I have often found resonance in these few lines of a poem by Kamala Das.

“Of late I have begun to feel a hunger
To take in with greed, like a forest fire that
Consumes and with each killing gains a wilder,
Brighter charm, all that comes my way.”

I awoke to my spirituality in the middle of a pandemic unable to figure out why this good thing burns so much. In the past I often described myself as a reluctant atheist. Always unhappy yet not knowing why I am so angry at what I considered to be a rational fact. I analysed myself to an answer as well, the fact was I taught myself to be an atheist. I read into all my life’s unanswered prayers as proof that nothing exists. I chose not to have any expectations and in my quest to appear more and more clinical I denied the presence of my soul. That hurt me more than I realized. Had I been born into a family of no faith, no religion, no custom , no ritual- I believe this denial wouldn’t have hurt as much. But I did believe, I was taught to believe and now when I was weaning myself forcibly off faith I felt like someone had robbed me of my soul, my immortality. I felt angry and cheated. I was unhappy.

But shouldn’t this have changed with my spiritual awakening? Today I have no doubt in my Faith. My Faith is not subject to gains and losses. Yet this Mind, this mind won’t stop burning. It cannot stop taking precedence over my soul. Seven months of slowly healing my doubts, my physical fears, my obstinate desires- by going deep within with prayer and meditation. I now know what it feels to experience quiet. I could easily flow into a meditative state for twenty minutes or more with no thought but bliss. Such vibration I felt , energy pulsing in my body, a myriad of colors in my mind. I was tremendously grateful and happy.

Then it stopped. I reverted back to the pain of my spiritual initiation, unable to get out of bed, to eat, to do anything. I can no longer find the quiet. Attempting mediation is letting the mind loose ,burning through my peace with ruinous ruminations and nightmares of what might come.

Does this happen to all? How does one armor against this? How does one stay steady on one’s spiritual path in spite of sorrows big and small? I here remind all that while my peace of mind seems to have evaded my Faith hasn’t. That is truly a step up. I just need a way to find tranquility again. Is it wise to step back and let the forest fire burn till it dies out? Or should one try to stop it?

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Paramita Roy

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