It takes some courage at first to ward off the impending sensation of wet and cold. I overcome it by the strong desire is to accompany my friend into the dark waters that will envelope our bodies permitting no view of what lurks below. As we wade further in, the skin begins to warm and we gain trust in what we cannot see, unless in desperation we hold our breath long enough to find out. But as we relax into the unknown and yield to the movement of our bodies conforming to the currents, we come alive, we feel the sensuality and delight of being the river’s guest. We are one with the river.
Many people this year, in my own personal sphere and scattered across the globe, have been stepping into the river with a friend or a loved one. None of us really knows what lies ahead in any instance. And when an event, whatever the scale – an illness, a death, an earthquake, a terror attack – takes hold of our lives, we find ourselves left with a few broken pieces of the puzzle. There is no making sense of it. Sometimes only the stars have sufficient stature to tell us. Vedic astrologers agree recent months have been particularly challenging and turbulent and elaborate on the conjunction of Saturn and Mars that fabricates uncompromising situations as the two planets draw near. I derive some solace in a shared planetary predicament momentarily from a position of staring upwards from my earthly abode, only to return my gaze to the topsy-turvy lives, glaring back at me in shards. Even tears are more concrete than the invading hollowness that ensues. Only the breath reminds me that I am still here.
The murky waters give us no clue of the future. Yet, our moment of awakening dawns when we become aware of the wondrous flow of compassion of people, even strangers, who step into the river with us. Vimala Thakar says compassion is “a spontaneous movement of wholeness.” It needs no words; it flows like the river issuing from the purest source. “It is simply there when the wholeness of life becomes a fact that is truly lived,” says Thakar. No need to think, just act. Compassion is the grand liberator. Even when nothing else remains of the familiar, we are complete in the arms of compassion. For all those who have journeyed with friends and loved ones everywhere, I am grateful.
 Vimala Thakar was a social activist associated with the Bhoodan or Land Gift program in India who later became a spiritual teacher after meeting Krishnamurti.