Trying to find my voice through the medium of writing
Thoughts slide by faster than fingers keep typing
I've developed a bit of a Southern twang (pr. suthern ack-cen) these last 6 days. I love sayin' all ya'll over and over, though I do ask for permission when I first get to a new place, cuz, you know, it's the South and we do take things here seriously. I think it's been about ... a week actually since I last wrote. A week ago today I left the little known emerging light center of Wichita to head straight South to the big beast itself. Yes, I was going to teach meditation, in Texas (can I get a yee-haw ya'll?). Pauline, my most gracious host in Wichita gifted me with a most needed acupuncture session the morning of. She hit two points on the sole of my feet, which I believe she called "bubbling wells" - my goodness did those hurt, but what an effect on grounding and bringing me back to alignment. I've never explored acupuncture to a serious degree, but with a well trained healer who knows how to put themselves out of the way, it can be a powerful experience. I will recommend Pauline again in the future once her website is up :-) Right on the border of Texas & Oklahoma, at the tobacco shop of a gas station I met Dominique. Dominique works at the shop, just turned 18, and is about to graduate high school. This job is a life saver for him, because it means he can afford his own place and a car, along with earning the support of his father. He's been smoking for two years, knows he needs to quit, but doesn't know how. I told him how I smoked for a year, and then took another year to quit. How'd I quit? I made a deal with a friend that if she does something beneficial for herself, I'll do the same. The deal worked, and really, once the intention is set, all it takes is a consistent application of will power to make it happen. This principle works on nearly anything we set out mind to, though we need a little bit'o'wisdom sprinkled in order to ensure our mind is set on the right thing. Dominique has never been out of Oklahoma, save a short trip to Texas here & there. He's afraid of what would happen if he goes out into the world and comes back a failure. We talked about how the only real failure in life is a failure of attitude, and that by leaving what we know we don't lose anything, we still are who we are at the core, and can only gain from the expansion. Dominique was real happy to meet with a positive attitude, and I too was happy to share openly ideas that may be taken for granted in a progressive place such as Berkeley, but mean so much here in the heartland. I didn't really know I was in Texas until the morning after I arrived. Why's that? On my first night I enjoyed a lovely dinner with Manuel and his friends. Manuel is the brother of an old friend and it was a joy to meet him, and I thoroughly enjoyed the company of his friends, all of whom had a creative bent and who were sincerely interested in hearing more about Kriya Yoga & meditation in general. I kept wondering to myself as well if all women from Denton as stunning as those I'd known and met that night .. turns out the answer is no, but heck, they sure got off to a good start. So why did Texas start on day two then? Two reasons. First reason - I was told I could park my car in the building lot of where I was staying. There are twenty unassigned spaces here, about 9 of which are taken, and the rest permanently open. When I walked out the door to my car in the morning, it was gone and another parked in its place. So check this - someone called the tow company at 7am on a Saturday morning so that they could park in their favorite but unassigned spot, even though there were 9 other open spots. Second reason - after recovering my car, as the story spread through town, varied and contiuous derogotory mention of the sexual orientation of that tow call person were made. Well, I'm from NY & the Bay Area, and that's not how we do. Sexual orientation has nothing to do whatsoever with whether a person is an asshole or not (though being from Texas just might). For all other purposes though, I love the South, I really do. People here truly are gracious, and what they might lack in terms of an open mind they sure do make up for with an open heart and open door. I ended up staying with Mark, whom I met in India last year and saw again there this year. Mark's quite a character - completely devoted to Gurunath and to the teachings of Kriya Yoga and yet part and parcel of a local death metal band. Oh, what to say of death metal, mm, well, it's not the most subtle of art forms. That can be said about it. I'm not sure if I will ever be able to enjoy death metal in the morning with my cup of coffee, or be able to relax with some friends with shrieking voices from hell in the background, but hey, I sure did enjoy those things