An eclectic spiritual & inspirational place to heal, learn, feel & expand. Heart & soul first. Miraculous experiences from India as well as the life & times of a spiritual healer/teacher in the U.S. Miracles, saints, sages, gurus, healing, life & death... and more...!

Saturday, November 27, 2004

a typical day in the student kingdom

class in session!
Originally uploaded by alxindia.
people reading this blog keep asking me via email what a typical day in this ashram is like. what do Kaleshwara's students do, day-to-day?

(jeez, I wish I knew!)

seriously, it's a great question. I've been working for two years on a simple reply to what seems like a simple query.

the problem is that our days are so varied and unpredictable here that there really -- to borrow a quote from the Josh Lyman character on The West Wing -- "is no typical day. you have plans at 7 a.m. and by 9 a.m. they've all been blown to hell."

don't despair, though -- I promise I'm still trying to formulate what IS a typical day, here.

in the meanwhile, we're preparing for a large course (more than 200 students from all over the world coming) over the Christmas season.

during the course times, we often look like the photo I've posted in this entry. sitting as a large and colorful group, waiting patiently (or not!) for our teacher to come & lecture.

it's pretty idyllic -- palm trees, breezes blowing, the gorgeous mandir (temple) building in the background....

on happiness (a newer poem)

on happiness
21 June 2002

“… I find, to my astonishment, I am no longer afraid of happiness, I feel, I do not know why, that it will be a master, clearer and more powerful than any of the griefs I have known.” – Andrew Harvey

today I want to write about happiness,
how a full heart is not a moment in time,
but a piece of a permanent puzzle
crafted by Love in Its own image.

I mean, the monsoon season is here
the winds swept into the sheer joy of movement
blowing the trees every which way & back again,

encouraging the giddiness of rain-drops
through the air
by the air,
each gust a wet rapture dance


this too shall pass
& behind the tempest of wind
riding the electrified rumble of dark clouds
lies the immutable calm of air.

& behind the air, sky.

sky, air, stillness,
silence in all directions.
happiness only is.

I used to chart the winding path of my life
by traces different storms had left behind:
a broken tree branch,
a flooded road,
a house incinerated by lightning.

now I am living a life that is no longer my own,
a life that owns no chronological evidence,
no trace,
no storm,
no history by which to recognize itself.

each heartbeat is an event.
one day the repetition will stop.

this life, however,

the One Heart pulsing in the silence,
the One Silence which knows
how to lie within & beyond the sky,

has no end.

& that no end
knows itself
by its only true name:



the only constant (an older poem)

The Only Constant
19 October 1997 for Bear, David & Ken

We do not sink into the abyss
in order to sink.

You will not travel
at great peril
from your fertile valleys
over mountain gorges,
through snow &
the continued threat of death --
or worse --
only to reach the shore
& release
a resigned breath
in briny finish.

Though opinions clamor,
no one can tell you
where you're going
or give you a true map
demarcating the impossibilities
of the twisted path ahead.

You do not have to be told.

As for today
& your whereabouts,
who would dare
interrogate your old travels --
the forked roads taken, choices of company
or dead ends -- who would dare
& find you lacking?

You are here, now,
& there is no ugliness
in change.

There is no reason to drown
when the abyss is waiting,
when the deep wants to feel you
flail & choke & give,
then decide it matters,
decide to struggle free
& rise, rise breaking the surface
& breathe sharp clean air --

taking it in, claiming it

as though
for the first time.



before meditating -- follow your nose!


a lot of times it's the mind and emotional body that responds to stress -- and it's a truism that as the mind goes, so does the body. and vice versa. the body will follow a calm mind, and the mind will follow a calm body.

so how to achieve mental calm?

through the breath.

calming the breath and the body down will definitely help your mind settle down, get more peaceful, and relax.

you can jump-start your relaxation state by using the mechanism of the breath before meditating by doing a few minutes of pranayam -- alternate nostril breathing. pranayam is where you hold one nostril closed with a fingertip, breathing in and out slowly and relaxedly through the other, then alternating, for maybe five or up to fifteen minutes.

