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1662#1662 - Tuesday, December 30, 2003 - Editor: Jerry

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  • Jerry Katz
    Jan 1, 2004
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      #1662 - Tuesday, December 30, 2003 - Editor: Jerry
       

       
      ANNOUNCEMENT
       
      We are pleased to introduce the German version of the Highlights, known as Nichtduale Highlights. Initially it will be published every 10-14 days and will consist of translations from the English Highlights. The first issue is available at http://nonduality.com/hlg1.htm.
       
      The Nichtduale Highlights is the idea and "labor of love" of Hans Schulz, a regular Highlights reader and a good person with whom we've enjoyed working the last couple of months in developing this new enterprise. His co-editors are Astrid Ogbeiwi and Franz Metzler.
       
      We warmly welcome Hans, Astrid and Franz, and members of the Nichtduale Highlights into the Highlights family.
       
      If you read German and would like to receive one email every 10-14 days, please join the list at http://de.groups.yahoo.com/group/Nichtduale_Highlights. It is not a discussion group. If you know a friend, list,  forum, or website which might be interested in hearing about the Nichtduale Highlights, please pass this information to them. Thank you.
       
      Your editors,
      Jerry, Gloria, Christiana, Michael, Mark, Joyce
       

       
      "Anonymous"
      NDS
       
      The following accounts of meetings with sages originally appeared on Sarlo's Guru Ratings site. http://www.globalserve.net/~sarlo/Ratings.htm
       
      If anyone would like to communicate with the author of these pieces, she is currently on the NDS list.
       

       
      Jean Klein
      1916(?) to 1998
      "One day you will find that you are the ultimate subject"
       
      I met Jean Klein in the spring of 1995. A friend of mine had served as
      his attendant and traveled with him for many years. Jean gave a talk in
      our town. I went to hear him and was impressed. I telephoned my friend
      and said, “I know Jean doesn’t have any more public programs scheduled
      on this visit, but are there any private meetings I could attend?”
       
      My friend said, “Why don’t you just come over to the hotel and meet
      him.” When I walked into the hotel garden Jean was sitting under an
      umbrella. A quiet gentle man with a strong underlying presence. He
      seemed to be enjoying watching some children splashing and playing in
      the pool. A silence permeated the atmosphere around him.
       
      My friend introduced us. Jean smiled and took my hand in his. We went
      up to his room, slowly walking through the corridor and into the
      elevator. Jean gracious and courtly, his arm linked in mine.
       
      We reached his room and sat on the couch while my friend prepared lunch
      in the little kitchen. I asked Jean “What is this subject/object
      relationship you were speaking of?" He tried to tell me, but I couldn’t
      understand.
       
      My friend invited me to stay and eat with them. Afterwards, I felt that
      I would also like to cook something for Jean. I asked Jean if he liked
      Greek food, and he said, “Yes!” I went home and made him some delicious
      spanakopita. It took forever to make, and I was regretting the time
      spent away from him.
       
      When I walked into his hotel room with my dish Jean said, “You are an
      angel.”
       
      “Not really," I thought. But who was I to contradict him?
       
      I came back the next day with some flowers. Jean was returning home. As
      he was leaving, Jean told my friend to bring the flowers, “Take care of
      them,” he said, “There is a lot of love in those flowers.” That
      surprised me.
       
      As he got into the car, Jean paused for a moment looking at our
      beautiful mountain, the sky, the scenery. He took a deep breath and
      said, “I don’t want to leave this place.” “Then don’t," I said. He just
      looked at me and smiled. He never returned.
       
      Sometime later I received a phone call asking me if I would like to
      come to Santa Barbara and cook for Jean’s “Day of Listening,” a meeting
      at his house attended by his old students. “Of course,” I replied.
       
      “We’ll pay you.” They said. “No way." I replied.
       
      So, I cooked for Jean’s "Day of Listening". After the meeting my friend
      took me into Jean’s room. Jean was very pleased with the day and the
      food. My friend told him, “She enjoyed cooking for you, Jean.” Jean
      looked at me and said, “Maybe we should adopt you.” “Yes, please,” I
      thought. I stayed on in Santa Barbara for about two weeks cooking lunch
      and dinner for Jean, the others of the household, occasional guests and
      visitors.
       
      Jean had a very refined aesthetic sense. He liked everything to be
      lovely, just so. He wore Swiss hand-made leather shoes, cashmere
      sweaters, and expensive silk cravats. He loved art and music. He
      enjoyed fine food, and fine conversation. I had never met a teacher
      like him. He was very gallant, and would always insist on holding a
      door open for a lady, even when he himself could barely stand unaided.
       
      In the evening when I returned to a friend’s house to sleep, I was
      aware of being gently surrounded by the same quiet subtle vibrations I
      had experienced in Jean’s presence.
       
