The Journey

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Places-Parliament-London I would sit, sometimes for hours, on the bank of the river Thames. The massive sheet of flowing water had a hypnotic effect on my mind and I would question the life I was leading. I looked up at the relentless hands of Big Ben and wondered if I was just wasting my time.
The old monk placed his hand over mine. He looked toward heaven for words to speak, and then closed his eyes in silence. After a moment, he opened them. “My child, there is one God. All religions teach us to love and obey him. Due to shallow faith, ego or politics, people fight over superficial differences. In fifty years of meditation, prayer, and charity, I have discovered that God’s love manifests in different ways who sacrifice their lives for the love of God and goodwill toward man.” Places-Rome-Italy
Places-Crete-Greece Weeks of contemplation passed in this way. By now, my prayers and mediations had kindled the spark of my spiritual craving into a blazing fire. From that lonely mountaintop, I witnessed everything in my life evaporating into that fire. It felt like I was being consumed by my yearning for God like one possessed.

I was afraid. I knew I was making a choice that would completely change my life, but nothing could stop me. I didn’t know where destiny was leading me, but I knew that if I were to move forward in my journey, I would find a whole new life, with a whole new identity. I had to leave everything else behind.
In the middle of night, we arrived in Istanbul. When the leader of the police asked us where would stay, Ramsey told them we were looking for an inexpensive place. The leader peered at us over his spectacles and then walked off to speak privately with a junior officer. When he returned, he told us to follow his assistant.

I’m a simple boy with a loving family and friends. Why did I leave the shelter of such a peaceful home? Now I’m helpless and alone. I prayed. I came here in search of enlightenment; is this the path I have to tread in order to learn surrender.
Places-Istanbul-Turkey
Places-Herat-Afghanistan The blaze of culture shock had acted like the rays of the sun to dissipate the fog of misconception. I felt liberated. Flooded with gratitude, I knew that Herat would forever remain a sacred place on the map of my heart.
Whenever I look back at that day, I am reminded how prayers may be answered in ways we never expect. To grow we may require that we be shaken right to our core. While kneeling on that roadside in Herat, something died within me, giving birth to a realisation necessary for me to move forward on my path. With each step, a camel lifts its hoof from a stable place on earth in order to move forward. And to reach the sea, each ripple of the river must let go of its present state to surrender to the current.
My beloved mother, I am doing what I think I should be doing here. Rishikesh is a holy city on the banks of the Ganges River. I fell there is much to be learned in the peace and tranquility I have found here. It is quite difficult for me to tell you what I have been doing. I am not so much a tourist or sightseer. I am more a seeker of my own soul. Living in the East is an entirely different way of life than living in America or Europe. Everything is completely different. It is very difficult to say when I will return. But I will say this: I deeply miss all of my family and all of my friends and I long to see all of you. But you must  understand that I must carry out what I set East to do, find the true meaning of life.Your loving son,
Richard,
Rishikesh, Himalayas, Janurary, 1970
Places-Rishikesh-Himalayas
Places-Ganges-India “My sweet Lord, as the river Ganges forever flows to the sea without hindrance, let my attraction be constantly drawn to you without being diverted to anything else.”

Spoken by Mother Kunti
Srimad Bhagavatam 1.8.42

My dear father.
My long search has led me to Vrindavan. I have at last found something that attracts my heart as pure truth. It has taken until now to find conditions I have been seeling. In the past couple weeks I have realised the great jewel that is to be learned in Vrindavan. Believe me when I tell you that I am not here for any pleasure or leisure. I am here with all earnestness and sincerity to carry out a mission that I cannot neglect. You know that in all my life I have never wilfully hurt you. Please believe the importance of this journey to my life.
Love, Richard,
Vrindavan, October 1971
Places-Vrindavan-India