Friday, January 22, 2010

Letter #2 from Goa, India

Dear Everyone:

Not much to report in terms of what we are doing. I could list out the daily menus, but I don’t think that would be of overwhelming interest. Although I will say, the staff here has been wonderfully attentive to Swamiji. They consider it an honor to serve him in any way they can.

Because Swamiji is accustomed to the marvelous, sattwic cooking of Lila, and his body is very sensitive to salt, sugar, and various other things that people commonly put into their food, finding a way for him to be nourished when he is away from home for a long time is always a challenge.

Over the years coming here we have made friends with the chefs and they have been willing to allow us to pre-order, usually from the small print, or completely off the menu. Being vegetarians we make our entrees from side dishes, which they are quite willing to do.

They have also added, since the last time we were here, a “high tea” in what is actually the bar, but being located in this resort, the second floor veranda outside the bar has a gorgeous view of the ocean, where the sun sets every day at tea time. So this has been our most-days routine—to sit watching the sun sink into the ocean.

The sun represents the Father, Master explained to Swamiji. It is harmful to the eyes to gaze into the sun, except in the 30 minutes when it is closest to the horizon, rising or setting.

Since this exactly coincides with teatime, we have enjoyed looking into the golden, then usually red-orange circle. It feels like the entryway into another reality.

At one point, Swamiji told us, Master made a practice of gazing into the sun when it was close to the horizon, and, Master said, he found a great increase of inner wisdom from doing so.

A specific practice for strengthening the eyes is to gaze for 9 minutes directly at the sun, during the 30 minutes when it is closest to the horizon. Then turn your back on the sun, close your eyes and cover them with your hands, the right hand over the left, and gaze into the after-image until it is gone. Then, with closed eyes, look up, to the right, down, then to the left—repeating this several times.

Of course, where we live, far from a straight horizon line, this is not so easy to do, since we usually can’t see the sun during that last half hour.

Still, interesting to know. There are so many subtle connections in this world that we are simply oblivious to.

Sitting at tea, gazing at the setting sun, Swamiji remarked how very “human” all of creation is, starting with the fact that the human body itself is modeled after the spiritual eye. When you stand with legs apart and arms outstretched the body forms the “five points” of the star.

Swamiji said even on other planets they have human-like bodies, i.e., modeled with these same five points.

God Himself, Swamiji was saying, is very human in His feelings. In fact, our feelings are His feelings. When we feel sorrow, God is not is not scornful or indifferent to the fact that we feel sorrow. He is not “condescending,” as Swamiji puts it. He feels sorrow with us, for our feelings are God’s feelings.

This is a beautiful thought to meditate on, for so often we are condescending to ourselves, thinking it is more spiritual to hold a kind of lofty disdain for our own feelings, rather than responding to ourselves with divine sympathy, as God does.

Nirmala repeated something Swamiji had said earlier: God makes us, God makes the pitfalls that besiege us, God is not surprised that we fall into those pitfalls!

Swamiji said also how very simple God is, how “childlike”.

What an interesting idea, to think of God as “childlike”. The intellect wants to make spirituality very complex. We naturally think of the Creator as complicated, because creation appears so complicated to us.

Speaking along these lines on another occasion, Swamiji explained that since creation is Spirit vibrating from a point of stillness at the center, the closer you get to the heart of creation, the less movement there is, until, of course, all vibration ceases in absolute stillness.

It is the movement that creates the impression of complexity. The less movement, the simpler everything becomes. God is that point of stillness, where everything is perfect simplicity.

Swamiji also said God is childlike because He is without “expectations.” This is an idea we often toss about—to have no expectations—but it is marvelous to contemplate in this context: as a “childlike” attribute of God. To be without expectations, to accept everything without any reference to what it should or could be, to live without being tied to past or future, but only in the now.

Quite wonderful teatime conversation!

Swamiji often looks intently around him at the people here, as if he were looking into their souls. He looks kindly, with compassion, but also with a rather far-away look in his eyes, as if he were seeing them from the perspective of eternity.

Strolling toward breakfast, a few days ago he pointed out the obvious, how everyone has a different body and a different face. And that face and body reflect the consciousness. So either the body creates consciousness, or consciousness creates everything.

Obviously, the latter is the true explanation.

Scientists are moving toward that thought, but, Swamiji said, they will never figure it out, because they don’t have the right method. To understand you have to go within, and science tries to understand from the outside.

For a few days there was a group of Iranian people visiting here, two couples and a single man. They happened to sit next to us in a restaurant. Swamiji heard them speaking a language he didn’t recognize and became curious. And it is his habit to greet everyone. So we stopped at their table to chat.

They made a very sweet impression. The next day we ran into the women and Swamiji asked them about an Iranian man he had met when he was a college student. Swamiji was curious to know whether that man had become well known in Iran, since he seemed to have that kind of magnetism.

He had become well known; the woman knew of him. She told Swamiji he died more than a decade ago.

Swamiji asked, “Was he a good man?”

The woman replied, “The people know him to be a good man, so the government thinks of him as a bad man.”

This naturally led to some discussion about the government in Iran.

Swamiji told her, “I had the opportunity to visit Germany before World War II, and I met many good Germans.” Swamiji writes in The New Path of how painful that time was for him, to have people he knew to be good people suddenly declared enemies. When he spoke of it now, his voice choked with emotion, and he had to pause for a moment. Then he said, “When good people have a bad government.... there is little we can do.”

The next day, Swamiji left the breakfast table, and went upstairs alone. He came back carrying a small package and went inside to where the Iranians were sitting having breakfast. He sat with them for a few minutes then came back to our table without commenting about his conversation with them.

We were walking back to the room and I noticed he didn’t have the package. “You left your package,” I said, and started back to the table to get it.

“Don’t bother,” Swamiji said, “it was a present for the Iranians. I said to them, ‘Since our countries have defined themselves as enemies, there isn’t much a private citizen can do. At least I can give you this gift as a gesture of friendship between us.’”

Again, his voice choked with emotion. In fact, all of us found we had tears in our eyes.

Recently Swamiji conferred a Sanskrit name that means “tender.” Obviously, he didn’t mean simply weak, or soft, or vulnerable. Nor did he mean, as he explained, merely sentimental. “Tender feelings” is what he wanted to inspire.

It is not a concept that is immediately understood. But thinking of the earlier conversation about how God is our feelings, and how tenderly Divine Mother loves and comforts us, one begins to see what a divine quality this is.

Certainly, Swamiji’s feelings, about these people, about the ego-created misery so often present in this world, are so tender, that we were all immediately touched by the sweetness and depth of those feelings.

Master spoke in the 40s about the interrelationship of seemingly unrelated events: the influenza epidemic after World War I being caused by the suffering in that war; floods and earthquakes caused by war in Ethiopia; and other such examples.

In the same way, even though as individuals we may feel powerless, in this interwoven web of a world, no act of kindness or love or spiritual awareness goes unnoticed by the Universe. In fact, of course, there is no power of darkness as such; there is only the absence of light.

Even in his poem Samadhi, Master says in the first line, “Vanished the veils of light and shade....” He refers to “shade” not “darkness.” Shade comes when something blocks the flow of light. No matter how profound the shade created, the light is not changed. As soon as the block is removed the light shines on as before.

Blessings from David and Asha


  1. Thanks so much for sharing. I really long for Swamiji's proximity. You are indeed blessed to have him with you on daily basis. This article is inspiring. He may recollect my meeting him at his house in Gurgaon.
    Harish Malhotra

  2. Thank you, and beautiful...light and joy


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