Ancient Egyptians believed that upon death they would be asked two questions and their answers would determine whether they could continue their journey in the afterlife.  
The first question was, "Did you bring joy?"  
The second was, "Did you find joy?"

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Metaphysically Speaking, Part Three ~ Closer I Am To Fine

Deep, my guide on the first two days in Varanasi, took me to see his Guru.  I thought, why not, I'm in Varanasi, I should do something mystical.  Deep's Guru, whose name I never caught, is an astrologer.  After meeting Deep's Guru, Guru Guy, I decided that I would make an appointment to get an astrological reading, see if he could enlighten me about what might be coming up next in my life, without me having to do the agonizing work of being patient and finding it out for myself. 

I'm no stranger to astrological readings.  Or tarot readings.  Or Skrying.  So, it wasn't like it was the first time I'd ever sought answers from the celestial spheres.  I actually do a bit of tarot, or intuitive, reading myself.  I've always believed that there are people who can clue into the cosmic data-base that all of us human energy balls are constantly downloading information into and from that data base these intuitives can check out different books that can give us some info about ourselves, in particular, and life, in general.

Of course, there are also a lot of people who can read star charts and memorize books on tarot reading or palm reading or what have you, that actually have no intuitive capability at all.  They probably don't even really believe in all that "crap" but they know that other people do, people who are willing to spend money so that they don't have to learn how to trust their own intuition.  The untalented non-believers, posing as intuitives have no qualms about relieving hopeful suckers like myself of their money.

I had no idea upon meeting Deep's guru whether or not he was an actual intuitive or if he just wanted my money.  But I was willing to spend a few dollars for the experience of finding out what going to an astrologer in India was like.  It seemed like a "When in Rome" kind of a thing to do.

And, sure, hope springs eternal....maybe Guru Guy would tell me something that would unlock all the doors I've been struggling to unlock over the last three months.  Maybe he could tell me what really matters so that I could change my life accordingly and decide what I should do next.

There is a lot of detail I could throw in next about how I got lost trying  to get to the appointment and then Guru Guy was late because he was "doing a ceremony for some American man"....

But that part isn't, for the purpose of this post, important.

When Guru Guy finally did start reading my chart and telling me about myself, I could tell he was pretty good.  He wasn't really telling me anything I didn't know already, either based on other readings about what my chart says or from my own self-knowledge, but he wasn't throwing out gross generalizations that could apply to anybody and he wasn't saying anything that was wildly off the mark about me in particular.

It started to get interesting when Guru Guy began to zero in on how I am a very spiritually oriented person ("You have an American body and an Indian soul") and how that focus would only get stronger over the next ten years, which backs up what other astrologers have told me.  But then he said that that spiritual energy would make me more and more confused and unsettled because I was also very physically oriented, my sexual energy was very strong, so that would be apt to get in the way of my finding peace and cause, instead, a feeling of constant "unsettledness".

Internally I went, "Whoa."  I felt like he was touching a new nerve.  Though, "unsettledness" is not the word I would use for what he'd hit on.  Confusion, yes.  Confusion in the sense that I'm no longer interested in having sex just to scratch an itch, to satisfy a craving.  There's got to be a spiritual/energetic connection.

Guru Guy continued to explain that my desire for connection would become more and more problematic as my orientation towards spirituality intensified, because he could see in my chart that my future relationships would continue to be unstable.  I would be seeking out deeper meaning, deeper connection, but relationships wouldn't happen, and then I would have these physical urges and not know what to do.

Ok. I could see how that might have been true in the past...I thought to myself.  In fact, I could see how that had been painfully evident throughout my life and how I'd gotten involved with the wrong people because of those physical needs.

Hmmm... this guy is really good, I started thinking.

Then, he said, "Your energy is so strong.  Like mine. People want some of it.  I understand this.  People come to me and they want some of my energy.  Women come from other countries and I can see they want some of my energy.  This one woman came and I could see she wanted a hug.  I asked her if she did, and I let her give me a hug.  But I told her her hug was not real, not strong enough, if she was going to hug me she should hug me with all her strength because, after that hug, that would be it, nothing more could come from me after." this guy was veering a little off course.....

