In 2000, my friend Geoffrey stuck a note under my door in the ashram which said, “All love, all respect, no judgment.” He convinced me to go and see his friend Jenny Marfatia, also known as Sri Gayatri Ma, who was then 80 years old. She is now 89 years old, and still as bright as a button. Gayatri met Baba Muktananda in Ganeshpuri, and is a disciple of Nityananda Bhagavan.
[Update 11.06.10 Namami Shankara, Bhavani Shankara, Uma Maheshvara, Tava Sharanam. Shree Gayatri has left this body in a cloud of golden light and love. She remains with us in Spirit, and as the teaching, “You are Guru, Brahman, Self”. Thank you for your love. ]
She looked me in the eye, very directly but very kindly. I looked back at her, too scared to say what I felt, which was, I feel guilty for coming here, for wanting something from the Guru instead of giving something to the Guru. I felt somehow dishonest. I tried to offer her prasad. It was my most sacred possession, an orange thread someone had given me in Ganeshpuri. She handed it straight back to me. “No negotiations ‘ere”, she said, looking into my eyes with deep love. I nearly fell to the floor with relief. This guru refuses the pedestal, because she lives in equality consciousness. Now, I trust her.
She took me to see three Indian nuns, Dadis of the Brahma Kumaris and we sat for group meditation. A beautiful energy entered me. I was holding a handkerchief, and I still have that handkerchief, in a wooden box on the puja.
“I” still remained. I was not annihilated, or obliterated. I had thought that enlightenment would involve some sort of wipeout, since my individual self had to “dissolve into the Self”. However, in this beautiful energy I realized, it’s only the bad stuff God is taking from me: the confusion, pain, fear and self-loathing. God has left all the good parts of me: consciousness, truth, bliss, intelligence, awareness, awakeness, functioning. It doesn’t hurt at all. It only hurts if you turn away from it. (and don’t I know how that feels.)
It’s not “no pain, no gain”, it’s yoga.
There is not a void, there’s a light shining on in the void, which yogis see as the inner light, and the darkness has never put it out.
Over my subsequent months with Gayatri, when the beautiful energy would fill me, I would sometimes feel that I would never be able to move from the chair again. I would wonder, “What if this body never eats again? What will I do with this body when they need to lock the community centre for the evening? ”
Sometimes I would end up on her lounge room floor, curled up tight with my thumb in my mouth, not moving for an hour, suspended in state of peace and slow breath. She would graciously steer guests into the other room.
Gradually my anxiety attacks diminished, and I remembered and understood different incidents of trauma I had experienced. It wasn’t difficult to remember, it was a relief. I cried with joy, to think that I didn’t have to do what any internal or external tyrant said, ever again. The instruction of the consensual reality to be passive and disempowered is not the truth, but it had bound my mind in fear. Love is the truth.
This energy of Jesus through Gayatri was very easy, very assimilable. I remain. I am. No void, no annihilation, no such thing.
God said in Exodus 3:14, “I AM that I AM”.
She also had a murti of Bhagavan Nityananda. I love that murti.
Aham ni guru ni sisya, sivo’ham, sivo’ham.
I started to be able to eat again. I’d been living on a liquid diet because most times I reached for food a seizure would threaten. I didn’t feel worthy enough to eat. Also, I was afraid of hurting the vegetables. Gradually the holy energy reshaped me and I came to understand that I can contribute more if I eat. Try not to eat more than I need to be full of energy. Vegetarian is good.
Jenny would say over me,
Prayer of Faith
God is my help in every need;
God does my every hunger feed;
God walks beside me, guides my way
Through every moment of the day.
I now am wise, I now am true,
Patient, kind, and loving, too.
All things I am, can do, and be,
Through God, the Truth that is in me.
God is my health, I can not be sick;
God is my strength, unfailing and quick;
God is my all, I know no fear,
Since God and love and Truth are here.
by Hannah More Kohaus
This prayer was written over a hundred years ago. It would ring inside me with an infinitely tender love, as she repeated it. God, the Truth, that is in me.
Jenny had a giant crucifix hanging on her wall, garlanded with a large rosary, or japa mala, of rudraksha beads from India. The original lineage of Natha yogis recognized Jesus, or Isha Natha, as “guru of gurus”, the Jagad Guru, or World Saviour.
