A Journey in Search of Self
We have heard, “Meditation is not a means to an end, it is both the means and the end,” also “Our own life is the instrument with which we experiment with truth”. These thoughts were present in my mind while in Mexico, not far from Guatemala sitting on top of a Mayan pyramid at Ek Ballam five or six stories high, I was fascinated by the immense territory, the forest of trees, an ocean of green foilage laying before me. I could see the peaks of other pyramids scattered in the horizon, making themselves known while their massive structures remained hidden beneath centuries of vegetation and mounds of forest soil. I specifically wanted to see and be at a site unblemished by the thousands of daily tourists which will one day come and ruin this site.
Man’s curiosity to delve into the past, to attempt to be at one with cultural ancestors bring tourists who come loaded with trash and have little respect for the majesty of the ancient dwellings. These pyramid communities were built by hand, stone by stone in perfect symmetry. I found un-excavated pyramids, untainted by visitors and I rejoiced at the thought hundreds of years had passed since the last visitors sat at the very location I chose to reflect. Next to me at the highest level attainable was the empty tomb of the spiritual leader of this particular site. Only the carvings remained at the tomb entrance, writings looking very much like Egyptian hieroglyphics yet I knew Egypt was a half a world away.
I marveled at the size of the building blocks, with imbedded sea shells you could see wedged in the stones matrix even though the sea was a hundred miles away. A family of lizards paid me a visit and with tilted heads curiously examined my presence. This was their house now. Below where I sat there were many vine covered rooms, all configured in the same size, no windows, all with oddly shaped ceilings reminiscent of upside down bleachers. The rooms were dark and dank, the pyramid passageways had been filled with rocks and dirt making exploration at this point impossible. It is said, pyramids were built one on top of the other and added layers every 52 years in keeping with their numerical beliefs. Filling in the cavities was a standard procedure just prior to adding another layer. The perfection of the stone work was mystifying.
Setting aside the many mystical accounts of Mayan civilization, I was privileged to be sitting on the very spot humanity flourished thousands of years before our own. The quiet solitude provoked the feelings of oneness with a universal spirit, a Godly presence. You could almost channel the energy left behind. I say almost because the surge of energy I felt could have possibly been the adrenaline rush of being at such a magnificent representation of humanities past. There is no doubt in my mind, these structures are vessels of enlightenment. Solitude with introspective meditation can inspire a realignment of thought. We become attached to our version of life and are therefore mired in illusion. Sitting in solace atop ancient ruins creates a detachment from the mundane existence of our man made drama. For most of our lives we evade the question of our existence with property, attaining prestige, power producing or simply having fun. We never discover an answer, we merely mark time, we think God but never experience God. I was reminded of The Buddha who professed “ everything is based on mind, is led by mind, is fashioned by mind. If you speak and act with a pure mind, happiness will follow you, as a shadow clings to a form.” I became at peace.
As I descended down hundreds of steps, and I began to find my way back towards a pathway, I was approached by a friendly, vivacious middle aged man in a simple, long sleeve, white cloth shirt and cotton grey pants who spoke Mayan and a smattering of Spanish. He could see I had been moved by the experience of being at the top of the pyramids and asked if I would be willing to receive his blessing as a gift to me. He was a Mayan Shaman a spiritual protector of their sacred relics and despite the fact I did not understand a single word of his rapid, fiery incantations and smoke filled ritual, I felt a sense of release, an escape from the mundane. I discovered the Mayans are still in the midst of their structures, living quietly sometimes using ancient walls as parts of their own dwellings. I realized I know little about our own heritage and civilization still living in primitive conditions yet more alive and more in tune with earth than we will ever be. I said to the Shaman , I feel I found peace. He said to me in Spanish, “the only peace you found at the top of the pyramid was the peace you brought within yourself. You have your peace inside your soul, learn to listen to your heart”. I returned home with the realization I brought back not a new peace found at the pyramids just the same peace I had taken and newly discovered enlightenment of myself.