“Losing hope is losing all indeed. … Perfect resignation gives the deepest joy of all. Accept it as your sole resource.” Verse 21, Matri Vani I Anandamayee Ma
What a strange path I am on. Yes, my first awakening was catalyzed by LSD. That chemical took over my nervous system. About 30 minutes after ingestion I said to myself (with a terrible sinking feeling in my stomach) “I really did it this time. I have lost my mind.” Nothing in my surroundings looked like it did before. All was one undulating and pulsating scintillating sea of energy that was moving like one immense being.
“I” was not – and it surprised me that any memory of “Tom” had at all survived this death of the ego personality. At one point I took out my billfold with my ID, money etc. and my key ring and flung them far into the surrounding bushes, saying to myself “Why do I need these?” Luckily my buddies retrieved them and returned them to me the next day. I recognize now the surrender to the effect of the chemical that I had ‘forced’ upon myself. Once ingested, there is no turning back and whatever the chemical does I had to accept.
Decades followed in which I endeavored to understand “what” had happened so that I could find my way back to that beatific state of being merged with the primordial sea of energy in manifestation, the one being that all this reality is. Many time I experienced bursts of clarity that gave me insights, confirming the fact of this being one interconnected living and intelligent whole. Often I experienced viscerally this unicity and inter-being, as Thich Nhat Hanh terms it. Nonetheless the sphere of my explorations was predominantly the mental sphere in which my mind relentlessly strove to ‘put together all the pieces’ of Humpty Dumpty, who had obviously been fragmented beyond repair long, long ago.
Extended episodes of surrender to the ‘Unknowing’ also occurred and these have always been like a bath in a clear pool, cooling my mind and refreshing my soul. One such phase of my life was connected to my stay in India during which I was blessed to have met two living sages who had realized the Eternal Presence. One of these was Yogi Ramsurat Kumar who lived at that time in Tiruvannamalai where I stayed for a few weeks and thus I was able to see him daily in a small circle of local people who met with him on his front porch. The direct transmission of his energy infused me to the bone and is present in me to this day, 30 years later. This was combined with the impact of staying in Tiruvannamalai at the ashram of Sri Ramana Maharshi, the modern sage who died in 1950, the year of my birth and whose spirit still infuses every stone of each building, the trees and the devotees living there. The second sage was a woman who sat in silence in a house not far from the ashram. I was invited to come and sit in her presence and once there, I felt the deep peace and solace she radiated to all who were open to it. I felt that I could have remained there forever, but something moved me to return to the West as there was still much for me to clear in order to be in that state myself which has always been my intent and not be dependent on another.
During my time in India I opened to the energy of bhakti (devotion), which for me felt like opening to the emotional field of spirituality and allowing my heart to be infused with the connection to the divine force. I took on the practice of puja, of worship, and went to many of the powerful Siva temples of Southern India, together with my teacher’s nephew, Rajeesh, who introduced me to the various rituals. After our travels together through Southern India we returned to his hometown of Madras (now Chennai) where I was staying with his family. A priestess of the Hindu deity ‘Green Mother” – Paciaa Amma, was a friend of the family and one day she initiated me to the Green Mother. She gave me a mantra and a green precious stone as connection to the Mother. At the initiation ceremony she acted as my proxy and she had a bout of retching, which I felt as her cleansing me of my impurities. I was deeply humiliated, but only because in that moment I recognized the arrogance that I had assumed over the years.
These various elements of my time in India combined to infuse me with a new understanding of what devotion actually means. I had been brought up in a large American Roman Catholic family and all religious rituals had taken on a bad taste for me. As the modern day saint Anandamayee Ma says: “Worship is not a ritual: it is an attitude; it is an experience.” She adds that the attitude required to become aware of the Self is “desperate eagerness“. The India experience allowed me to enter into a new, more personal relationship with the Divine. During my return voyage from India I had a striking experience that lasted several days in which I perceived everything around me, the walls, the floors, the ground, the trees and the sky as the Heart. I felt I was “inside the Heart”.
Upon my return to Germany, where I then lived, I began to experience the one being as the sacred in all of life, in every aspect of manifestation, and it was intensely personal. My practice was to speak the mantra of the Green Mother many times each day and to re-kindle the light of the fire of devotion I had been infused with in India. I set aside regular times for yoga and devotion daily.
Decades more passed since then and, although Truth was always alive in me and known to me as the unquenchable inner Effulgence, it was as coals that glow under a bed of ash.
This is the background upon which this statement by Anandamayee Ma, comes into my life: “Losing hope is losing all indeed. … Perfect resignation gives the deepest joy of all. Accept it as your sole resource.” Her term ‘perfect resignation’ points to a resignation that has nothing to do with passivity or despondence. It is an attitude of the ego surrendering in the face of something so immense and powerful. I feel her spirit calling me to once again to open my heart to its burning desire for Eternal Presence. The insights into eternal Truth now must come alive with the fire from the heart that is aflame with the hunger for the Beloved. The passion that burns so deep is for the return to the state of naked awareness free of all speech and images. It is the wild Nature of raw and pure beingness that is raising its proud head – untamed through the eons of evolution that seemed to have numbed us to our original Self. Its roar silences all of the voices of the human person. Its burning flame of pure Seeing consumes all thought, all names. Its form is the form of eternal Flux.
No thing survives its force as the ultimate Destroyer, grinding apart every creation into disintegration. There is no tolerance for attachment of any kind. All hope that phenomena in this world could fulfill any desire is crushed. Indeed, the sage’s words point the way: accept perfect resignation as your sole resource! This deep resignation leaves me naked in all of my knowledge. The only substance is There, not here in the dusty world. This mystery of There means to leap free of the seduction of this shadow world. This leap requires all of my mind-body-spirit tensed and ready to explode – and then… Explode from the center! Give no thought to consequences and reputation. Burst the bonds of the controlled mind asunder with ultimate surrender to that which is There!
“What is the means of entering the tide?”
“To ask this question with desperate eagerness.
If you say you have no faith, this body insists that you should try to establish yourself in the conviction that you have no faith. Where ‘no’ faith is, ‘yes’ is potentially there as well.
Worship is not a ritual: it is an attitude; it is an experience.”