Saturday, October 20, 2007

Metaphorically Speaking

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

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

HI Christopher

I love this blog, love the way you are using it to deal with your issues about being abandoned by Gurumayi (that's exactly what she did, trained you to believe she would always be there for you then suddenly make a major decision about her Perfect Relationship with you. Then she walked out in the middle of the night, so to speak...), love the way you are becoming responsive to your readers, love the way you use your considerable gift for writing explore your attachment to the idea of your former spiritual practice.

I think some nonsense will come your way as you develop this blog but I think some incredible good will come of it as well.

Like you I was totally spellbound by Pan's Labyrinth. The outcome of the Academy Awards this year convinced me to never watch the ceremony again. They are meaningless to me if the Academy can't recognize a film of this magnitude and beauty.

Your online meditations are rich fuel for my own meditations on the subject of SY. Some of your comments are helpful to me also, some are not.

Just so you know, I see a lot of integrity in your process so far.

I suggest you forget about the people from the ashram who have a problem with the quality of you character.

Remember when Faramir was told by his father Denethorn that he had to "prove his quality" by snatching the ring from Frodo, then snatching himself from certain death on a last, fated raid on a beleaguered city of Gondor?

Faramir did prove his quality after all, but not in the way Denethorn may have wished or expected.

Your critics are still on one side of a particular ideological divide, you are on another.

I stand for the most part where you think you may be going.

There is a growing fellowship, among people of quality over here, and a dwindling alliance of all creatures, great and small, over there.

Take your time and cross when you are ready or able.

K.

Anonymous said...

Re; "I stand for the most part where you think you may be going.

There is a growing fellowship, among people of quality over here, and a dwindling alliance of all creatures, great and small, over there.

Take your time and cross when you are ready or able.

K.

October 23, 2007 6:10 AM

------------------------

Wow, could you describe this place you stand with 'quality' people away fom the broken hearted SY person who was not 'quality'.

Why would any compassionate heart want to ignore someone reaching out?

Where is this place you 'stand'?

Anonymous said...

Wow, could you describe this place you stand with 'quality' people away fom the broken hearted SY person who was not 'quality'.

Why would any compassionate heart want to ignore someone reaching out?

Where is this place you 'stand'?

October 23, 2007
6:36 AM

****

Thanks for asking this question, it's fair.

I stand where there are people who understand that this broken hearted person was abandoned, and that he deserves to take time and have support to heal from that experience.

I do not stand where someone tells this broken hearted person that he has lost integrity by saying he believes he was abandoned.

In his recent blog entry Christopher made reference to a wondrous if difficult fantasy film, Pan's Labyrinth.

The reference to people "proving their quality" was taken from the dialog in another famous fantasy film, The Return of the King.

Thanks for asking.

K.

Anonymous said...

Just added Pan's Labyrinth to our Netflix cue. We are partial to foreign films. Noted a 96% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. So much for the academy award people.

Episcopalian

Anonymous said...

Re: "where someone tells this broken hearted person that he has lost integrity by saying he believes he was abandoned."

K

October 23, 2007 8:52 AM
--------------------------

Dear K,

My methaphor for the writing task is 'swinging the hammer'. I find you often hit the nail SMACK squarely on the head. You did with the phrase above for me.

This phrase is so powerful and since you are a wordsmith you won't mind the deconstruct .....

lost integrity

by saying

he believes

he was abandoned

Each of these smaller phrases is going to release some schtuffennonsense around SY.

Thank you,

MC

SeekHer said...

Dear MC--

Huh?

Anonymous said...

Re: "where someone tells this broken hearted person that he has lost integrity by saying he believes he was abandoned."
K
October 23, 2007 8:52 AM
Dear MC--
Huh?
October 23, 2007 5:08 PM


Dear Seekher

Sorry for being cyptic and expansive at the same time. K's phrase packed a lot about the Ritual of Disenchantment to me.

First there's the process of being Abandoned.

Then comes the process of Believing it.

Then comes the process of Saying it.

Then comes the process of experiencing your Integrity, (for finally Believing it and Saying it).

Then comes the process of being told you Lost Integrity (for Believing you were abandoned, for Saying you were abandoned and then likely blamed for the Abandonment itself).

All this can take a while. The compression of all these layers and stages going on in K's brief phrasing struck a chord for me.

Something about the way it is hard to know your true thoughts and feelings when you are still running the SY program: there's No Abandonment, Don't Believe it, Don't Say it, and most important Don't have any Integrity with yourself.

MC

Anonymous said...

Sorry, C,
You're not broken-hearted, you're a bruised ego. You weren't abandoned. Gurumayi is always there. You were just so attached to her outer form. All of you LSYs are. What were you doing when Gurumayi talked about going inside? I virtually have practiced SY for 12 years out of 22 on my own,with brief visits to the ashram and a few satsangs at centers. It's inside. Why can't you see the wisdom in Gurumayi's actions. She is with you always, all the way. Remember her saying that? Give up your attachment to the physical form for a week and see what happens.

