When I first arrived in Austin, this was my first move to a city that was not due to work or school. I didn’t know many people and my social calendar was mostly empty when I moved here. I remember on the second or third weekend after arriving in Austin, looking at my phone and having no one to call.
I noticed a slight sense of loneliness. But I also realized this was an opportunity to use my evenings to go deeper into my meditation practice. This was a very valuable time for me to accelerate my spiritual progress.
From my experiences of practicing Agnihotra in Dallas, I had a learned tendency to keep Agnihotra to myself and not share it. Mostly, I felt people wouldn’t understand or accept Agnihotra. And I didn’t feel motivated to expend the energy to explain or defend my practice.
Over time I naturally made friendships and connections, which led to connecting with others in social settings. I made a particular friendship and spiritual connection to a person named Elliott.
On one evening, I packed my Agnihotra set and drove to pick up Elliott. We were driving on our way to a social gathering. It was nearing Agnihotra time so I had asked for him to drive, without offering an explanation as to why.
As Elliott was driving my car and I sat in the passenger seat, I prepared my Agnihotra set without an explanation. Right before I was about to strike the match, I turned to Elliott and informed him I was going to start a fire. Somewhat bewildered, he said “okay.”
I placed the set on my lap as the fire grew and I made the Agnihotra offering. The flame grew fairly large and Elliott remarked how hot the fire became. I ignored the comment and maintained my meditation.
When we pulled up and parked the car, the fire was still ablaze. I mentioned to Elliott that he was free to go upstairs to our friend’s place and I would meet him there.
To my surprise he stayed with me until the fire went out. I chanted the Sapta sloka and concluded. He asked me what that was, and I told him “Agnihotra, it’s a fire meditation.”
A few days, somewhat out of the blue, he texted and asked if I was performing Agnihotra again, and asked if he could come and join me.
I was somewhat surprised of his interest. I said he was welcome to join me anytime, and I invited him to my balcony and we could perform Agnihotra together. This became a somewhat regular occurrence.
We would have some of the most wonderful conversations after Agnihotra, as we would share our experiences.
One time I was traveling and he asked if he could come to join me for Agnihotra. I was sorry to inform him that he could not join me because I was traveling. When I returned, I felt the urge to purchase and offer a set as a gift, so he could practice on his own without needing to depend on my travel schedule.
Sharing Agnihotra with Elliott became the seeds for my work in sharing Agnihotra in the community, and eventually this documentary project.