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Date Published: June 20, 2012

The mist rolled up thickly through the mountain towards me while the pine trees stood stoically allowing the ghostly clouds to float by without resistance. My chest pounded lightly as I decided to face the veil and continue on my path regardless of the evanescent clarity.

As I advanced, the space around me remained transparent; only the distance cradled the unknown but I trusted I would remember where the sunset. It wasn’t necessary to visualize it now to know where it would bow down for the day. Jumping off the dirt road, my jeans protected my legs from the pink prickly thistles. Following the trail of previously trampled grass, I observed the loose soil containing holes; some furry creatures must inhabit them. Crisp seed heads crunched under my weight and filled my hi-tops as I marched on ignoring the uncomfortable sensation on the soles of my feet.

I turned to look towards the distant hill on the West to realize I was still too high up. Soon, a spot before me lured and invited me to settle down. Two birds swirled in the air and followed each other playfully from one bush to the next while crickets coordinated their chirping in a homogenous vibration. Below us trees, houses and sensual hills extended my gaze toward the hidden California ocean.

In recognition of my effort, the Sun appeared behind the white sky disguised as a full moon: round and bright, allowing me to admire it without the painful glare. Closer to the earth, a skirt of rays illumined the horizon and my heart smiled in gratitude. The infinite stillness of nature resonated in my being.

My open disposition provoked awareness and the mist around me became a message of the obscurity in my mind. The liveliness and awe within me quickly turned into a storm as dormant energies awakened in me and shook me up. Hot tears squeezed out of my eyes while the sleeves on my jacket sympathized and supported me. I had already been in the redwood forest on Mount Madonna for three days, patiently waiting for the magic to come to me. It was here to be found, wasn’t it? Roaming in the world, I make a conscious effort to look out for grace revealing itself. Why did I expect it to be different here?

Baba Hari Dass (Babaji), an enlightened Silent monk, is the heart of this retreat center which he founded in 1974. When I arrived last Thursday afternoon, he was in the main hall sitting on his chair, engulfed by the devotion of the residents and ready to welcome any new guest who walked through the doors. His eyebrows shot up in open attention as I enthusiastically approached and knelt down in front of him. At 5pm, it was already dinner time and with a hand gesture he encouraged me to join them. I came back with my vegetarian meal and sat down for what would be the first of many conversations with this master yogi.

Sitting around him were followers who have been here over two decades; now they were assisting in the communication, reading out the messages scribbled on Babaji’s digital pad: brief, yet profoundly meaningful and demanding contemplation. “Determination and sacrifice keep your path clear”. “Youth is your greatest obstacle”. It was too soon to understand and I set the intention to create spaciousness around them so I wouldn’t jump to conclusions to what they meant. Soon after, the scene was that of a beloved grandfather sharing his love and inspiring through his being. Jokes and giggles ensued as he tried to set me up with the men in the room. That night, the best I could do to honor his advice was to set up my alarm clock for 6am to participate in the meditation and yoga class the next morning. Without doubt, a sacrifice.

Our second encounter was on Saturday. My pranayama and meditation course was on a long break and I rushed out and into the room full of people with my focus on this realized Soul. I observed within me a hesitation, I didn’t want to be greedy taking up his time. What should I ask him? Since I arrived, I was having a hard time remembering everyone’s name because they were mostly unfamiliar spiritual aliases, given to them by Babaji. I sensed a resistance to this cultural habit and opened myself to consider it’s benefits. Through that process, I understood that a Master can see beyond our form to the essence of our individual souls and give us a name that emphasizes our qualities. By listening to our virtues repeatedly, we can focus on them and let them bloom to light our path.

A small pad of paper with images of a butterfly and a peacock was handed over to me. “Write your name and birth date”. Suddenly, a wide grin appeared on Babaji’s face, we shared the same birthday. Something inside me lit up… I knew there was something more to our connection! Patiently I waited with closed eyes, open to receive his blessings. The paper came back to me and as I read Nayana of Durga (goddess), I sensed it resonated with me. I didn’t know what it meant… so I googled it.

‘Durga is the warrior aspect of the Divine Mother, existing in a state of independence from the universe and fierce compassion. She fights the demons to preserve moral order and righteousness in the creation. Manifesting fearlessness and patience, she never looses her sense of humor, even during spiritual battles of epic proportions.’ I fell in love with the name as I saw how it related to me. The lion she rides on symbolizes the courage it takes to embrace life fully. The name has a deep personal meaning and inspiration; yet certainly no intention of changing how I’m addressed. As I marched up the misty mountain with tears flowing down my cheeks, I began to ask myself, where’s the warrior!?! How can you be so asleep in the presence of an enlightened soul?! When else will you have the opportunity to sit for hours with so much wisdom? The picture I took of the beautiful Shiva statue mediating in the forest flooded my mind. Attaining powerful peace requires the determination and courage of a warrior. With an obscured view, my focus drew inwards. As I battled my demons the mist began to lift and I had glimpses of the harmony beyond. The fire rekindled within me and with it the focus to make the most of my time with Baba Hari Dass.

Tuesday, I set forth a sharpened level of devotional energy. In the half hour before the Yoga Sutras session, I asked him to give me a mantra that would be appropriate for my unravelling. My journal bowed before his wise hands and with a pen, the power of these sanskrit words burned into my heart. I asked him for the meaning behind them and he shared it with me on his pad. Solely for my knowledge. The rest of the day was spent sitting close by reading one of his books and writing questions on my journal to hand over to him for answers. Self-aware of the sincerity in my heart, gone was my hesitation and concern that I was taking up too much of his time. I waited respectfully for him to turn to me with an outstretched hand. As he focused on my questions his eyebrows timely arched up and behind them, I imagined the magical process of the cosmic mind. His handwriting on my journal spoke Truth.

I’ve inhaled the beauty of six sunsets at Mount Madonna and have another four more opportunities to loose myself, mesmerized by the transformation of day into night. I also have another two powerfully blessed days left to share with Babaji. Choosing to silence my external voice today, my focus has gone inwards towards deep contemplation. Silence aids in stilling the mind and allows communication to be simply being, subtle energies of peace and love floating in the air. It can also be in the form of an unexpected post on a silent blog. : )

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