Thursday, October 25, 2007

What Color is Your Krishna?

We are visiting the labyrinth of the night forest of Vrndavana. Krishna has just disappeared and the gopis are fleeing through the sacred groves in every direction. When the rasalila abruptly ended they awoke with a start, as if from enchantment; immediately each was seized by the twin coils of shame and desire. Shame, because they knew they'd left their homes and families to cavort with a lover; Desire, because they were desperate to consummate a forbidden act of love that had ended almost before it began. The gopis threw themselves headlong down the forest's thousand and one paths searching for Krishna in every direction except the one in which he could be found—up.

There is only one perspective from which it is possible to view a labyrinth in its entirety, and that is from above. Krishna had simply climbed a moonbeam until he could look down on his many lovers at once. What he saw startled him. The briars and brambles of the forest were shot through with a hundred shades of red. Each belonged to a scrap of cloth torn from the sari of a gopi as she darted first this way, then that. These flashes of bright crimson radiated outward from the clearing where the rasalila took place, like embers bursting from a burning log, like hyper-oxygenated blood cells escaping from the heart into the arteries, veins and capillaries of a panicked captive.

What did Krishna feel when he was confronted with this sight? Pity? Regret? Love?

Exactly what does a god feel for his devotees? This is not a rhetorical question; I really want to know. Krishna's dalliance with the gopis is traditionally explained as a game, a sport, a play of consciousness in which the divine lover entices the human heart to leave behind its mundane concerns and become enraptured with the eternal. But, if the gopis could never hope to follow Krishna when he would retreat to his eternal nature as Vishnu, to what end did he entice them? It is the quality of sport that unnerves here; Krishna may have been only playing, but no one likes to have their heart toyed with, least of all by god.

Which begs a further question—what was the gopis' experience? When they danced with their own personal Krishna did they feel they were standing at the threshold of the divine? Or, were they seduced by a perfect lover who, against all odds, had chosen them—a poor, wide-hipped farm girl to be his one true love?

It's said that the gopis each danced with a Krishna who conformed to her exact desires. That's why, when some brushed their breasts against his chest it was a deep indigo, others danced with a lover whose skin was the color of hyacinth, others sighed after a Krishna whose pale flesh was stained blue only along its veins. The differing colors of Krishna's skin may be seen as a visual metaphor for the varying guises the divine lover adopts for each gopi. For many, of course, Krishna was the dashing prince depicted in miniature paintings of the rasalila—handsome, flirtatious, attentive—the exact opposite of the brutish husbands who awaited them at home and demanded to be treated as a household god. Others, perhaps, were more enchanted by the adolescent Krishna, the trickster who hid behind the sandalwood trees with his posse of teenage boys, impatiently waiting to jump out and scare the younger gopis so that, trembling with excitement, they spilt their milk pails. Still others might well have lusted after the mature Krishna, brave warrior and steadfast charioteer for Arjuna on the battle-field of Kurukshetra, father-figure extraordinaire.

I can equally imagine a gopi who had lost her only child when he was just a toddler, leaving her marriage bed to wander in the forest following after the giggles and squeals of a small child. Reaching the clearing where the rasalila is to take place, she bends and sweeps the baby Krishna into her arms, that little thief whose mouth and chest are slick with stolen butter from the jar he grasps in tiny, chubby hands. After dancing with him she returns to her bed, her breasts now smeared with butter too, and when her husband sleepily reaches out for them she smacks his hand and rolls away, unwilling to let him nuzzle nipples still tender from suckling a god.

What do all these Krishnas have in common? Each is uniquely capable of satisfying the deepest longings of the gopi he dances with. He alone is able to fill the void she feels in her soul. Only in this guise will she permit him to lure her away from family, friends, the duties of hearth and home. Only dancing with this form does she allow herself to become totally vulnerable, opening up so completely that Krishna, the thief who could steal anything, finds no need to abscond with her heart, she has already placed it in his cupped hands.

We are all of us gopis. Thinking of Krishna's endlessly mutable nature reminds me of the verse we chanted together in the Guru Gita countless times:

"Salutations to Shri Guru. In order to receive the true understanding of the world, I consider you to be my father, my mother, my brother and my God."

