I had never understood what laid at the root of the thought process, and experimenting with all sorts of meditation techniques had never solved the conundrum. Ramesh’s investigation however, seemed to bring the misunderstanding to its knees without effort, again and again.
Letting love flow with Kira brought the understanding to a whole new level. Never in my life had I been involved in such an intimate encounter while being so completely absent, and never would another experience make it so clear that there is no personal entity doing anything- not even making love.
The light coming in through the golden curtains had suddenly dimmed and there was a change in the air. I noticed how the cawing of the craws had intensified.
We had made love all afternoon and the sun was now setting. Or so it seemed!
In reality, the sun was where it always had been, unmoving, neither rising nor setting anywhere. In reality, there had been no one in this room doing anything. But, although there is no I and no you, no sunset and no lovemaking, words need to be used and I’ll keep doing my best to try and describe a flavor that essentially can’t be described.
There had been moments of silence and stillness this afternoon, moments of untamed passion also; all of which was seen as a flow, as life running its course in the most perfect way, unhindered.
The room became dark and Kira turned on a soft little bed light. The energy was shifting. We sat on the bed, entangled into each other still, looking into each other’s eyes. There was so much beauty and magic in this so ordinary moment; such an ease and letting go. We stayed there for what seemed an eternity, relishing the now and the unknown, the rootedness and the freefall, the being together and the being alone. We were in the hands of something so vast, so indescribable, yet so simple.
Life was being lived. And there was no one here to care.
“Nirav, I am hungry!”
I winced lightly, surprised to hear Kira’s voice after such a long time. Her eyes were shinning, and she was smiling, mischievously waiting for my response.
“Oh, you are hungry? I also could eat something. What time is it?”
I was still high and not in tune with my stomach, but surely we had not eaten for a long time and Kira’s words triggered a desire for food.
“What are the options? Should we go out?” I continued, noticing a clock on the table that showed nearly Eight.
Kira agreed, while at the same time she pulled me closer to her. She transpired a sweet yet intense fragrance that seemed to enter my pores and blend with my own chemistry. I immediately got turned on again. I felt the passion between us just hanging here, on hold, ready to spark at any little trigger. Interfering with the flow didn’t cross my mind, and in that moment the idea would have seemed ridiculous. There was no one here, no Nirav and no Kira. We were both instruments through which existence was playing its song- and listening to it was pure delight.
I noticed my desire for food again when Kira asked “So should we finally go out and eat something?” The clock showed now 22.40 and I starred at it for a few seconds, somehow trying to make sense of what had happened. Time seemed to have stopped, or at least slowed down significantly. Seemed. Because in reality time never moved, never slowed or speeded up. Time was the stable, unchanging background where this cosmic play was taking place.
We both stood up and got dressed. I was not used to eat dinner so late, and I wondered where we would find something open- but then I remembered that I was in Mumbai.
Kira put on a pink dress and in just a few seconds she looked like a shiny star ready to hit the outside world. I had no spare clothe anymore, and I put on the white shirt I had travelled with…yesterday. Yes, it was only yesterday that I had taken that train from Pune to visit Ramesh Balsekar. I pondered once again about the passing of time and the magic that keeps happening when life is allowed to flow.
Not much was discussed, and it was tacitly understood that I was following Kira; she was familiar with Mumbai after all and she obviously had something in mind.
It was 11 pm and we were both ready. I looked at my little backpack wondering if I should take it or leave it here. It seemed likely that I would be back after dinner for a second night at Kira’s and a last morning with Ramesh, but to my surprise I watched my hands put the toothbrush in the little front pocket and grab the backpack – leaving nothing behind.
We made our way through the large marble corridor to the main door, put on our shoes and walked out. It felt good to be in the open. I quickly made the math’s, or to use words more accurately: It was perceived that a part of this body mind quickly did some calculations according to a programming and a cosmic law I had no idea about. Yes, we had spent almost twelve hours in Kira’s room! We had shared Kira’s last orange sometimes mid-afternoon, and that was it. I felt my stomach rumbling, and I was ready to eat.
Kira lead the way and took my hand. The air was cool and I could feel a slight breeze moving through my hair. I felt free, in the flow, and in deep surrender to the magic of existence.
“I know a great little Kebab restaurant, it’s in a busy part of Colaba and they are open all night. It’s not very far but we need to take a taxi. How does it sound?” Kira seemed excited and ready for the night.
“Sounds good” I replied, gently squeezing her hand.
She gave me a large beaming smile and we speeded up nearly dancing, until we hailed a passing cab.
The ride took about twenty minutes through the now empty streets of Mumbai. I was glued on my window watching the street lights and the arcades now filled with people sleeping on makeshift beds, often just a piece of cardboard directly on the pavement, alone, in groups or families with children. Here and then we passed by open restaurants, but all in all most of the shutters were down.
I have always loved those fleeting moments of the Indian nights, especially in big cities, when the poorest people occupy the best part of the roadside and make it home during the darkest hours. I always wondered how they survive the noise, the cold, the fumes, the mosquitoes, the insecurities and the adversities. Most of them are far below the poverty line and only eat unsubstantial food once a day; they usually rest their head on a bag or piece of cloth containing all they own.
