Ecstasy is defined as one, an overwhelming feeling of great happiness or joyful excitement and two, an emotional or religious frenzy or trancelike state, originally one involving an experience of mystic self-transcendence. And, I was in one totally! I was sitting in front of the computer screen and tears were streaming down my face. I was sobbing. I felt as if Neem Karoli Baba was staring right through me, into my heart, into my very soul. I still feel that way, every single time I see his photo.
Through a series sychronicities of events I was brought to Neem Karoli Baba. Here’s the backstory. In 1987 I heard a story of a guru who dropped acid (a handful of pills-enough to slay a dragon) and nothing happened to him. It is said that he said that what you feel and see and hear is what I feel, see, and hear every moment. I forgot the story completely and in the same year had what I now know was a spiritual experience but then thought was a nervous breakdown. They are usually one and the same. I remember a shaman coming to the US and is quoted as saying, when he visited a mental institution, that he now knew where we Americans keep all our shamans. Ha! I was completely out of my mind, I saw colors, plants on the cellular level, fabrics thread by thread and all around me was light. Women with strange faces and colors and wearing clothing from lost ages brought me forward and told me to take these pills. I did, or at least I thought I did. "I kept saying, I took all the pills, all of them." My mom kept asking where did I get them and what did I take. When I was babbling and acting so strangely without being able to explain where the pills came from and who was with me, she and her girlfriend thought it best to take me to the hospital. They pumped my stomach at the hospital and nothing, absolutely nothing was in there. I knew even then in the farthest recesses of my mind that I had had an ecstatic spiritual experience-one I promptly tried to shake off with a completely regular lifestyle (preferably materialistic/hedonistic) and of course I never really fit into this “regular” lifestyle. This made me sad and even more depressed. Life, marriages, child, divorce, more children, more marriages, more divorces, more houses, less houses, more stuff, less stuff, more of the same life. Every once and a while I would come to my spiritual senses and want to break out but I kept thinking that this wasn't real. Who actually lives a spiritual life? And then after awakening to the reality that what I thought was reality was actually a distraction and that the real reality lay inward, in my inner world. This is where we are limitless and see God. I gave into surrender to the life I am here to live - with my heart wide open and my life lived fully. I admitted that letting go of control and a jumping into life fully and consciously was where it's at.
In 2011, I left the corporate world and started my practice, a much more Disney-like version of what I practice now. In 2012, I met a very wise woman who became my teacher and her guru was Sai Baba. I thought maybe he was my guru. He was not my guru. But I kept hearing Maharaj-ji. Baba. Baba. Baba. Since then I have been meditating, begging and pleading for my guru to come and she came in various forms, but in truth she was always my higher future Self presented by various Goddesses
Last week my dear, dear friend, apprentice, and chronicler or the work told me she needed to tell me something after the SoulFood Sunday message about the time lapses. She told me the story of Neem Karoli Baba. I read up on him and loved him at first sight. In meditation I was told by a blue woman that Diana, Isis, Kali, and Ishtar are one and the same and that they would show me that my guru is my higher self. This blue woman has come several times in the past and after asking around I now know she is Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and good fortune, I believe, of the spirit through the material, not just the material.
On the 20th I watched footage of Ram Dass and his story of meeting Maharaj-ji (Neem Karoli Baba) and how he had wanted to try LSD and took a handful and nothing happened. Then it hit me like a thunderbolt. He is the one who came to me so many, many years ago. I saw original footage of Maharaj-ji and I sobbed with the sadness of losing a lover. I sobbed like the prophetic poetess Mirabai Devi sobbed when thinking of Krishna. He is a reflection of my higher self. He is my guru. In the footage at that moment these words were spoken: God, Guru, Self are all the same in various reflections. I thought finally, Maharaj-ji, you are here. I lay at your feet.
But then as usual what I want to be real, true, and what is the plan unfolding is not necessarily real, true, or what is supposed to happen. We only get to see the touchstones on the path, not the end or even the curves up the road. Remember the whole control thing? I was in meditation and was told 'guru schmuru'. You are your own guru and even avatars can disappoint. Your guru is you. The rest are reflections of their own guru-ness. No need to follow. See the gurus as examples and of spirit in humanity- in all its glory and in all its flaws. Lead yourself. A few moments later I was on my computer basking in the love of more research of my new found beloved. And there right before my eyes popped up the book, Stripping the Gurus. Ok. Can you say, “hit me in the stomach with reality?” There. Right there was story after story of the failings of gurus. And mine was no less human. He liked to hang with young pretty women and in one instance after another he placed his hands in between this young devotee’s legs and fondled her saying, “Mine, mine, mine.” I was disgusted! But then again who doesn't want to have an intimate and maybe even sexual experience with their guru. Gurus are no different than heroes or political leaders or athletes. They are human. They get power hungry, greedy, lascivious, and use their power for self-gratification or for the glory and ecstasy of the devotee. And then is it my business? And if it is presented to me, do I deny it because then the guru is judged and may fall off his high horse. No! I neither deny nor pry. I defend the defenseless, see the truth of the yin and yang of humanity and say, Guru Schmuru! I can see that following blindly is in fact a form of judgement and a blurring of the truth. If we can't handle the truth of our gurus, how can we face our own truth. And guess what this truth can be downright ugly. Take the teaching and separate the work from the person but see it. Honor it. Decide to open your eyes. I take can them down from their pedestal (because that's what we do with our heroes) but I can do it without reaction and judgment. I’ll insist on seeing the truth as I did for Bill Clinton but I'll stand and defend Monica Lewinsky instead of cowering in fake Feminism because can feminism actually handle having a power-hungry-skirt-chaser as its role model? It should be able to handle the truth. I'll see the truth in Martin Luther King and John F. Kennedy as heroes of the Civil Rights movement while also seeing their human faults and inconsistencies, and I'll even see the truth in Jesus that he may have been a spiritual leader but he was also a rebel rouser and most likely an anarchist, who knows. Was he even real? I’ll continue to peel layer after layer of the mask. I’ll disrobe from the brand and unveil the dichotomy of who we are inside and out. We all play a role. We all falter. we are all frauds. But when we are conscious of it. We live. Without excuses. without self-flagellation. We just are. It's an inside job and our job is in our practice.