In September 2012, I came to Shree Muktananda Ashram from Argentina as a visiting sevite. One day, I was on my way to Shri Nilaya Hall to participate in satsang when I encountered Gurumayi. I was wearing a T-shirt with a hand-printed image of Ganesh, and Gurumayi noticed this straightaway. Gesturing to my T-shirt, she asked me where I had gotten it.
I said that I had purchased the shirt the previous year in Kanhangad, South India. Gurumayi asked why I had gone there. I explained that, after participating in a Pilgrimage to the Heart Retreat in Gurudev Siddha Peeth, I was drawn to Kanhangad to visit the cave where Bade Baba lived for many years before settling in the village of Ganeshpuri.
Gurumayi seemed interested in learning more about my trip and asked me to write an account of it for Shakti Punja, the Siddha Yoga archives. She added that if I had taken photos, I should include them along with my description.
Honored by Gurumayi’s request, I felt a rush of excitement about the idea of mentally revisiting Kanhangad, feeling as if Gurumayi would somehow be accompanying me. I joyfully accepted this assignment from my Guru.
That night, I began to record what I remembered from my journey. As I reached back into my experience in the cave, I found myself reliving moments of my trip and noticing details I’d overlooked at the time or had simply forgotten.
The cave where Bade Baba had lived and meditated is about five kilometers from Kanhangad, in a region known as Guruvan, which means “the Guru’s forest.” I remembered walking out of a dense forest and climbing a rocky hillside. I re-experienced my excitement as I approached the fern-covered ridge and came upon the mouth of the cave.
I was reliving my experience, but now with greater awareness and clearer perception. More and more memories began pouring forth from deep within me, like the stream that gushes out from behind rocks near the entrance to the cave. I felt immensely grateful to Gurumayi for the gift of her assignment.
I recalled how, without a moment of hesitation, I’d entered the cave, illumining my way with a flashlight. The cave was dark and damp. There was a large flat stone right by the entrance. I could imagine Bade Baba lying there, deep in meditation. Then I heard Gurumayi´s voice inside me, saying, Go on. Go farther in.
So I did. I crawled through a narrow tunnel that leads deeper into the cave. The floor was cold, and the passage grew narrower, but I was not afraid. I could feel Gurumayi´s presence urging me to keep going. Finally, the narrow tunnel opened into a small chamber. Thanking Gurumayi for having guided me to what I felt was the heart of the cave, I sat down to meditate, allowing the serene, velvety darkness around me to dissolve all thoughts. I could feel Babe Baba´s presence pulsating in every cell of my body. I felt myself being cocooned in golden light and love. I rested in this light, this love.
Each day I was in Shree Muktananda Ashram, as I followed Gurumayi’s request to reflect on and describe my visit to Kanhangad, before opening my computer, I would envision myself once again entering deep into that cave in the forest. And I would meditate there for a few moments. As I did this, I felt as if I were undertaking a profound and sacred journey. Just as Gurumayi’s voice had led me farther, into the heart of that cave in Guruvan, I now experienced that following her request to document my visit was leading me farther inside myself, into the cave of my Heart. I felt I had found a source of peace, fullness and contentment—a holy place I could return to easefully and at any time, a gift of the Guru´s grace.
A few days later, I saw Gurumayi again. This time she asked how I was doing with my account. I exclaimed, “Wow!” and shared my awe at how much I was remembering and appreciating about my visit to Kanhangad—how much I hadn’t noticed at the time.
Gurumayi laughed and, with a loving look, said, “So, you are like Sheik Nasruddin!” Later that day, I learned that a story told by Gurumayi, “Sheik Nasruddin and his Donkey” had just been featured on the Siddha Yoga path website. When I read the story, an inner smile illumined my being and my understanding.
In this story, Nasruddin, a character from the Sufi tradition, brought his old donkey to the marketplace to have it auctioned off. When he heard the auctioneer praising the animal to the potential buyers, however, Nasruddin gained new appreciation for the animal and ended up buying it back himself.
I was wonder-struck by the connection. I saw how it wasn’t until Gurumayi expressed interest in my visit to Kanhangad and asked me to write about it that I began to gain full appreciation of all that had led me to that amazing place and the treasures I experienced while there.
Engaging with Gurumayi’s request was the beginning of a huge shift in perspective for me. Since then I have become much more mindful, developing a subtler and deeper appreciation of my life and sadhana. I now know that if I connect to the Heart, I am able to perceive wonders. For example, when gathering and contemplating the photographs in the gallery I was preparing for Shakti Punja, I felt as if I were diving into a multidimensional sensory experience: inhaling the scents of nature, listening to the varied jungle and waterfall sounds, and attuning to the Divine in everything. These days, each day during my early morning walk in a nearby natural reserve, I perceive the landscape as if I were experiencing it for the first time. I feel reverence and gratitude for being able to roam in the temple of nature and to connect with God’s presence there.
I have also realized how easy it is to become caught up in the hectic pace of my life and forget how blessed I am. Reflecting on my experience in Kanhangad led me to understand that it takes a subtle self-effort to pause and truly take notice of all the tiny, yet extraordinary, things in my everyday life: a warm cup of coffee, my children’s smiles, the sound of falling rain, sunshine, the fragrance of chocolate chip cookies baking in my house. If I practice scanning for the little things that I appreciate, I just might be connecting to gratitude all day long!
Most of all, I now more deeply than ever appreciate my amazing good fortune to have Gurumayi guiding my way as I walk this blessed Siddha Yoga path. I trust that following my Guru’s guidance will always take me where I am destined to abide—in the light of the Heart. And for this I am forever grateful.