Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Spirituality and Personal Growth’ Category

On a Gemini day when chorophyll awakens in the air, I remember Boston. I remember the sound of the T. I remember the sound of traffic stretching over a city, bike messengers riding past, billboards… the smell of grass growing by the Charles. Maybe this is why I am drawn to moving to Richmond these days. I miss that: a city divided by river, river lazily flowing through like some intentional feng shui water feature that draws bankers into the city and drives up the real estate prices until I can’t afford to stay there anymore. I remember the peculiar scent in the air every June, when anything is possible. It only smells this way when summer is precious. In the South, summer is taken for granted. It is the default mode of life.

Missing is such a circular thing. It goes nowhere. Today I am missing Boston. While I lived in Boston I found a million places to miss. Nothing was right. I wanted to be in Puerto Rico, in Africa, in India, in New York. Tomorrow I may go back to Boston and miss the South.

Sometimes I think about people I miss. I am strange. I think I am different from most people; I never stop missing friends. I never stop looking for them under rocks. I always pine for their words, their energy, the traces of their arms where they once hugged life back into me. I carry each person with me that has changed me, forever, no matter what happens between us. A friend could ignore me, insult me, ditch me in favor of a love interest of the appropriate gender after I’ve put my heart and soul into loving them as only a friend can, or scorn me. It doesn’t matter. I’m a fool. Like a dog, I continue loving. I forget the hurt and just remember how it felt to love them, to experience the beauty of their soul in an eternal sense—no matter what I got back from it.

And, strangely enough, in many cases, people come around. Eternity is eternity, and not the same as the everyday passage of time. The friend with the jealous husband gets divorced and needs your support and friendship once again. The lover who was too busy for you with their art suddenly sees that they made a big mistake and comes to you when they are down. Do I turn them away? Almost never. I’m a fool. But I’m like the Fool of the Tarot deck. A conscious fool. The card numbered Zero, outside all numerical, material reasoning. The one who will love and remember and hold on when any sensible, self-protecting person would have picked up their things and left.

Do I have poor self-esteem? Hardly. Do I allow myself to be treated badly? I certainly try not to. I love myself tremendously. I am not any sort of masochist—physically or emotionally. I am just a fool. I love without asking why. I remember without judging. I know that people can change, that miracles happen, that today is today and yesterday was yesterday. I give without keeping score. And I feel without sorting out the pain from the pleasure. I’m like an open wound walking blissfully into the abyss, one foot off the cliff, jester cap on my head—telling jokes as I give myself away. I love these fleeting butterfly moments of communion, these northern lights in the sky of souls—knowing all the while that nothing beautiful can be owned, nor can northern lights keep us warm at night.

I am The Fool. I hold onto things. I love that which cannot pay back. I continue to love long after it’s gone—without blame, without anger or disdain. I always remember the best things I shared with someone. I remember long after others have counted their losses and moved on.

Although even a conscious fool is still human.

© Sarah Noack 2007

Read Full Post »

(Yes, this was a Missing Persons song from the 80’s… one which I just heard the other day while buying Jeni a cheese pretzel at the local Wawa.



)

Here are some mini mind exercises I’ve either thought of, borrowed, or received a flash of insight about over the years. Some I have done enough to say for sure that they WORK (for me at least). Others I am still experimenting with. My feeling is that if you do any of these consistently, they will work. 

It is good to always put aside about 20 to (ideally, in intensive situations) 45 minutes each day to meditate on your desired reality. I credit this with having played a major role in curing my fibromyalgia and multiple arm injuries which disabled me for years. Every day I would meditate deeply, going far away from the pain in my body, sometimes even going out of my body if it was too bad. I would meditate mainly on three goals that were concrete and exciting enough to make me forget my negative physical and emotional present:
1) Get a tattoo (ie, voluntary, productive pain),
2) Travel to Africa and India (and not worry about being too fragile to handle getting disease or travelling in hardship conditions), and
3) have a baby (when I had fibromyalgia I could barely take care of myself or lift small objects, so this was an idea that was totally out of my mental reach unless I was deep in meditation). 



