As a writer I love metaphor (OK maybe a bit too much). I love how by simply holding something up and calling it by another name you can suddenly perceive it from a fresh angle that would otherwise remain obscured by habit. While writing this blog I've seized on a number of metaphors to more fully understand the current state of my relationship with Gurumayi and Siddha Yoga. The first was the name "Rituals of Disenchantment" which came to me after quite a bit of soul-searching, and then wouldn't leave me. It seemed to sum up the impasse I found myself in after 20 years of sadhana in which the Guru-Disciple relationship was forever paramount, only to discover that the Guru seemed to have up and left the relationship on her own and without so much as a farewell or forwarding address. It's not easy being jilted by a divine lover, and my abandonment issues were understandably inflamed. I suddenly felt that over the years I had become spellbound through the hypnotic intensity of Siddha Yoga practices—literally enchanted with the worship of a being I believed to be a living saint—and only through an equally incantatory and ritualized writing practice might I free myself from the fatal glamour of that spell.
And then I thought again. Maybe Gurumayi had planned this as a teaching? Maybe this was her way of disengaging us from an outward relationship that was finite and mutable, so that we might plunge more desperately and so more deeply into an inner relationship that was infinite and eternal. If so, she intended a break from the past that was at least as radical as the one I had imagined. If so, Gurumayi also wanted us to become disenchanted with the limits of our communal experience in order to break through to a future that would hold a new and more lasting magic for us all.
Either way, "Rituals of Disenchantment" seemed to work, both as metaphor and practice.
And so I began to write, but no sooner had I begun than I felt the metaphoric landscape shift and slide away beneath me; there were so many questions about the past twenty years of my sadhana that had remain unasked and unexamined for too long. Where to begin? I didn't know in which direction to turn. No sooner would I plunge forward to consider one (once off-limits) aspect of my experience then another would arise to turn me aside and lure me down its blind alleyway. That's when I posted that I felt I had stumbled into a labyrinth. And this new metaphor is one that apparently resonates with many others, as "MC" wrote in one of her comments:
"This theme of experiencing God in his absence is one that is very present for me now that Christopher has framed the labyrinth as a metaphor...It's rich and I look forward to lots of companionship there. Pan's Labyrinth I watched on the edge of my seat, not understanding a tenth of what was going on. Just like when I was kid, watching films I couldn't fathom, but fascinated."
Like MC, I was fascinated by Guillermo Del Toro's darkly majestic film (which as a fairy tale succeeds best if it is viewed with the wondrously wide eyes of a child). This enchanted movie reminds us that, traditionally, labyrinths both encompass and enclose the magical and forbidden. For the girl in Del Toro's film the labyrinth was both a refuge from an arbitrary and brutally violent world, and a testing ground in which she was trusted with a series of tasks—the completion of which would prove whether she was worthy to rule that enchanted underground realm. In myth, however, the labyrinth is not often conceived of as a refuge. And as a testing ground, it is not a territory to be explored, but rather escaped. Monsters and minotaurs prowl the heart of the labyrinth; heroes either slay them and emerge unscathed or remain forever trapped within, their bones whitening to become indistinguishable from the blank walls of chalk that imprison them.
I have a dream of the Siddha Yoga sangham; we are all cleaving together as one at an immense dancing saptah. Imagine the dancing circles behind the South Fallsburgh mandap—times ten thousand. Women, men and children all dance at the same time and there is so much room if we close our eyes it's as if each of us is dancing alone. We do the sidelong sliding step in unison, clap our hand and chant in unison—the women calling and the men responding. Everyone's eyes are turned to the center of the circles where Gurumayi dances by herself in an empty fire pit—orange robes twisting and flapping in the breeze like tongues of flame lapping the cool night air. As we dance and chant and sway the small rose bushes planted between the circles begin to grow and flourish, climbing and thickening until they stretch overhead and we can't see anything except the path in front and behind us. We are each of us lost in our own private ecstasy. Suddenly, a dark cloud obscures the face of the moon and everything is plunged into absolute darkness. As the drumbeats and harmonium fade into silence a few dancers—madwomen or saints—wrap their pale arms around themselves and twirl to music they alone continue to hear. The rest of us begin searching for a way out; stretching our arms outward to take the measure of the space around us and find our direction. But, instead of fingering rose blossoms our hands and arms are scratched and torn by thorns.
We have become like the gopis abandoned by a thousand Krishnas and lost in the labyrinth of the night forest.
to be continued