Then Guru Guy shifted in his seat so his mundu (skirt) was split just enough for me to see his package.  But not enough for me to know if he knew that I could see is package.  And let me solve the age old question right now:  Indian men do not wear anything under their mundus.

I just kept looking Guru Guy straight in the eyes, wondering where he was gonna try and go from there.

But Guru Guy did not push his agenda too hard.  He never came out and made it plain that he was suggesting anything specific, you know, about his energy and my energy meeting up. Though I became more and more sure that he was trying to say that if I wanted his "energy", all I had to do was ask.

But soon the session was over and it was time to leave though not before he tried to sell me a very expensive talisman, or the even more expensive "Ceremony", to stop the "unsettled" trend in my life.

While we were walking to the door, I reached out to shake Guru Guy's hand, to thank him for the interesting reading.  All in all, I'd rather enjoyed myself in a "I'm not sure what just happened here, but this guy is fascinating and I can't wait to tell the story about him" kind of a way.  So I reach out and offer my hand and he takes it in his hand and, gosh darn it, if when I took his hand, it wasn't electric.  I mean E-LEC-TRIC!  It didn't excite me sexually, but it did shock the heck out of me.

Guru Guy saw me register his "energy" and said, "You see, you want some of my energy."

I said, "No.  But there is energy."

"I think you do.  I think you want some energy."

I laughed and walked out....quickly...sort of waving my hands by my ears in a "Oh, my God this just turned too weird and too funny all at the same time" kind of a way.

Guru Guy followed me to the outer door of his building and called after me down the narrow little alley, "You come back.  When you have no hesitation, you come back."

I walked quickly, trying to shake off Guru Guy's "energy".  As his electrons fell away, I found myself slowly, but steadily, filling with elation.  I was thrilled.  I had no idea why.  I mean, I should have been pissed.  I'd just spent 50 bucks for some guy to stage an elaborate and bizarre seduction.

But as I let it sink in, I realized that I was happy because I was free.  Suddenly, everything became so clear....Guru Guy could tell me nothing that mattered about myself.  Even if he'd been the most pious and talented mystic ever.  The truth is in me.  My truth.  Just like the truth is in you, each of you, each of us, if we get quiet enough to listen.  That communal energetic database that intuitives tap into is a free library, folks, we all got a card when we signed up for this ride.  And there are certain volumes that only apply to us and we are the only ones who can read the crazy font they are printed in.

A wealth of psychic weight dropped off of my soul and out of my heart.  I realized that I could not only check my own books out of the cosmic library, I could write new ones, I could make my own reality.  I could decide what mattered to me and build the rest of my years around that.

Later that night, I took a little evening stroll and met a real mystic, a kid of about 17 years, named Kundar....he doesn't know he's a mystic....but boy did he put me in my place.....I tried to shoo him away and he just persisted and then said, "Oh, you think you know everything, you think of me as a dog...not good enough to talk to..."  I tried to interrupt him and to have a rational conversation about how I was just trying to be quiet and that my shooing him away was not personal.  But he kept saying, "I'm a dog to you, a lowly dog.  You know everything...."

So finally I said, sharply, "Do you want to be quiet long enough to listen?"

He said, "Yes, of course.  Where are you from?"


"How long you in Varanasi?"

"Since Wednesday."

"You like it?"


Kundar sat down beside me, calm, gentle, inquisitive.

We had a great conversation.  He taught me how to say "mother fucker" in hindi: mutta chowd, so that the next time I needed to shoo somebody away I could let them know I really meant business.  

Out of the blue, Kundar wanted to know if I thought God was inside of each of us.  He'd heard that this might be true and he wondered what I thought.

"Funny you should ask," I thought.  Hadn't I just had that epiphany this morning.  The truth, aka God, is in each of us.  Sure, I'd heard that before.  But now I knew it, in my bones.  

I said, "Yes.  Yes.  I believe that is true.  God is in each of us."

In turn, I asked Kundar, "Why do the Hindus say "God"-singular when they believe there are over a million different gods.

Answer: God has many faces, so many that we don't even know how many faces he has.

I asked, "If the Ganges is so sacred why do the Indian people treat her so poorly?"

Answer: Because the hand has five fingers and each finger doesn't know what the other one is doing.

See, a natural mystic.

