Climbing mountains has been a large part of my professional career and leisure activities for many years, so walking in the mountains was no “big deal” for me. Over the years, climbing to the top of mountains, standing on summits, “conquering” them, has been a strong way of promoting “feel good” factors, relating to boosting my self-esteem, self-importance and self-worth.
Against this background, one thought that persisted in my mind as I approached Kailash was “Has anybody climbed to the top of it…I wonder?” After arriving at base camp, I took the opportunity of just sitting and looking at the mountain. I wasn’t chanting or meditating…just looking. Almost immediately, I experienced an incredible feeling of being punched in the chest…repeatedly, about 20 times. My body was just pushed backwards, as if the mountain was saying to me, “How dare you think of climbing to my peak?”
The next day, we walked closer to the mountain, and during a process we were reminded that Sadhguru was with us. In that moment, I felt a sensation shoot across my heart and from then on I could not look at Kailash without welling up in floods of tears. Every time I looked, my eyes just gushed with tears.
As this was happening, I started reflecting on all the times Sadhguru had talked about getting out of our own way; standing aside from ourselves; dissolving our ego / sense of self-importance; and the idea of bowing down to something much bigger than ourselves. I then reflected on his comment about the nature of a pilgrimage, and the millions of people who had done this at Kailash over thousands of years.
In that moment, I can honestly say that my sense of self disappeared, and my body fell to the ground as tears erupted, washing me into the soil. “I” had disappeared… and for the first time in my life, I was truly bowing down to something far greater than myself, with an overwhelming sense of insignificance in the context of the whole universe, creation, and all those who had gone before.
This has left me with a refreshingly new question: “What is the point in trying to ‘conquer’ something if we can bow down to it instead?” – A real and welcome challenge for my western mindset!
– Richard Royce, UK
Never have I experienced a mountain so fierce and alive at the same time. Kailash in my experience was a live and very fierce Guru. Even though I was intimidated, there was a very strong reverence and a willingness to give in…to give in this life, and to truly experience life in a way that I had missed out on all these years.
I thought I travelled thousands of miles,
But the moment I saw you,
I knew I was willing to come millions more.
Fierce and alive you stood,
Timid and humbled in your presence,
With tear-filled eyes, silently I bowed.
This life a burden to many,
In your presence,
I merged with ecstasy.
Not many make it to see you,
All I did was throw my heart,
And you carried me all the way through. Shambho Shambho – Srirekha, USA
This whole trip has broken my heart in bittersweet ways, starting with bus rides thousands of feet above sea level, hugging cliff sides, over-looking multi-tiered, green and white landscapes – so close to the edge that we played, sang and became very silly. I would like to share about one particular day – that of the pilgrim climb toward Kedarnath – because it has visual breadth that also conveys my experience. Many of the days were filled with the seeping mystique behind a veil of fog, mist and many a downpour, and so was this one. At the very bottom of the mountain, we pilgrims scampered to buy rain ponchos and off we went, one at a time, bravely or gravely chanting our mantras and looking where to place our feet. It was so steep for me at first that I could barely look at the scene before me.
The pilgrims and ponies on their way down seemed out of control and angled into my path, making me sidestep every which way. But actually, it was just gravity pulling them wherever they could possibly head. Soon, like a strange jig, I was dancing to make it up a few steps. I was just letting everything and everyone be to get myself up the mountain loosely and more open.
I was so stunned at everything around that I didn’t want to climb but only to burst and cry at the beautiful way the mountain was working. It was pulsating with movement: the torrential waters of the river, and the steady stream of pilgrims on the path route. It was the soft-eyed ponies carrying people that pained me. Then, beyond belief were meager four-man teams carrying crossed planks on their shoulders and pilgrims on top. Even then, the most meager of men carrying up pilgrims in baskets as seats on their backs. Anything was done to get everyone up and across the threshold gates.
With the loud gushing of the grayed-out Mandakini River I walked, and maybe two hours into this, my shoe soles blew out completely. Gradually, I was flipping mud around and they were no longer shoes but appendages. I tore my poncho sleeves to form ties that didn’t work. Every 50 steps, I was bending down to mend. I was forlorn and in a sudden pouring rain and out from somewhere, a village pilgrim came to me with thick red cotton trim, stooping to weave a pattern in my laces and around my shoe. I sat down in awe and sobbed with the rain. I couldn’t believe this barefooted, loin-clothed man who didn’t speak worked a quick moment for me so that I could make it up the mountain. Instantly I felt the fierceness and the warm mercy of the mountain.
I just bent down reshaping the shoe whenever needed, and kept it all going in me. As I neared the top and a thinning of pilgrims, I sat again and cried, for who could really ever believe me even if I told them that such a place exists, where a mountain can actually move its people. I couldn’t understand many places on this trip but it impregnated me in each spot that we landed where Sadhguru had dropped a seed. We met and they became a part of me too.
