While my mind was clear and my sleep was good, I really didn’t feel that I wanted to leave right then I asked if I could remain as part of the ashram a while longer. He agreed. I would begin to help with the daily work needs around the center to earn my keep. I became part of the Ashram. I stayed for three years working meditating, practicing yoga, and healing.
The Choudarys were happy that Ravi would continue to stay with them during my tenure at the Ashram. I gave them a monthly stipend for his expenses plus a little more. I had money saved from my road crew work and almost all my Navy pay. I spent every weekend with Ravi and the Choudary family. The rest of the time I spent at the ashram. I was finding out how to be happy again.
After six months, Rakesh asked me to teach beginning meditation to the constant flow of newcomers. Teaching was a new experience and I liked it. (Teaching would eventually become my life’s work.) I enjoyed meeting other people that came from all over the world, mainly from America and Europe.
It was only later that I discovered that Rakesh was the head honcho holy man and that this was his ashram. I felt very honored and humbled.
All the time I was there, I felt Amisha’s presence, like she was always right by my side, day and night. I talked with Rakesh about this, and he assured me that her spirit was with me and I should embrace her and honor her presence.
I liked where I was and what I was doing. I felt a home in many ways. I loved the energy and the calm presence of the ashram, the people, my work there. But I had not been to home to see my family for almost four years. It was weighing on me more heavily each passing day to go home.
Then in March of 1974 when I received a letter from my mother. In it she said that it would be Dad’s 60th birthday in June. Would I please come home to celebrate with everyone? Would I please just come home to them?
I was long overdue. I was ready. I had returned to humanity. It was time.
Ravi and I left India in April that year after tearful good byes and promises to return, which we did every year thereafter. I even got my parents to with come along with Ravi and me once so they could meet the Choudarys and Rakesh. They all got along famously and my parents returned several times on their own.
The war had left an irreparable scar on my psyche like so many of the others that thought they were serving some noble cause, which eventually turned to be all a lie. We all suffered and we all still do. The war would remain with me for all my years. But I was so fortunate to have had the counsel and care of so many wonderful people in India who helped me to forgive myself for participating in that horrible debacle that was Viet Nam.
I was finally able to forgive myself for not saving Amisha, for not being strong enough to stay with her that night, for not leaving with her, for not being there when she was alone, for not being there when our son was born, for not being there to save her life, for not being there when she died. I was able to forgive myself for just simply not being there to love her. Om Shanti Om.
© 2015 Ed Lehner