Kira was renting a room long-term in a large house owned by an elegant upper middle class woman named Laxmi. She happened to be around as we arrived and Kira introduced me as a friend of Ramesh who would stay overnight on her couch.
Kira had warned me already that Laxmi was fine with visitors, but it was wise to be sensitive and reassuring, especially when visitors were male. We were in India after all.
Kira’s room had an unusually thick dark green carpet on the floor. It was colorful, exotic, and very charming. The bathroom was outside in the corridor. On one corner near the door was a small single bed, neatly covered with a bunch of colorful pillows and a blue bedspread. At the back, under a small window, was a couch. It looked good enough for a night and Kira asked me if I would be fine on it. “Certainly” I answered. It had been a long day and I was ready to lay horizontal and go to sleep.
A large clock above the door showed 11 pm and we both made ourselves ready for bed. “I usually walk to a little bakery nearby for breakfast before going to Ramesh” said Kira, “we can go together if you like, but let’s talk about all that in the morning. Sweet dreams”.
Kira turned off the light and silence filled the room.
I was finally in my own space, in that limbo just before sleep. I felt unusually awake. I noticed the investigation taking place inside still. Not just one event, but dozens that had happened during the course of the day came back to my memory with the underlying aim, or so it seemed, to be seen for what they were. It was a truly unusual and fascinating survey of the essential nature of every happening, small or big, inner or outer, from the world of thoughts, emotions, and the body.
An opening of my eyelids, a turn of my head, a feeling under my skin, in my stomach or my bladder, a thought in my mind, a smell entering my nostrils, the sound of a car far away behind the house, any small thing and I was there, present, seeing the chain of events that was constantly triggered, and that in turn triggered something else. Nothing, absolutely nothing was my doing. It was all so clear. As clear as the night was dark. I was not the doer.
Kira had fallen asleep already; I could hear her breathing change and deepen. I saw my mind wondering where she was right now, and it was somehow astounding to see without any doubt that in this moment at least the doer in her was no more. And soon the same would befall on me. Behind those reflections taking place inside, there was a clarity that the dream state Kira was obviously entering wasn’t essentially different from the space I was in right now. Yes, I seemed awake. Yes, I seemed to be doing the thinking, and the contemplating, and the observing, and the seeing. But really, was a single speck of that process up to me? Was I able to stop the thinking? Or to change its course in any way?
In normal circumstances I would have said that Yes, I have the choice to turn around and go to sleep; that Yes, I have the choice to keep thinking, or sit on my bed, or read a book, or even get up.
But Ramesh had entered my life, even so briefly, and those common assumptions I had blindly believed for so long didn’t stand the slightest investigating.
There was no doer. Never had been. Never will be.
When I opened my eyes again, light had entered the room from the little window above my head, and a dim yet luminous glow was gently piercing through the golden curtains. Kira’s bed was empty. The clock showed ten past Eight.
I sat on my pillow and looked around. It had been a deep and relaxing night. In Pune I was used to wake up at 5.30 no matter what so I could be on time for the Osho Dynamic Meditation, my favorite way to start the day. Waking up after eight is not something I ever remember.
The door opened and Kira walked in with her hair wrapped in a towel above her head, wearing an orange Sarong around her body. She looked stunning and I immediately felt the physical attraction and chemistry between us. I sensed my body respond to her presence, to what I smelt and saw and felt. I could feel my morning erection refusing to subside.
“Good morning Nirav. How did you sleep? You had such a peaceful look on your face, I didn’t want to wake you up. I went out quietly not long ago, and I had a shower.”
She came over and sat next to me. She had obviously washed her long hair, the towel was wet. Her eyes were sparkling and radiated a lighthearted depth. She smiled. I smiled back, starring into her in my own unique and intense way. In a society were looking into someone’s eyes more than two seconds is considered offensive, my stare occasionally drew some unpleasant remarks. But Kira didn’t seem to mind, on the contrary. She moved closer.
It was such a delicious space to be in. The delight wasn’t so much in Kira’s beauty, nor in the romantic flavor this room actually had, nor in the excitement of this spontaneous happening. No, the delight was in the simple seeing that I was not the doer of any of this and that whatever was unfolding here was doing so according to a cosmic law I had no control about.
The delight was in living every moment one after the next, going through the sequence of actions as if they were my actions- yet being aware and convinced without a doubt that they were not my actions but mere happenings. The universal energy, consciousness, cosmic law or whatever we call it was working its way through this complex body-mind-organism called Nirav.
What I remember of this time in Mumbai is not so much what happened on the outside, but what happened inside; how it impacted me then, how it came about, and what remained with me until today.
