The Road to Sadhana

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The poem I shared last Tuesday I composed in 1978 while on a very memorable road trip across country by bus from Buffalo to Tempe, Arizona. I was traveling with a friend, Grace, to check out Arizona as I would be attending college there the next year. It was a very eventful trip on so many levels. The Greyhound bus broke down in Effingham, Illinois, and about half of us stayed on until Flagstaff, Arizona, where we were rerouted on a Trailways bus through what was one of my and Grace’s primary spiritual destinations anyway: Sedona.

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All through the bus trip, especially after the breakdown and even moreso after an encounter with apparently a murderous pair hightailing it out of Albuquerque (I’ll tell that in a bit), I composed a trip length poetic account of the journey. Part of the coda verse I still recall for the epic poem was:

On the Road to Sedona,

Where all is Sadhana…

Sadhana is an Eastern term designating a state of spiritual enlightenment; a state of calm one achieves from centering deeply.  As our theme this month is the similar or related experience of apotheosis, it feels right for me to revisit this adventure, now 39 years later.

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So the murderer, even more than the breakdown of the bus and rerouting through Sedona, sparked a major change of consciousness for me.  Grace and I were at a bus stop in Albuquerque where Grace met a police woman. She told Grace she was on the lookout for a murderer and his accomplice trying to get away from New Mexico.  Our bus left there at midnight, the last bus for the night. Two men, one recently bald, paid the bus driver directly when he got onto the bus instead of paying as was normal at the ticket booths. Grace and I were sitting second row from the front of the bus to avoid cigarette smoke. The tall, bald man, wearing a serape with a metallic bulge in the pocket which he arranged over the seat to be positioned so the bulge was just behind his head, sat in the front row, with his partner sitting catty-corner behind us across the aisle (carrying only a wrinkled, paper bag). The Bald One, who resembled Lurch from the Addams family to me, pulled out a cigarette (forbidden for the 1st three rows), stared ominously at the bus driver, and chortled: “Goodbye, New Mexico, forever!”

OK, so that sets the scene. My friend Grace immediately figures this is the murderer the police woman is after, so she leaves the bus to tell the woman about him. She returns, telling me the police woman acted frightened to know the men might already be on the bus and asked Grace to be careful and not stir up trouble. So, I got off and told her what I had seen re. the money exchange with the driver. She acted concerned but frightened and told me to get back onto the bus and also to not cause waves.

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The bus wound slowly through the night from Albuquerque to Flagstaff, a very long night for me as I was on high alert. I whispered our suspicions to the woman behind me, Terry, who had been instrumental in getting our passengers to stay after the breakdown and to be rerouted through Sedona so that some of the rest could go directly to LA. Terry was traveling with her grandmother. She started a phone chain whisper throughout the bus, notifying everyone of the possibility we had a murderer aboard. Unfortunately, this whisper also reached the Accomplice across the aisle, who suddenly started coughing and rattling his brown bag to get the attention of the Bald One.

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At a roadside stop in Holbrook, Grace and Terry and her grandmother and I sat huddled together at a diner. The Accomplice shadowed us, being sure to sit within earshot. The Bald One never came into the diner at all, pacing outside and at one point pressing his face and nose up against the window glass to stare in at us.

When we reboarded, the bus driver shot me a frightened glance, as if to say again, ‘Don’t cause waves!’

So, back on the bus for the next few hours I entered into a deep contemplation, the deepest of my life til then. I sang a mantra, HU, which is a sacred name for God known to many religions. I chanted and went into a deep state of repose where I encountered spiritual Masters and agencies giving me instructions on how to be a channel for calm and Light in this situation, to prevent a major catastrophe involving all the passengers.

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Then something really weird occurred on the bus. People who had thought the whispered suspicions were a hoax or funny started joking loudly about who the murderer was going to take to the back of the bus and shoot first! This was surreal to me. I sank deeper and deeper into my contemplation.

At dawn, as we were approaching Flagstaff and the beautiful desert and San Francisco Peaks there, I came out from the contemplation, truly altered. I felt a calm as I had not known before. As I looked out at the desert and the Mountain, I said to Terry and Grace:

“People think that the Desert is barren and dead;

It is not: It is teeming with Life!”

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At this statement from me, Bald Lurch turned his head slowly to stare me down.

“So, how do you feel about YOUR life?” he cooed ominously.

Now, you might think my response would be fearful, but no. Because of the alteration in consciousness I had enjoyed in the deep contemplation, I actually was feeling quite elated. I looked back at him, eye to eye, and smiled broadly:

“How are You!?” were the words that came out of my mouth.

The Bald One merely grunted in disgust and turned his head back to set upon that metallic bulge.

We reached Flagstaff, alive.  The Bald One and the Accomplice were the first to rise from their seats and head for the door. Once again, Lurch uttered mysteriously:

“Goodbye, New Mexico, forever!”

That was the last any of us saw of these two men, now across the border in Arizona.

After a few hours those of us going on to Phoenix boarded the Trailways bus that would take us through Sedona, known to Grace and myself as a very spiritually charged area as our spiritual group had land there at the time.  This part of the journey was like a pilgrimage for us.

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As we rounded the bend from Flagstaff down into the majestic Oak Creek Canyon, the bus stopped at a rest area. I walked across the field and stepped down a bit from the  cliff edge to sit and be immersed in the Canyon overview. It was like an Eagle’s Nest, and I have returned many times since. That is where The Canyon poem emerged:

It is drawing me into Its depths;

It will contain me;

Yet in that instant It shall free me,

Until IS-ness dissolves beyond

Eternity

Where Just Isness IS.

We reboarded the bus and headed on down the canyon into the red rock splendor of Sedona. At the bottom we got out for a food stop.

“It’s like love,” Terry said.