“My friend, to what country did Ishai go, and to what country went John?
My friend, where is the guru of gurus, and where is your mind resting?
My friend, Ishai has gone towards Arabia, John towards Egypt.
My friend, Ishai is the guru of gurus. The mind of the yogi rests only in the Yogi.”
This is a hymn from the Nathanamavali, as quoted by Miguel Serrano and Frank MacShane in The Serpent of Paradise p. 79. The Nathanamavali is an ancient book treasured by the Natha yogis of the Aravalli Hills south of Kashmir, which records the gurus of the Natha lineage.
“The Bengali educator and patriot, Bipin Chandra Pal, published an autobiographical sketch in which he revealed that Vijay Krishna Goswami, a renowned saint of Bengal and a disciple of Sri Ramakrishna, told him about spending time in the Aravalli mountains with a group of extraordinary ascetic monk-yogis known as Nath Yogis. The monks spoke to him about Isha Nath, whom they looked upon as one of the great teachers of their order. When Vijay Krishna expressed interest in this venerable guru, they read his life as recorded in one of their sacred books, the Nathanamavali. It was the life of Him Whom the Goswami knew as Jesus the Christ!”
Jenny taught me the meaning of Jesus’ words in Luke 17:21, “The Kingdom of Heaven is already with you”. She taught me the meaning of John’s words in 1 John 4:16, “God is love”. She taught me the meaning of Jesus’ words in The Gospel of Mary Sutra 4, “There is no sin”.
Behind the illusion of duality on the material plane, there is only Love.
Here on earth, we know hot/cold, day/night, sun/moon, male/female, pain/pleasure. Pleasure in this context means what you feel when you eat your third chocolate biscuit. It does not mean the true yearning for love, peace and freedom. That is not a dualistic thing.
Earthly pleasures quickly turn into the pain of addiction, for they are a false promise. And then, attachment turns to aversion.
I thought that this realm of opposites is the truth, and so I became depressed. Ifevery time we get happy, the happiness will only turn to sadness again, what is the point of it all? The yin turns to yang, the yang turns to yin, so what hope is there? I may as well “follow the darkness to get to the light.”
No. Behind the yin and the yang, is the Tao. That little yin-yang symbol is sitting on a large white page, actually, an endless white page.
Behind the light and the dark, is only the Light.
There is no abyss, for the pearl of light shines on in the abyss, and the darkness has never put it out. How can you put out, the is-ness? It is. It does not have a beginning or an ending. Children understand this. You say ” tomorrow, yesterday”, to Charlie, and he looks sweetly back at you as if to say, “Oh, but it’s all just the same Today though Merry, going on and on.”
The light on the material plane is like a pale shade of the inner Light of the planes. The third chocolate biscuit is a very pale shade of the true inner bliss. It is a mixture of sattva, the inner Light, and tamas, the illusory darkness. It is called, rajas.
What is tamas, the illusory darkness of the material plane? What is war, suffering, poverty, hatred and revenge? It is something created by people whose minds contain a belief in hatred and revenge. Peace be on them. If no-one ever believed in hatred and revenge, there would be no war.
Peter said to Jesus (Gospel of Mary Sutra 4), Lord, what is sin? Jesus said to Peter, There is no sin.
In truth, tamas does not exist.
So why does it appear to exist? And, for we humans on the material plane, it is a very convincing illusion. You can’t just tell a war victim, your pain does not exist.
If Tamas does not exist, does that mean, do not extend compassion to its victims? No. It is only knowing that it does not have any inherent power of its own that we are able to begin to heal it.
The light, on the other hand, continues to exist, whether you believe in it or not.
God makes his rain to fall and sun to shine on just and unjust alike. Feel your arm. See how it is warm? The life-force in your body continues to do its thing, your heart is beating and lungs are breathing, whether you believe in it or not, whether you worship it or not, whether you know it is there or not.
This is wonderful. It means that, even when I cannot remember love, Love is there remembering for me.
Therefore, light and darkness are not polar opposites of equal strength. This is the illusion of duality pertaining to the material plane and it is not the truth. In truth, Love is much, much stronger than hatred.