My Pilgrimage to Ananda Part III

It’s another one of those mornings where I don’t want to write.  I’m feeling flooded with emotions and overwhelmed by this all too familiar experience of being crushed under the weight of my own recklessly tangled dharma.  Every  night that I have slept here at Ananda, I have had disturbing dreams one after another, waking up numerous times with my heart pounding.  I came here to release.  I came here to heal and contemplate.  Apparently I have been doing a good chunk of work at night.  But this morning, I hit a point of overwhelm.  My heart was as full as a well fed tick and tears kept slipping out and streaming all about my face in sadhana.  Lately A Course in Miracles has been preaching all about how only joy is real.  Pain and sorrow are not real.  So every time I rub elbows (and every other imaginable body part as well) with my pain and sorrow, I wonder what I am to make of those seemingly intense strands of aching moments.  Will I ever be healed enough to just be a god damn fountain of ever-new joy?  Is it self indulgent to succumb to all this grief and devastation?

I don’t remember if I mentioned this before, but I could not find my emotions at ALL for the first half of my twenties.  I had buried them is such a deep safe chamber inside of me, to sort out later when I felt grounded and safe enough.  That time came.  And because I had been without them for so long, my emotions became the most precious delicacies to me.  Now when they come, I feel whole.  But… I also wonder if I’m stuck sometimes in indulgent eddies of sorrow… Lately I have been feeling called from the inside to practice continuously stepping into gratitude, presence and joy.  But where does that leave all the shadow-strewn nooks and crannies of my heart and soul?  Must shine light on them.  Must love through them.  Easier said than done.  God, it seems to be taking a lot of WORK right now to be awake and on duty.

As I wrote all that, my mom was puttering around in the kitchen fixing herself a late breakfast. Today is her day off from working in the Crystal Hermitage gardens.  Something about my mom is that she incessantly hums.  I think it is so dear.  Sometimes I can hear her coming before I can see her.  She is a fountain of faintly gurgling song.  I trip out thinking that probably she will die before me and I will live a portion of my life without her nectarous humming and her irritating little habits, her stories of day to day existence and the people she knows.  Something else I have come to love about my mom is that she can’t eat anything without spilling it down her front.  It used to drive me crazy, but now it tickles and delights me.

I didn’t really intend to go on like that about my emotions, but it was so present inside me, that nothing else could find its way out.  If I didn’t express it, I would have just collapsed under the immense weight and opted not to write.  Let that be a lesson to you.  If you think you are having “writer’s block”, which is just an old wives tale any way, just write about what’s most true for you in the moment and then shazam!  You will be amazed at the energy that’s freed up!

Now I’m ready to tell you the exciting news.  The night before last, my mom got an email from the head Swami, Kriyananda’s assistant, Lakshman.  He informed her that the Hallowed Swami had given her a spiritual name (upon her request) back in march, but for some reason she hadn’t received the email.  He forwarded the original email sent by Swami Kriyananda.  Kriyananda had informed her that he couldn’t get down and funky with her first choice, Aria… but that he felt that the name Sumitra was a great fit for her, and if she would receive it, he offered it with his heart-felt blessings.  Sumitra.  She rolled it around inquisitively on her mind’s palate.  Sumitra.  Getting a spiritual name bestowed upon you at an ashram is as big a deal as starting your period, getting married or being visited by a Santa Clause who only comes once in your entire life!

Immediately she plunged into the world wide web to research the name.  First she discovered some long-winded explanation about how Sumitra was a modest supporting role in the Hindu Epic, The Mahabharata.  This did not seem to please her.  So she searched on, learning that at its most simplistic, the name meant “Good Friend”.  Still she expressed distaste.  She did not feel that “good friend” encapsulated her.  I could feel her deflation.