Well, I have done all three.

It’s always really nice to think about things you HAVE manifested in your life, when one thing just isn’t clicking. 

Anyway, here are the exercises. Enjoy and feel free to add your own!



1) PINK AND ORANGE

Whenever I feel myself faced with too much aggression or negative interpersonal energy directed toward me, or whenever I wish to avoid it in a situation where it’s likely to occur (family gatherings, DMV, dealing with customs agents etc), I imagine that my aura is turning a shade of pale pink. It’s a specific color, like pink roses. Actually it helps if you imagine a sweet, “pink” smell as well around you, like cotton candy or roses. I let myself bathe in the pink color and let it change my energy. I find that the pink around me helps disarm aggression and makes people friendlier and more protective toward me. For men, the pink might be too “open” and yin energetically. A man’s way of gaining support in the world is very different from a woman’s (even if he’s gay or in some cases, transexual as long as he IDENTIFIES as male… this is hard to explain, but I just know this is true), so he needs to envision orange instead of pink. Orange is a disarming color for men. It has the strength of red, but not the force. For men, orange in the aura will help increase interpersonal success and acceptance. You can imagine a warm orange smell—not like oranges or citrus, nothing tangy… something more warm like pumpkin or cinnamon/vanilla. One thing you’ll find about this exercise is that it also helps increase, in a harmless and subtle way, your sexual attractiveness. Again, strangely enough, it can even work if you’re gay or a lesbian, because you’re not making yourself actually more Masculine or Feminine… just more energetically open. However, if you’re really uncomfortable with one color, just try the other instead. What is cool about this exercise is that you are not shielding your aura, you’re opening it… and letting other people do the shielding for you! It just invites that! Experiment with other colors as well. Aura color adjustment is a great self-defense and personal interaction tool.



2) STASIS CHAMBER

When I was in West Africa, I got this exercise from one of my guardian angels who came into my dreams. The very day after I dreamt of her and had a long talk with her four expansions, I had to go to a game reserve the next day. We got up early and drove through complete forest wilderness… nothing but national park for miles. The van we were in broke down. The driver got out to pray, and then fixed it enough so we could move on. I got a very powerful insight at that moment, like someone was talking to me. Looking back I know it was this particular guide. “Make a stasis chamber,” she said. I also immediately knew I had to keep this a secret until I returned from Africa and processed its effectiveness. The stasis chamber was just a mental construction around the van, kind of like a silver bubble, that essentially moved it outside of linear time and cause/effect and into the realm of pure intention. I envisioned the van travelling along a fine silver line, like it was part of a human soul or energy network. I imagined the silver line leading to the destination and that the bubble or “chamber” of protective energy was pulling the vehicle along and preventing anything important from changing in it. I imagined also that the vehicle was watched over by the women (as it turns out, all were this one angel) that visited my dream that night. I closed my eyes and manifested this stasis chamber for the entire two hours we were driving. I never stopped to think about anything else. The vehicle had major problems but we got there OK. I use this on a regular basis now and it has NEVER ONCE failed me as long as I am careful to maintain the intention if it’s really crucial. 



3) FLOSSING THERAPY

Whenever something really bad has happened to me in my life, I have developed a good habit in response to it. The idea first came to me when I was 23 and got fired from a very important, much-coveted job. I just couldn’t understand why I got fired, and I could have spent a lot of time being depressed about it but I knew emotionally, I couldn’t afford this luxury. So I started jogging. I actually couldn’t jog at all. I was not only totally out of shape, but I have always HATED running with a passion, and written off my ability to even run a few blocks even when I WAS in shape. Well, I couldn’t afford any other form of exercise, so I just bit my lip and did it. Eventually I started being able to run/walk a mile… then run a few without walking. I started to LOVE it, and in picking up this new habit (which caused me to lose a lot of weight), I felt better about myself and was able to get the emotional energy to attract a great design gig. Coincidentally, a really cute guy worked there whom I found out after I had finally built up the courage to leave a dead 6-year-old relationship, had a big crush on me. So it all worked out in the end… wink wink. Oh by the way. I ended up jogging regularly for almost 5 years, and started again now (on a treadmill at least). 

