With some of the Ashram guests I lately talked about my experience in the cave. They had seen the cave, had been in the building that is ‘the cave’, they saw the door which had been closed with bricks and the L-shaped window through which I had got food. They had been down to the room where I had spent most of my time and which we now use for meditations. Having seen all that, they still had some questions.
As usual, one of the questions was what experiences I had made in that time in the cave. I have really heard this question already thousands of times. It is not any wonder – people are curious what you do, feel and experience when you spend three years and 108 days in isolation. The reality is however that I can never really give a big answer to this question.
Of course the time in the cave has changed my life. Of course it was an amazing, fantastic experience that I would not want to miss. It is an important part of my life. I am however not able to describe much more than that. One way in which I have used to explain this inability is to say that you cannot explain anybody what the taste of ‘sweet’ is until he has not experienced that himself. I cannot tell you how chocolate tastes until you have had a piece of chocolate in your mouth yourself.
It would be difficult for anybody who has not made this experience himself to know how it was for me. At the same time however I feel that I am also not able to convey that experience because I am now in a fully different state of mind than in that time. You can imagine, I guess, that you come into a fully different mental situation when you meditate for such a long time, only interrupting the Mantras for the fulfilling the basic urge of the body for sleeping, eating, washing yourself or going to toilet. After coming out and getting in touch with people again, my mental state changed again and I re-adapted to life outside the cave. I took the changes along that had happened to me but I feel that it may be impossible for me to explain or describe my experience because it was so different.
In an attempt to understand, our visitors asked whether I saw the time in the cave, when looking back on it, as a long or short period. Did i feel it was a long time, a big part of my life or rather a short time. I answered that I cannot say it like this. It is a fixed block of time in my life. While I was in the cave, I lost the feeling of time. It did not matter whether it was day or night anymore. It did not matter anymore whether I had been in there for an hour or a day, a month or a year already.
They asked me whether there was ever a moment in which I thought ‘Now it is only 2 months more’ or something similar. If I had been thinking like this, I know I would have got crazy. This is another thing that I can surely tell you about my time in the cave: I lived only in the present moment, not counting back how long I had been in the cave and not counting how long I would still be in the cave. It was just me in the present moment.