Email to a friend, dated:
Thank you for the e-mail detailing the celebrations for Gurumayi's birthday. I've been meaning to write you since your last e-mail about moving to LA. I think it's wonderful that you are at last realizing your dream to move there and break into the film industry- the great communication vehicle of American culture and cradle of Maya. May you bring it light! I know you'll bring it love.
I didn't have time to make a wish for Gurumayi's birthday as your e-mail urged, because she found me first and gave me a beautiful gift of her own.
I went to bed late the night of the 23rd, just after midnight, and as I thought longingly of Gurumayi in those first few minutes of her birthday I wanted to offer her something. Often when I go to bed I think of those things I did wrong during the day and whisper a fragment of Baba's prayer to the Goddess:
"O Mother! As long as a person still has desires he is unworthy of receiving your grace, yet he makes an effort to acquire perfection. Knowing his many faults he lives in the world and remains weak."
But that night I thought instead of Baba's great command:
Bow to yourself
Your God dwells within as You
I decided to offer Gurumayi a gift of respect and love for my own Self. I had the uncharacteristic thought that I've actually been very constant in my spiritual search, that I always strive to understand myself better, to unfold my perfection more, and to see that perfection in others. Instead of judging my progress I allowed myself to admire my zeal for the path. Thinking thoughts like these, I fell asleep.
In the very early morning hours I had a dream that moved me so strongly that I awoke and was unable to go back to sleep until I had written it down. Nothing translates into language as poorly as dreams, which shift and fade even as we try to recall and capture them. Our experience of a dream occurs in the subtle body and soars free of the laws that govern physical existence. When we wake we might be still struck by the powerful, subtle impressions of a dream but they are quickly erased by the tangible sense impressions of our surrounding environment. This is why we forget dreams so quickly. Furthermore, when we try to remember a dream as it slips away we inevitably impose upon it the rules of logic that we believe order our waking world. In this way we alter its essential, evanescent character.
All of this is just to say that the story that follows is not my dream itself; but rather the message that dream left as it receded back into consciousness. Still, I don't value it any less. The scriptures say that the Self is that which stays awake while we dream, and reports back to us on our dreams when we awake--this, then, is the story my own Self whispered in my ear, in response to the love I showed it, in those early morning hours.
A young man or boy, a pilgrim, is at the end of a long journey to the burial shrine of a great saint. He is afflicted by a demon. The boy has heard that those who kiss the stone surface of the saint's tomb are so overcome with holy love that they stagger as they attempt to rise from their knees. Indeed, the shrine itself has ex votoes on its walls depicting stories of seekers who were struck lame by the holy kiss, remaining transfixed for the space of time it takes to recite one hundred Aves. The boy has therefore conceived of a plan--he will kiss the tomb and remain kneeling as he says his prayers, but the demon, reeling from the unaccustomed intoxication of divine love, will be captured there, and rising first, the boy will make his escape. The demon is not unaware of the boy's plan but he goes along because his pride does not allow him to believe that it will succeed, or because he wishes to test the power of the saint, or perhaps out of an unacknowledged longing.
In every dream the dreamer has to find a place to inhabit. If he himself is not a character in the dream he must either occupy one of the characters, or witness all of them from a distance, or shift between these perspectives. In the beginning of the dream I seemed to inhabit the boy, which is how I sensed the presence of the evil spirit. But in that moment when the boy's plan is about to come to fruition, as he kneels to kiss the stone latticework of the tomb's surface, I switch perspectives and find that I occupy the consciousness of the saint. I can feel (and this is where language loses its ability to capture experience and I have to satisfy myself with the meager crumbs of remembrance) the joyful, meditative lassitude of his inert body. I feel it pressing down on every point of that body as if a blanket of soft lead had been pressed over its features (as perhaps it had.)
I understand now how the saint's complete abandonment to the will of God has created its own gravity, attracting all things to itself—pilgrims, plants, flowers, birds, the stones of his shrine. I watch from beneath the latticework the face of the boy as he kneels and bends forward in reverence. I hear the beating of his heart. I feel the warmth of his breath as his mouth draws near... and I sense the chill waiting just behind it.