it's useful to add the simple mantra so-ham (pronounced like 'hum') while doing pranayam. think the syllable 'so' in your mind, on the inhale, and exhale on the syllable 'ham.'

it's also traditional, when doing pranayam, to use the fingers on one hand, in front of your face, closing the right nostril with the thumb-tip, and the left with the pinky-fingertip. the other three fingers are left on their own, floating somewhere around the bridge of your nose -- careful, don't poke yourself in the eye!!!!!!

after a few minutes of pranayam, you'll feel relaxed, peaceful, but vibrant, internally. more clear and able to focus inside.

then it's easy -- even natural -- to meditate.

mechanics of meditation: charging & decharging

also -- another little known aspect about meditation is that when you're purifying (the result of charging your soul, your deep level, with meditation energy), decharging helps speed up the purification process.

de-charging -- there are simple techniques to rid your system of stress from purification, or stress (negativity) in general.

one simple technique -- take a handful of fresh flowers, cut flowers, any kind, and hold them for 15 minutes BEFORE you meditate, with the simple intention to decharge any stress in your system you might be holding into the flowers. especially if it was a rough work day, or you had an argument or other stressful encounter with another person that day.

you'll literally feel the stress flow out of your hands into the flowers. (be SURE to toss those flowers out, after, so no one else picks them up!)

in the absence of fresh flowers, a handful of leaves (fresh) will do.
or a handful of dirt.

the important part is having the conscious intention to de-charge.

this technique uses one of the five elements of creation (the earth) for de-charging purposes.

you can also use the water element -- every time you shower, just have the intention, consciously, that you're using the water element (which is also inside you, in the blood system and saliva and other body fluids) to de-charge any stress you're carrying, today.

you'll feel the stress and strain flow out of you -- it does, anyway, when you bathe, but having the increased intent will escalate the natural decharging process.

once you've de-charged for 15 minutes or so -- whether you're using flowers, leaves, earth, or the shower -- THEN sit down and try to meditate.

wow, what a difference.

meditating is all about charging high positive energy -- but often ignores the other side of the same coin, de-charging negative energy.

both are necessary for good meditation. balance in all things!

meditation blues: too many thoughts!


people often mention to me that they have trouble meditating.

they complain that their mind is going crazy, super-active, with a ton of thoughts about meaningless stuff like errands to run later in the day, or a shopping list, or even more meaningful constructs like work-related problems or creative projects.

what to do in meditation when the thoughts are running wild and rampant?
does it mean you're an unsuccessful meditator, if you have thoughts?
how come all meditations aren't deep, and effortless, all the time?

hey, thoughts in meditation are NO BIG DEAL -- it's actually a good symptom, it means that purification of your system (which is the point of meditation, or the actual behind-the-scenes mechanism imbedded in meditation) is working. what happens is that when you start to meditate, your body starts to relax, like sleep -- and, like in sleep, it starts to throw off stresses. they might be stresses from that day, or week, or year, or way way way before.

doesn't matter where the stresses originated -- but the expression, physiologically, of those stresses being purified as they are spun out of your nervous system is, you guessed it, thoughts.

gak! what to do with those pesky thoughts?

just let the thoughts run, so what, who cares.

just keep on your meditation technique and don't think you're meditating badly. you're not.

pretty soon you'll find you're meditating and the thoughts are there, somewhere, running, and you don't even really pay attention to them, even though you're aware of their chatter.

after a mental-chitty-chat kind of meditation, I'm hardly ever aware of WHAT I was thinking -- just, I know I was having lists and stuff flash through. or daydreamy streams of conversation with people.

doesn't matter. & having thoughts is definitely NOT an impediment to meditating -- doesn't mean your meditation isn't successful or deep.

quite the contrary, actually.

it's a little-known aspect of meditation, as a spiritual adventure, that you have good days and bad days... just as in everything else. sometimes you'll find a deep, deep, profound meditation, maybe for one day, or two, or even more, like you're on a roll -- and then the whole next week or so will be nothing but thought-laden, uncomfortable, fidgety, restless, 'what the hell am I DOING this for?' kinds of meditations.

