Written by Jennifer Taylor
For my Guru
Dearest and Amazing Mohanji –
I think I’m getting the hang of this, finally. I really never expected, much less anticipated, finding a Guru. Thankfully, the Universe had a plan, and this led to that, and I met you this summer (2013). I’m grateful and bless (during every POP) the people who led me to that meeting.
After reading a blog this morning, “Signs That You Are With Me” written by Keshnie Shannon Pillay, I began to think about our relationship in a different way and now, at the end of the day, I decided to write this all down so you (and anyone who cares to) can see the story from my perspective.
After meeting you and spending many hours (satsangs, meditations, yoga classes, conversations, meals – and even a Homa!) with you and your devotees, I was a changed person. I was calmer and happier. Then the school year started. I’m a college professor and had not spent the summer prepping, as I could have – because it was much more fun hanging out with a Guru! I became “busy” with work – but it was the same road I’d trod before. Yet, as I was changed, it didn’t fit well. I felt conflict within myself, but I didn’t know how to put words to it, much less resolve it, until today.
I thought it had to do with the differences in our cultures; I am a white, middle class American, raised in rural western New York State. I’ve travelled relatively little; though I have a fairly realistic global outlook on life, I speak only English well and French marginally. My strength is in writing and teaching – I have little experience or desire to deal with international commerce. I was raised in the Methodist (Christian) tradition, and my family is so traditional that two of my sisters felt comfortable marrying Mennonites (not that my brothers-in-law are very traditional Mennonite, but their common backgrounds are very structured Christianity).
Because of my upbringing and my spiritual awareness, I walked away from the church, though I was baptized (at least twice) and spent much of my youth in that environment. I knew from a very early age that there was more to it that the church-goers seemed to see or experience. I learned from many: American Indians, Wiccans, Metaphysical Studies, and open-minded Christians who were interested in all cultures. I thought following my own instincts and path worked best, as that seemed to be the truth of my experience. Many times (at least six), I tried to return to church and every time, I walked into services that seemed more like business meetings. I gave up. I found guidance and inspiration in life and sought the Light through prayer and meditation. Though I wanted more, I trusted my soul to warm to the truth and shy away from stagnation. I still consider myself a Christian, as I seek to be Christ-like: loving, honest, humble, wise, giving, and open. I hoped to serve by helping people, empathizing and serving them by giving of myself. At the same time, I honored the Light of my own Divinity, seeking to be the best “me” I could be. (Clearly, I became fiercely independent.)
When I met you, I was (am!) in my 50s, divorced three years, childless, living alone hundreds of miles from family, with a challenging job I enjoy. I’ve survived some rough times, including the loss of my parents and the stress of… well,…stress. I was (am!) not in good shape physically and tired of it. Most of the areas of my life, including the friends I have, are lovely, rich, and interesting to me. However, I want to thrive. I want to live in the Light.
Meeting you, dear Mohanji, was fascinating to me. I have always been sensitive and have, for years, talked with my Guides (angels, spirits), as friends. I have friends who have worked and studied to be healers, and they have told me that I am gifted in my sensitivity and awareness. I thought, quite frankly, that everyone was that way. It’s only in the last few years that I’ve realized how different I am (because of this feedback from my friends). I thought everyone was like me, so I was confused about why they would live the way they did, do the things they do, and concern themselves with the minutiae of life. Again, my friends have helped me to see who I am in that regard. While I always have been Spiritual, I have struggled to understand life on life’s terms, as they say. Focus, career aspirations, and all that were difficult for me to grasp. I bumbled along, but was happy enough, as that wasn’t the focus of my life. And yet, it had taken control of my life.
Meeting you was like stepping into the Light, where suddenly I could be the Spirit that I am, without any hesitation. You took it all in and met me where I am. No one has done that in my life. Everyone required explanations and clarifications, if they understood me at all. Talking to you was like picking up a conversation that I started with a friend… a friend I just hadn’t seen in a while. So, spending time with you was the most natural thing in the world and becoming involved in your work was humbling and gratifying. For the first time in my life, it seemed, I could just be myself (without editing).
Yet, then work loomed. My bad habits of procrastination cropped up. I let work go until I had to work on a Sunday night instead of going to a POP. I was struggling with balance and didn’t know how to work it out. I thought the conflict I felt was insecurity, or difference in culture, or something even more esoteric. I did what I always had: bumbled on alone, trying to sort it out myself, not expecting that anyone would notice, much less want to help out. That’s how my life was, I thought, and I like that I’m strong and confident. Then, less than 36 hours after the POP that I missed, I woke out of a deep sleep in the middle of the night. I felt that you’d just stepped behind a curtain in my room – one that wasn’t really there. I felt like you had popped in to check on me, just to see if I was ok. It still makes me smile the way it did that night. I felt your love, concern, consideration, and respect.
I continued to bumble along, the Universe led, and I followed, but I didn’t communicate my concerns to anyone in particular. I wrote, as always, in my journal, and I prayed. Occasionally, I talk to your “business card,” expressing my frustration. I ended up in a workshop given by a representative of Tony Robbins, and, as a result, I decided to attend a long weekend seminar given by Mr. Robbins. I wanted to shake my life (myself) up a bit and maybe start working out. I wanted a challenge, maybe. Mostly, I wanted to get off the couch, stop complaining, and start living in earnest.
