The Mumbai terrorist attacks killed two pilgrims from Virginia, but not their companions’ belief that everything, and everyone, is connected. April Witt in the Washington Post:
Naomi bent over the exotic, blood-red flower blossoms that flourished in the ashram garden and breathed in. It was a delicious moment of perfect peace: Naomi Scherr, just 13 years old, her shoulder-length strawberry-hued hair damp from the Indian heat, her face full of wonder at the beauty of a world she was just discovering. It was the afternoon of Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2008.
Lingering in a sacred garden on the outskirts of the busy Indian port city of Mumbai was just one more blissful interlude on the 10th day of what had been a joyous spiritual journey for Naomi, her father, Alan Scherr, 58, and 23 fellow pilgrims with an international meditation group based in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. Inside the ashram, young monks chanted hauntingly beautiful prayers in Sanskrit for the spiritual tour group from the Synchronicity Foundation. “It was heaven,” recalled Helen Connolly, a yoga teacher from Toronto who was Naomi’s roommate on the trip. Afterward, as their giant tour bus threaded past the tiny motorcycle taxis called tuk-tuks that clog Mumbai’s streets, Helen had the dreamy sense of being inside an orca as it swam through schools of minnows.
Later that evening, in a rented hall in downtown Mumbai, the pilgrims sat meditating with the America guru who had led them to India: Master Charles Cannon. Indian locals wandered in to join them and greet the visiting guru, a trim, quietly charismatic 63-year-old mystic with a down-to-earth manner. Master Charles teaches a holistic view of the universe in which everyone and everything — sunlight and shadow — are one unified consciousness; and in which the events of this world, whatever they may be, are somehow meant to be. As Master Charles brought this night’s session to a close, pilgrims and locals spilled onto the dark streets, still relishing the blissed-out, almost opiated state that some longtime meditation practitioners achieve. Master Charles, however, sensed shadow. As the guru and his followers made their own way back to their five-star hotel, the Oberoi, Master Charles had the incongruous sense that something was about to happen. Be alert, he thought: Ah, it’s very close.
Four days earlier, on the morning of Saturday, Nov. 22, a small boat launched from the Pakistani coastal city of Karachi. Its passengers were 10 young men who had spent months training for this moment. Each carried a large rucksack stocked with Kalashnikov ammunition, two 9mm pistols, hand grenades, an Improvised Explosive Device and a cellphone. The young men, terrorists recruited from across Pakistan, journeyed into the Arabian Sea. They were headed more than 500 nautical miles south — to Mumbai. More: