Five months in a Swiss mountain chalet, at 1800 metres, and now with a foot of snow settled all around us…and another foot on its way…
And seven months at one of my favourite places, where things are so unpredictably brilliant and rich that it’s almost hard to handle how beautiful life becomes.
Soon the chapter will draw to an end, and I will be moving on to other things. I see and hear inside myself a deep yearning to have a family sometime, and that makes a monastic life an impossibility at least for now.
I haven’t published anything about the inauguration yet. Over four months of doing my best in every job I did, being trained to always strive towards perfection. And then, these three days over a weekend in mid-October came and went. Lots of people were here, and everything was a little bit immense. On the Saturday, I helped Mani with getting all the ingredients made for the installation of the main murthis, and all around us in the temple seemed to be flames and tremors like from continuous earthquakes. On the Sunday, probably the most powerful day in the story of this area of the world, and maybe one of the most powerful days ever in the world generally, I was on conch-blowing duties. I didn’t have any thoughts, just knew I had to blow the conch a lot of times. Every so often, when the energy raised to such a height, I would black-out. There was nothing I could do about it, and the black-outs seemed to be getting stronger and stronger.
I remembered the very young child I saw go into a seizure in the Murugan temple at Skanda Vale this time last year, who came so very close to dying.
I didn’t know what was going to happen. It wasn’t just the conch-blowing that made me pass out – I noticed the link right away with blacking out when the energy was raised to such a high level. It was a bit like as if all of what I felt I knew about the world was being completely torn out of be, and the black-outs were bits of me that had to disappear. Just disappear.
Babaji told me to keep giving service to Lord Shiva. He didn’t say how long for – it was one of those eternal statements that shatters all the realms.
A week or so before the inauguration, I was given a couple of days deadline for finishing the sanding of the hefty navagraha table space rock. The weather became ridiculously cold – water would turn to ice after 3 seconds of contact with the stone. I’d worked on that rock for about a month already, and these were the final moments with it. I chanted and chanted more, and kept going. This rock had put me through so much already, and now it was all climaxing so quickly. I finished it, having probably pinched at least three nerves in my neck/upper back in the process, and then organised the erecting of the stone into the temple. It had to be lifted three metres with a block and tackle attached to a beam. The feeling of it arriving safely up there was tremendous. It’s just a rock, but it’s what I poured so much into, and it is now permanently in this temple that they say well remain here for thousands of years.
Yesterday, I was the only devotee in the yagam/mahabishekam puja at lunchtime. So I was the only bhajan singer, and the only drummer, and the only conch-blower. It’s quite different to seeing bhajans without anyone responding. There’s a method to it. I learnt on most bhajans to sing every line just once, then repeat the whole bhajan again at the same speed, then speed up on the third time through, and again on the fourth, and keep going until I felt I needed to stop. But it could also be done with a drum fill after singing each line.
Now we are literally closed off here. The track coming up here from the main road is impassable, people can’t drive up it even with chains because it’s so steep and the snow is deep. But still, on Monday we had a family of Tamil devotees come for puja. They walked up in trainers and not enough clothes, but were so warm. The Swissies have yet to come out in such force yet – to them, I guess we’re unreachable up here. We occasionally get someone come for a few minutes to deliver laundry or come to a puja or so, but it certainly does have a feeling of being isolated right now. In a really beautiful way.
This album cover seems to depict exactly why I will be leaving Skanda Vale. Absolutely everything in the picture is moving, migrating almost, and it’s so romantic. The geese near the top I mourn for a lot. I miss…..well, I miss the walks when I was 16 to my girlfriend’s house early in the morning, before school. It would take maybe 45 minutes, and the streets were silent except for the geese flying overhead. One time there was a massive flock of blackbirds on the recreation ground, hundreds of them, that to my astonishment all took off at once and swooped all around. And the sunrises were so so powerful. It’s the one time in my life when every day I walked quite far at dawn, motivated every day only partly by knowing that she’d be waiting for me. The world was completely awesome.
I will be moving to the Isle of Wight. I don’t know what will happen. But it feels right – there’s nowhere else that I could be once I leave Skanda.
I’m going to be at my mum’s new home over Christmas. I’m really looking forward to it. As serene as Skanda Christmases are, I’m tired out from all this temple building, and could do with a good rest. I’m excited to go back to the meadow that blew me away so much earlier in the year.
There’s been so many situations when I’ve had to completely surrender myself, because I am useless as just a living breathing moving body. I need divine assistance, and I’ve always had a sense of getting that. Like that beam I had to cut at the Vishnu temple at Skanda last year that was overhanging the sanctuary and could have fallen into the Maha Saraswati murthi if things had gone wrong, when I gave up and prayed and prayed and found myself with a 30kg offcut on my shoulder using all my strength to lift it onto the old plastic roof. It’s the same here. When the goporum floor flew in, I prayed and prayed and prayed and things became so so simple. I didn’t have to do anything, it was just happening before me, my body was moving in ways without me instructing it, it just all happened. I get feelings about things, and they’re always right in some way. It’s the divine working through my consciousness. And it will continue to happen like this after I leave. That’s exactly why I’m leaving – because there’s something moving me out, my work is to be done next away from here. I’ve even stayed a little longer than necessary – I feel that, but the divine gives space, and is time itself.
And I feel like I’m going on to something that will hold on to be for a long, long time.