Another example of this was once, when I finally confessed my feelings to a friend whom I loved passionately in secret, I was rejected in what seemed like a very cold way. I was so embarassed and upset that I was going to go completely nuts if I didn’t do something positive RIGHT AWAY. So, as silly as this may sound, I took up dental hygiene and making my bed every day. I went out and bought only the finest toothbrush, all-natural toothpaste, mouthwash and floss. I figured if I have to be single, I might as well use all that time to myself to take care of my teeth! That, and making sure I made my bed every single day, became habits that stuck with me for awhile. 

So, moral of the story for exercise #3: Use your failures as chances to develop positive habits. They are actually great openings for that, because you will feel desperate to feel good about yourself at those junctures.



4) DECORATE YOUR HOUSE

Mentally. I close my eyes, and meditate on my house. I decorate it the way I want, as if money is no object. You can really do this with any aspect of your life… just focus on one at a time. I have manifested ideal-for-right-now partners in my life by doing this… for some reason that always comes really easily to me, TOO easily at times… much more easily than money, so I am careful to only use that when necessary!! 

I don’t think you have to be super organized about positive visualizations. Do what inspires you on this particular day. If today you feel inspired to envision your ideal house, or a day on your ideal job, or how your body would feel if you ate only raw foods and woke up at 5am every day, do it. There are no “should’s” and “don’ts” here, only creativity and mental play. Your mind is your playground… use it for more than just balancing your checkbook and watching soaps. 



5) DO IT BACKWARD

Pick an activity you do that’s become rote, and do it in a way you’ve never done it before or that makes you think about every movement. Or take a break from a routine that’s become rote. In Suzan Hilton’s Feng Shui books she talks about “cross crawling” which is basically just that… crawling on all fours, but using the limbs from each side of the body separately, which is harder to do. For me, running in water is one thing that serves this purpose. You really have to think about every little movement when you run in water. Another example is taking a cold shower. If you’re not used to it, it can seem painful until you get used to it; then it just seems interesting and novel. Sometimes if you’re used to always emailing people, try calling them or writing a snail mail. If your body is stuck in patterns that are limiting your mental freedom (ie, bad posture, tension), get a massage, or perform stretches that you’ve never done before until the kinks are out. Fasting or only eating fruit (which I did today and feel great) is an awesome way to press the “reset” button on your mind and explore a new idea. Fasting is a vastly underestimated tool for reprogramming the mind, because it causes a pattern shift in the body. These pattern shifts always cause some initial discomfort, but if they are done in the right spirit of play and experimentation (“Let’s see what happens if…”), they always will help keep you young, fluid and curious about life. 



6) AVERSION THERAPY
This is what happens when you absolutely must eat Krispy Kreme Donuts, have sex with that person whom you can’t stop arguing with, but can’t stop thinking about (if you choose to go that far with it), or have a margarita binge. As long as you are NOT AN ADDICTIVE PERSONALITY (and chances are if you are, you won’t admit it), sometimes the best way to stop doing something is to do it until you build up a natural disgust for it. BTW (for all who read that post a few months ago) I have not eaten any Krispy Kreme donuts after that last incident. I even tried once. Couldn’t do it. Yuck. 



7) PRISON DOORS
If you need to seriously shut out VERY bad, malevolent energy (not just mildly aggressive, but dangerous, persistent or abusive), the solution is not to do the pink and orange. You don’t want to be open for that kind of nonsense. Pink and orange is only for the garden-variety, human-frailty sort of aggression. For the chronic, pathological manifestations of hate, violence, rage and abusive vibes, imagine a very thick steel door, kind of like a bank vault or a high-security prison door, shutting very loudly around your entire aura. Imagine lots of them if you must. Hear the loud “BANG” sound they make when they shut, and imagine they are making you invisible and impenetrable. I have used this. It works. 