      Jean didn’t care to be alone much. We had a fun game we used to play
      with him. He had a film script he was working on in his head. It went
      something like this: A young man and woman meet in their very early
      youth. They fall in love, become lovers, but somehow outward
      circumstances, perhaps the war, separate them. Twenty years later they
      meet again. An instant attraction is felt. They become lovers, but
      neither one recognizes the other as the love of their youth. Then, Jean
      would say, there would be some geste (French for gesture) the woman
      would make. A geste she had always done, that was hers alone, and by
      which her lover recognizes her.
       
      What was this gesture? Jean could never find one good enough. “Some
      geste," he would say, brushing his hair back from his forehead with an
      elegant sweep of his hand. We spent a lot of happy hours with Jean
      trying to come up with a geste he liked, but we never could find one
      that satisfied his aesthetic sense.
       
      He once told us a nice story about watching some nuns walking across a
      misty lawn on their way to early morning prayer. I said to him, “Some
      people say that all are women compared to God" "That," he said, “is a
      little bit suspect.”
       
      At dinner Jean would often say, “Are we going to have something nice to
      drink?” This was the signal to open a bottle of Chardonnay. Jean would
      usually have about a thimbleful, while the rest of us had a glass or
      two. Drunkenness would never have been tolerated. Just a little
      loosening of some people’s reticent awe of him to get the conversation
      flowing.
       
      One evening there were about six or seven of us at dinner. Each person
      began to describe their first meeting with Jean and what that meeting
      meant to them. Of course, these were Jean’s old students and close
      people, so what they had to say was quite profound. At one point I
      looked over at Jean who was sitting next to me. He was sitting still as
      a statue, his eyes wide open staring at the wall opposite. Tears were
      silently rolling down his face.
       
      One day while sitting in conversation with Jean in the garden, I
      reconnected with an intuitive appreciation for natural beauty I had had
      as a child, but which had become inaccessible to me during my
      adolescence. A old contraction subtly released, and I recognized that a
      part of myself, a dear and valuable friend, long-missed had returned.
       
      One night after dinner I was sitting on the couch with Jean watching
      parts of the O.J. Simpson trial on CNN. Jean said that of course O.J.
      had done it, but he would never be convicted. I piped up some statistic
      about the huge number of young black men incarcerated by our legal
      system, trying to impress Jean with my liberal views and point out the
      negative aspects of American culture.
       
      Jean gave me a brief, intense, almost quizzical, look. I wondered what
      it meant. Later, when I returned to my home, I realized that a piece of
      conditioning I had long carried (noticed only by it’s absence) had
      fallen away, and in it’s place was a great appreciation for the
      beautiful diversity of human existence.
       
      One afternoon Jean came home. He had missed lunch and was terribly
      hungry. I hadn't expect him to eat lunch with us, and hadn't saved any
      food for him. I told him there was some left over penne pasta in the
      fridge that I could heat up. He nodded his assent asking me to hurry. I
      quickly heated up the pasta on the stove, and put a piece in my mouth
      to see if it was hot enough. Just as I had the piece in my mouth, it
      fell back into the pot, and I had no idea where it landed.
       
      To many people this might not seem a big deal. But I had been trained
      to cook many years before by a very orthodox Hindu brahman. One wasn't
      even allowed to taste the food before offering it to the diety or guru
      (same thing in their minds). Having a piece that had been in my mouth
      fall back in the pot from the Hindu standpoint made the whole thing
      "jhutta", totally impure, only fit to be given to the dogs.
       
      Although I had relaxed my standards a lot over the years, the thought
      of now serving this pasta dish to Jean really pushed my limits. Well,
      there was nothing else ready. He was ravenously hungry, had asked me to
      hurry, and this dish was what he was expecting.
       
      I fished out a piece of pasta from the pot, hoping it was the right one
      and threw it away. I went out feeling very uncomfortable, but served
      the dish to Jean anyway. He ate it with great appreciation.
       
      I had served Jean many delicious dishes in the past. By it's own
      merits, this one wasn't all that tasty. Jean looked at me when he had
      finished eating, smiled, his eyes softened. "That", he said, "is the
      most delicious thing I have ever eaten in my life."
       
      Someone once remarked that the word for mind and heart in the Thai
      language were the same. "That is because the mind dissolves in the
      heart," Jean explained.
       
      Because I met Jean so late in his life, I was only able to attend one
      seminar with him. It was held in Greece. At one talk he said, “One day
      you will find that you are the ultimate subject.” That statement stayed
      with me, and gradually I've begun to understand what he meant.
       
      While teaching a yoga class Jean told us, “When you breath in, it is a
      receiving. When you breath out, it is an offering.”
       
      A student of Jean's drove him to Athens after the seminar. I was given
      a lift to the airport on their way into town. As I got out of the car I
      said to Jean, ‘I hope to see you in California.” He replied, “You will
      know when I am there.”
       
      A few months later Jean had a massive stroke in London. He was never
      able to teach again. When he returned to California I went to Santa
      Barbara to cook for him, but the Jean I knew and loved, the personality
      I was attached to was no longer accessible to me.
       
      The night before I left, I cooked a beautiful dinner for Jean with all
      of his favorite dishes. The next morning his attendant told me that
      before going to sleep Jean had said, "I have just had a Moroccan
      wedding feast."
       