in Texas. It sure felt like a big local F-you to the man in the cowboy hat who tells us how to run our lives (and tried to tell our country). On my last day in Denton, I enjoyed lunch with Manuel's parents, which morphed into tea at their place and a fascinating discussion on the distinction between mystical Christianity & churchianity. Unfortunately we barely scratched the surface when I had to excuse myself. I had an appointment with Mark John, who contacted me a few days back, was a Kriya Yoga practicioner for 35 years, and wanted to meet for tea or coffee. Mark John has been studying the link between the teachings of Moses & the teachings of Jesus and was currently writing a book on the topic. In his car I noticed what could be no other than "The Keys of Enoch" a most esoteric, hardly decipherable, but deep book of wisdom, usually found buried amongst the neauseating artifical potpouri of new age literature. I knew we were in for an interesting discussion and luckily I brought my video camera with me. Mark John's consistent efforts at going deep in Kriya has afforded him the inner sight to understand the tying threads between all the prophets. He pointed out some passages in both the new and old testament that spoke of fairly esoteric Yogic practices, and had some powerful stories to share of his experiences in India and with the Masters. "Hmm," I thought, "he's into El Morya, Moses, Jesus and Kriya Yoga, gosh, he really needs to meet Gurunath." Luckily he agrees wholeheartedly. Again though, in two hours we also barely were able to scratch the surface. Someday I will have to return here to Denton to finish both conversations of this wonderful day. The locals say that Denton is what Austin used to be like before it became known. I saw it too, colorful creative smiling beautiful people riding bicycles makee up the undercurrent of this little known town on the lonesome prairies of Texas. Manuel, who enticed me to come down here, found a place to teach, and was the only one that showed up is a young prophet, a piper of this new yet unknown Texas spirit. Keep riding strong Manuel and keep playing that flute from door to door, you never know when the unexpected one might open.
The plan initially was to drive from Denver to Wichita and spend the night at a Walmart parking lot. I was looking forward to a vagabond evening of interacting with Wichitans and watching some TV on my laptop in the car. I like how the evening ended up much better. I've been on the road now for 16 days. The first 12 days by design were composed of ever changing landscapes & people. It's a bit of a misnomer though to say I've been on the road for only 16 days, as truthfully I've been moving around really since late December, when I left my apartment in Berkeley. In the car the other day I was trying to remember where I've been and who I've been staying with. It goes something like this: 12/28-1/10 I was staying in Oakland by Lake Merritt, at the house of Janet whom implicitly agreed to have me housesit while she was in Mexico without ever having met. I have to thank Kate for that one. Staying at Janet's was like a Godsend, as the frantic pace of moving and ridding myself of excess stuff left me in a loopy delirious state. It was so nice to have a place to myself. Every night I ended up sitting by the fire. 1/10-1/19 Next I went to John and Loveleens, where a day after the inaguration, I was laid off while on my way to a 3 day "Life directions intensive" seminar in LA, which I was gifted. Perfect timing. 1/23-2/5 I stayed with Kate, a former roommate and person dearest to my heart. Everyone should know of Kate (in my opinion), she not only put up with my never decreasing mound of items, but made me feel so at home that I didn't want to leave. Being a couch surfer though, I have to honor the code and give people their space back, even when invited generously. 2/5-2/12 So I moved on to stay with the Stollers. 2.9 year old Arunima was stoked to have me there (we're best friends, you see), and I was equally as stoked to be with Scott & Anamika, two of the most incredible of people to whom my debt of gratitude has no limit. I mean it truly and fully when I say that as long as these three are within my inner sights, I know I am on my true path and cannot get lost. The next month I spent in India, first few days in Mumbai & Pune, then 10 days at the ashram, and the last 14 days in the Himalayas and North India. By the time I flew out I counted that 10 of the last 13 days in India I had to pack my (considerable) belongings and spend the night somewhere new. I figured this would be good training for times ahead, and so it was. Staying a few days here, a few days there is slightly luxurious compared to travelling and sleeping somewhere new nearly every day (in India!). Upon returning to the US I spent a night at Kate's, 3 with the Stollers, 3 with my brother in Mtn View, 2 at a Yoga retreat, a week at Eduardos (old college roommate) in SF, a week at my old house in Berkeley (where my dear friend Binal now lives) and just before hitting the road was contacted again by Janet and got to stay at her place my last two nights. Once again, Janet came through at a crucial time. Staying at her place was like coming full circle. Whew. That took long to write. I been around, and so looking ahead at the kind of pace I was setting, I decided ahead of time that I would spend about 5 days in Colorado taking it a bit easy. On Sunday I arrived in Denver and stayed with Aman, who is my Guru-Bhai (brother disciple). Aman is currently on assignment in the US and will be moving back to India in a few months most likely. He is truly the sweetest guy and I'm honored to be in the same Spiritual family as he. As it goes, Aman with the purest of hearts also enjoys a fine glass of scotch (single malt, of course). We had fun staying up late, and he had fun waking me early and whooping me in racquetball (to my defense, he had chai coursing through his veins, while I was taken at 6:30am from couch to court in under 60 seconds .. or something like that). I was also able to spend a couple of days in Boulder with one of my oldest friends Tim, who is studying at Naropa University. Tim is a contradiction in terms. A sensitive, gentle and thoughtful person, Tim likes to relax by cranking up some mind shattering death metal while talking in a backwards Vermont accent. It's always fun being with Tim. Was also able to see Jeremy, my college roommate and one of the friends I initially followed the path of awakening with. It's been near 4 years since we've seen each other, but we picked up right where we left off. Isn't it always that way with true friends? Jeremy also picked a winner that night, dining out in Aji on Pearl St. If you are ever in Boulder, do check out this restaurant of inspired & vibrant Latin cuisine. It's in Boulder that I had one of my first major hurdles of this journey. A casual call with a family member turned into an opportunity to put down my current efforts, sending in waves the message "You are not good enough. What you are doing is not good enough, and the way you are doing it is .. not good enough." This was not a major surprise coming from a family member, as this has been the basic message I've received since a very young age. I recognize now that this is really just a projection, and that my unconventional lifestyle and the principles behind it act as a threat to the 'established norm' of my family's mental organization. Their way of dealing with it is to consistenly discount and invalidate my authenticity. It's easier to see me as a child who acts as a blind follower (of anyone and anything), a child who has no independent experience and no true voice. This is much easier than recognizing the need for, and then doing the tremendous amount of inner work required to overcome the illusion of seperateness. I used to take these conversations very personally, and still do to a degree. I can see though how far I've come by how less angered I get when this gets thrown at me, and how quickly I can cool off and move on. Nonetheless, this was a test for me, and for a moment I teetered over the cliff's edge, looking into the chasm I've known so intimately through the years. A mist rises through this endless pit which beckons me to sleep, beckons me to dullness with the siren song which goes "I'm not good enough, I'm not good enough, why am I even trying? I should not even try. Why is this person trying? They should not even try. Let me settle in, settle into lazyness. Let me ignore, ignore all calls to serve, because I am not good enough anyway, and that's the way it will always be, it's the way it will always be, and that is truly me." But no. No more of that song playing in my head. No way. I know how that records plays out and it always ends in misery, in suffering. I choose what thoughts enter this mind, and I choose to remind myself constantly that I am an expression of the mystery of life. Daily in the inner cave carved out by meditation I experientially remind myself that truly I am Spirit condensed in matter, here to serve my Self in all and to dance with laughter and in-joy this play of light & shadow. This is why I am here, and I will not forget again. No way. Renewed and revived, I was ready to leave Denver this morning to a long drive ahead. Yes, even sleeping in a Walmart parking lot I can find joy, I can find freedom. I ended up getting a call from Pauline who lives in Wichita. A few years back Pauline went to meet Ammachi, the hugging saint. Sitting at a table in the cafeteria, a woman snaked her way along the aisle and sat next to Pauline. Immediately and repetitively