8) IMAGINE EVERYONE BEAUTIFUL

Sometimes when I catch myself feeling depressed with the state of the world, looking around and thinking “Geez, why are people so ignorant?” or some other such thought that generally reflects my own stupidity and prejudices, I do this exercise. I close my eyes for a moment and open them again, and look at the world as if (assuming that) everyone is beautiful. I see their frailties, their good intentions, imagine them all connected in a positive and loving way to me and to God. I imagine them shining with a silvery light, actually… it always helps to have a visual image. And when I hold this image in my mind, I find I relate to people so differently. This exercise came in REALLY handy when I worked retail… it’s so easy to get fed up with people, because you are such a handy battering ram for people’s hangups and ego trips. Whenever I was in the midst of a negative experience with a customer, sometimes even to the point where they were actually insulting my looks or intelligence, I would just smile, and do the silver light thing. Somehow I would always be able to let their comment go and see the real cause of their frustration, and deal with it. People often get abusive in customer service settings only because they feel their needs aren’t being met, so ask lots of questions. “Oh, I’m sorry you weren’t happy with this product. We can’t refund it because you already used more than half of it, you don’t have the receipt, and it expired two years ago… but now that you know the return policy, you can take advantage of it next time you get something. This policy is pretty reasonable and standard, but I’m sorry and understand if you were disappointed. Can I offer you some free samples so you can try something new without risking any money on it today?” Etc, etc, etc. In fact, many of the people at the store where I worked would see certain customers and just say, “Sarah, I know you’re on your lunch break… but PLEASE… come deal with her!!” 



10) WINGS
Sometimes when I am feeling limited in my life, like I can’t do what I want, I just hold the meditation all day of having wings on my back. I focus clearly on them, imagine they are really there and that I’m actually capable of flying, but just choose not to for today. I prefer butterfly wings, but you can pick any kind you want. When you have a free moment, imagine using them. Imagine how it would feel. I love doing this. I haven’t done it in awhile, but I’m going to have to start again. Actually, that’s why I got a butterfly tattooed on my back… to always remind me that they’re there.

© Sarah Noack 2006

Read Full Post »

“O son of Prtha, do not yield to this degrading impotence. It does not become you. Give up such petty weakness of heart and arise, O chastiser of the enemy.” (Bhagavad Gita as it is, AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, 2:3)

Some interesting transmissions I’ve received lately after reflecting about this passage:

– Whenever you have a choice between running or facing the dragon, face the dragon.

– People will often mistake your good qualities for bad qualities, if they doubt or mistrust these good qualities within themselves. Do not take offense at this, nor react to it. Just have faith in the truth, and in yourself, and continue to do what’s right. Being true to yourself is more important than being honored and rewarded. It is its own reward. (See Bhagavad Gita chapter 3 for more about karma yoga, which connects to this idea). 

– There are no victims, only accomplices. You choose how people will treat you. You can’t force people to be nice to you, but you can choose what situations and relationships you’ll continue to be involved with. If your subconscious attracts an unpleasant situation, especially repeatedly, it’s trying to teach you something. Thank it. Use it. There are no enemies, only energies. Believe it can be transformed, not simply dismissed or discarded. Believe in the inherent goodness of people. But know when to let go peacefully, without regrets. 

– Always live life with the quiet readiness of a warrior. Warriors understand that nothing is personal, yet everything is intentional. And nothing is sacred except what you choose to hold onto. Own your choices. Own your reactions. Own your emotions. In doing so, you own your destiny.

– Don’t make excuses. The less we explain and justify ourselves, the more respect we earn. We are more powerful if we allow others to misjudge us, but know our worth and peacefully continue on our path. Don’t expect people or life to always be fair. Use everything you’re given and be thankful for discrepancies from our ideals, because they teach you what we need to work on. Let your good deeds speak for themselves, and understand that if you’re right and they’re wrong, eventually they will either know it, or you’ll move onto something better. When we don’t constantly defend ourselves over small things, people will be more inclined to listen when we have to set an important boundary. 