      I never truly understood the full import of Jean's teachings, but that
      didn't seem to bother him. He seemed to love me and enjoy my company
      despite my ignorance. To me, he appeared as my "enlightened"
      grandfather, a great master, whose company I was briefly privileged to
      share.
       
      Now days when I go for a walk in nature and look around me with a
      renewed sense of wonder regained in Jean’s presence, I remember his
      words, “When you breath in, it is a receiving. When you breath out, it
      is an offering.” Thank you Jean.
       

       

       
       
      Papaji
      1910-1997
       
      I met Papaji in Lucknow in February of 1991. After an eleven year
      hiatus from spiritual seeking during which time I had built up a
      business, gotten married, bought a house, and done most of the usual
      worldly things that people think will make them happy, I realized that
      I was completely miserable.
       
      Having left off spiritual practice in the early 1980's as I felt it
      wasn't practical, I now decided to reexamine the dharma as the place to
      find true happiness. With that in mind, I went to sit a Vipassana
      course with S.N. Goenka at Goenka’s mediation center in Igatpuri,
      outside of Bombay. Goenkaji was an old teacher of mine from the 70’s in
      India, and I felt that of all the living teachers I knew, he was the
      best.
       
      I had also made plans to revisit the ashrams of my guru (Neem Karoli
      Baba or Maharaji) up north after the course, and had therefore booked
      my return to fly out of Delhi.
       
      After sitting the course, which was pretty rigorous, I thought, rather
      than go up north, I would prefer to go to a beach in southern India and
      relax. I tried to change my ticket home to fly out of Bombay rather
      than Delhi. Despite repeated trips to the airline office, and the fact
      that people all around me were changing their tickets, there seemed to
      be no way I could change mine.
       
      “Alright,” I thought, “this started as a pilgrimage, and it will end as
      a pilgrimage.”
       
      I flew up to Delhi and went to Maharaji’s ashram in Brindaban. I knew
      that many of my friends were staying there at the time. I walked into
      the ashram and was immediately told by the manager that I couldn’t
      stay. “What is this?” I thought.
       
      All of my friends were in the bazaar, and when they returned, a heated
      argument began between them and the ashram manager. “What do you mean,
      she can’t stay?” they shouted in Hindi. “She is a very old devotee.”
       
      “I don’t know her,” he said.
       
      “You don’t know this one that one or the other”, they said angrily,
      naming various old western devotees. “You’ve only been here 10 years.”
       
      The manager would not relent, and said I could stay next door, but not
      in the ashram, which meant in the evenings when the ashram was locked I
      would be all alone.
       
      I didn’t want to stay under those conditions, and having just come from
      a silent meditation retreat which ended by extending one’s loving
      kindness to all beings, the thought that I was the cause of this huge
      fracas in my guru’s ashram was very dismaying.
       
      “Okay," I said, “I’ll stay tonight and go to Allahabad in the morning
      to see Dada and Didi.” They were very old devotees of Maharaji whom I
      had met on my first trip to India in 1973. I had eaten at their house
      everyday, and it was there that I had my first taste of Maharaji’s
      love.
       
      A friend of mine, Govind, was also in Brindaban. He said, “ I’m going
      to Lucknow to visit my other guru, Poonjaji." He showed me a photo of
      Poonja, and he invited me to come with him to Lucknow. I looked at the
      photo and thought Poonja looked totally insane. I had heard of Poonja
      only vaguely from a friend in America who said that he was a teacher in
      India who was telling people not to meditate.
       
      As I had found meditation tremendously beneficial, I wasn’t that keen
      on meeting him. On the other hand, Lucknow was only a couple of hours
      from Allahabad. It would be convenient to travel with Govind, pay my
      respects to Poonja, and go on to Allahabad from there. A plan!
       
      We arrived in Lucknow in the morning. My friend was very anxious that
      we get a move on as we were late for satsang. “What’s the big rush?” I
      thought. “I want my bath, my tea, my toast.”
       
      When we arrived at Poonjaji’s house satsang was going on. There were
      about 30 people in the room. I remember Poonjaji giving me a very
      quick, very piercing look before I sat down. I saw several friends of
      mine in the room. They were from IMS, the vipassana meditation center
      in Massachusetts (not affiliated with Goenka). I didn’t pay much
      attention to what Poonjaji was saying. Everyone seemed very nice.
      Poonjaji was polite. We were all given chai, and the satsang was over
      for the day.
       
      I was staying in the same hotel as my friends. This was fortunate, as
      they were given a private satsang every afternoon, and I was invited to
      come along as well. I was sitting next to a friend at the satsangs, and
      I kept whispering questions to him. He encouraged me to speak to
      Poonjaji directly, so, although I felt a bit shy, I finally did. Not
      being sure how to address him, I asked if I could call him Papaji, as
      many others did. “I would be most honored,” he politely replied.
       
      After the satsang, I asked if I could speak to Papaji privately. I was
      told that would be a good idea, as I had been asking him questions.
       
