Motherhood and Karma

I had not thought much about marriage, but, had chosen to get married right out of college.  I had not considered having children, until one  Sunday in October  of 1977, when I stood with my husband, in front of a children’s clothing store in a swanky part of Hamburg, Germany. The store was closed. Mikael loved for us to wander the chic shopping districts on days when the stores were closed.  He said it was because it was more romantic and there were no crowds, but I knew it was more like cheap entertainment.  I had never looked at baby clothes but on this Sunday stroll, I felt literally drawn to the store front of the Babe-Shop.  There in the display window was a pair of blue and white pajamas. The baby pjs were two-piece, a blue background with white ghosts all over  with the word Boo, printed here and there… They were adorable.  I had to have them, not only that, I had to have the baby boy who would wear them.  And right then and there I decided to have a baby.   There was nothing to think about.  I would come back on Monday, buy the pajamas and we would have the baby.  Mikael was quite stunned, but fine with the decision.  He did ask why this sudden change of heart.  I didn’t know.  All I knew was I couldn’t wait to meet the baby boy who was going to wear those pajamas!  Ten months later Carl was born.

I did not think of a second child until Carl was  five, and even then, it was his idea.  One day, he asked why he did not have a brother.  I said because I had him, I hadn’t thought about it.  He said well, I want my brother now.  Okay I said.  I asked Mikael what he thought.  He wanted a daughter, so he was very pleased.  I warned him that Carl had asked God for a brother.   He laughed.  I got pregnant.  In the last trimester, all three of us felt a child around us.  Carl called him Dragor.  I just felt my heart smile at the little presence that seemed to be around quite often.  Mikael too had felt this sweet presence.  He regularly woke by 4:30 or 5 am to catch up on work before he went to the office.   On several consecutive days  he had felt  someone else  awake walking around the house.  Checking on us, he found us sound asleep.  At another time he felt  a child peaking over his shoulder as he sat sipping coffee in the pre-dawn hours.  He was admitted a little spooked by his experiences.    Our Alexander was born ten days late, several months later.

I share this to say that, although I don’t know when the soul enters a fetus, I know that the soul is with the family before it is born.  Perhaps Carl’s soul had karma with me.  Perhaps Carl had karma with Alexander’s soul.  All I feel is that birth is no  random event or accident.  Our parents and our children share karma with us and have lessons to learn from us and lessons to teach us.   It is often not easy  to tell who is teaching who and what.

Imagine a young man, about 20 years old, with a crippled body, paraplegic, so frail that his entire body is in need of mechanical support. Visualize this young man being lifted from his wheelchair by his mother, who then holds him in her lap and feeds him from a plate of food, they both share.

Each morning for 10 days, while I was staying at an ashram in India, I would sit and observe these two people at breakfast. The mother was about my own age and her son around the age of my sons.  And always, the sweetest smile rested on both of their faces, as if they were keeping the most wonderful secret.  I was so drawn them that I would go particularly early to the Western canteen, in order to eat my breakfast near them. I would sit at their table, but several chairs away so not to disturb them.  No one else ever sat at the table.

I felt I was in the presence of a Divine Child. The young man radiated spiritual beauty and wonder.   His beauty was charming and sweet and more powerfully transforming than physical beauty can ever be. Even with physical deformity, he strongly attracted me.   Of course, part of the attraction was the love and devotion that these two people had for each other. That Pure Love spilled out into the space around them and I was soaked in it.  Sitting with them was spiritually trans formative.  I felt I was bathing in the glow of the sun or a pure, crystal lake. This young man was physically deformed, his arms and legs were shriveled and he spoke in a slur impossible for me to understand from where I sat and yet there was something so beautiful about him that charmed me. Each morning I would sit at their table as close as I could, to glimpse from the corner of my eye, this ritual between mother and son.  We never spoke or even acknowledged each other. Neither the boy nor his mother ever looked in my direction.

On my last morning at the ashram, returning from the meditation mandir, I felt a strong pull over my right shoulder.  I felt a nudge to turn around. When I turned, I saw an amazing double rainbow arching as if right over the mandir. It appeared at one entrance and ended at the other. There were in fact two rainbows, one on top of the other and each rainbow was complete and separate, not really a double rainbow, which would have spun out from a common center of orange. These were separate and distinct. I had never before seen a rainbow display quite like this.  And what moisture was there in that arid atmosphere to create such an affect? It was a mystery.

