Like many of you, I have struggled with the question of what is the right thing to do in this new political climate. I have read news articles and Facebook posts from those who are alarmed about the possibility of losing long fought for liberties. I have listened to news reports of the those who look at this change as "one for the better." The questions I have had for myself are: How am I to be in relationship to the political turmoil? What actions can I take that will make a real difference without inflaming passions on either side of the aisle?
Those who are Christians might ask: What would Jesus do? Muslims might ask what would the Prophet Mohammed - Peace be Upon Him - advise? Many followers of Judaism know all to well from the history of the Shoah, that one cannot keep quiet when confronted with division of people into separate groups and dehumanizing rhetoric. These are among the early steps on a harrowing path that again can have tragic consequences of historic proportions. We have seen it play out in the genocide in Rwanda. Social activists might turn to the examples of individuals throughout history who have refused to stand idly by in the face of injustice. Martin Luther King, Jr., is one such individual.
As a person who meditates, I know that there is a relationship between the inner and outer worlds; that one reflects the other. So I ask, "What is it in the human psyche that produces actions that are so harmful?" The resounding answer is - The Illusion of Separation.
When I consider the thinly veiled racism and classism that are so apparent today, I realize that all of the work of Martin Luther King, Jr., and civil rights activists has only effected changes around the margins. While these changes lifted - from some, for awhile - the heavy burden of discrimination, they did not change the plight of many people of color who live below the poverty line or those who experience racial profiling daily and mass incarceration first hand. The historical exclusion and criminalization of people of color has been devastating.
The insight I received recently while contemplating in India is that these efforts to confront injustice are important. In the outer world one must take action to bring about change. However, the inner world has to be the starting place. We each have to be willing to look within to see where we stand on the question of "the other." Where do we have unresolved conflicts, unsatisfactory and unhealed relationships? What do we really feel about the imbalance afforded by privilege? Do we think about the people sleeping under highway overpasses or in encampments on the outskirts of neighborhoods in transition? What about the people in our cities and around the world who go to sleep hungry every night? Where do we hold fear of those that appear different?
I am inspired by Rumi, the 13th century Persian poet and Sufi mystic:
“Why struggle to open a door between us when the whole wall is an illusion?”
When we recognize that we are all connected with each other and nature, we cannot be content with "out-of-sight, out-of-mind" or "it's not my problem" or "it's their karma." It definitely is! The problem belongs to all of us. Everything not working to enhance the wellbeing of the whole of humanity is our problem. Everything that divides us is our problem. Although our personal circumstances may be different, we share planetary karma.
So let's all be vigilant and work for change. But recognize that true lasting change will only come when we awaken to our connectedness and implode the matrix of separation. After all, it is an illusion.
As she spoke, I started weeping and kissing her all over her face. She was kissing me too. We were having a literal love fest. In those few minutes, I realized that a profound healing had taken place in mother. She had finally released the charge she had carried for more than 40 years about an affair that she had long ago when she was young. The affair happened before she became an “upstanding Christian woman” whose life was devoted to serving God. She couldn’t put it behind her because my presence had been a constant reminder. Nor could she forgive herself.
My mom’s remarks would have been enough for me, but there is more. A couple of months before I went to OU, my mom had angered me when she said to me: “You are such a good person. You have a kind heart. You are always trying to help people… I just wish you would find God.”
“Mom stop it,” I snapped back at her in a firm voice. “My relationship with God is fine.”
So imagine my surprise when I had a peak experience on the top floor of the temple of Shakti (the Holy spirit). I was giving thanks for an emotional healing I was experiencing, when I saw that everything was connected, all of the experiences - joyful ones, sad ones, the ones that broke my heart open. Everything that happened in my life had led me into that moment; everything, including my mother’s prayers.
I smiled thinking when I get home, I’m going to tell her that I had found God in India. And for that, I owed her a boat-load of gratitude. Whenever she saw me after that, she asked me: “How is your state?” Not exactly the vocabulary of an African American great grandmother. I would look at her amused and think - where did my mother go? Who is that speaking through my mother?
As I had worked on healing my relationship with my mother in India, in Oakland, she had been transformed.
This newly found self-acceptance opened a door for both of us. It deepened our relationship and brought peace between us. My mom passed in November 2012, but not before greeting all of us, giving us her blessings, thanking us for what we had shared, and setting us free.
Going to India, and to Oneness University in particular, pulls me out of my comfort zone. I give up my two i-phones, e-mail, National Public Radio shows like “Fresh Air” with Terry Gross, and global television shows on Link-TV that keep me in touch with the world news not reported by the mainstream media. I leave my laptop at home, even though by day 15, I think I’m going to die without it.
