When I was small, everything was magic
New, wondrous, fresh, exciting, free.
Then they told me:
Don’t feel this way.
Don’t think that way.
This is good. That is bad.
You are right. You are wrong.
Confused I became –
And then my wondrous world became tainted With labels and judgments that I didn’t understand.
Slowly the magic disappeared
And the labels and boxes neatly defined my reality. Sadder and older, I plod through life
And my label shakes hands with all the other labels, And so we agree to pretend
That the magic is a fantasy
And that freedom is only for the mad.
Part 2 The Door Openers
The Being of Light from the far away galaxy asked God another question, “What do these earthlings have to do to open a door to your Light and Love?”
God replied, “There are many doorways through which they can reach me and taste this nectar of Divine Love. All of their sensations, emotions, and feelings can be turned inside themselves. Then, with their “inner eye,” they can perceive the Love and Light that awaits them. This Love remains undisturbed by all outer circum- stances. But they must learn not to be tricked by what they see with their human eyes. I live in their every breath, every feeling, and every thought. My only desire is to love them with all that I Am.”
Opening The Door Way
In the ancient scripture known as the Spanda Karikas (Divine Pulsation), it is said that, “All energy is, in its ultimate analysis, only an offshoot of Spiritual energy.” (3)
All of life is vibrating with the energy of consciousness. Because we’ve been taught to live in our minds, we only touch the surface of life. We only believe what we hear, feel, or taste. Thus, we see objects and people at a flat, mundane frequency, which leaves us with a fearful, grasping, painful, and limited perspective. But when we set aside our judgment of what we are feeling or expe- riencing, and let ourselves rest in the moment, we can dive through the surface into the essence of who we really are.
We enter the magic doorway when we allow life to touch us deeply. While I was on one of my meditation retreats, my boyfriend started seeing another woman. Even worse, he asked my best friend to help him sup- port his new woman friend’s latest project. I felt so hurt and so betrayed, it was as though I had been stabbed in the heart. I tried to push away the pain so that I could return to a more normal state. When that didn’t work, I contracted my body in an effort to numb it, which only made me ill. I realized that I had to find the courage to face the pain. I took a long walk, which is my way of gaining clarity and experiencing my feelings more deeply. I came to a bench and sat down, and began to breathe into all of my hurt, allowing myself to feel it completely. I asked God to help me know the truth of who I really am and to show me the teaching embodied in this situation. A little while later, a response came. My heart, belly, and back opened up and the tears spilled forth like a river and so did my love for God. In that sacred moment, I saw that my pain and disappointment were intended to open the door once again to my Divine Self. Then I was able to see my former boyfriend in a new, more compassionate light. I realized that he did not intend to hurt me with his choices; he was just doing what he had to do in his life. Realizing this, I sat on the bench for a long time, holding him in my heart in forgiveness and love.
Every life experience, large and small, can take us to our innermost Self. The comforting chug of a train in the night, the roar of an airplane in the sky, the smell of a beautiful flower, the innocence of a child – these and other apparently ordinary things can inspire the sense of peace that calms our mind and fills our being. When we eat a piece of chocolate or experience an orgasm, we can enjoy the ecstasy of Being. Unfortunately, addiction to these and other substances, habits, or people can arise when we fail to realize that gifts such as sex or chocolate can be doorways to the Divine, but not the Divine itself. The Divine doorway can also fling open when we experience something shocking or challenging such as death or divorce. Having no context for this experience, our mind just stops. Even deep grief can have an unexpected sweetness, if fully embraced.
We are never alone. We are continually swimming in an ocean of consciousness that feeds us as a mother feeds an infant, but if we close ourselves off we will feel starved and dried up. Our refusal to accept Divine nourishment is the root of much of our sorrow. We must catch the current of consciousness that is constantly pulsating beneath all things. We must train ourselves to reach past the surface illusion to the core of all life. Anything that can stop the endless chatter of the mind can open us to God’s presence; but we must relax, accept what is, ask for guidance, and then listen to the music of our soul that is continually calling us home. Then we can attune ourselves to the Divine pulsation underlying our outer life experiences.
And so we pass through the magic doorway with open eyes that observe and rest in each moment of life and in each circumstance. In so doing, we draw sustenance from the inner Self, not from the outer form, which either passes away or leaves us barren and empty in the end.
Put a delicious piece of food in your mouth.
Witness all of your physical sensations. Stay with the experience.
Fall deep into the ecstasy.
Now swallow the food and keep the ecstasy that arose from within.
Rest in that deep state of peace, which cannot be taken away or affected by outer circumstances, people or substances.
Free At Last
The dark cloud bursts
And I emerge as the blue sky –
With a joy that surpasses all earthly joys
I have ever known.
PART 1 CROSSING THE THRESHOLD – THE AWAKENING
I guess it was my time or rather God’s time. I was 29 years old, I had a good husband, I was a successful model and dancer. By conventional standards, I had an enviable life, and yet I felt somehow empty. Something was haunting me.
Then, during a routine check-up, my doctor told me that my uterus had completely dissolved and I would never menstruate again. I would never have any children. I was devastated by the news and was telling a friend about it when she told me about an upcoming workshop designed to take participants to enlightenment (2) provided they were willing to apply themselves. I felt a surging force of desire, stronger than anything I had ever known. My simple response to her was, “I must go!”
We both forgot about my uterus.
