Chapter 7: Rivalry
Like Maliyan, the woman in the chiropractic waiting room travelled a long way to Gary. She came from a vibrant, alternative town, Byron Bay, on the far north coast. As she had let out a few, low, screaming-type sounds when Gary had been attending to her, on returning to the reception area, she apologised to everyone that it probably sounded like a torture chamber. She was a confident, talkative woman. Seeing that Maliyan was engaged, she continued the conversation specifically with her.
“It doesn’t hurt,” she said, “so I don’t know why I react like that.”
As this was exactly the topic that Maliyan and Gary had discussed a month ago, Maliyan told her a version of the karmic dumping idea.
Being from Byron Bay, the woman understood and continued, “I get so nervous before I come.”
“Don’t worry about trying to make yourself less afraid,” said Maliyan. “Maybe, just accept that the energetic process can be a bit unpleasant sometimes, but that it’s well worth it.”
For a moment, the woman looked like she thought that was a wonderful idea, but then her expression changed to one of slight annoyance. Maliyan concluded that she probably had her own yogic following or spiritual group back home and was used to being the teacher, not the taught (especially by some unknown person in the reception area). She most likely also considered herself to be Gary’s favourite client and confidante in all things spiritual.
Gary is like one of those mothers, thought Maliyan, that gives the impression to all of her children that they are secretly the favourite.
Chapter 8: CBA
“It’s the CBA,” said Gary.
“Commonwealth Bank of Australia?” asked Maliyan. She said that because her father had worked for the C.B.A. many years ago.
Gary looked at her oddly and said, “No, cost-benefit analysis.” They had been talking about the use of anti-inflammatories for injuries. “You have to weigh up whether the cost is worth the benefit. The other day, one of my sons asked for my opinion about a particular girl he was interested in. Generally, I try not to interfere with my kid’s lives.”
“I’m sure you don’t,” said Maliyan.
“I told him that CBA is a technique for comparing the positive and negative impact of the use of certain resources,” said Gary. “Firstly, you have to specify the options. In his case, go out with the girl or not. Secondly, you have to decide which costs and benefits are going to count. In his case, I am assuming the ones that would count are sex, company, and social status. Thirdly, you have to identify measurement indicators for the impact of the decision. In his case, a scale of happiness to heartbreak. Fourthly, you have to consider the impact of the decision over its lifetime.”
“So,” asked Maliyan, “how did that all go?”
“Eventually, to make it simple for him,” said Gary, “I told him, ‘Look, buddy, the positives are that she’s hot, exciting, and other guys want her. The negatives are that she’s [excuse the language] a f***ing headcase.’”
Maliyan laughed and said, “What did he decide?”
Gary smiled and said, “I think he was punching above his weight and the decision might have been taken out of his hands.”
Chapter 9: CBD
One hour into her drive home, Maliyan stopped in the small town at the highest point of her ascent up the mountain range. The skyline of the CBD (Central Business District) was visible in the distance. She breathed in the fresh air; not as clean as Nanima, but way cleaner than what was below her in the city sprawl. As she strolled around, she noticed a sign on a shop noticeboard.
Get high with us at High.
Join us for Elemental Essentials.
Although she still had another four hours’ drive home, for some reason, she decided to attend the event. Setting off on the twenty-minute drive into the mountainous bushland towards High, she thought of a quote by poet, Nicolas Boileau-Despreaux.
Every age has its pleasures, its style of wit, and its own ways.
That’s true, thought Maliyan. Every age and every stage of life has its own jokes (usually laughing at other age groups and also at one’s own), its own way of doing things, and its own benefits. Right now, I am without partner, dependents, pets, and work, so if not now than when? When to spontaneously do such things?
With that, she went in pursuit of getting high.
Chapter 10: Elemental Essentials
The community was easy to spot with its large, metal “High” sign overlooking the majestic slopes towards the city. Of course, the name was a reference not only to the physical location but also to the spiritual path being a natural inner high. It was a happy coincidence that the entrance to High had a wooden statue of a wedge-tailed eagle (Maliyan’s namesake). About sixteen feet tall, it was carved from the remains of a dead eucalyptus tree. Beneath it was a bowl of mud mixture with instructions which read,
Please apply the mud to the following points on your body:
between your eyebrows,
the pit of your throat,
the point where your rib cage meets,
the soles of your feet.
The mud connects us with the first essential element – earth.
Although the community was of the yogic/Hindu tradition, their outreach was entirely nondenominational and their requirements for participation in all processes were also totally inclusive.
What could be more yogic than mud and chakras, thought Maliyan as she pasted herself with the mixture while sitting cross-legged on the grass with about fifty other participants.
She then remembered that two days ago was Ash Wednesday in the Catholic Church. It marks the start of Lent and is forty-six days before Easter which is calculated by the cycles of the moon. On Ash Wednesday, the priest puts ash on your forehead and says, “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
How yogic, thought Maliyan, to calculate the date of Easter by the moon. And dust is earth. Earth, dust, ash, and mud are not just yogic ideas or Catholic ones. They are universal ones. Religions are far more similar than they are different.
“Welcome to our community,” said a woman, around forty, in white clothing. “Patanjali, the father of modern yoga, begins the Yoga Sutras with these words, And now yoga. When we have tried all else and know that it doesn’t work, we are ready. We are ready for yoga. We are ready for the spiritual path. Let us chant together, Yoga Yoga Yogeshwaraya. Yoga means union, and Yogeshwaraya is to transcend the physical domain.”
After a few rounds, Maliyan picked up the chant and something about its rhythmic, lulling, stabilising, intense yet calming nature indeed brought a sense of union.
Yoga Yoga Yogeshwaraya
Bhuta Bhuta Bhuteshwaraya
Kala Kala Kaleshwaraya
Shiva Shiva Sarveshwaraya
Shambho Shambho Mahadevaya