“It can never be contained,” I responded.

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images are from pixabay.com

Other than those words, language failed me. I could not speak, identifying one mountain or person or bus or tree; all was an absolute Unity. This utter silence stayed with me until we reached Phoenix. I would later remember it as a brief glimpse of cosmic consciousness, experienced on the Road to Sadhana.

* * * * * *  

This will be the final September post, as I have nothing more to say now on the topic!

I welcome your Comments and Stories!

The Road to Sedona– A Transformational Travel Tale

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“A Going and a Return”… such is the ‘heroic adventure journey’ potential in all travel.

I have certainly experienced many times feeling that I am a different person before and after a significant travel adventure has occurred.

Some years ago I took a road trip with a friend, from Buffalo, New York to Arizona. I was scouting out whether I might wish to move to Arizona to continue graduate studies; which, largely from this experience, I did! I travelled with an older lady friend from my spiritual group, Grace. In addition to aiming to visit Arizona State University—where later I attended grad school for 14 years—we wanted to visit Sedona, rather as a metaphorical pilgrimage at the time (1978).

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In Effingham, Illinois, the Greyhound bus we were on broke down. Half the passengers shifted to another bus that would bypass Sedona, but we waited for one that would let us actually switch to a Trailways bus that would go right through the heart of Sedona. I met at this point a woman, Toni, who was on the same bus with her grandmother. We became immediate though temporary friends as kindred souls, our group of four forming a friendly set.

On the road to Sedona,

Where all is Sadhana

(chorus from a song that expanded throughout the cross-country bus trip)

In Albuquerque a major drama began.  After a break stop, we were to be leaving on the last Greyhound out of Albuquerque that night, around midnight. Grace met a woman who introduced herself as a police woman and said she was trying to apprehend a murderer trying to get out of New Mexico! She showed Grace her badge and me too, when Grace introduced me to her. As we went to get back on the bus, two men who had not purchased tickets at the normal ticketing window gave cash to the bus driver and got onto the bus. One of them, with a recently shaved head, sat in the front seat right in front of me and Grace. He draped a serape with a metallic bulge in its pocket over his seat, resting his head on the bulge. Then he slowly pulled out a cigarette (illegal in the 1st several rows of seats then), stared toward the bus driver, and muttered, “Goodbye New Mexico, forever!” The other man sat kitty-corner behind us on the other side of the bus, holding tightly to a paper bag.

This man met the description the police woman had shared with Grace, so she got off the bus to tell the lady about him. She came back saying the police woman was afraid to act because of all the other passengers. I got off and also tried to convince the police woman that this man fit her description. She said,” You’d better just get back on the bus.” As I did so, the bus driver gave me a look of warning, like “Don’t make waves.”

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So the bus got rolling again and I turned around and whispered my suspicions about this man to Toni, who had been our major organizer when the bus had broken down in Illinois. Toni sent the message by relay whispers throughout the entire bus, until it reached the other man across and behind from us. Suddenly he started rustling that brown bag loudly, and coughing, to get the man we suspected’s attention. I was afraid then that I had jeopardized everyone on the bus, so I became very hyper-alert.

At a Winslow, AZ wayside café stop, the man with the bag stayed close to my and Toni’s group, sitting near enough to listen in on our conversation. Meanwhile Lurch (my name by then for the murder-suspect from the frontseat) never came into the café at all. He paced outside and at one point he turned to put his face—nose pressed!—up against the glass window to stare us down. Back onto the bus, and again a–this time–rather scared look of caution from the bus driver.

The next three hours I will never forget. It was around 2-5:30 AM on the bus. For fear that I had possibly endangered the passengers, I entered into one of the deepest contemplation/meditative experiences of my life. I sang a spiritual word and focused inwardly on connecting with inner guidance and illuminating the situation. Then something weird occurred. Around 5 or so, other passengers apparently started perceiving the possible threat as a joke. There was audible talk around the bus about “who was going to be the 1st person taken to the back lavatory on the bus and shot!” This was surreal conversation to me, as I continued to contemplate deeply. Something then changed in me; my state of consciousness shifted. I opened my eyes around 5:30 and looked out at the desert as we were approaching Flagstaff, with the sacred San Franscisco Peaks just ahead to our West. I said to Toni, “You know, people think that the Desert is dead and barren, but it isn’t. Look! It is teeming with Life!”

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Lurch then audibly groaned. He turned his head slowly around and locked his sallow eyes onto mine; then he uttered slowly, “So, … how do you feel … about YOUR Life?”

Because my deep contemplation had brought me to a heightened level of consciousness, I simply beamed back at Lurch, held his gaze and answered brightly, “Hi! How Are You!” Lurch groaned again and turned to place his head back onto that metallic bulge in his serape pocket.

When we reached the Flagstaff bus station, Lurch and his friend got off, Lurch saying once again, “Goodbye, New Mexico, Forever!” I was ready to propel myself out ahead of him to get security if he would have tried anything on his way out. But we never saw him again.

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We switched to a Trailways bus that took us for a touring route through Sedona. Once we rounded the bend opening onto the Red Rock majesty of Sedona in Oak Creek Canyon, Language left me. I couldn’t speak, as if to utter a word to categorize a ‘mountain’ or ‘red sand’ would be to sever it from the WHOLE that this space and everything within it and around it, IS. Later I would understand this was a cosmic consciousness experience.  Toni said, “It’s like Love; It cannot be contained.” She got it; I was speechless.

Here’s the poem from that day when I discovered a special Eagles’ Nest spot (as I call it) overlooking the canyon:

The Canyon

It is drawing me into Its depths

and will contain me,

Yet in that instant It shall free me

until me-ness dissolves beyond

eternity,

Where Just IS-ness

is

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Have you had a transformational travel experience? I invite you to share your insights and stories!