Here we might add: sister, lover, grandfather, best friend, only friend, co-conspirator, disciplinarian, high-priestess, advocate, counselor, story-teller, sorceress...

The four roles mentioned in the above verse are not meant to delimit the Guru, rather they stand for any role, every role that the devotee needs the Guru to play. Between Bade Baba, Baba Muktananda and Gurumayi, these were practically endless for the followers of Siddha Yoga. My principle relationship to the Guru was with Gurumayi, and after receiving shaktipat I clung to her for many years like a child clings to the skirts of his mother. After much sadhana, I began to see her in a different way—as a sister. I felt that she was calling me to rise and stand shoulder to shoulder with her like Balarama stood with Krishna, or Lakshmana stood with Rama. This evolution was emblematic of a deep healing of my psyche. I had lost my mother when I was two years old. Too young to remember her at all. Growing up, when other children talked about their mothers, I was silent. For me, my mother was present only as an absence—negative space inhabiting the margins of the pages of my life's story. My relationship with Gurumayi somehow filled up that space, allowed me to engage with a maternal presence and so to grow, and to grow up. And then, just when I felt that we had attained a species of equality that would enable us to work together as one—she was gone.

The abandonment I had experienced with the death of my mother—sudden, unexplained and unfathomable loss—was repeated. It remains to be seen if the recurrence of this absence will prove to be another opportunity for radical re-integration and healing—or simply a further devastation.

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

Re: "Salutations to Shri Guru. In order to receive the true understanding of the world, I consider you to be my father, my mother, my brother and my God."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Christopher,

Tears all down my face reading this verse. They were very real for me and I haven't read or said them in a long time. Your essay captures the love and the tremendous loss of all that.

The Kundalini Stavah says Kula destroys the seemingly great happiness of the world. She was somehow involved with what happened for the Gopis I guess too then. This suffering is according to plan, piercing all the inner knots, striking at our worldly ties.

For a while I conceived the absence of Gurumayi this way. Part of the evolution of the SY path, part of Kula's teaching. It would help us grow up, become mature yogis. In the end maybe it did.

MC

Anonymous said...

Comment deleted, oh, with what you let through I would hate to read that one. (meant as a compliment)

Deep man, pretty deep. I lost my Mom when I was young too. Adopted Gurumayi as my Mother also. Lonely too. Never got to sister but did feel young Nitya as brother when I got shaktipat. But I have to admit by every run in with him he did not care for me. :)

Anon w/e

SeekHer said...

Comment deleted, oh, with what you let through I would hate to read that one. (meant as a compliment)

-------------------------------
The deleted comment was an auto-generated one from blogspot about site usage; it was lengthy (and boring) and deleted for housekeeping reasons, so everyone wouldn't have to wade through it.

Thank you for the compliment, and for reading here!

C

3rdeyeopen said...

I am not so literal when I read the Guru Gita;

These are metaphors of oneself that is cultivated to become self-contained: The guru = natural inner state that is nondual and duality simultaneously, becomes the Father = provider for oneself; the Mother= nurturer to oneself; Brother = protector of oneself; and Sister = best friend to oneself.

Being literal with the techings could be where many people get mixed up and become attached to a physical guru like an abandoned child. A more expanded understanding is a good place to nip that literal stuff in the bud.

Does anyone one else sit in a shaft of light when meditating? It comes from the unknown above and goes through my body by entering the crown chakra and out the body through my first chakra into the unknown below. This to me is the metaphor of the Guru as the pillar, as talked about in the GG (guru gita). The pillar seems like it emerges from the OM sound that is also the blue pearl dot of light way high over my crown chakra.

Hope this provides some deeper understanding and to take a load of guilt off both you and the guru.

Anonymous said...

Re: "The guru = natural inner state that is nondual and duality simultaneously, becomes the Father = provider for oneself; the Mother= nurturer to oneself; Brother = protector of oneself; and Sister = best friend to oneself."
------------------------
Read this way of understanding the realationship just recently and glad to read it again. It feels affirming. Thanks for posting it. I am ready to be these things for myself now, past SY.

Re: "Being literal with the techings could be where many people get mixed up and become attached to a physical guru like an abandoned child."