Getting myself to the workshop was surprisingly difficult. When I told Jeff, my husband, he said, “You can’t go.” He had never tried to prevent me from doing any- thing before, but this time he was not only adamant but angry. I felt that I was fighting for my life. I told him I was going anyway. The next day, I asked my boss if I could take Saturday off but he refused. Like my husband, he was adamant. I told him I was sorry but I must go. By the time I left for the weekend, I had no idea if I would have a job or a marriage when I returned on Monday. But I felt as if something greater was driving me and I had no control over it.
Sleeping bag in hand, I was dropped off at an old monks’ retreat/lodge outside the city. Everything was white and austere. No flowers. No colour. There was one tiny closet for everyone’s clothes. Each small bed- room had eight hard bunk beds. It was an icy cold night in November and everything felt harsh, cold, and naked. I just wanted to go home, but I also knew I had already crossed the line and there was no returning. I was ushered downstairs to the workshop room with the other participants where we were welcomed with herbal tea and honey. All of our valuables were collected, pack- aged, and stored away for safekeeping. We were not allowed to wear watches, jewelry, makeup, or cologne; nor were we allowed to drink coffee or eat anything other than the macrobiotic food provided.
We were told that during the workshop we would be paired off and would face our partners for one-hour intervals in which we would take turns asking each other one question, “Tell me who you are.” We would have an uninterrupted period of time to answer and then we’d switch roles. After an hour of this, we’d change partners and continue again. This would go on for 18 hours each day apart from rest and meal breaks.
On the first night, we did a few exercises to prepare our- selves, to get to know one another and to learn the technique. At the end of the evening, we collapsed into our hard, cold bunk beds. Nobody slept. We were awakened at 5:00 AM. It was horribly cold, I got up, stumbled to the bathroom, and made my way to the workshop room where I sat across from a half-asleep stranger who asked me the question, “Tell me who you are.”
I was miserable. I am not a morning person and have a great aversion to talking to anyone without at least a cup of tea first. But then breakfast arrived, I got a chance to shower, and returned to the routine. The sun slowly began to shine through and I began to feel better. Even my partners became more interesting and alive as they too began to warm to the routine. Alternating every few minutes, we continued asking each other the question, “Tell me who you are.”
I enjoyed baring my soul in this very safe environment. However, the facilitator warned us: “Stay focused on experiencing and communicating the absolute truth of, ‘Who you really are.’” Hours went by, lunch came and went, more cleaning, more exercises. The room began to take on a palpable quality of other worldliness. It was surreal. Day turned to night and I was exhausted. My head began to ache but I had to keep going. “Who am I?” “Who am I?” Over and over again. “Who am I?” became my mantra. By bedtime I was so sick and exhausted, I thought I would die.
I fell into the bunk bed and slept a bit. Then at 5:00 AM the morning bell rang, announcing the beginning of Day Two. I couldn’t believe that we could be so tor tured. To the bathroom and then down to the workshop room to sit in front of another partner with bad breath asking me, “Tell me who you are.”
I was getting angry and the pain in my head was getting worse. I thought of running away but there was no transportation back to the city. Breakfast passed, showering, more partner work, lunch. The pain and frustration was getting worse for all of us. Many had vomit bags next to them. The pain in my head was unbearable; I felt as though it was about to explode. Finally, at about 4:00 PM, every cell in my body felt like it was being crushed. I couldn’t bear it anymore. My partner asked the question, “Tell me who you are.”
I looked him straight in the eye and said with the most rage I had ever expressed in my life, “Who the Hell do you think I am!?!” Then with great force, I screamed out, “I Am Me!” At that moment, I heard a huge cracking sound at the top of my head. Suddenly, I was free of all of my aches, pains, and limitations. Perhaps this is how death feels.
I became a very large presence. The facilitator noticed and came rushing over, saying, “Who are you?” I replied, “I Am Me!” I couldn’t describe in words this all- pervasive experience of freedom and knowing, but the “Me” I felt was not my body or personality. “I am God!” I said. Then I pointed to myself and said, “This is God.” “I Am!” The facilitator laughed heartily.I began to laugh uncontrollably and fell off my chair. I rolled around on the floor in fits of ecstasy, laughing at all of the lifelong beliefs that I was just this body and its desires, hopes, and dreams. I wanted to share my joy with some of my other partners but they just sat there looking at me as if I was insane. They remained in the same great misery that I had just come out of. I realized in that moment that I was having a deep inner experience, not anything visible except for the light that some could see emanating from my body that divine day.
For the rest of that day and night I was bathed in light and felt love toward everyone and everything. All the things that I had hated the day before were now luminous and beautiful. I spent three hours weeping as I looked at my hand and arm. I was awestruck at the miracle of the body that I lived in. I felt great reverence for the power that lay behind this magnificent creation, even though I now knew that I was that power. I was experiencing the divine union of my body and soul. Nothing has ever come close to the supreme joy of that state. Every person who sat before me was God. And by the end of the weekend, I knew that I would never be the same again.
When I arrived home, my husband was happy to see me and I still had a job on Monday – at least for a while. Each person I interacted with at work felt divine. Looking deeply into their eyes, I felt tremendous compassion for them as they shared their problems with me. I knew then that God knows everything about us and has infinite patience.
But the most unexpected and shocking change was that I began to menstruate after not having been able to for five years. My doctor was curious and concerned and ordered some tests. A few days later, he called and told me that my uterus was completely whole and perfectly healthy. A specialist in his field, the poor man was baffled. But I knew that a miracle had taken place.