Me Myself and I said...

"anonymous said... Give up your attachment to the physical form for a week and see what happens. October 24, 2007 11:26 AM"

Thank you, Anonymous, that is the most intelligent and worthwhile bit of information I have heard in a long time. It is true. The Guru is within - always.

SeekHer said...

"anonymous said... Give up your attachment to the physical form for a week and see what happens. "

I wish it were that easy. What do you suppose this blog is about?

Anonymous said...

Christopher,

With evidence that some are reading who are not happy with this blog, a little customer service is in order don't you think?

What is it they don't like? You really need to know.

Maybe there are stories about how the gopis handled losing Krishna.

How about the one where they move to the big city and get jobs in IT. Which is of course India today.

MC

Anonymous said...

Perhaps it is OK for defenders of SY today to see that exSYers are not some monolithic group of people who were overly attached to the Guru's form and are now disenchanted because the physical form is not now available.

Speaking for myself I was in SY and was suddenly drawn from deep within to go elsewhere (Jesus Christ.) It was only after leaving that I could face looking into the questionable areas of SY and drawing the sad conclusion that others that were closer to the center of Sy were exploited and that those more on the periphery benefited from that exploitation. I do not think that Baba could have given shaktipat so broadly without doing what it appears he did.

Others, such as Stuart, can speak for themselves, but from seeing what he posted I would describe him as a jnani type and not overly attached to the form.

Peace and Love,

Episcopalian

Anonymous said...

Anon 10/24 11:26 am said: "You were just so attached to her outer form. All of you LSYs are."

To anon 10/24 11:26 am:

Please speak for yourself. Please do NOT assume others left for the reasons you assume. Your assumptions are incorrect as you seem to apply them across the board to ALL people who've left SY.

I was NEVER attached to GM's physical form. I was a Baba devotee who hung on for years. My ishtadeva remained Muktananda and I remained out of loyalty to him.

For me, I went LSY not just because I finally became convinced that Muk actually DID sexually abuse those women and girls he's reputed to have abused (which was a very hard thing for me to face) AND because I became convinced GM actually DID try to cover up the people who tried to expose such abuse and bring it out into the open.

I went LSY because the inner ideal of the embodiment of the "guru principle" I held was clearly not truly matched in reality by the conduct and behavior and ethics of the "outer form" for Muk and for GM.

In other words, the walk didn't measure up to the talk. For EITHER of them. Both the SY outer version of the talk, and my own inner inner talk of what GM was assumed to be embody, no longer fit the reality that presented itself to me.

This shattered many, many thoughts, beliefs, assumptions, attitudes, judgements about SY and GM and Muk.

And once that shattering took place, nothing, NOTHING could put humpty dumpty together again. The spell was broken.

In short, the behavior exhibited by the teachers did NOT measure up to my own standard for a "perfected master".

Please do not reply with any platitudes about "Siddhas not being bound by society's rules for proper behavior". IMHO this is bullshit promulgated to allow a guru to practically if not literally "get away with murder".

A true saint should fully embody the teachings s/he espouses. I can now see that this did not happen in Muk's case nor in GM's case.

THESE are the reasons I left SY and I would ask you NOT apply such a broad generalization to everyone as to the reasons why we left SY.

Mr. Hypothetical

Anonymous said...

Mr. Hypothetical

Hi, I'm Ms. Actual and I wouldn't be surprised to learn that we know each other from elsewhere.

You basically spoke my perspective. Like you I was committed to MUK and regularly sang spiritual love songs to him as was my indoctrination in SY for many, many years.

I left for the same reasons you left, probably in the same way, long before GM became the AWOL Siddha.

The people who come here defending GM and telling me/us that I/we didn't get the point of SY don't understand the point of reference among the people who have pierced the veil of illusions SY cast on its devotees for years.

I value and applaud Christopher for putting up this blog and asking sincere questions about his experience of spirituality in SY.

Keep posting Christopher, your words are like honey to my eyes.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing the link, but unfortunately it seems to be down... Does anybody have a mirror or another source? Please answer to my post if you do!

I would appreciate if a staff member here at ritualsofdisenchantment.blogspot.com could post it.

Thanks,
Charlie

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing the link, but unfortunately it seems to be down... Does anybody have a mirror or another source? Please answer to my post if you do!

I would appreciate if a staff member here at ritualsofdisenchantment.blogspot.com could post it.

Thanks,
Daniel

Anonymous said...

Arbilkink
[URL=http://moon.cs.uh.edu/trac/WiserAnalyzer/ticket/16648]looking for love[/URL]
Frurbulty

Anonymous said...

Greetings,

I have a message for the webmaster/admin here at ritualsofdisenchantment.blogspot.com.

Can I use part of the information from your post above if I give a link back to your site?

Thanks,
Jules

Anonymous said...

Hi,

I have a question for the webmaster/admin here at ritualsofdisenchantment.blogspot.com.

Can I use part of the information from your blog post above if I give a link back to this site?

Thanks,
Oliver