More than three decades ago I made my first pilgrimage to the mother ashram of my yogic lineage, located in the countryside of Maharashtra, India. Having only been consciously on the path for a little over a year, I honestly didn’t really know why I was going, just that I had to go and stay for 90 days. The one teaching I remembered from what I had heard and read up to that point spoke to the purity in the heart of the disciple when visiting this ashram, where the Masters had performed their sadhana, or spiritual practices, for thousands of years. It said that every plant or flower, tree or bug, was alive with the Shakti of divine Consciousness and that time spent in this sacred place with an open mind and receptive heart would lead a seeker to the direct Knowledge of Absolute Truth.
I was not aware of the expectations that had accompanied me on this journey but at about the ten-week mark, I began to feel extremely agitated. I had been doing everything asked of me, going overboard to attend every chant, program, and meditation session, but I awoke one morning to a mind racing with upsetting thoughts.
I’ve been here for nearly three months and nothing has happened. I’m doing everything right but I don’t feel any different. What’s the point of all this effort if I’m not enlightened yet?
I was out on an early morning walk as all of this was taking place and just as my inner turmoil was reaching the boiling point, I arrived at a statue of Lord Ganesh. Behind the Great Remover of Obstacles stood a majestic mango tree and as I was angrily striding past it, I heard the thump of something hitting the ground. It stopped me in my tracks. I looked down and saw it was a huge mango. And it spoke to me, saying: “When fruit is ripe, it falls naturally from the tree.”
In that instant, I got it. I stopped beating myself up for being an acorn but not yet an oak. And this one experience became the foundation upon which an entire life of conviction, commitment, and absolute faith in my own process would unfold and rest. I understood that it was my job to walk the path with as much integrity as possible but that when I would reach the destination was not only something I could not control or manipulate, it wasn’t even my concern. I was the passenger, not the driver, of the train of Life. And to this day, whenever I am tempted to be frustrated that God’s Time does not seem to be aligned with the hopes or expectations of ego, I still hear that quiet, wise voice of the mango, gently reminding me:
“When fruit is ripe, it falls naturally from the tree.”