When the Guru holds us spellbound, how can we ever truly be free?
Friday, September 11, 2009
It’s been three years now since undertaking the gut-wrenching affair of examining the body of evidence available at LSY; concluding with tears streaming down my face, that Muktananda had in fact engaged in sexual liaisons with his young devotees, and that Gurumayi was actively engaged in suppressing the truth. The audio from the American religious scholar’s conference was the last straw, when the levee broke and years of denial (decades really) cascaded over the falls of ‘trust your own experience’, and belief, like mists that rise from watery precipice, vaporized and carried away, invisible, to be belief no more.
Still, the warm and cozy, the embers of unique experience, like a cottage light in lonely winter, linger, even in dreams. Human nature enjoys the generalized, the romanticized, yet sometimes it’s important to see clearly, for the sake of growth.
Firstly, I wonder, was it really so “great” to drop a letter in the darshan basket back when? Well it might have seemed wonderful to have direct access to God given answers, but of course there first had to be a question, i.e. a problem, and the answer if or when it arrived, often took on a form letter quality – short on details and long on devotional catch phrasing. And since regularly scheduled darshan ended in the late nineties I believe, writing a letter with the expectation of finding a home for it in a living guru darshan basket is old, old, old. Son, it’s been the postal service for practically all the faithful for more than 10 years now.
I wrote Gurumayi a letter back in ’84 or so. The problem was that after several days of intense meditation, which was fairly often, I experienced pain at the top of the throat, around the uvula to be exact, and then my health would suffer and I’d have to cut back on mediation. I didn’t actually say uvula in my letter because at the time I wasn’t sure what that flesh thing was called and anyway I assumed that Gurumayi would divinely understand even if I was slightly less specific.
It took over 2 months for a reply to reach my mailbox, but I remember well that on the morning the letter finally arrived I was feeling so pranically hopped-up, really lit and buzzing, and I ‘just knew’ that a letter from Gurumayi was waiting for me at home. Basically the letter said that guru loved me and kept me in her thoughts, and wasn’t it a wonderful Siddha path that we walked together, and keep up your sadhana. The secretary ended by mentioning that Gurumayi had once said that papaya enzymes were good for sore throats.
I was ecstatic about the receiving a letter and thrilled that I was in touch with the Shakti, enough to psychically intuit its eventual arrival. On the other hand I was disappointed that the thrust of my problem wasn’t really addressed, that maybe Gurumayi didn’t know why I had pain or didn’t understand the question. The answer itself wasn’t satisfactory and papaya enzymes, many bottles over many years, totally missed the mark. Some time later while reading a book about Kundalini yoga I learned that there’s a rather important sub-chakra located in the region of the uvula, at the top of the throat. That was actually the yogic answer to my yogic question and I felt better for having finally discovered it, but it raised the question, “why didn’t Gurumayi tell me that in the first place”. At the time I was annoyed with myself for not having specified the ‘uvula’, though in retrospect who am I kidding, I would have in all likelihood gotten the same syrupy bhakti-fied answer either way. Gurumayi was neither omniscient nor a sub-chakra connoisseur. She simply wasn’t detail oriented and certain didn’t want to micro-manage anyone’s chakras. Keep it simple; pray to the guru, meditate a little, do seva, send money, I love you – everything happens for the best.
Speaking of letters, I’ll add that when I was suffering a health crisis in 2001, my wife sent 2 letters to Gurumayi on my behalf. The first was, according to the correspondence office, lost, and the second was answered by what I can only call a form letter. Even then as a hardcore devotee I was so upset that I picked up a stick beat the ground in frustration. When I later wrote a letter to Gurumayi myself, I received a telephone reply from her secretary, though for the most part the suggestions she gave me were not helpful and indirectly cost several thousands of dollars in treatment options.
In any event, back to generalizations. Secondly then, I object to characterizations of unapproved channels, namely eX-SY, as “full of nothing but vitriol”. While I’ve posted anonymously to your blog several times in the past, to me most memorably a lyrical reply to your ‘The Pruned Tree’ entry, I’ve been posting with some regularity at eX-SY for about three years now, and, according to my sensibilities, while the occasional splatter of vitriol does bubble up – hey some people are hurt - by and large the comments are level-headed, thoughtful, sometimes comical and even artful.
You are absolutely right in one respect; the approved channels are censored, and in being so they bottle up years of underpinned discontent till it ferments and expresses itself in the vinegary vitriol you’ve referred to. Well only saints and those who’ve never been jilted are completely without vitriol, though the former are lying and the latter don’t exist.