alxindia

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...!

Friday, August 27, 2004

house cat? not in a million years!


Kaleshwara in Hampi, smiling
Originally uploaded by alxindia.
I just thought this site was lacking the obvious -- a photograph of Kaleshwara.

this photo was taken in Hampi, in an ancient ruined temple there. Hampi was the capital of literally the richest empire in the world, the Vijayanagara, in the 1500s. Portuguese traders at the time wrote incredible accounts of the richesse of the streets of Hampi, how the street vendors were selling gemstones by the pile, and gold, and luxurious cloths and ... it was eye-popping.

the king who ruled that empire also lived for a time in our humble rural village, a place called Penukonda.

Hampi is also a site where more than a thousand temples were constructed, over many centuries. it is a power spot, on the planet.

Kaleshwara loves to take his students there to visit, to meditate, to experience the energy in the various abandoned temples there, and to enjoy the incredible natural surroundings -- gorgeous river, rice paddy fields, impossible stretch of uninterrupted sky merging with heaven, above and below the horizon...

if it looks like a tiger...

so, Christmas 1999. I was young, wet behind the ears in terms of this kind of spiritual path -- though I had met my master, of that I was sure.

it even seemed fitting that my greatest soul friend and teacher would be a belief-system-shattering, 26-year-old daredevil who drives super-fast and listens to poundingly loud Indian pop music in his car.... brakes screeching as he comes back...

(no, that's not the space-shuttle coming in for a landing, it's just Swami coming back to the ashram.)

one fine December day, I was sitting in the yard having one of many super-serious conversations with Kaleshwara.

(I was very lucky in the sense that I came for the circus when you could still get front-row seats -- at a time when he was still easily accessible and willing to talk directly, privately, and openly with his students. as the deep level spiritual processes have cranked up, it's not possible -- or advisable -- for him to talk, really, like that with us any more. better to develop our relationship with him on the subtle level, communicating through meditation.)

anyway, I'm sitting on the ground at his feet, and at one point his expression was so fierce I started laughing, and said, "You're REALLY a tiger, you know!"

he grinned back in mock-indignation, and challenged me: "A TIGER? really?"

"Yes, Swami, you're totally a tiger. BIG paws, BIG claws..." and I mimicked the swipe of a huge Bengal tiger, right across the air in front of my face.

his eyes got even more huge and mischievous (is it possible?), and he protested, a complete picture of wounded innocence, "Oh, no no no no, Alx, no. I'm not a tiger... I'm just a little house cat --"

I raised an eyebrow in polite disbelief, not at all ready for the punch-line.

"-- and you're the MOUSE!"



POUNCE!




oh, god, it was horribly, hilariously true.


& I just roared with laughter -- you know, as much as a mouse can roar....

Thursday, August 26, 2004

alx in india


alx
Originally uploaded by alxindia.
and this is me...

Jesus in Penukonda


JC close-up in Penukonda
Originally uploaded by alxindia.
this is the statue of Jesus which is in our ashram. just to add some perspective about the universality of god and the connectedness of Jesus to anyone who is willing to open their hearts to him. Kaleshwara had a special church constructed on the ashram grounds, to honor Jesus. most of the time he uses this Jesus Temple, as we call it, as his private meditation area and healing area and he often sleeps there. the statue is completely alive and Big Boss, as Kaleshwara calls Jesus, is emanating out from it 24 hours a day. walking in that temple, you can feel the love in the whole room -- it is that powerful and that tangible.

it was a Christmas gift to the world...

Christmas 1999

note: the story I am about to tell is true, and sensitive. if you read a book called The Gifts of Shirdi Sai Baba (available at www.kaleshwar.org), you will find several other accounts of it there, from other students of Sri Kaleshwar. if you are upset by this story, or its details (I can't imagine anyone would be, but still) -- please write me and let me know about it.


so, the course in 1999. in India, for the first time, getting used to wearing saris and many layers of clothes. sleeping in a room with 8 other people. (30 people sharing one bathroom. you don't even want to know about that.) we traveled about 8 hours by car to another location, an ancient temple city (now in ruins) called Hampi, and spent several days there, cooling out and learning various high-level healing techniques and mantras. it was superb.

there were about 150 people, I think, at that course -- many Germans, Americans, Japanese, and other nationalities.

when we came back to Penukonda, there was an excitement in the air. something was coming, with the Jesus energy.

