June 12, 1997
I stand at the entrance to a beautiful garden. At its center is a simple yet exquisite fountain. The fountain is shaped like a large clay birdbath with elaborate molding along the basin and running down the pedestal and four short legs at its base. The legs rest centered on a perfect concrete circle. Several white lotus flowers float in the bowl, lazily circling a single stream of water as it shoots up from the center like a glassy spear. Water trickles intermittently over the side of the bowl and into a grate rim set around the concrete pad. Beyond the grate is another perfect band of concrete, edged by rich green grass.
The grass is flawlessly even and extends out to make what looks to be about a 30’ square. Its perimeter is framed by a gravel path, the final piece of a perfectly painted canvas, solid green with a single, brilliantly forged fountain at its core.
The path edging the grass is broad and is formed with grated river rock. Two sides of the stone walkway are bordered again by deep flower beds. The flower beds extend to large square hedges that enclose parallel sides of the garden. The far hedge is a solid wall, but where I stand, there is a gap set in the center of the hedge wall, allowing access to the garden. I step through the opening, and the rocks respond with a faint grinding sound.
The perfect symmetry of the grass is complemented by the random yet balanced chaos of the flower beds. Every imaginable color is exhibited by a wide variety of blossoms. Dirt is barely visible beyond the dense foliage, but where it finds its way into view, it is rich and black and succeeds in making even more vivid the colors around it.
At each end of the hedge walls, roman style entryways hold the promise of grand structures beyond. The entrance to my left has several circular steps leading to a large courtyard. At the center of the courtyard, there is another fountain. The garden hedges bank the edges of the courtyard, to finally end at an additional set of steps and what appear to be columns beyond. I can see large urns filled with flowers scattered throughout the terrace, and I think of how beautiful it must be, but I will not have an opportunity to see its brilliance today. Today, I must turn to my right.
I travel meticulously along the garden path, toward the second structure. There are no steps to edge the gravel at this end of the garden. Instead, the pillars stand just along the rim of the garden path. They are much shorter here, 10 feet at the most, and are topped by a large square beam. Additional crosspieces lay atop the main beam on one side and travel another 20 feet beyond the pillars on the other, where they meet the roof of a structure beyond. Sheer white cloth is draped between the columns, creating a large shaded terrace. Exquisite furniture is strategically scattered throughout the patio, set to appreciate various views of the garden. The décor is limited, preserving the feeling of openness in the space.
I step beneath the pergola and continue toward the wall of shuttered doors beyond. The center doors stand open. I move through them with confidence.
The air inside is chilled and fresh, waking my bare feet as they connect with the tile floor beneath me. Looking down, I see I am wearing a simple white summer dress and no shoes. Like the linen drapes, my dress shifts gently with the air moving through the open foyer. The furniture is again sparse and elegant, arranged to create one or two comfortable conversation nooks. Random mandalas and an occasional statue bring balance to the space.
Moments after I enter the room, an Indian Woman comes to greet me. She is dressed in an exquisite blue Sari and bare feet. She smiles as I enter the room and nods as if she has been expecting me. With a single sweep of her hand, she gestures for me to follow her, and we continue into a wide hallway.
There appear to be three or so rooms on each side of the corridor. Hinged bamboo screens stand as doors on the rooms to be folded and unfolded as desired. At the end of the hallway, I can see another opening into yet another courtyard. In my mind, I imagine if one were to look down on this structure and its terraces from the sky, it must look like an hourglass, counting the sands of time.
The woman leads me to the first room on the right, and I see a Guru I have long admired sitting in a chair, waiting to hold a conference with me. I have always been in awe of these great masters, and I eagerly come to sit before him, waiting for the message he will share.
We sit for hours of discussion. Day turns to night and then to day again before we are done. Only a small fraction of the words we exchange survive the journey to my waking mind. Still, I remember the joy I feel in my heart as he speaks his soul to me and listens attentively to mine.
When it is finally time to leave, he stands first, offering me his hand. I allow him to help me rise to my feet, and as I come to a standing position, he wraps his arms around me. He stands holding me like his heart will break for knowing we will never meet again. His earlier words ring clearly in my mind, “Do not come to me in such awe, child. Here we sit, and you are the master. I am only a student. As long as you hold true to your humility, you will do great things upon this Earth. You will be the one they seek to see. Never lose yourself within the grand nature of your ways. Always be grateful and always be one with your humility.”
I feel the truth of his words, and I allow myself to become the teacher. I comfort him, and I tell him we will always know one another. I feel his pride and humility and real pain as it descends upon him. He knows what I do not, and now and I am the nurturer. I feel his honor of this moment with me, and I swear to myself I will never become too proud in my work.
Finally, we part, and he looks down at me with kind eyes. Brushing the hair from my face, he smiles again like the wise sage I know him to be. He gives me his strength and his teaching in a single look. I know I will never be the same again. As he turns to resume his meditation, the woman enters the room, and I smile as I follow her to the door. Feeling like a child again in his presence, I finally turn and step into the hallway. Outside the door, she smiles, and I begin to walk back toward the garden.
Stopping me, she gestures down the hall. I must go in the opposite direction.