& then, into the looking glass...
in the autumn of 1999, I met Jonathan, my husband -- he was already regularly coming back and forth to an ashram in India, studying healing with a master healer, Kaleshwara, a young Indian saint who was then just 26 years old.
when we started talking about India (I was pretty fascinated) and spirituality, it was a beautiful conversation and I was aware -- hyper-aware -- of this magnetic, beautiful energy streaming out of Jonathan, whom I'd pretty much just met.
when he got on the subject of Kaleshwara -- the energy power in the room went to a new level, super-high. it was riveting, and intoxicating. it wasn't Jonathan, this new friend sitting in front of me talking -- it was this amazing energy coming through him, pouring into the room through his words.
I truly -- and literally -- didn't know what to think. I was SO opposed to the whole guru thing. cults and credulity, people losing all their money for nothing, while some corrupt fuck in white robes runs off with cars and women and... no thanks, not at ALL my cup of tea.
AND THEN, THE PHOTOGRAPH TALKED...
anyway, a few days later, I went to visit Jonathan in HIS house... he pointed out a photo of Kaleshwara, and left the room in search of tea or something. I decided to stare right into the eyes of this young saint, eye to eye -- a profound connecting technique I'd learned through Indian traditions... anyway, imagine my shock, when it, uh... okay, it sounds psychiatric, but it really happened... the photograph came alive and uh, talked to me.I'd done hallucinogens as a teenager, definitely had seen flowers dance and walls breathe, okay, whatever -- this photograph suddenly was a living, moving, breathing person with super-mischievous eyes sparkling! and he communicated something to me that wasn't in words but was clearer than words. as if on some bizarre remote control, something in me responded to him on the same level -- it all happened in split seconds.
so he 'talked' to me and something in me, uh, talked back. it wasn't verbal, but it was a clear energetic conversation exchange...
something deep in me knew, "that's it. my life on the surface level is OVER. he found me. now it's back to the trenches. fuck. I was having such a GREAT time out here, playing around in the illusion world .... you found me, you're reeling me in like a fish on a line. oh, SHIT."
not as reverent as I would like to say that my initial brush with a spiritual master was -- ah, well. reality is sometimes MUCH more interesting than any fiction could be.
I keep thinking of that line in the movie The Devil's Advocate, where Al Pacino (Satan in the form of a lawyer) is walking with Keanu Reeves, a young successful trial lawyer he's trying to recruit to his 'business.' Pacino is trying to impress on Reeves that appearing innocuous and low-key is the secret to enormous power, and he says, with this utterly charming, self-deprecating grin: "You'd never think I was a master of the universe, now, would you?"
so, I'd love to say, "I saw my master's photograph and I'm such an advanced soul, such a spiritual gem myself, that of COURSE I recognized him as a master of the universe from the first moment..." but, uh, actually, I felt like a small forest rodent must feel when it realizes it's been captured in the jaws of a tiger -- utterly caught. no escape. yikes.
contract signed. it was that immediate, that final, that sudden. (I hated the feeling.)
I first met Kaleshwara in person in the Seattle airport, in the baggage claim area, in October of 1999, a few weeks after the photo experience. was I nervous??????? oh my GAWD!
would he like me? would he NOT like me? would he notice me at all? (wasn't sure whether it was a worse possibility to be noticed by him -- or not at all....)
plus, I'd heard that he had been known to flirt with women students, intially, as a way to hook them easily -- I was a giant flirt at the time and was really scared to interact on that level with a serious spiritual person. I was also super-susceptible to pretty boys, of which genus of course Kaleshwara is the perfect epitome! -- and I was actually praying for that NOT to happen with me.
I absolutely did NOT want to have any kind of superficial attraction for an avatara (divine in human form). (as it turned out, thank god, that prayer was answered. he hooked me through my maternal side -- taking care of him.)
and of course he noticed me, and of course he was completely disarming and I was at ease in about 30 seconds. and of course he was kind to me.
of course, of course, of course.
