Today is an opportunity for participants to deepen in stillness, in spaciousness, in silence. The first portion of the morning, led by long-time community member, Judi Buttner, was spent partly in sitting meditation and partly in walking meditation. This was followed by morning satsang with Gangaji. At this point in a retreat, Gangaji shared, people start planning their departure, what’s next. Gangaji invited participants to treat this day as the first day. In that context, there is really no tomorrow. Tomorrow will come naturally. Be freshly here. Don’t pack you bags prematurely. We have this beautiful day together to relax, to be surprised, to experience the profound quality of what is here. There’s no rush – nothing’s going to end. We’re just here. Welcome. So tell me, what are you discovering, what are you realising?
Gangaji asked the first participant to take the chair of self-inquiry, ‘What do you think of being here in this chair? What do you make of it?’ The participant looked out into the audience and said, ‘I think I know them all.’ She went on to say, ‘If I had sat in this chair a couple of days ago, I would have brought you a story, largely one of pain and suffering. During the last year I have tried to fight the pain, tried to understand the pain, with my mind spinning around in a vortex, a maelstrom. I feared the future. When the mind stopped spinning, the pain was still there, but the more I sank into the pain, the more I began to recognise something indescribable underneath the pain. I might describe it as love, but that’s just a word. That was what what was true and real, like a lake of peace, all the thoughts like ripples on the surface. No pain, no suffering, but when I began to engage with the story, I began suffering again.’ At this point the participant said, ‘I’m not sure I should be doing all the talking.’
Gangaji responded with laughter. ‘This is pure satsang. You are sharing the truth of the profound experience of what is here. I’m so glad you’ve opened to your self and not to your story. It is so exquisite to hear universal truth spoken in different voices.
The next participant shared his awareness of an energy inside, which he likened to a child needing love and sympathy, yet also a little monster, blaming, projecting, then turning inwards on himself, destructively. He felt the energy of wanting to die, even the energy of taking his own life to try to destroy what’s inside. He said he’d been watching it the last couple of days and its affect on himself and those around him. He saw it as fear-based and noted that it changed as he looked at it.
Gangaji responded, ‘Yes, that’s right. So, are you aware of it now in the form of some energy?’ The participant said he was. ‘Beautiful,’ said Gangaji. ‘That is a moment of grace. Just invite it deeper into your heart. Don’t cast it out. What are you experiencing?’ The participant said, ‘There’s no problem when I’m not resisting.’ Gangaji went on, ‘Yes, invite it into your self, not the story of yourself. In that moment, you’re holding satsang. In that moment, you’re a bodhisattva to your self. (Note: A bodhisattva is a Buddhist term meaning: an enlightened being who, out of compassion, forgoes nirvana in order to save others.)
Welcome it in – not to fix it – invite it just as it is. There is a discovery of love that includes everything. Most humans live a life of quiet self-destruction, even if it’s aimed at others. To recognise it, is maturity – to recognise that resistance creates the recycling of the story. The choice to open to your ‘story’ is a story of redemption. We can all recognise those stories of self-destruction within ourselves. It is a blessed life – many, many people never come to that crossroads. Papaji used to tell the story of Kabir, who for 15 seconds once, experienced his true self. Papaji says it only takes one twelfth of a second. Welcome all aspects of your self so that all beings may live in peace and harmony. Take responsibility to meet them in the heart. This is the promise of the spiritual path. There is support in this room, there is support in this holy space of Findhorn, there is support all over the planet for destruction, for receiving, and for offering.’
Another participant, who had attended satsang with Gangaji two years ago, shared, ‘It seems like you infiltrate me,’ to which Gangaji replied, ‘When you really meet each other, you infiltrate each other. Papaji has been dead for many years – I saw the body being burned, yet he still infiltrates me – the meeting is closer than any body.’
The participant then shared how afraid she was that the retreat will end. ‘Death happens when every day ends,’ Gangaji gently reminded. Meet this fear of death without fixing, without changing, without judging.’ ‘I need to be in this atmosphere with you,’ the participant insisted. ‘If it’s infiltrated, then you are this atmosphere,’ Gangaji said. ‘Somehow we need confirmation. We need to meet and hear again and again. The place, the meeting, the teacher simply points to what was always here. So, you see the challenge? Everything will always change. And you’re allowed to say, ‘Help,’ then see what is here. Help is always here, but you may need to ask for it. In asking, the ego is humbled. Let your attention move from the story to what is here. Support is available.’
