This Bursting Heart
Home Teachers of God Contact Us


This Bursting Heart
by Roslyn Moore

This story is an attempt to tell about the realignment of a particular life stream. I sense that I am in dangerous waters here. Why do I, with all my limitations, want to write a story about me? Is there something I am trying to prove? Shouldn't I just be quiet and return my attention to the source of all stories?

The call to write is strong. If I speak truthfully, perhaps the story will turn out well and serve some unknown good. I offer it for the awakening of all beings.

A client, with much persistence, succeeded in passing off two Gangaji videos to me. According to the jacket of "River of Freedom," the documentary about her, Gangaji is an American woman who was drawn to India in 1990 and received a living transmission of Self-realization from H.W.L Poonja, a self-realized satguru and a disciple of Ramana Maharshi. Ramana is known to be one of the greatest enlightened beings of our age. On the jacket, Gangaji invites us to discover we are That which we are searching for.

The words were intriguing, but I didn't think I was looking for a "Gangaji" in my life. Later that night, though, when I watched one video after the other until late into the night, I was completely transfixed. Gangaji's stillness was so palpable that I had to meet her.

On Easter Sunday, 1996, my husband, Bruce, and I attended our first public satsang. Satsang means "association with the truth," and Gangaji was offering satsang, a free open meeting, in San Rafael, California. About 300 people came.

Seated on cushions on the floor, Bruce and I were very close to the front of the hall where there was a platform furnished with a simple white loveseat and adorned with bouquets of flowers and pictures of Sri Poonjaji and Sri Ramana Maharshi. When I saw the picture of Ramana, I wondered if it was really a coincidence that Gangaji and Ramana were connected. How many years ago had I first seen a picture of his soulful face and felt something stirring deep within me? Just this year, attracted more by his countenance than his teachings, I had copied and framed a picture of him and placed it on our bedroom altar.

We had earned our spot at the front by arriving early and waiting long. It had been a joyful wait outdoors, the freshness of spring mixing with the anticipation and reverence of the waiters. I knew in advance we would be meditating for about twenty minutes, and then Gangaji would walk into the hall.

What I saw when Gangaji strode into the room did not compute. She was a woman in her early fifties who was dressed in a simple but elegant blue dress draped with a smart blue and white scarf. Her strong beautiful face, artfully made-up, was set off by a head of platinum-white curly hair, probably dyed and permed. Attractive, I thought, but certainly not my type. Not natural enough.

But because I loved her instantly "my type" had to change. Or, more accurately, I discovered that what my mind thought I liked or didn't like meant nothing. Something deeper in me was resonating with this being who was surveying the room with such genuine composure, smiling so earnestly, and displaying a joyful enthusiasm that was making my heart sing. How could I hold anything back from a woman who, while I tried to secretly check her out from my place on the floor, met my eyes openly and wholly with a resounding "Yes!"

Mysteriously, I felt like I was seeing my own lost innocence, my true face, perfectly fresh, reflecting back at me. Shortly after that satsang I went to my first silent retreat with her in Napa, California.

At the White Sulphur Springs Resort, set in the damp of the woodlands next to Sulphur Creek, Bruce and I went deep into the silence. We only spoke once in the whole eight days we were there, and that was just a couple of words to clear up a misunderstanding.

In St. Helena, it tickled me when I got it that whoever made up the saying, "silence is golden," wasn't just some stuffy, old-fashioned person trying to keep the children quiet. The homily, so popular in an earlier time, was pointing to the living truth. It was a blessing for me to discover directly the "goldenness," the "preciousness," of silence.

In the silence of retreat it can be seen that every event, every thought, every emotion, every perception, comes out of a vast soundlessness, an open space, that is always present, but usually overlooked.

One experience I had on that retreat, which included two talking satsangs a day, must be told. At a morning satsang I truly saw Gangaji's compassion. It was obvious that whomever she spoke to, she saw right through their personality. One person was trying to find just the right question to ask her. I was seeing a skinny man who was too intellectual, too tense, too this, too that. It was rare for me not to feel an affinity with any person talking with Gangaji, and my judgments troubled me. While Gangaji did point out the unnecessary tension, it was clear that she was seeing someone who was beautiful and sincere and unqualifiedly deserving. At a deeper level, she saw this man as her own self.

