Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Second Encounter with Ma

So, a week after my first visit with Ma, I started getting frustrated that there hadn't been a second one. I expected some kind of spiritual training regimen when I got here. Meditation once or twice a day, and some one-on-one instruction with Ma or a surrogate. By a week in, I thought I'd be discovering specific, verifiable information using only the power of my mind. Or something. I wanted a montage. Instead, my only formal education had been in the peeling and chopping of vegetables.

I also felt lonely, and isolated, and uncertain of the rules or norms around me. Compared to Los Angeles, everyone at the Ashram seemed eerily quiet and satisfied with their lives. No one engaged me in deep philosophical conversation, or deep conversation of any kind, or even seemed especially interested in my presence among them at all. People were very nice, and sweet, and welcoming, and then just minded their own business, and it freaked me out.

I wanted explicit instructions, and attention, and I wasn't getting either. This got me a little bit stir-crazy. There was important business to attend to, business I didn't understand in the slightest, and nothing was happening.

It was my step-mother, Eve, who helped me make sense of it. She made two points:

First, the Ashram activates your shit. Eve had seen this herself when she came here, and other people have verified it for me since then. Whatever your ego issues are, whatever your doubts or frustrations or personal neuroses, this place is makes them step right up and make a stink of themselves. It could be something about how it's all set up, the culture or mechanics of the place, but the consensus seems to be that Ma does it directly and on purpose. Sitting in her private rooms, she stirs the pot of everyone's psyches and makes the ugly parts float to the surface. If I was upset, maybe more so than the situation required, and I couldn't just ignore or repress what was bothering me, then that was just about par for the course.

Second, psychic inquiry is dangerous. Eve said that all of the people she's seen explore that and try to develop their abilities have ended up harming themselves with it one way or another. The safer approach, Eve said, is to just let it come to you as it wants to on its own. It's a difference of intention - seeking that stuff out is usually a matter of pride (there's that word again), curiosity, or power. Whatever it is that allows these psychic connections, it really doesn't like being used in that way. I had a measure of all three of those interests - power, curiosity, and pride - and that probably wasn't helping me much.

I should insert a word here about skepticism, again. Around this time in my visit, I decided my empiricism claim from the day before I arrived was definite bunk. As a scientist, you have to remain skeptical of claims about unusual phenomena. You can consider participants' reports as data, but you can't immediately consider them to be evidence. I'm here as a seeker, though, and not a scientist. I want to be changed and affected by my experiences here, and not just catalog them for future dissection. I'm sure I might change my mind, even many times over, about what happened to me here, but for the moment I'm taking it all at face value. I feel more open, more loving, more satisfied for having spent about a month here, now. Even the skeptic in me considers that evidence that believing in it all, for now, is valuable.

At the time, though, I found what Eve had to say pretty upsetting. The first part made sense. I had just spent a couple days wrestling with the question of whether or not I'm a good Jew, addressing doubts I'd gotten pretty good, previously, at ignoring. Everyone has trouble feeling welcome in a new community, but I'd never felt quite this isolated around such pleasant, welcoming people as I did here. To hear that it's expected, it's normal, it's caused,  came as a huge relief.

The second part pissed me off, though. I came here on Ma's invitation! I just want to know what this third-eye business is all about! I'm gonna be an important spiritual leader some day, and if I have some special gift that she hid away when I was a kid, I deserve some training and explanation so I can use it right! That's not pride, that's... Oh.

This is why I wanted to do my last post before this one. I was waiting around at the Ashram for someone to tell me how to transform into super-rabbi, and no one was coming. I told myself I could handle whatever psychic business that might entail, but I knew I was lying. My hurry was based on fear, that I would leave the Ashram without learning something I had to know to achieve my destiny, that I wouldn't be good enough if I didn't learn whatever Ma could teach me.

I sat and thought for a while. Eve said exploring the psychic is dangerous, and it responds to your intentions. And Ma was leaving me to stew for a while in my own karma and baggage and shit, letting me work my way through some of that. What if those ego issues are obstacles to intuition, and making me deal with them is part of my education? It seemed like the thing to do was let that happen, and let my stuff clear away, and allow myself to grow more receptive to whatever was out there.

If Ma wants to teach me about psychic communication, why not teach by total immersion? I thought. I mean, couldn't she be trying to reach me through my 3rd eye right now? Again, the thing to do was just allow myself to receive whatever was out there.

And then Ma appeared. I felt her energy in the room. A kind of warm, blurry, almost-face. We didn't have a conversation, exactly, but there was an exchange of ideas and intentions. I asked her what kind of Jew she is, and she smacked me around a little for being cheeky. I told her I wanted to be learning more, she told me my education, for a while, would be hidden in the experience of just living there. I asked to see her bathroom, she made a scary face, I said "You can't scare me," and she proved me wrong. I apologized and thanked her, she told me she loved me, and I sat with that for a while, kinda dumbfounded. I asked her if this was really happening, and she told me to go knock on another resident's door and see what he thought. He told me, out loud, using words, that Ma sometimes just does that. She appears in dreams, or while you're washing dishes or walking your dog, and she tells you what she wants you to know.

I spent a couple days debating whether that whole thing really happened. With a little help, I realized it didn't matter. It happened. If she doesn't remember, if it never happens again, that's still what it was. We had a conversation. 

Either way, I felt a lot better afterward. I didn't feel so ignored, or untethered. I read my books and wrote in my journal and chopped those vegetables knowing that there was value in just being here, facing myself. I took some time every few days to try to feel that open and receptive again, and tried not to distract myself with the hope that Ma would reappear. So far she hasn't, but I still feel good for just sitting, and breathing, and letting my heart rest open.

A week or two later, Ma called me. On the phone, this time. I was driving a couple visitors to the airport, and I half wonder if she could tell, somehow, that I had left her immediate area. She told me not to worry that I hadn't seen her again, that she loved me a lot, and that just being at Kashi was enough spiritual work for me at the moment. I thanked her for calling me, and reassuring me, and having me there at the Ashram, and she said she would see me again soon and hung up the phone. I didn't ask if she had appeared to me magically the other night. I know she did, and don't mind if she didn't.


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  2. each posting has at least a few parts (and generally the whole part) that really resonate... i may not be in an ashram, but i find this really personally useful: "I read my books and wrote in my journal and chopped those vegetables knowing that there was value in just being here, facing myself."

    let's all do that, shall we?