I think the psychology professional who have posted on these SY sites talked about SY attracting just the type of person with this particular wound. It really isn't an intellectual decision or an issue of being literal for me. There was much more that went into packing the maternal and parental image. How many 'stuffies' did you collect? I had a closet full.

Maybe there could have been a big sign. 'If you are really hurting and damaged this is not the place for you.'

MC

3rdeyeopen said...

No stuffies, MC, didn't want nor cared. Did get a coffee mug for my 40 birthday that I still use 13 years later. Maybe a stuffie was a "hint" to the devotee to grow up. Why would a grownup want a stuffie?

I always believed the closer to the guru the bigger the burn and was happy to be in the back of the hall or just not around her or the ashram. And the literalness of the teachings from the sevites kept me at arms length.

Peace.

Anonymous said...

Dear 3rdeyeopen,

You are just not gopi material! ;-)
No rending of your garments and throwing yourself at your god in a wild dance of love. I get it.

As to your experiences of meditation, I have had many similar experiences. Now so many years later, with many of them still continuing. Blue Pearls dot my world. Yet at this juncture, I am truly wishing I has spent that time furthering my career and professional skills. Funny I thought chanting for hours, seeing those lights, experiencing myself as part of the greater cosmos WAS self development. NOPE. NADA. ZIP. Maybe theirs a big vault somewhere holding all that benefit of sadhana that I don't know about.

Just a broken heart. Now mending with the help of all these folks with the courage to post their comments and stories online.

Very grateful to you 3rdeye!

MC

Anonymous said...

" Maybe theirs (sic) a big vault somewhere holding all that benefit of sadhana that I don't know about."

Apologies for the ever present typos in my posts. Should be 'there's'

3rdeyeopen said...

Thank you MC.

Had a career, identity before GM when I was much younger and had a big ego about it too. The practices and understandings of the teachings made my persona self melt and had to rebuild to an authentic self. Painful but beneficial for my current career path which is both private and public. The wild dance takes place with my art and writing. Sadhana and devotion are there; that is my Krishna who comes as a multi colored rainbow.

Anonymous said...

Hi All,

Finding scripture as metaphor is important in reading the Bible too, including the New Testament. I think it must be necessary in any spiritual path. How else can we approach divinity and the very core of our being?

MC, it occurred to me that the vast vault you referred to IS that core. While becoming grounded in that may not develop useful skills for the world it is essential to being fully human.

"If I had a message to my contemporaries, I said, it was surely this: Be anything you like, be madmen, drunks, and bastards of every shape and form, but at all costs avoid one thing: success. ... If you have learned only how to be a success, your life has probably been wasted."
A quote from Thomas Merton

Peace and Love

Episcopalian

SeekHer said...

3rdeyeopen said...
"I am not so literal when I read the Guru Gita;
These are metaphors of oneself that is cultivated to become self-contained: The guru = natural inner state that is nondual and duality simultaneously."
-----------------------------------

Wow. Thank you! Finally, I've been rescued from my child-like, literal reading of the Guru Gita by your marvelously sophisticated and obtuse interpretation.

Just one thing. If the Guru's nature is both dual and non-dual, how would you recommend we begin to apprehend the reality of that nature, if not by grasping first that which comes most naturally to us, i.e. duality? And were I to proceed by that course, wouldn't it be "natural" for me to assign the Guru the role that holds the most deeply hard-wired emotional weight of this incarnation—that of the mother I lost while still a child?

3rdeyeopen said...
"Being literal with the techings could be where many people get mixed up and become attached to a physical guru like an abandoned child. A more expanded understanding is a good place to nip that literal stuff in the bud. "
-----------------------------

Have you done any sadhana at all? I didn't run after Gurumayi to wipe my physical ass. I appealed to her in prayer during moments of spiritual need the way a child would cry out to its mother to satisfy its physical needs. Through the constant Presence that answered those cries I began to perceive that I wasn't alone, abandoned, bereft. I began to understand that it is enough to ask, with trust that the answer will come. That
understanding is growth; that trust is growth. Neither of them approach the awareness of non-duality. Still, both are a necessary prerequisite for it.

3rdeyeopen said...
"Hope this provides some deeper understanding and to take a load of guilt off both you and the guru."

There was no mention of guilt in my original post. It first appearance is in your comment.

Anonymous said...

