Day 126 – the Taj Mahal

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We wake up early to get to the Taj Mahal before the tourist crowd. We are lucky to be here in the middle of the off-season so it is extremely quiet and we actually get photos of each other standing alone in front of the building. It is not too hot as the sun slowly rises around the four pillars and the marble glitters. It is so stunning. The inlay of black onyx, carnelian, mother of pearl, tiger’s eye, jasper, bloodstone and lapis lazuli are in intricate floral designs and verses from the Qu’uran.

After breakfast we go to see the Red Fort, which was a palace and then later a prison for Emperor Shah Jahan. As we walk through with the guide, my imagination does me the favour of filling the courtyards with bustling courtiers in sheer veils, jewel encrusted lords and politically weighted glances. I am not listening to a word the guide is saying. I snap back to attention but it is getting really hot and it is only 10.30.

We are taken to see some workshops where local artisans embroider velvet with silk and carve intricate marble and gemstone tables, plates and statues of gods and elephants, but by mid-afternoon we just go back to the hotel and its swimming pool. I start doing laps and realise how much I miss the ocean. I haven’t been immersed in water since Bali. Over a month. That is probably the longest I have gone without a salt-water fix. Within minutes my breath, strokes and mind find simple rhythm and I feel my mind return to the same focus and meditative state I used to get when I swam across the bay at Malabar. I finally get tired and get out to sit by the pool and read but the flies are driving me insane in the thick, hot air. I can’t read so I sit and stare at the bright blue water. I’m suddenly overcome with the knowledge that this spiritual path in starting to overtake everything else in my life. Suddenly, nothing else seems as important. Everything has been sacrificed for this journey to enlightenment; my relationship, my physical home, my university degree… Everything has just dissolved in this burning fire of desire for union with the divine truth that is the universe. Love has gone from the external as it now comes from deep within, money has become a means to walk the physical path in search of that consciousness, family and friends are either either supportive of my decisions or secretly think I’m crazy and yet I have never felt more alive, more close to that truth and more aware of my essential nature that permeates all illusion. After last night’s ‘supermoon’ I feel driven to pursue this spiritual passion has gone from a flickering candle to a raging inferno, illuminating my one true path.

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