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By: Ananda Mayii 1999-2000

This past January I went on a journey to India and Nepal.

Nepal was a special blessing because it was basically unplanned. I had been playing with the idea of going for a couple months, but in the end decided it would not be possible.too many details, not enough time.but Baba had other ideas. Within a couple days of my departure date from India back to the United States, I was presented with a train ticket, enough cash and an energetic group of people. Baba. So with no expectations or clues as to what the trip held in store I was off to Nepal. And the adventures began.I entered Nepal in a runaway rickshaw and left on the roof of a bus. With so many memories in between.all-night train rides, dictionary games, clay pot chai clubs, bike rides through the winding streets of Kathmandu, Horlicks parties, rock concerts, hot springs and waterfalls, horse bells and monkey temples, smiling faces and namastes, canoe rides, star-filled skies, yet-to-be-seen yaks, Baskin and Robbin splurges, tofu steak (without onion, garlic, mushroom or chives.please), stories and tears, almond triangles, lassi fasts, clash, clash, clash and so much laughter. It was a truly special trip. The following is from our six day trek in the mountains.one of many memorable moments.

5 a.m..Amrta's voice called out from the darkness, "hey, time to get up, we're going to go see the sunrise!". I vaguely remembered someone saying the day before that we should climb Poon Hill to see the sunrise, supposedly the view was spectacular. At that moment nothing seemed more spectacular than the warmth of my sleeping bag. I rolled over. However everyone else was getting up and the sound of shifting bodies and sleeping bags unzipping carried through the paper thin walls. There was no way I could fall back to sleep. Baba, this better be good.

I pulled the rest of my mind out of dream-state and on sitting up was immediately hit with the reality of an early morning in Ghorepani.freezing.cold.. air. Once out of bed I found that even after sleeping in two layers of pants, a sweater, wool hat, socks and gloves (so everything was preheated), plus an additional wool sweater and meditation blanket there was no getting around the fact that it was still very very cold.  This better be really good Baba.

We all gathered, bleary-eyed and groggy, outside the lodge. It was completely dark out. Our host pointed out the direction, it was about an hour away and all we had to do was follow the path.it sounded simple enough. We walked single file, stumbling over rocks and frozen earth, but eager to reach the top. All was well until we reached a wood pile in what looked like somebody's back yard. "This isn't the way" "time to backtrack" "did we pass it?" "which way do we go?" "up". 6 a.m.. it was still dark out, the path was long gone, and we were scaling the side of a mountain.

Crawling on all fours, grasping at frozen frost covered clumps of grass and bush, an occasional tree, manouvering around barb wire fences. Caught straddling between two trees, looking for something to pull myself up with, I was suddenly hit with the ridiculousness of the entire situation. Here we were on the side of a mountain in what appeared to be the middle of the night, everything around us was frozen or well on its way to freezing, and I was wishing for the world that I had taken one of those rock-climbing classes back in school. Baba, sometimes I wonder about this game of Your's.

Finally I reached some sort of ledge.which turned out to be the path. And it was deserted. Harendra, the only one behind me, soon came up, and  pointing to a tiny light in the distance we continued on the path. Any motivation to reach the top was fast waning, and even the silliness of the situation was gone, I was no longer amused, I was annoyed. Walking was painful. The air was cold, and my legs ached with every upward step. I began playing a mind game, holding my breath at every curve, would this be the top? But around every bend was another set of steps. I stopped, rested, took deep breaths, guru mantra and kept on going. It was beginning to get light out.

Patches of snow and ice sprung out of the earth. Gradually a row of snow covered mountain peaks appeared through the early morning fog. Even in my current state of disillusionment I had to admit they were impressive, even majestic. People returning from the top began passing me by. I asked each one how much farther and was always answered "not so far". I'd learned on this trek that "not so far" could mean anywhere from 25- 45 minutes if not more.  By now my legs were aching, face, hands and feet freezing, fingers swelling and I could feel a stream of sweat beginning to run down my back, the distance between myself and Harendra was widening. I was not happy. Around the curve was a ledge, exhausted and frustrated I sat down. Wondering why it was I was on this Path and then I turned around.

At that moment the sun's light just touched the first mountain peak, and in a second it was lit up. Bit by bit the entire side of the mountain was dyed in glowing shades of pink and gold. A white mist blew around at the top of the peak, and it looked like a luminous body dancing. The rest of the world was completely still and silent. The horizon was divided in layers of blue, pink, gold, and orange, a water color painting. I took a deep breath, marveling at the serenity of the surrounding mountains and the simplicity of colors. And then the sun began to rise.

No words can capture those moments. I'd never seen a sun up until that morning, nor known the magic of one rising. Into the stillness and silence it rose, a giant crimson ball, just peeping over the horizon, casting its light across the mountain tops. Gradually it grew, full and glowing, embracing the world in its warmth, touching each blade of grass, each crooked branch, giving light and color and calmness. Something inside me opened up. Feelings of physical discomfort dissolved, negative thoughts and defeatist mindset vanished.and I lost myself in the beauty of the rising sun.

With each deep breath I felt myself expanding, until it seemed I could reach out and touch the colors with my mind. All my boundaries were gone and I was endless. Light-filled. This must be God. After what could have been eternity I took a couple deep breaths and continued along the path. There was no question about reaching the top. In a few minutes I was surrounded by the rest of the group. For a while I simply sat staring out at the mountain range, at the crimson dawn. Feeling like my entire life had been leading up to this point and now the rest of it was just waiting to take off.I could already feel my wings unfolding.and I was ready to fly.

After a while I got up, content with the knowledge that God is, and that we are blessed, every moment of our lives. So with a smile on my lips for beauty in its essence, I turned around and headed back down the mountain for breakfast.

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