gatineau morning.

gatineau morning.
photo by douglas mcarthur.

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Height.

     There didn’t appear to be a lot of life up at the top of the ridge.  Initially at least, sitting there looking down on the valley, the feeling was somewhat desolate, like I had entered into an alternate reality, deserted, very quiet.  There must be some sort of life still, I thought, it was just not apparent.  Aside from the grass and a few trees, there seemed to be nothing.  I felt utterly alone.  Of course, there was that timeless quality that such places possess, where there is no perceptible movement, where change is a foreign concept.  So I sat for a while.  I let the peace and the quietude of the place wash over me.   
      The river moved circuitously through the valley far below.  That’s very familiar.  It’s a furious, fast, glacier river.  Swamiji used to say, way back when the constant, rushing water was virtually the only noise in the area, that its sound washed away our minds.  That was during those days when we ate, meditated and slept to the sound of the river running through our heads.  We’d walk along its rocky shoreline; shoot the rapids on hot days, sit up on the cliffs above it.  We’d never be far away from its influence.
     Once, sometime in the late 70s or early 80s, Jyoti Baba, Manoj and I went down to the river with Swamiji on a hot summer’s afternoon.  We took a dip, sat on rocks and I remember Swami talking about how the river starts with one drop and ends up an ocean, how one drop of water, in fact, contains the whole ocean.  Eventually, we made our way slowly up the side of the cliff toward the ashram.  At a place I never knew existed, not far from the top, Swami led us into a cave in which we meditated for some time.  In that cave, sitting within a silence the river or our thoughts could not penetrate, our minds certainly did dissolve.  Some meditations stay with you through the life.  That was one of those for me.   
     When we came out of the cave and began again to climb up, Swami warned us to be careful because, as he put it, we still were not entirely ‘in our bodies.’  Even still, at a point right near the top, Manoj jumped ahead to help Swami over a rough patch, lost his footing and plummeted literally hundreds of feet down the cliff, all the way to the bottom.  Swami, Jyoti Baba and I stood on the side looking down incredulously.  There was nothing we could do.  Miraculously, after a minute or two, Manoj jumped up and waved.  He’d landed in some bushes.  Had he landed two feet on either side, he would have been into the rocks.    
     The river sound now is all but drowned out by the traffic.  It pretends to have lost its dominance over the years, as the population exploded and buildings sprang up everywhere along the road.  Strangely, one hears the river now more clearly the further up the mountain one climbs.  Up at the ridge, although distant, the river almost seems to remind you very subtly of the simple fact that nature will always be in control.
     I let the peace and the quietude of the ridge wash over me.  And as I sat there, before I drifted further into the surroundings, I recalled something I had read in a book, by David Frawley, called; Vedanta Meditation.  He wrote, and I am paraphrasing, that if one has truly matured in ones meditation practice, one never feels lonely or alone.  Because that man or woman knows beyond any doubt, and in a very visceral way, that life is everywhere.

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