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The Friday Flash – That Enlightenment Gig – The Ashram – Part 4 of 7

4. The Ashram

“Religion is an illusion and it derives its strength from the fact that it falls in with our instinctual drives”
― Freud

Ram Khatt was correct. India was saturated in spirituality and holiness, a dizzying kaleidoscope of colours, sound, scents, chanting, bells, incense, dancing, holy men and a myriad of festivals. There were also copious amounts of hashish for those who sought to accelerate their spiritual journey via means other than meditation and other tortuous disciplines.

The Ashram was set up in Rishikesh in an old colonial building, most of the disciples from the El Paso Lodge had travelled to India and RK had managed to secure the funds easily enough. When you are realising the will of the Universe, it will open every opportunity for you, will it not? New disciples constantly moved in and out of the ashram on their journey of spiritual tourism.

Alan was now spending some eight hours a day meditating and also acting unofficially as Ram Khatt’s secretary and administrator. Despite his endeavours, he felt no closer to his personal enlightenment but under his guru’s instructions he dutifully carried out his studies and long sessions of meditation and yoga.

The thought ‘is it worth it’ kept bubbling to the surface of his mind during these extensive sessions. He discussed this with RK, who advised him simply to observe the thoughts dispassionately and let them go.

“Imagine the calm silver surface of a lake. Sometimes a few bubbles break it, then the Koi carp moves elsewhere to take his pleasure and the mirror calm surface is restored. And this it the nature of the mind and how it reflects and distorts reality,” explained Ram Khatt sagely, a beatific smile on his tanned countenance.

This never seemed to work for Alan as the doubts kept gleefully returning, just as an alcoholic invariably returns to the bar after ‘one for the road’.

One day RK, after a major spiritual epiphany, decided to rank his disciples by star sign and give them a suitable mantra to intone to help them focus during their long meditation sessions.

“Your task for the day, Alan, is to come up with twelve mantras, one for each sign of the Zodiac. These will then be issued the disciples.”

“But how should I do that, I don’t know anything about astrology?”

RK sighed audibly and visibly, examined his Omega watch with feigned disinterest and lit a Dunhill menthol cigarette with a platinum Piaget lighter.

“Alan, any spiritual discipline relies on flashes of inspiration. Please try not to be so rational, left brained and Descartian. Just let your mind wander and it will come up with the answers you seek. I’m trusting you with a very important task here, can’t you see how special and important you are to me?”

RK had that way of looking at someone that made him or her feel they were the most important person in the universe at that time, even if he was simply asking them to clean out the latrines.

Inspired and euphoric, Alan walked around the ashram seeking out signs or portents, anything that his creative right brain hemisphere would reveal to him.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

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