For 30 days, I am forced to be present, really present. The only thing I bring with me is three bars of Ritter Sport dark chocolate covered hazelnuts. I hold onto them until week three, when I know I am really going to need some comfort from home.
When I am there, I pay attention to the things that I often overlook at home, like the sky at at daybreak, other life forms such as lizards, monkeys, and the cranes that swoop down for an early morning feeding while we are waiting in line for the bus to the temple. I pay attention to the unusual trees, the beautiful flowers. I pay attention to the people who prepare our food and those who wash the dishes, the women who clean the rooms, and those who tend to the grounds. I pay attention to the sevaks, who give freely of their time and energy to support the work of the Divine. Of course, I pay attention to the Dasas (teachers). I also pay attention to what is coming up for me, my emotions, my mind. I have a chance to see which situations and people are triggering me. Because I am not able to distract myself with modern technology, I also get to see my internal patterns and the convoluted thinking that lay beneath those incidents.
For instance, I saw someone and felt a magnetic attraction. My experience at OU has been that when this happens, there is a past life connection. I’ve met a man from Japan, who was son eons ago in Tibet. I’ve meet three women who were my daughters in past lives. So, quite naturally, I was curious to find out what our past life connection was.
When I introduced myself and tried to strike up a conversation, this person responded with disinterest and what felt like disdain. As I walked away, I realized the person had not even asked my name. I felt rejected and dejected. From that moment on, I avoided any eye contact with the person.
This feeling stayed with me, so I realized my charge of ‘rejection’ was triggered. As I went deeper into the suffering I saw my pattern of projecting stories onto other people. I was walking around feeling miserable, feeling rejected by someone whom I didn’t even know.
Then one day, a cute little ditty popped into my head: “Some people like coffee. Some people like tea. Some people like Rosie. Some people like me.”
I started to laugh… realizing that all the rest was a story in my head.
That is the beauty of taking time apart and being in a place where you are supported energetically to get to the core of your issues. This is yet another reason why I enjoy going to India.
This morning I woke up happy for no apparent reason. As I drove to the dry cleaners to pick up clothes, I could barely contain the joy. Laughter bubbled up like the gurgle of a gentle brook flowing over stones. “Pristine” is the word that comes to mind. The day itself felt pristine. And, the silent witness inside was excited by the beauty of the day. The crisp air. The sunshine. The bright, hollow sky. The clarity of a freshly polished mind. Inner silence, deep inner silence.
It has been like that since I returned on New Year’s Eve from the Journey Into the Divine course at Oneness University (OU). The course was beautiful, simple, powerful. It took me a step further into the mystery of God. Underscore “mystery.” I’ll share more about that later. I love going to India because I always come back a little lighter, relaxed, more open, excited and grateful for this experience we call life.
I experienced another mystery during my third year at OU. The mystery of the night skies. One night one of my roommates and I decided to go out at night, chant, and call the names of deities to see what would happen. In the photos above, my night sky-watching friend Rifa called to Lakshmi and the red orb appeared. I called to Jesus and the light blue orbs appeared. I'm sharing the Oneness Blessing with another roommate in one of the scenes. We chanted the Moola Mantra - you can hear it elsewhere on this site - and the firmament lit up with orbs. What I discovered is that when we are joyful, the beings all around us respond. They love joy and happiness. The joy was at an all-time high on the birth date of the Golden Age - December 21, 2012. You can see the phenomenal procession of beings in the sky in the last photo.
A few days before, there was a star that seemed like it was trying to get my attention, so I laid on the ground and pointed my camera at it. Rifa was with me. You can see what we experienced in the video below. These were NOT the most important discoveries, but they were phenomena that bent my mind, just a little bit. That little bit of bending was equivalent to a foot in the door to other possibilities, outside of the realm of how I have been taught to see and experience the world. That's it - "more open" is reason #3.
India is a mystical, magical place. During my first trip in 2006, I felt as if I was standing at the intersection of time watching the past and present meet... Tuk-tuks sharing the roads with cows, oxen, trucks, camels, elephants, cars, motorbikes carrying a family of four, buses filled with people packed in like sardines, the honking horns, and the endless sea of people... And somehow it all seems to work - a flow of drivers and walkers weaving in and out of traffic seamlessly, automatically.
I think of India as the spiritual heart of humanity. Attending to one's spiritual practice is an integral part of daily life for millions. Acknowledgement of the "sacred" is a part of everyday life. That is the larger context.
