Simla Ashram - part 2.

“May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.” Nelson Mandela



Our morning sessions at the Simla Ashram began at 6am sharp with daily chanting, sending out peace vibrations to all the troubled places in the world. Ironically, at this time the Indian army was sent in to flush out Sikh extremists from the Golden Temple complex in Amritsar. Across India all foreign tourists where requested to report to the nearest police station and conduct a clearance check. My partner at the time was travelling without his passport, it was stolen on the Patna railway platform whilst waiting for our train to the Simla Ashram. No manner of storytelling bribing and even the truth could persuade the officials otherwise, which resulted in him being locked up in the local Simla prison cell for the next 3 days.


However, thanks to the help of our good Guru Dadaji, who just happened to be close buddies with the Police commissioner, all was resolved, he was released so we could continue our yoga studies.


All too quickly our time at the ashram was coming to an end, the five weeks had raced by with electrifying speed. Dadaji had organised a Valedictory Function, numerous honoured guest and dignitaries had accepted the invitations to attend. Dadaji had chosen me to demonstrate the asana practice on the big night, I spent the next few days polishing up my performance. The school hall is packed for the function and it seems as though every student had invited their family and friends.


The hall had been decked out with garlands and large pictures of various gurus hung around the stage. The gregarious Indians love their ceremonies, there is much giggling and exciting chatter as I wait for the ceremony to commence. A buzz of excitement goes around as the Police commissioner arrives surrounded by armed security men, this signals the beginning of the night.


Finally, the Police Commissioner gets up to speak, and because he’s the most important person that night, he’s entitled to the longest speech. He talks about the importance of yoga and the need to develop our spiritual side, something that Indians have come to neglect in a head long pursuit to be like us westerners. He points out that it is only when westerners come to India to study its culture and spiritual heritage that interest in these areas is reawakened within themselves.


After the speeches are over, I’m called upon the stage to receive my certificate and demonstrate a series of Hatha Yoga Asanas. Dadaji is at the front of the stage inspecting my every movement with the keen watchful eye of a Guru, yet with an endearing heart of a grandfather. The crowd breaks out into a standing ovation.


I was unaware at that time, that this was a moment was to be the first of numerous demonstrations I would give over the next 43 years of my yoga quest. I recall having no desire to be anything but a student of yoga. I always approached this practice of yoga as a beginner, and still do, as it’s with a beginner’s eye that enables me to remain curious with endless enthusiasm.


There’s no escaping the soul searching required to learn what will make us happy. A constant inquiry and truthful admission of our desires and a daily commitment to achieving that desire certainly helps. I don’t know of any magical method to decode the mystery of finding your calling, but keeping a beginner’s mind-set and a sense of adventure has allowed me to find a life aligned.


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