A Participant Shares their Experience…
When I first met Sadhguru in 2003, I had no idea how sheltered my life was, how I had closed down the world around me. Everything was “just comfortable” and change was “just enough” to be bearable. I had shaped things so I had the illusion of control. At the time I would have said I was an “open person.” In retrospect, I was unaware and ignorant. These two things still exist in me, but experiencing Sadhguru has significantly impacted both for the better.
Three years later, I stand with him and 199 other meditators from around the world in one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen – Mount Kailash. It is a place that only a movie or a great storybook could describe. Only Sadhguru could make such a thing happen in my life, get all of us, with different ages, shapes, sizes, and conditions, up this mountain at an altitude of over 16,000 feet. Only Sadhguru could bring us all down, happy, healthy, with no broken anything. I watched myself and so many others become sick before arriving at Kailash, out of breath, nauseated, and some of the other not-so-attractive symptoms of altitude sickness. Yet, miraculously, we were pulled through this. I overheard Sadhguru say to those most affected, “It’s OK, you are going with me” and knew the message was for me as well. This happened at a time when I severely doubted my own ability to get through the trip. I was sick in the Toyota Land Cruiser all day, was barely able to make it up two flights of stairs at the Saga Hotel, feeling faint and weak. I recognized then that it wasn’t about my ability (although I did the preparation that is recommended for the trip – I felt Sadhguru should not have to shoulder what I could do for myself). This was about totally trusting my guru and putting my life into his hands. Once that sunk into me, I knew he was talking about much more than Kailash.
Most of the trip was spent traveling but the scenery was so phenomenal that every hour of driving was a visual feast. During the bus ride on our first day of travel, we viewed lush green foliage driving through mountains neatly laced with stepped terraces. Waterfalls and rivers would appear all around us. After crossing Freedom Bridge into China, we moved into Land Cruisers and began several days of the best four-wheeling I’ve ever experienced. So many mountains, yet the diversity of color, shape and landscape would change dramatically. Sometimes rust red, masculine mountains with jagged edges, other times snow-covered. No trees for miles, desert like surroundings, and then velvety green foliage would cover the mountains and valleys so Tibet resembled Ireland. The Tibetan people would wave at us as we traveled through their farmlands viewing yaks, horses, goats, sheep and some other species I could not recognize.
Upon arriving at Lake Manasarovar, Sadhguru led us towards the water, eyes filled with tears, telling us “this is not an ordinary lake.” When experiencing the lake, some perceived so much activity some perceived nothing. We entered the water, after engaging in a process with Sadhguru, which was his gift to us on Guru Poornima. I felt intense joy when the water washed over my head. I laughed without knowing why. It was as if the water had a consciousness of its own, like it was playing and interacting with you. The freezing water felt like a warm blanket, energizing the body like a large Theerthakund.
This was followed by Guru Pooja, Sathsang, and Prasad. Kneeling close to Sadhguru’s feet, honoring all the enlightened beings, some who had stepped on the very path we were walking on, recognizing the great gifts of Kailash and Dhyanalinga, and thanking the heavens (and whatever else makes this happen) that life had brought to me Sadhguru. To spend this day, in this way, there are no words to express the depth of gratitude that penetrated me and many others that were there.
And then Kailash. The 10-kilometer trek into Kailash left most of us tired and lacking energy, but even the rocks at the base camp exude an energy that fills you up again. The next morning we trekked upward, first through a cold stream created from the mountain’s melting ice cap. I was resistant to doing this. It seems petty now, but I was feeling so tired and breathless that just the idea of taking off my heavy boots, wading through several feet of rocks and rushing water (in some areas over a foot deep) and putting on those boots again – the idea made me exhausted. I didn’t realize the brilliance of nature. After wading through the stream, my feet were so invigorated, I felt totally awake. This gave me the energy I needed to proceed upward. Seeing Sadhguru sitting gracefully on a rock, a little more than ½ way up, with Kailash as his backdrop – this moment will remain in my memory. He waited patiently for all of us to reach him, and then began a process with us. Afterwards, he said to proceed upward for ½ hour, and then turn around. By this time my face was sun-burnt (I had forgotten to apply sunscreen) and my Porter was significantly ahead of me so I couldn’t see him or my water bottle that was strapped to the bag he was carrying. I thought I had made it close to the top, but when I peered over a ledge, I saw nothing but more water. After thinking, “this just goes on and on”, looking at my watch, I figured I would turn around and come down. Then, about 50 yards upward, there was my Porter, with the sunscreen. That motivated me to continue upward. I stopped to cover my face in cream and have a long drink. There was a meditator (who I don’t know and wouldn’t be able to recognize now) about 50 yards or so higher on the mountain. She motioned me to come to her. When I did, I looked up and saw into the foot of Kailash. The Swamis began to call us and tell us to turn around and come down. How brilliant is that? A bottle of sunscreen and the promise of a cool drink pushed me to make the final stretch. And all along the path, Sadhguru was there. He was the path itself.
The magnificence of what I felt there and what Sadhguru shared with us cannot be described, nor do I fully understand it. But I take this with me as I move down the mountain, and carry it with me in my heart all the way back to Detroit.
Coming down the last mountain passes and back into Katmandu, with the pace of my thinking matching the speed of the bus, I realized how empty and quiet my mind had been throughout most of the trip. I don’t even remember feeling any physical discomfort or sore muscles after our intense trekking. Coming down from Kailash as well as the trek out of Kailash – was almost like floating.
Almost a month later, I’m still saying, “pinch me.” Each time I’m with Sadhguru I’m overwhelmed with what he shares and what I experience and learn (even if it’s painful at times.) To have 22 days with him and to experience it in such sacred and beautiful places is a great blessing. Sadhguru says if you take just one step with total devotion, then you have done Kailash. I take this message with me and remind myself to walk more gently, lovingly, and gracefully no matter where the path may take me.