Meeting Ramesh was a meeting with myself of possibly the most profound significance so far. The consequences were instant and life-changing. Oh, yes, I certainly came back from the high spaces I was then, when the investigation was running easily by itself and the result was constant clear awareness. But something of that transmission has remained untouched, as if the investigation was taking place in the background. When you see truth even for a moment only, even through the quick lifting of a veil, nothing can ever be the same again.
From my side it was obvious that if Kira opened up in that direction, I could move closer to her and follow the energetic flow; we would probably end up making love and spend the whole day in bed. On the other hand, we could get up now, have breakfast and go to Ramesh. Between those two options were a myriad of others, none of them I cared entertaining.
“So, Nirav, should we go and have breakfast?”
“Oh, yes, give me 10 minutes and I’ll be ready” I replied. Her question had somehow taken me by surprise- not the one I had most expected. We looked into each other eyes for a long moment. No word was exchanged, which seemed to increase the sensations taking place at other levels. I could feel my heart beating, and hers too. She pursed her lips in an intriguing way which could mean so many things- but it felt like an acknowledgement and honoring of the energy we shared in this moment.
Was she considering the other option? Was she torn inside? What about her commitment to her boyfriend?
I wondered if the attraction I felt for her was mutual, a thought I dismissed as soon as it appeared. Yes, it was mutual. Or maybe it was not. Who cared?
I stood up, stretched my body and made my way to the bathroom. Kira handed me a fresh towel and told me to use whatever I needed there. Indeed, I had a toothbrush, a spare shirt and an underwear in my little bag but that was about it.
As my body moved along, I could see the motions driven by a force beyond my will. I could see that this unfolding had nothing to do with me or Kira’s doing. This was all happening according to a cosmic law. A law I obviously could never understand.
We soon were both ready to go out. Kira was wearing a red dress and had wrapped a saffron shawl around her shoulders. She radiated a light, an ease and a unique mixture of grace and exuberance.
I was looking forward to a little stroll in the cool of the morning.
We walked to the bakery hand in hand. I relished the unspoken romance that was transpiring between us, and the let go that came as a byproduct of the understanding. When life was being lived, when actions and reactions were out of my control, when I was only an instrument through which some universal force was doing its thing, what was there to worry about? Yesterday Ramesh had pointed the effects of the understanding: the disappearing of a massive load of guilt and shame for oneself, or hatred, jealousy, envy and malice towards any “other”.
Indeed, I could feel all those out of my system right now, and I was relinquishing the lightness of being it brought about.
“French Café” was a buzzling place. We walked in and ordered croissants, cappuccinos, a fruit salad and a masala omelet.
We sat in the shade at a little table outside. I was hungry and happy to be here.
Next to us was a couple of businessmen involved in a heated discussion, half in Marathi half in English as is common in India among educated people. Behind Kira, a few young students finishing their tea and parathas were heartily laughing. In the alley between the tables, a pretty lady dressed in a deep blue sari was softly but passionately talking on her mobile phone while walking up and down, and I wondered who was on the other end- her mum maybe? her boyfriend?
Looking at strangers speak and interact with each other was fascinating. Each one of them was evidently heartily believing that they were the doer in this morning play. From the outside where I sat, it was obvious that they were all instruments played by the same universal life force that was moving everything, including the trees and the insects. Including this organism called Nirav, right now absorbed in this seeing.
The two businessmen stood up, smiled at each other, exchanged a few polite sentences, shook hands, grabbed their bags, and walked out. Such apparently simple and ordinary meetings between people suddenly looked mindboggling, hilarious, and essentially insane. The deeds that I believed were mine didn’t stand the light of my own investigation more than a few seconds and the consequences had been a complete shift in consciousness. But now the process continued while watching people move, talk, interact with their surroundings and each other. A dog came to our table, waiving his tail. A few leaves were swirling here and then, apparently under the influence of a light morning breeze. An ant walked across our table, stopped, turned around, stopped again, and continued until she disappeared under a pile of paper napkins. I was there, silent, feeling so many feelings and noticing so many things, inside and outside, looking at Kira who seemed to be enjoying this quiet space. We were being lived. We were essentially robots. We were functioning according to our unique design and a law beyond our understanding. The ant, the students, the leaves, me. Watching life unfolding was fun and easy, I thought, and everything seemed to be happening perfectly.
How could we have it so wrong for so long on such a global scale? How could such a simple shift and simple seeing seem so complicated? How could I have been on the spiritual path for most of my life, meditating hours a day for the last 15 years, spending so much time and money in the deepest inquiry work available…and not see such a simple thing with absolute certainty? How was that possible?