I was surprised that Kaleshwar talked so much about Jesus. at first I thought it was a sop for Western people; a way to make the exotic spirituality of India more palatable for people from predominantly Christian countries. (I'm not a Christian, myself, although I have a great respect for Jesus.) but I began to get the point that what Kaleshwar was saying about Jesus was that he was the number one healer this planet had ever had; that his talking about Jesus and his abilities was like INVOKING Jesus and his energies; that Kaleshwar was talking intimately, almost casually, about Jesus like I would tell strangers about my older brother.

by the time Christmas rolled around, he told us he was opening the Jesus channel of energy (?) and that he and Jesus together were planning a big miracle for Christmas Day. it became immediately apparent to us that the Jesus channel was fraught with suffering (as it has been clear to every Christian saint, especially the stigmatists, who traditionally focus on the suffering that Christ experienced) -- bizarre disasters happened around the ashram, including a worker who fell off the roof of the temple, splitting his head open on the concrete below. (Kaleshwar healed him, and he was fine a day later.)

[in many ways the scene in the movie Stigmata, where Gabriel Byrne is chasing Patricia Arquette's character, after she's run away from the nightclub; they're in a back alley and pipes are starting to burst, spewing steam all over, and windows are breaking, etc., reminded me of the sheer force of reaction created in Nature as a response to opening the Jesus channel -- what I saw directly in India.]

anyhow, on Christmas Day, Kaleshwar had four men (my then-partner Jonathan was one of them) construct a wooden cross out of two large, thick tree branches. it was about five feet by five feet, a squarish, clunky-looking cross, by the time it was finished. they had to plane the branches, and so on, using primitive tools (this IS India, after all) and even Swiss Army knife saws!

they labored all day, and had to start over a few times, because one of the specs for completing the cross properly included the direction that no one OTHER than those four men should touch the thing. and of course people, in a daze, and attracted by the process, kept walking up and touching the wood.

by midnight, it was finished. I must say that it was eerie, spending Christmas day knowing that a cross was being constructed, hearing nails pounded into wood... Kaleshwar is an unpredictable saint, and he likes gory miracles -- it was in the forefront of more minds than mine that day that perhaps he would chose to crucify himself... at one point I even ran outside, to see what size this cross actually was. it was an enormous relief to see that it was too small for a grown man to hang on!

anyway, to repeat, by midnight, it was finished. all of us students had gathered in the main temple of the ashram. the women were decked out in formal red saris with fragrant flowers in our hair, everyone had lit a candle and placed it on the white marble altar in the temple, near a statue of Shirdi Sai Baba, the other Big Boss, Kaleshwar's guru. the men were mostly wearing traditional white Indian pajama outfits. Kaleshwar talked for a while about Jesus, how he was the Big Boss of this planet, and the greatest healer mankind had even known. the cross was propped up with stones (it wasn't even free-standing) near the front of the temple, backlit by dozens of candles. it was all so beautiful I had tears in my eyes.

then, Kaleshwar had us all meditate on Jesus, and he took the four men who'd constructed the cross, had them carry the cross, and they left the temple.

the unbelievably blissful, peaceful, heart-filling energy that descended on the temple during the next half-hour or so is almost indescribable. it was completely still, and quiet, and yet there was an activity, like a palpable ecstasy, in that stillness, in that profound silence.

then, all of a sudden, I felt people stirring and I turned around to see that Kaleshwar had entered the temple, that his pristinely white pajama legs were heavily stained with.... red. blood. 'oh, my god,' I thought -- 'he's showing the stigmata' (someone had explained to him the day before what that was. his response, a thoughtful, mmm-hmmmm...).

I heard people in the back of the temple gasping as they saw the blood all over his ankles and pyjama bottoms. he walked purposefully into the temple, his eyes super-over-bright -- and sat down in his chair, wiped his hands in a kind of matter of fact way, and crossed his (bloody) legs. & he didn't say a word. the tension....

oooh, the suspense was killing me! what had happened? okay, it wasn't stigmata, but where did all that blood come from?

