Her name was Tara and she was beautiful and virtuous, in that very special Latin-American manner, abundant with subtleties, a kindness in her smile and a fire in her spirit. She exuded the extraordinary warmth in the way that people express their affections in this part of the world.
Tara was born in Argentina, and her great-grandparents came to this country from Italy and Eastern Europe. Her ancestors had an interesting blend of Christianity and Judaism, which included a healthy dose of agnosticism. From her parents she had received a fascinating intellectual upbringing that included psychoanalytical overtones and she had delved passionately into the mythology and philosophy from the ancient cultures. Although she came from a privileged background, she soon realized the significance of a simple life, the importance of the pursuit of wisdom and her duty to direct her will towards actions to make a better world.
Observing her graceful movements was poetry and while she spoke her eyes sparkled to such an extent that sometimes the people that came close to her and chose just to take refuge in her presence. Just a kiss on the cheek, as is customary as a greeting in this country, was enough to feel her sweetness and beauty. Her attributes that were beyond just the physical, were connected with Tara’s exquisite heart and humility.
Despite with her undoubtable beauty and overflowing happiness, she carefully guarded a subtle melancholy. Tara was not only a woman interested in the world of the senses and the intellect, she was a dedicated spiritual being, a wise woman. At just thirty-eight years old, she had voyaged to different parts of the world; studied yoga and meditation in Asia, and explored the shamanic rituals of the indigenous peoples in the Andes.
She had received a universal education and at times she felt the emancipation of a free thinker. She felt the power of owning her body, built her professional future and experienced glimpses of a world beyond the reality of the senses in some Oriental sunrises. However, her soul’s thirst was still not quenched. On occasions, the constant challenges of her existence and the planet’s suffering opened up doorways towards desolation.
It was still early morning and Tara was preparing for her daily meditation practice, a custom she had acquired in Japan. She liked to wake up, willingly overcome her drowsiness, perceive the silence and allow an opening for the blue morning light to flow in. After a few minutes, her tired body distracted her mind and so she knew she needed some extra help. She paused and took a sip of her mate laced with delicious herbs. She enjoyed this time, just to sit and be present with herself.
She found her meditative posture again and closed her eyes. After the comings and goings of her mind she began to perceive an intimacy with that special place inside, which was a refuge behind life’s noise. Then after a few moments, an interesting reflection arose: she realized that her relationship with her inner world seemed to be quite different from her relationship with others. Behind her charismatic personality there were divergent voices, unresolved insecurities and emotions. She longed to return to the tranquil inner secret garden, but made the effort to stop and with courage looked into herself. The presence displayed before her was full of memories, sorrows, injustices and limitations. It was not a pleasant experience but now she accepted the invitation to heal and a calling to integrate and transcend.
The experience was so powerful that she had to return to the outside world. In front was her was her altar table. It was small and covered with an Indian fabric with vivid colors. In the center was a statue, surrounded by photos of her masters; in the front there was a candle and a little incense, and in the remaining spaces, there were small symbols of places that she had glimpsed in the other world that was now palpable: stones, feathers and dried flowers. She mindfully observed the flickering candle, perceived the trail of the incense smoke, felt its scent, and began to align her awareness. She looked at the table, slowed down her rhythms and went into her meditative state.
She adored reciting mantras, and with her sweet voice she began: “Om Mani Padme Hum”. This ancient phrase that, amongst other meanings invoked the forces of wisdom and compassion, “the jewel in the lotus flower”.
A firm posture, a slowness in her thoughts, the senses at the service of a refuge, a Witness, a widened mind… Being. She felt that it was crossing a golden bridge from the outside stimulae, towards her inner sanctuary. She wanted to dwell in this state for more time, but her restlessness distanced her from eternity. Despite her will, she realized that she had returned to the torrent of her thoughts. Memories from the day before, a situation that had bothered her, then anxieties about her future and the suffering of humanity.
Tara lost her patience and exclaimed: “You are forcing yourself too much!” There was a moment of discomfort, silence, and then a smile. She breathed deeply and said to herself: “Just relax”, she was accustomed to these inner dialogues. Then she guided herself into a conscious relaxation, placing her hands on her stomach and inhaling deeply, she began to feel better.
She adored reciting mantras, and with her sweet voice she began: “Om Mani Padme Hum”. This ancient phrase that, amongst other meanings invoked the forces of wisdom and compassion, “the jewel in the lotus flower”. She gently sang with different tonalities with the ancient phrase and and her mind became more and more unified. She paused and allowed the vibration to take its course within her. The power of the words brought her back to the source of herself. With delicacy she moved her center of attention to identify with this Self, the home of the inner observer. She knew that at this point all she had to do was sustain this attentiveness. Then there was a natural movement of her consciousness to transcend her personality.
It was at this moment that Tara experienced what she had read about so many times. She was aware of a delicate and powerful presence. Her Self expanded and at the same time dissolved, to merge with the totality of existence. She opened up to this experience and suddenly in what seemed to be seconds she felt unified with the whole reality at the rhythm of a sacred dance. There was a great wave of power and peace crashing powerfully down inside of her, followed by an ecstasy deeper than anything she had known before. She felt free, flowing and limitless.
She perceived to have been in this state for a long time, and then just as elegantly as she had been taken, she became aware that she was becoming smaller. Feelings of wonderment arose within her and words of joy bubbled up in her mind. With her eyes still closed she wished to come closer to the sacred presence again, but now her mind was active.
She looked intensely into her mind and noticed that there was a subtle yet powerful difference. She understood that the experience of this conscious force had been Real and she observed a newly born seed of wisdom that was beginning to germinate. She opened her gaze, observed the altar, relaxed her posture, placed her palms together, and bowed.
Tara got up, looked out through the window and smiled. She felt the embrace of simplicity and humility. “Thank you,” she said out aloud, all the steps on her inner path of the past had given way to this rebirth. That day, in the intimacy, the wisdom of universal love and compassion flowered inside of her.
Photo: Chelsea Shapouri, Unsplash