Peace Escapes Me

As much as I like to fantasize about a slow, meditative, simple life, I seem to only truly be calm and in the moment during traumatic situations.  I need adventure, stress, and tension to be truly at peace with my life.  Minus those things I tend to get bored and make up emotional turmoil in my head.

Several years ago, while on Amma’s South Indian tour, I was feeling a little bored and wanted to head back to the ashram, but one morning in Chennai, routine work in the kitchen changed everything.  We cook kanji, rice gruel, in large vats.  When the rice is completely cooked we strain it, keeping enough water for the gruel and then dump the excess boiling water.  Normally I work on the curry making team, but as we were finished I went to help with the rice preparation.

Photo Credit:  Sreejit Poole
Photo Credit: Sreejit Poole

As we were carrying pots of excess boiling water to a pit to dump it, a brick slipped from beneath my foot causing me to suddenly be lower than my partner carrying the water.  The pot tipped, burning my knees, and then fell to the ground and I fell over into the pot with my hands elbow deep in the scalding water.  I ran quickly to put my body under cold running water but as I was burning everywhere, we eventually filled up a cooking vessel and I sat in cold water for the next two hours.

Photo Credit:  Gautam Harvey
Photo Credit: Gautam Harvey


Photo Credit:  Amar Gressel
Photo Credit: Amar Gressel

Anytime I tried to come out of the water, I would feel unbearable burning and re-submerge.  I tried to be tough, but, with so many friends staring sadly at me, tears would fall every now and then.  I would look away so that people wouldn’t see me cry, but you could see the tears as they dropped in the water.

Photo Credit:  Amar Gressel
Photo Credit: Amar Gressel

Still, this was my time.  I couldn’t think about the past or the future but was finally living in the moment.  In truth I was in pain for maybe eight hours, but the next few weeks as the love poured in from every direction I was grateful for the experience.

Photo Credit:  Haran
Photo Credit: Haran

My skin would first bubble up then after a couple weeks it completely peeled off leaving pink new skin to draw everyone’s attention.  After a couple months my skin returned to normal with scarring that only I could notice as not being the same as it used to be.

Actually, it seems that I have some bad astrology for Chennai, as the next year’s tour during those same programs I managed to turn a propane tank into a flame thrower and set the whole kitchen ablaze at four in the morning.  It was a site to see, though luckily the tank as it heated up sent the gas out faster and faster eventually running out without exploding or burning down the kitchen.

These moments of intensity are the times when the whole world stops and only the present moment exists.  Recently we celebrated Amma’s 60th Birthday and it went off flawlessly.  But 10 years ago for the 50th celebrations, it would be the first time that we had to deal with organizing for such big crowds.  The event was a four day international peace rally that saw 250,000 people gathered together.

Photo via
Photo via


Taking care of this many people for four days, was a year’s long organizational feat.  During the event we basically did not sleep for all of the four days.  What little time I slept I can remember it being my face in a pool of sweat on a table, for an hour or so.  It was glorious.  Now, dealing with this many people has become common place for the ashram, but those early days remain as some of my greatest memories.

Ah, the thrill of chaos!  There’s nothing like it.  I may fantasize from time to time about being alone with plenty of time for meditation and introspection, living a life of order and routine, but it is still pandemonium that makes me feel alive.


Written for Dungeon Prompts: Our Hidden M.O.

Featured Photo by Artist Aleksandra Kerzhentceva. Check her out at


  1. What an ordeal you went through, burns are so painful not leaving a moment of reprieve for hours. You wrote this in a way that we could feel it. I can relate on some level to chaos, when it affects not me but a loved one. I am not sure it is the same though but it gave me a sense of purpose. Naturally we cannot live like that constantly but those times are very powerful. I love your choice of music video. I just love this song.


  2. Bless you! You need to stay out of hot water, Sreejit! 🙂 Some experiences floor us, leaving us no choice but to attend to only the moment at hand. I do know. I don’t thrive on chaos or these moments happening, but they seem to be necessary for the soul to conduct its best stillness and inner examination, allows us to sideline our intellect and independence, as well as our propensity for finding the answers, to surrender and let someone else to the business of tending to us.

    Glad those burns have healed/ are healing. (No flipping of the bird for you until then.)


  3. When I first read this my solution oriented mind immediately remembered how I deal with burns. Ya see, I use to work for a quick oil change shop and would get splattered with hot burning oil, I quickly discovered that the soaking in cold water solution was impractical, yet it was all that I knew to handle it. One day I got splattered and ran to the shop sink, somebody else was already there washing with hot water, I didn’t think, I just put the burn under the water, at first it increased the pain, then the pain subsided and I went back to work. I was prepared to go back and soak, yet the pain didn’t return. Since then it is my practice to soak my burns in hot water from a running tap until the pain subsides and then I don’t have to keep soaking. Just a little trick I learned in the struggle.


  4. I remember you called me soon after this happened so I would know you were well enough to call, and therefore not panic like I probably would have if someone else had called me. I also remember how your burns healed way faster than anyone expected was possible. By the time I saw you later in the year, your skin looked almost normal. You picked a perfect story for this Dungeon Prompt.



  5. Ouch ouch ouch burns frighten me so much! I am responsible for my cousin when he was small getting burnt when I left a cup of tea too close to the edge of the kitchen sink. He was a toddler. I just remember the screams then hospital and the guilt that riddled me. Now I pull all hot drinks away to somewhere safe wherever I go and he still had to have skin grafts now early 20’s. So yours healed remarkably well. I work like you but only really relating to work but personally I hate stress I go on melt down I think because I disassociate with work but personally I can’t and otherwise it makes me hurt too much! Great post and insight in to your mind I am still procrastinating on understanding this challenge and how to answer! Xx


  6. How interesting that you and I both describe the value of “now”, and the contrast between activity and stillness, in our responses to this week’s Dungeon Prompt.

    As I read your post, I thought about how activity generates heat, like the heat that burned you, came out of the propane tank, and formed your pool of sweat. I think of stillness as chilling; we put on extra layers to hold in our heat.

    Yet, stillness in the form of meditation can relax the blood vessels to enable heat to reach the ends of our extremities: the tips of our fingers, toes and ears that get chilled by tension. This is the heat of energy that heals burns, like yours. Not the heat of a raging fire, but the heat of our hearts reaching out.

    Thanks for this stirring prompt and response.


  7. And the truth is, we all need contrast. The reflective time is fed by the adrenalin of the chaotic time, the intellectual energy of reflection helps us rise above the chaos. Without those natural transitions, we would appreciate the worth of neither. But I must admit, when I read this my first thought was ‘that’s catering!’. I ran a few restaurants in my time, and the intense work pressure, the fatigue and the frustrations (yes, and the injuries) are familiar to me. I loved it!

    Do I miss it now? No, nor would I return to it. I have reached an altogether more leisured state of grace and I am happy to float along – but no doubt there are more rocks just over the horizon!


  8. I thoroughly enjoyed this post – though I feel at your expense. You’re right. It was an ancillary point but huh, crisis does bring us right into its vortex, the present.

    “I managed to turn a propane tank into a flame thrower and set the whole kitchen ablaze at four in the morning.” I so woulda done this LOL. I’m neurologically wired for accidents.


  9. First I would keep you out of the kitchen, for my own peace of mind:)
    Second, I must say, God was taking care of you- my friend got burned, unfortunately by grease, and lost a couple of fingers, as well as movement in her hand- that you only have a few scars that only you can see, your angels are watching out for you- (they are watching out for my friend too- but you were protected more as I think the Big Guy in the sky needed you to have no lasting effects- for some reason only He knows!


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