I’ve lost count of the days. I think we’ve been here three weeks? A month? I should have written every day and then it would be easy to count. But I’ve been living the experience. That’s more important than recording it.
Had to write about this though. We had a field trip today to a temple. I think this was promised at some point in the sales pitch by Swami Veddy. Given that I never heard the sales pitch I had no expectations other than Jenn told me we were coming here to meditate and commune with spiritual whatever. Anyway.
The temple was in a cave. So I finally got to a cave. Funny, right?
It’s a pretty big place, carved deep into the rocks with pillars and separate areas for worshipping Shiva in one part, Parvati in another part, and they tell me that there’s one holy day a year where the way it’s built the sun shines through the pointers on a trident sculpture outside and right down into the cave. Like an underground Stonehenge.
A family was undergoing some kind of ritual with water. The entrance is right on top, in the “roof.” It’s been built over so it really looks like the roof of a building, only irregularly shaped. This isn’t what you’d think a sacred cave would look like if you wrote about it in a fantasy book or something. That’s the thing, though. Enlightenment probably doesn’t look the way people expect either and that’s why it’s so hard to find.
I’m still not talking so I didn’t ask any questions at the cave. I was content to wander and see and experience and soak things in.
God, the people. There are so many people here. There are roving bands of chanting monks and throngs of families and just plain THRONGS. I can understand Jenn being a little freaked. I was a little freaked. But I don’t think Veddy’s about to let any of us get kidnapped or something because I would bet that would be bad for his little ashram-getaway business plan. Besides nothing bad was going to happen to her when everyone there was looking at her. I get that it freaked her that everyone was staring at her but she was making it so obvious she was the only white woman movie star there. Why did she change out of her kameez and put on sunglasses? Did she think some paparazzi were going to be there and she wanted to look glamorous? Put a damn scarf over your hair and long sleeves if you don’t want people staring at you. Everyone else went in the kameez and salwar we were given when we got here. Kameez has to be the same word as camisa, doesn’t it? It’s a tunic blouse thing, and salwar are the baggy pants that go along with it. I don’t understand her.
I think the thing that freaked her out the most is that she lost me while I was standing practically right next to her. Because I blend in with the crowd. I can make myself invisible. It’s especially easy because I’ve browned up since we got here. I’ve been sitting on the roof for some meditation sessions and I’m looking varnished. (Sorry mama) And this has always been true: my face could be almost any face from almost any sunny part of the world.
I am this close to being able to disappear completely. It isn’t death I’m seeking. It isn’t oblivion in the traditional sense. It’s death of the ego, only the ego, I’m seeking, and that’s something I don’t even have a word for.