Reflections on a Walking Pilgrimage to Ammachi’s Ashram

Some beautiful reflections from my fellow walking pilgrim to Ammachi’s ashram last weekend in Castro Valley, California. Prakashbhai (“bhai” meaning brother) is a lifelong yogi, founder of Yogasophy and a humble servant of Mother Nature.

Thank you, Ripa, for sharing the writing, being part of the walking pilgrimage and encouraging me to share my reflections and stories.

First, reflections I shared at the Wednesday sitting. Solitude to me is an experience, one like practicing Yoga, or an experience like the one at the Wednesday sittings with a group of seekers. Where everyone seems to be alone, yet deeply connected as a satsangha (community). It’s an experience similar to our walking pilgrimage to Ammachi’s.

This experience seems to magnify by deeply listening to others’ stories in the circle, which I experienced by listening to everyone’s stories and reflections. Another thought from the passage was the distinction between “Aloneness” vs. “Loneliness.” I like what you said about aloneness — that the word “alone” itself has “all” and “one” — giving that subtle hint that being alone leads to a deeper awareness that we are “all one.” A quote comes to mind —

We are all one, otherwise we are no one.”

As for the word “loneliness,” this to me, seems to signify boredom, or being disconnected from one’s true nature. Isolated. Stagnated in spiritual growth and so on. As an antidote to this, a quote from a wise person comes to mind:

Someone who knows how to be with books, never gets bored in life.

As for the walking pilgrimage to Ammachi’s, it all started as a distinct thought, almost like lightning. I’m not exactly sure when the thought arose; perhaps as I was walking to the community garden one morning. It remained as a fertile seed in my sub-conscious mind for a while, waiting to be germinated.

I believe that seed received the nourishment to germinate by Ammachi’s visit, beautiful weather and your enthusiasm to walk along (thank you for that).

View of the San Ramon hills we hiked up at dawn (photo courtesy of Sanbeiji from Flickr)

Any walk to me is an experience of what Jayeshbhai said so beautifully (W = Witness nature all around, A = Accept the circumstances, L = Love self and all, and K = Know thy self). This walk was yet another opportunity to witness all of these four acronyms: “witnessing” the beauty of the pre-dawn sun, fresh breezes, lovely flowers, fresh water creeks, flowing hills and valleys with diverse habitat (rabbits, cows, deers, horses etc). The really hot mid-morning sun, gusty wind that almost pushed us backwards, the heavy things we had to carry, horrible roadkill and all the harm we humans are doing to Mother Nature in the form of plastic wastes thrown all around. Learning to “accept” all these positive and negative circumstances with enthusiasm. Taking every next step as a reminder that “life is beautiful” and thanking the step before. Braving against all odds (including my own mind doubting if we will be able to cover all the distance in time for your dance class) did finally seem to help me “love self” (my legs and shoulders for sure), and I hope in the end was a step towards “knowing the self.”

I was very happy that I was able to offer my shoulders for your backpack weight. It really dawned on me that the extra stuff you carried, although it seemed unnecessary from the outside, were there as symbols of your new ventures (new work and ayurveda) to be blessed by Ammachi’s grace. Thank you for sacrificing the dance class to be part of an experience of witnessing the walk in the rose garden, walking to the magical lotus pond and just being there, transcending the sense of time and the rush to go somewhere next. Finally, the help we received with a ride back without asking really solidified our belief in the divine organizing nature of the universe.

As this journey of life continues, this day helped immensely with my commitment to live a life of being of service to Mother Nature.

A quote to end this reflection:

“We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.”

–Native American Proverb

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