A New Chapter in Minnesota
Not knowing what to do next. Swami Rama has told Justin to renounce. The wife of our dear friend, Yogi Achala, has left him for another and he is also with someone. Honesdale has a new director who wants the old people out, not wanting anyone who loves Gurudev more than him. My old jobs and apartments are long gone. Where to go? What to do? I know Swamiji told me to write now, but I need more. This Shakti needs a Shiva in her life.
I have taken on a ten-day retreat out in the woods of Minnesota. After six days of intensive hatha, Gayatri, and meditation practice, I perform a special practice to ask a major question.
That evening, after a six-o’clock meal of fruit, I go to my room and lock the door. I make a little altar on the small table there, placing one of the rocks found in the Nepali riverbed, as a Shiva lingam, upon it. Then I offer the gifts of the earth to the divine: water, incense for air, fire, and a flower for space, and powder from earth dropped before the lingam.
I sit to worship, asking Babaji to answer the question I need to know. “Maha Gurudev, will you send me my own Shiva? My life has become too confused for me and I cannot see clearly. What do you wish of me?” Again and again I ask and finally tell him, “I will sit here firmly until you let me know; I will not move without your direction.”
Then I begin my practice of meditation, going inside to worship the divine there. After some time, in the midst of my meditation a clear image forms before me. It is a facsimile of the Shiva/Shakti statues found in Nepali temples, statues, paintings—the divine male sits erect, his legs folded, and in his lap sits the divine female, her legs twined about him. But the image of shakti has my face and the image of Shiva is Yogi. I clear the image from my mind, going back to meditation, and again it comes. Over and over it happens until I open my eyes to the fire and lingam and even with my eyes open, the image is there. As I watch, words come unbidden into the room. “Go to Charles,” they say. My mind refuses. The same words come again, and again I refuse. My mind says that there is some mistake; what is being asked is impossible. Once again the words, but now louder, “Go to Charles” they repeat, and all the time a hard pressure at my ajna chakra, pulling me inward, intensifying the experience. It seemed to go on for hours. Finally, not knowing what else to do, I bow my head and say, “Whatever the sages wish, I will try to carry out.”
Instantly a feeling of peace comes over me. There is a notion in my mind and heart that reason is not important these days, that the future has been decided and that I agreed. I promised my life to the sage’s work, and if this is part of it, then I will know what to do. The peace intensifies and I know that the future will hold joy as well.
I rise from my seat, exhausted, and find that the clock reads midnight, so I crawl into bed, leaving my future in safer hands than my own.
Mirror in the Old House
When I moved into our new, old-fashioned house on Summit Avenue, I found the bathroom cabinet filled up very quickly with the basics of health and beauty that our culture has made essential. Next to the cabinet, over the sink, hung a large oval mirror framed in wood and shining in the light from the Western window.
I looked at the mirror rarely, as is my wont, but the light reflected off its surface caught my eye each time I entered the room. Seeing the clear morning sunshine on its surface or the rich golden tones of the setting sun always made me catch my breath, realizing that occasionally there was no excuse for joy.
One early morning as I rushed to my first appointment of a busy day, I bent over the sink brushing my teeth. As I raised my head I bumped the bottom edge of the mirror, dislodging it. Quickly I looked up to see if there was any damage done to the old piece and was stunned to find that the mirror held a hidden treasure! Behind its shiny surface lay a three-shelf cabinet embedded in the wall. "How is this possible?" I thought. I had used the room for over a month without realizing that what I needed was waiting silently inside something I used every day!
My teacher had earlier taught me the same lesson. I must have forgotten it. He wanted me to look inside. "Hidden within," he whispered with large, loving eyes, "is a treasure that we know nothing about." He said that behind our face, beneath our personality, beyond the form that we show the world lies a calmness, a surety, a firm knowledge of truth, a beauty and glory that we know nothing about. Once he showed me. Quietly. Powerfully. Gently. When I was ready. He showed me the answer to my unquestioning need for the meaning of my life. He showed me the truth of divinity. He opened the secret to existence not normally known. It all lay within, totally unsuspected.
Grocery Store Woman
Today, as I stood in line behind my grocery cart, I saw an unusual woman. Dressed in pink tights, brown elfin shoes, and a long pink sweater, she looked unique. She swept the floor and I one glorious movement formed a perfect arc to bend over, tighten the broom head, grasp the dustpan, and sweet the little pile of debris into the pan.
She held the pose—jackknifed in a yoga posture of pure grace and strength—for the time to do these chores. Head down, arms outstretched, chest touching her legs, buttocks high in the air.
It was a moment of electric clarity, of life bounded by the boundless, as the mystics say.
Life is full of sudden glimpses of unexpected beauty, marvelous grace, seemingly inconsequential actions. I stood there transfixed by the stupendous meaning of life until a tooting horn outside the store reminded me to get on with the next action. So many more glimpses of the divine to discover.
The BETAR Ride
My first BETAR ride was given to me by Peter Kelly’s wife in October of 1988. She lay me down on the instrument and went out to select music.
Almost immediately I was taken away from my body. I felt all my chakras and stopped at the pressure of the ajna chakra. There, in the total dark, was a small, white rectangle. Slowly I went closer and closer to it and found it to be a temple in the darkness. It was brilliant white and inside was a figure of Krishna, black and strong. Krishna was playing his flute and then began to dance. He called me into the temple. He took my hand and we began to dance together. As we danced, the temple fell away and we began to dance a new creation into being.
My heart chakra began to swell and pulse and the scene changed. I became aware that I was She; I feel the divine in myself and am aware of power radiating out of me. The sound trembles around me and I begin the descent to the lower chakras and then very slowly up to the heart, throat, and ajna center again.
Finally I hear Debbie calling me out. The music is off and she is standing next to me. She gave me a hug and said, “I am amazed. I watched you, and before my eyes you became a goddess. You stood regal, strong, with power coming from you. When I looked around the room, it was full of spirits, all bowing and swirling around you. Then the walls fell away and thousands of people roared and applauded your appearance. They acknowledge you as the divine Goddess.”