About halfway between myself and the mandir, I saw the young man in his wheel chair with his mother. They noticed that I was looking at something behind them and so turned to look. We must have been immersed in the rainbow for quite some time, for when I finally looked about me, I noticed  there were hundreds of people standing with their backs to me all absorbed in that miraculous sky.  As I was about to turn and continue on to my room to pack my bag, the young man turned his head toward me. Then his mother turned his wheelchair fully toward me and I became absorbed in the most miraculous smile I have ever seen.  Even to this day, I clearly recall the beauty of this young man smiling at me.   A pure, crystal clear radiance, true spiritual beauty emanated from him.  It became clear that true beauty is a product of ananda (bliss and delight) and ananda was the very essence of this young man.  I learned that True Beauty is warm and comforting, a joyful expression of the Soul.  It has nothing to do with external appearance.

I can only imagine what great karma was being played out in the relationship between that mother and son.   I can only say that that the ‘chance encounter’ with them had been a pivotal event for me.

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.

Relationship karma

In 1970, I went off to college.  My freshman year,  my roommate was a senior.  Gloria was nearing thirty  and quite early on decided she needed to take me under her wing.  All of her friends were already out of school, but due to some quality of magnetism, we all hung out.  She introduced me to all the things that I had not known about before.  Her friends could be classified only as unique individualists.  Not one conformist in the group. Not being someone who enjoyed groups of any kind, I found Gloria’s friends to be fascinating, if perhaps a bit intimidating.  None of them practiced Yoga, but all had spiritual experiences, which they described to me in great detail.  Unfortunately, all their spiritual experiences had been drug induced.  Drugs were absolutely and totally out of the question for me.  I had decided that I could Know God, if God existed and felt afraid that drugs could create an artificial and false experience. Perhaps thereafter, I would never really be able to trust my experiences.  I thought if I could have spiritual experiences such as those they described, without the drugs, then I would be able to trust That existence.

Preferring to be a lone wolf rather than join a pack, I was not drawn to the Spiritual groups of the 70’s either.   During that time I met several Gurus, but I was uncomfortable with the organizations surrounding them.  Instead I studied Yoga and teachings of mystics, did Hatha Yoga and tried to meditate on my own.  My results were mixed, but one particular meditation soothed my soul and issued in a new patience. The message was that it did not matter what I did until I was thirty but at that time I would get started on my path with sincerity.  I used the asana practice as a physical exercise, continued my automatic writing somewhat, and worked on developing my intuition, but other than that I lived the life of a college student.

The first month of my sophomore year, a Psychology graduate assistance came into my life for about 12 hours and completely changed the way I ate and thought about food. I was sitting at a table studying in the Student Union when he sat down next to me and began to talk about meditation, quite out of the blue and the importance of being vegetarian. I had never thought about it before. We talked for hours, then he took me to the grocery store and showed me the foods I should eat daily, then he took me to see an East Indian graduate student who spoke for a while about the importance of eating certain foods daily, especially various nuts. It was quite a strange day. I never saw either of these two men again, but they changed my eating habits forever.  I became a vegetarian, a conscious eater and lost all interest in sweets and fried foods and about 25 lbs.  Although this doesn’t sound  like much, this immediate shift was actually quite miraculous.

There were several people who came into my life in college that I knew so deeply the moment I met them.  Some I liked immensely, feeling an immediate kinship with, and some I absolutely feared and tried to keep my distance from.   And there was one especially who I feared and rebuked for months and months, until finally, with my resistance broken down, I fell in love with.  He was not for me, and yet, this was one of the most vital relationships I have ever had.  It lasted for almost six months and then one day he disappeared, as if he had  dropped off the face of the earth, never to be seen again.

I met Mikael at the Science Library in my Junior year.  I knew the first time we went out that we would marry, although he was not at all ‘my type.’ He was a tall and gorgeous, charming, politically conservative, agnostic, ambitious, a Swedish exchange student getting his PhD in Marketing, who planned to return home to Sweden, the following year. But it was if the die had already been cast.  I meditated to understand how I knew him or why we should be together.   I knew that I didn’t want to get married or to have a family. Those were things I did not plan for or think about at all.  But, this was a knowing-at-first-sight. It didn’t make any sense and wasn’t particularly romantic.  Mikael was dating other women -many other women- and I was not interested.  A stream of insights flowed in meditation, which I quickly decided was imagination or wild speculation.  It took several years for circumstances to shift and correct and  re-correct themselves or the planets to align in just the right figuration, but we did marry.  The marriage was solid and lasted for twenty-four years and then it ended, in divorce.

