A PERSONAL STORY OF AWAKENING
A PERSONAL STORY
Sufi system of lights, the black light is considered one of the holiest
of all. It is only revealed to the most accomplished masters, those
who have vanished themselves in the process known as 'fana', annihilation
of the ego. For millennia, shamans of every indigenous culture have
described the horror of this process, one which is incomprehensible
to those who have not been through it. This mystic death is nothing
less than being torn apart in the night by God. There is ecstasy in
being torn apart by God, but also pain that must be consented to. The
agony of dismemberment, the darkness of Gethsemane, has to be accepted.
As one Persian mystic said, "Without the Friday of the crucifixion,
there would be no Sunday of the Resurrection." Those are the terms.
The mystic has to pass through the halls of death while in a body. Meister
Eckhart said that "If you do not die before you die, you die when
you die...(and) by aligning itself with God's will, the soul takes on
the taste of God: grief and joy, bitterness and sweetness, darkness
and light, all become divine."...Bursevi, the Sufi mystic, wrote
of this state: This death must come about by resolution and he in whom
this state of death appears will see the complete annihilation of everything
but God..Nothing is left but the beauty of God.
Chapter 10- Dismemberment
July 21/00. I climb into my favourite tree in the forest in the middle of the night. The moon is full. I have been drawn to this tree for weeks - I call it my mother. Tonight the pain in my stomach, aggravated by scarring from my operations, is particularly painful. I am here to ask the spirits of the tree for help. The silence of the forest holds me as do the arms of this magnificent maple tree.
When I climb down and reach to gather my purse and blanket, which I left at the base of the tree, all of a sudden I feel stings on my skin - first one place, then another, and another. I can't figure out what is happening - it is so dark - and then I realize there must be a wasp nest somewhere nearby. I grab my things and run to the car, but the wasps follow me into the car and swirl around me on the way home. When I check myself the next day, I see that I have 26 stings. As I am bathing myself with baking soda, I suddenly remember that bee and wasp stings are used for healing some physical illnesses. I look on the internet and read that the venom is particularly good for healing scar tissue.
August/00. In the book Coming Home Lex Hixon says, "Suffering should be embraced under the spiritual guidance of someone who lives in holy ecstasy, who knows how to use all we encounter as a path to the Divine." Peter and I spend a few days in the presence of Baba Hari Dass. He is a mauni sadhu, a monk who has practiced continual silence for forty years. He is luminous and the week we spend at The Salt Spring Center is one of the most important times in my life. I ask him about the difficulties I am experiencing with the Kundalini awakening and his message to me, written on his little chalkboard, is "Surrender to God. Do spiritual practices - meditation, mantra, japa. Eat pure food because it makes the mind-body complex pure, and exercise. No medicine helps if one is going through a Kundalini awakening process. Surrender to God solves all problems of life."
September 11. These past few days have been very hard. I feel blank, not drawn to anything or anyone. I am in emptiness again. I do not try to find myself; I try to just "be" in the void. I have this dream: "A young boy is growing so fast he is outgrowing his clothes. They are constraining him. His mother doesn't seem to notice or be concerned but I am, and I try to find him new clothes." I am standing up to people in my life in a way I haven't been able to do before. I have been guided to let go of several friendships all at once. I feel very alone, but I am not afraid of it.
The Zen teacher, Charlotte Joko Beck, inspires me with her teachings:
December 4. I have gone through a grueling few days. It began four days ago with a nightmare of being with people who were abusive to me. The next day I felt sick, very stiff and sore, as if I had been beaten up. I feel in such a place of darkness; everything is somehow unfamiliar. This feeling seems to happen everytime there is an opening into emptiness. I have pain as if an axe is hacking through my lower back and kidneys. Last night I felt I was being dismembered. I cried and cried and paced the floor wondering how I am going to continue to live through this suffering. This morning I feel traumatized. I need to be very quiet; my nervous system is very fragile. I am sensitive to noises, to everything. "Please God," I've been praying, "don't give me any more right now. I CAN'T take one more treatment. I want to trust my own body to get through all of this." I call Stuart and he says, "Yes, his teacher felt the same way: that he wanted to trust that his body could do the purification on its own, and he tells me that others have gone through similar suffering, and they tell him that the suffering has come to an end." I am amazed that a human being can bear all of this pain.
December 11. The suffering never seems to abate these days. I find that chanting seems to help my head pressure a little. In the night, I felt the left side of my face dissolving and then I seemed to leave my body and, from miles above, looked down at myself lying on my bed. I talk to Stuart about the out-of-body experiences I am having. He talks of the astral body and how most people, as children, will experience some of those experiences. I tell him about my childhood dreams of flying and memories of flying out the window. He said it was my astral body and for most people the experience ends there, whereas for me it has now continued. Stuart assures me not to feel fear, that when one dies it is like that. He says the astral body is full of light and luminescence - like a star.
