Photo taken at Esalen.
If love was a thing we could swim in, we would bathe together in the dream of our own being.
For a flash of a moment we slip into this skin, to feel passion again.
To touch, to linger, to love...
She spoke so softly to me on the astral, it was easy to see without sight,
there was no question of intention or direction,
just being and going with the flow,
But we wanted to put a finger on it, to have a unique print and the precise grip of a warm touch.
There is magic in being separate, in creating connection with effort,
while we can easily swim through and float in the abyss,
the longing will always persist,
to be one, and then unique
to be formed and formless, again.
This journey is the movement through,
and awareness of, the space between,
the space between dreams (the waking and sleeping)
There is a flash of knowing when the mind stops breathing
Body satiated, neither craving nor controlling
If words were things that had meaning we would say we were love and stop breathing.
Sri Goswami Kriyananda, my great teacher, has left his body. I am left with the powerful teachings he shared with me, and so many others, and I find myself trying to deepen my understanding of them.
I am continuing on this path of conscious awakening. At times, especially lately, it feels so intense, like I’m embracing something and opening to an energy that I am not sure I am ready to receive. It is overwhelming. There is also a fear that it won’t last; that it will slip away somehow and I won’t remember what it is like to feel so fully connected to life.
I return to the teachings for guidance. I return to the teachings to fan the flame of wisdom within me. I am confident it is there, in practice, in asana (posture), meditation, svadyaya (self-study) and jnana yoga (literally the yoga of wisdom, the practice of studying spiritual texts). The connection is so clear, but never clearer than when I am teaching.
There are moments when I am teaching that I am aware of a powerful transmission of knowledge flowing through me. It is almost a feeling of being out of body, but at the same time so vibrantly aware and alive. People talk about falling in love again after they’ve been married for a long time. This is the experience I have had with my teacher a few times in these short seven years, but now that he has moved on from this plane I am returning to the beginning, to learn, again, to understand better and to deepen my awareness. His emphasis on the power of teaching resonates with me deeply and confirms my dharma. I was told that when asked what his disciples could do to honor his transition he simply said, teach.
It was, in essence, love at first sight. First read, actually. I read The Spiritual Science of Kriya Yoga in my 200-hour Hatha Yoga Teacher Training and the words spoke directly to my heart. The teachings were so clear and spoke truths I knew on a very deep level, but had never had the words to explain.
It was many years before I met Kriyananda. I had many dreams about him, and his teacher, Sri Shelliji, in the months leading up to meeting him. From the time I met him it took me about a year to ask him to initiate me as a disciple. I am sure now that I didn't understand what I was asking, what the path I was choosing was for, or why, but it was crystal clear that was what I wanted to do and I never once had any doubt. That came later.
I had heard and read stories of Gurus denying student requests to become a disciple, or putting certain parameters like, ask me again when the moon is in Scorpio opposing Jupiter, or something like that. I had also learned about a variety of initiation rituals involving mantra, spiritual prostration and all other types of traditional and non-traditional rituals.
Because I asked meekly, and somewhat unclearly (I mean, where does one learn the proper way to ask someone to officially be your teacher?), he made a joke, deflecting my hesitation. I am a relatively quick learner, so I boldly and directly asked him my question without hesitation. And he said yes. I know now that I will always treasure that moment. As I write this it brings tears of wonderment and awe at the simple lesson inherent in that profound moment. I believed, and still do, that he could truly see me, which has allowed me to see myself in a way I never could have imagined.
The actual initiation was simple and private with one other person being initiated. He put a mala around my neck, gave it a little tug and said, follow me, spiritually. They say when you align with a teacher it speeds up your karma and that they absorb some of your challenging karma.
Everything fell apart in the year that followed. I had felt so clear and so sure, yoga had opened my mind and now the teachings started to feel constrictive and dogmatic. The majority of this process was internal – my belief system crumbled before me and I was left with the agony of complete and total loss of faith. It was certainly a rehashing of my early disillusion with the Catholic religion. I had to take a step back from many things, including my teacher and I withdrew from the Seminary program (this is a topic for another time).
Coming back to the teachings and asking him again to be my Guru was truly a defining moment. I had fallen in love again. This time was not as easy and innocent as the first, but I had affirmed the connection on all the levels of my being and I was ready to take responsibility for it. Part of my resistance was feeling that the discipline of the practice limited my freedom. I was unable to conform to any particular system, and I still am. But, this is not what Kriyananda taught. This is not what any of the great teachers are saying, and that is why I went back.
Many people forget, or perhaps were never told, that Guru in Sanskrit means dispeller of darkness, and it is a process that reveals to you your own light. I honor my teacher because he fanned the flames of awareness within me, and I honor him by living the Dharma.
It is not enough to say, Guru is great, or God is great, and perform ritual at certain times – the ritual is in every breath, in every moment. You honor the Guru by embodying the teachings. It is how we treat other people externally, but perhaps more importantly, internally. If I do not or cannot see all beings as Divine Love then I cannot see myself that way. I can hear him chuckle and say, especially the ones that really irk you, with a little twinkle in his eyes.
Photo: Marc-Henri Auffeve
Learn more about Sri Goswami Kriyananda and his teachings here: http://yogakriya.org/
I will not weep for your passing through this world for it has been a gift to me.
I will not wallow in my own confusion for you have shared your light and wisdom so freely and openly.
If you see me shed a tear it is because my heart is overflowing with love and gratitude.
Thank you for being my Guru, my light-bringer; you have awakened in me that same light.
