Recently, I noticed that a whole slab of my ego dropped off when I wasn't looking.
At the last Godwriting workshop, Stephen mentioned that God's answers had transformed his life. The answers God gave to him were so powerful that I will always remember them.
As for myself, I used to want dramatic changes, but changes in me do not seem to come overnight. However, when I look back, I can see that there have been dramatic changes. Mostly I don't think about changing or that I've got to change or how I've got to change. It feels to me that changes will come
better without my looking for them. If changes are there, they're there. If they're not there, they're not. In a way, it's like changes that may or may not come are none of my business.
So here's my story. I do not seem to know how to tell a story in a few words -- my daughter says it takes me longer to tell about a movie than it does to see it. But I will try to make this story short.
What I'm going to tell you about took place almost twenty years ago. You see, it's taken me up to twenty years to notice this change.
Kitty-corner from where I used to live was a tiny Shiva temple. I used to go over virtually every night for a puja. Friends, I was sold out. This was an intense year. Shiva is known, I believe, as the destroyer, destroyer of ego, as I remember.
A dear next-door neighbor of mine, Gina, used to make dahl and rice or stir fry every night for her family. Most nights, there was enough left over that Gina would bring me the extra. I'd eat fast, grab some fruit and flowers for the puja, and Gina and I would run over to this little temple. It was amazing -- whenever I was doing dishes, I could look out
from my kitchen window and see a Sanskrit sign and a tiny Shiva temple in this little farming community of Fairfield, Iowa, pop.10,000, including the whole county.
The temple was not a real temple. It was a studio apartment, heavily incensed. Jim, the priest, may not have been a real priest either, but who is to say? He was doing it. He was an American who, when he had been in India, a cab driver had taken him through winding roads up to a temple in the mountains, a temple that no Westerner had ever been in before, so the story goes. But somehow Jim was invited in and much honored by the Shiva priests. They tied red strings around his wrists, and quite some ceremonies went on
for hours. When Jim and the cab driver left, Jim asked the driver: "What was all that about?" The driver said, "Oh, they made you a Shiva priest."
One day Jim turned to me and said out of the blue: "What state of consciousness are you in?" I said, "What?" He said, "Are you in Cosmic Consciousness or God Consciousness?" I almost choked. I knew I was deep into ignorance, but somehow his question woke me up to the fact that higher
states of consciousness could be the real thing and possible, even for me. Just think, he had asked me how far along I was! I certainly wanted enlightenment at the time. It was as if I couldn't live without it. Of course, I have lived very well without it.
There was a circle of friends, five of us, Jim, Gina, two other men, and me. Sometimes in an afternoon we would talk about all manner of things. One time Jim, who was purported to be psychic, would tell us who we were, meaning what Hindu deities we were. Gina was Saraswati, a form of Mother Divine.
Very high being. One of the men was Ganesh, the remover of obstacles. The other was Vishnu who was right up there with Shiva. And when it came to me, Jim squinted his eyes and said, after much deliberation, that I was Radha.
My face fell. To me, Radha was in the minor leagues. She was Krishna's wife or paramour, and that wasn't at all what I wanted to be. I wanted to be someone really important. I knew it was all a game, but still it mattered to me very much. I didn't hide my disappointment, and I was not a good sport
about it. I sulked and when I got home, I sobbed because I wanted to be someone higher up than Radha. But that was so long ago.
The other day a friend said something to me about Krishna. That triggered the memories of those special days, and I told this friend a little about the tiny Shiva temple and how I was only Radha. This friend consoled me by telling me what a wonderful thing it was to be Radha. Of course, now I am aware it would be truly an honor to be Radha. And it is here that my recognition of the change in me enters:
I don't care if I am Radha or not. I would be just as happy to be one of Krishna's gopi milkmaids, or not even that. I don't need to be anybody. I'm perfectly happy not to be anybody. And perfectly happy to not be enlightened. These things just aren't as important to me as they once were. They don't matter now. With or without them, I'm just as happy or not happy. I don't madly desire to be anything but what I happen to be. It's hard for me to imagine that these things once were sooooo important to me. In fact, I can hardly recognize myself in that person I used to be.
Who was she anyway?