L E T T E R – A Learning Nonetheless – The Broad Place
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L E T T E R – A Learning Nonetheless

On Sunday evening, I very excitedly went to see one of my favourite teachers Sri M who is out from India in Australia for a 3-hour discourse and ‘presentation’. I know one of the wonderful women helping organise it, who resides near Sri M’s ashram and helps out, and we were both very thrilled at how long this event was going for. It was an hour from our home, near Arran’s parents’ house, and we planned the whole day around me attending. Sri M has a huge Indian following and is not really known in the West outside of this, so I was interested to see how the afternoon/evening was going to go.

I arrived like the nerd I am, at the recommended time of half an hour early, and saw two Indian men chatting amongst themselves. I have found that if I continually get out of my own way, and simply chat with strangers, interesting things usually happen. So I went up and introduced myself, and they very kindly asked how I know Sri M’s teachings and we exchanged talk about the Retreats we have been on and what we love best about his teachings and so on. I found it delightful. Then one of the men said something in Hindi to the other, and he indicated to ask me directly. So one of the men said, ‘I have been given 10 of the most wonderful prints of a drawing’ and he showed one to me and asked did I know who it was. The drawing was really beautiful, and I replied that it was Ramana Maharshi. He asked if I would like one of these special prints, and of course, I said I would love one. Music had started playing so I tucked it away in my notebook and found my seat on the floor, with a little glow of gratitude for the kind exchange.

More people in beautiful sari’s and kurta’s arrived and started seating while the music kept playing. My lovely friends Lee, Martine and Anna all arrived. A lot of time passed and then Sri M arrived, very humbly, and he sat on a chair and listened to the music. Then the musician stopped, and by this stage, I was getting severely uncomfortable and trying not to fidget and I thought, excellent, now Sri M will start to speak! He, however, said something along the lines of oh no I love it, please continue. The musician kept playing for another 30 minutes then another little group came on to the make shift stage, and started another set. I’m attempting patience, but truly wishing Sri M would begin to talk soon. I looked up at him as we were sitting really close, and he gave me a smile and then a strange smirk as if he could read my mind and knew exactly what I was thinking.

I then semi­-ashamedly pretended to really enjoy the music (it’s fine to laugh at me at this point). After two hours of sitting, I had to go to the bathroom, and as there was no speaking, I couldn’t chat with my friends and check if they were wondering also what was going on. I was outside when my friend, the organiser came up and grabbed me slightly breathlessly. She explained she too was devastated, but as they were walking into the venue, Sri M had said tonight there would be no discourse, just listening to, and enjoying the music. I looked at her with my mouth open. She said it was going to be very challenging as no one knew and everyone was there waiting to hear him speak. I suddenly got anguished as my family were waiting for me, all enjoying a special dinner with visiting relatives and I was stuck in a hall listening for another 2 hours to music?? I explained to her that I had a family dinner on I was missing and what should I do? She looked at me sharply and said to go enjoy the dinner! I replied that I felt rude leaving early (being the nerd I was of course up the front really close to Sri M) and couldn’t possibly leave. She said, ‘Jac, Sir would not be offended if you chose your family’and I realised that any authentic teacher would far prefer we followed our hearts over sit at their feet any day or night. I asked her if she knew why the talk was not taking place, and she said interestingly this morning he did a huge talk on how music was a channel for transcendence and we should engage with it as much as any teachings, as there was no intellect involved in it. We both joked perhaps he was driving that message home tonight.

So I snuck back in, whispered to the girls what was happening and that I was leaving, and took my things and looked at him and mouthed I am sorry, and he gave me the biggest smile. Arran came to pick me up and I had a wonderful time with my family and was home early which was heaven.

The reason I am sharing this lengthy story is that when I came home I sat in our lounge, and held the drawing of Ramana Maharishi and Arran asked if I was disappointed. I definitely was not. I realised that there are two huge similarities in the teachings of both Sri M and Ramana Maharishi and they are to live a life of integrity, to be a whole person, and to not get hung up on the distractions on the path. I didn’t need to hear Sri M talk to make the night perfect, or to write down a thousand little notes. Funnily, I learnt more from him not talking. I moved past trying to ‘stick out the night’ and worrying about what he and the other guests might think of me leaving early, and did what felt right without using my intellect.

AS Sri M says, “No one need shave his head or wear special headgear or ochre robes or run away from all that one holds dear. No Sir! You may live in this world and do your duties, earn your livelihood, look after those that need your help, spread the fragrance of love and service, and yet remember to keep in touch with your true Self, the spark from the great fire, the drop from the great ocean, by meditating regularly, so that,in the spotless clear mirror of your heart, Divinity’s reflection glows. From your heart, then, will the serene rays of the spirit proceed and fill other hearts with bliss.”

Sent with love,

Jac x

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