The other night I dreamt that I was having a soulful talk with a devoted disciple. I’ve known him for many years. I feel in him a lot of genuine devotion and purity.
I told him that I miss the Master’s outer presence. I was spoiled! I lived in New York, and was with Guru ten months out of every year! An unfathomable blessing. For me, the public meditations at PS 86 will always remain immortal in my memory. We didn’t really have the school to meditate in after 2001, but for the first four years of my discipleship, I remember how Guru’s aura, his energy, absolutely flooded the building. I will never forget that as long as I live.
During the course of our discussion, in my dream, I asked my friend about what it meant to have Guru in the physical. What did my life mean when I had Guru in the body?
He looked at me and said, “Mahiruha, that was your preparation.”
Then I asked my friend what does it mean now that I no longer have my Guru in the physical. He said, very simply, “This is the race.”
That was your preparation. This is the race.
What does this mean?
I’ve discussed this cryptic message with several disciples.
I guess the meaning is self-explanatory. When I had my Master in the physical, I was like a baby. My only job was to listen, to witness, to absorb.
On the one hand, every spiritual Master has said that when you have a living Guru, it is the optimal time to make spiritual progress. Sri Ramakrishna spoke of the udder and the cow. When your Guru is alive, you can establish an intimate connection with him. If the connection is strong, then even after he leaves the body, you can still contact him through your own meditation.
On the other hand, if a disciple depends on the Master’s outer dictates for every problem, that can be a little limiting. Guru says that God’s Will can change at every moment. The greatest aspirants are aware of the supple liminal nature of this Will, which is ultimately ineffable. If a seeker needs the Master’s outer input for every problem, he might not be developing his own subtle powers of discrimination.
I’ve been thinking about growing up recently. I just watched “Spirited Away” the delightful Studio Ghibli film that treats the topics of adolescence, fear and self-awareness with great symbolism and compassion. I recommend it very highly. Every single frame is hand-drawn, as Mr. Miyazaki, the director and doyen of Japanese animation, has a long-held suspicion of computers.
I’ve also been thinking of growing up in relation to spiritual names. I begged Guru for years, inwardly, outwardly, in my dreams, for a name. When I read his handwritten interpretation of my name, “The God-seeker and the God-lover’s fastest God-climbing aspiration-Tree” I realized he was telling me something I already knew. It’s almost two names in one, separated by the word “fastest”.
On the one hand, I am a God-seeker and God-lover. On the other hand I am the God-climbing, aspiring tree.
Seeking, loving, climbing, aspiring, all brought into focus in the symbol of the tree.
The tree means sacrifice, rootedness, shelter, protection, strength, patience, wisdom.
But underpinning all these activities and symbols is the one word: fastest.
At the same time, it is a little cryptic. I’m not only the tree, I’m also the climber. One moment I am the tree, the next moment I am climbing the tree itself. Guru gave me a koan to meditate on. Such was his generosity and kindness towards me.
I often feel lost or confused in my life. But here Guru is telling me to remain in aspirational activities. In that aspiring mode, my mistakes, problems, loneliness, confusion, will become drawn into that divine cyclone of Guru’s consciousness. They will imbibe light if I can keep aspiring. My mental problems and vital attachments, and my sense of inertia, will change into something else. Nothing needs to be destroyed, I just need to aspire. Then the transformation will occur spontaneously, in time.
I don’t think you ever stop growing up. I’m almost forty-eight years old, but I’m still learning how to put stuff away. This includes not just keeping a clean room, but also a clean heart.
Guru says illumining the heart is much more difficult than illumining the mind. Why is this so? He didn’t explain. Maybe this is because the heart keeps life’s most painful experiences. Even if it forgives the people who hurt it, the heart still remembers its suffering. Maybe after we’ve expelled all the junk from the vital and the mind, the bad forces take the heart as their last refuge. Maybe the heart gives shelter to things like insecurity, frustration and impurity out of a misplaced sense of compassion. We need to aspire very intensely to illumine the heart.
I guess there is no question about the meaning of my dream. Preparation and race. I know what I have to do. I just have to do it. To bridge the distance between knowing and doing is the race.
I guess I’m drawn to the concept of “soulfulness”. Our Teacher, Sri Chinmoy writes on page 38 of “Union and Oneness”:
“Live in the heart. All the soulful qualities, capacities, realities of the ever-lasting, ever-illumining Real will beckon you, will claim you as their own, very own.”
He also said these very illumining words on the anniversary of his epic lecture series, “Everest-Aspiration”:
“Anything that is prayerful and soulful is for every day’s use, for prayer and soulfulness should be sleeplessly constant, both in our inner life of aspiration and in our outer life of dedication.”
I guess soulfulness is what will help me to run the race. To remember Robert Frost, I definitely have “miles to go before I sleep.”