December 15. A few days ago, there began the most extraordinary drilling at the back of my neck. At first I thought I strained a muscle in my neck, but then for three days there was a feeling of boring or drilling every few hours throughout the day and night. I thought of my son, James, who broke his neck twice in the span of three months, two years ago. Fortunately he was not paralyzed. It was very painful to watch him go through that process and these days of intense neck pain make me so much more aware of the suffering he must have gone through. I am not able to take any medication for pain, as my body won't tolerate it, so I constantly have to come to terms with the fact that there is no escaping the rawness of my experience. I write to Stuart, "Can you tell me about the knot in the neck. I have a sense of drilling and pain in my neck; is it Kundalini trying to open the granthi, and will it help to alleviate some of the pressure and pain in my head?" Stuart replies, "Mastaka granthi is in the neck, and yes that would be the yogic explanation and I would agree that it will help to alleviate some of the problems in the head - may the grace of all yogis ease the opening of this granthi." I tell him it seems to have come at the same time as the spontaneous moving of my tongue up into the nasal cavity and ask if is it all connected. Stuart says yes it is, and reminds me not to force anything, to let nature take her course. I feel like a new-born baby; Stuart talks of being in the womb.
I am looking for all the help I can get. I write to Lawrence Edwards, the chairperson of the Kundalini Research Network, and he kindly replies, "The knots are always difficult passages. They are the root identifications with the physical, subtle and causal bodies. You can be sure that Mother Kundalini will lead you through as compassionately as possible. Too often Ma Devi takes the blame for our karmas - physical, emotional and relational, as they come up to be experienced and dispelled. I've been hospitalized a dozen times or more, I've had more than that number of surgeries, a dozen kidney stone attacks and numerous other bizarre and trying things have happened to me since Kundalini went to work full force on my physical and subtle bodies. She has supported and carried me through them all, at times giving me the knowledge of the countless lifetimes of karma I was burning off with the events, at other times She would fill my awareness with the loving sound of Her voice chanting to me. Like a master potter working the clay with unwavering support from within, and precisely applied pressure from without, She shapes this vessel to Her liking. Jai Kali Ma!"
December 20. Dream: I am with a group of people who have come to hear Irina Tweedie speak. I try to find somewhere to lie down while I wait for her to talk. Then I am walking down a ladder and Irina is behind me. She puts her hand on my liver from behind; it hurts and then the pain travels to my stomach. I know it is for my healing and I have to endure the pain. She doesn't talk to me or really look at me, but I know she cares.
I turn constantly to
the teachings of Irina Tweedie:
The heart is pining for the Beloved who constantly
veils His face, because in order to get to this unbelievable bliss,
in order to have the feeling of power, you have to go through the no-man's
land of loneliness where nobody will help. You have a little bit of
water, perhaps there are creatures who are after you and there is fear
and there is darkness and you have to do everything yourself. You just
have to walk on and on and on. Spiritual life is not a joke - it is
hard - but it is the only thing worthwhile doing. Arise, awake, seek
a teacher, and walk on. The path is narrow, as narrow as a razor. A
little bit here or there and you fall down into the canyon. The Sufi
mystic cannot be explained. If it is explained, it is in paradoxes,
contradictions and the mind will not understand...we are turned inside
As I sit at my computer looking out my window, I can see a tiny bit of the ocean and a view of Stanley Park. Between my apartment building and the park is a large space where birds swoop, dive, swirl, and soar. I love to watch their movements and often think of the great Sufi mystical poem Conference of the Birds which tells about all the birds of the world as they gather together to begin the search for an ideal king.
A world of birds set out and there remained
But thirty when the promised goal was gained.
Thirty exhausted, wretched, broken things,
With hopeless hearts and tattered, trailing wings,
Who saw that nameless Glory which the mind
Acknowledges as ever-undefined,
Whose solitary flame each moment turns
A hundred worlds to nothingness and burns
With power a hundred thousand times more bright
Than sun and stars and every natural light.
The awe-struck group, bewildered and amazed,
Like insubstantial, trembling atoms, gazed
And chirmed: 'How can we live or prosper here,
Where if the sun came it would disappear?
Our hearts were torn from all we loved; we bore
The perils of a path unknown before;
And all for this? It was not this reward
That we expected from our longed-for Lord.'
It seemed their throats were cut, as if they bled
And weakly whimpered until left for dead,
Waiting for splendour to annihilate
Their insubstantial, transitory state.
Time passed; then from the highest court there flew
A herald of the starry retinue,
Who saw the thirty birds, trembling, afraid,
Their bodies broken and their feathers frayed.
And said: 'What city are you from? What race?
What business brings you to this distant place?
What are your names? You seem destroyed by fear;
What made you leave your homes and travel here?
What were you in the world? What use are you?
What can such weak and clumsy creatures do?
The group replied: 'We flew here for one thing,
To claim the Simorgh as our rightful king;
We come as suppliants and we have sought
Through grievous paths the threshold of His court -
How long the Way was to complete our vow;
Of thousands we are only thirty now!
Was that hope false which led us to this place,
Or shall we now behold our sovereign's face?'
Excerpt from The Conference of the Birds by Farid Ud-Din Attar