(WHATEVER had I been thinking? my first lesson that the mind is more or less useless in the face of love.)
we stayed with Kaleshwara at a friend's house in Seattle, helped set up for talks he was giving to various groups of people in the house and also in neighboring areas in Washington.
the first night in Seattle, Kaleshwara came into the room I was sharing with two other ladies, both of whom had traveled from Los Angeles to share this time with him in the Pacific Northwest. it must've been midnight, or so. I was COMPLETELY gawky and freaked out, had no idea how you're supposed to 'behave' around a saint.
he was super-abrupt, asked us if we were meditating or sleeping -- I was writing in my journal, so I was confused by the question! and then he asked if we wanted a healing. of course we did!
the next thing I know, he's touching my forehead (3rd eye) with a rose -- and I went spiralling downwards (literally, my face went forward onto my fold-out foam mattress and I wound up staying in that prone position for about three hours!) into a trance of epic proportions -- colors, visions, unbelievable conversations with beings I didn't know.... this went on for hours.
I woke up face-down on my bedding, around 3 a.m., and freezing cold, feeling slightly sheepish.
where had I been?
the other two ladies were laying on their backs, quietly sleeping or meditating or whatever. so I though, "okay, I'll try to sleep, too -- we have an early morning tomorrow, things starting around 8 a.m." HAH! more visions, until about dawn.
but I woke up feeling -- refreshed, free, blissful. all day.
later in the day, Kaleshwara was doing personal interviews with people. I knew that he was renowned as a saint who could show miracles, and often demonstrated them to people. I was curious, of course, to see such a thing -- but part of me didn't think it would happen in my lifetime, to really see something extraordinary and miraculous.
he showed me a miracle,manifested vibbhuti, ash, for me -- a handful of ash plopped out of his fingertips into the palm of my right hand... (heyyyyy, how did he DO that?)
I couldn't believe it. I'd read about holy people doing stuff like this... but that it would be given to me!? impossible. amazing.
what was more compelling than the SIGHT of the miracle, though -- which he treated like utter commonplace, with an almost bored expression on his face -- was what happened inside me during and especially after seeing the laws of nature bent like that. it was an enormous healing, of that I'm sure -- and then the bliss started.
I spoke to him for about five fairly brusque minutes, and he invited me to come to India, made me promise I would come. of course I wanted to come, was ready to come to India.
what shocked me in that interchange was the business-like, no-nonsense tone in Kaleshwara's voice -- I'd had some dim idea that the saints were like, tangibly loving creatures with delicate voices who just poured on the sweetness and light and love wherever they walked. hah! another preconception blown out of the water! this meeting was so devoid of emotion I wondered whether I was signing papers for a corporate merger, rather than giving my soul into the hands of a 'master of the universe!'
& behind the scenes, in my dim consciousness, I recognized a hallmark of Indian spirituality -- his surface manner with me was abrupt on purpose, as a kind of test.
so I stumbled out of the room, having promised to come to India, clutching a small handful of sacred ash that had materialized out of NOWHERE... and I was so so so blissful.
as stated, I'd had about 3 hours of sleep the night before (I'm not good with no sleep) and yet I spent the whole day so happy, through and through, it was like walking on air the whole day. into the night, and it was a VERY long day, early start, late night.
a few days later we were all on the road with Kaleshwara (I wanted to make tee-shirts, later, that said, "I survived the Swami Tour 1999!!!!"), and it was in Laytonville, CA, that I witnessed what I think of as the real miracle -- he gave a talk in a hall to about 300 people.
at the end of the talk, he asked, 'do you want a healing?' to the group at large -- of course everyone practically shouted, YES!
he had them turn off all the lights save a few candles on the stage near him.
he was this tiny TINY guy, sitting in the semi-dark, flanked by flowers.
& then, infinitely quietly, impossibly quietly, he started singing a mantra --I had never heard such a sound before! delicate and intense, relaxed and eternal...
and my eyes closed of their own volition and the next thing I know, this warm expanding ball of heat, of love, is forming in my chest, in my heart, and radiating this warmth -- it was so unexpected and so beautiful, and so bittersweet with possibility, it seemed to touch every part of my hidden emotional landscape and history, and transcend all of those experiences and go straight to the love...
and I realized, some time later (who knows how much time later, twenty minutes, five minutes? can't calculate) that not only is my body swaying around gently, but there are tears running down my face and apparently have been doing so for some time because my shirt is wet with them. I sniffed, and then became aware of hearing, all around me, in the darkened room, many many other sniffs and wet-tear sounds that told me instantly he had hit, straight in the heart, every single person in that room, with that same intense warm love energy in the chest, simultaneously.