then, as if on cue, the four men who'd built the cross came into the temple, and they were even MORE dramatically blood-stained than Kaleshwar. Jonathan came in last, and I nearly fell over in shock -- his whole kurta (the white pj top) was drenched in blood, from his waist all the way down to his mid thighs, as though he'd been sitting in a puddle of blood. (which, in fact, it turned out that he had.) the red blood stains on the white clothing were sensational enough, but looking at the faces of those four men was even more dramatic and amazing. they were completely shining, illuminated as if from within, clear, light, radiant beings, streaked with blood -- with pure calm faces like the Buddha. they walked up on the altar, and knelt down, and began to meditate.

just looking at Jonathan, at that streaming light pouring off of him, made me start crying in joy. even though my rational mind had no idea what had happened, a deeper part of me, call it the soul, knew that some mystical event had just taken place, and that I was witnessing, we all were witnessing, the high cosmic divine energy radiating off of these men.

then, softly, Kaleshwar asked the men to recount what had happened.

together, they told the story:

at Kaleshwar's instruction, they had carried the cross down into his subterranean meditation 'cave,' a kind of small square cellar that is about 16 feet underground, in the middle of the rose garden. (it has a slate floor, and the central feature in the cave is a foot-high Shiva lingam, in black stone, that is more than 1000 years old, mounted into cement. otherwise, the decor is Bare Lightbulb, complemented by white-washed cement walls, and a rickety staircase.)

three men held the cross up -- two on the cross-beams, and Jonathan, sitting cross-legged on the floor, straddling the base of it with his arms and legs. another man was touching the Shiva lingam.

after a few minutes, Kaleshwar began reciting some mantras, softly, and clapping his hands... and drops of blood, welling up from the center of the cross, began to drip, one by one. Jonathan felt them on his forehead, on the top of his head... just a few drops at first, then a trickle.

it went from a trickle to a stream in a few seconds, and then it was like a valve had burst and a whole river of blood poured all over the room, all over the men, straight from the cross' center.

Jonathan said that while the physical river was spewing, the real firehose was in his heart. he said it took about two seconds to feel the intensity of pure, relentless love fill his heart up, and then it started overflowing in all directions -- like a fire-hose.

all he could do was think of all the people he loved, in organizations he'd worked with, his family members, people he'd done healing for or meditated with in the past, just everyone -- and instantly, all that love in his heart was bursting out in all those directions, touching all of those individual souls.

he knew it was Jesus' love, that pure, relentless love that would brook no resistance but could simply mow down any opposition with the sheer force of itself. when Jonathan recounted his part of the story, in the large group, Kaleshwar looked at him quizzically and asked, -- "did you ever feel that you weren't holding the wood of the cross, but a man's body, in that moment?"

Jonathan thought for a moment, and said, "no. it always felt like wood. but I felt that Jesus was there."

Kaleshwar nodded, with a grin, but his words were serious: "He WAS there, in person, for a couple minutes."

Jonathan asked, "but Swami, I'm a JEW from Brooklyn. what connection would I possibly have with Jesus? why me?" and Kaleshwar's grin just got wider, and he replied, "wait. wait and see."

(Jonathan is still waiting to see ...  note from 2013: but the ensuing years have definitely made this relationship a great deal more clear indeed. )

then, we ALL (like, 150 people or so!) were invited to form into small groups, to go down into the subterranean cave, to see the bleeding cross and to TOUCH the blood, with the palms of both of our hands. the whole process of groups coming and going took about 25 minutes.

I was in the very last group to go down. as my group was leaving the temple, I heard Kaleshwar call out to one of the men who was helping us, "tell the people to hurry. I can only keep this channel open a few more minutes, before I start to bleed in my own body.....!"

we hurried out to the garden, to the door of the cave, and down the rickety stairs.

I was about halfway down the stairs when the full impact of the scene below burst into my awareness, and burned its way into my mind forever. the whole floor was flooded -- in blood. it was a stream of blood about 9 feet long, about a foot and a half wide, maybe two feet. I saw/perceived lights, like a hoard of fireflies, hovering and dancing in the air above the stream, coming about two feet or so up from the ground. I blinked, and thought, no, that can't possibly BE -- and the little lights disappeared.

I got down the stairs, and saw the source of the blood, the cross, leaning against the wall to my right. it was spattered all over with blood, as was the wall behind it and the floor at the base of it. some of the blood was even clotting! movement from the center of the cross was still visible -- infinitesimally slowly, drops were still forming and slowly rolling down the front of the cross.

it was stunning. I've never seen so much blood in one place at one time, in my life.

obedient to instructions, I got down on my knees, like kneeling in front of a mountain stream except this was red and thick! and hoping that I was worthy of such an act, I put my palms face down in the blood on the floor of the cave. I don't know what I expected, heavens opening to reveal choirs of angels singing, or something. nothing earth-shattering happened, except that I registered that the liquid on the floor was kind of lukewarm....

and as I took my hands away, and examined the sticky blood on them, starting to dry, I knew it was really blood, that it was drying on my palms, and furthermore I knew -- without consciously knowing -- that it was Jesus' blood.

and that I was linked, bonded with that blood, with that healing channel, forever -- and so were the hundred and fifty-odd other students of Kaleshwar who were present that night.

there was no other response to it than simple, pure happiness. as Wordsworth wrote in his Prelude, "my dear friend, need I say that to the brim my heart was full."

there is no need to say it.

no way to explain it, or analyze it, or apply mental processes to a supernatural occurrence so extraordinary as to defy -- well, just about everything conventional, ranging from traditional Christianity to the workings of a rational mind.

and that was Christmas 1999.
my first time in an ashram, and my introduction to Southern India.

it was a brilliant spiritual prelude to the changes that 2000 would bring, a gift to the whole planet from this humble little ashram, in a humble little town, in the middle of nowhere (but in the middle of everywhere, because it touches the hearts of millions of people who haven't even heard of it, yet).



getting to India the first time

the first time I came to India, it was in the winter of 1999. I had met the saint in whose ashram I now live, Kaleshwara, in October of '99, in the US. I observed that he had the miracle capacity -- I watched him demonstrate manifesting physical objects out of apparently thin air, and I experienced his ability for healing large groups of people simultaneously, and instantly.

he was teaching a course for Christmas of 1999. I had no idea what to expect, exactly, except that it was Christmas. (I was a little sad to be leaving my friends and my cats and my cozy cottage and the thought of having no Christmas tree was a little.. wrenching.) I turned 33 years old in the air, on British Airways, on December 11th. I think -- but it's hard to tell exactly, that on the evening of the 11th, I was actually somewhere between England and India -- possibly over Afghanistan at that point... but the time zones and confusions and all of that -- 10 hours in the air that day.... I actually think maybe I had no birthday that year. which turned out to be interesting, since the real kind of birthday experience happened two weeks later, on that Christmas night.

I knew little about the reality of being in India. arriving in Bangalore for the first time was the mother of all culture shocks. the scents, mostly acrid, the droves of mosquitoes eye-stinging fumes of disinfectant -- and all this was before I left the inside of the airport!!!

anyway, I was here for a serious spiritual quest and was high on FINALLY having made it to India for the first time. I'd had a vague notion in January of '99 that I wanted to spend the month of December not working, just quiet and at peace somewhere. anticipating the millenium change and not wanting to be in the US when calendars registered it was 2000, or 0000, or whatever all the Y2K panics were about. a friend of mine had remarked that HIS idea of being off the grid at that time was a remote beach in South India -- I remembered that comment, liked the sound of it... and by the time October '99 rolled around and I jumped into the fast lane, what with meeting a guru and all....

I knew I would be in South India in December, not on a beach but in a serious spiritual place. and I would spend the millenium change there. wow. okay.

I knew that Kaleshwara is an avatar, that is, an especially high being, like a pure boddhisatva, volunteering to come back to this planet and help massive numbers of souls here, like a Jesus, or Krishna, or Buddha. I'd heard accounts from other people who had witnessed him creating atma lingams, that is, shiva lingams (egg-shaped stones of immense supernatural properties) that are formed inside the human body over time (usually a few months) and then 'birthed' via the esophageal tract, coming out of the mouth of a saint, often accompanied by blood, and a good deal of pain in the process.

he had invited me to come to India for Christmas 1999. certainly my expectations were high; I was excited. I had seen miracles, I had met a living saint to whom manipulating the physical world was child's play. I, too, wanted to have those abilities -- especially to train to become a master healer.

when I got to the ashram, I found I was among about 150 other people, from all over the world, mostly the US and Germany. many of us were visiting India for the first time, drawn by the magnetism of Kaleshwar's personality and healing energies.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

where I live in Penukonda


ashram birdseye
Originally uploaded by alxindia.
home, home on the range. this has been my home for the last four years, an ever-growing ashram that has been evolving from the ground up. its development and construction has seemed to run parallel with the evolution of the students who live and study here... quite poetic, actually.

the pointy-topped building on the right (those are actually PYRAMIDS!) is the apartment building where I have my little room with Jonathan.

like heaven on earth.

Jack Schwarz


jack schwarz
Originally uploaded by alxindia.
here's Jack Schwarz, the so-called Yogi of the West. he really was a beautiful guy!

& then, into the looking glass...

HOW I FELL INTO INDIA
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... and my first thought was, "oh, SHIT!!!"

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.

FIRST CONTACT
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.

FIRST MIRACLE
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.


SECOND MIRACLE
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! ) or a person or a tree or whatever -- my soul is my soul, it continues on from form to form.

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.


YOGANANDA'S STORY
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....! )

HEALING -- the quest that took me by surprise!

HEALING, HEALING
it's true, anyone can heal. we all have healing abilities in us. often the question is, 'how to access those abilities?'

mostly it requires an open heart and some knowledge of healing channels -- it's really the best if the healer recognizes their connection to the divine, to the universe, and becomes an instrument of that. then it's simple, simple.

I started healing other people, instinctively, as a child. I had no idea what I was doing, but I noticed that people felt better when I was around, and if I was listening to them talk about their deeper realities. (and somehow, people were always moved to talk about their deep truths with me.)

when I started doing massage in my late teens, I was astounded how much I could 'hear' another person's body -- mostly complaining under its weight of stress and strain -- and something in me knew how to address whatever problems they had. I dimly registered that it was 'interesting, but not important' to me at the time -- but something was there.

anyway, years later, living in California (where EVERYONE's a healer! yeah, okay...)

I kept stumbling into spirituality from all kinds of odd and unexpected angles -- 12-step programs (a deeply spiritual movement), a piano teacher who had a profound god-connection that wasn't religious (Howard Richman, www.soundfeelings.com), healer types of various walks including massage therapists, acupuncturists, psychotherapists.... I never went looking for spirituality, it just kept finding me. almost despite myself.

mostly I avoided the people I thought were really wacko -- the crystal healers, the channellers, the psychics, the ... I dunno, it just seemed like a lot of moderately unbalanced or nearly-hysterical types of people were running around claiming to be this or that kind of esoteric healer. (& of course I could easily have been mistaken in my knee-jerk judgments, too.)

mostly I just lumped all those "I'm an airy-fairy granola-munching NewAge (rhymes with sewage, chuckling) healer, ta-da!!!" under the Bullshit category and did big wide circles around them, avoiding them.

BACK TO JACK
as I mentioned before, in the mid-1990s, I met my first real spiritual teacher -- a saint, I think, if a saint is defined as someone who "is clothed in the energy of god."

(I decided to tell more of those details, because Jack was truly extraordinary and is/was a largely unsung spiritual pioneering hero in America.) http://www.holisticu.org/welcome.html

as usual, I wasn't expecting to meet such a person -- not sure I even really believed in people like that -- but my then boyfriend told me a few stories about this man, Jack Schwarz, he'd known intimately in the '70s, and the stories weren't like anything I'd ever heard before -- they rang true, deeply true, and this man clearly had supernatural abilities that he used to help people heal themselves.

huh.

the moment I heard his name, it just popped out of my mouth -- "I want to meet that guy."

within a few months, even though my friend Rusel hadn't seen Jack in nearly 15 years by that point, it turned out (coincidence? hah! NOT!) that we had a book project to do, the chief source of which were a couple of game developers who were based in Oregon, not 10 miles from Jack Schwarz' center!

anyway, when I met Jack -- he was a Dutch man, then in his early 70s -- I knew he was the real deal. he was completely unpretentious, brilliant, confidently psychic, funny, gregarious, and purely loving. amazingly loving.

I always got the feeling that he saw, clearly, a million times more in people than he would ever actually comment about. it was slightly unnerving, at first, to be around someone like that -- I always knew he saw ALL of me, more so than if I'd been physically naked, standing there, flaws and great aspects and all.

unnerving.

but he made it easy, through his huge and generous heart, to be around him and NOT feel completely self-conscious. or naked in the extreme.

(when Rusel told him that upon hearing his name, I immediately wanted to meet him, Jack replied matter-of-factly, but with a penetrating look at me, "that's because her mission in life is similar to mine." which I have to say, I thought was utterly incomprehensible at the time.

but time passed. now that comment makes a lot of sense.)

his supernatural abilities, what the Indian tradition calls 'siddhis,' included that he never ate, he rarely slept (maybe 2 hours a night, but it was more like meditation than sleep), he never got sick (though he lived off of coffee and cigarettes!) and he used to demonstrate, in the '60s and '70s, deliberately wounding part of his body (usually his upper arm, by sticking a graduated sail needle through it!) and either having it bleed, or not, depending on what the audience wanted, and then talking for a while, with the HUGE needle stuck clear through his arm, and then taking it out... and within a half-hour, he had NO visible scar or wound left, his body would repair itself while people watched.

he didn't need food to survive -- he said he consumed the light, and the air (what's often called a "Breath-arian" though I didn't know the term then) and it was more than enough for him.

Jack was also vibrant, strong, in fantastic health, and had an energy about him that lifted anyone who came into the same room with him. it was nearly impossible to sustain a bad mood or any kind of depressed feeling, or sadness, around him -- his 'vibration' (his term) was simply too high. when vibrations are at a high frequency, he explained, nothing of a lower, or denser, vibration level can penetrate.

that was Jack's short answer as to why he never got sick, and as to how he could spontaneously heal himself.

his moment of enlightenment came, ironically enough, while he was being tortured by a German SS officer in a death camp during the Second World War.

he suddenly saw/experienced the interconnectedness of all people -- the SS officer beating him was no different from Jack himself, who was in turn no different from the other inmates of the camp, who were in turn no different from the other German soldiers and officers there -- he understood in a flash that all souls ARE each other, and that what binds them together is pure love.

knowing that, then, he focused his full attention and love on that German SS officer, and said to him, in German, "I love you." the startled SS guy dropped the whip he was using on Jack's back, and awkwardly began helping Jack put his tattered shirt back on -- and did a shocked double-take because the fresh whip wounds on Jack's back were already healing themselves......

anyway, I connected with him immediately, and became his student for a couple of years. it was really interesting, because every time I attended a class with him, I kept asking myself, "what on earth am I doing here, studying this -- ?" and it didn't make sense to me to be delving into spirituality, like, formally -- but I just kept doing it because it felt good.

after a couple years with Jack, which really taught me a lot -- in some ways I'm only beginning to see the depth in what he did and said and showed, mostly by example -- I became more open to other expressions of spirituality and healing.

BROAD-SIDED BY REIKI
by 1998 I wound up becoming a Reiki master -- a Japanese healing system a friend of mine was really gung-ho about.(www.reiki.org)

again, it totally broad-sided me, I thought it was utter bullshit but attended her class because she offered me a place in it for free and I didn't have anything else going on that weekend, anyway.

but then my friend gave the transmission of energy that they call, in Reiki, an 'attunement' and I felt like I was having an acid trip for like, 20 minutes or more.

it was a shock: actually it was unbelievable, colors and floating and light in my head and visions and who knows what. had someone described to me in advance about such an experience -- I can hear myself scoffing.

and yet, there I was, tossed right into the fray of an unexpected experience -- there was no denying some energy was being downloaded into me. I saw it, felt it, experienced it flowing in and it was completely shocking.at one point I even felt myself turning upside down...

even stranger was the experience of then TRANSMITTING that same energy to other people, for healing, which happens almost immediately after the 'attunement.'

I had to eat my words about Reiki being bullshit... and I went on to become a Reiki master (teacher and healer) myself.



BUT HOW DOES IT WORK?
but still, something was missing from the equation. I didn't fully understand HOW energy mechanisms work: for instance, how come some people could feel the reiki energy coming in, and others couldn't? how come some people got healed from overt physical problems during a reiki session, sometimes instantly and dramatically, and others didn't? it really got me examining the nature of healing and what it might mean, and I didn't have any answers.

during that time, I'd rediscovered meditation, and was sitting Zazen, the Zen style of meditation, every day, often going on weekend retreats to sit and stare at a wall for 10 hours a day, observing silence all the waking hours of the day. my outer life was chaotic and crazy, my inner life was becoming stable and interesting.

somewhere in there, I started doing some Indian-style, yogic meditation as well, through Yogananda's tradition -- involving breathing (pranayam) and a simple mantra (so-ham) -- and that was also an adventure, a different flavor of some internal experience.


