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Passing on of a Teacher

It has been a few months since my last post. This post will be an update from recent events.

A few weeks after coming back from the midwest from filming, I was enjoying a lull in our filming schedule.

On Tuesday, Oct. 26, in the late evening, I saw a message from my cousin who is also an Agnihotri and disciple of my spiritual teacher. She said she is trying to reach me, and the message was urgent.

I called her back. In a somber voice, she said she had some bad news: our spiritual teacher left his body.

I had dreams and omens that prepared me for this moment, but hearing that it actually happened left me speechless.

It’s hard to describe the relationship between a disciple and spiritual teacher. It’s hard to describe the bond that develops, the trust. Truly, the richness and depth of that relationship can be described in a book, and perhaps may be.

But suffice to say, he is the one who introduced me to Agnihotra, trained me in meditation, and empowered my reach and capability. He was in fact the one who guided me to embark on this journey to create this documentary.

After receiving the call from my cousin and after making a call to check on another disciple, my first thought was to perform a Maha Mrityunjaya homa, in his honor. As soon as I was about to make the last offering, I felt my gut tighten, my face clench, with the only gasps for air being the sobs that managed to escape. I managed to muster the composure to conclude the fire ceremony, and let my tears and sobs purge me, thinking about the loss.

Those tears helped me process to help sleep that night. The next morning I set my mind on traveling to India, to be present during the funeral ceremony. I put everything aside and lined up everything to book my tickets and COVID test to prepare my flight. As I was going through this process, I felt a general numbness.

That numbness let go as I sat on the plane on my way to India. I allowed the processing to continue. At random moments, the gut wrenching tears would come. On the plane, I would hide my face in my hoodie and with my hands as I silently sobbed.

I learned a beautiful lesson in that grieving process. The tears would come when I think back to my spiritual teacher, and I feel the love emanating from him and of our bond. It is that love that brings the tears and sobs. So those tears are really an expression of love. In that way, grieving is a beautiful process.

I arrived to Pune, India late Saturday night, which happened to be my birthday. My spiritual teacher’s body was laid to rest in a remote village called Alani on Friday, and I made it to the final day of the ceremony. I got to see where my spiritual teacher was raised.

When I stepped foot onto the land where his body was laid to rest, I took a moment to connect to his physical body. I felt a wave of warmth pass through me. I felt a connection to his physical body, something I felt when I was in his presence. That helped me feel complete, like the physical connection was still present and intact.

I paid my respects to his resting place.

For 18 years, I had been connected to my spiritual teacher. I have had so many opportunities to speak with him, to hear his sweet words and guidance. So many opportunities to sit in his presence, to bask in his grace and warmth.

At times, I wondered what it would be like when he makes his transition. What it would be like to be a disciple with a spiritual teacher no longer in the physical realm?

I now make that walk, holding his love in my heart.

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