IN EXILE ON GOOD FRIDAY
by Jeff Knaebel, 21 March 2008
Yudhishthira – one of the Pandeva brothers in the Bhagavad Gita – speaking to his Queen upon being exiled to the Himalaya:
“Behold the Himalaya, how grand and beautiful they are. I love them. They do not give me anything, but my nature is to love the grand, the beautiful; therefore I love them. Similarly I love the Lord… my nature is to love Him, therefore I love. I do not pray for anything, I do not ask for anything. Let Him place me wherever He likes. I must love only for love’s sake. I cannot trade in love.”
I went into self-imposed exile into Himalaya, to seek the presence of the grand and the beautiful, and to try to create the nucleus of an ashram which would offer to seekers of peace the solace for their lonely journey. My efforts were not successful “in time,” and I came to see that the grand and the beautiful were being destroyed in Himalaya and everywhere on earth.
So I came down to the concrete jungle in order to have access to facilities like the one upon which I now type, to use as tools of resistance to planetary destruction.
Some thoughts of Himalaya are offered in the following.
THE GROUND OF BEING
High above a mountain village in the Himalaya, on the way towards a place where I hope to build a meditation hut, I stop to rest at an alpine meadow. A breath-taking visa of the Grand Himalaya Range stretches for 200 miles. An eagle soars on afternoon thermals as towering thunderheads rise into a Cerulean sky.
Against this awesome grandeur, one witnesses human wretchedness and realizes the depth of his moral responsibility. A Universal Responsibility towards all beings. My every action affects directly or indirectly the welfare of my fellowmen. The first morality and the first service to others is the same: do no harm.
May I learn from Indian mountain villagers fewness of wishes and generosity. May I learn to simplify and to use least possible in order that others may live. May I learn to nourish the life support system of our shared earth. Whatever I have accumulated during my earthly sojourn will remain here upon my demise, so let me learn to share it. Only qualities of heart and mind will accompany me to the next world, there to determine my destiny.
Answering to the war drum becomes unthinkable. The pole star of peace beckons to quiet walks in the woods, or to comforting a child, or communing with a cow (so calm, gentle and nourishing, a cow). Communing with a cow reminds me of my identity with all that lives.
May the generosity, helpfulness, patience, and forbearance of Indian mountain villagers inspire all who come here to renew their connection with others and with Nature. May these villagers and all their visitors be successful. May they all experience real happiness, real peace and real harmony.
In a world gone mad with the violence of its greed, a way must be made to the peace and compassion by which alone humanity may survive. Love alone transfigures hatred. Ahimsa, nonviolence, is the working force of love.
Einstein said: "Humanity's problems cannot be solved at the same level of thinking that created them." Tolstoy wrote: "Love is what men live by."
May remembrance of untrammeled wilderness and a vibrant web of natural life not vanish from the mind of man. May beauty and the Mystery unlock the latent urge to inquire within Who am I? From where have I come? Where am I going? How may I understand, penetrate the cause of birth, old age, decay and death? How shall I live?
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THRONE ROOMS OF THE MOUNTAIN GODS
by Jeff Knaebel, 8 March 2002
This from my journal while returning from an exploration in Himalaya. I was looking for a site to put up a meditation hut. I had been on a ridge high above the Saryu River. From the ridge crest was a direct view of Nanda Devi Peak, in Uttaranchal.
Seventy two hours of cold North wind
freezing rain hail and snow.
Stone hut trembling in rolling thunder
wet wood no fire, sparse dry food.
Then clear sky, up and moving at zero four hundred.
Soft moonlight bluish on Himalayan snow peaks
a star perched on skyline ridge crest
bejeweled gate to Throne Rooms of the Mountain Gods.
Stones we tread on rocky trail
stepping on soft puffs of moonlight.
Old creaky knees grinding
a silent “namaste” said with lips only.
Red blooming rhododendrons in white snow
reminders of the sun of long ago.
Simple soft sweet sounds
of breeze and brook and early birds
greeting the coming dawn.///