– Success is strategic. You can’t win a chess or boxing match simply by throwing your emotions blindly around and feeling wounded by your opponent’s moves. Challenges are not attacks, and life is a game to be mastered. Use emotion appropriately: the heart is a perfect witness, but a lousy judge in the trials of life. 

– Never be afraid of the sharks. No one gets ahead in life by being a feeder fish, and false shows of humility and politeness won’t keep you safe in life. Sharks can smell phoniness like blood in water. If you want to be powerful, learn how powerful people work. They are not evil, they are simply hungry. They are authentic, even when it makes them unpopular. They make decisions. They take stands. They set part the waters and set boundaries. They don’t listen to “no.” Even the most aggressive sharks respect honesty, courage, determination and powerful intention. This is how they work, and if you want to be a player instead of a pawn in life, you have to learn to swim with the sharks even if you are not one by nature. Real respect is earned, not bought. 

– Be a mountain and the earth will shift to your form. 

– Don’t color in the lines. Invent your own picture. Name it. 

– Accept risk and consequence. A warrior knows he can be killed at any time, but he continues his duty. Accept when a risk you have taken fails or backfires. Own when you cross a line. When you break a rule, do it consciously, prove a point, and have the honor to embrace its consequences. And if you do not intend to accept consequences, obey the law. This even applies to small things. I don’t smoke pot because, along with other reasons, I do not desire to be arrested, and it’s against the law. I don’t think marijuana should be illegal, but I choose to be an American and accept the laws of this country, and I have responsibilities in life which would seriously be impaired if I were arrested. I accept the speed limits of the road, the late fees on my credit cards, and all other things I signed up for in some way in life. Being accountable frees up LOTS of energy. 

– If you see the Buddha, kill it.

– If you see the Buddha, embrace it. 

– If you see the Buddha, you are already the Buddha. 

What’s next? 

Love,
Sarah

Read Full Post »

Lilacs, everywhere. Artsy photos of women in saris with flowers tumbling over their heads. A large deity of Sri Ganesa. “Please remove your shoes.” Yes, I’m used to that drill. I can tell by the way they say it, that they’re used to having to explain things to newcomers. As I set up for my demo, the yogis offer detailed instructions to me. “We don’t use paper towels or disposables. Please don’t step on these yantras, they’re sacred. We’re vegans, please only put the soy cream out. You need a mat if you’re going to sit on the floor.” Yawn. Yes. I understand all about the many rules of Hindu ashrams, even if each one has its own variations. I don’t tell them this. I’ve learned, when entering any new spiritual center, to just let people think I’m completely new to all this stuff. I must radiate that vibe somehow, and frankly, that makes me a little happy. Often the people helping guests at ashrams like to feel important in their service, I’ve found, and for me to say “Yes, I understand this stuff, we can skip the basics,” is insulting to them. 

I was invited here to serve a caffeine-free herbal coffee alternative for a fundraising event. No one wants to help me, not even to find a plug outlet or a table. Every time I ask someone a question, they act as if I’ve disturbed their fragile tranquility, and relegate me to someone else who then does the same thing. I’m totally getting the runaround, and people actually say things like, “I’m not your liason. We’re busy trying to manage the kitchen right now.” All I want to do is get some filtered water, and the kitchen manager acts as if I should have just brought my own. Everywhere I go, I feel like a low-caste servant in India must feel. I am recruited to help do some service stuffing gift bags. I am not getting paid to do this, but I have some dead time while the Teeccino is brewing, and I help. When I tell them finally I need to leave to attend to my Teeccino, they become upset and tell me they need my help. It takes a few attempts to pry myself away from the bag-stuffing. This is unreal. Do they understand I’m actually there to perform a specific service… that I’m getting paid for?

