And she was glad- he wasn't what she expected. Tattoos covered his arms, legs and neck. His hair was long and unruly and oddly colored. He didn't have the wise, old eyes of a guru- he had the young, wild eyes of a child. And rather than the traditional somber robes of the archetype he had rainbow colored pants and a tank top that read "Wild Thing." She smirked at herself for thinking he'd be anything different.
"Hey," he said- obscenely casual for such an austere setting. "How can I help you?"
She sat down before him, assuming her best posture.
"Hey, relax," he said as he himself leaned back on a pillow.
She raised an eyebrow but followed, and her back seemed to explode with gratitude for allowing it to finally rest. "Thank you."
He looked at her with those wide, wild eyes and waited. She steadied herself with a breath, and then began:
"I am seeking vidya. I've been lost in my life, tried so many different things trying to change who I was and I need your help." There, she'd started. Her journey could truly begin.
"Do you?" he asked, the same smirk pulling up the corners of his mouth.
"Excuse me?" she asked, irritation creeping into her voice instantly.
"I said, 'Do you?" he said, as if she meant she hadn't heard him. But the look on his face said that she had and the incredulous expression on hers begged clarification, so he continued. "It's not easy to get here."
"I know!" she yelled, then instantly shrank back in embarrassment.
"No, no- it's ok. There's anger in there, you had to go through the fire. It's cool," he said, sitting up and leaning forward. "But that's the whole point- you came here. You faced the fire and the water and the earth. You breathed the air and listened to the howling wind and saw the light up here- crazy, isn't it?"
She sensed it was a rhetorical question so she said nothing. But his eager look told her he was looking for an answer.
"Yes, it was- " and she thought about it then, really thought. Of everything she'd faced, everything she'd sensed, every change she'd surrendered herself to. "Yes- it's been a wild ride." And she smiled then, because it really had been.
"Yeah, there you go- it doesn't have to be such a strict ritual. Seeing is just a state of being, really. It's just getting out of your own way and living. It's not what you think it will be, it never is."
And this she heard, this rang true. "Now we're getting somewhere," she thought.
"Your problem isn't you- it's never been you. The reason you've been lost is because you've been seeking outside when you needed to look within."
She startled- was he saying he wasn't going to teach her anything? That she'd traveled all this way for nothing?
"I can see that fire again," he laughed. "That's a good thing- but listen. You have what you need within. You can meditate and study and listen to the wise, old gurus all you want. But the lessons you need to learn are already inside of you. You already have what you seek, you just need to get out of your own way."
Walking out of the great hall and away from yet another false prophet she felt angrier than she ever had. So much energy, so much time, so many challenges and for what? To be told that she already knew everything? Maddening!
She stormed back to the entrance, past the meditating people, past the rituals and reflections and stopped to pick up her pack.
And then the wind picked up again. It breathed through her hair, across her skin and down her spine. She felt the moisture of the snow and the warmth of the sun. She breathed it in again and her fire cooled. Her shadow retreated.
And she looked up. Out at the sun and the air and the landscape, and saw the most breathtaking view she'd ever seen. She saw the great forest where she'd descended into the earth through ancient roots. She saw the lake that led to the underground cave where she bathed and moved with freedom. She saw the field of fire and the leap she'd taken and remembered the promise she'd made to herself. She saw the fields where the villagers had farmed and remembered the love she'd felt for everything, all things. She looked out from the top of the mountain and felt the air roaring with the life, saw the light of the sun illuminating the whole world. And she was overcome by such overwhelming gratitude that it brought her to her knees.
And there she wept. She wept with love, wept with light, wept with God in her very sobs. And when she quieted she realized what he had meant. Look within. Breathe. Move and love and feel and steady and leap and cry and see and believe. All within, and without. No separation, no disconnection. Just be.
"Oh," she said to herself. And laughed.