The dictates of karma says that as long as there is karma, an impression to act, we have to act. We make karmic arrangements to meet certain people in order to share certain experiences with them.  And when those specific purposes are fulfilled, the karma is over and there is no way we can maintain a one-sided relationships.  Karma is not a mutual contact.  Perhaps those we meet along the way are not the people who will help us the most, but those to whom we can be of most useful.  And truly isn’t one of our grandest lessons to learn to serve others.

Others can be close to us on one, or more planes of existence. For instance, we are connected to certain people on a physical level as with family and others who are physically close to us.  But, there is also a vital energetic connection that we have when we also have similar desires and impulses. Beyond that there can be an intellectual relationship due to complimentary mental capacities, which heightens or compliments the other.  And finally, we can have a soul connection where spiritual aspiration converges. Relationships which connect on all four levels are profound. It is with these people that we have the most integral and perfectly beneficial friendships and probably the longest contact.

By my senior year, I was eager to make my move to Albuquerque. I had been planning for about six years to move there.  I was getting a degree in Speech Therapy, and even though I did not know how useful that would be, I applied to VISTA, Volunteers In Service to America….volunteering to teach on an Indian Reservation anywhere in New Mexico.  I was denied, as I was not American Indian and instead offered an opportunity to teach in Yuma, Arizona.   Instead of accepting Yuma, and going on the path I had designed for myself,  I got detoured and ended up in Detroit Michigan married to Mikael.   How it all happened is not important, but what is interesting is that I had made a complete about-face with regard to absolutely everything that I had been planning for my life up until that time.  The mystery of Love,  or is it karma is just so irresistible!

And now we begin…

As we become more in tune with our inner being, our life widens and we begin to feel a deeper connection with ourselves, a deeper connection with others, and also a deeper connection with nature and the world at large. Our world begins to feel like a stage on which there is a certain natural order to the play of things. We begin to feel more at home with the nature of things. We can begin to feel a part of Nature herself, a part of something immense, which is acting itself out.  We begin to feel more at home with the play going on, wherever we are, and also more in tune with the nature of things. We learn to accept what is, in order to move forward into what can be.

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You and I are all going in the same direction, moving at our designated pace. On the way, we may or may not meet to exchange some energy with each other, but ultimately or finally, we will move along, alone. I have always willing to share my energy with others, but have never really been interested in sharing my personal experiences. Being asked to share experiences and stories has always  felt unnecessary and uncomfortable, if not downright irritating.  But, just now, I feel as if I have been preparing to write this blog about my life, since I was twelve.  The reason I  blog now is that throughout my whole life, I have been guided.  People and events arrived at my doorstep to deliver me a messages or for some particular karmic reason. Circumstances arose with lessons for me to learn.   If I remained unconscious and refused to see what I needed to change, accept or forgive, the circumstances would worsen or repeat, as often as necessary.  When finally, I gave up and accepted the situation or changed my thought processes about the situation or person, the circumstance or relationship would dramatically change.  New opportunities  presented themselves.   I have felt guided, held back, protected, and pushed forward, inspired and enlightened by some force other than my own small self.  And  I expect that you too have experienced the very same phenomenon.

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As a adolescent, I enjoyed writing short stories. I wrote without an outline or really knowing what I would write. I called it my automatic writing practice.  During that period I wrote that as an adult I would write about my life experiences.   I knew that the events in my life would reveal to me the subject of the book.  I knew that it would involve my attempt to find myself.  At that age, I was so full of trust and faith. I  so easily connected with my inner sense of self.     I only had to close my eyes and drift off into that “fuzzy” inner space to be comforted by my divine friend, guide and protector.

At this  moment have I chosen to begin to share  my personal story.   I will write as I did as a child, except that instead of taking pen to paper, I take to the keyboard. Today, I begin my blogging with no real notion of where I am to begin or where it will take me.

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I was seven when I recognized my self for the first time. I knew that I had lived in another body in another lifetime. It was 1960, the courts had ordered all schools in New Orleans to be integrated.  My parents decided that it would be safer for me to attend a private Catholic School than to attend a school where the “colors could mix.”  They told me that my old grammar school Bienville, would shut their doors before they would allow colored children to attend.   I told my Mother that  I thought I was colored.  She was not amused.  My skin was much darker than both of my best friends.   In the summertime my grandmother would tease me about looking like an Indian or Mexican. And anyway, the most popular girl in our school was Lila Kay who had an olive complexion and almond shaped eyes. I thought she was so beautiful and absolutely perfect.  I think everyone would have been happy to mix with Lila.