      I walked into his room and I introduced myself. “Hello!" he said to me
      in a booming voice, "Where is your tiger?" I didn’t know how to answer
      his question. It seemed confusing to me. I wasn't even sure he wanted
      an answer.
       
      So, I told him that I was a devotee of Neem Karoli Baba and had just
      come from a meditation course with Goenka. “Neem Karoli Baba devotees
      don’t need to meditate,” he said.
       
      This was also confusing. I thought, “Well, what do they need to do?”
      because it seemed to me that they sure needed to do something.
       
      By way of explanation, I said, “I was feeling a bit lost in America.”
       
      “Why don’t you put America inside the Self?” he asked.
       
      Now, I was completely stumped
       
      “No, no?” he said smiling and looking intently into my face. He patted
      me kindly on the back, as if to say, “Don’t worry.”
       
      I liked Papaji. I liked him a lot, although, what he said didn’t make
      sense to me. It didn’t sound at all like the usual spiritual teachings
      I had heard, but his language and examples were very poetic and
      devotional, using illustrations culled from the great Hindu epics, such
      as the Ramayana, and I loved it.
       
      I ended up staying with Papaji for the rest of my visit in India. I
      never did go on to Allahabad. I loved being there with him. I felt I
      could stay forever.
       
      One day in satsang Papaji told us, "Happiness is your true nature."
      Strange as it may seem, I had not known that before.
       
      The people coming to see Papaji seemed to be from every possible
      country and every possible spiritual background. Many of them had done
      years and years of sadhana. They appeared to be very mature spiritual
      seekers. They would speak to him briefly, ask a few questions, a shift
      would happen, and he would say to them, “Now, you know who you are. You
      can go home.”
       
      Generally it was all so subtle and understated that it is only now, in
      retrospect, I see what may have occurred. I don’t know if any of these
      people actually woke up in his presence. I never saw or heard of any of
      them again. As far as I know, they just faded away from view.
       
      There was a young man there named, Kishor. He was very likeable, but a
      bit neurotic, and was the butt of many of Papaji’s good natured jokes
      and illustrations. Kishor used to endlessly engage Papaji with various
      neurotic ramblings about the past.
       
      One day Papaji said to him, “Listen, do you know about the graveyard?
      When a person likes to visit the graveyard, they go in and pick up a
      bone. ‘Oh, this looks tasty,’ they say, and they gnaw on it for a
      while.”
       
      One day as I was relating some past events to him, Papaji asked me, "Do
      you like to visit Kishor's graveyard?"
       
      Another day as I was going on about something, he interrupted me to
      say, “Why are you playing with dolls? The Mother is calling you for
      lunch.” This made me very silent.
       
      Finally, one day he asked me, “Who are you?”
       
      “I’m me,” I said, pointing to my body.
       
      “Are you sure?” he asked.
       
      I thought I was sure, but maybe I wasn’t....
       
      In satsang one day Papaji said that in order to be liberated one must
      be totally free of desires. As he had repeatedly praised the "desire to
      be free", I said to him, "But Papaji, the desire to be free is a
      desire."
       
      He replied, "The desire to be free is the final desire, which consumes
      all other desires, and finally consumes itself."
       
      A woman was speaking to Papaji in satsang one day. She was going on at
      great length about the guru/disciple relationship. At one point, she
      said, "When the Master takes you to the top of the mountain and tells
      you to jump, you jump.
       
      Papaji, who did not appear to have been paying much attention to what
      she had been saying up to this point, sat straight up, and said, "What?
      No! A true Master takes away the mountain."
       
      One day as I was expressing some of my doubts to him, he said, “What’s
      the matter? Don’t you think it can happen to you? It can happen to
      you.”
       
      The metaphor I had as a timetable for enlightenment was the time it
      would take a bird flying over a mountain with a scarf in it’s mouth to
      wear away the mountain. It had not occurred to me that my mountain had
      even been touched.
       
      I said sadly, “I used to think it could happen. But it’s taken so long,
      and I haven’t seen it happen to anyone I know.”
       
      “It can happen to you,” he said quietly, “Don’t you want it to happen
      to you?”
       
      "What did this mean?" I silently wondered. "What would I have to give
      up?" Then, as a drowning man sees his life flash before him, I saw my
      life’s desires parade before my eyes.
       
      Papaji must have seen what was going on because he said, “Come on now.
      This is not the bazaar. No haggling here.”
       
      “Yes!” I said
       
      “Good!” said he, slapping his leg.
       
      The bargain had been struck.
       
      One day after satsang, I went to use the toilet at Papaji’s house. This
      was a pretty dirty place, as most Indian toilets are. There was a
      little water tap inside the room. It was used to fill a bucket. The
      water from this bucket was then used to flush the toilet.
       
      I was feeling kind of thirsty and I thought, “Well, I could just drink
      the water from this bucket. After all this is Papaji’s house.
      Everything here is his prasad.”
       
      The next moment I was taken aback. What was I thinking? This was a very
      dirty place. I could get really sick if I did something like that.
       
      Because I was actually very worried, I spoke to Papaji privately about
      what I had almost done.
       