Good friend.  As we lay in the warm darkness of her bedroom, nearing the cusp of slumber, I let the meaning sink below the surface of my mind, into the dark depths where concepts drown and alchemize in their own time into richer soul wisdom.  Good friend.  I told her that honestly, at the end of the day, I couldn’t see anything more valuable than both BEING a good friend and HAVING good friends.  All the rest of the stuff we value in life is mere jingle bells and penny whistles.  Then I thought of my favorite Sufi poet, Hafiz.  He mostly refers to All Pervading Light as “The Friend”.  And reading his poetry, one can just tell that his tenderness and intimacy with God is sheer potency.  It is the kind of food that could sustain entire multiverses for Eternity and a day!  I ASPIRE to have that kind of a bond with God.  No REALLY.  I have to say that again, because I want it SO BAD.  I yearn to feel infinitely saturated by my friendship with the One.  Doesn’t that sound like the BEST thing EVER?  (Sure Athena, you just keep right on a-knockin’ from the Inside…)

I suggested that she contemplate her relationship to friendship… really chew on it and suckle the juice.  Not long after that, I was abducted by a tall, dark, handsome Sandman.  When the morning breathed fresh light into us once again, she loved her new name, Sumitra.  Oh… her *obsolete* name (wink) is Susan… So you can see that it’s a natural stone’s throw from her original sonic invocation.  Spiritual names are that which we grow into.  When we first get them, they seem baggy and awkward.  It is time and experience’s loving hands that sculpt our very beings so that the names glovishly hug our truest essence.  I can not think of anything better to refine ones self to fully master than a Good Friend.

They say that it has only happened one other time that Swami Kriyananda has sent someone their name and it has not gotten through to them.  My mom wondered why her naming was postponed for four months.  Shrug.  Who knows… but if I was the center of the Universe and I had the power to say, I would declare that it was so I could be present for this illustrious rite of passage in the life of my Beloved Mother, Sumitra.  I feel blessed.


Love as a Mischievous Leprechaun

My voice feels so quiet today.  My mind is trying to convince me that I have nothing to say.  Of course I don’t believe it, point blank… but still, I think there might be something of value in this quietude.  Let me go into it and try to describe what I feel.  It feels damp.  A place where moss grows… and mildew.  Just a few filtered rays of sunlight stretch their warm tendrils into this otherwise dark, forest floor-ish ambiance inside.  Yes, imagine a little nook, deep in the forest.  The earth is so rich, the soil, nearly black.  Imagine rotting, fallen logs, toadstools and a silence thick enough to slice and eat.

Why did I take us into the forest?  I have no idea… maybe to sniff around for truffles!  In my next life I’ll be a truffle hunter, with a fat, loyal pig by my side.  A pig smarter than Lassie.  No, screw that.  I don’t want to have a next life.  And if I do, I want it to suck me deeper into the truth of Love and the revelation of service.  No more frivolous adventures in this crippled plane of existence.  Is that a poor attitude to have?  Yes.  Is this existence “crippled”?  It sure seems like it… although Brother Ishmael, who preached our service this morning would turn in his grave if he had one, if he heard me call the world crippled.

Brother Ishmael.  I have no idea how tall he is in real life, but up on the stage, behind the pulpit, with his arms outstretched, as they often were, he looked enormous, like a California Condor, maybe.  He wore a traditional African shirt and matching pants of deep blue.  He spoke with a thick, African accent and his voice was loud and laden with overt passion and faith.  I got a great feeling as he took the stage and prepared to feed our minds and souls with his generous words of wisdom and love.  But everyone seemed to revere him on such a pedestal, that the cautious cynic in me became activated.  I mean, Jesus.  It seemed to me that he could have spoon fed his hungry audience ANYTHING, and they would have gobbled it up like fresh thanksgiving leftovers.  I know that’s a preacher’s job… but… I guess it was the way there were incessant murmurs reverberating through the crowd the whole time.  Felt like a lot of ass kiss-age.  Which I can almost understand, because obviously this was a powerful man.  Obviously this was an influential, spirited, loving and very wise man.  I would want HIM to pick ME for his cosmic softball team too…

But still, I think I must have been Socrates in my past life, because I’d rather be in a spicy dialogue with Life, with You, with anyone else who wants to get to the bottom of all this with me.  Not that I believe in a bottom, necessarily.  Another day, another bottom, as we all tumble together down the well of the infinite.  I took a philosophy class at UC Santa Cruz when I was seventeen.  I remember the teacher, a round, young, hippy type, who I anticipated would become Santa Clause after he finally retired from teaching.  He talked like a surfer, like Bill and Ted, from “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure”.  I liked him and sometimes I even liked the class, although it was a lo-o-o-o-ng winded subject, which often required coming up for a gasp of air.  Anyway, I learned that Socrates just sat on a bench in the town square and would talk with anyone who dared to sit next to him.  His way of conversation was like intellectual sparring, so most average Joes got jousted off the bench without knowing what hit them.  It took a sharp mind to survive Socrates’s bench.