I was looking at the scene in the little café, a scene that was in constant movement. I felt centered and quiet, at ease. Kira was looking around too, and I wondered if she was busy with the same inquiring as I was. Our eyes met. A smile responded to a smile.
The waiter appeared with a plastic tray full of colorful dishes. Our breakfast. I could feel my taste buds opening up in anticipation and my stomach getting in tune.
It was all there. The fruit salad was generous, with large pieces of papaya and pineapple overflowing. The cappuccinos had cute foamy designs on top. Kira put the fruit bowl in the middle, looked at the cappuccinos and gave me the one with a white heart. She laughed and took the one with a flower.
It was all so amazing to suddenly experience myself for what I truly was: a robot. All those actions were being seen as unfolding, not as being done by me, nor anyone. The waiter moved to the next table.
A sense of freedom was being experienced in a totally new way; a lightness of being.
I wasn’t sure about it, but it felt like I acted as I would have the day before, that from the outside I looked “normal”. I slept, woke up, walked, ate as if nothing had happened. I ordered my breakfast, talked to the waiter, went to the bathroom, asked sensible questions and had discussions, as if nothing had happened.
Yet, something had happened. And apart from Kira who may have suspected something, I was alone with my transmutation. Had I entered Ramesh’s flat as a 41-year-old caterpillar and come out as a butterfly?
It certainly felt so.
We ate our breakfast with delight, having small talks and watching life go by.
“We are right on time” said Kira.
“On time for what?” I asked
“For Ramesh’s meeting!” she replied laughing. “We are about 15 minutes’ walk to his place, and we have almost another hour. Should we order more croissants?”
She was funny and easy. I felt comfortable and I loved that we didn’t need to over talk things; we were definitely in tune.
I didn’t feel like another croissant, but a small cappuccino, yes, maybe.
I remembered that yesterday at this time I was sitting in the train. It felt so bizarre, as if time had taken a quantum leap forward. Or was it backward? Or was it a full stop, even so brief?
I noticed with surprise that sitting at Ramesh’s feet again sounded sweet and lovely, but there was no excitement. Yes, I could happily go. But I could also not go. I felt in a kind of unusual neutral gear, going through the motions certainly, but neutral.
The shift that had unexpectedly taken place inside felt complete, for now at least. I was enjoying myself tremendously. I was at peace, present, awake. I also enjoyed a feeling of delight and of looking forward to what the next move might be. Anything was an opportunity to test again and again, in the mirror of awareness, what Ramesh had delivered. A thought form appearing in my mind, a grumbling in my belly, a dog passing by, a sound, a moment of silence… But surprisingly, the most obvious realization that life was being lived came about through action, not by silently sitting with closed eyes. Hence, being in Kira’s company since yesterday, sitting in busy cafes full of people and hanging out in Mumbai’s marketplace had made the understanding crystal clear.
The mini awakenings I had in the past had all happened in action, even those which came about after long periods of sitting.
I remember being about 5 years old and laying one evening on the green sofa. My parents were busy discussing the day and my little brother was sleeping in his cradle. Suddenly, out of the blue, watching the scene and listening to their talk, I saw the absurdity of it all. I saw that there wasn’t anyone there. I saw people being lived the way the air was being blown out of the hairdryer. They were so involved, believing without a doubt that they were someone doing something; they were arguing as if their ideas were theirs. It was so absurd. That incident is the oldest I remember where I saw with certainty what I was again seeing now. That day the seeker was born.
More recently and many years later, after days of inquiry in a group process called “satori”, where we sit from morning till evening in front of a partner using Koans such as “Tell me who is in?”, it was during a dance meditation in the afternoon of the 7th day that I had my first Satori in a long time. Just like that. While dancing.
More such experiences would occur in the coming years, and all would take place either while dancing, while sitting in the busy German Bakery in Pune, or while buying spices in an overcrowded Market in Bangkok.
All those experiences had never lasted more than a couple of weeks at a time, but they had been important on my journey from here to here. They were reminders that life was more than what I took it to be.
What I was experiencing right now as I sat in “French Café” with Kira had the very same flavor. It was a space I knew well, one that always had appeared and disappeared without my understanding.
Never had I been able to do something about the lifting of the veil.
But here, Ramesh’s investigation was running, and that investigating seemed to bring forth complete clarity.
I finished my omelet and sipped my second cappuccino with delight.
“So Nirav, what are your plans for today? Should we get ready and slowly go to Ramesh? Or do you have some other idea?”
I liked the way Kira talked, the way she asked questions. The sound of her voice felt soothing. I took a moment before answering. I was investigating so many things all at once. I could see thoughts in my mind appearing in spite of me. I could feel how Kira’s questions came out of her.