      Instead of sharing my concern, he was delighted. He thumped me on the
      back enthusiastically. “That’s wonderful,” he said. “Only great saints
      have these thoughts, Mirabai, Ravi Dass.”
       
      “Great saints and crazy people,” I thought. I didn’t know which
      category I would fit into, but I was pretty sure it would not be the
      first, so I decided that it was time to leave.
       
      Even though I had made the decision to go, and my husband and other
      pressing matters were waiting for my return, I felt reluctant to leave
      Papaji.
       
      In those days, Papaji did not get directly involved in the decisions
      people made about their lives. His advice was used always and only as a
      pointer to the truth. Even so, I decided to ask him directly what I
      should do, hoping he would tell me to stay.
       
      Instead he told me, “Those who must leave early, leave early.”
       
      I expressed my concern about what would happen to me in America.
       
      He replied, “That which brought you here will also take care of you.”
       
      I paid my respects and I left.
       
      Although I went back to Lucknow two times after that, it was never the
      same as that first visit. What I had needed to hear, I heard then. I
      will always be thankful to Papaji, for it was from him that I first
      heard the truth of who I am, and that, in this very life, that truth
      could be known.
       


       
       
      Anandamayi Ma
      1896-1982, a great saint of India
       
      When once asked, "Why are you in this world?", she replied, "In this
      world? I am not anywhere. I am reposing within myself."
       
      Here is a story about Anandamayi Ma whom I saw at her ashram in
      Brindaban in September of 1974.
       
      A little background history. In January of 1973 I took my first trip to
      India to find my guru. I only had a month as I was between semesters at
      college. I went to meet Neem Karoli Baba, but he eluded me as was his
      wont, and by the time I arranged to return in India in 1974, he had
      left his body. This led me to ponder for many years, was he really my
      guru, and if so, why was I not able to meet him in person? I see now
      how silly and even presumptuous it is to expect God to adhere to one’s
      agenda. But I was somewhat naive at the time, and I thought that a
      month between semesters would certainly be enough time to find my guru,
      the next logical step on what I conceived of as the road to
      enlightenment. Obviously God had different plans.
       
      In August of 1974 I was up in the Himalayas attending a vipassana
      meditation retreat led by S.N. Goenka, a very wonderful teacher. At
      that retreat I met many devotees of Neem Karoli Baba including a young
      westerner, A.G., who had thrown away his passport and money and was
      attempting to live in India as a saddhu.
       
      After the retreat A.G. told me that something odd was happening to him,
      and that once a month around the time of the full moon his neck would
      swell up and hurt, and then gradually it would subside over the course
      of a few days. He took this to be some type of spiritual phenomena, but
      I wasn’t so sure. When he left to go down to the plains I gave him some
      money to consult a doctor in Delhi about what was going on.
       
      A month later I went to Brindaban. A big celebration was going on there
      at Neem Karoli Baba’s ashram in honor of the one year anniversary of
      his death. Many devotees had gathered from India and abroad to attend.
      I saw A.G. and asked him what the doctor had said.
       
      He replied that the doctor had diagnosed him with Hodgkin’s disease,
      which at that time was 100% fatal. He didn’t believe the doctor’s
      diagnosis at all. An American doctor devotee was visiting the ashram.
      When he heard A.G.'s story he got very serious and said that A.G.
      should go back to the west for medical treatment immediately.
       
      Later that day, A.G. invited me to go with him to Anandamayi Ma’s
      ashram. He said, “She isn’t there now, but they have nice bhajans”.
       
      “You mean, she is still alive?”, I said. I couldn’t believe it. She was
      a legend in my mind. I had read everything I could find about her
      before coming to India, but assumed that she must have died years
      before. In fact, she lived until 1982.
       
      As A.G. and I walked over to Anandamayi’s ashram, he told me stories of
      how Neem Karoli Baba would sometimes go and visit her. He would rush
      into her ashram calling out, “Ma, Ma, feed me”, and she would.
       
      The bhajans that day were nice. As in many ashrams in India, the men
      and women sit separately during the programs, so I didn’t see A.G. for
      a while.
       
      At the end of the bhajans an Indian man all dressed in white approached
      me. “Oh, no”, I thought with dread, “here we go,” fully expecting to be
      harassed in the typical fashion Indian men did to single western women.
      "Armor up!", I thought, as I prepared some of my stock replies to the
      situation.
       
      But it quickly became clear that this man was not like that at all. He
      was very respectful and polite and said to me, “You look so nice
      dressed in a sari, just like our Ma when she was young. Would you like
      to come and meet her?”
       
      Although I knew I didn’t resemble Ma at all when she was young, I did
      very much want to meet her. It turned out that she had just arrived,
      and very few people knew she was there. I asked the Indian gentleman if
      I could bring my friend.
       
      A.G. and I were led into a very small room with about 15 people inside.
      There was Ma sitting on a tucket, one of those rope bed things they use
      for everything in India. Her dark hair was piled on top of her head.
      She was very old and wearing glasses. We couldn’t understand what
      anyone was saying as Ma didn’t speak English. She was very much in
      command of the situation and appeared to be giving various orders to
      her devotees, and sometimes telling a joke or two.
       
