Negotiating the dilemma of the train ticket was the first wordly transaction I had to make by myself since leaving the monastery. After that I turned from the ticket counter to face the doorway which led through to the platform. Now that I had successfully secured my means of passage I was able to breathe deeply and begin to orient myself amid the clamour of competing vibrations bombarding my senses from all around.
Part of the way of life and training at Skanda Vale was, among other things, geared towards developing and enhancing one’s senses. We are all aware of our 5 physical senses of sight, hearing, smell, touch, and taste. But not all of us are aware of that which is known popularly as the sixth sense. In my own experience this “sixth sense” is in fact simply the mind. I noticed that through years of discipline, hard work, and Divine Grace, the mind can be applied to each of the physical senses to act as a sort of extension which seems to enable them to function beyond the normal physical limits that we are commonly used to. The Hindu mystics often alluded to this extension as “the third eye” and although it is referred to as an eye it actually works through all of the 5 senses. The environment of Skanda Vale is highly conducive to the development of this “sense extension”, as I prefer to call it, being completely surrounded by nature and it’s elements without the interference of disharmonious vibrations. As a monastic you spend all your waking hours working and interacting with these elements in a very deep and intimate way. As a consequence you become highly sensitive to the vibrations of things around you, the level of vitality of plants, animals, and people, their instinctive impulses, their current emotions, the ulterior motives behind their actions and speech, their dominant personality traits, the hidden potential in their character. Although I was far from having any sort of mastery of this ability, which truly takes a whole lifetime of dedication and working in partnership with the Divine, I had nevertheless developed a very keen awareness of the senses’ extensions.
Looking through the doorway to the platform before me was like peering into a completely different world. A world of mixed feelings, and confused ideas. A world of conflicting intentions and competing desires. Where harmonies rose only briefly and subsided just as quickly as myriad upon myriad of thoughts, memories, urges and impulses all swam around, swamping out the finer, more refined vibrations. It was a world with which I had not had much contact during my 11 years as a monk.
I took a deep breath as I prepared to brace myself for the impact.
Stepping forward I passed through the doorway. As my foot made contact with the hard concrete of the platform the shockwave rippled up my leg and through my body transmitting impressions and information to all my senses. Instinctively I flinched even before I scanned the station. The absence of that buoyant vitality, emanating from the bright, vibrant colours of nature, to which I had become so accustomed jarred my being. Now as my gaze took in the surroundings I saw a shadowy world where faint colours were bedimmed by a sheen of lifeless grey. I had to suppress a slight reeling feeling as I felt almost a temptation to be overwhelmed by a sensory near-overload. Looking up from the pale grey concrete of the platform my eyes met with more shades of grey; metal rails which reflected a cold grey light from a grey overcast sky. There were other people standing on the platform, dressed in clothes of black and grey or dirty brown. Their heads slightly bowed, looking down at magazines, newspapers, or mobile phones. Their expressions self-preoccupied, some concerned, some stressed, some angry, others with headphones staring seemingly into some other world which sucked out any animation of their features. Now I was aware of a hotch-potch of abstract feelings coming from those people in my vicinity.
Just by looking at people and concentrating my mind I could half-imagine/half-sense the emotions coming from them. Wow! Many of the people standing on the platform seemed so unguarded with their inner thoughts… it was like reading a book. How interesting! In the monastery I was always surrounded by pleasant, uplifting vibrations of the natural vitality of Skanda Vales’s surroundings. I wasn’t used to such turbulent and confused feelings coming from others. Feelings about … Could I translate them into words?
I focused for a moment…
….work’s boring? … I’ll be late? … Am I liked by…? …Impatience? …dreamy pleasantness? …something funny? …longing? …Why is that guy looking at me? Oops! I suddenly remembered that it’s not socially acceptable to blatantly stare at other strangers!