Outsider Looking In

Tyler, the twenty something year old ex-professional skateboarding champion who lives across the hall from my mom is playing his harmonium as if it were an organ right now.  I feel like I’m in Grace Cathedral, being bathed in benevolently crashing sonic waves.  And the crickets are offering the back-up with their shrill steady sacred syllable.  It’s the perfect cap to the day I’ve had.  Inhale.  Exxxxxhale.  The day I’ve had.

Loneliness crept in today.  Too bad you aren’t aware of the long pause that followed that last sentence.  You will just read these words in one quick, rough tumble helping and then move on with your snack-sized dream of a life.  But here I am, mining my depths so that I can make some good old fashioned intellectual order out of it all.  And I must admit that I did pause to pick my nose, too.  Nose picking… It’s such a soothing and rewarding activity.  A meditative engagement with overt, measurable results.  Sometimes I need that in the midst of wading through all this arduous esotericism.

What can I say about this lonely feeling?  Well… I guess the reality that I just closed up shop on my whole honkin’ construct of a life… and I have nothing to go “home” to… suddenly crept in like wet chills that seep not only through clothing, but clear through skin, bones and souls.  I often think of Michael Franti’s lyrics, “to be surrounded by a million other people, but feeling lonely like a tree in the desert, dried up like the skin of a lizard…”  I find myself feeling that way from time to time… and come on, admit it, so do you… or else the song would not be so popular.  (If you haven’t heard it before, just take my word for it.  It’s popular.)  So here at the ashram, I am certainly surrounded by a million other people.  And yet… everyone seems to be always on the go… and somehow it doesn’t seem appropriate to express my inner most feelings to anyone (not even my mom).  Except YOU, here in Athena GraceLand.  Thank god for this blog.  I’m so acclimatized to a life where I have SOMEone to intimately share with.  But here at Ananada, I feel like an outsider in this fast paced world of ceaseless service, wholesome recreation and bland music.

I still don’t know if the egg came first, or the feathery, squawking layer… But somehow ashram life really got under my skin today.  Was it because I was feeling lonely and emotionally rough around the edges… or was my emotional state exacerbated by all the dogmatic wholesomeness?   Shhhhrug.  Listen, I think its all dandy, really… But today the culture was feeling way too clean for the likes of this dirty soul traveler.  I kept looking around at all the women and thinking that they could all use a good lay.  Sorry mom.  I’m afraid you might find this offensive, but it’s so true for me.  A little sexiness goes a long way on the path to Heaven’s Hot and Heavy Bedroom in the Sky.

I’m not the type of chick who chooses one single path.  (The other day my mom was all thrilled about the possibility of arranging me a ceremony to choose Yogananda as my official lord, savior and sponsor… and though he pretty much IS, I politely declined because I am more of a polyamorist when it comes to gurus in the sky with diamonds.  What would I say to Jesus or Amma, Saint Theresa, Hafiz, Rumi or Krishna when they found out that I had religiously committed to Yogananda?!?!)  So alas, I have stood, passive and observant at the quivering edge of many communities, ways, ideologies, dogmas and flocks of seekers.  And trust me, God not only abides, but dances His All Pervading Ecstatic Ass off in all of them.

A couple of years back, I got coaching on a regular basis from the woman who spearheads OneTaste, the community which embraces orgasm as the nucleus of their spiritual path.  Talk about contrast!  Phew!  That place was raw wilderness compared to Ananda.  At OneTaste, emotional authenticity was feverishly flying left and right.  At Ananda, the collective agreement seems to be that of Polyanna tongue holding and eternally smiling congeniality.  At OneTaste, the women were always flushed and freshly fucked.  Here at Ananda, I imagine most of the pussies are wrought with cobwebs and dust bunnies.  And you know the most amazing part of this… is that everyone is essentially thirsting for the same thing.  Both of these communities are extreme cases.

Athena, what’s your point?  I dunno.  Just that the God I subscribe to is a bit more of a flaming, drunken rebel than the God around here who wears high wasted jeans and penny loafers without socks and get twelve dollar haircuts from Super Cuts.  God bless ‘Im.

Today was Sunday service.  The essence was beautiful.  Trust me, I cried… like I almost always do when my Thirst of God is provoked to the surface.  But boy was it a contrast to my East Bay Church of Religious Science… where everyone dances and claps and calls out spontaneous, popcorn style affirmative praise.  Honestly, I think that it helps that there’s a large contingency of black churchgoers at East Bay.  It seems to me like the black folks know how to let their hair down and praise the Lawd with a capital Celebrate… and that’s more my vibe.  The choir today stood uncannily still as they spilled with sacred song.  But I don’t want to sound critical.  Because I am a sucker for God-Lovers of all shapes, sizes and flavors of song.