      There was another tucket in the room, and we went and sat on the floor
      with our backs leaning against it.
       
      Ma had a couple of very fierce Indian women bramacharinis with her all
      dressed in white with short clipped hair. One of them gruffly ordered
      me, “Don’t lean against the tucket. That is Ma’s bed”. So of course I
      immediately shifted over, feeling bad and perplexed as one often is in
      India when one commits an unintentional cultural faux pas. We were
      actually sitting in Ma's bedroom. Difficult to tell. A concrete room,
      unadorned, holding only two rope bed cots.
       
      I hoped despite my bad manners that Anandamayi Ma might be able to cure
      A.G., so I started praying to her silently, inwardly, “Please Ma, save
      him. He’s so good. He doesn’t deserve to die so young. Won’t you help?”
      I was going on in this fashion for a while, when all of a sudden Ma
      stopped talking and looked around the room as if she was searching for
      a particularly loathsome insect that was annoying her. She seemed
      really fierce and not at all like the blissful mother I had read about.
      Her gaze landed on me with sort of "aha!" expression, and she shouted
      out an order in Bengali. I thought I was going to be thrown out.
       
      “You,” said her attendant, prodding me in the back and pointing across
      the room , “get up and go sit over there.”
       
      So of course, I jumped up.
       
      “Tum, nay!”, said Ma, which I knew meant, “not you”, so I quickly sat
      back down.
       
      The attendant then ordered A.G. to get up and sit across the room. Ma
      proceeded to separate all of the men and women. Men on one side of the
      room. Women on the other.
       
      I guess my incessant thinking about A.G. had been disturbing things on
      some vibrational level. Although, I have to say, I thought my prayers
      were pretty “pure”.
       
      After a while the darshan ended, and we were ushered out of the room. I
      was disappointed that Anandamayi Ma had appeared not as “the blissful
      Mother of compassion” I had been expecting, but rather as Kali wielding
      her sword. The whole event was puzzling to me, as I had gone to her
      humbly seeking her help. It also felt weird that we had been singled
      out in such an odd way. I didn’t think that we had done anything wrong,
      but somehow it seemed that we had. I didn’t know what to make of any of
      it.
       
      Later, back in Delhi, the American doctor and I managed to get A.G. a
      new passport and rushed back to the west for treatment. We prayed the
      plane up into the sky and out of sight with a few ram rams, seeking
      Neem Karoli Baba’s blessings for a cure. My doctor friend then confided
      in me that A.G. probably had only a few months left to live.
       
      As my Indian visa had expired, I decided to go up to Nepal for a while,
      and traveled there with a heavy heart, thinking that someone I cared
      deeply for would soon die. I wrote to A.G. from Kathmandu, but received
      no reply. I was very worried.
       
      A month later I received a new visa for India, so I booked a seat on a
      Danish hippie bus bound for Delhi. On the morning of our departure a
      friend went to the American embassy to check for mail, and returned
      with a letter for me which had just arrived. It was from A.G.
       
      A.G. wrote that the doctors had operated on his neck and could find
      nothing that should not have been there except for an odd thick bit of
      skin. No tumor, nothing. They were very perplexed as he had had all of
      the classic symptoms of Hodgkin’s disease, but in fact, it turned out
      that he was perfectly healthy and had nothing wrong with him at all!
       
      Well, I was a happy thankful person on that bus ride from Kathmandu to
      Pokarah. When we arrived in Pokarah that evening a beautiful full moon
      was shining on the quiet lake. It was also my birthday.
       
      Did Ma cure him? Who can say? Anyone’s guess is as good as mine. But I
      believe she did.
       


       
       
       
      Ammachi and Shri Ranjit Maharaj
       
      Several years ago, I was privileged to host and help organize Shri
      Ranjit Maharaj’s satsangs in my local area. Ranjit Maharaj was a
      co-disciple of Nisargadatta Maharaj. They had the same guru, Shri
      Siddharameshwar Maharaj.
       
      Ranjit Maharaj, in the tradition of his guru, taught the way of
      understanding, as the way to “final reality”. He once remarked, “What
      can embracing do for you?” Perhaps he might not have approved of
      Ammachi’s method of hugging people as a means of knowledge. I don’t
      know.
       
      Maharaj was 84 when he first traveled to America. He visited us four
      years in succession. Though I originally went to see him out of
      curiosity because of his connection with Nisargadatta, I quickly came
      to understand that he was a true master in his own right, and to
      appreciate his kindness, simplicity, complete honesty and incredible
      patience.
       
      Maharaj was totally uncompromising in his teaching. He never budged or
      digressed to make things easier for us. Most of the time, I had no idea
      what he was talking about. I tried very hard, but I just couldn't
      understand him. Still, I was drawn to him by his kindness, and in my
      heart I trusted that he was telling the truth. He had many stock
      phrases which he used over and over again to try and break through our
      ignorance and take us up to the “door” of final reality, through which
      no two can enter.
       
