i practiced daily for a week to prepare for the role i am invited to play in the ancient ritual of bathing the statue of a saint. so i enter the temple with the expectation that the tray that i am about to pick up has the following five substances in the following order: honey, powdered sugar, yogurt, milk and ghee. it is not conducive to staying in the present moment that i have a sari drama right before this. the choli (sari top) laid out for me is too small. (i ruined my own the day before with an iron that is too hot.) the slip that i have is elastic. it has to be draw-stringed in order to hold up the nine yards of sari fabrics. so ten minutes before the ritual is scheduled to begin the sari specialist unwraps me and starts all over again with a proper slip.
anyhow, back to the moment when i lay my eyes on the tray and the first thought is, where is the honey? why is it not next to the powdered sugar? bang, wham, i am out of the present moment. i don't even know it. and so it goes in the next moment, and the next. until the event director steps in and starts giving me specific instructions. for a couple of moments the mind is still hanging onto what should have been instead of staying with what it is. in another word i am still not following the given instructions. then the event director, who has served in this role many, many times, does something inspiring and inspired. she says, with a clear and firm voice, suk wah, you are radiant, you are beautiful, have a good time. somehow some mystical alchemy clicks through. i am back in the moment. i settle into my own self. i have a great time coming from the heart.
the great being doesn't need the bath ritual. but, being devoted to seekers, the external ritual is yet another fantastic opportunity to guide seekers to turn inward, to roam in their hearts. a short while later, i watch two gorgeous ladies dressing the statue with one-pointed focus in the presence of a temple full of participants. the silence is grand and fresh. i gasp in awe as they place a garland of fresh flowers on him. it has three huge full-bloom gardenias hanging down his chest and a long necklace of tiny rose buds. i cannot imagine the many hours of work gone into this creation. the devotion driving it is inspiring and humbling all at once.