Saturday, August 31, 2013

Sapna Lila Devi

I’m sitting in the Fireside Room in one of my favorite retreat spots, a hot springs in northern California. A visiting sadhu from Rishikesh, India, Shri Dayanand Puri Babaji, has just finished leading us in a Full Moon Vedic ceremony on this Monday, day of Shiva. It is his first time in the U.S. and he is ecstatic to be here. I am thrilled, too; India has finally come to visit me! 

Now Baba is handing out rakhis (prayer ties) straight from the Mother Land, India Herself.

 It is my turn to approach the front to receive the blessing. With my shawl covering my head, I sit crosslegged before Baba. It is my chance to break out my weak Hindi. ”Mira nam Sapna hai!” I smilingly introduce myself to him as he prepares to bless me with the rakhi. My name is Sapna!
“Ahhh!” Baba’s eyes sparkle with delight. “Sapna Devi! So good to see you, Mataji," he exclaims, using the most respectful term for a woman (respected mother).
Baba mutters off a blessing in Sanskrit as he ties the red string ‘round my right wrist, chanting all the while. He is smiling and giggling, a bubbling sound that indicates his glee at being spoken to in Hindi, unexpectedly.

Off to the side, I overhear a woman whisper to her friend, “Sapna… that means dream.” By the colorful shawl over her head and the ring in her nose, I can see that she, like me, has spent ample time in India.

From the depths of prayerful space, Baba had sussed out my Indian name. I had been given the name Sapna seven years before, at the holy pilgrimage site of Pushkar, Rajasthan. The full name had come to me one year later, in a dream: Sapna Lila Devi 


Dream Play Goddess

Though he’d never met me before this chance encounter at a northern California hot springs, Baba Dayananda Puri instinctively knew that part of my name was Devi. I’d been hesitant to use ‘devi’ as it felt pretty bold to take on a title that means “Hindu mother goddess; supreme power in the universe; wife or embodiment of the female energy of Shiva.” But now that the holy man had confirmed it, I could no longer refute it.

My Indian name is Sapna Lila Devi. Dream Play Goddess.

Bindi Girl must be growing up (just a wee bit)...
Row row row your boat
Gently down the stream
Merrily merrily merrily merrily
Life is but a dream.

Later, over chai in the common dining room, Baba said to me, "Sapna Devi, your devotion is beautiful."

To Be Awake: Out of the Closet (Part 3 of 3)

A few months ago I was interviewed by author and non-dual teacher Jeff Stewart Dixon for his upcoming book, Blue Collar Enlightenment: Spiritual Awakening for Extra-Ordinary People. It was a great talk. I’ll let you know when the book comes out; better yet, sign up for Jeff’s very funny blog at Attaining PIE (Politically Incorrect Enlightenment). Jeff describes enlightenment as what’s left after you’ve given up on the search for enlightenment – things are as they are, end of story.

At one point in our conversation, I told Jeff how much contraction and discomfort I feel when sitting before other non-dual teachers in the students' seats. It’s like squishing oneself in too-small kid desks, like those in Kindergarten, when you’re really a post-doc. Something like that.

Post awakening, some of us keep going to teachers for a time because we're in the habit, or we like the teacher or environment, or we like the sangha (community) and talking with an awake teacher is, well, normalizing and nice.

Jeff made the interesting point that he’s been ‘out of the closet’ a long time with regard to his enlightenment, and he is quite open about being awake. It's a relief. For some time now, he's been giving talks and coaching to folks seriously devoted to waking up. He told me that through his conversations with other 'extra ordinary awake people' he's come to realize that the only thing left to do is to teach (speak, write, counsel, meaningfully entertain, etc.), whatever your particular bent on it is.

It seems a natural course for awake folks to 'carry the message,' to pass it on, for no apparent reason other than that is what the Consciousness happens to express. Sitting in the contracted-suffering seat as a student when you’ve moved past the seeking stage can feel downright frustrating. It’s like going back into suffering, unnecessarily. It still may happen as long as it happens. And there's no problem either way.

Jeff shared another interesting discovery he's made since interviewing folks for his book: how each ‘extra-ordinary’ person that he’s interviewed has their own individual bent on their awakening. That’s my experience too. If I have a simple 'twist' today, the easiest thing to say is, there’s no there there. There’s no ‘me’ – it is like a concept, a soap bubble, just up and popped and dissolved one day. I can barely remember what it was like to believe in a separate, identified 'me.' It's empty.

Even though I did have a renowned advaita (non-duality) Indian guru in my own unique ‘awakening’ story (a truly lovely story!), I find it remarkable that I rarely use my own teacher's words verbatim. When I met him, the pointer to truth that impacted me deeply was the confirmation of non-doership. I already knew it, but needed a 100% clear mirror before me in order to know that I knew. Such is the power of an awakened master and guru-disciple relationship. A guru is not necessary for awakening, unless it's necessary. Oh, the paradox of truth.

Each teacher has their own experience of waking up, and therefore what they say will be different. A student may or may not have the same experience. For instance, during the time I sat with Ramesh, he rarely discussed what it was like to be awake with no ‘me,’ leaving that to the individual to experience for him or her self. He never scripted an awakening for me; he didn't tell me in advance that it would be like being without a central locus of operation – no CEO (Chief Erin Operator). That was for me to directly experience.

