Updated: Jun 16, 2020
Life is our teacher
In the early nineties, I spent time in an Ashram, with a teacher named Gurumayi Chidvilasananda, her Guru Swami Muktananda ‘appeared’ to me when I ‘died’ briefly in an accident in Banff, one cold winter night, before I knew who he was. It took several years until I realized his identity.
My daughter was born in 1992, and my life had changed forever. Nursing her brought me into an altered state many times, the union of two souls carried me to many places, one of them being my own childhood. The memory of sexual abuse haunted me at that point because I could not imagine how it would feel to know my child was harmed in that way. So, I became angry at my mother for ‘allowing’ it to happen, at least that is how I saw it in my mind at the time. Rage filled me towards my mother, and it felt awful, I didn’t want to feel this rage anymore. I got a call: “hi my name is Lela, I am a friend of your friend Lori, I’m looking for a ride up to the Catskill mountains to stay at the Siddha Yoga Ashram.” Well….I had a car, my daughter was with her father, it was Christmas, so I thought I would gift myself the gift of staying at this Ashram. The eight hour drive up was interesting, this woman was a stranger and a devotee of Gurumayi, so I was interested in the stories she had to tell. At one point she asked me: What is the reason you are going there? Without thinking I blurted: to get rid of this anger, it feels terrible. We arrived, I was given a badge that indicated it was my first time there, so the regulars could help me learn the ins and outs of the place. Someone came to me, took my hand and started pulling me, she said: “She is coming!” I did not know who ‘she’ was for moment, so I asked; “Who?” “Gurumayi! She is coming!” I remember resisting; the woman pulling me was very excited, it scared me a little bit and also, I didn’t come to see the Guru, however, I was ‘pushed’ into the line. I looked down the line of what seemed like hundreds of people, and witnessed something I will never forget; this smallish women wearing a red robe and hat, floating through all these people, she lovingly caressed babies’ faces, she nodded at people and looked into their eyes so adoringly. Then she was about to pass me, she looked straight ahead without looking at me at all. For some reason unbeknownst to me, at the time, I got angry. The next day, we had a gathering, there were Swami’s or ‘teachers’ there, they announced that Gurumayi would not be doing Darshan (meeting a holy person) anymore. Being my first time there, and not knowing what a ‘darshan’ was, I did not care and for some reason, I said it out loud. One of the Swami’s came over to me and asked lovingly; What was your purpose for coming here? I said “to get rid of the anger inside of me”. He then asked: What did you feel when Gurumayi walked by you? I had this look on my face like a small child that was caught sneaking another cookie and I blushed…. then proceeded to say: Anger. It became obvious at that point that the anger surfaced so I may allow it to leave. I meditated allot, they had a wonderful, sound proofed room, dimly lit and open 24 hours a day. There were also ceremonial fires, that I burned pieces of wood in. We could buy these small flat pieces of wood that we could write on. I wrote on it what I was releasing. Chanting twice a day also helped. The early morning Guru Gita and the evening chants were magical. Sitting amongst thousands of people, (it was Christmas time) We chanted mantras in ‘Sanskrit’, which is a sacred language of ancient India, that is no longer spoken. The mantras were created by the rishis (wise ones) as paths to awareness, using the power of a certain sound that create specific energy responses. In Sanskrit, ‘man’ means mind and ‘tra’ means ‘to free from’, so the term ‘mantra’ is a tool to free the mind. The Guru Gita is a profound conversation between Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati on the mystical nature and role of a Guru in one’s life. It was written by the great sage, Ved Vyasa. The drive home was electric, I felt completely relieved of this anger, my shoulders were free of the burden of this emotion that plagued me. Was I grateful for the experience? Yes! I was also appreciative that I was able to go and spend that time in the presence of such a great person, and all the amazing people that attended. However, I also recognized my desire to grow, because I was now a Mom, I took that roll so very seriously. There was a knowing in me; I couldn’t let happen to my daughter what happened to me. I recognized my desire to break the chain of pain from my family and be happy for my beautiful daughter. She needed to see what a well-adjusted happy person looked like, because I knew happy people do not sexually abuse children. All the events that went down during that time were designed to show me what I was looking for. Even the event that caused the anger in the first place. Wait what did I just say!? Yup! I believe everything that happened to me, brought me to that place of surrender, the experience was my teacher. Every single little thing since my arrival into this human suit was to help me grow into this awesome human that I am today. Before I left, I purchased an eight by ten picture of Gurumayi. While I did not resonate with the act of bowing down to the Guru, while at the Ashram, there was something at the time I couldn’t pinpoint, that stirred me. Once home, I unwrapped the picture, looked deep into her eyes, then I realized that my eyes where in the same place as her eyes, I looked again, and saw with ‘real-eyes’ we were the same, she was reflecting me and I was reflecting her. The bowing practice was not to bow to the Guru, but to realize that we were the same, I would be bowing to me, the god in me. As Muktananda said: God dwells in you as you. The next time I visited that Ashram, I was happy to get down on my knees, because now I truly understood what it meant. Do we need a teacher? The way I see it today: we are in a different paradigm. There was a time when a spiritual teacher was one of the best ways to gain the experience of enlightenment or self-realization. At this moment in time we as a human race have evolved. I know that does sound strange as I write this, because of the craziness going on. But take a moment, close your eyes; feel and breathe. It is a different place. At this moment in time we don’t need an ‘outside’ individual to teach us, we are now learning to go within. When we connect to that inner wisdom, we see that WE are our own teachers and everything around us is our teacher and in everyone we meet. We have evolved to a higher space in time. When I say ‘we’ I am referring to not only the human race but to all of life…..all that is. As Gurumayi used to say: “we can learn from a stone in our shoe”. Being awake affords us the ability to see beyond what is in front of us, we can see from going inward, from connecting to our divinity. As we align with all of life; in a breath, our perspective changes, it opens wide and our vision comes from inside our soul. We can walk this earth as a human being and be in tune with the divine at the same time!
We are our own teachers, because when we look through the lens of the wise being that we are, we learn from each other, we see reality in a whole different way. I have had many conversations with people where I witnessed the teacher in them and the student in me, and vice versa. In every interaction we have the opportunity to learn, expand, blossom, forgive, love, display patience, to be compassionate just by being who we are; we are form and energy, honouring that, creates a whole new life in every moment. When we listen with an open mind & heart to someone sharing their viewpoint, we can access our intuition, or we can call it inner wisdom and decide if this information resonates. If it does not, we learn that it is not for us. We are always learning, it is time we take responsibility for our own life, by seeing the choices before us, and choose.