Today, Andrew has a surprise in store for us. After breakfast, we drive into Tiruvannamalai to participate in a darshan with Sri Siva Sakthi Ammaiyar, locally known as “Silent Maa” and revered as one of the humble living saints here. Fortunately for us, a friend of Andrew told him that she holds darshan on the day of a full moon.
"To experience 'inner peace', you should practice silence. The power of silence will take you to 'inner peace' and make you experience it. You should be well prepared and ready to experience the greatness of the 'inner peace'. Only through the practice of silence, the supreme power, inside the 'inner peace,' which is called Maha Lakshmi, can be experienced. No [sic] when you practice centering yourself in 'inner peace', you can experience the greatness of 'supreme compassionate light'. The 'supreme compassionate light' is the original form of Maha Lakshmi."
Sri Siva Sakthi Ammaiyar
photo from her website
The room in which darshan is held is rectangular with the two long walls on either side of the entrance. About midway down along the left side of the room is an arm chair. Across from the chair and along both short sides of the room are rows of mats — about 4 or 5 deep.
Before arriving, Andrew told us to be sure to look Siva Sakthi in the eyes. With that bit of information, I sit quietly in silence across from her chair in the second row. My eyes closed, I quiet my mind so I may be fully present to the experience. At some point my eyes open and I see a very small woman dressed in white sitting in the chair opposite where I am seated.
When she shifts position to the right she is standing before the section I am seated. I feel myself lightening as she draws energy out and tearing up as she radiates the energy of unconditional love back to me. There are no words to describe the sensations. Suffice it to say, a very old cellular memory was triggered. Creating a ceke or luminous thread to Sri Siva Sakthi, I half expect her to reject it. She doesn't. Through this ceke, she allows me “drink” more from her reservoir of unconditional love. An image comes into my mind of a baby suckling at their mother’s breast . . . as I was suckle directly from her heart center. [As I write this, even now when I close my eyes and focus my attention on that ceke, I feel myself filling up again with this exquisite quality of energy known in the Andes as kollana, experienced as unconditional love.
I have no idea how long I sat there with my eyes closed. What I do know is that when I finally got up to leave and walk outside, I had no words to share with others. In fact, it was hours later that some words finally formed. In the meantime, all I wanted to do was be alone . . . alone and quiet to savor the exquisite feeling of completeness I was experiencing . . . perhaps for the first time . . . or perhaps since I was an infant.
After our spa treatments, Babe and I hire a tut-tut to go in search of an additional suitcase so she can bring back her collected treasures. From experience, I brought with me a medium-size duffle for that purpose. Our mission quickly accomplished, we return to Sparsa Resort and begin packing.
Packed for our return to Chennai tomorrow morning and dressed to celebrate our "Dance with Shiva", Babe and I head to Andrew’s room where vodka and gin are flowing. The energy is completely different than just a few hours ago — it is noisy and after almost two-weeks together the stories exchanged are wrapped in the intimacy of shared experiences. Nandi gifts us with red scarves to remember our time together. Andrew spiritedly belts out a Marlena Dietrich ballad. Before heading off to the dining room for our Farewell Dinner, Robin suggests we hold hands as she leads us through a closing ceremony during which we gift the person to our left with a word. The word given to me by Michael resonates perfectly.
This has truly been a remarkable trip — great respect for each other’s journey and drama-free!