The land at Oneness University is special. The Oneness Temple is located on 40 acres of pristine forest at the foothills of the Vellikonda range on the eastern coast of South India, 80km north of the city of Chennai. Now called Golden City, Sri Amma Bhagavan located the Oneness Temple there because the land itself has little or no karmic damage. Several powerful, earth gridlines or ley lines converge there. And, it has a high concentration of enlightened Beings in residence, both incarnate and discarnate.
All of these factors work together to produce tremendous energies. The Oneness Temple was also constructed using the principles of Vaastu (similar to Feng Shui) and Sacred Geometry. These sacred design principles incorporated into the Temple's structure allow the progressive increase of higher energies of Grace vital for the awakening of mankind.
The Oneness Temple is erected over ley lines that enrich the energy field and magnify the experiences each of us has. The temple is known to be on sacred ground. However, this sacred ground isn't just at the temple. It is also apparent on the residential campuses.
I remember walking along the pathway between the dormitories on GC2 campus and the meditation hall and being overcome with the feeling that I must stop and sit for awhile. I sat on one of the marble slab benches and as my feet met the ground, I could feel love coming up from the soil and rushing up through my body. Stopping there for the love from the soil and the grass, even for just a few minutes, became a part of my daily ritual that year.
After that I saw the towns people differently. Mostly women worked there, day after day, pulling up weeds by hand or with some small crude hand-held tool. I realized that they were sitting on that sacred ground daily, soaking up that love, and their karma had made it possible for them to be caretakers of sacred ground.
I always opt to take care of my own laundry, which means filling a bucket with water and detergent in the shower and washing clothes by hand. Hanging them to dry in the morning, after the dew has cleared and taking them off the clothesline before nightfall. One afternoon, while we were in class in the meditation hall, the sky darkened with clouds and a heavy down pour of rainfall. It had rained a lot that year making it difficult keep clean clothes.
"Oh God, please don't let my laundry get wet," I said, realizing that it was too late and wet clothes were an inevitability. Still, at the break, I hurried back to the dorm to check on my clothes. My Divine said, "you don't trust." I mumbled something back, like, "well I'm working on that and I need your help." As I rounded the corner behind the B Block, I saw wet clothes on the line, but my clothes were completely dry. "Thank you father... Thank you father," I called out as I quickly gathered the clothes and took them to my room.
Then there are the night skies. The night skies are filled with orbs, angels, and beings delighted to share the energy and the love. They also are filled with stars that respond when you speak to them. More on this topic next week. I love the fact that at Oneness University, I get a first hand experience of how this life is really quite malleable.
My colleagues and family members have asked on several occasions - What is it about India? Why do you go there every year? Is the food good? What about the poverty - isn't that hard to handle? Do you stay in luxurious accommodations? How can you stand that heat coming from the mild climate of the San Francisco Bay Area.
I always smile and tell them that I don't go for the food or the accommodations. I also tell them that I do have challenges with the heat - for instance, my feet swell and that can be uncomfortable. I choose to stay at the GC2 campus, sharing a dormitory-style room with 8-11 other women. You can hardly call that luxurious. I also tell them that poverty is relative. There are many people who don't have the material comforts of the west, but have an abundance of grace and kindness. Yet, to be honest, it is sometimes difficult to imagine living in the conditions with which some of those who are materially poor have to contend. It gives me gratitude for what we have here.
I go because my heart propels me. After I became a Oneness Blessing Giver in January 2010, every time I heard someone mention that s/he was going to Oneness University in India, a little voice inside my head said "I want to go." In March that year, Michael Clingerman mentioned at a Sunday night Blessing circle that he was preparing to go to India in two weeks. There it was again the voice saying -
"I want to go." So I spoke with him at the end of the evening to find out how one does that. He sent me to the Oneness University website. And from 10:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m., I read about the courses and completed the online application, signed up for Skype and sent e-mails to everyone I knew, asking for recommendations.
12 days later I was at Oneness University for the first time.
Despite this call of my heart, I also was confronted by my cultural conditioning, so my time there wasn't a smooth ride. But I had several profound experiences. I'll share one now and others in the weeks ahead.
We were being taken through this ancient spiritual process called Agni Sara Kriya, which fires the kundalini energy to burn off charges (residue from trauma) in one's energy field. The energy was very strong and as I went with the breathing patterns, I found myself becoming aware of a snake making its way from my belly to my throat. For a moment, I thought it was the kundalini, which moves in a serpent like motion up the spine. Then I realized it was not coming up my spine but up the front of my body and in my throat. As you might imagine, this very real feeling of a snake in my body was horrifying. I didn't know what to make of it; and quite frankly I was to embarrassed to mention it, while others shared their beautiful mystical experiences the next day in class.