      One benefit of traveling with Maharaj or hosting him was taking part in
      the early morning arti. This arti is performed to awaken the guru. The
      words were directed to his guru, but perhaps one could as well take the
      words of the arti to be directed at awakening the guru within.
       
      At the end of the arti one of the ladies would sing a beautiful song.
      The refrain is “Chidananda Roopha Shivoham Shivoham.” The translation
      is, “I am Eternal Bliss, I am Shiva.” The song goes on to list all of
      what one is not. For instance, “I am not the mind, …ego...nor
      consciousness,… not the five elements …not envy, anger, craving,
      attraction, ….virtue, sin…joy, sorrow…death, birth,…father,
      mother…guru, aspirant. I am beyond concept, beyond form…I am neither
      liberated nor in bondage. I am Eternal Bliss, I am Shiva.”
       
      We would then sit for a few quiet moments with Maharaj, the words
      Shivoham Shivoham resonating in the silence. This time was very
      precious to us, a rare moment to sit quietly with Maharaj before
      beginning our daily chores of cooking, cleaning and setting up for
      satsang.
       
      When I said goodbye to Maharaj at the airport in April of 1999, I knew
      that most likely I would never see him again. Each time he had visited
      us he seemed a bit weaker. When I received the news in October of 2000
      that he had a stroke in India, it seemed clear that he would not remain
      in his body much longer.
       
      In November of that year Ammachi was holding her programs at a venue
      very close to my house. I would go in the morning, come home in the
      afternoon and return in the evening.
       
      One afternoon, I returned home from Amma’s program, checked my e-mail,
      and saw a letter saying that Maharaj had left his body that day in
      Mumbai. Even though I had felt I would never see him again, the news
      was shocking to me. I cried when I realized that I would never again
      look in his eyes or experience his kindness.
       
      Later that day I went up to Amma’s program. Many of Maharaj’s other
      students were there, as well as those of us who had organized his
      satsangs and hosted him. We were all very sad, feeling slightly bereft.
       
      Every evening Amma sings devotional bhajans. They are very beautiful
      and are usually directed to a particular deity. Although I usually
      enjoyed the bhajans, that night I just wasn’t in the mood.
       
      Sitting there feeling sorrowful, my friends and I were deeply moved
      when we recognized these words being sung, “Chidananda Roopha Shivoham
      Shivoham”, and then slowly and rhythmically the whole of the advaitic
      song followed.
       
      Afterwards I asked Amma’s disciples if she often sang that song. “No,”
      they replied, “hardly ever.”
       
      Dattatreya, the archetypal guru is said to himself have had 24 gurus.
      Some people hold that everything is the guru. Some people have one
      outer guru whose guidance leads them to the truth of who they really
      are. Some people say the satguru lies within. Neem Karoli Baba once
      told a friend of mine, “There is only one guru.”
       
      Who can say what it meant that that song was sung that night? Those of
      us sitting together who had been with Maharaj were profoundly moved,
      and our eyes were wet with tears. Perhaps it was the Self’s way of
      reiterating what Maharaj often told us, “You don’t die. Only the body
      dies. Nobody dies and nobody is born. What is never born and never dies
      is the Reality.”
       
      To me it appeared as “guru’s grace”, but if you asked me to point to a
      particular entity or place as guru, I would not be able to do that. Nor
      would I try.

       
       
      Ajahn Chah
      1918-1992
      A Theravadan Monk of the Thai forest Tradition
       
      In the summer of 1979 I was living on a farm in western Massachusetts,
      owned by my friends, David and Sally. A few years previously it had
      been a commune, but by the time I arrived, things had calmed down and
      thinned out, and there were only eight of us living there, David and
      Sally, another couple and their two children, one other person, and me.
       
      The farm was a great place, over a hundred acres in size. The house had
      been built in the late 1700’s, and although it had a lot of potential,
      in its present state, it was really pretty funky. I was living in the
      woods in a little screened room called the summer house. This was the
      best place on the property as far as I was concerned. No electricity or
      water, but total privacy and quiet. Just me and nature. I loved my
      peaceful days and nights in the summer house.
       
      We had an enormous organic vegetable garden and a big raspberry patch.
      We canned vegetables and made jam. There was a pottery studio, a small
      bakery, and a milk cow in a big red barn.
       
      Despite all of the activity, we seemed to spend endless hours just
      hanging out in a relaxed atmosphere, going for walks, swimming in the
      pond and playing with the children. Life on the farm that summer was
      pretty idyllic.
       
      Every night we had wonderful dinners. Friends and neighbors would drop
      by. The guests and conversations were very interesting. Our talk
      usually focused on dharma. All of us had spent time in India and were
      students of the vipassana teacher, S.N. Goenka. Some of us had a
      background in Hinduism as well.
       
      Around this time another property, that was to become the Insight
      Meditation Center, in Barre, Massachusetts, was purchased. The
      vipassana communities in those days overlapped. Western students of
      Goenka, Mahasi Sayadaw, Munindra, Dipa Ma and Ajahn Chah were working
      together to get the center going. The above mentioned teachers were
      from different countries, and taught somewhat different techniques. The
      idea was to have one umbrella center under which vipassana could be
      taught.
       
