Another day, another blessing. Since arriving at the ashram on August 24th, every moment here has been better than the moment before; and when the very first moment here was bliss, just imagine the ecstasy I'm feeling now! (Swamiji says that as we rise in love, we move from bliss to bliss to bliss, and wow, is He ever right! Be assured, it's not just me; everyone I've spoken to at the ashram is simply buzzing beyond happiness!) It's such a joy to know the air we breathe is sacred; the ground is holy; the people are blessed; and the Master is Everything. I can't imagine a greater happening in life than the happening of just being here.
That said, my intention for this blog is to share the deep inspiration and gratitude I'm feeling as a result of the spiritual experiences I'm having with Nithyananda. Mysticism has long been my passion, so it brings me great joy to share this! SO much has been happening, it's hard to choose what to write and what to not write... so, I'll start with my most recent moment of excitement.
Two days ago, something happened that completely changed my self-perception. It started with the meditation Swamiji led us through in our morning session. He told us to meditate on Nothingness. Not even to use the words, "there is nothing," or "nothingness," but to go into the experience of nothingness. It was instantly powerful, and gave me a very strong deja-vu; a strong flashback to a time in my youth when I had experienced a similar meditative state.
At the age of fourteen, I awoke in the night with an urge to meditate. So, I sat up, shut the black-out blinds and my windows so that no streetlight could enter my room, pulled a blanket over my head, and repeatedly told myself that there was nothing but darkness. I had previously been afraid of the dark, and this was an attempt to face the fear. Eventually, both the words 'nothing' and 'darkness' subsided, and the true void was encompassed me. From the dark depths of that void, a face emerged directly in front of mine, as if I was looking into a mirror within my head. It was a beautiful woman's face; completely black against the black background, her features only made visible by a dim glow. (The way someone's features would be visible in a pitch-black room, if they held a dull flashlight under their chin.) She gazed into me, and I into her, without blinking or hesitating. Slowly, very slowly, she drifted backwards. When she was at enough of a distance for me to see her body, I saw that she had four arms and effervescent skulls floating as a halo around her. While the vision lasted, I was not afraid, or impressed; just passively aware. Only when I returned to my normal state, fear set in. I knew I had seen someone inside my head, and thought perhaps I had become possessed; that if she and I were both present in that space that had seemed infinite, yet it was with my eyes closed, then that infinite space must have been both within me and outside, and my skull nothing more than one of the skulls in her aura.
Years later, while going to a fine art university, I opened my textbook to a chapter about devotional art. I was struck immediately by an image of Kali- looking exactly as I had seen her. (The only difference was that in my vision, she had a halo of skulls; in the painting, she wore them as a necklace.) When I read the caption, that Kali is an aspect of the divine mother who removes the ego, I knew instantly that the vision was not a curse or a possession, but a blessing. From that moment, I understood that Hindu Gods weren't just stories, but real beings who directly act in our lives. Since I had seen her without knowing anything about her, or Hinduism, the truth of the vision was undeniable for me.
Anyways, while doing the meditation on nothingness with Swamiji, I felt Kali's presence. When the meditation session ended, I started walking towards a group at the back of the meditation hall who organize the ashram night-life. Every night, we're given something of an open stage to perform in front of Swamiji- singing, playing instruments, telling jokes, acting. Two nights before, I had been a part of a Krishna skit. I was walking over to the group to tell them that this time, someone new should have a chance to act, but the Maharaj who was directing said, "We're doing the dance of Shiva's wedding procession... and you'll be Kali."
One year ago, I was the girl who didn't dance. At any party, no matter who I was with, and what we were doing, if a dance started, I ran to hide. Only at LBE (Life Bliss Engineering at the Nithyananda Ashram) last year did I start to dance and enjoy it. But that was dancing without anyone watching; this would be different- on-stage in front of a crowd of 500+ people, and Swamiji... I was afraid I wouldn't do justice to Kali. She's strong, intense, fierce... The choreography taught included quick stomping foot motions, while holding a trishool. (Shiva's weapon of choice, like a trident.) We did two rehearsals, then went on to perform, and I still wasn't doing the movements properly...
Instead of doing the dance on a stage, we were informed that Swamiji was in a boat on the water. The program participants sat on steps at the water's edge, watching His boat. Spontaneously, we were asked to go to the water and do the dance there. Amazingly, I was calm, not even nervous at all. I just completely surrendered the dance, thinking that if it turns out well, then great; and if I botched the job and made a fool of myself, that would be perfect, too, because that would mean my karma of embarrassment was being cleansed. (Any emotion that arises in the presence of a living avatar leads to liberation.)
When we walked down an isolated side stairway to the water, the mood changed from "not nervous" to "absolutely thrilled." I got so excited to be there, standing in a red sari, covered in jewels from the temple, hair messed in wild knots, and face covered in intense make-up. (Kali's eyes are rimmed in dark blue, her lips and tongue both deep red...) When Swamiji's boat rounded the corner and He saw the group of us standing, His face lit up! (The other dancers portrayed Shiva, the gunas, Nandi, etc.) He motioned us to come closer to Him, then around to the other side, where we did the performance.
Awaiting my turn, I watched the other dancers, and the moment of my cue, I froze. Nothing- I forgot the steps, I forgot where to enter the stage... I bulged out my eyes like Kali, and stuck out my tongue, and slowly walked to the center of the dancers... a loud roar of applause, and the dance just happened. I don't remember it, but others tell me I went down into a deep Chandra Namaskar pose, and started to jump like that, while rhythmically waving the trishool over my head, and maintaining Kali's facial expression. Not the choreography I was taught, but wow- the feedback afterwards was incredible. (Someone said he heard Swamiji say, "Oh! It's Kali!" And at the end, he applauded, and said we all did a great job.)
Since that night, people have been calling me Kali, and it's so surreal. I'm being constantly reminded of the first Hindu deity I met, the dark mother herself, and it's such bliss. Playing her in front of a living avatar, my beloved Swamiji, was the ultimate experience. From this point on, no matter what happens in my life, I'll be fulfilled.
Anyhow, dear readers... I'll be in touch! In the mean time, check out the official Inner Awakening blog, at www.innerawakening.org for ashram updates.
In love and Nithyananda,
ps- The picture to the left shows Swamiji in His boat, watching the performance.