After class the following day, I went to one of the senior guides Kumarji and asked why there was a snake in my belly. My distrust wanted me to believe that these people were doing something bad to me. At first Kumarji said he didn't know. But I demanded an answer - What was that? Kumarji gently replied, "Maybe you had a trauma with snakes in your childhood."
Moments later, my mind was flooded with the images from when I was four years old. I was living in Mississippi with my grandparents on their farm. They had gone to pick cotton and sat me on a tree stomp around the bend instructing me to stay there until they returned. While I sat on that stomp, a snake began slithering in my direction. I was so frightened, I jumped down and ran to my grandmother. When they went back to kill it, the snake was gone.
Snakes were everywhere on their farm. In the tall grass, one had to walk through to get to the outhouse. In the chicken coop looking for eggs. My grandmother was said to be such a markswoman that she could kill a snake without breaking an egg. Mind you, I am not advocating killing snakes, just sharing the way it was then.
I was so traumatized by these experiences that when I was growing up, if a person mentioned the word snake, or I saw a picture of one in a magazine or book, I would have nightmares about snakes that night.
During Agni Sara Kriya, that trauma was released from my body in the Oneness Temple. Thanks to Sri Amma Bhagavan, the Oneness Guides, and the Oneness Temple for creating the right conditions for me to let go of this snake trauma.
A Worldwide Phenomena of Awakening
Walking around the campus at Oneness University in Southern India, one encounters people from all over the globe. A microcosm of the sea of humanity shows up. How did we end up there? How did we find out about it? Was the trip to India on our "bucket list"? Even if India was on our bucket list, did it include Oneness University?
One of the dasas (teachers/guides) inquired, "How many of you said two or three years ago, one day I am going to take a trip to Oneness University?"
No one raised a hand.
"You are here because the Divine brought you here," he replied to his own question.
People come from China, Taiwan, Japan, Russia, Indonesia, South America, Latin America, Uganda, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain, Greece, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Czech Republic, Italy, Spain, Mexico, U.S., and Canada. In December people came from 40 different countries. We come from every part of the world. And despite cultural differences and language barriers, we share a connection that transcends everything.
I met one woman from Eastern Europe at the Deepening Process in December who said, "This life is so strange, five weeks ago I had not even heard of Oneness, and now I am awake."
The First Oneness Blessing
In January of 2009, I experienced the Oneness Blessing for the first time. I reluctantly went with a friend who had heard about it from a mutual friend in D.C. There was a guided meditation and about 12 people went around gently placing their hands on the heads of those of us who were seated. My mind went silent for three weeks. All the secondary chatter was gone.
I must say that the silent mind got my attention and I wanted to experience more of that, so I began receiving Oneness Blessings on a regular basis. A year later I became a Oneness Blessing Giver. Four months after that, I was in India at Oneness University deepening and preparing to become a Oneness Trainer, having made the decision and the arrangements in 18 days.
What People are Experiencing
Some people report being happier for no apparent reason. Some report positive changes in their relationships. Some report resolution of longstanding issues, improved mental and emotional stability and more abundance. Others report feeling more connected to people and nature.
These reports increase exponentially after people experience the neurobiological shift into Awakening.
In this brief video Anette Carlstrom, an Awakened Oneness Meditator from Sweden, describes the Oneness Awakening process.
Where Can I Experience the Oneness Phenomena?
There are Oneness Blessing groups meeting all around the Bay Area. Info is available at http://www.bayareaoneness.com.
You can also tune into Oneness Meditations online throughout the day. Check out the schedule at http://www.onenessmeditationevents.com.
If you are in the Eastbay, feel free to join us at Lake Merritt Church, 1330 Lakeshore Avenue, on Thursday evenings at 7 p.m. On March 28,2013 we will NOT hold the circle because the church needs the space for other purposes.
" Once you start speaking the truth, you will start respecting yourself."
What is the relationship between truth-telling and self respect? Could it be that speaking the truth aligns one on an integral level, bringing the outer expression into harmony with the inner knowing?
Where do you stand in relationship to this comment? Have you noticed that a bit of disharmony arises in the mind when one knowingly speaks something other than what is true?
"The Awakened One has no fundamental questions. The unawakened one has fundamental questions" ~ Sri Amma Bhagavan
This quote is from the Weekly Webcast Teaching of Sri Amma Bhagavan, which airs on Saturdays at 8:30 a.m. and 8:30 p.m. The morning webcast is a repeat of the teaching the week before. The evening webcast is live.
Where are you? What questions do you have? Has the mind stopped? Have fundamental questions vanished