On the day of the performance, we all attended our regular spiritual programs and Japa meditation session. About forty-five minutes into the session, while everyone was quietly chanting and meditating, a loud voice suddenly boomed through the temple hall, interrupting our peace: “Who is Yamuna? The king has sent a palanquin for you!” We were all stunned and looked in the direction of the sound, only to see our shy friend had unknowingly blurted out his dialogue at full volume. Although we couldn’t help but laugh at his unintended outburst, he was understandably embarrassed.
While we were physically present in the sacred temple space, our friend was mentally immersed in his internal struggle to perfect his dialogue delivery. He was determined to solve this problem and was so absorbed in his own world that his performance manifested in the external world, much to his embarrassment.
Despite the unexpected disruption to our meditation session, we were all grateful for the humor and lightness our friend brought to the situation. We knew that, in his own way, he was fully committed to his role in the play and had put in the effort to overcome his shyness and deliver his lines with confidence.
Shelter (Peace experiencer)
My driver had been awake for the past 55 hours, and unfortunately, I was trapped in the vehicle with him. We were on a tour of villages in Eastern India and had set off towards the holy city of Puri before dawn. I asked him why he hadn’t rested in the past two days, and he admitted that he had been busy arranging and concluding various programs for my whirlwind tour. As he swerved and turned on the narrow roads, I grew anxious. Driving through the remote areas of Orissa, he tried to reassure me that he was experienced and would get us to our destination safely. Though he was driving, I sat beside him and imagined that I was in control of the vehicle. While outwardly chanting my prayers on the beads, inwardly, I was struggling – navigating the vehicle through the rough terrain, in the wee hours of the morning.
I kept engaging the driver in conversation to keep him awake, and regularly checked on him to reassure myself that I was secure. In reality, however, I was completely helpless and dependent on him. After an hour of this harrowing ordeal, I realized that it had drained me of all my energy, and my Japa session had become a distracted performance. I desperately needed to let go and enter the surrender zone.
I finally took a leap of faith and told the driver to only wake me when we arrived in Puri. I closed my eyes and focused on my chanting, despite my mind’s wild wanderings and fears as the car navigated sharp turns. Despite my urges to look at the driver or seek reassurance, I kept returning to my mantra and breathing deeply. Gradually, my mind relaxed and I entered a state of peace and surrender. Time passed unnoticed, and when the driver finally called out to me as we approached the outskirts of Puri, I felt a profound sense of joy and belonging. Even before arriving at the holy land of Jagannath Puri, I had already found a sense of home within myself.
To be continued….