It seemed that remembering Ramesh, his transmission and his offering was linked to the space I was in.
“I don’t have any plans” I said, “but yes, let’s go to Ramesh and see what happens. I can go back to Pune this afternoon. Or maybe I can spend one more night at your place if it’s Okay with you.”
Kira smiled and assured me that I was most welcome to stay on.
The walk to Ramesh’s building was easy, just a few blocks away in this very spacious and green part of the city. The ocean was just a couple of kilometers away at the most, I could feel it.
“Do you recognize the area?” asked Kira, “here on the left is Laxmi’s house, and 200 meters ahead that way is Ramesh’s building. It’s all very close, we made a loop.”
Kira exulted such a joy and spontaneity. She was smiling.
We arrived right on time at the gate, where exactly 24 hours ago Abdul had dropped me. I was in a very different place inside this morning, much more settled and at peace. Although I could sense the investigation running its course in the background, it seemed like it was doing its things without causing any tension and without my doing- not unlike the beating of my heart or the millions of actions taking place inside my every cell and organs in the middle of the night.
I felt my eyes open, outside and inside. Seeing was happening. I squeezed in the lift with a few already familiar faces, and up we went. I sat on a little cushion at the back of Ramesh’s living room while Kira found a place on a comfy looking chair by the window.
While it was beautiful and heartwarming to be sitting here, I didn’t feel the excitement I was feeling yesterday. Neither did I have a question.
The only question burning inside had been answered with three words. Not only that, my tossing the coin last night in Colaba had dispelled any doubts I had about Ramesh’s seriousness about it. Indeed, when life was unfolding according to a cosmic law and not according to a me/Nirav that in fact didn’t exist, when everything was already in the can, questions about decisions making were as important as the way a dirty two rupees’ coin falls.
A young couple just arriving from Australia took the front seats, and were greeted by Ramesh. I closed my eyes soaking in the energy and Ramesh ‘s words. He reiterated that what he was proposing was a concept only, and he went on to answer the questions in his own unique way. Interestingly, I felt in neutral gear still, without excitement, without goal, without much passion either. I was just sitting on the cushion the way I was sitting in the café for breakfast or in my bed this morning. Letting life flow.
I wondered if Ramesh had done the job in just one sitting, if there was anything more for me to “get”, if I could just go home and see what happened next.
It was a beautiful, deep and touching gathering, I was happy I came, but I also sensed that it may well be my last visit. On the way out I bought a couple more books, including “Confusion No More”, met Kira by the shoe shelves and walked with her to the South Indian restaurant across the road. There we took our same seats as yesterday and were soon surrounded by Ramesh’s friends. This was the hanging out spot after the meeting, a great and sweet little place to connect in a more casual setting. I always loved those contrasts, the market place after the satsang, the ordinary street restaurant after the so special meeting with a sage. I loved to see that whatever was happening with me didn’t suddenly vanish with my first movement.
I was still high, I noticed; or rather, still in.
My masala dosa arrived with a cup of coffee. It was only noon, I was not that hungry, and I figured out that this would get me going until the evening. I sensed inside a longing to move, to take an afternoon bus to Pune and be home this evening. I sensed a longing to be by myself and integrate what had happened. There was a distinct looking forward to travel alone through the streets of Mumbai, through the crowded station and let life take me wherever. I also felt Kira next to me, and although I didn’t look at her right now, I could sense her beaming smile. Her presence was powerful. What about spending more time together?
Here I was again, with my many thoughts and the different options, and I suddenly remembered the coin. I must have laughed out loud because Kira looked at me curious “All good Nirav?”
“Yes, all is very good” I answered, smiling. Indeed, all was unfolding perfectly, those thoughts were arising as part of the perfect unfolding, and there was no need to toss anything.
I took a breath of relief while noticing how it too, was part of the perfection.
We were sharing the table with Meera, a friend of Kira. Meera had her own graphic design business here in Mumbai and she had rarely missed a morning at Ramesh since she first heard of him about four months ago. She was a beautiful, well-educated and intelligent young woman; it was interesting to hear her describe how Ramesh had, or rather was, slowly transforming her attitude towards life. I realized that everyone’s inner world was unique and basically unfathomable to anyone else, no matter how carefully we listen and try to understand the other.
I shared with Kira what was happening and that I felt like going to Pune now. I could always come back anytime soon if I wanted, I said. I could feel Kira’s disappointment- she obviously liked me. And I liked her too.
I asked Kira how she felt, and if she had other options in mind. We could go and explore a few different places, she explained, there was plenty of markets and sights and even beaches and parks in Mumbai.