May I live the Dharma and may yours continue to inspire all beings to awaken to their truest Self.
I believe in God. I believe there is an all-pervading energy that interweaves on various levels of consciousness to manifest this reality. I believe that God is Life, that I am, and you are, that same energy – not separate from but inextricably, integrally and completely the same. The challenge is the veil, or Maya. We live under the illusion that we are separate from God, from each other. We operate under the assumption that certain words, actions, experiences are good, and others are clearly bad. Perhaps more accurately, we believe that good and bad are opposing, contradictory forces, when it is only our perception of separateness that supports this notion.
I believe in free will. I believe that my individual life is important and that what I choose to do or not do is significant to my own consciousness and the collective consciousness. I believe that I create my own reality – joy as well as pain – and that becoming conscious is what life is all about. It is called Moksha, liberation from Maya. It could be said that without Maya, the illusion, we could not achieve Moksha. We actually choose to incarnate into these bodies to begin, continue and complete this process – moving from unawareness to awareness.
I believe we are all in recovery from something. I believe a long history of ancestors and other karmic connections to the past, of which we are largely unaware, profoundly impacts us. I believe that this long history, though painful at times, is necessary to embrace. We have all experienced hope and disappointment, and confusion trying to make sense of it all. We are all grieving, mourning what we have lost, directly and indirectly. We are grieving personally, and we are grieving for all people, searching as we are. It is because of this grieving that we are also healing constantly and our enlightenment is absolutely inevitable.
I believe enlightenment is possible, dreams are powerful and true love is a real, living thing. I believe the only person we need to love is ourselves because in truly doing so we will always love and have compassion for all life, but that sometimes it is easier to learn to love yourself by opening yourself to loving someone else. I believe ritual and tradition are important, as are evolution and revolution. It is valuable to have practices that ground us, to build foundation on the lessons of the past. It is imperative to break the mold, not for its own sake, but in order to expand our awareness into pure consciousness. Both approaches are necessary.
I believe these things and yet I do not believe that anything is absolute. I believe that even my attempt to articulate these things takes away from their meaning. I believe that it is necessary to try. Life is in constant fluctuation. It feels sometimes like being lost at sea. The words are an anchor I cast but they cannot stop the movement – sometimes it is calm, others it is choppy. Enlightenment is a process that is catalyzed by trauma – pain, hurt, anger – if the stone was not filed down by the rush of the water it would never become so smooth. We need the friction to grow. We try to capture it only to realize we can never hold on to it.
Our lives are lived in such a crazy dichotomy: we are born alone, will die alone and can never truly be anything but alone, and yet, we need human connection and interaction. It is through relating to other people that we come to see ourselves more clearly. The desire to merge fully with another human being is so strong, for some of us, because it is a powerful way to experience the divine. Seeing our true essence reflected in another and connecting with their essential being transcends, if only for a moment, our limited perception of self. It is a beautiful, if somewhat painful, dharma to love another person. The discomfort is found in the fleeting reality of shared experience – memories are ultimately dreams from the past. They do not exist in this moment any more than a future dream exists in this moment
We are like ghosts playing out a scene from our life, over and over again. Are we just reliving heart break and love and desire and confusion and anger and joy from the past? And if so, how do we get to the now?
This is when I come back to the essence of the moment, because I think the essence is eternal. To witness the essential being of another, the pure energy of a given moment is a reminder of our spirit. It is why we are here… to remember.
I have heard that many great mystics spent their lives in great torment searching for the connection to the divine that they once found but could not access again, for whatever reason. The desire to be close to god is much like the desire to merge with another human being – one gets horribly lost in the memory and experience. Those moments of satori, small Samadhi, are always fleeting, I suppose, until we reach absolute enlightenment. Whenever that might happen… and there is a part of me that wants to sustain this moment of searching. There is something so fulfilling in the search.
So much of our human experience is like this – drugs and alcohol, sex, relationships, food – the pursuit of the high that we experience from these things is the most enlightening part of it all. The moment just before orgasm is the most precious, the high we get from drugs or alcohol can never be sustained, however delicious the food is eventually we are full, and our interactions with others ultimately end and we are left with ourselves, alone, where we began and will eventually end up…
So how is a connection to god any different? It cannot be sustained until it is entirely fulfilled and then there is a loss of one’s self into that pure bliss. A lot of seekers I know think fondly of this concept, even, like many mystics before them, desire it and are saddened at the lack of it. I am not sure that I want to step out of the ocean of life. The vastness of human experience is, in itself, intoxicating. I have cried a great many sorrowful tears, felt like my heart was being torn from my chest, so open and so exposed. I have seen god in the world, in the eyes of another, in the sunrise and for a moment felt pure, unadulterated bliss. I have loved unconditionally and I have hated irrationally. I have felt such anger and frustration and resentment that I thought I would ignite, I have also felt such passion and desire that I’m pretty sure I did ignite.
What does it all mean, my existentialist thoughts will say.. What is the point? This array of emotions and human experience at the end, is it not empty? I think to share this with another human being – to find someone who you truly can and do reflect the soul of each other – may be the most precious and concrete experience of humanity in all its forms. This may be misguided and spoken at the behest of the romanticist thoughts that have a pretty loud say about things much of the time.
The transcendentalist thoughts always step lightly through to say, keep it up. The experience of the now is what is. We are sailing the sea of this incarnation to remember our immortal and eternal spirit. That’s all; nothing big. So everything we do, or don’t do, every joy, as well as every pain, is in line with the process of our soul’s journey.
Read at elephant journal