• The Eyes...they see me for who I am, what I believe. They create in me warmth that not even the brightest fire can ever hope achieve. When I look at that picture, and see those eyes looking back at me, I know that my beliefs are right and true.

    The musky scent of the people around me, my fellow believers, it creates a comforting aura that can normally be found only in a mother's embrace. Such an aura had escaped me for many years until I was able to find this ashram, which is run by the lovely Swami Chidvilasananda. I'd finally found my home.

    And what a wonderful home it is! The people are superb, so friendly, and so strong in their convictions.

    They are the sort of people who were loud, boisterous, and happy during most times, but when the time for meditation comes around, the time for gathering beneath the benevolent gaze of the Eyes, the only sound is cloth rubbing against cloth like a thousand whispers.

    The ashram itself is very welcoming. Its walls are made of thick canvas pulled taught over wooden beams, and it is filled with a warm orange light, that comes from paper lanterns that hang from the high ceiling. The only other light is pure white light suffusing through the walls of the ashram where the canvas doesn't fit together perfectly. It's almost like the Great Light peeking in on us to make sure we're okay.

    To me, the only downfall to my home is the amount of standing a person did during the ceremonies, and even that isn't so bad, since we're all supplied with thick cloth mats to stand upon.

    The people around me wear white clothing symbolizing their, our, purity and oneness with the Great Light. The fact that we are all dressed the same, and look so similar, it's comforting to me. I don't feel alone anymore.

    There are two other pictures below the Eyes, but they are of less importance to me. They don't give me the feeling of pleasure that the Eyes do. Nothing really does, not even the soft hopeful words of Chidvilasananda. Though I would say her words are a close second.

    Being here, standing before the Eyes, and the Great Light, I don't think I've ever been this happy, and I won't be this happy until I stand before them again, until the next time I can prove my dedication to them.

    The Eyes...They're staring at me. I'm really not sure why I'm here, standing with all these sweaty people, in this muggy tent. I've just come to India to help out with the local doctors, and somehow I got swept along to this religious gathering, surrounded by people exuding body odor. That, and humming, I'm surrounded by the humming of people deep in meditation. Great, I'm an atheist, surrounded by religious nutcases. Well, perhaps the term 'nutcase' is a little harsh, but the phrase "I'm an atheist" seems to mean nothing to them, as they drug me along to this 'ashram', and forced me to take part in their religious practices.

    The actual ceremony itself isn't that bad, I suppose, as it mostly consists of a middle-aged woman talking in a language I don't understand, and then lots of meditating. I'll admit, I myself meditate on occasion, as it helps clear my mind, but after an hour of it, one tends to get distracted.

    I'll also admit that the ashram is also quite relaxing, as the lighting was a soft orange, rather than the bright white light of most buildings...but...I'm a bloody doctor! Not a churchgoer!

    I don't want to be here...with those eyes staring at me, almost as if they're glaring straight through me, knowing all of my secrets, knowing my lack of faith. Atheist or not, it's quite disconcerting.

    I look down at my pale bare toes, which rest upon a thick off-white mat. I look forward to the end of this so that I can return to the world of numbers, and calculations. The world I know.

    I smile softly as I gaze up at the calm Eyes. I wish I could be like the person whose eyes are featured. They seem kind, and at ease, like nothing can bother them. Just looking at them could make a person feel like all is right in the world, even when their logical mind tells them that nothing is right. At least, that's how they make me feel.

    I hear a soft, bored sigh from behind me, and before I can stop myself, I turn to look. It's a boy, perhaps a couple years older than myself. It's obvious from his blonde hair, and pale skin that he's a foreigner, and I can't help but wonder what he's doing here. It's obvious from the annoyed scowl spread across his pretty features that he's not happy about being here. I wonder if he believes what he's hearing, or if he just doesn't understand about the Great Light.

    The voice of Chidvilasananda catches my attention, and I swiftly turn back to face the pictures on the wall, but the questions still nag at the back of my mind: Who is he? Why is he here?

    The feeling of being watched pulls my mind from its annoyed religion rant back to the present. I look up and see a young girl staring at me. She's obviously quite young, as innocence still gleams in her eyes, but yet she seems hardened. I scowl slightly, hoping to convey the fact that I don't like being watched, but all she does is blink slightly.

    As I said, she was still young, and most certainly from around here, if the dark skin, and wild black hair are any indication.

    It seems that she finally got the hint that her staring was bugging me, as she quickly turned back to face the front. Good riddance, I say, but at the same time I wonder if she actually believes this garbage.

    It isn't long after my half-encounter with the boy, that the ceremony ends. With a few kind words from Chidvilasananda, we are sent back to our homes. I smile to myself as I leave the ashram, perfectly content with how the ceremony had went. I feel certain that I'd caught the attention of the Great Light, and now things would start looking up in other areas of my life.

    As I push through the canvas door of the ashram, a flash of gold catches my eye. It is the boy.

    "Wait!" I call to him in English, which I guess is probably his native language. Many thanks to the Great Light for ensuring I got an education.

    The boy stops instantly and turns back to look at me. Perhaps 'look' isn't a strong enough word. He glared at me.

    "What?" he snaps shoving his pale hands into his pockets. It's interesting how light skinned he is, as most people around me are so dark.

    "What's your name?" I ask. He hesitates for a moment, possibly wondering if I'm worth answering.

    "Nicholas. And you?"

    "I'm Chi."