I am on a train back to Chennai from Coimbatore. Last evening, on the long drive from Panappaarai Mattam to my parent's place in Coimbatore, I got to reflect on my four-day stay at my friend Siddharth's at Panappaarai Mattam, an hour from Coonoor in the Nilgiris. My friend Lakshmi called me to ask about the trip and that helped me further in unravelling the bundle of amazing thoughts that I felt was snuggling inside my heart.
A few days ago, I was sitting in the guest room at Rana's (Siddharth) house, the big windows completely open, giving a clear view of the mountains and the valley in front of me, a red-whiskered bulbul playing in the bushes right outside the window, a jungle fowl incessantly crowing somewhere nearby, and I was writing to a friend of mine. I wrote that I thought the primary purpose of this trip was for me to heal. For that's what I felt when I arrived at Siddharth's place. I have heard and used, innumerable times before, phrases like “breathtakingly beautiful” and “unbelievably beautiful,” but when I landed at Rana's place, I felt I had been very loose with language, that I had hitherto used these phrases rather flippantly, not really believing either the “unbelievableness” or the “breathtaking-ness” of the beauty I was praising.
The place was so - and I say this with a great degree of consciousness now - breathtakingly beautiful that it made speech difficult. It commanded nothing but a respectful silence. I feel very grateful for having friends like Rana, friends who care for me very deeply, who love me, who say so at every opportunity they get, who express it in the most beautiful ways.
Yesterday, on my way down from the mountains, I realized that this trip had had two more purposes, actually more like two sub-purposes under the grand one of healing!
One, to be reminded of the fact that I am a very ancient soul. I live close to the sea in Chennai. In the last many years, I have formed an interesting relationship with the sea. Just the thought of it calms me down. Sitting by the sea makes my heart jump with joy. By the sea, I always feel like a very young, rather new, soul being cradled by the eternal waters. But, in the past few days, taking long walks and hikes on the mountains, I felt like I was an ancient soul who has walked these hills and vales several times before, that these mountains have known me from before. For everything seemed to smile and nod in recognition. It was good to be reminded of my eternity.
The other purpose of the trip, I felt, was to be able to access a quality of quiet that let me hear each of my thoughts. And I am glad I came to this after I had done some good work with non-judgment. For many of the thoughts I heard passing through the thoroughfare of my mind were not ones I would admit publicly to have entertained, let alone be proud of! I could hear each thought and let it keep moving. I could release these thoughts gently over the hills and the sun and the sky, trusting that these powerful healers would heal them for me.
Siddharth is a wonderful friend, one of those people whose friendships I have always doubted if I deserved. And one genre of thoughts that I let go of this time were such thoughts of unworthiness. They don't help. They are not respectful to the wonderful people and experiences that life tirelessly brings my way. To suggest that they are wasting time with someone unworthy of their time and love; to suggest that life is doing a mistake in bringing along all the many lovely experiences it does bring along, is not very respectful. Our sense of unworthiness is actually a source of disrespect to life and to all those who see our worth. We take the impossible position of deeming ourselves unworthy while somehow being capable of knowing how others are settling for less by choosing us! Such twisted arrogance!
Anyway. Panappaarai Mattam has been so named because it is believed that Tipu Sultan hid some treasure there somewhere under a rock. I don't know about that, though, I must confess, it makes me want to write a thriller fiction about a group of people going in search of this treasure. But Panappaarai Mattam has already revealed its treasure to me with great openness and generosity. The treasure of finding more of myself.