Friday, March 28, 2008

One message

"Say not, 'I have found the truth,' but rather, 'I have found a truth.'"
~Kahlil Gibran

I had a wonderful, somewhat unexpected experience last night. A friend of mine heard somewhat vaguely about a blessing being done by a woman from India who imparts divine energy. She didn't know anything else about it except when and where it would be held. It sounded interesting to me so I decided to go to it with her. The evening ended up being part of Sri Karunamayi's 2008 World Tour, the Spiritual Discourse and Darshan piece of her larger Bay Area program. Amma, as she is called, is considered to be an embodiment of the divine mother, with a large heart full of love for individuals and the world as a whole. She has many followers in India and around the world, revered for her loving presence and good works.

While I've always found Hinduism interesting--really, find me a religion or philosophy that's NOT interesting--I was always more attracted to the Taoist and Buddhist end of the Eastern religious spectrum. I've been introduced to small pieces of the faith throughout the years, even studying the Bhagavad Gita and using a mantra, but I've never been one of those people who felt incomplete without a guru or a trip to India. However, one of the things I love about being where I am on my path right now is that I really got to enjoy the experience last night, soak up all the good energy in the room, experience Amma's amazing presence, and not worry about what to call it or find a label for myself in the midst of it. I loved the chanting--my favorite being the Sri Sarasweti Mantra, I've been singing it half the morning--loved feeling the vibration of the sounds in my chest and body, loved how it deepened my connection to everyone else in the room, loved how I could feel the vibration even during the silent meditation. During some of the chants there was drumming, which set my soul on fire and made me want to move, to participate in the creation of its beautiful, soulful rhythm.

Amma spoke on and off throughout the evening, sharing her perspective on the world and our place in it. I couldn't always understand the words she was saying, but I always felt connected to her message. The more she spoke the more clear it became to me that she was speaking a truth I'd heard before, just with a slightly different perspective on it. She may be coming from the background of Sanātana Dharma and I may be coming from a patchwork quilt background that includes Christianity and Religious Science, but we are both pulling from the same well, connecting to the same sense of the divine. She spoke of our Oneness with the whole of life, and how to be at peace with that life. She spoke of our duty to be in the world but not of it, bringing our presence out into the world without getting sucked into its drama. She spoke of the importance of meditation, and how to find clues to the practice of meditation by looking out in nature. And she spoke of a deep, abiding love that fills her up and spreads out into the world through each person that allows it to, carrying with it the peace and joy that true love brings.

At the end of the evening, I got to take part in the blessing. Amma reached out and dabbed a mixture on my forehead as she murmured a few words, and I thanked her, looking deep in her eyes and soaking up her loving energy. I felt so light, so peaceful, and so grateful to have been part of the experience. I bet if you'd seen me at that moment, I would have been radiant, almost translucent. Slowly but surely, I'm sloughing off my labels, my personal dogma, my limiting beliefs. I am opening up to experiencing all of the wisdom and truth and power and love this universe has to offer. It's a wonderful ride. Namaste.

Photo: "Sri Lanka," originally uploaded by Steve Evans

(Yes, I know this is a picture of a Sri Lankan girl, which means not only is she from another country but there's a 70% chance she's Buddhist. However, it's such a beautiful, striking photo that I wanted to share it. No labels, remember?)

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