I had to admit that I had always been obsessed by how other people looked. In the dining hall, after that satsang, my obsession with how I appeared to other people was also seen clearly. I wanted to change, but I didn't know how. After years of struggle, I recognized the futility of trying to get myself to be more compassionate. Remembering Gangaji's injunction, I stopped trying. I let the whole internal discussion be absorbed back into the silence of retreat.

A spontaneous and fervent prayer was articulated later that day, "May I move beyond all attachment to appearances." Later still, while walking silently by the rushing creek, there was a moment of revelation. It came through me like a WHOOSH.

There had been a river of beings flowing through my whole life, a never-ending stream of individual beings appearing in consciousness. I could see them bobbing in the river. Suddenly I knew with a perfect knowing that all these beings were the same being. Then, just as I was flooded with the joy of recognizing that, I became certain that the being was my own self. My own self!

At that moment my heart expanded and I felt like I was ready to die. Filtered, the thought went something like, "If I die now, it will be fine, because now this lifetime has been one worth living." But at that moment I truly did die. In an instant, I gave my whole life up for the truth that was being revealed.

Almost immediately I noticed a revolting development. Only moments after the revelation my mind began to try to figure out how it could use revelation for its own benefit. It was shocking to see mind busily trying to build itself a better self-image, one that it thought was commensurate with someone who had such a high experience.

During that first retreat, I had the good luck of having many moments of being aware of being no one in particular. Such moments were unexpectedly sweet. It was just like Gangaji had promised. Being empty of "me" was not experienced as an absence, as I had imagined, but as the truest joy.

My understanding of how my mind worked was growing. The silent environment of retreat gave me the chance to check out my thinking mind empirically, and I found it to be completely unreliable. I saw that every thought, no matter how enlightened, was followed by another thought, and then another thought, and then another thought. I was seeing what Ramana saw. There is no true thought except for one. And that is to STOP! BE STILL.

About six weeks after the retreat I had a profound enlightenment experience. Gangaji describes enlightenment experiences as being experiences that are in alignment with Absolute Truth. They are blessed events to be cherished for a lifetime. Even so, they are only experiences, and all experiences, she reminds us ruthlessly, come and go.

Bruce and I went to small satsang in Stinson Beach on a Friday. At some point shortly after it began, and completely unexpectedly, Gangaji looked directly at me and said something like, "You have recognized the truth of your being. I see it clearly. It can't be hidden. You have a tendency or a pattern of self-diminishment. I don't know what it is. Maybe some belief in unworthiness or some past misuse of power or something. But it doesn't matter. What matters is that you realize the truth."

"I will tell you what Papaji told me when he saw this same self-diminishment in me." She imitated the physical posture by slumping her shoulders and making her body look smaller and her face look stupid. "Papaji said," and she returned to her actual stature, "'No Restraint!' And that is my advice to you. You understand? No making yourself less than what you have recognized yourself to truly be."

I was stunned. I wondered if I'd been mistakenly picked out of a line-up. But not so stunned as to not pipe up, later in the satsang, "Gangaji, do you have any more tips for me about the self-diminishment thing?" Again her direct gaze, "No, you got everything I said perfectly."

And I had. Only there was that praise/blamy voice busily trying to figure out whether what she said to me elevated me, "You are self-realized," or diminished me, "You see yourself as being worthless, and now your fears are exposed and everyone will know that you are worthless." What an opportunity for me to see my stuff, there, in the clarity of her presence, and to let it burn.

The next two mornings when I woke up in the bedroom where I was sleeping in Berkeley, I was aware of the moment that my mind became activated, as if I were a mechanical toy that had been plugged in. Then, mysteriously and spontaneously, I was aware of waking up again, but now I was waking up from everything I thought. I expanded and KNEW this mind stream to be nothing more than a blip on a screen. Who I am is vast and unending space. Space filled with bed, birdsong, tree branches out my window, me. I see the open space and I see the forms which have emerged out of the space, but there is no real distinction between thing and non-thing.

There truly is no separation. No aspect of "me" is in opposition to the emptiness which it is made from. I do not exist. More accurately, I am existence itself. I include everything I see and everything I don't see. I am not bound by the event of me. The event of me is infused with who I truly am.

There was an unfathomable joy and confidence that came as a result of direct realization. The veil had been penetrated. There was no possibility of returning to my previous lack of understanding. What I had heard Gangaji say and what had been reported by the Great Masters was now known to be true. Unmistakably. Not known by the mind, but KNOWN.

