Friday, October 20th 2017

The end of desire II: Passage to India

Inspired by female mystics, Pamela Wilson and Neelam, a medical student drops out, has a peak experience in India, and becomes “Nirmala”

(Read the first part of this two-part series)

freedombutterflysmallGUEST COLUMN: NIRMALA — After being in the presence of Pamela and Neelam, I just couldn’t let this desire for Freedom go. I had the sense that there was surgery going on in my chest, like it had been ripped open.

Despite the fact that I absolutely knew there was nothing I could do about it, now that I had admitted I wanted this freedom more than anything, I could never turn back to my old life.

So, I gave my share in our house to my wife and quit medical school.

Freedom happens

It’s certainly not necessary to have a spouse leave you, give away your house, drop out of school, or quit your job, to be free, but I did all that so that I could follow Neelam through Europe and on to India.

A few weeks later, something Neelam said in a satsang helped me to realize, in the same way  I had realized there was nothing I could do to get freedom, that there was nothing I had to fix about myself to achieve this freedom. In fact, trying to fix myself had been a lifelong task and a huge burden.

It’s not getting what you want, but wanting what you’ve got

I had participated in endless workshops, training in self-improvement techniques I used as attempts to become a better person. Finally, I understood that none of that was necessary: not only was there nothing I could do to become free, but fortunately there was now the recognition that neither was there anything I had to do to become free.

This story could stop here because from that point forward I just became happier and happier. Even awakening and freedom no longer mattered. I was perfectly happy the way things were. This was the letting go of the desire for freedom that Hale had spoken about.

India: Finding yourself in the rocks by the Ganges

ganges2Eventually, we went on to India and ended up near Rishikesh at an ashram called Phool Chatti in the jungle on the banks of the Ganges. There, we spent our days in satsang with Neelam and our nights singing devotional songs. Often late at night after everyone had gone to sleep, I would sit by the river along a stretch of ten-foot tall rapids. The river was an incredible roaring presence of rushing white-water in the darkness.

One night, as I was sitting there under the full moon, I recognized that the rock that I was leaning on was me — “Oh, yeah, this is me; this rock is inside of me.” Once I realized that about that rock, I saw the same was true of all the rocks in the huge field of boulders along the river’s edge.

Then, since the rocks were so obviously “me,” the river was obviously “me” too, not just this stretch of the river but the entire Ganges from one end of India to the other. Very quickly, I saw that not just the river, but the whole continent was “me.”

It struck me as obvious that it was all inside “me”—and then it was the whole world and the whole solar system and the entire galaxy and the universe. This kept going until the mind couldn’t keep up. There was no longer any possibility of my mind containing all of this endless space, and yet it was all “me” in the same way that one of my limbs was “me.”

An infinity of space and time is captured in each Soul’s Code

n-and-pupsThen there was a wonderful moment when “me” included not only infinity in terms of space, but “popped” to include all time. It was obviously who I had always been, and it included all the past and all the future. Then I laughed and laughed and rolled around in the gravel because it was suddenly so silly that I had imagined myself to have suffered. I had always been so free that I was even free to have this illusion of not being free. That’s how complete the freedom is. So, I just laughed and laughed.

What I realized in that moment is that all there is and ever has been is Awakeness. There’s no need for awakening in awakeness itself. All of life is just the play of this that has always been fully awake. I would like to emphasize that the specifics of this experience are not important.

This awakeness/consciousness, like the snow flakes of a snowstorm, does not reveal this profound truth the same way twice. What is important is the transformation of perspective that the realization allows.

Nirmala is a spiritual teacher in the Advaita tradition of nondual spiritual teachings. He is the author of several books, including Nothing Personal: Seeing Beyond the Illusion of a Separate Self. See Nirmala’s free ebooks at Endless Satsang.

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