Looking at the homeless was always a strong and humbling experience, one that inevitably brought life into new perspectives. Contrasts have always shaken my inner world, my inner walls and beliefs. Contrasts have always helped me see beyond the veil, always pushed doors, always been instrumental in waking up to reality. Seeing the unmoving in the midst of wild dancing or passionate sex, seeing the hollow instrument in someone personally involved in mental and emotional gesticulations, seeing the silence in the midst of the hurricane, contrast is what makes the light of the earth shine above its shadows; contrast is what lies at the heart of painting; contrast is at the core of the human experience.
I caught myself reflecting on perennial questions. One of my mind’s favorite query was whether those people slept more soundly than the fat and affluent folks living in luxurious apartments above; whether they were perhaps more contented, fulfilled, at peace with themselves than I was.
Obviously existence didn’t care if there was wealth or poverty, suffering or pleasure. Existence was running through infinite numbers of organisms and insouciantly creating infinite numbers of combinations- in fact it seemed like existence was enjoying playing with all possible arrangements and blending them in the most inconceivable ways.
Kira squeezed my left hand softly and took me out of my reverie.
“Let’s stop here” she said leaning forward, “yes that will be perfect”. Our driver slowed down and the taxi came to a halt.
“Life is so simple” Kira said as we stepped down onto the street. I looked at her. She was glowing with light, ease, and presence. Although I had no way to know for sure and in fact didn’t care and never asked, I suspected that we both viewed the unfolding of life through the same lenses- those of consciousness itself. We took each other’s shoulders, smiling, and we walked along towards what looked like a covered night market. Strangely enough I didn’t feel tired. I felt kind of excited to what was to come.
“Today is Saturday” Kira explained “and there is a night market here where we can have a stroll and get something to eat”
I had forgotten what day of the week it was, and really I could not care less. For an Indian market it was pleasantly spacious and empty, and peeping at Kira’s watch I realized it was already midnight. “Ah, the sense of time” I thought. I didn’t feel hungry anymore and I noticed some thoughts of going back to Pune tonight slowly surface in my mind.
Kira must have picked up on these because she abruptly said “I also don’t feel like eating anymore. What about we sit in that chai shop over there and have a drink? You know that Ramesh talks every day, including Sunday, and if you want to see him again tomorrow you are welcome to stay with me tonight.”
I loved Kira’s way. She was both direct and gentle. She knew what she wanted, and she gave space. We had spent a tender, passionate afternoon, making love inhibited and deeply connected; we certainly had taken a quantum leap into intimacy. Our hearts seemed to be beating closer together, there was a pull to breathe as one, and the hormones were clearly doing strange things to keep us together. I felt horny again. I wanted to come closer, to enter her, to melt and merge. I wanted to feel all those subtle feelings that only deep sexual connection revealed with such intensity.
I felt Kira’s fingers delicately stroking my hair. I simultaneously sensed the tingling, the softening and the hardening of different body parts. I clenched her shoulder lightly. It was astonishing how much passion was running through us. Never before had I noticed with such clarity how attraction was chemically induced- it was physical, all of it! There was nothing I could do about it, and it had nothing to do with “me”. Not only that, but there was no “me” in the way I always believed there was. At this point using words feels edgy.
Ramesh’s investigation was obviously running its course still, destroying on its way all my ideas of who I thought I was.
And the main, foremost and core belief that suddenly vanished in the light of awareness, was the idea of a personal doer, a “me” who does actions, thinks thoughts, and feels.
The little open air café was half empty and we sat at a table near the back. I ordered a chai without sugar, and Kira a coffee.
I realized that being out on the streets of a big city at midnight wasn’t part of my routine anymore, and I could feel my system surprised, on alert almost, checking out the atmosphere that was so foreign. At the same time there was a sense of wonder and excitement; a certain anticipation at what could be coming next. To be honest, in that very moment when the waiter appeared with his dark blue apron and an ancient looking wooden tray with our two cups on top, I had no idea where I would be spending the rest of the night- although going back with Kira looked most likely. I thought about it for a moment, and I imagined how we would probably share her little bed and feel like squeezing even tighter together.
Kira was sipping her coffee and I was sipping my chai. It was delicious, with a perfect blend of ginger, cinnamon and cardamom- and a subtle aftertaste of clove and nutmeg that I had almost missed at first.
Between the words that we exchanged, there were gaps of silence. Between the actions that we seemed to initiate, there was an immense yet so ordinary sense of hanging there. Between the thoughts that appeared, floated around and were, because of habit, perceived as mine, there was a vast unmoving space in which everything unfolded.
There was no reason not to accept Kira’s invitation to spend another night here, no reason to disrupt the flow of energy, no reason not to seat with Ramesh another morning. Since I had arrived in Mumbai yesterday, existence had showered me with more blessings that I could expect, had answered my burning question, had gifted me with a swift understanding of Ramesh’s basic concept, and had even allowed a beautiful and unexpected romance with Kira to unfold.