Dear C,

You write:
It remains to be seen if the recurrence of this absence will prove to be another opportunity for radical re-integration and healing—or simply a further devastation.

Yes, in our sadhanas there are times - opportunities - when we are thrown into unchartered waters that test us on the deepest levels. This seems to be that for you. As for myself, I've felt that it's always been up to me to try to understand things in a larger context and find the healing, or re-integration or whatever words we use to describe the furtherance of the experience of wholeness. Yet, I think it's important we also fully undergo that aspect of devastation and dissolution so that we can be a stronger phoenix that arises from the ashes. You have the inner strength and love. You obviously are a great person with a huge heart. Have faith. You know you can come out of this on the other side - happier and stronger than before. I send you blessings that you find and experience that healing.

Anonymous said...

I like reading about people's experiences, aside from my shaktipat with Nityananda Junior I have had relatively few in SY. Just happy chanting and an underlying current of what I can only call stallwartness. ( in a good way)

But before SY I have many visions growing up including one with my Mother after her death. It set me on the path in that it made me realize death was just a transition. Hard to believe? I will share. I lay down to go to sleep and she appeared hovering above me while I was half asleep and said everything will be alright. Then she reached down and put her hand on my forehead. I saw a thick black line a couple of white lines and a thicker black line go by my field of vision horizontaly from bottom to top. The funny thing was I sensed time passing as if I was awake and it was a couple of seconds in that time. I opened my eyes right then and it was morning. I don't care if you are in siddha yoga, Bahai or worship Madonna the singer, it is all a spiritual trip isn't it?

-Anon w/e

Anonymous said...

Anon w/e
October 30, 2007 12:32 AM

Wonderful post. Hope you keep writing.

3rdeyeopen said...

seekher
Hi, it gets hard for me to blog consistantly, I’m much better at lurking. ok, no one said guilt. I said it.

“Just one thing. If the Guru's nature is both dual and non-dual, how would you recommend we begin to apprehend the reality of that nature, if not by grasping first that which comes most naturally to us, i.e. duality? “

Guru as the bridge makes me think of the connection of dual and non dual.
Guru seen here as the guru principal. I was thinking of the ying yang symbol.
A dot of dual (black) in the non dual (white) and vice versa. There is a point that the two connect. This is discussed in the gg. A-KA-TA. Source , Power. Nail. Source =Non Dual/Male, the still ocean of conciousness, inert. Power =duality, manifestation /Female, movement, creation. Nail = the connecting force of the two. For eg, to hang a painting (duality) on to the wall (non dual) we need a nail to connect them. Hope this makes sense. I’m no Vendanta scholar ;)

“And were I to proceed by that course, wouldn't it be "natural" for me to assign the Guru the role that holds the most deeply hard-wired emotional weight of this incarnation—that of the mother I lost while still a child?”

I’m not sure I understand this part of the question.
I think the allegories reperesented by the deities is a good place to go from outward to inward. EG, I do not see Saraswati as outside myself, but that I embody her through my own creativity.

Projecting onto any leader/politician/celebrity happens. I loved the Beatles growing up and wanted to be just like them. I projected enough to become a creative artist as a career.

“Have you done any sadhana at all? I didn't run after Gurumayi to wipe my physical ass. I appealed to her in prayer during moments of spiritual need the way a child would cry out to its mother to satisfy its physical needs. Through the constant Presence that answered those cries I began to perceive that I wasn't alone, abandoned, bereft. I began to understand that it is enough to ask, with trust that the answer will come. That understanding is growth; that trust is growth. Neither of them approach the awareness of non-duality. Still, both are a necessary prerequisite for it.”

From reading these thoughful blogs I’ve come to realize something powerful. I'm beginnig to see that bringing the guru into my personal one to one connection to the Source is bigtime co-dependency and triangulation.
I feel gratitude for gm but she is not a part of meditation for me. She is at times the connecting force to my concept of Creator. But, I just never wanted to give my power over to a guru. And ashram life was too confining and seemed dull. I like my shadows and see them arise from the same place as the light. Also what I like about the practices is that each being can have their own unique way of doing them. I never follow rigid schedules for sadhana, my revelations and life changing philosophies normally happen in my work. So that is my path or sadhana. I love meditation and play the gg or a chant while cleaning or working out.

