Book excerpts from the Spirit and Flesh religion and spirituality online library.
Mystical Mt. Arunachala, Tiruvannamalai, India: profound peace at this earthly Shiva lingam
excerpted from OM, baby! a pilgrimage to the eternal self, by Jack Haas
I say that Mt. Arunachala was the original goal of our journey because our whole trip had been motivated not only by an inner hunger to return to India, but also by an intensely focused dream which I had perhaps six months earlier. In the dream I was shown an overhead view of the map of India, and then a hand moved across the map, charting a similar course to the one which we had just taken over the last month. Then, with unquestionably deliberate intent, a finger from the hand pointed directly at the place on the map where Mt. Arunachala stands, and a small circle was drawn around the area. I awoke and knew that the guidance had been given, and I would follow.
Upon arriving in Tiruvannamalai, the horrid little town at the foot of the holy Mt. Arunachala, my soror and I booked into a hotel and then went out for an initial wander through the streets and alleyways nearby. As such I soon began to lose more touch with the great distance of the subtle transcendental consciousness which had so profoundly opened up in me on the train earlier. I was immersed in action, and so had been pulled away from the eternal non-action.
I realize now why Krishna was ever exhorting Arjuna to "give up the fruits of the action", because to give up the fruits of action is to release all outcome, expectation, and passionate attachment to anything that is happening, and so to remain in the distant, detached, transcendent state. Without such surrender of the fruits, one remains bound energetically into the goals and parameters of the paradigm and therefore can no longer transcend beyond it.
Only after giving up the fruits of all action can one be intimate with the transcendent, effortless non-doer, while acting as the involved, effortful doer. Only by not caring about the ephemeral, can one enter into the eternal.
Nevertheless, I was still chasing the fruit, and was back in the non-eternal paradigm, and so we spent a few days recuperating from the two-day train journey which had brought us south, and wandered aimlessly around and through the pollution and ugliness which chronically pervades every Indian town and city. However, although the main streets of Tiruvannamalai were no less grotesque than any other in the country, once we were off of the major thoroughfares there was a peaceful and pristine community to be found.
An amazing aspect of these areas of Tiruvannamalai, as in other southern Indian villages, is the ubiquitous chalk mandalas drawn on the ground in front of each house every morning.
The mandala is a circular symbol of wholeness, and the variety and artistry contained in the numerous mandalas drawn throughout the backstreets of the town were splendid, living signs of the sacred wholeness of the mountain itself, and indeed the eternal soul within us all.
Rising above those chalk mandalas is Mt. Arunachala, a divine and mythical protrusion emerging out of the rocky and dry land of Tamil Nadu. It is said to be a giant lingam, caused by Shiva's descent onto the earth at that very spot. And, to be sure, it is a geophysical wonder which exudes a cosmic peace not unlike the Ganges at Rishikesh.
 Furthermore, when viewed from a specific angle, the entire mountain appears like a pyramid, and one of its outcroppings looks uncannily like a Sphinx. I had seen a similar natural phenomenon many years earlier, while camping for a week at Wharariki Beach, which lies on the west coast of the south island of New Zealand.
After making these odd connections, and sharing them with my soror, she then remembered a dream in which she had been shown a mountain that was a pyramid which was both natural and manmade, and she was told in the dream that this was Mt. Arunachala.
I wonder, therefore, if the pyramid builders in ancient Egypt, as well as the Mayan and Inca architects in Central and South America, who designed similar man-made structures, were psychically picking up on a cosmic, archetypical pattern which somehow focuses the spirit onto the earth, thus creating an epicenter connecting heavenly processes to earth.
by Jack Haas