Pauline heard an inner voice saying "This woman needs to come to Wichita. This woman needs to come to Wichita." Finally Pauline told her, and the woman's response was "Kansas? No way!" The next day, that same woman ended up on the way to Wichita and spent three months staying with Pauline. That woman was Danielle, whom I wrote about in my first journey post, about how we met in Israel 6 years ago, and how I stayed with her at the beggining of this journey. Danielle is ending up being a guardian angel for me. Thank you Danielle! So Pauline invited me warmly into her home. What a trip. You know what? Pauline told me about a sacred Rose oil she got from Amma about 10 years back. This is the exact same oil that was given to Amma by Christa, the incredible arometherapist I met in Santa Fe last week. What connections we live. Pauline has a magnificent collection of crystals in her house, and allowed me to fulfill a long standing desire of sitting in an infrared Sauna, which lives in her basement and which was an inspired purchase for her (inspired by Danielle). Pauline is also a practicing Sufi, so I was able to share with her some of the sacred Oud oil I received in New Mexico, which is a sacrament in the Sufi world. Sounds funny to say that we spent our evening sniffing each others wrists eh? And who would have thunk that Wichita Kansas is an emerging light center? I will definitely be back here again. Tomorrow Pauline offered me an acupuncture session, after which I will head to Texas, to the hometown of Mark, the heavy metal Kriya Yogi, and of Sara, an old friend who has had a profound impact on this life.
God is great!
Didn't think I'd stay up writing another update so soon but a day like today demands it. Yesterday I left off with a plan to hit Santa Fe for a true New Mexican lunch, and then on to Taos to find Ronda, whom I've been tracking down for years.
A little backstory. Right at the end of college I noticed a little store across from Wegmans in Ithaca advertising aromatherapy. Curiously explorative, inside I found out about the world of essential oils. The idea that the essence of a plant could be captured was just magic to me. Thus began a long and intensive exploration of all things related to essential oils, which went hand in hand with my deep rooted obsession for the finest of incense. In this little Ithaca shop I purchased my first clay diffuser. It was a nice diffuser and one that I held sacred, as it was a companion for me during the initial phase of my experimentation with meditation. Driving across the country to California, I took great care that this diffuser would not break. One day while repacking the car on the way to Taos, I took out the diffuser and laid it on the side of the road so it would be safe. We took about 10 minutes to pack the car, during which not a single person even came close to the diffuser, thus I was shocked to find it sitting cracked in two, exactly where I left it.
Woh to me! I was on a mission now to find a new one. I asked all around Taos where I could find an aromatherapy shop and was directed to go up the stairs of a certain gallery to a room with no signage and no indication of what might lay behind the door. This is where I met Ronda. Rather I should say, inside the mostly empty wooden room I found a glowing angelic being whose name was Ronda. It was as if she was waiting for me. She took me over to the small section of wall which had anything on it and proceeded to show me the finest essential oils I've ever come across. Ancient frankincense, aged Egyptian amber, Linden blossom & mandarin were just a few of her fantastic scents. Her custom blends were also Divinely inspired and I grabbed a whole bunch up. Then came the mammer jammer. The oil to end all oils. The true, the one, the only - the rarest of the rare - Oud. Yes, Oud. You may know it as agarwood, or else aloeswood. What is it? There is a certain tree which grows mainly in southeast Asia. When this tree dies or is weakened it gets taken over by a type of fungus which feeds upon the tree's sap. The fungus grows on the tree, and as it ages it forms a most fantastic and intoxicating scent. This is Aloeswood. The best Aloeswood is gotten from trees which have fallen and been buried underground for hundreds of years. This kind of prized Aloeswood, called Kyara, is worth it's weight in gold. Oud is the essential oil of Aloeswood, and has long been considered the most precious, rare and prized of scents. Ronda proceeded to give me one drop ($30), which has lasted in fragrance to this day. How to describe the scent of Oud? Nearly impossible. The mind cannot understand it, and thus is inclined to come back and smell it again and again. A little bit on the skin can be maddening. It's like an ever deep black hole emanating a hint of deep, earthy, woodsy mystery.