Later, there was doubt. I didn't doubt what I had seen, but that I could properly align my life with the perfection that had been revealed. In fact, I thought I was doing a lousy job of it, and some kind of mental torture arose.

Through grace I had received the incomparable gift of knowing the truth. Didn't I have some monumental responsibility to be a living testament to what I had received? And having accepted the responsibility, how could I be entertaining this stream of moods and thoughts and emotions that were continuing to appear? In short, why wasn't I happy?

When I couldn't stand the tension of the apparent separation any longer, I rushed off to small satsang to talk to Gangaji about it. On that journey I was forced, once and for all, to see the pointlessness of trying to figure "it" out. Driving the four hour ride to Stinson Beach, my mind circled relentlessly. I was desperate to figure out what I was doing wrong. Eventually it became obvious that I was not going to figure it out, and finally it became obvious that I was driving myself crazy trying. So, out of sheer necessity, I gave up. Completely. And there was peace.

Now, whenever I find myself telling myself I have to figure this out, or it's important I understand that, or I need to get to the bottom of this, or something like that, it's a dharma bell for me to stop. To stop and surrender to what is in this moment, independent of whatever particulars my head is conjuring up.

Suddenly, and out of the blue, I saw in a flash that I had a picture in my mind of what being happy looked like. The picture had appeared when I was very young and had remained unchanged. Just to see that picture of me, happily skipping along the sidewalk with a joyful countenance at about age seven, was to give it up. What Roslyn looked like happy and fulfilled could not be modeled after some childish picture of happiness. The picture was an obstruction to the possibility of true happiness.

Suddenly I knew that I had to give up all images that were hidden in my sub-conscious. But how? "Roslyn" was nothing more than a collection of fixed fears and fixed desires. It was a mighty recognition of how serious the problem was. There was no escape.

In spite of the apparent impossibility, or maybe because of it, I prayed. There was a wholehearted invitation to all my hidden images to reveal themselves. No matter how appalling, or where they had been pushed to.

Now there was a feeling of being ready, of finally knowing what to do. The knowing didn't come from my mind, but from the core of my being. I would marry the Truth. It would be a true marriage. My flawfullness was secondary. Whatever arose and however long it took, this relationship between me and Truth would be in place.

When I announced my marriage at the small satsang, Gangaji told me she had been waiting for this, although not consciously. At the end of the gathering, when the refreshments were served, she playfully said it was time to serve the wedding cake.

A couple of weeks after the small satsang I found myself writing a short report to Gangaji in my mind, as I often did in those days . The words came spontaneously. "Beloved Gangaji, 'me' and 'mine' continue to suffer, but I remain untouched." Yes, that was it. It exactly described my experience.

I sat at my desk confidently. It was easy to write the part about continuing to suffer. It flew off my pen. Surprisingly, when I began to write the words "I remain untouched," my pen stopped moving. It was shocking, really, how much resistance I felt to writing those particular words, to saying them out loud to Gangaji. It was as if by saying them I was negating my whole past life of suffering, all my past lives of suffering. Not only that, but I would have to admit, in advance, that whatever suffering might occur in the future could not touch me either. Because if I was untouched, then who was suffering?

It came to me that maybe I had too much invested in this non-existent me, this non-existent sufferer, to give her up. I wasn't ready. I would write something else to Gangaji, or not write at all.

Then I heard her voice clearly. "Just tell the truth!" The simple truth was that I was untouched by any past, present, or future personal suffering. So I "bucked up" and told it the way it was, and a heavy weight was lifted.

After St. Helena I concluded that the blessings I received there were a direct result of the silence. So, of course, when I arrived in Crestone, Colorado, for my second silent retreat with Gangaji, I was anticipating an important rendezvous with silence.

In Crestone I was surrounded by snow-capped mountains, intense blue sky, a symphony of clouds, the trees, the desert earth, and an awareness of space. Instead of staying on site where I could simply walk across the road to get to meals and the Satsang Hall, I elected to stay in a tent at a campground, which was about three miles of uphill huffing and puffing from everything else. Back home, I had considered my camping gear carefully, practicing assembling my tent on our front lawn. But after a completely sleepless night on my ever deflating inflatable pad, I decided camping, at least at an altitude of 8,000 feet and under these circumstances, wasn't for me.

Luckily, I was able to rent an inexpensive yurt from a man who was at the retreat. That night the temperature went down to the mid-thirties, and, even though I was dressed in layers and weighted down by blankets, my nose was just too cold for me to get any sleep.