I got such a hit at a satsang once that I was superimposing all my anger at my father onto Mukt and it revolutionized my outlook about him and I started liking his practicality. My connection is to gm. If there is any projecting, it is as a sister friend, which is a reflection of my relationship with myself as I go through my regular daily life.
BTW, have been invovled in SY for 16 years.

Stuart said...

I'm catching up with these blog postings... responding here to a line from the "Which Camp" entry that I'm just now reading:

SM was able to give shaktipat in such unprecedented numbers, because he utilized mysterious energies available to those who practice tantra, especially sexual tantra.

I find it useful to recognize that in fact, there's no evidence at all that there's anything "unprecedented" about anything that Swami Muktananda (SM) did. Throughout history, there have always been people who have claimed that they can manipulate special invisible energies, and there are always a few of these people who rise to the top, becoming famous and "successful," many to a much greater degree than SM ever attained or dreamed of.

Just for a couple of quick examples... in France, over 300 years ago, you had Franz Mesmer, who'd (for example) magnetize a tree, and then control the energies that emanated there-from. He succeeded in producing all sorts of healings and amazing effects. His fame leaves SM in the dust. SM called his magical energy "Shakti," while Mesmer called his "animal magnetism"... but aside from using different words, the effects and belief-structures weren't that dis-similar. Read my brief summary of this story at:

http://home.comcast.net/~sresnick2/ben.htm

For something a little closer to home, Google "Charismatic Christian" or visit a tent revival meeting in the Southern US. You'll find people in various ecstacies, speaking in tongues, hearing disembodied voices, all sorts of things very similar to what went on around SM. The Charismatic Christian movement induces such experiences in numbers of people several orders of magnitude beyond anything SM ever did. The Christians use the words "Holy Spirit" instead of "Shakti." The fact that SM used a different word hardly makes his tiny successes "unprecedented."

So I say: Tantra, Schmantra. There's a far far far simpler and more reasonable explanation of why SM boinked underaged girls. It's as old as the hills.

SM had his own urges and preferences in sexual matters, and he persued what he wanted as most people do. But unlike most people, SM was unconstrained by ethical considerations (i.e., concerns about whether he was abusing his partners). He was so convinced of his higher state, that he didn't bother with such niceties.

Perhaps more to the point... SM was surrounded by people who were so dependent on him, so attached to the good feelings they got from his belief-system, that they put no brakes on him, did nothing to help him control his impulses or stop and think about his conduct. So there was nothing to stop him.

Why does a dog lick his genitals? Because he can.

OK, no one really knows, so we can all pick the interpretation we like. I'm just sayin' that my explanation here seems a whole lot simpler than the ones that rely on "Tantra."

Stuart
http://stuart-randomthoughts.blogspot.com/

Anonymous said...

Hi Stuart,

I realize that we do have rather different world views. For me it is actually simpler to recognize that there is a spiritual energy, which is variously known as the Shakti or the Holy Spirit.

Interesting that it is the example of the Charismatic Christians experiences that put SM in the dust. Even though I am Episcopalian, I do find myself rather in that category. I still meditate only through Jesus Christ. I do believe that Christ poured himself out for humanity in a most powerful way. This realization came from my experiences when Jesus came into my life three years ago.

Peace and Love

Episcopalian

3rdeyeopen said...

One more thought. Getting back to the shaft of light.
That light within is my identification of Shiva or the Guru. Not a cartoon postcard image of a deity or a photo of gm. And because the shaft of light is formless it feels easier to project and merge into it. Maybe that's what happens when I go into deep space 9 (the non dual???). When I look at the clock and so much time went by in an instant.

Anonymous said...

Re:

That light within is my identification of Shiva or the Guru ...because the shaft of light is formless it feels easier to project and merge into it ....when I look at the clock and so much time went by in an instant.

October 30, 2007 6:23 PM

Hello 3rd Eye,

Appreciate your tackling of the issue of duality and non duality in our sadhana.

Question. How did the benefit of your time in the non-dual state, bathing in the shaft of light, manifest in a tangilbe way in your life? Is it in the artwork you create, in how you manage your day to day?