Later, without any warning, I bump into Krishna Das. I had no idea he would be here. I am not the world’s hugest Krishna Das fan. I like some of his interpretations of sacred chants, but some of them sound a little too country/folksy for me. I’m pretty old school when it comes to chanting and bhajanas. I loved the great Hare Krishna singers like Visnujana and Indradyumna Swamis when I first heard them. They immediately made sense to me. There was a madness about them I liked. They aren’t always comforting like Krishna Das, they’re ecstatic, electric. And they always sing about Krishna, in His various forms (which are all different aspects of one God, the same God that all monotheistic religions follow… not many “gods” as some believe). Nothing against the demigods… they are all servants of Krishna, according to the Vedas. But they aren’t all equal in my eyes, and when I hear them all equally showcased and honored, something in me inwardly cringes. It’s kind of like, to me, hearing someone say that your teacher, friend and doctor are all just as close to your heart as your mother. Yes, I’m old school. I’m old-fashioned, an undercover conservative Vaisnavi-wanna-be with plenty of tendencies that don’t fit that mold. I’m also a closet sentimental. Give me Krishna, that’s all I want. Sri Narasimhadeva. Gaura Nitai. Radhe-Govinda. Cut out all the leaves of this artichoke and just give me the heart. Dipped in butter. Even if I have to live on the outskirts of the devotees and play dumb when I walk into a temple.

Later at the kirtan, they are flashing a slide show of some guru on the screen. I’m ignorant, and don’t know who it is, and don’t feel like bothering to google it to impress you. I see pictures of the guru performing many activities. I see pictures of an opulent, beautiful ashram they are trying to raise money for. I don’t see Krishna.

I hear people chanting to assorted Deities of the Month, all equally enraptured in their own pleasant feelings and artful body poses. I smell the scent of lilacs, suffusing the room, and hear the sounds of windchimes and bells. I feel like someone transported from another time or a simpler place, who doesn’t get what’s going on. Who, upon discovering faucets, misses the walk to the well. In all this opulence, I’m feeling empty inside. Even the names of demigods are prayers, indirectly, to Krishna. I understand this, and yet I still feel empty. There is nothing wrong with honoring the demigods. Krishna Das always finishes each of his concerts with the maha mantra, the name of Krishna. It’s not hearing the names of Durga and Ganesa that’s bothering me. They are great devotees. It’s… I don’t know. I just feel an emptiness in here, and it’s leaving me cold.

Even as the maha mantra is chanted at the end, even as people are dancing, I feel this emptiness. I dance, too. I am one of the few dancing. The whole format of this room, the devotees on mats on the floor, the harmonium sounds, all remind me poignantly of the Hare Krishna temple in Boston where I once spent two years as the temple misfit. Yet sometimes, I miss it terribly when reminded. I try to not think about it too much. As someone who has a terrible time following rules and keeping up daily practices, and simply as a queer/genderambiguous person who felt actually psychologically harmed by trying to follow the Vedic stri-darma (recommended lifestyle of women… men have their own), I had a hard time in the movement. I have a hard time with movements in general. I think of movements as something my bowels do, not something I can join and feel happy in. I never felt as if I abandoned my native Judaism by exploring other spiritual paths, because in the end, I was just trying to understand God… the same God that Moses listened to in a burning bush. Only the stories I grew up with didn’t always satisfy me. There were too many contradictions, ambiguity and violence. I knew there was more. And there was… but it was not to be found in anything that could be labeled a “movement” or even a book of any kind. Even now, I understand how elusive and yet pervasive divinity is. Holy books are just road maps. They are sacred only because of the destination they aim toward. What really moved me, what caused me to join “a movement,” was this sound of chanting which seemed to contain universes. 

And now it feels so empty to me. 

Here is the holy name… something so valuable and precious. (Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare). It’s like God… actually, it IS God in sonic form, appropriate for ANY religion. It’s not just for “Krishnas.” Christians, Muslims, Jews can chant it and it means the same thing… God’s sound vibration, plain and simple. It has different resonance for everyone, it’s universal. And I feel like people are just hearing this amazing sound, and instead of looking at Krishna… they’re looking at their faces in the mirror and adjusting their bindis. I feel intense self-absorption. Am I projecting myself onto them? I don’t know. I accept that possibility. Maybe my mood is tainted by the way I was treated earlier that day. A devotee of Krishna is taught to see everyone as equal… a cow, a brahmana, or a bum on the street. I felt, today, like I had been thrown back into ancient India with a corrupt caste system. I felt like The Servant on a rarefied heavenly planet full of every comfort, opulence and spiritual trapping… but it was empty. This made me understand the idea of impersonalism, more than ever. 