300 people melted into warm butter puddles in oh, about two minutes flat. WOW.
I can't describe how awesome an awareness that was -- & I kept thinking, "how did he DO that?" and that's when I knew I was experiencing a miracle greater than manifesting ash or other objects. and that's when I knew he'd really hooked me. I would go anywhere he wanted, do anything -- as long as I could learn how to touch people in such a powerful way, too.
that was just the beginning of an extraordinary several years... and I hadn't even made it to India yet!
FIRST INDIAN VISIT
by December of 1999, I was in South India, staying at an ashram, for a month. I learned more in that month about healing than I'd learned in my entire life up to that point, and I could tell it was only the beginning of the subject.
I'll post, in the next entry, the story of what happened that December -- that Christmas, actually -- a full-scale miracle that involved a home-made wooden cross bleeding a river of blood.... related completely to Christ.
that pretty much blew my mind, and everyone else's, who was in Penukonda (the village's name where our ashram is) that Christmas.
by October of 2000, I was living here full-time. I sublet my cottage in the redwoods, made decent arrangements for my cats, and moved to India.
since then, watching 4 solid years go past -- what I've learned about healing is so deep and complex and fascinating I couldn't really encapsulate it in a series of blog entries, though of course I'm trying my best! or even a whole book.
SOMETHING ABOUT HEALING
I can say a few things -- I have learned that physical healing is easy -- treating someone just by looking at them, or touching them for a few minutes, can be enough to heal them of a dreadful disease, injury, or other condition.
I've also learned that all problems people are facing -- whether it's physical problems, emotional, relationship, financial, whatever it is -- really DO have to do with karma, and a great healer is someone who is willing to eat (that is, consume) the unfortunate karmas that someone else is carrying.
that's a soul healing, a real healing, much more at the root of all the surface problems we're experiencing.
it means, yeah, reincarnation is real, we DO go from lifetime to lifetime, making our share of mistakes and experiencing profound triumphs -- and everything we do, good or bad, creates karma. when you have enough unfortunate karmas accrued that are ready to be paid off -- illness or accidents or some other trauma usually strikes.
the real healing, then, isn't physical -- that's the surface level. it also isn't emotional -- the next layer down.
real healing happens at the soul level, cleaning out the closet of rotten karmas we've accumulated. once the soul is a bit clearer, it can then go about the business of healing the whole system.
that's why I fully agree with the statement, above, about how everybody has that innate ability -- it's just that most of us are so covered over at the deep subtle levels, that we've lost the capacity to recognize or access that ability. either for ourselves, or others.
that's kind of the nutshell explanation of healing, as I understand it today.
& THEN -- ILLUSION!
what I also understand is that Illusion -- the temporary net of experience that we all think is real; i.e., we're born here, we grow up, we do stuff, we attach to stuff, we fall in love, we have jobs and lives and marriages and suffering and joy and whatever, then we age and die -- is a part of the whole explanation of healing, and of souls, and of this planet, what we're all really doing here.
did you ever see The Matrix? one of my favorite movies! that line -- "the .. Matrix .. has .. you...." is a pretty strong metaphor for the grip of Illusion, or what they call Maya in Sanskrit. the Tibetan Buddhists call it Samsara. South American mystics call it The Dream -- it's the same thing.
it means, we're all living in a dream that we THINK is real because our senses tell us it is, because our minds accept it as true -- but behind the scenes, the story is far greater and more complex than we think it is. it's also, I suspect, a whole lot simpler.
