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  • In 2008 we led some clients on an international, expedition-based Leadership Journey to India. We planned a 9 day trek to the base of 25,643’ Nanda Devi, the 2nd highest peak in India. Known as the “Bliss-giving Goddess” the mountain is sacred to the people of India. The trek to the base of the mountain terminates at trails-end at a spot known as “Zero Point.” The highpoint of our trek would bring us to the stone abode of a 38 year old Indian holy man named Swami Dharmanand -- or simply “Babaji.”

    Babaji lives at the base of the mountain, in a stone and wood home built under a giant boulder, and devotes himself to a simple spiritual life and to caring for trekkers who visit him. Babaji had been living under that boulder since the age of 19, cultivating his spiritual presence through daily/nightly prayer and meditation. Becoming known for his wisdom and perspective, many other Swami’s travel to Zero Point to pray to the mountain and to learn from Babaji.

    Babaji is a living embodiment of the power of spiritual practice. He has cultivated his life energy to the point that he only needs to wear a fraction of the clothing we need to stay warm — he was wearing a cotton skirt, light jacket and hat, while I was shivering in my heavy thermal underwear & thick down parka. He sleeps only a few hours during the night, spending most of the dark hours sitting upright and chanting prayers.

    Babaji invited us into his inner sanctum to observe one of his ceremonies which included making offerings to the gods, burning of incense, blowing a horn and ringing bells (heard in audio). After the prayer ceremony he invited us to ask him questions.

    Someone asked about how long he thought he would continue to live at the base of the mountain. His response took me by surprise. He said that he felt he was close to having done what his body was put on the earth to do. Once that was done he would be free to leave his body (die?) and become a spirit in the mountains where he could do more to counteract evil spirits and to use his life force for good.

    As the conversation was winding down I asked “the” question. What is THE question? What question do you ask the holy man on the mountain? You guessed it: “What is the meaning of life?”

    Babaji nodded and thought for a minute before replying. “The purpose of life is to discover the gift that you were born to offer to the world and to do your very best at giving that gift to the world.” He went on to say: “It is very important that you not compare your particular gift to that of others, only that you know and be your gift." He thought some more and then added, "It is important not to compare how well you do your gift with how well others do their gift. It only matters that you do your best. That is all that matters. That is the purpose of life."
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