There is no greater teacher than one’s own experience. Especially when it comes to spiritual progress, theoretical knowledge is useful in satisfying the intellect, but lasting transformation cannot happen without one’s direct experience.
Experience of Kailash yatra can never be fully explained in words, but this humble attempt will hopefully be used as an inspiration for those who read about it to strive to reach “the crown chakra of Mother Earth” and achieve their own experience of the mighty Kailash one day.
The greatest blessing of our colorful group of 84 was that we could experience Kailash in the physical presence of Mohanji. When dealing with matters that are beyond the mind, only those who have mastered the mind can provide precious guidance in the right moment, the moment when transformation either happens or doesn’t.
Mohanji has prepared us mentally that journey to Kailash will be tough and a true test of our faith and surrender. He said that during Kailash yatra “Grace is more essential than oxygen.” However, mind could not quite grasp the true meaning of those words until the great teacher Experience appeared.
The experience of the first day of Yatra taught me the following: the energy of Kailash, just like the consciousness of a Master, is like a mirror – when approached with ego, expectations, concepts and doubts, it will reflect back to us just how small and fragile we are. But when we truly surrender, empty ourselves and with utmost humility allow ourselves to simply experience/feel Kailash beyond any of our existing concepts, it is then that we can behold Kailash in its grandeur and allow its energy to work on us deeply. As Mohanji said “Nobody leaves Kailash empty handed.” But the depth of the experience depends on our receptivity and eligibility…
Another crucial question is – am I ready to face the mirror?
Before proceeding with my own “mirror facing experience” during the 3 days of trekking, I can’t but mention the most sublime, most unexpected blessings received at the lake Mansarover, the grand cleanser of negativities beyond this lifetime, the lake in which celestial beings bathe every day.
The magical M – of Mansarover, Miracle, Mastery of Mind, Mohanji…
I must admit that I was dreading the experience of Mansarover. We were in Himalayas, in our winter jackets with several layers of clothing below – it’s not all that easy to believe that we can just blissfully enter the ice cold water and take 9 or more dips in it, without any consequences to our health. During the long bus ride on the way to Mansarover, my mind kept bombarding me with the fearful thoughts like “If I get the ovary inflammation due to that ice cold water, the whole yatra is gone for a toss. Is it really worth the risk?” At one point I got tired of these thoughts and decided to share the same with Mohanji. He immediately reassured me that I will be just fine. He said there is no way I could miss this opportunity of a lifetime – the cleansing at Mansarover lake is too powerful, it penetrates and removes the negativities of many lifetimes.
When we reached Mansarover, its surreal beauty, its surreal beauty left us in awe. While admiring its azure green shades and divine sparkles of sun reflection on the water I suddenly saw a strong flash coming from the clouds. It was just like somebody flashed with the photo camera a couple of meters away from my face – except that this was coming from the clouds far away. I kept looking intently through the window of our bus but could not see anything after that strong flash. I wondered what that was. A couple of minutes later, Spomenka shared with me the photos she clicked with her mobile and pointed at 2 balls of light that were visible on a dozen of photos, all in different locations (in the clouds, near the Mansarover water, near one house, etc.) I was totally amazed – this was it! The celestial beings made their presence known to us in the most unexpected way. I was getting more and more excited about our Mansarover dip!
When we reached the beach and the bus door opened, my joy was spoiled by many mosquitoes of huge size (at least 3 times bigger than the usual ones) that surrounded us all of a sudden. I kept waving with my hands in distress until one of the tour organizers said with a smile “Nothing to worry, these are vegetarian mosquitoes. They don’t bite.” I was not sure whether he was joking or not, but soon realized that they were indeed not biting us. “Vegetarian mosquitoes” – how amazing was that?! I laughed and said this must be some good karma due to being vegetarian 🙂.
The overall feel on the beach was surprisingly great. The weather was perfect (22ºC), totally sunny and pleasant, and all of us rushed to remove the clothes and enter the water. I soon came to notice that most people had their bikinis or whatever was the choice of clothing on them already, so they were ready for the dip in no time. I was yet to change my clothes and had to wait for one of the two small tents allocated for the ladies, which took time.
Kailash was at first not visible from the clouds and then, as if in Divine theater, we saw only the base of it getting revealed beneath the white clouds, with unmistakable small ‘m’ clearly written all over it.
What a beautiful welcome for Mohanji and all of us! After some time, the clouds parted and our joy knew no bounds as we beheld both, Mansarover and Kailash with our physical eyes.
I finally got to change my clothes, took a deep breath and entered Mansarover – the cold water was strangely energizing and the feeling of diving into it and then looking at Kailash between each dip was truly grand. After doing 9 dips and enjoying the view of Kailash some more, I had the desire to perform abhishek of Mohanji with Mansarover water.
