us to discipline ourselves. Yogiraj's method is not as much to criticize, but more to support and silently guide seekers along the path. He is less of an intellectual teacher and more a supermagnet for tasting the divine in life's everyday moments & the deeper realms reached through meditation.
I'm now in the city of Pune, sitting in an internet cafe situated in some dungeon below the city streets. It's only my second day here, and so far it feels like nothing other than home.
Thank you for taking the time to read this ..