– Elise Caplan, Florida, USA
Day 10 since the Dhyan Yatra to the Himalayas, I am at the ashram and the feel of the yatra still lingers on. After I participated in the Kailash Manasarovar Yatra in 2006, I was so overpowered by the experience that I had thought, maybe I had no more yatras to make.
But somehow, from early this year, the idea of going to Kedarnath kept entering my mind. It seemed like this was a journey I simply had to make. In spite of tight schedules with all the work we had, I managed to get on the train with the last 26 people to embark for Delhi, where all Dhyan Yatra participants would come together before proceeding to the Himalayan region. Some of us were traveling from the ashram and others joined us on the way.
And so began my journey to the sacred Himalayas and the river Ganges, ultimate destinations for a spiritual seeker. From the moment the journey began, a different kind of sensitiveness and openness had invaded me. A deep reverence for the existence had pervaded. Any resistance I would normally feel in my day-to-day circumstances did not seem to touch me.
The first encounter with the river Ganges at Haridwar, in spite of being grayish in color, so overwhelmed me that the only expression were tears. The places we passed on the first leg of our yatra like Haridwar, Rishikesh, Vishnu Prayag, Joshimath, Pipal Koti and finally Badrinath reflected the magnificence of their legendary names.
These mountains and the innumerable rivers feeding the Ganges on its descent to the plains were not only breathtaking and awesome to see; there was something about them beyond the visual impression. And even the moon revealed its most auspicious and incredibly beautiful form at Badrinath on a shraddha poornima night, rising over the snow-capped mountain peaks.
Rudra Prayag and then Guptakashi – the tremendous energy one could feel there just blew the mind.
Then ascending to Kedar by foot, a dream fulfilled, the longing of a lifetime satiated. At the top, a temple of such powerful energy; I found it very difficult to withdraw myself from there. Whether on the trek or in moments at the temple, it felt like something beyond ourselves was taking us through this journey effortlessly.
Back at Guptakashi, Sadhguru graced us with his presence at a Sathsang, for the first time during this yatra. Most of us were completely overwhelmed by his intense and joyous presence.
Then the trip to Gangotri, Bhojwas and Gomukh. Indescribable – all mythology of Ganga’s descent to earth seemed to come alive. The mountains looked like Shiva’s tresses in which she was trapped and later descended to make her way ceaselessly, sometimes roaring in froth and sometimes meandering till her final mingling in the ocean. At Gomukh, the Shiva Parvath beyond Tapovan – the whole space seemed electrified.
I felt constantly surrounded by the immeasurable grace of our beloved Sadhguru, and he was there with everyone, every step of the way. Another Sathsang at Uttarkashi with him and then the offering of Aarti to the Ganges at Rishikesh; he seemed so glorious on both these occasions; an unforgettable sight.
At the end of the yatra, it was very apparent to me – no matter where we are, whether it is at the revered Kailash or in the sacred Himalayas, or at any other place in the world, I can see such profound ecstasy and bliss on the faces of Sadhguru’s devotees, which is rare, even on the faces of the sadhus in the mountains. We are truly blessed that he found us and that we have him amidst us… Pranam to all.
– Usha, India
It took four years to make the Dhyan Yatra a tangible possibility for me, and I was very hungry for such an experience. As the time to make my first trip to India got closer and closer, something started telling me that it was not going to be just a regular trek to the Himalayas. From that very moment, I somehow knew that I was going to be touched in a very profound way. I decided to come to the ashram 10 days before the departure so I could get used to the new routine, time, water, bacteria and the Indian culture itself. We departed from the ashram on a Friday afternoon, and after a 40 hour train ride full of adventures, sharing and chanting, we finally arrived in Delhi to continue our journey to the Himalayas from there.
The days went by without me consciously recognizing the inner changes that started happening within me. I never had had the opportunity before to share my deepest devotion with a group of people, never before I felt so happy and fulfilled without actually thinking about me and my small life, never before I met so many people that were on a similar path and to whom I could so easily relate, never before I felt so protected and taken care of and I’m extremely happy to announce that I have a new family… my Isha family.
What touched me the most when the time to trek arrived was to finally surrender and just chant and observe all the way up, allowing our Master’s grace to carry us. The moment I turned into my physicality, everything got harder; the second I surrendered, I got carried once again – what a wonderful way to experience Sadhguru’s presence.
More than once I found myself completely sobbing without having the ability to explain exactly what was happening inside. So much beauty, so much presence and stillness those mountains possess, such an exuberant amount of creation being distilled in front of us. How not to feel smaller, minute, insignificant? So many kilometers we had to trek to find such an astonishing beauty everywhere outside ourselves in order to realize that all that beauty is made out of the same substance that created us.
Never been more profoundly touched,
– Mariana Perosino, Spain