(this means, you went really deep and that depth set some really deep purifying in motion -- so the next few episodes will be about experiencing the symptoms of purification as whatever stresses and strains were imbedded in your neuro-physiology are being spun off, and released from your system.)

but after that round of uncomfortable meditations -- the next time you go deep, you'll find it's even deeper than your earlier 'deep' experiences. you cleared some major gunk out, now you're free to experience more, inside.

(of course, most people don't know about the ups and downs, and even plateaus, in meditation, so they just give up in frustration when they hit the awkward moments, convinced they're no good at meditating, or thinking it's not worth it. when in fact, that discomfort is the very symptom that the meditation is working!!! how counter-intuitive is THAT?!)

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

miracle of miracles -- atma lingams

(here's another miracle story I've been meaning to post for some time now. it's also an excerpt from an earlier letter, from march 2001.)                                                                                                      


... so, we went back to Penukonda, to the ashram, for a little more than a week or so, and arrived just in time for Maha Shiva Rathri, the festival of the nearing new moon day in February. Shiva Rathri is the anniversary of the birthday of Shiva, the god in the Hindu pantheon who is responsible for the pivotal function of destruction/rebirth in the cycle of life and death and life.

it's also, apparently, the anniversary of his wedding -- even though Shiva is supposed to be the great ascete, he has a beautiful wife who is usually called Parvati, but also shows up as the archetypal Shakti, the fierce Durga, or the even fiercer (and grotesque-looking) Kali.

the reason I'm taking the time to explain this is to give you some context for the miracle that I witnessed on Shiva Rathri in Penukonda. in Hindu India, there is a tradition of power objects -- like talismans, objects, mythical relics, etc., like the stuff we all grew up reading about in fairy tales and fantasy literature like Tolkein's ring, etc., -- only in India, at the deep levels, this is more than tradition or myth; there really ARE power objects & they are routinely used for mystical and miraculous purposes. in addition to the man-made stuff, like rings and other forms of jewelry, or statues, etc., there are naturally occuring objects as well.

one such is the Shiva Lingam. these are oval-shaped rocks, found in or near river beds, usually, which have been highly polished by natural elements so as to be perfectly smooth -- they come in sizes ranging from the proportions of my little finger to almost fire-hydrant size. 'lingam,' the word itself, implies penis, or 'wand of light' -- these rocks are thought to be imbued with the life-force energy of Shiva, much the same way that the male sex organ carries the life-making material ...

many of the ancient Shiva temples have enormous (like the top of a fire-hydrant size) lingams that form the centerpiece of the inner sanctum of the temple -- in the temples like the one at Sri Sailem, or Hampi, the Shiva lingams are more than a thousand years old. and boy-oh-boy are they powerful.

the priests at the Shiva temple in Hampi let us partway into the inner sanctum to meditate, because they know our teacher Kaleshwar, and so we're able to sit about ten feet away rather than the usual twenty or so from the lingam.... the closer you get, the stronger the feeling of heaviness gets, until you can't hardly stand up.

anyway, that's like the 101 about Shiva lingams.

what I saw -- well, this will sound totally off-the-wall but it's true....

what happens in the lives of certain saints, and one of the hallmarks of an avatar (a self-aware divine soul in a human body, like a Jesus or Buddha, or Krishna, etc.) is that they periodically form lingams in their bodies, in their stomachs, and then 'deliver' these lingams, like birthing them, but through the esophagus and mouth, on auspicious days (like Maha Shiva Rathri).

I'd heard for the last year and a half that Kaleshwar does this, every Maha Shiva Rathri, and I kept hoping for the opportunity to be present when he delivers one of these lingams.

(which they call an atma lingam, by the way, atma being the word for soul in Sanskrit -- atma lingam because it comes from the physical body of a saint, implying that a piece of his soul is in the lingam, AND because these lingams physically GROW, every full moon. I know someone who's had one for more than a year, it's nearly two inches longer than it was, originally.)

