In a recent comment that I suspect comes from a spammer (please let me know if you are a real person) I get a great catalyst for posts to come:
"I am reading your entries and I am thinking that nothing from it understands, I am a materialist for many years I am working for money..."
Reminds me that my teacher insists that there are plenty of unenlightened poor people. Of course he tells me this after I have spent the year without pay immersing myself in spiritual pursuit and pro bono work.
True renounciation isn't about things - it's about letting go of thoughts - ultimately giving up limits - but I'm getting ahead of myself.
This all reminds me that before the two-month citizen journalism pilgrimage to Asia, I felt I had not raised anywhere near enough money. Yet I was committed. After I paid my most pressing bills and got my airline tickets, I was nearly penniless the day I embarked.
I felt so desparate that I wrote on a Travelpod forum asking for advice on staying in monasteries. I was bouyed by recollections that one could eat pad thai on Khao San Road in Bangkok for fifty cents.
Luckily I was surrounded by wise teachers that weren't as logically minded as I was.
Deep down, I knew this too would be part of the journey.
In my last weekly A Course in Miracles study group I revealed my plight. Commiseration? Nope. "That's perfect!" beamed Andrew.
And a very prescient blogger I thoroughly respect (and whom comes across much more logical than I) wrote to me before my trip:
It was earlier this year that I started letting go of trying to control everything and plan out every detail of my future, and I started to let go and trust in my intuition more and more. Actually it would be more accurate to say that this was a gradual shift that began in 2003. Initially it was very unsettling to follow my intuitions and the synchronicities that came to me. I had a hard time trusting them.
But eventually I could sense there was a greater intelligence at work, as it seemed almost magical how these synchronicities and my intuition would weave themselves together to create results that were very different than anything I could have planned.Now I'd say I run my life about 80% by intention, intuition, and synchronicity and only 20% by logical planning. It took me a good couple years to get comfortable with it though. What helped me was to allow myself to trust my intuition in small ways first... when the risk of failure was minimal. For example, I'd go into a bookstore and allow myself to buy whatever book I felt most intuitively drawn to. If it's a bad book, no big deal, right?
...I think the reason it's so important to learn to trust intuition is that there are lessons ahead of you that will be very tough to understand logically in advance.
Terrified I re-read the chapter, "Two Penniless Boys in Brindaban" from the classic Autobiography of a Yogi - twice - and then went to the airport. I was trying hard to imprint it irrevocably in my psyche.
I never slept in a monastery. I never went without. The Sri Lankans fed me so much rice and curry and tea around the clock I put on weight. How this all came to be possible is ultimately a mystery. Sure I have details. But first...
This is a small excerpt from that fateful chapter. It starts with a row between Ananta and the author. Ananta is the author's (Mukanda - later known as Yogananda) very sensible accountant brother:
"It would serve you right if Father disinherited you, Mukunda! How foolishly you are throwing away your life!" An elder-brother sermon was assaulting my ears.
"You well know, Ananta, I seek my inheritance from the Heavenly Father."
"Money first; God can come later! Who knows? Life may be too long."
"God first; money is His slave! Who can tell? Life may be too short."
"So you feel quite independent of Father's wealth."
"I am conscious of my dependence on God."
"Words are cheap! Life has shielded you thus far! What a plight if you were forced to look at to the Invisible Hand for your food and shelter! You would soon be begging on the streets!"
"Never! I would not put faith in passers-by rather than God! He can devise for His devotee a thousand resources besides the begging-bowl!"
"More rhetoric! Suppose I suggest that your vaulted philosophy be put to a test in this tangible world?"
"I would agree! Do you confine God to a speculative world?"
"We shall see; today you shall have the opportunity either to enlarge or to confirm my own views!" Ananta paused for a dramatic moment; then spoke slowly and seriously.
"I propose that I send you and your fellow disciple Jitendra this morning to the near-by city of Brindaban. You must not take a single rupee; you must not beg, either for food or money; you must not reveal your predicament to anyone; you must not go without your meals; and you must not be stranded in Brindaban. If you return to my bungalow here before twelve o'clock tonight, without having broken any rule of the test, I shall be the most astonished man in Agra!"
"I accept the challenge." No hesitation was in my words or in my heart.
My friend Jitendra spoke protestingly. "Ananta, give me one or two rupees as a safeguard. Then I can telegraph you in case of misfortune."
"Jitendra!" My ejaculation was sharply reproachful. "I will not proceed with the test if you take any money as final security."
"There is something reassuring about the clink of coins." Jitendra said no more as I regarded him sternly.
The riveting account of the entire day is thankfully online. Here's a small peek at the end. (There's yet more to the ending - but read no further if you hate spoiling the end whatsoever.)
[After the two enter Ananta's bedroom:] His face, as he had promised, was a study in astonishment. Silently I showered the table with rupees...
"The law of supply and demand reaches into subtler realms that I had supposed." Ananta spoke with a spiritual enthusiasm never before noticeable. "I understand for the first time your indifference to the vaults and vulgar accumulations of the world."