Friday, June 28, 2013

My Dilemma

More than 25 years ago I threw out the baby with the bathwater, as the saying goes. For seven years, I'd been a devoted follower of an eastern spiritual path and guru, beginning with a Shaktipat initiation at an ashram in California. The initiation stunned me. I can still recall it vividly — my anger at being asked for the third time that day to help with the dishes, the energy moving up through my body and out the top of my head as I stood at the sink, and my total immersion in gratitude as each dish passed through my hands.

I'd never before in my life experienced anything remotely like gratitude and it affected me deeply. Then, after two days of emotional turmoil bordering on hysteria and near terror, I took a leap of faith. In that moment, it seemed as though I were standing on the edge of a precipice, knowing I had to jump. The risk I was about to take was monumental. I recall my fear as I looked to my friend who had accompanied me and asked: "What if it's not real?"

By the end of that weekend, I had begun to view the world and myself in a new way and I understood that there was no turning back.

I was to immerse myself on that path for seven years and to have many other experiences which strengthened my faith and reinforced my conviction that I had been graced. I viewed the source of that grace to be the guru, a perfected master.

Seven years later, shortly after his death, I learned that my beloved teacher had committed immoral acts and that the knowledge of his behavior had been well-known and kept hidden by those in his inner circle. I was faced with the very disillusionment that I had feared so many years earlier, and although I was devastated, I continued for a long time to protect his image and rationalize his behavior.

In the years that followed, I became a skeptic with regard to matters of faith, spirit, spirituality and gradually dissociated myself from the path that I had devotedly followed. I often spoke to friends of having lost my faith. However, I continued to struggle with the dilemma of how to honor my "kundalini" experiences while believing that their source was an imperfect, dishonorable person.

More recently, following my husband's death in 2011, I've begun to yearn for the openness I once felt which gave meaning and direction to my life. And as I've come to understand the psychological needs that led to my emotional entanglement and dependency on the guru, I've asked myself whether, given that my experiences were real and true, I can disentangle and liberate them from the person who I thought was their ultimate source.

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