Yes. I wanted to find Ronda again. She was a marker on my journey, and I wanted to pay her tribute.
So I left Albuquerque with directions to the finest unknown restaurant in Santa Fe where I might find some real Southwestern cookin. All was going well until following the directions I was given I found myself heading deeper and deeper into the mountains, all amidst a spontaneous and heavy snowstorm. By the time I got myself fixated, Guadalupe's cafe was closed and would only re-open for dinner. It was 3 O'clock, snowing heavily, roads were slushy and I needed to rethink my plan. I decided to visit the Annapurna cafe, already knowing that they would have fantastic chai and wireless internet access. As I walked in, the caretaker of a small giftshop struck up a conversation with me. It's apparently clear to New Mexicans that I'm an out of towner. Not sure what gives me away, but wearing jeans & a sweatshirt is likely a good beginning point. So he strikes up a conversation, and when he finds out I'm heading to Taos, he and the only patron of the shop try in their most spiritually sensitive polite way to convey what a pure dumbass I am. I keep insisting, because I'm on a mission after all, and they keep persisting "You are a dumbass. Stay in Santa Fe." What are you looking for anyway? the guy asks me. Ronda. Oils. Full circle. Connection. "Well," he tells me, "there is apparently a lady in town who has some of the best oils around, including a large selection of Oud." <ding,ding> It must be Ronda I think to myself, who else would have it so? And in any case, all my internet sleuthing only led me to conclude that neither Ronda nor her shop exist any longer in Taos. What was I going to do, walk into the center of town in a middle of a snow storm and ask around for her? (Yes. Dumbass.) Ok then, let's see who this lady in Santa Fe is, after all, oud is oud and that's all I could, should or would ask for in an aromatherapist. Ok, do we know her name? No. Her address? No. Her shop name? No. What do we know then? We know that his friend Peter (who just left the place a minute ago) knows who she is, but we don't know how to reach Peter. "Peter? I have Peter's number" says the lady who just walks in. Well, ok then. Now through Peter we know this lady's first name (Christa) and her business name. Oh, but her website is down, and there is no address for her. Well, that's no troubling matter for this internet sleuth, who has wasted many a year of his life tracking down people on the internet in order to avoid facing real life. It wasn't easy, but I came up for air with her full name and her phone number. Wasn't too hard to reach her, and yes, she could see me today. Plus, as a bonus point, Doug (the helpful shopkeeper), the lady who had Peter's number & I all realized that we had seen each other at Ammachi's ashram back in California sometime back. We were not strangers after all.
So, now a change of plan. I'm going to book myself into the local hostel, go get me some Oud, and enjoy the finest New Mexican meal for dinner. Taos would have to wait for another day. But wait, the room assigned to me at the Hostel was fittingly the "Taos" room. What a nice joke. So I'll end up in Taos anyway. And so driving to the Oud lady, I thought myself to have had yet another colorful adventure, which would all end with me sitting around the hostel lounge sharing stories with all the beautiful ladies who would obviously still be hanging out late night when I return.
Wrong. It gets even better, and this is why I testify that God is great.