For some reason, I felt more inhibited about crying in this church today.  Was it because I was sitting next to my mom?  Maybe.  Or maybe because we were all packed in so close to one another.  Or maybe it was sheerly energetic.  But by the end, I was ready to run into the piney forest and spill salt water all over the hard, dirt path.  Especially when they left us with the final thought, “Go forth in joy today.”  With my hands folded in prayer and my head bowed, the tears came with more severity upon hearing that, since it felt to be so far from my present experience.  Which made me feel for a moment like I was doing something wrong by crying…I prayed to God to help me go forth in joy… then I realized that I am the ever-joyful witness, no matter WHAT emotional climates I slide through.  I tasted joy within my heart-ache.  As my mom and I walked out into the modest heat of the afternoon, I saw a hummingbird zoom right up to the sloshing top of a three-tiered fountain and take unabashed sips from the clear, singing waters!  Guess what hummingbird medicine is?!  JOY!  The moment was sheer poetry and unadulterated Grace.  I knew that God had heard my prayer and joy was as good as mine.

Though Her Holiness did challenge me to a high-rolling game of hide and seek first.  After lunch, I fell into bed with a heavy heart and a noisy head and dreamed of complicated relationships and white lies.  I woke up an hour and a half later repeating in my sleep the mantra that Amma gave me once upon a time.  (I don’t remember ever repeating my mantra in my dreams before!)  When I woke up it was time to start dinner.  It was my mom’s night to cook, and I had been very excited to help her… once upon a time…  I started hacking at the jicama with a heart unbearably saturated with ache… but by the time the soup and salad were ripe for imbibery, I WAS the hummingbird liberally sipping from the singing stream of holy water.  Cooking.  I always find peace and liberation in the kitchen.  Thank God…

Thank you God, for another perfect day.

Amen.

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. spirit2go
    Sep 06, 2010 @ 03:41:29

    You know what Athena Grace, God is also a sucker for God-Lovers of all shapes, sizes and flavors of song. That’s what makes either end of the spectrum A-OK with Him. And that’s a good thing.

    Your post – very poignant. Yes, that hummingbird was absolutely just for you to remind you: JOY, JOY, JOY. I received Hawk medicine this past few days. One even flew over my deck twice within 5 minutes – very beautiful. I drew the hawk medicine card and everything pointed to being aware of what is right in front of my eyes, and accepting those things as the gifts that they are.

    Reply

  2. Sumitra
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 11:52:48

    Whew…what a huge topic…but here ‘ goes…
    Topic one: Fortunately I fall into two categories…one, mom…and two a blog reader. Fortunately I can read about those innermost thoughts unspoken to me as “mom”, but out there to be read by your blogging public, of which I am one…

    You know I’ve been here (at the ashram) since April, 2008. That has given me plenty of time to develop (as far as I’ve come). When people choose to live here, they don’t arrive as perfection…thus you see people in all different states of development. One thing we all have in common here is the desire to reach self-realization, to merge back into complete God-consciousness, removing all, or as much karma as possible from our lives. Understanding karma in itself is a huge topic. Delusions (maya) are what we try to let go of. Worldly life, where delusions abound, is something we choose to participate in less and less. It takes work to see ego for what it is and try to “kill” it as the struggle in the Bhagavad Gita speaks of allegorically.

    Here, as well as at Self-Realization Fellowship, it is believed that Yogananda was an avatar, or self-realized master, whose teacher was Sri Yukteswar, whose teacher was Lahiri Mahasaya, and that Babaji and Krishna came before them and were one and the same soul, and Christ also was in their line of self-realized masters. None of them would be offended if you chose one to follow the teachings of over another, because it’s all the same. Ama would certainly be welcome to give you hugs. You could still read Rumi’s poetry, because it’s all about the same thing.

    The Vedas teach that the universe is a mixture of three basic qualities, or gunas. “Your job, Arjuna, is to free yourself from all three, as well as the dualities of Nature”…by attaining absolute calmness within. In yoga practice, energy flows inward. In people who live in ego-consciousness and are filled with desires and attachments, their energy is outward. The consciousness of sattwic people,being centered more at the point between the eyebrows, brings clarity of intellect and understanding. Rajasic people, being centered primarily in their emotions, are ruled by their likes and dislikes, hopes and disappointments, ambitions and devastating failures. Tamasic people, being centered in their lowest three chakras, are focused exaggeratedly on physical enjoyments and reward.

    I feel that living here helps me to understand the “game” and how to play it. There is so much to understand so I can’t explain it all in a blog comment, even if I could condense IT ALL and articulate it. So maybe that explains to some degree why the women here seem so different from women who choose the world and its focus on ego attachments, desires, and the delusions that people truly seeking God have sworn off, as much as it is possible.

    You are totally welcome to live in the world as you choose. You have so much to offer us all.

    Love,
    Mom

    Reply

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