I think great artists, writers, playwrights, poets, musicians -- they have a keener awareness of that Illusion nature of life, of that Maya, and of the promise of immortality that lies just behind it, then most people do, and that's why we love them so much. they remind us of what we know without knowing that we know it, and they allow us to EXPERIENCE it non-logically, through music or color or poetry.
great artists are pointing towards the immortal nature of the soul, how human beings are transitory in form, from lifetime to lifetime, but the soul never dies. in that sense, then, there is no birth, there is no death.
it's like water, how it's easily changing states -- if you boil it, it becomes steam. if you freeze it, it becomes ice. but solid, gas, or liquid -- it's STILL H20 -- it's STILL water.
we're like that, too -- whether I was a cat in my last life (arguably a strong possibility!
okay, so how does THAT relate to healing? let's say -- maybe the real healing is waking the soul up enough so that it itself starts to remember what its real nature IS. how would you do that, since we all live in the Illusion soup and breathe it, eat it, walk in it, worry about our finances in it, every day...?
one way is by stopping the mind. what stops the mind? the soul getting charged.
what charges the soul in one straight shot?
witnessing a miracle, a supernatural event that is so full of the REAL energy, the energy of creation, an energy that is also, like the soul, immortal, that it comes from behind the veil of Illusion, from outside the Matrix, INTO the Illusion and for a split second, cracks it open so the soul can clearly see, for a fraction of an instant, the truth behind the Illusion.
that's why the great saints (not only confined to India, Francis of Assisi, for instance, or Jesus, for sure) show miracles. it isn't what it appears to be on the surface -- some frivolous ability to change matter from form to form at will (like water to wine).
it's about the deeper changes that occur the moment you cause a ripple in the fabric of Creation itself -- the changes that occur in the souls of people who witness or experience such a miracle. it's like a lightning-bolt. it's a cosmic wake-up call: "remember yourself!!!!!!!!"
now THAT's healing.
anyway, if you check out www.kaleshwar.org or www.kaleshwar.com, or www.kaleshwar.de -- you'll read a lot of interesting stories about my teacher, and his own words about these and many other topics. I can say, without any stretch of credibility, they're all true.
something to think about.
MY GOAL FOR MY LIFE:
my basic feeling these days is that I won't be truly happy or fulfilled until I can understand the workings of this planet, this creation, what's really going on here and what human life is all about. actually, what life itself (not limited to human beings) is all about. it's a giant adventure, to me, the greatest possible adventure, this road to discovery of all that.
& it begins by asking four simple questions: who am I, really? what is my mission on this planet? where was I before I was born? where will I go when I die?
the moment you earnestly start asking those questions of Nature, Nature has to start showing you the answers. it's some kind of cosmic law.
the wild thing is this: all the great yogis, the ones who know the answers to those and other deep questions about humanity, all say that you can't express the truth in words, you can't teach it per se to another person -- you have to experience it first-hand, THEN you know it.
did you ever read "Autobiography of a Yogi"? an Indian saint named Yogananda, who spent most of his life in America, strangely enough, until his death in the 1950s, wrote it. it's his life story, and it's riveting.
he talked about how he himself became a yogi, about his search for god, about his spiritual life, and about unbelievable miracles he himself witnessed (including his own guru, Yukteswar, who died and then came back to talk to Yogananda, a few months later, in a full human form -- to prove to Yogananda that what Christ did in the Resurrection was possible for any enlightened master to do).
it's a remarkable book for any number of reasons -- starting with the content. but also the author himself -- check it out. just looking at his photograph on the cover is a kind of riveting experience in itself; he was like a pure pure love character and his love shines through his photograph, you can actually feel it. it's sold millions and millions of copies worldwide, since it was first published in the 1950s.
Yogananda himself took what's called a maha samadhi -- that is, a conscious death of his own choosing to exit this planet. advanced yogis all have this ability -- they choose when to leave, they don't just 'die' like ordinary people. they can pull their soul out of their bodies at will. he took his in Los Angeles, at a crowded banquet in honor of the then Indian ambassador!
anyway, if you've never read it, it's well worth the read.
THE USUAL DISCLAIMERS
I hope the things I've written haven't freaked anyone out thus far -- (somehow I doubt they have, but you never know.) I've been having interesting experiences with people contacting me from "the past" -- especially my college days (www.bard.edu) -- who want to know what's up with me and when I tell them a fraction of what I've mentioned to you in this entry, only a fraction, they tend to not write back again.
I get the feeling -- though of course people are too polite to say so, but the silence screams its own message, if you know what I mean -- that they think I've gone off the deep end and am somehow involved in a weird cult that's brainwashed me, taken all my money and turned me into some kind of a religious fanatic.
(yeah, right, like, THAT'll ever happen....! )