Next, I arranged to move into a small apartment on the same property. All this involved a lot of activity, a lot of moving, and a lot of talking. Add to this a trip to a Hindu Temple with a friend who didn't seem to have any idea that the retreat was a silent one, and you can see my expectation that the retreat would be one of perfect external silence which would support my internal quieting was turning out to be incorrect.

I was surprised and amused by how differently things were unfolding than I had expected. Nevertheless, I was having the time of my life and could never ask for a more beautiful experience. I was near Gangaji physically and attending two satsangs a day with her. An unparalleled privilege. I was in an exquisite sacred place. And at satsang on Sunday morning I had the great good fortune of speaking with Gangaji. I was being dissolved by grace.

Now it is Sunday, May 25th, the third satsang of the Crestone Retreat. I sit on the floor and I know I am going to raise my hand today. I even know that I will be called on. I plan to describe the "waking up" experience I had in Berkeley to Gangaji. I ask myself why this meeting is so important to me, but I don't know the answer.

The time spent waiting to be called on by Gangaji is intense, even life-altering. There is so much charge. As the first couple of people speak I imagine what it will be like when I'm up there. How will I appear? Will I look intelligent? Enlightened? Completely ridiculous? There is fear that people will be jealous of my experiences and won't like me. This is the first time I will talk to Gangaji at large satsang. I know that the excitement about being in the spotlight and the fear of being exposed are unimportant.

"Just be true to the truth," I say to myself. I repeat these words often. Whenever I find myself imagining what might happen when I am on the stage, heart pounding, I return to them. "Just be true to the truth, and surrender."

Now I am sitting with her. The new arrangement, two chairs next to each other, is like being in her living room. I am very happy to be with her, to be seen by her, to be seeing her. There is a lot of handholding. Oceans of love and recognition. I can't stop smiling.

me: Yes. Well, I had an experience about a month ago and it seems that I need to tell it and you tell me after that... If it's a tell and forget that's okay, but it's got to be told.

Gangaji: Good. I can't deny that.

me: It happened two mornings in a row and I woke up in the morning and it was like I woke up and I felt myself kind of like coming out of sleep and being kind of like plugged in like I was a mechanical thing, and now I was awake.

I am trying to make the gestures of a mechanical toy and I have no idea whether or not the abrupt little hand movements and facial contortions I am making are communicating what I want them to.

I continue, not sure that my words are communicating either. "The thoughts and everything, you know, it just started happening. And then I woke up again." When Gangaji responds with a spontaneous, "Ah," I know I am being understood and being invited to continue.

me: And then I woke up again. And I woke up! And I was not there at all. It's hard to talk about, but I just want to talk about it.

Gangaji: Yes, I want you to.

me: It's like there were things around me, and we were all the same.

Gangaji: We things?

me: Yes. We things were all the same.

Gangaji: Yes.

me: And you could see the space between the things and it wasn't really between, because the space and the things were all the same. Completely. And I... My first thought was that I didn't exist, and my second thought was I knew that's what I was. That's who I was. Completely.

And everything else just wasn't... you know, it just wasn't... Everything that you think, it's not.

I hear some good-natured laughter from the floor. I am finding this business of conversing with Gangaji on the stage is very enjoyable. My eyes close so that I can get back to the feeling. "And I knew that I had no beginning and that I had no end and that I was the whole. And I wanted to thank you for that." Gangaji makes a gesture of refusing thanks, and we are kind of laughing and I hear laughter coming from everywhere.

me: Just for... I know you'll say... I mean I felt so much like... I felt so much like it was from your grace, because why would this happen? You had talked to me the day before and...

Gangaji: Well, it is true you have received the transmission. And the only way it can be forgotten is if you try to remember it as a thing. As an event. If you try to make the experience of the totality of being the reference point for the memory.

I know exactly what she means because I've tried it, and I laugh. When she sees it Gangaji says, "Yes. Good. You've tried it. And that's the maturity. You have tried it and you have seen the uselessness of that." She's exactly right, and again I laugh with recognition. I tell her I've tried everything.

Gangaji: That's spiritual maturity. "I've tried everything." So now, nothing. Now the vigilance. The resolve. Living true to truth. However it appears. Whatever the experience. Yes, I am profoundly happy that you speak this, that this has occurred. Now you know from your own experience what I uselessly try to say.

me: Right. If there's one thing I could say in the way of talking to someone else about it, it's that it's not a metaphor. I used to think... but it's not a metaphor.

