The other day I was having a discussion with Siva Varma, Ayurvedic physician, about states of consciousness. I’m blessed that every once in a while I get to sit down with him and enter into the world of wisdom as taught to him by his master forty years ago in a Brahmin community in Kerala, India. Siva, who claims he is not a master, but a, “fellow traveller on the path”, passes on stories as told to him when he was a young initiate.
On this particular day he was explaining the differences between teachers, mentors, and masters. Teachers, he says fill you with knowledge, mentors teach you how to sit with the unknown, and masters are there solely to destroy every belief you have, “to make you drop”, as he says, completely into the present experience.
Many I know have travelled the world to study with masters like Amma, Osho, and perhaps others, who by nature of their souls and choices, emerged in their full ripeness as famous exemplars and teachers. I have never met a living master myself.
Then I started wondering if that was true. I started wondering what qualities actually constitute a master?
Several years ago, I treated a woman after a car accident. She was kind, quiet, and unassuming. She served the elderly and sometimes the dying. When I put my hands on her and followed her body’s guidance, I was taken on journey that far exceeded the extent of her injuries. Although it is often the case, that I end up connecting with places beyond the surface of people’s symptoms, I felt that through her, I was permitted to touch down into what can only be described as ancient records of wisdom. There were no words or instructions to go with them, but the woman before me seemed to be a keeper or storehouse of eons of deep seeing, profound experience, and know-how, threaded through caverns at the bottom of a deep lake. I understood nothing of what I saw and felt, except an awareness that she had gathered much. Had she ever felt this depth in herself? It was amazing to discover this about her. My hands and senses told me I had made contact with a master.
Another woman I’ve worked with also has made me wonder in this way. She too is unassuming, quiet, and leads a private life that’s commonly filled with caring for others in sickness or death. When she is very relaxed and open, an incredible thing happens. I know not everyone sees it, but perhaps they feel it in their own way; an extraordinary gold light fills the room and seems to stream from some unknown place through her. With it comes great reverence for life’s gifts and a restored faith that we are supported by unseen forces.
Neither of these women are “professionals”, and neither are who we typically think of as “leaders” or “teachers”. They touch people, but subtly, by being by their sides when others cannot. Both women provoke deep respect in me and reverence for the greater field of existence living all of us. Both of them inspire me to be exactly who I am so to fulfill my place in this life. They dissolve the craze that surrounds most of us that says being wealthy, famous, and sought after are markers of success. Both of these women tell me that “Saint” is in the soul.