I looked to my left and saw him turning towards the shore at that same moment. Since he entered the water much before me, he was just about to leave. I ran in his direction and shouted “Wait for me, wait for me!” Sumit and Spomenka also shouted “Biba is coming!” Some strange excitement overwhelmed me and my heart was beating like crazy! I briefly saw Mohanji’s eyes and understood immediately that he was in an expanded state – the expression in his almost red eyes was very Shaivic, very powerful. My heart melted as I did the abhishek and then suddenly ‘bham!’ – a totally unexpected blow which almost knocked me off. Mohanji poured water on my head but energetically it felt like a mighty slap, as if the water thundered on me high up from a mountain. I was squatting in the water and barely managed to fold my palms when ‘bham!’- another ‘hit’ came, so strong that it felt like it literally peeled a layer from my body/system. There was no time to think, pray, breathe, or even remotely try to understand what was happening. With eyes full of water and tears, I looked at Kailash in the distance, and then ‘bham!’, another hit and another layer peeled off. I cried and laughed at the same time, in total delirium, in total gratitude. The next thing I recall is Mohanji leaving the lake supported by Sumit and one more person and me exiting the water as well.
I still did not fully ‘digest’ this experience nor do I know how to name it. Baptism by Shiva? Astral operation in the lake Mansarover by the mighty surgeon Shiva? Whatever it was, I am forever grateful to Mohanji, to Shiva, for granting me the blessing I could not have even prayed for because I never knew it was possible…
After we reached our accommodation next to the lake Mansarover, I came to know that Sumit clicked a couple of photos with his mobile while I was undergoing this experience. My heart skipped a beat when I browsed through the photos and noticed Shiva’s third eye on my forehead, as if deeply engraved. I just kept looking at it, totally speechless… Om Namah Shivaaye!
That night I could not fall asleep – out of sheer excitement over this experience and the overall feeling of being totally energized. A couple of us agreed that we would wake up at 3am and go to the wall that separates our accommodation from the Mansarover beach in order to see whether any of the celestial beings would come to take a bath in the lake. It was not clear whether that was 3am Chinese, Nepalese or Indian time, so in the end myself and Ami ended up going to the wall 2h before the others came. It was so beautiful and auspicious to stand there in pin drop silence. Cold wind was blowing, but we didn’t mind – the lake looked truly magical. Ami sang a Violet flame prayer most beautifully and our hearts were filled with love. In less than a couple of minutes we saw a light similar to that of a star on the sky – it just appeared in the middle of the lake, as if floating on the water. Our jaws dropped! It moved a bit to the left, then to the right, then went under the water (took a dip), then surfaced again, changed color to pinkish, then to red – it was magical, to say the least. We stood there for more than an hour and saw at least a dozen of them. As we were just about to leave, another light appeared but far brighter than the others. It was floating on the water and moving towards us. It looked like two twinkling stars on top of each other. I became breathless as I clearly felt it/them connecting energetically to my heart chakra. The sensation was incredibly beautiful. At that point two hours have already passed it and I was eager to share this experience with others who wanted to have the experience. Our little group gathered soon and we went to the wall again. At this point more people were waking up and some were using their flash lights. The sacred silence was broken and celestial beings would not come/reveal themselves. We stood there for 30 min. or so but nothing happened. Slightly disappointed, we decided to go back to our rooms. Monja and I stayed a bit longer, but since celestial beings were not to be seen we started walking towards our accommodation. As we walked, I felt the sensation on the back of the heart chakra. I turned around and there it was, the celestial being with strong almost fluorescent light shining from the middle of the lake. We stood at the same spot and looked at it in awe. I opened my heart chakra in deepest gratitude, embracing its blessings…
The next day we saw something even more amusing – Mohanji’s face (semi profile) on Mount Kailash, but this time with sunglasses and a white cap which he wore many times during the yatra.