TAKING THE LEAP INTO HEALING
finally, I quit my work as a freelance technical writer and journalist in the field of computer games (www.demaria.com), and set up shop as a healer. I was a Reiki master, I had been through a lot of breathwork, I was a good massage therapist, I was meditating a lot, and I just knew it was time to start helping people full-time. so I did.

the next thing I knew, I had a full-on business, taking care of Silicon Valley types, teaching them about chakras and breath and the human energy system and healing and ... that was my life, pretty much, in addition to making music and having a rich social life.

at the time, as I mentioned above, I lived in a small Bohemian town in the redwoods, near Santa Cruz, CA, and my circle of friends and 'family' was amazing to me -- musicians, high-tech geniuses, physicists, artists, all kinds of spiritual types, ravers, -- a kind of counter-culture do-it-yourself diverse scene that was stimulating and exciting.

I was an active member of the Burning Man community (www.burningman.com), I came and went as I pleased, I helped people, I made money, I travelled where I wanted -- to New Orleans for Jazz Fest two years running, to the barren Black Rock Desert in the Sierras whenever I needed a break, soaking naked in a deserted hot spring and walking for miles over a bleak salt-flat landscape...

I never felt so alive. I was performing as a singer-songwriter, and a poet, published my first book of poems, and got published in journals and on-line e-zines, and what have you.

(if you do a google search under my name, but using Alex rather than Alx, all kinds of interesting documents online turn up! I plead guilty to them all...!)

I mean, hey, I lived in a small cottage, in the redwood forest, on a creek, with four cats and a wood-burning stove, a walkable distance (a mile) from a small town that has a great coffeehouse. I don't honestly think it gets much better than that.

AND as far as the concept of 'guru' went -- no WAY.

I thought the whole idea was repulsive.

I genuinely thought that only insecure people in need of a crutch (or a life) gravitated towards gurus.

hah, was I ever in for a surprise! so, okay, I had my life (a study in California Bohemian motif), creativity, great friends, healing profession, an embarrassment of financial abundance... I was sitting zazen, it was my major solace and meditation discipline. and...

it was all great, but nothing, NOTHING prepared me for the tidal wave of Kaleshwara. (www.kaleshwar.org)



Monday, August 23, 2004

looking for the beginning...

I've never been particularly good with beginnings. nor am I sure where to start telling my tale, exactly -- although some real cliff-hangers, I'm told, start with "Once Upon a Time..."

okay, so.

once upon a time, I was a happy healthy intellectual Bohemian poet and tech writer and book author and musician, living in the hills of Boulder Creek, California.

Boulder Creek is a remarkable place, a seemingly remote Santa Cruz mountain town that used to be a logging village more than a hundred years ago. there is evidence to suggest that gold miners, in the mid-1800s gold craze, traversed the forests and streams near Boulder Creek.

Boulder Creek today has about 6,000 people living in its outlying forests and off dirt roads, some of which are still off the grid. its inhabitants tend to be fairly iconoclastic, and although many work 'over the hill' in Silicon Valley, still many others are retired hippies, hermit authors, web designers, rave producers, top-level scientists, artists of all walks, n'er-do-wells, and an assortment of other kinds of people who enjoy living in the somewhat rugged and wild environs of the redwood forests.

there are 2 Buddhist monasteries to be found there, one Tibetan Buddhist, one Burmese Buddhist, tradition. the Heartmath Institute (a courageous and stealthy organization that researches the scientific and mathematically quantifiable affects of open-hearted living), is in Boulder Creek, as well as a beautiful Mother Divine temple, and an Ananda (Yogananda) meditation center.

but I'm digressing.

the story I want to tell in this blog, about how an ordinary 30-something got broad-sided by spirituality and wound up living in India for several years, is a little complicated and may well sound to readers like a fantasy novel rather than someone's real-life account of events that actually transpired. okay, no problem -- I didn't believe, I mean, really believe, that a lot of the things that I've witnessed and experienced directly, or heard about from other people who have, were possible, either.

the funny thing is, I'm a fairly skeptical person, at heart.

(sure, I'm also a poet & musician, meaning someone who can read between the lines of life and pay attention on the level of intuition, loose connections, non-linear thinking, and energy rather than factual analysis.)