I didn’t look convinced, and neither did she. We had a delightful exploring day yesterday, but really, hanging out and sightseeing didn’t excite any of us.
“What about we go to my room and have a cuddle” she said bluntly.
It was a straightforward question; one I certainly hadn’t anticipated.
I leaned back inside for a moment.
I repeated the question, just to make sure that I heard rightly, or maybe just to win time and slowly wind down out of the shock space I probably was in. “A cuddle? In your room?”
She wasn’t smiling anymore. I felt her attentive and free-floating in this crazy ordinary unfolding neither of us had anything to do with. She was staring at me, deliciously here and now, and her unwavering presence was giving me goosebumps. Amazing how mindful awareness turns me on, I thought.
I figured out that Kira’s question had probably surprised her as much as it had surprised me. There was nothing to analyze, nothing good or bad about it. It was the line existence had chosen for her to say. Period. The next move was probably mine, although it didn’t have to be. I could keep quiet, order another coffee, or maybe walk away. I could say Yes, I could say No, I could say anything in between or beyond. What did I know? Who was I after all?
“I follow you. Let’s go”, is what came out of my mouth. It was a strange thing to say, I thought, but who cared?
We paid the bill, greeted the few friends still sitting, and walked off towards Laxmi’s house. There was excitement in the air, a cool alert presence also. We walked slowly and in silence, somehow relinquishing the free-floating space we were in. I felt that something extraordinary was going to happen, that existence was about to reveal some secret and gently push me through a door I had never dreamed of opening.
As soon as we entered her room, the attraction between us took over and we let go into it. Oh yes, there were probably other forces at play, thought-forms about our respective partners and the commitments we had with them. As far as I was concerned, I was in easy waters since I had agreed with my girlfriend about having other lovers when we were away from each other, and it was Kira who had initiated the move by inviting me to her room for a cuddle.
Although other scenarios could have taken hold of us, what happened was seen as my destiny and there was no guilt and no concerns about it. Lovemaking was seen as a happening, an unfolding of actions, reactions and responses.
Kira was certainly gorgeous and sexually uninhibited, and the passion that roared between our two bodies was fueled by a chemistry let unchained. But most remarkable was the underlying quality of presence, let go and acceptance that filled the room. Never had making love been such an outright ridiculous description of what was happening. Making love with Kira was all but “making”, all but “doing”.
Not unlike the mini satoris I had had in the past while dancing, where the dancer had for a moment disappeared and only the dance had remained, lovemaking was happening all by itself.
Soft Goa grooves were playing over Kira’s little speakers, the sunlight was filtering through the golden curtains above the sofa where I had spent the night, the air was rich and balmy.
The investigation was running in the background, steadily, in spite of a me I couldn’t find anymore.
I certainly had enjoyed an exceptionally deep and abundant love life during the last 15 years in Pune; I had explored my sexuality from all possible corners, been in dozens of intense workshops dealing with sex, breath, energy, trauma, bodywork, creativity and what not! I even became a certified tantra master, and “loveplaying” as I preferred to call it, was an integral part of my daily life -my favorite hobby and meditation. I was obviously not everyone’s match, but my freedom, passion, playfulness, depth and presence were a rare blend of essential qualities in a lover, and I did feel blessed.
Being more present, more aware, more in and more down as I moved through sex had been my practice of many years, and I had become proficient at it. But what took place that afternoon in Mumbai was beyond any experience I ever had. For hours our bodies merged, came together, separated and melted into each other again. Breathing went from shallow to smooth, from slow to deep and wild. Our bodies moved from the bed to the floor to the sofa; they rested and fired up again. At some point Kira fell asleep, started to snore lightly, woke up, snuggled up in my arms, skidded along our sticky blended juices and slid down my legs.
I could feel her long blond hair caressing my lower belly, I could feel my naked balls hanging there, I could feel so many delicious and erotic feelings. But again, although they were certainly enjoyed, the core of the delight wasn’t so much in the sensations themselves, as it was in the absolute Seeing that all was happening by itself. In that moment there was no Kira and no Nirav, no one doing anything. There was simply presence, the understanding that consciousness was doing its thing through those two body-mind organisms according to their programming and a cosmic law no one would ever understand.
I had spent most of my life without realizing how much was happening inside this body-mind. From the constant beating of my heart to relentless breathing, there were billions of vital actions required every single moment without which Nirav would cease to exist. It was only quite recently that I had discovered how thoughts too, emerged and departed in spite of me. Not only didn’t I have a choice as what kind of thoughts do appear in my mind, but stopping or changing them seemed an impossible ordeal.