Deep in the cave of the heart Is brahman for ever alone The unique I, the unique Self, Enter, O man, into this depth of thyself, With thought turned within, With mind sunk in the Self, At peace, Fixed in the Self, Having become thyself! OM Sri Ramana Maharshi
It was in 1993 that I visited the sacred sites of southern India, one of them being the sacred mountain of Arunachala where the great Indian sage Ramana Maharshi lived and founded an ashram.
I went into the Meditation room there and fell into the deepest silence I have ever experienced, and into this silence dropped these two messages: ‘See the Divine flame in every Being’ and ‘Drop your mental baggage.’ I have been trying to follow these two precepts ever since.
During this protracted period of lockdown I feel fortunate that I have found a spiritual faith, which has sustained me over the ups and downs which we have all been experiencing.
We live in a secular age, so most people no longer believe in a power higher than themselves. Even so, the life force is extraordinarily resilient, and people have found many different ways in which to keep themselves going, physically, mentally and emotionally, and with some success. And of course, the most fundamental way has been people helping each other.
I go back to the beginning of lockdown and remember how we all emerged on our doorsteps on a Thursday evening to cheer the NHS, how we chatted to our neighbours, and how I received offers of help and shopping from my neighbours. Time and events have changed all that and we have become much more divided.
How I have coped over this long period? My kind neighbours moved away and I had to learn how to order my groceries online, not without experiencing some stress. Then there was the isolation, not being able to go out and meet friends. I do have zoom and so I was able to keep in touch in that way.
As I have mentioned already, I belong to a spiritual group and we meet regularly, on zoom, to meditate and have quiet periods of reflection and prayer. I also belong to a Church and am in regular contact with its members.
This has not prevented me, however, from suffering periods of anxiety. At those times I have been able to reach out for help, either through therapy or again, sharing with friends, and I am exceedingly grateful for the support they have given me. Other ways I have found helpful have been through writing, keeping a journal, or through art, drawing and painting.
I also decided to adopt a cat, her name is Lola. Here is her picture.
Lola is thirteen years old, she has had a good home and so she is a calm and confident cat. She has given me a lot of pleasure and fun, and also a sense of responsibility for her welfare. She has been a great blessing to me.
As I have already mentioned in a previous blog, I had two panic attacks early last year, which reduced me to a state of extreme physical, mental and emotional weakness. Over a period of time I recovered both my physical health and all my other faculties. But I have realised, as time goes by, that I am not in the same place as I was before.
For one thing, lockdown is still going on and is taking its toll on all of us. We are now lacking clear leadership and that is affecting us all. We are much more divided than we were before, and that is worrying. The state of the world is worrying. And I think we are all affected by this at a deep unconscious level.
I am beginning to realise that I am losing the plot. Everything is becoming more difficult, cooking, washing up, getting dressed, online ordering. I am getting stressed and therefore I am losing my mental faculties, my memory. This disturbs me as I have always relied on my excellent memory. Which has led me to ring a Helpline and talk to a friend.
A short time ago I took part in a lovely Retreat where we discussed the theme of the Cave of the heart. I was left feeling very peaceful and calm, and I was determined to continue the practice of a quiet day once a week.
Then we returned to the real world, and events have taken over. I am no longer peaceful and calm.
So have I survived lockdown? Well, I am still here, still writing this blog, still trying to find the answers. I still think myself fortunate to have a spiritual faith, which does give me some measure of comfort and support. But I can see that it is still something outside of myself to which I am clinging.
Which brings me to my conclusion, and, of course, this is very personal, which is that I still need to find that deep, inner Self which is at the core of my Being, When I am in touch with that deep inner Self, I know that it will carry me through everything: any hardship, any joy, with equanimity. Then I will find peace.
These are just some ramblings on lockdown. There are many ways to climb the mountain. I should love to hear some of your views.