This seems to receive the warmest laugh, and I feel like Gangaji and I understand each other perfectly when she clearly states, "It is not a metaphor."

When it gets very quiet Gangaji thanks me wholeheartedly and says that without the receiving there is no giving, and I thank her wholeheartedly. There is something very solid about the way she looks at me and says, "Good," and then I leave.

As I am taking my seat, there is a very long pause. Gangaji's eyes are closed. When they open, she says, "This is the consciousness of Ramana. Consciousness of that which is alive in the core of all being recognizing Itself as That. Not by striving, not by remembering, not by doing. Not by moving toward, not by moving away. Simply by waking up while awake."

Walking back to my spot on the floor, I feel like, in some way, Gangaji has set me free. By this time I have discovered that there is no possibility of ever landing anywhere, but I had anticipated that reporting what was happening to me would make some sense of it. Instead, I am burning. Gangaji has set me off. From the moment I leave her side it is like fireworks, one explosion of recognition after another.

I have no room for the self-centered little voice that says, "Wow! Did she tell me I received the transmission? Whoopee! Now I've got it!" Because I hate the voice, I push it just below the surface of consciousness. Not only that, but I mistake this act of repression for vigilance.

Lying on my back in my room, open, still, with a great sense of aliveness, I enter the experience of the totality more deeply. It is so amazingly close. I am carefully looking for the separation between what is inside of me and what is outside of me, and I cannot find it. What I thought was important isn't important.

What I thought was insignificant because it was always true and didn't require my attention to be true is what I am looking at now.

I see there is only one field. The idea that I am the part that is inside of this particular body and not the part that is outside this particular body is completely absurd. How silly to have attributed so much importance to the appearance of skin as a significant boundary. What difference can mere physical phenomena, like blood, tissue, organs, bones, make in this vast ocean of consciousness?

I search to find the boundary between in and out, the boundary between me and the silence, the boundary between me and other. There are no words. There is no time. I AM BOUNDARYLESS CONSCIOUSNESS. I am dissolving into waves of bliss. An ever expanding ripple. Vast. Orgasmic. Most exquisite. Most subtle.

In the afterglow, I have the thought that maybe it's really bliss I want, after all. How can I arrange my life so there will be more of it? Move to India? Find a cave? Luckily I have been well warned by Gangaji about bliss as the great temptress. Wanting bliss, like wanting any thing, can only lead me away from self-recognition.

When fear comes up, the fear of losing the awakened state, it is seen to be based on false premises. How can I lose any state, when all states are already here?

I notice the word "I" continues to come up. And yet there is no "I". I am enlightenment. I am ignorance. I am all things and all not things. What a problem this word has become.

The whole edifice of my belief system is crumbling. I see that all my beliefs are based on the false belief that what is inside my body is separate and more important than the whole of me. Beginning with this false belief I have built a whole universe. I have created comparing, evaluating, judging.

I think of someone I know as being ignorant. It is as if it is my first judgment, and I see it for what it is. I am that same someone. All mental rivalries are seen to be imagined. Now that the tightest loop in the knot of misidentification has been loosened, the identification of myself as the body, I have a new confidence that all the connecting loops will loosen naturally in awareness. Hallelujah! Now they can simply play themselves out on the vast screen of consciousness.

Walking to breakfast I delight in the presence of the mountains, the trees, the light and shadow, the sky. This endless vibrating aliveness! I remember an old fear that if I were to move beyond my attachments, life might be boring. I laugh. For the first time I have a glimpse of the true possibility. When everything is myself, the focus of my attention expands to include it all, without limitation. I am attached to everything. The possibility for discovery is endless. The possibility for love is endless.

I have another good laugh when I enter the dining hall. I observe a slight self-consciousness. In a flash, I get the joke. I am nobody, who thinks I am somebody! What a good trick I am playing on myself.

The sense of being flooded by recognition continues. One "aha" after another erupting out of the awakened silence. "Aha, vigilance is not that voice that censors my thoughts and tells me what not to think. No. It is simply surrendering to the truth of who I really am, moment by moment."

