Kashmir

I have this habit of doing some accounting of my life. Checks and balances in previously undefined intervals. Definitely avoiding birthdays and new years loaded with emotions. I mostly choose random hiatus moments between
transitions in life to do this exercise. Moving from one city to another, from one profession to another, from one connection to none or another. Funny, for many people those phenomena in life: home, profession, social circle remain pretty much constant. My restless fiery drive keeps me on the move, even if all other variables remain more or less constant (not that they ever do)

So I arrive in Srinagar; making another move towards a new puja mind and heart burdened with my accounting exercise. I ask myself where was I and where did I get to? Which of the many lives I have visited really suits my  complexion? Where do I want to go? All I heard was a dark silence in my head. Not a happy one: an audible, almost touchable darkness covering everything else underneath. The response of the heart was even worse. Total numbness, as if I don`t love anyone, especially myself; as if there is no love flowing in my direction. Again a dark, nasty numbness blocking all the sweetness and joy out there. The mind generates all kind of explanations from scientific (PMS, reaction to remedies as a healing crisis, anxiety due to leaving yet another settled routine…) to spiritual (purification before the puja, loss of connection with the flow, a temporary darkness shadowing the soul). And the very mind is annoyed of all these attempts to explain the so-not-significant-nor -interesting state of my being and
just wants to enjoy the voluptuousness of suffering. Yes; we human beings tend to enjoy that dark hole, dig our nose deeper and deeper into our own crap. The cheerful curiosity and enthusiasm of my travel companions excited for their first puja experience feels like a burden on my shoulders. I feel invaded by these bubbly states; I take a deep relaxing breath only after meeting old friends who have travelled this path before, who are happy to be here but calm, just ready. Yes, joy, lightness, flirtation not welcome, I get annoyed even witnessing them. Here is a good question; is this the exact time to dig deeper and search what is the underlying cause of all these reactions? Am I just escaping a tough process of self-confrontation? Or is it my intuition telling me to accept this shit on the surface and surrender to the process of the puja trusting that some truth will be unravelled just by being in this flow. As for now, I am following the second option. I watch the amazing green while others are chitchatting. The contact with the cracks in the mountains, the bluish transparent colour of the rivers, my rebellious pony annoyed by its sherpa, the reflection of the trees on the lake is sooo much more fulfilling than any human connection right now. Although it is the very human contact – or lack of it thereof-has probably pushed me to this state.

After entering the military-camp like airport of Srinagar and getting lost in the city we touched base with the puja group. As said before; finding my little community gave me comfort; a few greetings later I could slip into my silence waiting for the intro meeting to start. But then I saw Guruji walking towards me in the crowd. Despite the two strong puja experiences mostly taking place in his home I never had much of a personal contact with him. It was part of my surrender to his work; not asking for a particular attention to my ego. So he reached me smiling while I was sitting in the circle with my fellows; I gave him a greeting which in my body language translates as humble and sincere but a bit formal. I thought that he’d move on to go where he was meaning to head to. Then I realized he indeed stood up from his seat, crossed the garden just to give me a loving hug. Yes, they kind of know what we actually need.

Kashmir

This puja aims to purify Anahata, the heart chakra. I want to have a clearer understanding of what is going on\wrong in that level of consciousness. What is preventing `love` from flowing in and out? What is making me feel heavy, void of joy and enthusiasm, killing my playfulness at times like this? What is making me afraid of being hurt? All that and many more questions about the heart. It is one big topic by itself so I come back to the puja experience. During each puja we visit a sacred tantric hotpot and do a specific sadhana (spiritual practice) there. This puja started with a trip to Kashmiri mountains to attend the Amarnath Yatra. Amarnath hosts the cave of Lord Shiva. From the cracks
of the cave walls appears a little waterfall. Each year the Mother carves a lingam out of the frozen waterfall representing the masculine principle; supreme consciousness. Play of Shakti carries the sadhaks (spiritual practitioners) to Lord Shiva. It is my habit to avoid reading about the venue we`ll visit. I prefer to know nothing, have no expectation and just accept the experience. This time I tried the same although it was more difficult as we had to be prepared to go through a rough hike up to the cave, prevent altitude sickness, bring warm cloths and have all of our documents in order for the official registration process. Having received multiple emails and warnings
about the conditions I didn’t know what to expect, but now that I have the comfi pony-ride up and down behind me I cannot help thinking back of my mountaineering days climbing up much tougher and longer tracks on foot with 80 lt. backpacks. Still it was great fun to ride on a little pony watching the breath taking view of the mountains (and
imagining the sarcastic smiles of my mountaineering buddies at the back of my neck). Such an amazing combination of green and blue. Mountains not covered but decorated by the trees grouped in forms of crescents. Numerous waterfalls; transparent wild rivers uniting all the hills. I can still visualize the beauty when I close my eyes. The logistics was primitive but very comfortable given the fact that we were a more than 3 thou km altitude. Numerous tents were set up by the cave. Their doors facing each other across narrow alleys. At the entrance of each tent there were little stands displaying malas, spiritual artefacts and many many tiny little objects I have no interest in. Further inside the tents the stand owners arranged blankets and pillows on a platform to rent the space to the visitors. It was so comfy and cosy to share that space with 9 other fellows; visiting the Lord and coming back to our own little cave, meditating together all dressed in white supporting the ones suffering from the high altitude just by being there. The entire camp is built on this support. People calling you to their tents offering Prasad, a whole meal for free for sadhaks, almost feel offended when you don’t accept their invitation.

I cannot write much about the actual practice there. I visited the Lord twice and on both occasions he took away a big chunk of the load in my heart I was carrying.

Now we are back in Srinagar; much sooner than planned, practicing, visiting a few remaining references of Kashmiri Shaivism teachings, admiring the amazing nature, buying pashminas for the loved ones back home and waiting for the second round in the middle of India.

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