I miss that place. If I have a chance, I’ll go back there again. It’s just that mud house and the water nearby and the Ganges down there.
If you don’t have any responsibility and pressure, no matter what you eat, it tastes like Heaven. And you don’t even care what you eat, as long as it’s vegan, of course. And in Rishikesh for example, or many holy places, they don’t sell alcohol, eggs, meat, nothing. It’s forbidden. So, if you live there, you’re sure you just eat vegan. You don’t need to ask. People also sell vegan all the time. Even a small vendor on the street, it’s all vegan, nothing else. I would’ve loved to stay there forever. Now when I think about it, I still feel very nostalgic.
(About ten, fifteen years back, some masters in Rishikesh, they used to promote veganism. Like I was a child when I read the pamphlet promoting veganism, that we shouldn’t…) Where? (In Rishikesh.) In Rishikesh? (Yes, Master.) No need to promote! Everybody sells vegan only. (Yes, Master.) Oh, you mean for the visitors. (For the visitors, yes, and…) You did? You’ve gone there? (Yes, Master.) I didn’t see you. I love that place, but I didn’t live in downtown. I lived on a higher mountain, only mud houses and natural water. But next to the Ganges, that’s what I loved. You just walk down one, two, or three minutes – not really three minutes, I walked slow – and then you can immerse yourself. Even in summer the water is so cool, it’s so cool. It melted from the ice at the top, always melted ice coming down, very cool.
This is the same as that one you have. Thank you. Share it with the kitchen, OK? This is for the kitchen. Take it inside. Apple juice? Again? Thanks a lot. Another apple juice. Told you. Whatever I say, come more.
From all the places I went in India, I miss Rishikesh the most because everything good happened there. And I lived in a small mud hut, but I loved it so much. Every day, I went to sleep on the roof. And there were always some people who joined me, a couple of people, Westerners, around me. And then I had natural water coming out to wash my clothes, to cook. I cooked very little, but it was still good water. And then I’d go down in the Ganges to do ablutions and alms, put the clothes on the rocks to dry. One, two hours only and then you can wear it. I miss that place. If I have a chance, I’ll go back there again. It’s just that mud house and the water nearby and the Ganges down there. Not even three minutes. It’s not long; it’s just right on the banks of the river. It’s just very high, so you have to go down. It’s a little bit sloppy, but a very good road. Just a dirt road, but very good to go.
I also stayed in Dharamshala in the forest, also in a mud house. It’s more civilized there; a lot of people, a lot of Westerners, a lot of monks and nuns all the time. But I like Rishikesh more. I almost drowned there, and I still like it. Because I went into the middle of the Ganges to meditate and that day it rained from the upper level. The water covered all the stones. I couldn’t see any stepping-stones, but somehow I came home. Now I can’t remember how I did it. Because when the water is high, you don’t see anything. When it’s not high, you can choose the stones. Just step and go out.
I met one yogi. He lived in the cave on the Ganges, and he seemed a holy man. So, I came and paid homage to him. I offered a melon. That’s all I could afford at that time. Melon’s very cheap. In India, everything’s cheap. My clothes also, even tailor-made, very cheap, and just cotton. I chose the cheapest cotton, it was still beautiful. They made it and it fit me, two pairs.
And then I met this yogi, and he was an old man. He sat in the cave and there were some disciples surrounding him. So, I said to him, “Master, it’s not comfortable that you live here like this because the wind is blowing and the sand is blowing everywhere. Don’t you feel uncomfortable? Don’t you feel it’s too harsh?” He said, “No. There are many people who live in more harsh conditions than I.” Wow, so I shut up. He was right, he was right. I knew that, in India. But what I meant was that a master should not endure so much. That’s what I meant. He was old already, he should be somewhere comfortable, being looked after. That’s what I meant. But he couldn’t have cared less, so I couldn’t have cared less.
And then I asked him, “Oh, Master, what do you advise me to do for enlightenment?” He didn’t say a lot, but his English was perfect. He told me, “Go there. There’s a little island in the middle there,” middle of the Ganges River. Ganges River is big. It’s not like this. “Go there, meditate.” I said, “Aye-aye!” I didn’t say, “Aye-aye” but I said, “Yes.” So I meditated. I asked him, “How long?” He said, “One week and then see how you go.”
I told you this story already. Right? When did I tell you? Can’t remember when. Oh, in the BMD (Between Master & Disciples). (Long back.) No, I just heard it somewhere. (In Los Angeles in 1997, I think.) I thought I just heard it somewhere a few days ago. No? No? How come I remember as if I just tell you now? Maybe I told somebody.
So, I went there and meditated six days. One more day left, and my ex-husband came. I don’t know how he found me in such a desolated area. It’s a mountain; it’s not like downtown where all the gurus and all the bhiksu come. No! Just, three or four divided mud houses. Very cheap. And there was water running from the mountain behind my house. I washed my clothes and stuff. The water was very clean. I don’t know how it was so clean, like crystal. I washed my house, drink, and that. And then he came. I was washing my clothes. He came right behind me, “Oh!” And then I said, “Oh!” “Oh, you came! Hallo!” and all that. “How did you find me?” He said he had this magic. He showed me my photo. That was his magic. He went to every post office, every stop from Delhi, all the way to Rishikesh. (Wow!) And I lived on the top of a mountain, not right on top, where just a few people lived there.