Christa was waiting for me as I pull up to my destination, a small enclave of artist studios (Adobe style) sitting by a small creek in rural Santa Fe. She is impressed by my car and comes for a closer look. A pamphlet sitting in my trunk catches her eye. "Wait, I think I've met him before." she exclaims. "Who, Gurunath?" "Yes! Me & Michael met him here in Santa Fe many years ago. We were just talking about finding him again the other day. I've been all around the Kriya Yoga world and Yogananda for many years, and we want to get initiated into Kriya Yoga." <jaw drops>. Okkkk .. is this really happening again? It seems every day, everywhere I go, I keep running into people who want to learn Kriya Yoga - but people who want to learn, and have met Gurunath, and were actively thinking of seeking him out again? It's too much. I go upstairs and meet Michael (who looks like a cross between Christopher Reeve and Christian Bale, so, Superman and Batman). Michael is slightly shocked - "So you are a disciple of Siddhanath?? We saw him speak once, but there was no opportunity to get initiated then, and his presence made such an impact that I remember nearly everything he said to this day." He continued "We had a precious oil we wanted to gift him, but so many people were crowding him we didn't want to push through, so we are going to give it to you to give to him." Precious oils? My right brow raises. Yes, I did come here to see precious oils. But what's this Christa, you have *every* single precious and rare oil I have ever dreamed of smelling? Oh, and you also make them into hydrosols that one can drink (and get high), and what's that? You distill these oils yourself? Oh, and you happen to have a collection of 20 different kinds of the most rarest of rare Oud in the world? Oh, really? You want me to stay in your house tonight while we sample all the different oils and wonder about the vast and unintelligible mystery which brought us together this evening? Ok. Done. Done (and done).
What is the point of all this story really? It's really that I am just a dumbass who makes silly plans that never work out but who also happens to be studying under a great living Master who has laid a clear path of service before me. Just by choosing to take it - just by choosing to overcome the fear of taking that first step, then taking that second first step, and so on, just by choosing to do that, everyday unfolds as a miracle. Every interaction becomes a testimony to the potency of these teachings. Every moment becomes and opportunity to remember "It's not me, it's He, it's He." How many little things had to come together for this to happen? The bad directions, the weather, finding out about Annapurna yesterday, the gift shop, the lady in line, the pamphlet sticking out of the trunk. Who or what is guiding this process? It's not me. Can't be any clearer.
And so indeed we dined as the oldest of new friends on the finest New Mexican cuisine. We then immersed ourselves in the intoxication of the most amazing scents collected through the years by this most amazing interesting lady, and her partner, superbatman. Some of what we sampled? Clary sage (gets you high), aged frankincense, osha root, osis (unbelievable), pinion, jasmine sambac, several roses, aged mysore sandalwood, saffron (!), real ambergris (washed up on shore from the sperm whale), blue lotus (a miracle), and Oud, Oud, Oud, Oud, Oud. I'm going to bed tonight with a haze of Oud infiltrating my mental sphere. Tomorrow she is making up a package of these precious ones so that I can take them with me and share them with you.
(soon to come) www.aromabotanica.com
A friend of mine living in Spain just wrote a blog post asking "Is this real life?" (but in all caps). That pretty much sums up my current feeling.
I'm sitting in Albuquerque (gosh, didn't they think of that fact that we'd have to spell this word before they named the damn city?) right now, having just got back from the second Kriya Yoga teaching. The teachings have been going well, and I've been especially touched by the quality of sweetness of the people who show up to learn. It's an incredibly humbling feeling to be able to share these most sacred and profound teachings with eager Souls. I mainly just try to get myself as much out of the way as possible and allow Nath to speak through me and to bring His energy into the room.
In Flagstaff as soon as I pulled into the parking lot I met this guy who looked like he was coming for the initiation. What clued me off was that he was wearing white, for one, but also, he had this most incredibly familiar look. You see, all of us around Gurunath are part of a large karmic family. We've all known each other a lonnnngggg time, and believe me, if it weren't for Nath acting as the glue, or more accurately, a super magnet, most of us wouldn't have anything to do with each other. As it stands, even if we can't stand one another, we love each other dearly. Guess that's the deal with families huh?