Kundar also fessed up and told me that Varanasi "runs on money.  Because money never stops, money is always working, always going.  Money never takes a break.  People get tired.  Money never gets tired".

After about half an hour, Kundar said, "Your face looks kind of happy, but I think inside you are a little upset with me, a little angry?"

Kundar was right.  I was a little bit upset, but not with him, with myself.  I had said "no" to his intrusion; I had tried to shoo him away because I wanted to sit with my new found spiritual freedom, I wanted to bask in the light of my earlier epiphany.

I was also sure he was hustling something which I was not in the mood to buy.

Yes, ultimately he wanted to take me to his shop where he works in hopes that I would stock up on souvenirs.  But he didn't push it.  When I said no, Kundar accepted it without question.  And the conversation we had in the meantime was perfect.  A gift.

Kundar was right about another thing.  I didn't know everything.  I thought I knew something; maybe I even felt, in some small way, that my earlier epiphany had given me special powers to know that Kundar was someone I wouldn't possibly want to talk to.  Though I certainly didn't think he was a dog.  But I may have initially treated him as one.

The next day, yesterday, I woke up, as is my customary habit in India, to see the sunrise.  But  instead of going out in a boat, or for a walk on the ghats, I decided to just sit on my own little balcony which sits back from the front edge of the guest house, creating a limited view of life on the waterfront.  The sun would be rising to the left of the corner edge of my view, so I wouldn't actually see the sun, itself, rise.

It felt great to just be in my space without yearning for a better vantage point.  So easy. So relaxing.

As the sky began to lighten, I caught site of a tourist on a prominatory pillar snapping a photo of something in an easterly direction and knew the sun had just crested the horizon.  Soon, I could see rays of sunlight segmenting the sky in  perfect pie shapes.  It was like the sun was reaching out into the receding darkness with a giant hand and all I could see were the tips of the fingers.

It dawned on me that light spreading in the mind and soul and heart works like those sun rays; tendrils of insight reach out into the darkness of closed minds and hearts and if we are patient and easy with ourselves our inner sky will eventually be swathed in light.  We don't even have to move or search for anything, not even a better spot to take in the view, light will make it even to all our little corners of the world, even if we choose not to be out in the middle of everything.

I decided, while the rays slowly spread out and disappeared and daytime came to Varanasi, that I was not going to leave the guesthouse all day.  I wasn't going to go to any temple or puja or astrologer; I wasn't going to go to Sarnath, a town nearby where Buddha taught his first lesson.  Instead, I was going to practice being happy right where I was, accepting what I might know and what I don't know and making peace with the distinct possibility that there are a million metaphysical conundrums that no one can really solve, certainly not definitively.

The magic of Varanasi, for me anyway, is that here, more than any place I've ever been, the essence of what it means to be human is on display.  Does it matter why we are here?  Maybe yes, maybe no.  But for sure we are here.  Varanasi makes it clear as sunshine in a matter of minutes that being on this planet, being human is messy, often disgusting, life is hard, death is inevitable, rebirth is a possibility, and yearning is universal.  Everybody is yearning for something: peace, love, money, connection to the divine, to their family, to their friends, a better job, clarity...... the list goes on and on. 

As I sat and wrote and chatted with the staff here at Ganpati Guesthouse, I began to sense that in 12 days when I get on the plane to go back to the states it will be time, not just because that's what my ticket says, but because that will be the next step in my journey and no matter where I go, back to Seattle, Santiniketan, Paris, my view will be as expansive as I allow it to be, my reality will be mutable, my choices only limited by my ability, or inability, to trust in my own deepest intuitions, dreams and visions.


auntiemao said...


Christopher said...

Dang, I hate to say it, but I'm glad the realization finally "dawned" on you ("hate", only to the extent that I've just had the opportunity to make a very bad pun!)

Reading these last few posts, hearing the repetition of your question: "What matters?", it was clear even to me (as frankly, these sorts of things rarely are) that you were only asking half the question. And in this post you finally put the two halves together: "what matters to ME?", which by extension becomes, "what matters to each of us?"

The only answer I've ever found to this sort of metaphysical quandary is that, there simply are no answers, or more precisely, there is no ONE answer, because in truth there are as many answers as there are people asking the question.

And in the end, YOU are the ONLY person who can answer that question for yourself. Which, I think you did.