Mother of Silence

Finding and keeping a sacred audience on the road to Thalheim


| July-August 1997



Mother Meera was born in India in 1960 and has been living in Germany since the early 1980s. Not a teacher in the conventional sense, she is believed to be an avatar rather than a guru. The difference? A guru can point the seeker in the direction of God; an avatar can give the experience of being with God. No words are used, no practice other than meditation and prayer—the mother’s path is simplicity itself.

We knew the journey to see her would be tough, but not as tough as it was. A 400-mile walk from Oostende to Thalheim, our rucksacks suddenly filled with rocks, the road before us turned to elastic. Simple things—getting water, food, and a place to sleep—became big deals. And then the challenge of spending day after day doing the same thing with the same person (my friend Olivia), trying to walk in love and not distracted boredom, trying to love your companion and not strangle her. The pilgrimage was something I never understood. What were the rules? How were we supposed to be? From the start, the walk was a brick wall, and it just got higher, more difficult to scale, more difficult to break down.

From my diary:
Day 13
If the spiritual trip is about anything, it’s about the destruction of the ego, the dying to live again. Not only difficult, but frightening as hell. And we get plenty of practice in giving up our small selves.

Day 22
This walk constantly challenges our humility and pride. I want to tell everybody, “Hey, we’re not travelers, we’re not layabouts, we’re pilgrims! You should be welcoming us, you should be feeding us and inviting us into your homes and all the things you haven’t been doing.”

This was definitely not how it should have been. By midway I expected to have broken through the barriers to the other side, to be walking with a beatific look on my face, children running out to touch my hem. No way—we had opportunities day after day to expose our humanity, warts and all.

Day 23
Approaching a day as a spiritual journey is new for me. I’ve never consciously tried to open myself indiscriminately to people and situations. Of course it’s easy when you’re comfortable, but some people make it hard for you to love them, and some situations are hard to accept.