Anyway, this guy in particular had that certain familial familiarity (he even looked like my uncle). Every year when Nath comes around there's a few new faces which all of us recognize instantly, and without fail it's those people who stick with us, stick with the practice, and most of all can withstand the blazing purifictory fire of close proximity to our Master (gosh does it burn). I found out that this guy had looked on our website eager to learn Kriya Yoga, but was unable to get a response from anyone several times. Just days before the teaching, he looked at the site again, saw our newly posted Arizona teacher, and thus found out about the initiation. Everyone who showed up was sincere and sweet, but in him I recognized someone who would go the distance. After the initiation during casual conversation we found out that he had come from the Ananda Marga organization. This for me was the kicker. Have you heard of Ananda Marga? I'd guess no. No one really has, except the few of us that have come in contact with it. Ananda Marga is an incredibly widespread organization doing service work literally just about everywhere in the world. It is based off the teachings of Shrii Shrii Anandamurti, also known as P.R. Sarkar, who along with being a most unique Spiritual master was also a prolific songwriter, botanist, geologist, philosopher and profound socioeconomic thinker. In my life, members of Ananda Marga, also known as Margis abound and are some of my closest friends and purest Souls I know. In fact, back in the Berkeley house we used to host quite a few monks and nuns of that order. Anyhow, for me this was the kicker, and he too was so happy to learn that someone knew what the heck he was talking about. It's nice to see that all these seemingly disparate groups and teachings are truly tied together by invisible threads.
I've also just been incredibly touched by all the people hosting me and helping setup the teachings along the way. I mean, these are people who have had maybe one or two days with Nath in their life, some of them have never even met him. I just feel so incredibly lucky to have had so many opportunities to be with Him, and simultaneously feel like such an idiot for taking so much of it for granted. I'm a lucky idiot. I'll take that anyday over being an unlucky smartass. These people though, wow. I already mentioned about Rich and Melinda in Flagstaff. I still can't get over that Rich has 200 live scorpions who are all his friends. Soon I'll post the video of what happened when he put one of them on my hand (still makes me want to scream out). In particular, just seeing how in love Rich & Melinda are was a teaching for me. How they kissed when he left for work in the morning, how they laughed at each others jokes, and how they cared about each others little comforts has kept my heart warmed through the cold stiff breeze blowing across these high plains. That breeze is something else too, let me tell you. When I left Flagstaff yesterday there was a bona fide snow blizzard taking place. Then, I40 was shut down for two hours due to the winds which could have knocked cars over like bowling pins. It actually was kind of nice just sitting there on the highway. I was able to get some photos ready for upload, drink some tea and take a nap before continuing the long journey to Albuquerque (oh God, I don't like to spell this word).
On the way East, without warning, I was quickly prompted to get off at this one exit. I didn't need gas, nor to use the bathroom, and God knows (Wells Fargo knows actually) that I didn't need to spend any money on useless things. As soon as I pulled off the exit though a wave of nostalgia hit me. I stopped in this exact same place nearly 10 years ago while driving out West on my big California adventure. Yes, I remembered this shop with useless things (didn't buy anything!), and also remembered the little stand where I bought fried bread and found out that in this part of the world Sabres is called Tuna. You might call it cactus fruit, but if you call it that then you've never really had the real thing. No, Berkeley Bowl does not have good cactus fruit. Don't waste your money.
So, I've been staying here in .. New Mexico with this guy Anthony, who helped me setup the teachings. Man, this guy is the coolest dude! I met him at a retreat last year, but as retreats go I didn't get to have more than a 5 minute conversation with him. I was amazed to hear of his most interesting life, which has taken him from coast to coast, and from novice to wisened Yogi (well, wisened Yogi novice, which is where he'd say he is, and is definitely where I am, minus the wisened). I received so much from talking to him and meeting all these sincere seekers. What a great to joy to be in a position of service such as this.
Tomorrow I'll head to Santa Fe for a bit, and then to Taos to try and track down Ronda, whom I met nearly 10 years back and who has a lead on the most amazing essential oils I've ever come across. I really hope to find her. And now, late at night, reflecting on all that's happened and all that's coming ahead, I find myself asking, "wow, is this real life?"
My parents generously gifted me with a blender recently, finally allowing my to fulfill a few years-long dream of making my own smoothies for breakfast. Here's what I had this morning:
- 2 small bananas
- 2 pieces dried mango
- 4 dried strawberries
- handful fresh blueberries
- handful fresh raspberries
- handful fresh bushberries (these are white)
- handful of goji berries soaked overnight
- 8 almonds soaked overnight
- 2 fresh figs
- spoonful of tonic alchemy
So far, delicious. Any alternative recipes you like?
