Updated: Apr 22, 2021
Many years ago, when I was living in an ashram (monastery) - an extremely fortunate and auspicious destiny - it was the occasion of my birthday. I am not even sure which one, probably in my early thirties back then (as I ponder from the vast distance of a 65 year old! :) My birthday falls during the summer - August 14 - so typically my teacher would be in residence during that time. This was fortunate as it would usually give me the opportunity to offer her a gift during an evening program that traditionally took place during summers. (This was how we typically honored our birthdays vis-a-vis our teacher. That, and offering little gifts to other ashram residences, such as chocolates or cards with sweet sayings.)
That birthday morning, I was descending down the stairs from my room to the main lobby area and my teacher happened to be out and sitting in what was referred to as the “Namaste Room.” It is here here that she was sometimes meet with people for various reasons.
As I made my way from the stairs and into the lobby, I - of course - turned and offered my salutations in the form of a “Namascar” (hands in prayer position) and inclined my head toward her before rushing (and, that is one of the operative words here!) off to breakfast and the work (seva) I offered at that time in the ashram.
In the moment of offering my salutations, my teacher looked at me; and as she did so from inside clearly arose the message, “Come in.”
Now, you have to understand, that on the level of mind and protocol, one NEVER just barged in to the Namaste Room. I, in particular, knew this as an ashram resident. I had a fraction of a second to decide. Would I follow this inner invitation or allow the outer protocol-which certainly has its place (I am, by no means, saying otherwise!) to direct what came next. Well, I chose the latter though briefly there was a sense of misgiving and the faint aroma of having capitulated to a conditioned and therefore not a bold and fearless response. But, I forgave myself and continued on my way...
Flash forward to that evening. Holding a lovely gardenia plant as a gift, a flower I knew my teacher really liked, I was waiting in darshan line to share with my teacher my birthday news and offer her this floral gift. (Darshan describes when one is in the presence of. It has a deeper meaning than that though I won’t go into that here.) My turn finally came to approach my teacher. I came before her and shared my birthday news as I gave her my gift.
She looked at me, radiant and beautiful, and with a smile, said, “I wanted to give you a pair of earrings this morning, but you walk so fast.” Then she smiled her mischievous smile and described that she went ahead and gave them to someone else, imparting a metaphorical shrugging of the shoulders as if to say - What else was I to do?!
“Oooh,” I responded. “Oh, well.” And, I - in turn - smiled. And, probably a few words were exchanged beyond that.
I am sure she did give me a little gift in that Darshan. She would do that. But, as I walked away, I knew what the real gift had been. She had spoken to me that morning inwardly. And, I had not trusted enough, and been fearless enough, to accept her invitation.
“...but, you walk so fast,” she had said. With this, she was telling me that within me there is the capability to receive and live from great wisdom and knowing. Just slow down, trust, and let it happen. Honor the language of the heart and live from there, that great freedom...
“...but, you walk so fast,” she had said.
March 14, 2021