My mother, Mary, grew up in Durham, North Carolina during the Great Depression. She never went to college but was very smart, quite pragmatic and believed in being busy and getting things done. And there were certain things that were always done, like answering the telephone. Not answering the telephone was something “common” people did. ( Common – showing a lack of refinement supposedly typical of the lower classes; vulgar.) So when I was a teenager meditating and would no longer break my neck rushing to answer the phone there were some problems. She just could not understand why getting up and answering the phone interfered with sitting around on the floor doing absolutely nothing. The problem escalated when she became a realtor and potential clients might call. She thought I was her personal secretary and should take very careful notes when someone called. And I did. Except when I was meditating.
Years later, she began to meditate. One of the very first times she meditated she suddenly remembered where a very much loved and valued object was hidden. She thought she had lost it for good years before when it had seemingly disappeared. She became a true believer in meditation and began to meditate regularly.
One summer in the late 1970s I invited an authentic guru and adept in Kundalini Maha Yoga to stay with us for a few days. My mother was off traveling somewhere and so she offered us her house which was in a small town in Connecticut. She had a fence along the front of the property where she grew the most beautiful roses.
Guruji (Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandasji – lived from 1878 to August 29th, 1994) was the real deal. Since he emanated incredible love and spiritual power, people were drawn to him like iron to a magnet. We cleared my mother’s living room of all furniture except for one chair for guruji. People came and heard guruji’s compelling message about the importance of awakening our Kundalini, our inner spiritual power. They wanted to receive shaktipat from him. Shaktipat is the awakening of spiritual power in the student by the guru. Shaktipat is a lot like one candle lighting another. The potential for the spiritual power to burn brightly is always already within the person.
During shaktipat initiation, certain items were to be offered during the beautiful ceremony. Two roses were among the objects.
When my poor mother returned home, ALL of her beautiful roses were gone as people plucked them to use in shaktipat initiation. She freaked out completely. As well she should since there were flower shops in town. She calmed down upon meeting guruji.
Guruji would sit on the edge of his bed feeding grapes to my baby daughter Kelly, holding her, and patting her on her head. As Guruji would say, she was very lucky!
I have to say something about my father in all of this. My father was a scientific agnostic/ fatalist. My parents were divorced and my father was living in Virginia with wife number two out of three. He had recently retired and was getting his old man act down.
He came to visit while my mother was gone and guruji was with us. Upon meeting guruji, who was about 35 years older than he was and beginning a new mission in life, my father changed. I have never seen my father ever treat another human being with as much respect and awe as he treated guruji. It blew my mind! He even tried to meditate once but when he disappeared into the void for a moment, he jumped out of his chair and nearly had a panic attack.
A day or two before he died I was driving my father home from seeing a doctor who wanted to hospitalize him. My father begged me to take him home, so I did. As we were driving home my father began to ask me about after death bardo states, karma, the clear light, etc. I looked at him and said, “Are you asking me to use my good karma to get you into heaven?” He looked at me with his sad eyes and said, “yes.” I laughed so hard!
For two southerners who came out of the Great Depression and World War Two, my parents were very loving and supportive of the fact that in the amazing karmic shuffle of life, they ended up with a yogi for a son. That was my good karma! At some point, they both forgave me for never answering the phone. And as Bonnie can tell you, I still don’t.
I offer a deep pranam with heartfelt gratitude to my mother and father. Their grace and love is always with me.