A lady comes up to the podium and talks about gurus. She discusses the sanctity of the bond between guru and disciple, and how it can never be broken. She talks about how, once you establish this bond, it’s forever… you can stray from the path, but you’ll aways return, and the guru sees everything and knows this even if he has to accept karma for your transgressions. And interestingly, this to me is how Christianity has drastically misinterpreted Jesus’ message, the timeless Vedic message of the Guru which is in the Essene teachings as well (brought from India, many speculate). It’s not only Jesus who can “save” (meaning, elevate you, bring you to your true relationship with the Divine Person) you. It’s GURU, period. There is a whole science to the guru relationship, and yes, the guru does die for you in a sense. He (or she) accepts your karma, your sins. The guru agrees to shoulder your burden so you can have access to the wisdom and purity of their realized soul. I am so cynical, though, that I don’t believe perfectly realized souls exist, even when I’m looking at them. I am looking at the dirt on the moon, and not realizing… it’s still the moon. 

And that’s what I’m sentimental about right now.



I miss the dirt.



I miss the moon.



I miss the cold showers. The politics. The repression. The days the prasadam wasn’t amazing, or I ate leftovers because everything was gone when I got to breakfast. I miss approaching strangers on the street and getting rejected. I miss the hard work. I miss the intimacy and realness of temple life. I don’t want to move back there, but I miss something about the world of the ISKCON devotee that, even when it’s at its most horrendously dysfunctional, still feels honest compared to this opulent, pay-as-you-go Hollywood for beautiful people that like to contort their bodies into pretty poses while examining themselves in the mirror and ornamenting themselves with sparkly things. I had a conversation earlier this evening with a woman who was talking about how she needed different demigods for different moods. “Just give me Ganesa!” she said. “I have obstacles, so he’s my favorite… he helps me take them away, that’s all I need.” I ask her if she’s heard of Lord Nityanada. “Who?” she asks. I start explaining, and then stop when I feel she is vulgarizing things. She hasn’t heard of Lord Caitanya and is amazed when I tell her Krishna has a brother. When another woman discusses mukti (liberation), I discuss personalism with her. I ask her if she knows about Goloka Vrindavan, the highest spiritual planet where Krishna actually lives and plays with His pure devotees. “What?” she asks. I ask her if it’s good to be liberated if there are still people suffering in maya. If we forget what Krishna looks like. She’s confused by the question. I drop it. I’m realizing I’m in a mayavadi la-la land. A Hindu and a Vaisnava, however imperfect in their hearts, have little in common except similar scriptures. A Christian has far more in common with a Vaisnava, than a Hindu. 

As the woman talks in a droningly peaceful voice about the relationship we all have with guru, all I can think of, with a heavy heart, is Srila Prabhupada. I suddenly miss him as strongly as if he were right in the room with me. I can feel him. Looking around the room, which looks so much like the Boston temple I spent so many months in, I don’t notice the flowers, the pictures of gurus, the deity of Ganesa, the people in beautiful outfits and tulasi-mala offensively on their wrists. I only notice this huge gaping hole where Krishna and Srila Prabhupada were supposed to be, and because of that, the room is empty… no matter how beautiful it is. Even hearing the holy name here, sounds like speaking through tissue paper. I can still hear it, but it’s muffled.

I may have differences with my guru that can never be mended, but I can do what I can do. I can believe. I can honor something, someone I know is pure. I can follow his teachings to the best of my ability right now, and understand there’s more in store when I an able to reach a deeper understanding through practice. I can honor what he gave me, which changed my life and continues to work in mysterious ways, even when I turn my back on it. Or rather, I never really turned my back. I went back home to my family. To the path my mother and grandmother gave me. To a dharma I was lucky to be given at birth, which only now begins to make sense to me. And I’m still trying to figure out how it all fits together.



That’s all I have.

© Sarah Noack 2009

Read Full Post »