Now it is Tuesday morning. Unlike other silent retreats, at this one there are two scheduled talking meetings with other retreatants. I have signed up to participate in a group called Satsang in Everyday Life. So many people have chosen the group that we won't all fit in one room. I have been assigned to the Overflow Group. After two days of revelation, I am reluctant to approach the meeting. In the language of psychedelia, I don't want to be brought down. Not knowing whether or not I will attend, I determine where the meeting will take place, and then I go for a walk in the woods. I find myself returning to the townhouse.

As I enter the room I see this will not be a conventional meeting. The discussion is about whether or not to go to some local hot springs. Apparently the notion of actually discussing satsang in everyday life has already been discarded.

I look around the room. To my left are two youngish long-haired men, Jimmy and Michael. I hadn't noticed Jimmy before, but Michael talked to Gangaji at satsang the day before. He has a large loose body and an easy grin, and to me he seems immature. To their right is Paldrom. Present, unpretentious, and wise, she is from The Satsang Foundation and may be the designated facilitator. Carol is southern. With curly blonde hair and an air of candor, she reminds me of Gangaji. Lelia is my true love. When I look into her clear luminous eyes, I sink. We all introduce ourselves to each other, and I find myself whimsically introducing myself as "not." The conversation is free flowing. Three of us have talked to Gangaji in satsang and each of us describes the encounter. Satsang Therapy, Carol calls it.

When I speak, I feel that Jimmy and Michael are deriding me. Jimmy asks me about the experience I described to Gangaji when we talked on Sunday and says something like, "Oh you were still seeing objects so it wasn't a nirvikalpa samadhi experience," and dismisses it. He says that he was in that state, or some other one with a Sanskrit name I'm not familiar with, for several days.

I express that it was important for me when Gangaji told me I had received the transmission, and Jimmy mutters to Michael that I couldn't have believed Gangaji was serious when she said that. Hadn't I seen that crooked little smile on her face while she was talking to me? Who was she to transmit what to whom?

I can't believe what is happening. I hadn't known what to expect after the occurrences of the last couple of days. Possibly I would be identified as having realized myself and treated reverently, or maybe no one would notice. I was prepared for both of those possibilities. But not this. I look to the women. Neither Carol nor Paldrom seems to remember much about the conversation I had with Gangaji. Lelia tells me it was very important for her. She says that when Gangaji and I spoke she saw sparks of light coming off of our heads and illuminating the room.

When we break for lunch, I don't know whether I will return for the afternoon meeting. I don't want to admit what I am feeling. The humiliation. The rage. When I think about Jimmy, the words form that I hate him. It seems like it has been years since I have had such a strong reaction to someone.

I return to my bed in my room. At first I am desperate. How can I be in such a despicable state? Then, I let go of the desperation, just enough to investigate. I see that strong emotion arose when the thought that I was enlightened or self-realized or at least better than before was challenged. I stop. There is a sense that the contraction is hovering. I open to it.

Actually I had seen some kind of a little smile on Gangaji's face when we spoke, hadn't I? I see that as well as confirming the transmission, she was non-verbally communicating to me that we were only playing a game with each other, the game of teacher/student, guru/disciple. She was letting me know that the self-importance I was bringing to the game was uncalled for.

But I wasn't ready to recognize it then. That aspect of myself that wanted to use enlightenment experiences to elevate my self-image did not want to be dislodged.

I had been noticing a kind of pride of ownership around the experiences I had been having, and I had hoped that by noticing it I was dealing with it. This pride, though, was recalcitrant. It was layered. Behind the pride was the pride of pride. Didn't it mean that there was something right about me, something to be proud about, if I was having to deal with pride? Without moving, I let the rottenness all the way in.

A huge grin breaks across my face. It is just too funny for me to maintain my seriousness. The slipperiness of the egoic mind! Gangaji was right. The declaration of union with God is an invitation to all the old hags to come out of the woodwork. Right, too, that they come only to be liberated.

When I return to the group in the afternoon everyone appears beautiful. What had been seen as Michael's immaturity is now seen as an endearing playfulness. Each of us is playing our role fully. Together we go on a pilgrimage to the spiritual centers in Crestone. When we circumambulate the Tibetan Buddhist Stupa, we all go clockwise, as prescribed, except for Jimmy, who goes the opposite way. He is the coyote. I thank coyote in my heart for the rude awakening I have received. The time together is glorious. The Overflow Group is overflowing with love.

