Sunday, January 23, 2011

I Can't Believe I'm Doing This

I'm viewing the New Year's slideshow on the SYDA site, listening to Raga Taranga for the first time in  what seems like many years. It is bittersweet to hear that melody and see again those photos of the South Fallsburg ashram, to indulge in the remembrance of the many years we spent there together, the thousand and one magical summer nights, the cold winter days blanketed with snow and ice but warm, so warm inside the temple, wrapped in our shawls, breathing in unison as we sang the arati and followed with avid eyes the arc of flame circling before Bade Baba's murti.

This is pure nostalgia, yes, but I feel myself wanting to give in to its spell. Perhaps disenchantment is not a permanent state after all but, like grace, one which can both be attained and fallen from.

It wasn't Eden, but we were once all together, doing japa as we strolled around the lake in Fallsburg, meditating in the gardens of Ganeshpuri, exulting in our communal state of grace (so we once believed.) And this is not exile, but we are far apart now, living separate existences and dealing with the consequences of the fall of Siddha Yoga. "In this vale of tears", in the words of an old prayer.

Maybe it's also a consequence of getting older. Probably. It's true that I've begun to feel the mass of years piling up. I've reached that point when I understand viscerally, not just intellectually, that I have less time ahead than behind me. When you're young life is one long projecting arc, the flame of a rocket trailing always upwards. You can see the horizon of your life but it is a faint and distant line way below, almost an illusion that seems to constantly recede as you approach it, and you are sailing up and away far, far above it.

After all those years of burning fuel and hurtling ahead, how strange now to want to arrest that arc, turn it backwards. That's the impetus behind nostalgia, this need to throw your arms around the past as well as the present in order to embrace the full span of your years. At least it is for me. And when I start to feel this way it seems an act of complete wastefulness to discard so many memories simply because I no longer believe now as I did then.

Because faith and practice are what bound us Siddha Yogis together, they can seem the sum and substance of those years, and the dissolution of faith and abandonment of practice call into question the value and meaning of decades of our lives. If so, this is terribly sad.

Maybe there is a further shore of disenchantment, where the rejection of belief is final and where our hearts, having done the hard work of healing, can now begin to reclaim the sweetness of memory. It's not so different from the dissolution of a long relationship--you know you're finally and truly over them when you can look back and enjoy memories of the good times.

I'm not speaking here of Gurumayi, necessarily, but of our memories of one another. Maybe I'm alone in this. I have had a life long tendency to forget the past and live in the present, so this looking back is a new thing for me. I remember so many friends I've loved in Siddha Yoga, many of whom stayed when I left, complicating what had always been such simple friendships. I miss them terribly.