“Teacher,” she said, “I am in an indistinct zone. What is this, where and why, I believe you know it all. I trust, you not only have the capacity but are destined to help me out of this mishmash I am lost in. I was always certain of the person I was; but not any more. It was a delusion, I now know, that I felt was not only true but was all there was to me. The person I am today seems insubstantial, undefined, without root and strength, and without its own truth. Try as I might, the person I would be, which Vedanta insists I already am, is right now unavailable to me. No matter how much I have waited for it to descend or pull me up to itself, I sit empty here before you.”
She paused with spiritual exhaustion, then continued. “I can’t bear it, not by myself, because the lies I had cast my lot with till now refuse to cede their hold. There is an identity ceiling that keeps me within and denies even a whiff of the reality I have begun to appreciate intellectually. Teacher, the only time I have attained true calm about my spiritual future, and have gained a little conviction of reaching my true home, has been in your cleansing presence, through the conversations we have had. I recover from this insane object oriented identity already upon me when I look upon you, think of you, hear your words, and see you in my mind.”
I was halted by Millie’s exceptionally bold and clear look upon me. But this was something I could not leave unsaid.
“Nobody, not even they, can do little of the doing on your behalf, Millie. That is your own exclusive preserve. It is necessarily your call to act and persevere in your practice, renouncing apparent opportunities to please or pleasure yourself, and keep inching forward towards the one supreme goal. And you must start now, by keeping yourself steady, trusting yourself and your choice, because that spiritual quest is sanctioned and its paths are ordained by Lord Shiva himself. He is always there for those who are devoted to truth. You must remember him, beseech him to purify you and make your heart worthy of hosting his presence. From the moment he consents and descends upon your heart, you must trust him always, no matter what.”
Millie heard me out with a straight face that had melted of self-pity, and looked at me through moistened eyes. But abruptly, soon after I had finished, she slowly hung her head down, bent forward low and lower till her forehead touched the berth on which we both were seated. She cried ever so softly that its purity touched my heart. Seeing her body heave with her sobs left my mind clouded and numb. Wishing deeply for her strength, I placed my hand on her back, feeling her trial and vowing support as best as I could. With that resolved, I raised my hand and placed it gently on the back of her head. I let it be until she felt my unspoken intent. The sobbing ebbed shortly and she raised her half prostrate form just a little to dry the tears on her face. Straightening up, head still bent, she joined her palms and brought it to her forehead, and remained thus to communicate her surrender. It was a gesture expressive of her silent request to be helped through the spiritual crisis storming over her soul.
Frozen with the mammoth calling in the moment, I sat in my acceptance of Millie’s non-verbal cry. A little later, we both looked at each other in quiet understanding; there was a tacit approval of each other and mutual consent for an association that would be irrevocable in our lifetimes. It took quite a while however for us to resume our surface personalities, to being the warm light-hearted selves we normally were. We gazed out of our respective windows in silence till the soft streaming rattle of the wheels suddenly broke with a garbled loudness. It shook our bones and brought reassuring smiles to our faces. We had entered the sprawling yard of Tundla Junction, where people going to Agra will disembark along with the locals.
Extract from forthcoming work : The Extended Being