Seeking the Self

…If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take….  I did not find this nighttime  prayer to be very reassuring.

At ten or eleven, I became obsessed with where ‘I’ existed in the body.  Having experienced myself outside of it, I wondered just where ‘I’ was in it.   If I wasn’t too sleepy, when I went to bed I would take myself through a practice.  Starting at my feet, I would reflect on the idea that if my feet were gone would I still be here?  Yes, of course, and so,  I would go through my whole body just like that.  I went on to my senses: without my limbs or fingers  could I still feel, could I touch,  could I taste if my tongue was gone, or smell without my nose, or hear without my ears, and finally could I see without my eyes?  Initially, I thought that ‘I’ must exist in my brain, but during one of these excursions into myself, I realized that even if my brain was not functioning, I would still be here.   I came to be comforted by the belief that ‘I’ existed in the chest at the space of my heart and was capable of existing alone.  I would often move through this nighttime exercise, kind of like counting sheep; it helped me drift off into a peacefully, deep sleep.

In 2000-2001, I worked with a woman who had been stricken with  Alzheimer’s at the age of forty-five. She was a beautiful woman who had been an executive for a large company in Atlanta.  Her husband had hired me to come to their home to teach her Yoga.  He thought it might help. He was so sad and frustrated.  His beloved wife didn’t know or seem to care who he was.   When I first met Anne, she seemed so small and empty.  She seemed to liked me and remember me from week to week. She referred to her husband as “that man.”  We did some Yoga postures together, but most of our time we spent walking on their hundred acres of  lush farm land, talking about the nature of God.

Anne’s memory had slipped away slowly over the past  few years and I could see it wasn’t going to get better.  We would pluck a wild rose on our walk, talk about it and then when I asked her the name of the flower, a minute later,  she would have forgotten.  Upset at not being able to remember anything she would say that she was gone.  She didn’t exist anymore. But I would say, “no, Anne, you are right there,  and touch her heart.”

She would smile, touch her heart and say, “this is where I am?’

“Yes, I would smile back, “That is where you are, don’t you feel that?  Your divine self is always with you, just there!  It is one thing you can’t lose or forget!  Each of us is like a pearl strung on God. With God as the string, it can never be broken and we can never be lost.”   Even if you forget, God will never forget or lose  you.  She loved this story.

It is through the experiences of our life that we gain the most evolutionary growth from incarnation to incarnation.  Our soul draws its “juice,” from life experiences. It is from this “juice,” the essence of the intense experiences of our outer being that we become drawn towards Divine Consciousness.  Even with a dawning dementia, there was juice drawing Anne toward  Divine Consciousness.

She had lived a full and successful life as a business woman,  a expert equestrian,  a fine artist and was obviously loved by her husband.   The walls of their house displayed her awards and her art.   Some days I would take out her pencils, paints and paper, or canvas.  But she would never do more than play with the materials. I never saw her do more than mix paints or dab the brush into a color.  She would not put paint on the canvas.  She would say,  “I dont know how and that man doesn’t want me to make a mess!”

From week to week, I saw no improvement in her memory to remember the name of things and no interest in painting,  but she was happy and energetic and would always request that I talk to her about “that spark of God.” I would talk about who we truly are and she would always respond by pointing to where she is, and say, “not here, pointing to her head…Here and point to her heart.”… and I would say, “yes and we are all pearls on God’s necklace.”  She would listen quietly and she would laugh.  She understood and remembered and was experiencing happiness.  She was childlike.  She loved to walk with me, often hand in hand and she really enjoyed the Yoga postures.

Her husband was a giant of a man, an impressive stature, handsome and a powerful businessman, but while Anne began to glow from inside, he seemed to dim.  He didn’t like the stories I was telling her or that I brought her paints out.  I would come in the late afternoon to work with her.  When he got home, I would pick up the house and leave.  He would come home, without speaking to either of us, write me a check, pour a drink and sink into his arm chair in his dark study. He had lost her and seemed to be losing himself in the process.

I worked with Anne for about six months. I remember when I told Anne that I wouldn’t be coming anymore because I was moving to Canada.  I wondered if she understood, or would miss me or if she would even recall that I used to visit her each Thursday afternoon.  Working with Anne showed me that even a serious brain disorder need not even diminish the glow of who we truly are, but hopelessness will utterly destroy us.

    • John Kumar
    • December 15th, 2010

    I am very interested in learning Babaji,s ways but I am living in Malaysia. How can I learn kriya yoga?

    • Durga
    • December 17th, 2010

    Thank you for your interest John. There was an Initiation in Kuala Lumpur and in Singapore a few months ago. There are BKY initiations in January and February in India and in Sri Lanka. Please contact the Bangalore Ashram (see website ashrams) for more details on these initiations, if you can travel. In addition, you may be interested in the monthly Grace Course, a self-study couse of lessons to deepen your understanding of Yoga and yourself.

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