This is one of my regrets. There is not enough connection between my meditative experiences and my life in dualilty. Now I feel I am making up for lost time. Whatever.

I prefer this state to where I was six months ago before I jumped ship that is for sure. At least I am no longer giving myself away to a what turns out to be for me a 'concept'.

I am now in the place where my flesh and blood challenges and challengers are my focus. That includes my former teacher. Who instead of worshipping, I can now feel compassion.

Interested in your thoughts.

MC

3rdeyeopen said...

My art is not outwardly spiritual. Yet, the yoga pervades throughout in it's inner messages and themes. My work looks mundane for most, it is commercial. When I teach/lecture I discuss the underlying themes that have our practices stamped all over them.

EVERYTHING is spiritual. Not broken down to spiritual/worldly which causes separation.
Even the shadows are a part of the light.
Enjoy life, that is also a seva. As yogis we have the clarity of mind to make choices in each moment to choose the path of pleasure or the beneficial. It is "choice" that gets suppressed in cults and even in the politics of the world.

Peace

Stuart said...

Responding to this comment in the "Pitch Your Tent" posting...

Mahamandaleshwar Nityananda (Gurumayi's brother). ...to this current day, the fact remains that his shakti is not very strong.

Say you're in a room with a bunch of other people, and you feel sad. So you believe this is a sad room. But wait... here's someone else in the same room, and he's happy! What a mystery! How can this room be happy and sad at the same time?

The solution to the mystery, of course, is that happiness and sadness are your own emotions. Sure, if the room is painted a color you like, it may make you feel a little better. Still, there's more wisdom in having a little self-awareness, enough to recognize that there's more to your feelings than external things or people.

Just so with the "Shakti" of Nityananda or anyone else. People feel some inner emotion or experience. Lacking the self-awareness to examine their own thoughts and feelings, they instead claim, "I'm feeling (or NOT feeling) the Guru's Shakti!" After this initial misapprehension, there's no end to the blind alleys you can follow.

Stuart
http://stuart-randomthoughts.blogspot.com/

Stuart said...

3rdeyeopen said...
EVERYTHING is spiritual. Not broken down to spiritual/worldly which causes separation.

Right, a whole lot swings on whether you choose to make and hold and believe in the distinction: "This is Spiritual, but That is Mundane!"

If you stop believing in that distinction, then Spiritual and Mundane no longer have any special meaning. Then, claims like "Everything is Spiritual" is precisely the same as saying "Everything is Everything."

Hmmm... "Everything is Everything" doesn't seem to say much at all. So what's left??

What are you doing right now?

Stuart
http://stuart-randomthoughts.blogspot.com/

Anonymous said...

3rdeyeopen said:
"From reading these thoughful blogs I’ve come to realize something powerful. I'm beginnig to see that bringing the guru into my personal one to one connection to the Source is bigtime co-dependency and triangulation."

Alot of the posts in this thread deal with how to approach the Guru. There seems to be an un voiced pressure in SY to be a Guru Bhakti. I do not think this is a must however. Many swami talks and others speak about other paths to the truth which can be just as easily practiced; jnana, karma, hatha. (knowledge, action, physical yoga).

Most of the people leavin g siddha yoga at this time seem to be bhakti's to some extent. But isn't true devotion to the Guru being devoted to what the Guru is devoted to? This is my view. Decorating the Guru's feet is a job for priests and rituals, my focus is to find the ONE which she has dedicated her life to. If she felt about baba M. like many of the bhaktas in SY feel about her she would not have done too well after his passing. The skeptic will say she survived because she is not caring anyhow. But this has not been my experience, so I conclude the formless was high on the list all along, the ONE.

I say this just to point out we do not have to limit ourselves in SY, we do not have to follow the herd. Baba said you are free right now, realize it. Does that mean he is really smart and we should paint his feet? No it means.....be yourself. :)

Anon w/e

Anonymous said...

Speaking from personal experience as a bhakta, I can report that throughout my mourning at SM's passing I was filled with a most amazing bliss. So GM could do just fine and be a bhakta. And from my observations of her during SM's lifetime she certainly did appear to be a bhakta. I believe that bhakti yoga will take you to the destination. Although I have left SY I remain a bhakta, although now my istadeva is Jesus.

Peace and Love

Episcopalian