I’m not sure if you’re familiar with Mr. Robbins: in a nutshell, he invented the idea of business coaching. Others call him a motivational speaker, but he is so much more than that. He’s counseled many presidents, Oprah, sports legends, rock stars, and business moguls. He’s force. (Like you!) But, in the past, I’d never invested in his books, as they seemed much like everything else on the self-help shelves in the bookstore. I had no idea what I’d signed up for, when I signed up for that seminar. I’ll never regret it. I’ll always be grateful (again) for the people who led me to that crossroads where I said “yes.”
So, last weekend, November 7-10, I was in NJ (just outside NY, NY) at the seminar. The first night was great; I met a lot of people, I learned some things about myself, and we all ramped up and did a “fire walk” (about eight feet of hot coals). It was fun, interesting, and challenging. We danced, talked, followed his lead, and found our inner strength. I was happy about the whole thing. The second day was relatively uneventful; more of the same sort of self-discovery kind of thing. And I love that sort of thing.
By the third day, I was calling him Tony, like I know him – even though I was just one of 5,000 in the room, and he wouldn’t know me on the street. I’d know him, of course – for one thing, he’s 6’8” tall: hard to miss. That day was the most challenging. He talked about human needs (consistency, variety, significance, connection, giving, and growth). We talked, danced, participated, and learned about ourselves and each other.
After dinner break, Tony took us through what he calls the “Dicken’s Process.” He patterned the workshop after “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens. He had us identify our limiting beliefs and reach deep for honesty about what those beliefs have cost us. In the book/movie, Scrooge is visited by three ghosts from Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Future. Tony pushed us to visualize the damage we’re doing ourselves, and it was extremely uncomfortable.
I’m not sure the point when I asked for you to help me, but I think it was before it became very intense. I believe I asked for your help to give up those limiting, damaging beliefs. However, I wasn’t thinking of my circumstances. By the time I knew you were there, I had already thought to myself, “This is what Hell is like.” Men were sobbing, women were wailing, and most of the lights were dimmed, though there were some red lights throughout the room. Tony pushed harder. People were honestly suffering. I felt safe – I knew Tony Robbins has done this with literally millions of people. Also, I was buffered by my Guides, and then, I realized, by you. I remember even pushing away from you to be sure I felt bad enough to give up my pain. (Isn’t that an odd logic?)
A few people walked out because of the intensity of the experience, but most were freed by it. Realizing they were creating their own pain and living in it, calling it necessary… well, it worked. He helped us let go of those beliefs and challenged us to be free and happy. He even did some psychological work that eliminated most of our unhappy memories.
It was quite a night all in all. I will never forget it. I will do it again. And I will do more work with Tony. He’s great coach.
On one hand, this week has been hard; part of the experience resulted in physical detox for me. I was very active for four days – more active than I’ve been in the past ten years together. For the last few days, I’ve rested, drank gallons of water, eaten a vegan diet (some cheese here and there), and cut down on caffeine, bread, and sugar by at least 75%. On the other hand, I feel more free and happy than I ever have in my life. I knew intellectually the things Tony taught and talked about, but the experience made it part of my body. Not only do I think I’m strong, I know I am. I’ve pushed and not found my limit.
Which brings us to today. I was up very early (4:30am). I have more energy, now that the detox is wearing off. I prepared a fruit salad and made my way to the POP Meditation. I was the first I’ve done in awhile, as, of course, I’m not doing these at home. That would not fit my habit pattern of “I’m tough and can do this on my own.” Fortunately, as a result of this weekend, I realize how absolutely ridiculous that is. I melted into the meditation and saw myself sitting at the Ashram (the one we’ll have in VA) by the pond. In the end, you came and sat with me.
Then, during the Satsang, I thought of the blog that Keshnie wrote. As I listened to you talk to the others, I realized I have been conflicted, but it wasn’t what I thought it was about. I realized I haven’t been fully participating in the process that you’re offering. You talked about the Mind and the Intellect, and it began to sink in; that is where the conflict has been. I thought about the paradox of the language surrounding your message. There is liberation, but the freedom comes from becoming One, from joining with you, connecting regularly and often. The bondage comes from the delusion of independence, the illusion the Mind/Ego perpetuates. I reflected on about how I know, more and more, that “sin” is the belief that we actually can be separated from the Divine, and holding on (attachment) to that sin causes any suffering.
And so, I asked you about the seminar last week – I asked about your perception of what happened to me and asked for validation that you were there. Though I’m sorry I didn’t make the connections sooner, I can tell you I plan never to forget this experience either. I will always take that one step. You showed up. You have taken 100s of steps for me. At the Satsang, when you finally understood my question, your reaction was clear – you felt my concern and the anguish in that room last week. That you care so much touches my soul in ways I can’t quite describe. I feel more than belonging – I feel that I finally fit. It’s as if I’ve been a fish walking on land, from pond to pond, and I’ve finally been introduced to the ocean.
I’m struggling for words; independence is what I’ve left behind, but dependence is not the opposite. Perhaps it’s liberation. I do know is that I understand, finally, this relationship. I appreciate fully your patience and guidance to this peace I feel. I grasp the concept of Guru and I embrace it. THIS is what you’ve been trying to explain since that first day, when you saw me, whole and fully. That was the first miracle – that you knew me, recognized me, immediately. The second may be your strength of character or it may be your calling, but your patience with me has been Herculean, and that’s all you, either way.
Thank you Mohanji, for being my Guru.