Down near the dead end of Palou Avenue, beside the old Hunters Point
Shipyard, whose claim to infamy is being the city's sole Superfund site still rife
with toxic waste and radioactive material, there's a woodworking shop that goes
against the grain.
Woodshanti, a worker-owned cooperative of custom-furniture builders, strives
to be as peaceful as its Hindi-inspired name suggests
The other night I enjoyed the Slammin All Body Band for the second time, and they were just as impressive and fun. Watch for them, they are beginning to venture out of the Bay Area and may be in a town near you very soon.
"Meditation is not the same as concentration. Concentration consists in freeing the attention from objects of distraction and focusing it on one thing at a time. Meditation is that special form of concentration in which the attention has been liberated from restlessness and is focused on God. A man may concentrate on divinity or on money but he does not meditate on money or any material thing. Meditation is focused only on God or sacred thoughts and ideas." —Paramahansa Yogananda
Taken verbatim from "Jewish Folklore" by Nathan Ausubel
"A young man once came to a great rabbi and asked him to make him a rabbi.
It was winter time then. The rabbi stood at the window looking out upon the yard while the rabbinical candidate was droning into his ears a glowing account of his piety and learning.
The young man said, 'You see, Rabbi, I always go dressed in spotless white like the sages of old. I never drink any alcoholic beverages; only water ever passes my lips. Also, I perform austerities. I have sharp-edged nails inside my shoes to mortify me. Even in the coldest weather, I lie naked in the snow to torment my flesh. Also daily, the shammes gives me forty lashes on my bare back to complete my perpetual penance.'
Copied from Wiki article, Paramahansa Yogananda's guidelines on how to create spiritual communities, which he called "World Brotherhood Colonies" amongst groups of friends in which the principles of "simple living and high thinking" were prominent.
368 days ago I was released from the hospital after a bout with a near fatal Group A streptococcal infection of the blood. It's rare that the strep bacteria ever makes it into the bloodstream, but when it does there is an 80% survival rate and lower chances of coming out of it without some permanent damage. As I've been reflecting on it much the past year, I'd like to share some thoughts from the experience with the guidance of hindsight.
I recently completed a 9+ day liquid fast using the Neera Super Cleanse which basically entails mixing water with fresh lemon or lime, a mixture of maple & palm syrups, and a pinch of Ceyenne pepper. A variation of this fast is called "The Master Cleanse" which omits the Palm syrup element.
I was a week away from moving to California.
I had promised to take three people with me.
I had no idea where we would land.
I had no idea how we would get there.
The date was August 11th, 1999. It was the day of the "Grand Cross" when several planets were to align and form a cross in the sky over Earth. I was alerted to this fact by a friend I had met over the internet. I saw a post of his on an online forum and responded thinking he might enjoy reading "Autobiography of a Yogi." He did. One day he was sitting by the ocean and thought of me when a "Y" shaped coral washed up at his feet. He sent it to me as an Omen, and proceeded to tell me of the "Grand Cross," and how I should tune in as that day held great potential for fateful transitions. I still remember having one of the most wonderful meditations that morning. Soon after finishing my meditation, Jessica called and told me of her two friends who have a Van for sale, and not just any van by the way, a blue van.
"It's blue? Ok I'll take it" .. after all, Blue was my color. It all made sense.
Every year my Master visits the US from July through October, and every year I want to write about 20 posts describing my experience of being around him and the experience of the Sangha as a whole. In the hectic schedule I nary find the free moments to write anything that would sound sensical to you, who most likely have either never met him, or not taken the time to know him in depth. All the statements I can think to write would sound like dramatic sweeping generalities, and though I mean them from the deepest core of my Soul, somehow I think part of what I'm trying to convey would be lost. To this end, I am hoping to begin writing a series of posts under the category "Experiences with the Master" chronicling just that.
What would I have written otherwise if I tried to condense it all?