It's twilight and above me the sacred mountain of Arunachal is becoming a silhouette against the sky, a mountain older than the Himalayas, dedicated to Shiva. In its caves over thousands of years many have realised enlightenment or samadhi. Ramana Maharshi lived on this mountain in modern times. It is the eve of the full moon and hundreds of thousands of people are walking aound the mountain, though it feels more like walking though a long funfair of stalls with small temples every few yards. Some walk in silence, many are in groups chattering excitedly. At other times, some even roll around the mountain for all of its 14km circumference. I walked alone a week earlier in the early morning chanting all the way Om Namah Shivaaya and singing Arunachala Shiva. The cave where Ramana lived for several years is particularly powerful and we were able to chant in there, the vibrations of the chants filling our heads and bodies shaking out thoughts to create luminous space to dissolve in to. All spiritual practices require some way of stilling thoughts to allow the spaciousness of being to a recognised and mantra is a particularly powerful way to do this (see www.mantra-yoga.com) . Ramana at the end of the ninteenth century experienced sahaja samadhi (spontaneous awakening) when he was sixteen years old and from that experience developed Self-Enquiry as a method to realise the Self. It is simple to enquire in the identity of the experiencer. Can the seer be seen? We so readily get caught up in the experiences or try and become the witnesser of the experience and never enquire into the nature and reality of the expereincer.
India is a great place to practice this. Old distractions are muted and the sheer intensity of the experiences in the present moment make it easier to stay present and then, as if putting a mirror in front, look for the reality of the experiencer. So who walked around the great mountain of Arunachala? And were they separate from the mountain and the crowds.?