It’s not where the temples and ashrams were, no. Only two or three people together. Not together, each one had a room. And then... OK. Wow! I don’t remember what I said to him, or anything. I said, “I have to hurry now. Can you hang around? I’ll come back soon. I have to do one more day meditation.” And then when I came back, he was gone.
There was one Chinese from Canada. He just came before my ex-husband came. He came and he said he had nowhere to stay. “Then you stay here in my room. I don’t stay anyway and the couch I don’t sleep. I sleep upstairs with a sleeping bag on, so you’re welcome to stay here.” Because he said his girlfriend was coming and he was looking for a room to rent. I said, “In a few days, there’ll be a room empty next to me. You can settle here meanwhile.” So, I left him there, his luggage and his backpack, living there, and I left. Meanwhile, my husband came. I left. I went to meditate. It was far, you had to walk maybe three kilometers from where my house was, walk to where I meditated on a little island in the middle.
The Master didn’t say anything, just said, “Go meditate” as if I knew everything already. He didn’t say how to meditate, nothing. He didn’t talk a lot, except to tell me, “Don’t touch that girl because she’s a Brahmin.” I was unworthy. Brahmin, you don’t touch them, except if you’re a Brahmin too, where you have to wear something to prove it, a thread. I don’t know. Women don’t wear this, right? (Men wear it.) Men wear it. So how do I prove that I’m a woman Brahmin? Women cannot be Brahmin, right? (Mostly it’s because of the male, it is the family that’s considered Brahmin. If the male is a Brahmin, then the family is considered Brahmin. But women, I don’t remember if they have any distinguishing…) Nobody asked for ID or… anyway. Because the little girl went to the Ganges, wanted to fetch some water with a bucket and I tried to help her, and she screamed at me. So, the Master said, “Don’t touch. They’re Brahmin.” I said, “OK, sorry.” And then I meditated, blah blah.
I went to meditate, and when I came back, it was dark already. He was gone. Only that so-called boyfriend was left behind. I said, “Where is my husband?” “He left!” “Why did he leave? He came to find me. Why? He just came, he didn’t even talk to me a lot, and he left already? Why? And that camera is mine. Why is it here?” He probably left it for me. He probably thought that was my boyfriend. Nothing was further from the truth, right? I did not have a boyfriend to begin with, let alone Chinese. And a raw Chinese, very raw. He cheated. He ate raw, but he ate chapatti also. Chapatti is not raw. He didn’t eat raw chapatti. He ate cooked chapatti. And the rest was raw. Fine.
I said, “What did he say?” “He didn’t say much. He said he’s going back to Germany. He gave me his camera.” I said, “What? That camera I gave to him for a birthday. Why did he give to you? What did you say to him? What did you say to him?” I began to get angry. He said, “Nothing. He asked me if I live here, I said yes.” He said yes, he lived there. “And you sleep here?” “Yeah, I sleep.” Only one bed. (Oh.) That was my room. When he wasn’t there, I showed my ex-husband that it was my room. And the boy came back and said it was his room.
Coincidence! Even if you write one book, you cannot explain yourself. So, I said, “Oh. OK. I understand. How long (ago) did he leave?” “Just now!” So, I ran down the mountain. I didn’t have a lot of money, but I hired a coach. Normally, you go together with ten people at least on a horse-carriage coach because it’s cheaper. Nobody hired the whole coach. I said, “I want this coach.” He said, “Expensive! Money, money! No?” I said, “Yeah. Money, money OK!” I paid it. I said, “I pay here, I pay here.” I couldn’t really afford it that much, but never mind. I thought if I don’t have samosas for a few days, that’ll be OK.
So, I ran to the bus station and the bus ticket man said, “Just left. Just now!” Like in the movies! I arrived, he left, just like that! And I had no means to catch up. Not with my horse carriage, no matter how much money-money I paid, it wouldn’t catch up. The bus was gone!
Oh, man! But I really liked that place so much. I don’t know why I liked it so much. But then he came back. I wrote him a telegram. It’s another thing I could not afford. Every day, I calculated how much money I must use. But if I ate one more samosa, then the next day, I could not. But I was very happy there. I was very happy. If I had to choose somewhere to live, I’d go back there again. It seemed so free. The house was dirt cheap; you pay rent, it’s just like a gift. Like a gift.
It was nothing much. And people are so friendly. I even had like a chiropractor punching my body for free. I never knew what a chiropractor was until that day. But he was very gentle, not like one of those chiropractors in China. Oh my God! All my body screamed out. He was very gentle. I said, “I don’t have any money.” He said, “Never mind, it’s free for you.” He twisted me around, punched me around, but it felt very comfortable. He is a doctor chiropractor. I don’t know what the heck he was doing in such a lonely mountain like that and renting a room and had a bed there ready for punching people. I didn’t inquire too much anymore after that. And then he was just a neighbor. He did his thing; I did my thing. I never buddy-buddied anybody. But people buddied me. Washed my hands, punched my body, massaged, braided my hair, stuff like that. Very friendly people, even visitors. He is from the Philippines, he is not Indian. He went there, I don’t know, maybe on holiday or something. I never asked. If you had a free massage already, better run quick in case he changed his mind. You have no money to pay, no? No, he was very nice. I really liked that place. I have no idea why. It’s my favorite of all the Indian places.
In Dharamshala also, you can rent a room very cheaply, also a mud house. But I did not really enjoy that much, like in Rishikesh. Maybe the ambiance, the atmosphere. Everybody who went there had to be vegan. They had no choice. What for would you go there promoting veganism? They had no choice.