It was around this time last year, that I unexpectedly found myself on a remote and lonely train platform in the middle of the night.
I was travelling through India on a three month Yatra (Pilgrimage). It was 2.30am, and I had just stepped off my overnight train – at the wrong station! As the train pulled away, I watched with dismay and a strange acceptance. Apart from two sleeping forms huddled under their shawls, I was alone. It was cold, dark and quiet. What next?
Then, from across the tracks and out of the darkness, came a figure – a young man, who turned out to be my Guardian Angel. ‘What is the problem?’, he asked. And so I explained what had happened. How I’d been told by a train official to get off at the next stop. That this was my station. It wasn’t. ‘Don’t worry’, he said gently, ‘I will help you’.
And he did.
Somehow, miraculously, and with much noise and banging on windows, he managed to wake an elderly passenger on the next train, who, after quickly hearing my story opened the door (another act of kindness), and let me in – just in time! With hands folded at my heart, and tears of gratitude in my eyes, there was only a moment for me to whisper ‘thank you’. And the train pulled away… Continuing it’s journey towards the dawn, and my next destination – Bodh Gaya.
The Art of Receiving
I’m eternally grateful to that young man for his care, compassion and kindness, without asking for anything in return. Once again, I was being ‘looked after’ – helped by the selfless generosity of ‘strangers’. What surprised me, was how hard it was to reconcile with not being able to complete the circle – not being able to fully return his kindness, or thank him enough. It was the Receiving without the Giving. Somehow, it felt unbalanced, unfinished…
A few weeks after this experience, I was in Lucknow, meeting with friends from Open Dharma. It was during this visit that Jayaji (a dear Dharma sister and teacher), spoke about this abundant cycle of Generosity, and the difficulty and frustration we sometimes face not being able to return it fully in the moment. Especially, as we travelled through India. Jayaji spoke of the exact feelings I had been struggling with. Her words resonated clearly, and gave me a new perspective on how ‘helpless’ I had been feeling. It was a very powerful teaching.
I now realise that I’m still able to return that young man’s kindness in another way – by offering my help to someone else, somewhere else. When we begin to understand that we are deeply interconnected to all Beings, we realise that we are All One. And we are reminded (again) that no one is a stranger.
Part of the circle
It’s the same when we practice Yoga. If we come to our Practice with an Open Heart, the benefits that it gives us (more peace, less tension, more compassion and kindness), naturally rub off on those around us. Our loved ones, friends, ‘strangers’… all Beings. And so, these positive qualities of compassion and kindness – this Generosity towards ‘strangers’, is returned. Again and again. This is the essence and abundance of a generous Heart. This is Yoga in action.
These words are dedicated with deep love and thanks to all those dear souls and friends who offered me their kindness and generosity as I travelled through India. You are my Teachers, and I will pass on that Light – wherever and whenever I can…
With Love and Gratitude,
Photo by Andrew: Simple abundance ~ this morning’s offering.