Swami Pragyamurti Saraswati, UK

Once upon a time a group of friends travelled together to a faraway country. They were an oddly assorted bunch. Body, who had once been young and beautiful, but who now began to feel the passage of time and the ravages of a well-spent youth; the most troublesome was Mind, who could hardly ever stop chattering, planning, complaining and generally trying to spoil anything decided on by the others; the third member of the party was a rather nebulous presence called the Swami- she knew that was so, because that name had been given to her by someone very important, who had even written it down on a piece of paper.

The group was presided over by Sakshi, who often could not even make her presence felt over the noise and chatter of Mind-Body and Mind had lived together for many years, with occasional visits from Sakshi; and then the Swami had joined them and from time to time she imagined that she was in charge of them all- she even thought that she had arranged the trip to the faraway country! The one thing that united the four was their devotion to their teacher, Swamiji, and even Mind (or most of her) was agreed that surrender to such a wise and holy person was the only solution. Many of their friends talked about God and Divine Will and so on, but the Swami and Mind couldn't understand those concepts at all and preferred to concentrate their efforts on Swamiji. At this point Sakshi sometimes intervened, with a softly whispered "Stop trying -just BE", but Mind always interrupted, asking "How? What on earth do you mean?" or begging Swamiji to give them all a push in the right direction- as if he wasn't always guiding and inspiring them.

Anyway, when they reached their destination- a rocky hill overlooking a holy river- they found that it was looked after by a wise and beautiful young Swan, (with the longest eyelashes you ever saw). One day the Swan proposed that anyone who wished could have four days of not working, not doing, not thinking, either of themselves or of anyone else.

"Great ideal" said Body and Swami in one voice. "Not only that, but we'll do lots of sadhana, and fasting will do us both good and we'll keep silent too." Sakshi smiled enigmatically to herself, and Mind- well, Mind decided to go against the Swan's suggestion of 'No Mind' and come along too. Mind also liked the idea that it was bitterly cold and foggy outside, so there would be plenty of activity for her, in spite of instructions to keep quiet.

So they went to their room and without too much planning they found themselves doing some asanas to keep Body warm and to help fix up some of her aches and pains. Then they would chant various sacred verses, as instructed by Swamiji, and the beautiful and magical sound of AUM. Sometimes Mind would become very noisy at these times, chattering on about all kinds of nonsense, past and future; but occasionally she would be peaceful and go off quietly for a while, leaving Sakshi in charge.

Twice in the day a bell would ring for tea, which was hot and sweet and wonderful, otherwise they heated up a cup of water in the room when it became too cold. But Body was very happy with no food, enjoying the rest from hours of heavy work and sitting comfortably during sadhana. The friends came to know that most of the other people on the hill were feasting and having Special Food, and the smell of chips and garlic wafted around on people's breath and clothing for days, but they remained contented and even Mind had nothing much to say on the subject.

Occasionally they sat by the window and watched the world go by, but because of the fog, things were quiet - sounds were muffled, people stayed at home, and even the holy river was hidden from view. At these times they felt in harmony and were glad that they had come to the faraway land and Sakshi watched over them, just letting things BE.

At other times Sakshi would smile at the cacophony of sounds echoing down the corridor outside their room; musical scales, devotional songs, ancient texts and magical mantras, and the Swami would feel great love for her sisters, who were, in their own way, experiencing these four days without Mind. The occasional heavy sigh or slammed door indicated that not all Minds were happy at being excluded and were making their presence felt.

Eventually the four days were over and it seemed strange to contemplate eating and talking again. Those days spent in the solitary quiet of the room had been good for them all. Mind was complaining a bit at not having had any great cosmic experiences and earth-shattering insights, but then she hadn't even been invited in the first place. The Swami wished to goodness that she could find a new home for Mind, who was the cause of all their difficulties. She was learning to put up with Body and would gladly leave the day to day organisation to Sakshi, but Mind was a real pain most of the time.

However, much as they all squabbled and argued, they remembered that Swamiji loved and accepted them all unconditionally and that they were greatly blessed to be allowed to love and serve him. Whatever else might happen, in this they were united.