AN ENLIGHTENING EXPERIENCE (Third Eye Awakening)by Dulz Cuna The Hermit: “In the Spirit of Shakamuni” 0il, 1995 by Dulz CunaBack in 1995, I had some sort of "Kundalini Crisis". Everything was going awry, my marriage was touch-and-go, my career was on "what-ifs", my family was on "hey-we-had-barbeque-in-the-lawn-where-were-you" and my friends were on "youre-sure-this-is-doing-you-good" trips that sent me to a surreallimbo. I had bad dreams, slept irregularly, grew fat in the wrong places, smoked heavily inspite of myearly morning asthma and I moped...moped...all my life thru...And suddenly, out of the blue, I told all ofthem: I want to be a Hermit.Maybe it was some kind of soulsearch, or mid-life crises (it was too early for that!), or just doom &gloom bipolars, and I deduced that I wanted OUT of here for awhile...I was toying on the idea, what if Icould DIE if I liked, as if Death were some kind of vacation Spa and come back renewed to this samebitchy Life and really be in control this time with things. I started meditating heavily, doing yogaexercises but I always was cut short with a "Hey Mom! Wattya doing inside! I need to use thebathroom" or "Hey Mom! Telephone..." or "Hey Woman! I need you to darn my trousers.., have youseen that f***kin light bill?" and so on and so forth. Thus, I tried to look in every moments and idylls ifthis was indeed,..Life.Theyve been talking about the Hermitage somewhere on the hills of Kananga, Mary the Queen was itsname and suddenly my spirit longed to be there. So with a borrowed camping gear, a few cannedvictuals, a forsaken kerosene lamp, some sleeping clothes, my sketchpad and pastels, a walkman andtapes and my humanity in my pores, I ventured to the Hills.The Hermitage was situated on the foothills of the geothermal mountains of Mahawan, Lim-aw andTongonan, near the Tubud river and beside a acre of pineapple. It was Holy Week and 14 wooden
crosses were dug into the dirt road leading to the monastery. I begged and pleaded to Sister Mary Johnthat Id be fine pitching my tent near the deep well in the garden when she insisted of giving me thereceiving room as quarters."There are snakes abound," she said, "they might slither inside your tent.""They may be there Sister, but they are Unreal.." I said. To that she smiled knowingly and allowed memy 1st day at the Hermitage.My tent ready, and dusk slowly falling, I made my appearance first to the Priest living with the Hermits(whom I did not see but only their whispers behind the walls). Fr. Villacorte was a kind priest wholistened intently to my mind meanderings, whether this venture of mine was a Search or not..He did notgive any comment but invited me to a service in the little chapel that evening, where the mountain folkwould gather for Holy Wednesday prayers...That night, I struggled with my lamp, I fumbled in the dark for the wick which was buried deep into thecan of kerosene...There was no electricity in the Hermitage compound, only candles and lamps..It wasHoly Week, they shut off the indulgence of a generator and went to the simple life again...About to beexasperated, I heard that Voice:"Be ready with your Lamp...always be Ready!" In that I tried to peer in the dark, calling out Fr.Villacortes name..Finally, I had it lit and joined the handful of simple mountain folk carrying votive candles in the chapel.After the services, in the rectory, I asked the good priest if he was the one who called me to be readywith my Lamp. He said no, but that was a phrase from the Parable of the Ten Virgins and their Lamps inthe Bible. Something I never thought about at that moment!Early Holy Thursday morning I found a pot of eucalyptus tea, a slice of pineapple and a piece of breadbeside my tent. The Hermits wanted me to join them in their simple breakfast. I started the day greetingthe sun with my breathing exercises and I planned to go for a walk...It looked like a walk but I know Inever left my tent, but I also suddenly knew what was beyond the pineapple fields...Then at last...I wentinto my the world of Silent Music...the world Inside...The afternoon was spent sketching and drawing and talking to the mountain children who gatheredaround my tent. I let them sit for me and showed them the rudiments of drawing eyes, ears, nose andmouths. I gave them sketches to bring home to their shanties...Ive never felt sooo good....I listened to Jim Chapelles music in my walkman, His album jacket "Dusk" had a beautiful picture of alenticular cloud over the Arizona dessert. I wondered whether we could have clouds like this in thePhilippines. I showed the picture to Father V and he said we might have clouds like that if only we knewwhat to see..The afternoon was now falling pastel and some shades were about to show, the mountainswere turning sfumato and some purple nightwings flitted in the tangerine sky...and then I SAW IT....Alenticular cloud, very much similar to the one in Jim Chapelles album...in the sky...There was a mad rush in my body...as if I was changing, metamorphing into somethingUnreal...something intangible...As if my body was a city of gears churning in rhythm, a world beneathmy skin...something Alive in me was Inside me...That night the wind howled over the mountains. Strange shadows came over my tent, thumps came intothe ground as if I was in the middle of a stampede as I cowered in my blankets, the lone kerosene lamp
