I think many of us hoped this trip would offer huge revelations, clarity and insight. Descending upon us with power from Shiva, our life and its purpose would magically be revealed to us by day nine in the shrine.
We all know what happens when we set expectations, much less lofty ones such as enlightenment and pure self-awareness. Chances are pretty good they will not be met.
I’ve been assured time and time again from those who have preceded me that the real magic happens after we leave this beautiful, sacred place.
We are told time and time again, and what I tend to so aptly forget, is that in this tradition and on this sacred ground, all shaktis (loosely translated as energies) exist and are present – the ones that beget guilt, fear and doubt as well as those which move us toward more light, clarity and freedom.
Most of my experience the past ten days or so have been spent confronting and dealing with the former shaktis more than the latter. Particularly the one called guilt. I did not grow up with much organized religion, but I can only assume this is what good old Catholic guilt feels like.
For me guilt arises from shoulds. I should be a better student. I should be spending more time in the shrine. I should listen to Pandjit’s talk tonight. Despite the fact that for the past five years, I’ve dedicated a good portion of my life to study and learn the techniques and pillars of this tradition. Or the fact that yesterday morning, the shrine felt like torture. Or the fact that I am completely burnt out and could use a solid ten hours night sleep – probably a good ten day sleep.
I’ve supposedly committed myself to self-care, yet my guilt prevents me from making the choices that support that commitment.
While I thought this particular seed was burnt – over the past two days, it has become clear that my guilt is most definitely alive, kicking and sprouting. Guilt and some crazy Protestant work ethic have been the driving force behind my decisions here. Again, I wasn’t raised with this religion either but can imagine this is what they mean. A far cry from grace.
Like he did in a New Year’s retreat a little over a year ago, my teacher posed a question to us yesterday. What are we done with? (Yes, it was this question that inspired the title of my blog.) Which habit or pattern is not serving our greater goals and aspirations? What choices will we no longer tolerate?
I am done listening to advice and guidance that goes against my own inner wisdom, my ultimate guru. Even if that guidance comes from my teacher.
I am done believing that if I work a little bit harder, DO a little bit more, and push a little bit further I will be worthy of not only love but joy, fulfillment and peace.
Last night, instead of attending the lecture, I took myself to sit in the shrine. It was a choice made not out of guilt but out of genuine desire to sit with Her and offer up my guilt and fear. It was the most peaceful, genuine, and expansive time I’ve spent in there yet.
At at the 11th hour, I was blessed enough to spend some one on one time with Pandit Rajmani Tigunait, the brightest, most joyful person I know. Through his wise tales and stories, he gave me permission to let go. Or, I should say, directed me to give myself permission to let go. Of the shoulds and the guilt that comes along with it. I left Khajuraho knowing I received exactly what I needed.