I've talked with many many people who've been there and experienced it; they described it as a fairly gory experience, with a lot of blood and coughing and retching, that it's really painful for Kaleshwar to go through this process, that often it takes a half-hour or more and he's yelping in pain sometimes.... yet he does it, every year.

a few years ago, he had a huge one forming in his stomach, so huge that the American M.D. who is a close student of his was seriously concerned about the safety of the lingam coming up through the esophagus -- what if it got stuck ? -- so under pressure, Kaleshwar went to an emergency room and had it x-rayed, and sure enough, the lingam was way too big for safety. it possibly would have killed or at least seriously injured him.

so, based on the visual confirmation (I think the M.D. could also feel it, palpating Kaleshwar's body), Kaleshwar did a nice little trick and split the lingam in two, internally, and then 'delivered' them both -- one at a time.

I'm trying to imagine my friends and family reading this description, above, and relating to it about as much as one can relate to a sci-fi story they've just heard about Mars. (actually, we're acculterated more easily to accept a fictional account of another planet than to even BEGIN to absorb what's possible on our own home turf.... but never mind.)

in India, they know that atma lingams happen, and indeed I doubt that the hospital staff who x-rayed his stomach were fazed at all, either by the request or the results. I'm trying to picture the same situation in the U.S. -- your local saint comes in to the emergency room to make sure that the atma lingam he's going to spit up in a few weeks isn't life-threatening....... whoo, boy.

ANYWAY, as it turned out, this year, Kaleshwar said originally that he was only going to do a public atma lingam experience for a group of Japanese students, and that the Westerners would feel the energy but we were to stay in the town of Hampi (4 hours from the ashram) and miss the whole thing physically.

I was kind of disappointed, I was very excited to be here in India for Maha Shiva Rathri and was really looking forward to this experience...

but at the last minute we were all invited BACK to the ashram, for Shiva Rathri, and at 11:30 pm or so, actually more like around midnight, we were all gathered in the Jesus church that Kaleshwara's built on his ashram, a sublimely beautiful place.

we heard him downstairs, with the Japanese group... -- and after a while he came upstairs, looking pretty chipper and highly supernatural, like super-sharply defined but also like a multiple image, almost like a hologram, and he had us chant some mantras, and then he walked right over to where we were sitting, stood in front of Jonathan for a moment, then Kaleshwara reached out a hand, and pulled Jonathan up from the floor.

as Jonathan struggled to stand up -- it's a wonder he made it to his feet at all, the energy in the room was already getting -- blurry -- he put a hand on my shoulder to steady himself.

an electric shock went down my whole body, from that contact. Kaleshwara was kind of leaning on Jonathan, and Jonathan was in turn kinda leaning on me, and my feeling was that whatever energy Kaleshwara was running, whatever was pulsing through him in that high high time, just before producing the atma lingam, some of it poured into me from Jonathan's hand.

I nearly fell over.

as I was recovering from that download of shakti (energy), Kaleshwara led Jonathan to a place slightly behind the whole group of students sitting there, leaned on him, and started coughing.

I think it took all of about five minutes or so.

it's hard to say, since time tends to stand perfectly still in miracle moments like this. the energy in the room was so thick and fierce that the walls were practically shimmering, reminiscient of certain hallucenogenic voyages I made as a teenager, and the sheer beauty of the energy was enough to make you cry -- I certainly had tears in my eyes -- it was so pure and filled with grace, like dripping grace until every cell in your body is permeated with it. until you're soggy with it. incredible.

I DO remember a few of the more experienced students coming over to help catch the lingam as it came out (if atma lingams hit the ground, they disappear -- some saints birth them in the forests and just leave them there on the ground, unseen but radiating blessings).

I registered it as being smaller than I thought it would be.

they had to clean it off, it was bloody, and I think as usual it was soft upon arrival, but hardened rapidly -- this one into a crystal oval (egg-shaped) rock. (not the ones in the photo above, which were from a different year.)