Regardless, on the first day of school of second grade, my two best friends, Christine and Barbara and I, dressed alike in plaid uniforms and navy blue backpacks were driven by my mother to the oldest “Parochial School” in the Parish.  Our parents spent the whole summer discussing the pros and cons of us going to this Catholic school. During the very first month, I had an experience that convinced my parents, that powerful, occult energy hid within those dark and foreboding incense penetrated walls.

Each Friday, catechism classes were held in a room at the top of a winding staircase in a tower of the Cathedral. It was a bit daunting to climb single file up all those spiraling stairs within the narrow staircase.  On one of the landings, just below the upper staircase,  there was a large full length mirror positioned on the wall.  One Friday,  during the first semester, as I reached the mirror on the landing, I witnessed myself.  In what must have been an instance, I observed my little body in my little uniform and experienced the understanding that I was not this body. I said to myself, “oh, this is how I look this time. That will work.”  Those were my exact words.  It had been quite an ordinary experience in a way, as true understandings always are!  That “I“ was not this small body was definitive. It was a subtle, yet profound knowing that had an enormous impact.  Of course, in catechism class, I could not help but share my new found truth with the teachers. My class teacher and the catechism teacher were not at all impressed by what I had discovered and quite reprimanded me for my outburst.  I was unable to see the writing on the wall, and so went home full of news for my Mom and Dad. My parents did not respond much differently from the nuns, although my Mother apparently knew this would happen. And it was all their fault, after all they had sent me to a parochial school.

I didn’t last long at the parochial school. My friend Barbara returned with me to my public school quickly thereafter. Christine stayed with the nuns for rest of the year. Bienville hadn’t closed after all.  I was quite disappointed, there was not one new student there with colored skin.

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It took years for me to stop fantasying about my past lives. My mother said she thought I dreamed it all up. My father said the experience disturbed and confound him.    He asked our Presbyterian minister to discuss this matter with me years later, when I was about eleven. The intellectual Reverend Crosland told me that Presbyterian doctrine could not offer any answer to my question or explain my experience, that Presbyterians do not believe that they have had past lives.  However, he said that they do believe in predestination, and if one really contemplates that subject deeply, one might arrive at the question: “Are we predestined to something in this life, because of something that happened in our last life?”  He told me that some religions like Hinduism and Buddhism do in fact believe that we live many lives, through reincarnation (re-births) and that, he did not know the truth.  He could not answer one way or the other. I was thrilled and exhilarated to learn that there were at least two religions that held the belief in past-lives and that my minister had given the go ahead to look elsewhere for answers.  My Father was livid; after all he had been a deacon and elder in the church for decades and all he wanted was to put an end to the  nonsense.

This experience was not my first foray into spiritual realms.  My earliest recalled experiences are  as a  child of three or four.   Whenever I was  afraid or tired,  I would lay down, roll into fetal position,  suck my thumb, rubbing the roof of my mouth, roll my eyes upward and seek solace of “my brain.”  I would become absorbed in the swirling involutions I found there and immediately feel safe. I would fall into a “fuzzy, fluffy space,” which had a particular cottony feeling to it and experience total peace.  All through my childhood I could easily reach this space.   Decades later in deepest meditation I had a similar experience and was filled with bliss.    I had recovered that familiar space I had visited regularly as a child.

At thirteen, following some particularly stormy sessions with a particularly dogmatic Presbyterian Sunday school teacher,  I decided to leave the Presbyterian fold forever and seek answers elsewhere.  I traded in my Bible for Bertram Russell’s, “Why I am not a Christian.”  That book not only led me astray but also to my path.  And then my  father accidentally introduced me to Yoga when he gave me an exercise book which used asana, called “Sanasession.”

Discovering Hatha Yoga

So at fourteen, I discovered Hatha Yoga and began to practice these few asana daily. I began to stay in the postures for extended lengths of time and began to feel energy flowing in my body. I experienced deep peace and an inner strength, not only more flexibility.   I did not know what these exercises were were providing me but I liked doing them. I soon found a book by Richard Hittleman that led to a study of Hatha Yoga, and in a second hand book store, books by Sivananda, Indra Devi, Gopi Krishna, and the Hatha Yoga Pradipika and Autobiography of a Yogi.  By nineteen, I was longing to discover the “right” Yoga for me.

Om Kriya Babaji Nama Aum

Welcome to seeking the self.

DurgaIndia