Sunday, April 4, 2010

Loving Ma

One of the real joys being here has been learning to love Ma.

My father is my model for spiritual teachers, and I'm used to seeing the teacher in sweatpants. There's an earthy advantage to that, and I hope it will keep me more modest when I'm a spiritual teacher someday, but Ma does not wear sweatpants. Ma does not burp, or drip mustard on her shirt, or use up all the toilet paper. Ma barely has a pulse. We see her in person three times a week, but Ma's photograph is all over the Ashram. When bad weather forecasts prove incorrect, people living here say "Thank Ma." Ma is perfect, Ma is holy, Ma is the Goddess herself. Ma doesn't have a spiritual connection, Ma is a spiritual connection. That's a different approach, to say the least.

I resisted it at first. In my pride, and my egalitarianism, I mistook Ma for a human being. I'm sure she still is on her medical forms and her tax return, but there's never any reason to try to engage Ma as a person. If you have business with her, it's as a Guru, and a Guru is more than human. Once I understood that, I felt a tremendous liberation. When in life do you get to love someone so thoroughly? So unconditionally? Without caveats, flaws, or boundaries? Even as I write this, I have to pause to say "Thank you, Ma. Thank you, Ma, for allowing me to know you and love you. Thank you for teaching me love." It's a wonderful, beautiful, totally culty thing. 

Loving Ma so thoroughly opens me up to Ma's love. I believe and feel that God loved me, but I can't often face and savor that love. It has rescued me in times of sorrow and guided me in confusion, but my heart never felt big enough to really carry that love. Loving Ma, Loving God through Ma, I've stopped trying to carry anything. Ma's love is right there for me when I need it. It carries me. Love flows around me and through me, so I don't need to keep it to keep having it. Loving Ma, I just float in her love, let it warm my soul.

Sound cultish? It totally is. And it would all fall apart if Ma ever abused the privilege. But she never does. Ma rarely gives unsolicited, unambiguous directions, and when she does it's possible to refuse them. All she wants from us is to love ourselves and serve humanity. Looking at the lives of people who live here, who have devoted themselves to her for 3, or 5, or 35 years, these are healthy, happy, responsible people. I've known crazies, and these folks are not crazy. At worst, they might be too content for my tastes, but that's far from damning.

So I love Ma. I thank Ma for loving me. I feel a little more at home in the Universe and ready to face my own problems, and I know that, when it's down to the shit, a Goddess has my back. Thank Ma.

Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavati

I also suspect that, on some unspeakable level, it's all a game. As part of the theater of this place, Ma the Human talks about God the Mother in the first person. Instead of an abstract, unknowable force in the universe, we get to love Mama God right in front of us. A Goddess really does have my back - whether that's Ma or something less physical doesn't matter so much. And Ma plays the role well, dispensing real love and wisdom without breaking character. Her every action makes it clear that she is here to serve us, and she serves by embodying/role-playing God. I can wink at you from on-stage like I'm doing now, but no one ever really breaks character, do they? We dodge the question of how much is Truth and how much is Theater, since it wouldn't change anything anyway, to just relax and keep on loving. Shhhhhhhh.

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