      One day we heard that Ajahn Chah was coming to America. We all knew he
      was a great meditation teacher. The abbot of a big monastery in
      Thailand. Very famous and respected in his country. This was exciting
      news, and we invited him to come out and stay at the farm.
       
      He arrived with one of his students, Robert, an American monk, who
      lived at Ajahn Chah’s monastery in Thailand, and was acting as his
      translator.
       
      I vacated the summer house, so that Ajahn Chah could stay there. We
      figured he would like staying in the forest, which he did. I also think
      there may have been a restriction about him staying under the same roof
      as householders, but I didn’t know about it at the time.
       
      We enjoyed Ajahn Chah’s company. He was very good natured, happy and
      jolly. He was delighted by everything he saw on the farm, its rural
      setting, and the acres of surrounding forest. It was haying season, and
      Robert was having a great time, riding the tractor with his monks’
      robes flying in the breeze, cutting down the hay and tossing it up to
      the loft in the barn. Some of our dharma friends dropped by. Halcyon
      days. What could have been better than this?
       
      However, there did seem to be a few things that we, from our cultural
      perspective, were finding odd. First of all, we were told that we
      ladies should scrupulously avoid touching Ajahn Chah, even
      accidentally. Okay, that was no problem.
       
      The next thing we found perplexing was how to serve him food. In India
      ladies do most of the cooking. They serve the guru with great
      reverence, love and devotion. We were quite puzzled that Ajahn Chah did
      not want to take a plate of food from our hands. He sat on the floor of
      living room to eat. Robert said we must place the plate of food on a
      cloth in front of Ajahn Chah, and then back off. By no means were we to
      touch the cloth or plate at the same time the Ajahn did. Okay, we tried
      to get that one right.
       
      One day we were sitting cross legged on the floor in front of Ajahn
      Chah asking him questions. He kept shifting around and looking very
      uncomfortable. Finally Robert told us that women should not sit like
      that in front of the Ajahn. That we must sit sideways, with our legs
      closed together. Okay.
       
      I guess we should have taken the hint from all of this. As simple, good
      natured spiritual seekers, children of the sixties, we often wondered
      amongst ourselves how to reconcile the teachings we had been given in
      Asia of right conduct, including sexual conduct, with the free and easy
      ways of our early youth. If one was married or in a committed
      relationship, it seemed pretty straightforward, but what if one was
      not?
       
      We now felt we had a great opportunity to discuss our concerns with a
      famous dharma teacher in a fairly private setting. So, in this context,
      we respectfully asked for Ajahn Chah’s clarification on the subject of
      right sexual conduct. We waited for his wisdom.
       
      “Sex”, he said, “is gross, vile and disgusting.” Then he picked his
      nose with his forefinger. “It’s like that.” Well, that put an end to
      that conversation, although it provided us with a great quote for many
      years.
       
      Ajahn Chah liked David and Sally a lot. One day as we were all sitting
      together, he said, "Sally grows everything here except children.” There
      was an awkward silence.
       
      We all knew that David and Sally had been trying unsuccessfully for
      years to have a child. It wasn’t something we openly discussed. It was
      their personal concern. I think someone just changed the subject.
       
      After Ajahn Chah left, I went up to the summer house to change the
      bedding. I then had the brilliant idea that instead of changing the
      sheets, I would sleep in them for one night, and thereby receive a
      blessing from the contact, as they had been sanctified by the touch of
      a saint. To someone of a devotional nature with a Hindu background as I
      was, this made perfect sense. I should have known better.
       
      As I climbed into bed, I noticed that the sheets felt a bit scratchy,
      which I thought was odd. There was nothing unusual about the bedding. I
      had made the bed up for Ajahn Chah myself, making sure he would be
      comfortable. I began to feel somewhat uneasy and had doubts about what
      I was doing. I blew out the candle and was attempting to drift off to
      sleep when I heard an odd flapping and bumping against the ceiling and
      the screened walls.
       
      I turned on my flashlight and saw a giant bat frantically flying and
      swooping around inside the room. I jumped up in terror, flew out of the
      summer house, leaving the door open so that bat could get out, and ran
      down the meadow to the safety of the house. I guess sleeping in the
      sheets of a famous Thai monk was not such a good idea after all.
       
      Before Ajahn Chah left the farm he asked us to make up a paste of rice
      flour and water. As he walked out of the house for the last time, he
      dipped his fingers in the paste and pressed them on the kitchen door.
      He said it was a blessing that would always stay with the house. Three
      round white finger prints on a brown wood door.
       
      Today the house has been completely remodeled. No one would recognize
      it as the funky old hippie commune of yore. Everything has been
      repainted, including the kitchen door, except for one small triangle of
      dark wood. Here preserved are the three finger prints of Ajahn Chah.
      David and Sally still live in the house, the proud parents of two
      lovely daughters.