Kaleshwara gave it to the American M.D. who has been so close a student with him for several years now, and we were all allowed to hold it and press it to our foreheads, to the 3rd Eye, for a few seconds, to get the blessing, to receive something of the energy of its creation.

all in all, an astonishing event -- indescribable in some ways, I'm doing my best to recount what I can.

within a few minutes, Kaleshwar was back to his usual buoyant self and left us to our experiences with the crystal lingam while he took care of some other business with some other students.

so why does he do this?

I'm not 100% sure, as I don't live in the confidence of a living saint, but my best guess based on things he's said about miracles, lingams, and power objects, is that it's a way to put highly powerful healing tools in the hands of his students.

so that new power objects, emitted from Kaleshwara's physical body but bearing all the power of his meditation energy and his soul energy, can be put into circulation in the world and used for holy, and healing, purposes.

only a handful of his students have received atma lingams, & I think also that the students who receive them are going to be the next generation of living saints in the world.

until they are fully-fledged saints with supernatural abilities (like producing their own atma lingams), they can use and rely upon power objects like these to help with their work in the world.

I also think that for the rest of us who're simply lucky enough to be present at such an occasion, the energetic blast and blessing that accompanies the birth of an atma lingam is one of overwhelming grace.

it's an enormous, powerful boost to all of us, our souls, and our work.

and, by extension, it is a blessing to this whole planet.

jesus church in penukonda

the JC church/temple
Originally uploaded by alxindia.
Christmas 2000 was an auspicious and beautiful time in our ashram -- it marked the opening of this 'church' on the second floor of the main temple building, dedicated to Jesus, with a living (that is to say, ALIVE) statue of Jesus pouring his love into the whole place.

the statue of Jesus itself is only a few feet high -- and solid marble.

to the right of Jesus is Dattatreya, an Indian deity character who is extraordinary, even among Indian deities, for the quality of his play with the Mother Divine. Datta has three heads, each one representing an aspect of G-O-D (generator, operator, destroyer) in nature -- their Indian names are Brahma, Vishnu, Maheshvara (Shiva)

on the left side of Jesus is a statue that's meant to represent his mother, Mary, but is more Indian-goddess-like than Western depictions of Mary. doesn't matter, Mother is Mother. as Kaleshwara says, "She doesn't belong to any religion."

this Jesus Temple, then, as we call it here at the ashram, has been the site of many incredible classes with Kaleshwara, and many miraculous events, since it opened in 2000.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

the eternal goats

SK goats
Originally uploaded by alxindia.

reclining on a river bank,
a dark saint clothed in white enjoys the flow:
a herd of approaching goats





I was there when this happened -- it was a magical, suspended-in-time kind of moment. Kaleshwara was sitting on the river bank, in Hampi, the ancient ruined temple city, lecturing about some serious & subtle spiritual points.

we had just done a deep meditation on the Mother Divine, as a group.

he was speaking softly -- I remember it was difficult to hear him over the breezes and the rushing water -- about Her nature.

I was struggling to write down what I could hear, as sometimes the wind would shift and seem to carry his already quiet tones right off in a different direction.

it was so peaceful, on those rocks, in the sun, listening to him speak.

then, suddenly, came the goats. and the goat-herd, behind. they came over their regular pathway -- only now it was blocked by one small dark saint and a whole group of Western students dressed in hippy-bright Indian clothes, sprawled around on the rocks in the shallows of the river.

there was no way the goats could pass without creating a huge disturbance.

but they tried to, anyway -- and this photo perfectly captures the resulting stalemate, between the whole herd of them, and Kaleshwara, sitting silently, a half-smile on his face, communing tenderly with their souls.

who knows WHAT really transpired between him and those goats? the moment seemed to stretch into forever: we had always been sitting on these rocks. this river had always been flowing, since Time started. Kaleshwara had always known these goats. these goats had always been standing there, in those precise spots, stock-still, intent, watching and 'listening' to Kaleshwara's unspoken words.

at some point, the spell was broken and Kaleshwara looked away, grinning, and the goats, aided by their staunch goatherd, shuffled off in a different direction, bleating and farting, as goats are wont to do, their little neck-bells jingling as they walked away.