I was raised by two scientific parents (my father was a surgeon, my mother a nurse) who were at best agnostic in their spiritual beliefs. my childhood and adolescent years were spent in Missouri -- famous as the "Show-Me State," not without reason. there's a mid-western hard-headedness in my inner make-up, a part of me that, even when a credible source reports news of a miracle to me, stands up tall and declares, like that senator of old Missouri did, "gentlemen, you have got to show me!"

that disclaimer being made, I have to confess that this IS a blog about spirituality, and about miracles, and about the super-natural channels one can find in India, if one is lucky and perseverant and has the superb guidance from another person who already knows the way.

another disclaimer: in my life, I never actively sought after spirituality or spiritual things. I was interested in them, sure, but then again I was interested in a lot of things. and yet -- spiritual subjects and insights kept presenting themselves to me, from weird and unexpected angles, through friends, or acquaintances, or even complete strangers.

I did NOT actively seek spiritual teachers, channels, readings, whatever. I came to California from the East Coast, where I went to liberal arts college for four years.

I had all the intellectual snobbery I could gather there, in my emotional arsenal, so my reaction to anything New Age was to look askance at it, laugh derisively and wonder how seemingly otherwise intelligent people could actively espouse believing in things ranging from the efficacy of Chinese herbal medicines, to crystal healings, from gurus to accounts of UFO sightings.

I had a profound distaste for organized religion in any form, having been sent to Catholic school for eight years in my youth (the only non-Catholic in the place). I thought it was truly the 'opiate of the masses' -- although I also thought that most ideologies, in any kind of dogmatic form, were the same.

my strong opinion, when I occasionally encountered people who had found some alternative faith, like Buddhism or having a guru, was that only insecure, unself-confident human beings (ie, Losers with a capital L) were attracted to religions where someone ELSE would tell them how to run their lives, so they could abrogate personal responsibility and individual thought. relying on an external deity, or worse, another human being who was posing as such (and probably a total charlatan, taking advantage of weak-minded, credulous souls and extorting vast sums of money from them) -- was anathema to my way of thinking.

I didn't, couldn't, differentiate between spirituality and religion -- there was no range broad enough in my vocabulary to encompass the stretch and landscape that lies between these two words.

at the same time, mysteries and mystical coincidences had always accompanied my life, strange little moments and signs and incidents of feeling intimately connected with nature -- I couldn't ignore them but had nowhere to put them, other than relegating those kinds of experiences to poetry and music expressions.

so I evolved into a strange dichotomy -- intuitive and sensitive to synchronicities and mysteries on the inside, sharp, rational, hyper-critical and condemning on the outside.

but even the sharpest rocks DO soften when they're pummeled by ocean waves long enough -- and somehow credible spiritual teachers came into my life, as if accidentally but surely the perfection of the timing (in my own evolution) was beautifully suspicious.

I began studying actively with a Dutch yogi named Jack Schwarz in the early-to-mid 1990s. Jack was then in his 70s, and had many well-documented (gasp! even scientifically, by such establishments as UCSF Medical School and other reputable organizations) supernatural abilities, or siddhis. he was the first person I heard of who was a spiritual character who DIDN'T sound like he was self-aggrandizing or a fake, charlatan-type of person intent on bleeding the hopeful out of their money.

his story is a whole beautiful epic in itself that I'll tell at a later posting if people are interested. the high points (besides the fact that he had well-developed siddhis, or supernatural abilities) are that he gained his enlightenment in Auschwitz, where he was interned during the 2nd World War as part of the German's forced labor program, he diagnosed medical conditions by reading the energy field, or aura, of a human being and taught medical professionals to do the same, and he was famous for demonstrating 'mind-over-matter' to large audiences by driving a graduated sail needle through his upper arm, lecturing while it was stuck in there, (bleeding or not depending on what the audience requested) and letting the observing audience see the substantial gouges on his arm created by the needle heal spontaneously within a few minutes of removing the needle.

he was a super-love character, who lived in loved, worked in love, and died in love.

he took his final trip from this lifetime (he described life like borrowing a rental car from the lot and then driving it for a while, taking it back to the lot, getting another one....) in 2000, right as I was coming to India to live. transitions, passings, traffic circulations, red lights, green lights, life and death.

& I still haven't got to what brought me to live in India yet. hmmm. maybe that's a longer tale than I originally anticipated!