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Full text of "A hermit in the Himalayas"

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intruding human feet frighten them off. But they are stubborn, and
the moment they have slipped over the edge they turn and look at
me steadily with lidiess, staring and somewhat baleful eyes. They are
not eager to enter their stony homes whilst the sun shines. As soon as
I pretend to withdraw they hop on the path again and seem
astonished when I return. They live like little Yogis in their miniature

It is useless to try and pick a spot outdoors for my meditations,
because the monsoon may break any day or even any hour. I fix,
therefore, upon the spacious shelter of my own room with its walls
two feet thick where I can sit with folded legs upon a chair so placed
as to provide me with an abrupt view of the heavenly white peaks
glistening outside the window. Seated thus, I am both indoors and out-
doors ! Even the most prosaic of persons must gradually become
tinged with poetry amidst such surroundings.

I select the convenient triangular cone of Srikanta as the peak
towards which I shall henceforth turn my eyes, when the mind
begins to make the first fumbling efforts towards self-abstraction. It
is thus that I shall offer my daily sacrifice of the physical senses,
drawing the sense of awareness inwards and then utterly away from
them as a tortoise draws its head and feet inwards from a threatening
world, and not by attempting to immolate them during the hours of
active life. To all things there is time and, as I see it, the withdrawal
from function of any or all organs belongs to the sacred period of
spiritual absorption and not to the secular period of normal physical
activity. Physical paralysis is not spirituality. But, of course, I am a

My treasured Tibetan painting hangs on the wall. Now and then
I regard its great central Buddha, with his heavy eyelids folded in

This cushioned chair, then, shall henceforth enthrone my holiest
thoughts; this semicircular window shall open on eternity; these
four cream-painted walls shall enclose one man's efforts to fulfil the
cherished purpose of his being; the dark oak wooden ceiling shall
keep watch over my own vigils; whilst the entire room shall be
dedicated to the one whose bidding brought me here. "Be still and
know that I am God." That is the penitential theme upon which I
shall write my essays during the coining days, not with unreluctant
ink but with reluctant life.

Hunters tell me that tigers differ in temperament just as human
beings do; not all will attack, some retreat through sheer cowardice*
Anyway, there is a whole family of tigers in the grandiose hall which