But I bet I could take him, any day… I might need to bust out some liberated female tactics though…You know, like on the emotional front.  Speaking of the emotional front, I have wondered often lately why [most] men dig on women so much, considering how all over the place we mostly are… I have been such an emotional handful these days.  That’s the feminine for ya… we move with such a deep, interconnected pulse, which can sure make for some vast fluctuations.  What is it that compels a man to seek this out, and in many cases, marry it?  My latest hypothesis, is that the masculine (I’ll say that instead of “men”, since women can be plenty masculine and men can be plenty feminine….) WANTS to feel…but he tends to need a little help with that most of the time.  Left to his own devices, he can be a pretty dense oaf.  (Spoken with reverence.  Believe me, dense oafs have their sure-fired place in the choir…) I know, as a woman, that when I am feeling something deeply, I’ll do everything in my power, to bring my man there with me.  NO HOLDS BARRED.  Though I think I might want to reconsider that rule… Sometimes I am way too relentless.

Last night for example.  Mykael had been working on his carving ALL DAY yesterday.  I cooked us dinner and brought it outside to him.  We sat together on the front porch as the evening cooled and danced with spring colors and songs.  It should have been paradise… except that he was FIXATED on his nearly finished carving.  I craved attention, like always, only more so, because I’m on my period and I just WANT… affection, closeness, communion, nurturing.  Mykael was indeed an outpouring of those qualities… yes sir… only the stone was the blessed recipient of his top quality attention, not me.  Damn lucky stone… This caused my heart to ache.  I turned my body away from him and brooded.  He asked me what was going on and I went off about how starved I’d been for attention all day, and all I wanted was this little dinner time window of attention.  He said he was “including me” in his stone doting.  Yes, he was… but I don’t have the endurance or the interest to fawn over his precious art like he does.  He becomes consumed in love and infatuation for his creations.

I feel jealous.

Yes, it is absolutely gorgeous that he has such a reverence for that which pours from him.  But it hurts my feelings, because this relationship does not include ME.  It’s an elitist club built for two, and Athena waits outside the bolted, chained gate for her love scraps to be tossed out and mingled with dirt.  Busted, I’m being dramatic.  So what?  I feel this way.  It hurts for me to feel a massive piece of my beloved’s heart that has nothing to do with me.  Plus, I don’t sit around reading and re-reading my blogs and poems and novels, for the son of god’s sake…

Don’t I have private pieces of MY heart, you ask?  Yes.  It’s a double standard.  But it stings nonetheless.  (I’ll be jiggered, who ever decreed that “nonetheless” be one single word????  Weird…) But anyway, I slung a barrage of furious arrows at him.  Arrows carved from the very bones of my own pain.  The fight reached its zenith and then I retreated to my bedroom to ache alone.  I heard him crying as he did the dishes.  This is rare.  He might shed tears… but full on sobbing is an anomaly.  I’m gonna mark my calendar, May first, 2010, Mykael cries a modest lake!!!  He must have, because he cried all the way through dish duty and then made his way to his bed, where he just flopped down and continued to cry.  I couldn’t do anything but listen in shock.

I had this strange experience while he cried.  It was like my own heart had been cut out of my chest, and hurled into the next room, where it wrenched and sobbed, independent of the rest of me.  It was weird.  And painful.  Because it felt to be MY heart crying, my grievances took a back seat and at the forefront came the compelling drive to hold him.  So I did.  He kept crying.  For a while.  Then he was exhausted.  I felt like I had been blindfolded and spun around and now I didn’t know who or where I was or what was real.  I can hear Dan shouting from his hiding place in the folds of my consciousness that LOVE is real.  Always. Yes, Dan… I know.  But sometimes Love seems to be more like a mischievous leprechaun who gets off on throwing me for a spray of loop-dy-loops, rather than just submissively leading me to the pot of gold.

Yeah, I know, that’s not love, that’s my ego… well… I guess I have a ways to go, before love beats me into submission and then drowns me in its Self once and for all…