Becoming the Waiting-Nothing
Nandi, the bull-guru of Shaiva Siddhanta’s eight disciples; the trusted vahana and steadfast guardian of that great destroyer, Lord Shiva, greeted me, first, as I entered the sandstone, one-way gates of the sacred dhyanalinga. Nandi sits there at the entrance, eyes barely open, and waits. Eternally. Because it’s noon in Tamil Nadu, you might think the melting sun or steam rising from surrounding jungle palms are the things that slow time, as you bow to the temple’s threshold and kiss it with your parched lips, but no: it is Nandi. He is the one wearing down all your waiting-for’s and when-shall-I-be’s and heavens-what-will-I-become’s, as he sits, simply, and waits for nothing. To wait for something is senseless. He is the waiting-nothing: ecstatic receptivity of all space and time – of all things that were, and are, and will be, and have never been.
I have travelled here, thousands of miles (three planes, a bus, an unexpected taxi) to sit with him. To sit like him. I want to learn how to wait like he does, to become the waiting-nothing like he is.
I want to become like this because I’m tired of waiting for something.
In my life, I have always been waiting for something: for revelations; chosen parents; summer festivals; and perfect jobs; for tax refunds; ovarian cancer; outlandish fame; and first snows. For kind men. And healing. And freedom. And children. God, have I been waiting for children.
It’s exhausting: all this waiting. I feel its heaviness in my prayer, as I prostrate myself before Nandi and sob out all my waiting-for’s and my when-shall-I-be’s. He receives my tears completely. He gives to my tears his wholeness. He does so because he does not receive: he is the receiving; he is the giving; he is the vast, eternal pause. And in that openness, in that spaciousness, he teaches me to become the no-thing that I am, so that I can continue waiting. So that I am always waiting.
Lina Feuerstein is a Guest Contributor for Panorama.
Lina Feuerstein is the founder of Words We Live By, a holistic, trauma-informed academic assistance program that helps Covid Era adolescents learn how to read and write. She spent the past decade studying religious approaches to healing around the world and teaching English, history, religion, and philosophy at Phillips Exeter Academy and St. Paul’s School. She holds a BA from Carleton College and Masters degrees in education and religion from the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard Divinity School. When not reading, writing, or teaching, Lina enjoys collecting videos of moving water on her hikes in the White Mountains with her dog, Noya.