Karma Burning: Episode IV
Karma Burning: Episode IV
Karma Burning: Temples of Body and Mind
By: Tracy L. Hackett AP, DAOM
The things that actually sustain you are usually simple. Happiness, which we in the US take for granted as the end all, is considered quite ephemeral and not worth chasing after in traditional Hindu philosophy. Contentment or santosha is a favored pursuit since it is sustained by individual decision to do so through discernment and acceptance. The pathway or bridge (tirtha) to this state is found through a devotional form of yoga (bhakti), part of that is inspired by making pilgrimages both near and far. I settled into a daily routine of climbing the scaffolding of the small Krishna temple to reveal the image of the Vishwaroopa deity that lived in my heart. Santosha was easily inspired with the two delicious and generous meals per day at the ashram. On chai breaks I would snoop around the kitchen to learn how to make those fresh scrumptious vegetarian dishes. One of those recipes for a marvelous curry can be found on my website blog. Visit: www.hackettholistichealth.com.
The rich food for my soul India so graciously provided also came in the form of frequent jaunts to some of the ancient glorious temples in Kerala and Tamil Nadu. I learned how to tie a sari from one of the female swamis. She accompanied me into the temple precincts, since foreigners are typically not allowed past the gated walls into the mandala of shrines (mandirs) carefully composing the temple grounds. The placement of deity shrines is based upon mystical geometry (Vastu) of the earth’s telluric currents intuited by scholar priests.
Leave your shoes and camera outside with hands full of flowers to give and an open heart to receive of the universal divine within. It sounds far-fetched until your feet cross the threshold. Although the styles of architecture and murals vary greatly, there’s a fresh lightly floral fragrance in the air punctuated with burning ghee, a feeling of stillness and a profound sense of stepping out of time that instills a sense of Purusha or the universal essence that pervades all things. It was in these sacred spaces that the divine became real and I developed a sense of no division between aspects of myself, the physical world, and the mystical. It inspired me in my humble project to bring a deity to life through synthetic enamel paint such that everyday became a pilgrimage.
The reservoir of santosha building in my spirit would be tested as the toll of heat, humidity, spicy foods, toxic paint fumes, long hours, and the day-to-day challenges of living with a lot of people presents. My symptoms re-emerged in a forceful way. I was tired and frightened, but a new chapter of my healing process opened up when I met a small, wiry, silver-haired doctor. He introduced me to the art of Tamil indigenous medicine: Siddha.