This post is about both tragedy and bliss, but I have to start with the tragedy, which is specific to Ladakh. The bliss part, on the other hand, is universal—it’s available to everyone at all times and places. Don’t believe me? Well, read on!
It’s a very sad and difficult time for Ladakh. Yesterday, flash floods devastated part of the city of Leh, as well as several surrounding villages. Many people were killed; homes, business, buses, cars, etc. were swept away; the infrastructure was heavily damaged; the only two roads out of Ladakh were closed due to rock slides, mud slides and washed-out bridges. It’s not a pretty site.
I’m sure that, although this probably hasn’t figured much in international news, there is some reliable way to donate to the relief effort—maybe through the Red Cross. It will take months or years to repair all the damage, especially since most outside work has to stop during the harsh winter.
Since power lines and broadband cables were heavily damaged, the only Internet is a slow satellite connection that is available in a few places with backup power. The few cyber cafes that are open generally have at least a dozen people waiting patiently for their turn to notify their families that they are safe and to try to book flights out.
Ladakh has always been classified as a high-altitude desert and nothing like this has ever happened, so there was no preparation at all for such an eventuality. However, Ladakhis are tough; they will rebuild and adapt.
Last night, more rain was predicted, so everyone in Leh was advised to evacuate to higher ground. Most people did, though there is no adequate shelter in the recommended places for the huge numbers of people seeking refuge. There was a steady stream of people walking up to Shanti Stupa with their bundles, but many had to sleep outside. My landlord and his family, who also own the guesthouse next door, evacuated themselves along with all the guests. They were distressed that I declined to join them, worried that I would be swept away and they would never see me again. However, they came back a few hours later when heavy rains thankfully failed to materialized.
Now, I expect that most readers will think I am a complete fool for ignoring evacuation orders, and you are probably wondering why I did that. There were both spiritual and practical reasons for my decision, but it’s the spiritual ones that matter most.
My spiritual reasons are entirely due to the benefits of practicing Transcendental Meditation (along with certain advanced programs and techniques) for the last 40 years, as well as the blessings of His Holiness Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. I don’t like to talk about my experiences, but I feel that this story must be told. I’m not an evangelist by nature, or it wouldn’t have taken so long for me to feel compelled to write so much about TM.
So what’s this about? Firstly, my intuition has become well-developed in many ways and when I have as strong a feeling as I did about not needing to evacuate, I trust it. If my intuition had indicated that I should go, I would have, but that isn’t what came to me. While my usual attitude is “better safe than sorry”, I simply didn’t feel at risk on any level. However, since I am a practical person, I also went out and spent some time walking abound checking out the terrain with a view to the possible courses a flash flood might take. It’s really unpredictable because Leh is built on very hilly, uneven terrain, but I decided that if there was a flood in my neighborhood (the major damage from flooding was more than a mile away), it would probably miss my house.
But here’s the main thing: even though I am certainly sad about all of this misery and destruction around me, I feel calm and blissful inside. Bliss and happiness, by the way, are not the same thing. This is why sadness can coexist with bliss. Incidentally, apart from this disaster, there are circumstances in my personal life that would cause most people to suffer anxiety attacks or worse–but these are simply not bothering me now. I deal with stuff as it comes and am not worrying about it. In spite of all this, I feel blissful, accepting that this is just something I have to work through. This is an incredible blessing especially in these troubled times. Without TM, life would be intolerable, as it was before I learned to meditate.
Another surprising blessing I have received from all these years of meditating is that the fear of death has no hold over me any more. It’s just not something to worry about. It will come at the right time, and when it does, I’m confident that it will be a blissful transition.
There are some other blessings that Maharishi has given me personally, which may in fact be the most important ones; however, it wouldn’t be right for me to reveal the exact nature of those blessings to those who don’t have the knowledge or experience to understand, as most people don’t. Suffice it to say that I feel protected. With all these factors taken together, I felt no need to evacuate.
There are, unfortunately, some people who are hostile towards the TM movement, and I say to them that they are the greatest fools on Earth. To oppose the incredible techniques and knowledge with which Maharishi has blessed the world is stupidity beyond measure. Maharishi’s knowledge of development of consciousness and his techniques for promoting that development are absolutely priceless. He brought this knowledge to the world out of compassion and it breaks my heart when people don’t see it for what it is. Suffering is not the purpose of life and it’s not necessary.
Incidentally, in answer to those who get indignant because TM is not free, they should know that when he started, Maharishi did teach absolutely for free. However, he found that people didn’t value what they didn’t pay for, so he decided that it was necessary to have people pay. Later, as the organization grew, funds were needed to expand. But it’s such a tiny price to pay for unbounded freedom, which is ultimately what you can gain from the practice. I’m not exaggerating. Not even a little.
The effects of the group practice of the TM and TM-Sidhi Program, along with many of the individual benefits, are well-documented—at least the measurable ones are. You can find out more at www.TM.org. Please don’t wait. Learn NOW. Help yourself and help the world. For all these blessings, I say, “Jai Guru Dev”, which is how Maharishi always honored his master in everything he did.
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p.s. I don’t intend to turn this into a TM blog. Maybe I’ll start another blog for that purpose. But this will definitely remain an India blog.