I laughed and asked Mohanji “How come you are wearing the sunglasses?” He smiled and said: “Shiva is pulling a prank. He has a good sense of humor.” All this and our yatra did not even start! 🙂
It is only natural that we compare ourselves to others and derive logical conclusions. When the trekking started, I recall somebody telling me “Oh, lucky you – you practice Yoga and pranayama, so yatra must be much easier for you.” I looked around and saw so many people elder to me, and/or people whose bodies conveyed sedentary lifestyle, and in view of many years of Yoga practice plus my preparation in the gym, my mind accepted this comment as true. Oh, the subtle traps of ego. Little did I know how soon these concepts and logical conclusions would be shattered to pieces in the mighty Shaivic energies of Kailash…
I started the 3 days of trekking (the actual Kailash yatra) in the height of restlessness. I was told that morning that weather could be very cold and thus added many layers of clothing onto my body. However, by the time we were to start the trek, the sun was blazing and I starting sweating a lot while waiting for the allocation of ponies and porters to be over. I was given a piece of paper with the name of the owner of the pony and was told to make sure I don’t lose it. Before I knew it, Mohanji and the rest of our team started walking and I was still not able to identify the pony allocated to me (which I intended to use only in case I fall sick/weak and cannot continue the yatra on foot). I requested some of the Tibetan porters to read out to me the name written on this piece of paper, but none of them could read the handwriting with which it was written – I was stuck! Sumit told me not to worry –the man who owns the pony will surely search for me as this is their livelihood. I thus started walking, even though I felt quite unsettled. Under the scorching sun I soon removed my heavy jacket and tied it around my waist. Then I removed my winter scarf and tied it around my waist. The next was my black sweater – it too found its place around my waist. I felt so heavy with all this clothing hanging from my waist, plus the two walking sticks that I didn’t feel like using, water bottle, snacks – it all felt like a lot of luggage as the lack of oxygen started to make me feel increasingly weak. On top of it all, this inexplicable frustration and restlessness kept building within me – in fact, I never felt this restless in my whole life! I pretty much felt like a helpless child lost in a crowded market place. Other yatris kept passing me by, either on ponies or by foot, and I felt that I was the slowest and most miserable of them all. I could not recognize myself – I have faced far greater challenges in my life, but my inner state was never this bad. Then one of our sweet yatris Akshay came with a big umbrella and offered me most lovingly to share its blessed shade with him. That felt so great and I was very grateful. My morale was boosted a bit and soon everything seemed to be falling into place – the owner of the pony appeared and I was able to offload on him my heavy jacket and whatever else I could. That was such a relief! It was as if I had to be reminded of how important it is to “Travel light through life, drop the unnecessary luggage”.
Still, I was feeling quite breathless and clearly lacked the stamina. This took me by surprise. I was quite happy that from the beginning of the trip my body was coping with the hypoxia (high altitude sickness) so well while many of our yatris were vomiting and falling sick. Another instance of sumptuous feeding of the ego, coupled with the wrong assumption that the same trend would continue till the end of the yatra.
The straight path slowly turned into our first bigger hill. Due to hypoxia, what would have been a normal climb in the usual conditions, became a great struggle for breath after every couple of steps. I tried all breathing and concentration techniques known to me, but still could not keep the pace without stopping to catch the breath. My confidence was shattered and I felt totally miserable. After somehow climbing the first hill I had to admit to myself that I could no longer cope. With a heavy heart, I decided to use a pony. At that point, hypoxia already overwhelmed my system and the very act of climbing onto a pony made me gasp for breath. The scenery around me was stunning, but I could not enjoy any of it as all my energy was spent on maintaining the balance on the pony and ensuring I take a sip of water frequently enough to avoid dehydration that makes hypoxia even worse.
By the time we reached our destination, Derapuk camp, with the stunning view of the North Face of Kailash, I could not wait to crash into a bed.
It was freezing cold, there were no toilet facilities, mud, chaos, noise – difficult to say what was worse, my inner state or my surrounding… It was ironic – the mighty Kailash that I dreamed of seeing for years was now right before my eyes, but I could not bring myself to even utter a prayer – I was just so miserable at all levels – physical, emotional, mental and spiritual, as disconnected as I could be from my Higher Self, Mohanji, Kailash, Divine…. I felt like finding a hole and hiding in it… When I entered the room in which Mohanji was seated with several other yatris, I witnessed with a blank expression on my face how they were overflowing with devotion, gratitude and joy, laughing and sharing beautiful experiences, massaging his feet, soaking in love – Dhriti managed to walk to the point at which one could touch Kailash and came back with a big radiant smile. Others shared their own experiences… That made me even more miserable – I had nothing, absolutely nothing to share, zero ‘bhaav’ (feeling/flavor of genuine devotion), and I would never try to fake it. I felt totally numb, disconnected and miserable.
At one point Mohanji looked me straight in the eyes and said “You are in the illusion of doership, that is why you are going through this. You think you can do the yatra relying on your physical strength and stamina, that you are the doer. When you lose the bhaav, you lose the grace – simple.” This comment crushed the last inner wall that kept me composed – I knew that what Mohanji said was absolutely true and admitted to myself that I totally lacked surrender. I could not understand how this could happen to me though. I waited and prayed for years to come to Kailash and now that I reached I felt nothing! I was agonized. To a person on a spiritual path, there is no greater pain than spiritual numbness, the feeling of being disconnected from one’s Guru/Higher Self/Divine. After Mohanji uttered those words so bluntly, I had to agree – it was not about the hypoxia, the pony that was not to be found, or any other silly reason. This was all about me and my ‘doership’, my lack of surrender, while Kailash was right in front of my face! I had a bit of a warm herbal tea and disappeared into my room eager to sleep and rest from this agonizing turmoil, hoping that somehow sleep would make it all better.
(to be continued…)