The man who plays in the bosom of Arunachala
Last year when the pull of Arunachala was growing on me and it was just a matter of time before my eyes would behold the sweet and magnificent Hill for the first time that I stumbled upon a blog during my websearch for Arunachala.
The blog was richardarunachala.wordpress.com and was maintained by a couple living in Tiruvannamalai.
The couple, Richard and Carol, who had left their previous memories and life back in the West and had come to settle down for good in the bosom of Arunachala, gave such beautiful descriptions of Arunachala in the blog that it increased my want to see the Hill much more.
The more I read into the blog the more was I charmed by the simple observations and the plain heartedness in the postings. I was also very grateful for the blog in showcasing unknown beautiful paths and photos of Arunachala. I wanted to know about this man who approached Arunachala with such ease and love.
Richard, a sixty plus ardent devotee of Arunachala, was a practitioner of the Zen ( Ch'an ) Buddhism for nearly twenty five years. His experiences were peaceful and nice but never too deep. It was then that he was introduced by his spiritual teacher Nome of the Society for Abidance in Truth to Ramana. Though at first Richard could not understand what Advaita philosophy meant, he knew in his heart that it was the Truth.
A couple of years of practice gave birth in him an idea to experience the Truth the way Ramana and Nome had experienced. This gave birth to regular Self Enquiry and meditations during the Brahma Kalam ( The Time of God ) from about 4.00 AM. This period was the beginning of a new chapter for him for he felt that his real spiritual practice began from here and all previous endeavors were just preparatory for the same.
Years later...the call from Arunachala came.
"If you hear the call from Arunachala...you must go....for it is the most Silent place in the cosmos" said Poonja Papaji.
Richard and his wife Carol ( who had always wanted to visit Arunachala ) signed up with a group accompanying Nome to come to Tiruvannamalai. On arriving they decided to stay in Guest House in the town rather than with the group in Ramanaashram. From the rooftop of the Guest House Richard communed in Silence wih Arunachala.
On the third day he came down the steps with a thoughtful mood. He looked at his wife and said "We could stay here"
And those simple words were the beginning of an entirely new chapter in Richard and Carol's life.
Richard soon retired from active service in 2007, set up an account at a
California office of State Bank of India - so fund transfers to India
would be easy and spent three painful months of real work to dispose a lifetime of items, books etc.
And then Richard and Carol came to Arunachala.
Richard says "When we got here, I found I was very interested in getting to know more about Arunachala, and several times each week, found myself on the Inner Path, walking round the hill, and wondering what was up all the side paths I kept seeing everywhere."
Initially Richard began to note his experiences of Arunachala in a friend's blog luthar.com but soon realized that he needed a blog which would exclusively deal with this and so richardarunachala.wordpress.com was born.
Within a year the blog which talks of the couple's experiences averages a whooping 5000 hits per month. And it is still going strong.
When I think of this couple and their enthusiasm and love in exploring Arunachala I am reminded of two children playing in the bosom of Shiva. It is like what children do on their Father's lap. It shows a certain amount of Love, Closeness and Ease. I can picture in my mind's eye Arunachala smiling at them with Love and unravelling
It's many secrets so that they can shower it on common people like me.
In Richard's own words
quote "I have found that many love Arunachala, and seeing photos of Arunachala reminds them of the love that is in their heart. I have also found that most do not
use the inner path, and when they start going on it, they generally love the peace they find on this route of the mountain. I have found that the appetite for pictures of Arunachala is great, almost like the interest of new parents in photos of their baby and child. So I use the blog to encourage people to come to the Inner Path. Then when they are at the Inner Path, so step off it and explore for themselves some of the wonderful places you can easily get to. There are so many places around the hill that seem filled with peace. I hope that the blog draws the few that are interested in such peace to these places.
When I started this, there was little focus. Since I have started this exploration and writing about the exploration, I have found that others are not writing about the Inner Path and other places on Arunachala. So there is a particular need and interest in this material. By this exploration and writing a feel that I am serving Arunachala. And this service is a joy. And after one year of exploration, I now have more places, not fewer places, to explore next.
The exploration is practice, walking with quite mind, focused on Existence. The exploration is joy, finding out more about Arunachala, which is a love or both myself and my wife. The exploration (and writing about it) is also a sharing of a spiritual love with others who feel the same. This is such a blessing." unquote
Arunachala is richer in my mind today because of many contributions of various people I have come across on the internet and in Tiruvannamalai.
Of them Richard and Carol rank among the first and among the best.
Arunachala Richard and Carol
Om Arunachala Namaha