sputtered as if holy water was sprinkled over it. I saw to it the zippers of my Coleman tent were fastenedwell...for awhile I thought I was Dorothy of the Wizard of Oz story being flung into a core of thetornado...I fell into a deep sleep..and dreamed..of St. Paul falling down from his horse and seeing abright cross in Heaven...his Conversion.Good Friday woke me up to the clanging of the chapel bell..just a faint toll...and when I looked outsidefrom my tent, down the road. I saw the crosses, now festooned with flowers--suntan, kalachuchi,yellowbells...and beside the first cross near the gate was a Horse! The horse in my dream! A man cameout with Father V, straddled the horse and galloped away. "That was Pabling, he brings the groceries."said Father. "Pabling" was a diminutive for "Pablo". Pablo in English is Paul...My Good Friday was spent so still, I fasted...I did not know how long I sat under the Dapdap tree..But Ifelt conscious as dusk fell in and the fog surrounded the hermitage..Only the lone chapel candle wasburning..everything was shrouded in purple cloth, the buildings in fog...even me...The whispered prayersof the Hermits were substituted by the trill of the crickets..the croak of the marsh frogs and the trickle ofthe water wheel near the well...This silence, once again, was my music...There were about six cars parked near the gate of the Monastery compound that Holy Saturday. Somepilgrims, I deduced...Or relatives of the Hermits. They could only see their hands, but never their faces inthe receiving room.I felt hot. I havent changed my pajamas since Wednesday, and have not taken a bath...No, it was notself-imposed Ascetiscm..I just had no time for bodily ministrations...Or my mundane body clockworkstopped.I even didnt feel bedraggled when Father V introduced me to the visitors. I only felt that they looked atme in awe. I saw a lady with a forlorn face and said "Dont worry, hell be coming home...I think nextmonth." There. I just said it. And she broke into tears. I threw a questioning glance at Father who saidher husband, who was a seaman, fell sick in some country and had to remain there. She just had wordthat he was well again, she came to the Hermitage for thanksgiving and she believes that what Ive toldher added more relief and thanks...Honestly, those words just blurted out of my mouth when I saw herforlorn face, I never knew her story..That night, skyclad (nude), before midnight, under the cover of the bushes near the well and the windwild, whirring weird, I took a bath...Easter Sunday Eve at Mary the Queen was unforgettable.The mountain folk came all dressed in whitecotton frocks, the men in white shirts and pants..They carried baskets of flowers and fruits to thechapel. They carried with them long tapering white candles tied up in ribbons and lit them singing songsIve never heard before. Beautiful songs of mountains, rivers, valleys and of the Mother Mary...Ienjoined. We went on a hop, skip parade around the garden singing a song about Mary not to besorrowful anymore..so beautiful, yet so haunting...We then gathered inside the pewless chapel wherethe Easter Mass was held, and once more the choir of Hermits sang...Late that night I dreamt that I rode the local commuter JD Bus going home for Easter...I then decided itwas time to go back..
Easter Sunday morning found darkening clouds. A storm was brewing.Yet the whole compound was in afestive mood. The mountain folk had visitors from the town, some Evangelists. Food came pouring in theparlor sent by well-wishers and those who believed on the powerful prayers of the Hermits, Sister MaryJohn distributed the baskets of colored eggs and candies to the mountain children. I took part inintroducing the games and managing the treasure hunt..but all the time I kept glancing to the sky wherethe storm clouds gathered and wondered if I could make it back home."All bus lines are cancelled, so are the boats and ferries at Ormoc. No JD buses operating." said anEvangelist. There goes my Easter plans to be with my family. But no, the dream told me I WOULD RIDE AJD BUS GOING HOME THAT EASTER. That faith was within me all day as I mingled with these people ofthe mountains...Different from those I know way back home, simple, uncomplicated and not paranoid ofstorm clouds.At Noon, the winds were howling like wolves outside. But everybody was full with food and music forsomebody brought in a guitar. Father V announced that another roast pig arrived compliments of Mr.Jesus "Jess" Doyon...and the man is waiting in his Pathfinder truck outside for "Somebody" who needs aride home to Tacloban.I gasped. Thats gotta be ME! I just couldnt believe my ears and how things fell into place. "By the way,Father." I asked the smiling priest. "Who is this Jess Doyon?".."Well, my dear, hes the owner of JDBuslines..." said Father Villacorte, knowingly...I winked at the Heavens. Miraculously...as I was riding kind Mr Doyons Pathfinder...the storm cloudsabated...