“What about leaving all this behind and take the next bus to Pune? I would be there at sunrise!” That was a voice in my head; it was uncalled, inconvenient, obviously none of my doing and there was clearly not much I could do to silence it. At the same time, I noticed seemingly contradictory feelings surfacing inside- annoyance at the idea of leaving now, and excitement. There was an impulse to fight that thought, to ignore and dismiss it. And at the same time there was a welcoming here, a yes to whatever life was bringing, a yes to the unknown. I was here because existence had conspired to bring me here, first with that little book catching my attention by the pool, then by meeting Kira and letting life flow. Who was I to now resist another call from the beyond? What if this Mumbai adventure had suddenly run its course, just like that, while sipping a well-blended masala chai on a late night market?
I shook my head and looked into Kira’s eyes. She seemed very happy and chilled here, and I wondered for a moment if she had noticed what was going on in my head. I relaxed, delighting in the ease and kindness she radiated.
Our cups were now empty and two boys were busy racking the chairs and pushing the tables together. We had been sitting here for longer than it seemed, not talking much, and the whole market was preparing to go to sleep.
“Should we pay and go?” Kira asked “I am getting tired, we can get a cab and go back home.”
Going back home sounded great. I was not sure how much sleep we would get if we spent the night together, but I had nothing to do, and spending the night in the bus to Pune meant no sleep either.
“Okay, yes, I am ready to go”, I said pulling a note from my pocket to pay the bill. “But before, let me toss a coin one more time.”
Kira looked surprised and sat back on her chair. “I am curious what you want to toss a coin for” she said, “and considering that last night you did the exact opposite of what the coin suggested, I don’t so much see the point”. “But here is one rupee”, she said amused as she pulled a coin out of her little purse.
“Well” I said, “I have the same question as yesterday: should I come with you or go back to Pune now?”
“I see” she said laughing. “Are you really thinking of going to Pune now, in the middle of the night, while we are having such a magical time?”
“Well, that thought has been around nagging me, don’t ask me why, I have no idea. I just want to see what the coin has to say.”
I didn’t think that I had more insight into coin tossing than Kira did, but it had worked for me and it was my device after all, not Kira’s. She never mentioned ever asking Ramesh about making decisions, and I was quite sure that he never had suggested for her to toss coins. Especially not in the middle of the night while she was having a beautiful romantic affair with a French man, and that everything seemed to be flowing perfectly well.
“Head I come with you. Tail I go to Pune. “I said confidently as if I had been in the coin-tossing business forever. I felt a little tingling in my belly. “What if it says Go to Pune?” I thought, immediately relaxing as I realized that I could still dismiss the coin and do what I wanted. I was free after all, wasn’t I?
I shook the coin between my rounded palms, and let it fall in the middle of the table.
Our four eyes moved towards the center simultaneously and our foreheads gently met. Tail was up!
I could hear the chirping of night birds and the falling of surrounding shutters. The night was taking a new turn.
Kira and I moved our heads back up and looked into each other eyes.
“I am going to Pune now “I said, hardly believing the words that came through my mouth. “You mentioned that there are busses running all night long from the bus terminal. It will be a different kind of adventure and I will reach in the morning. And we stay in touch. I may be back soon, or we meet by the pool…who knows?”
Kira didn’t respond. She just sat there, looking at me with her familiar love and presence, but I could feel her disappointment – she probably was as astonished as I was.
I guess I could have stood up and said “Let’s go, I come with you”, as it had happened last night. But instead I stood up and took her in my arms for a last hug. I walked with her to the end of the street, flagged down two taxis and waited for hers to move away. I sat at the back of mine and ordered the driver to bring me to the bus terminal. It was a short drive through the night. It was now 1.30 and my Mumbai adventure had just come to an end. Just like that. With the toss of a coin.
I had spent two days and one night here. I had shared with Kira an exceptional depth of intimacy, and I had met Ramesh twice. But what I really took with me from Mumbai is the understanding Ramesh was pointing to, the seeing that existence is an unfolding and that there is no one doing anything. Nirav was merely a complex organism through which the universal life force functioned. He had no existence of his own. No one had.
The inquiry transmitted by Ramesh had worked from the very start- and it would keep operating for years, day in and day out, like an undercurrent, and consistently destroy one by one the assumptions of who I am.
As I sat in the sleepy bus en route to Pune, I started to sense the implications of what had happened. There were thoughts floating, there was a field of feelings, emotions and physical sensations, but all was experienced as insignificant remnants. There was a seeing that all was perfect as it was, that leaving Mumbai now was what had to happen; there was no guilt in having left Kira rather abruptly in the middle of the night, no regret in having ended a seemingly potent love affair. There was a new and wonderful lightness of just being with what is- of letting life flow.
The bus ride took four and half hours and it is just after sunrise that I pushed the door of my apartment in Koregaon Park.
Kira visited Pune a few weeks later, and we had a gorgeous day by the pool playing around like children. We went out for dinner but the romance seemed to have run its course. We are still friends to this day.
I never explored Mumbai again, but visited Ramesh’s apartment one last time a few years later on my way to the airport. However, he was recovering from a fall that day, and we didn’t meet. My gratitude for Ramesh and his teaching is timeless.