‘I have a feeling of desperation,’ expressed the next participant. ‘That’s because you are trying to get rid of it. Go toward desperation. It’s not your enemy. Invite it in. It will play the part of your enemy – chase you, haunt you – say, look here. It has a gift as your ally to reveal to you, then this designation of truth and ally disappears.’
‘I’m grateful for all the challenges in my life,’ shared another participant. ‘Great, astounding, very mature – what a graceful life!’ celebrated Gangaji. ‘But my body is tired,’ said the participant. ‘Yes,’ said Gangaji, ‘the body takes a hit, but you don’t. The body is the reptilian part of the brain. Receive the energy in support that is available here. Take care of the body. Celebrate your life.’
During the next inquiry, the participant noted how simple the truth is and that he had been struggling and was sick of it. He had been getting rid of things and people, yet found it difficult, even so, not to care what other people think. ‘You can care,’ Gangaji reassured. ‘You can care, fully and completely. You can hurt and not react to it. Just feel your heart break. The truth is ruthless in its simplicity. When you let yourself hurt, your heart breaks open. And there’s nothing wrong with the fear of that – fear doesn’t have to disappear for you to be free.’
‘I feel stuck,’ the participant went on. ‘Are you discriminating now, telling yourself a story?’ Gangaji asked. ‘Now what are you experiencing?’ ‘Nothing,’ he replied. ‘Are you willing to experience nothing? Sometimes, when we experience nothing, we say, ‘Then give me back my drama.’ The opportunity is to experience nothing. ‘I don’t want to be destitute, friendless,’ replied the participant. ‘What really matters?’ Gangaji asked. ‘What is underneath that?’ ‘Freedom,’ acknowledged the participant.
Another participant shared that this is such a new way to be – this stopping – and that he was noticing beauty and sounds and colours as never before, though he didn’t understand it when he thought about, and when he thought about it with the mind, he couldn’t stop. Gangaji delighted in this. ‘You never have to think again at the wonder of life. When you think this core thought, I can’t stop, remember it has no substance in reality. Who you are is already stopping. The mind falls into intelligence which is consciousness. It returns home. It’s nourished at home. It rests at home, naturally. Don’t worry about understanding – it comes later. Let the mind rest.’
To this, the participant said, ‘I still don’t understand awareness.’ ‘It’s okay,’ Gangaji assured, ‘awareness understands you! Awareness is your self. You are it. You are awareness. Your true face is the face before you were born. When you die, the body goes, relationships go, but life remains. Life is here. When this planet dies, life is here. It’s not just carbon-related.’
The last participant to share in this morning’s self-inquiry began by saying to Gangaji, ‘I’m not an adorer of you.’ ‘That’s great,’ Gangaji smiled. ‘What do you adore?’ ‘Peace,’ said the participant. ‘Ah, then adore peace,’ Gangaji encouraged. ‘Let peace be your beloved.’ ‘But, I can’t feel love,’ lamented the participant. ‘That’s because you are love. You just said you adore peace, and adoration is an extreme form of love.’ The participant replied that when his daughter says, I love you, on the phone to him, for example, he hesitates because he can’t say, ‘I love you,’ back without feeling insincere. ‘Then tell her you adore her,’ advised Gangaji. ‘In your heart of hearts when you really see your daughter, you see your self.’ After a few moments of gazing into one another’s eyes, Gangaji took a small hand mirror from the table beside her and held it up to the man’s face for several moments before saying, in a measured tone, ‘Those are the eyes of love. Stay with it for a moment. Now, that’s really beautiful.’
In conclusion of this morning’s session, Gangaji said, ‘So, whatever your question, just bring it inside and whatever the emotion underneath that question, just invite it in. Invite in the whole world, the whole cosmos, everything you’ve kept out, everything you’ve reached for – invite it all in. This is an open-ended experiment. Over the break just discover for yourself, ‘Am I keeping anything out?’ Perhaps it has the teaching for you.
Join us later today for our closing session of self-discovery with Gangaji.
– Mattie Porte –
May 25, 2008
Photographer: Sverre Koxvold