The day after Gangaji and I spoke, Gangaji said in satsang that even the waking up business, even the enlightenment business, was all in leela. I had been pondering what her words meant, trying to penetrate my conceptual idea about enlightenment being the endpoint. Now they make perfect sense. The experience of waking up and the experience of suffering are both phenomena arising from the same changeless source. The challenge is not to have more enlightening experiences, however revealing they may be. The challenge is to remain still. To not move from stillness, which is naturally open and willing, no matter what the experience.

Paldrom had told me that she once told Gangaji that nothing extraordinary had ever happened to her, and Gangaji said that it didn't have to, that she already knew. This was important for me to hear. I thought of a dear satsang friend at home who was waking up to the truth of her being. She too reported that there were no fireworks in her story.

Two days after the Overflow Group, on Thursday afternoon, there is a satsang where so many people raise their hands to speak with Gangaji it reminds me of a feeding frenzy. I am very happy when Gangaji asks Amber to sing. Every time it looks like Amber is finished Gangaji says, in an adorable childlike voice, "More?" She does the same with Dana. Then Al and Yani. By the time the fourth singer appears, a woman named Kirtana, I have tentatively concluded that it can't get any better than this. The group consciousness is soaring.

I do not recognize Kirtana when she approaches the stage with her guitar. I get the impression from her brief conversation with Gangaji that it was unsettling for her the last time they spoke. Their exchange doesn't prepare me in any way for her opening song, which she is singing for Gangaji for the first time. There is a tender breathiness that invites me to listen carefully to every word.

Before the body
Before the story
Before the name
Beyond the mind's
Attempt to find
Or explain
Before the breath

Beyond the sense of pleasure or of pain
And after death
And after death
I am.
(copyright 1997 Wild Dove Music)

How beautiful! I am stunned. I know more deeply how foolish it was to think that blessed recognition reflected something about me personally. When the Singing Satsang is over I post a note on the bulletin board. "I am completely humbled. I love everyone here."

When I signed up for the retreat, I was disappointed to find out that it had the theme "A Life lived in Service to the Truth," and that there would be some talking meetings scheduled. I thought that a retreat was supposed to be quiet. Arriving at registration I noticed two satsangs listed on the Schedule of Events had that title, and I wondered who would lead them. I was afraid that it would be Maitri, the director of the Satsang Foundation and Press, or a group of board members. I hoped it would be Gangaji, though. It would be a shame to miss out on two formal satsangs with the Beloved.

When we gather for the first of those two satsangs at the beginning of the week, Maitri sits in Gangaji's chair. She is radiant. I don't feel the anticipated sense of disappointment. In fact, there is an opening. It is thrilling to see her there. Maitri invites us to respond to the call to service that is inherent in our meeting with Gangaji. Like Gangaji, she assures us that the possibilities are endless, and there is no way to predict what form any individual response will take.

I acknowledge the existence of this most profound call. As the retreat unfolds, I am amazed by its force. In the meantime something incredible has happened. After decades of trying to attain personal enlightenment I find I am no longer trying. I am not thinking about how enlightened I am or how enlightened anyone else is either. This habit, I will later see, is finished.

Is it possible that the end of desire for personal enlightenment opens up space for the deepest desire to be of service? I don't know. But by Thursday I am aflame with it. I am wondering if there is any arrogance in the idea of being married to the Truth, because now I am feeling like I only want to be Truth's Servant. As happens so often, Gangaji addresses this exact question at the very next satsang.

"I'm speaking of the level of commitment that recognizes that whatever the feeling, whatever the experience, there is this bond of true love between soul and God, between you and Truth, that your lifetime is married to. As the wife, as the traditional old-fashioned wife. Not as the cold partnership, not as the leader, but as the wife. The wife waiting to serve, waiting to be told, waiting to follow a command." Yes! That is exactly the relationship I am awakening to.

Before leaving the retreat, I volunteer to do any work for the Foundation that I can do from afar. I also decide to buy a home computer, something I have been resisting for years, thinking it will give me the possibility of doing more.

What a blessing for me to find myself at this particular retreat with its theme of service. By the time I leave Crestone my life has become a simple conscious prayer to be used. In fact, I see now, that is why I am writing this story.

I am eternally grateful that this perfect prayer, which has existed through all time, has finally found me. I understand that in some unexplainable way there is no separation between this wholehearted prayer to serve the truth and its fulfillment. No separation between the eternal prayer, its certain fulfillment, this bursting heart, and me.

Back to Top