Ramesh's job was to make sure I had no further questions sprouting from the mind; when there was no confusion left, he made it clear that at that point, returning to daily living is the only thing left to do. The fact that awakening happened a year after my teacher died shows me that God (Life, Cosmic Law) has a sense of humor and we can never know when it will happen, either. Once we have our basic questions answered, we can let go and live our daily lives. We trust that it will happen, when/if it is meant to happen.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

To Be Awake: Chopping Wood, Carrying Water (Part 2 of 3)

This is the second piece in a three-part series about my own personal experience with awakening.
Some of this experience is common with others, whether they consider it to be an awakening or not.

“Before enlightenment; chop wood, carry water.
After enlightenment; chop wood, carry water.”

~ Zen Proverb 

I continue to experience Shaktipat as the Kundalini works Her way through and into my heart. These are like voltage ‘shocks’ of grace that I’ve been experiencing since meeting my teacher. I have no way of knowing when they will come or go. They usually, but not always, accompany an evolutionary leap in consciousness, or a powerful spiritual experience. I’ve learned not to attach myself to the ‘heart shocks’ but I must admit, I do enjoy them when they’re afoot; they remind me of my beloved guru.

Post-awakening, I still experience the same biological urges and even desires arise, curiosities are sometimes carried through (for better or for worse!). Thoughts arise, but there truly is no thinker. Thinking – horizontal thinking (as my teacher Ramesh Balsekar used to call identified thinking) that attaches itself to an illusory past or future does not occur. There is only vertical ‘now’ thinking. Planning of the future, or ‘dipping in’ to the files/stories/information of the past occur as a function of the working mind. The working mind/vertical thinking is engaged, and not separate.

Siddhis (special powers like telepathy, seeing the future, etc.) come and go, but they are not clung to, pursued, nor are there fears of gaining or losing a power. Animal “fears” (involving food, shelter, clothing, safety) arise, but anxiety practically does not exist. I may experience PTSD from traumas of the past, which can trigger the nervous system into an anxious, overly stimulated and shocked (fight, flight, freeze) state.

Other emotions continue and even (gasp!) rage, anger, jealousy and fear arise. The shadow is seen for what it is. Preferences are completely accepted, and can change. Usually (but not always) a quieter life ensues. There is little to no ‘worry’ or concern for ‘the future,’ which doesn’t exist until it’s in the now. There is complete acceptance of what comes as what comes; there is no longer frustration of the world being one way or another. Ambition changes: the old way of achieving drops away. There is no longer a need to prove oneself (since no separate self-locus exists). If goals or accomplishments or duties arise, they are dealt with as any normal person or according to the development/conditioning of the person at that point in time and space.

To Be Awake: Ocean of Being (Part 1 of 3)

This is the first in a three-part series about my own personal experience with awakening.
Some of this experience is common with others, whether they consider it to be an awakening or not.

"To be fully alive, fully human,
and completely awake is
to be continually thrown out of the nest."

~ Pema Chödrön 

To be awake is to know with 100% certainty that there is only now. To have perfect faith in What Is, past, present and future. To barely identify with the tiny “me,” except as the slightness of ego that keeps the body-mind operational. To understand there is no central locus of the Self. To understand the perfection in all creation and happenings – that it’s perfect, even when it’s not. And there is an understanding that everything is a happening according to God’s will (Cosmic Law).

Daily life as an awake person functions pretty much the same as many people with highly-evolved consciousness, except that the concept of a small self, a ‘me,’ seems to have dissolved. There are more periods of simply sitting, staring off into space waiting without expectation for the next moment to arise.

There is an absence of a 'me' identifying with the pain or pleasure. If/when contraction arises, it is clearly seen as a witnessing of latent suffering also known as samskaras or vasanas (latent karmic or habitual tendencies) and often transformation into pure consciousness through awareness. It is like Ramana Maharshi and many other sages have described: once there is no longer identification with the ego, it is like a ceiling fan that continues to spin round for a while once the electric power has been turned off. The unwinding continues for as long as it continues. This is karma – apparent cause and effect – but there is no individual karma; everything is related to everything else for all time, all at once. Karma is not personal; it is not separate, except as an appearance.

The evolution of consciousness continues. Apparent seeking, or curiosity may continue if only for experience or deepening. Life is “Time Pass” as the Indians call it – simply the passing of time. Spiritual, psychological, social, emotional, mental and physical development and changes and growth usually continue. Pleasure and pain are felt more intensely, immediately, without filtering of “this should happen” or “this should not happen.” There is a clear understanding, seeing, knowing, that the ego is a drop of water in the Ocean of Being.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Past Life Readings

Karma karma karma karma karma chameleon.

You come and go. You come and go.

~ Culture Club
  • Have you ever wondered why you have such a strong connection with a person, even when it’s a difficult relationship and he or she drives you crazy?
  • Have you ever wanted to end a relationship but simply feel powerless to do so, like there is an inextricable bond between the two of you?
  •  Have you ever had a wildly triggering relationship with a lover, boss, coworker or family member – one that you simply cannot explain, and one that you can’t seem to change on your own, no matter how hard you try? 
You may be working out karma with this person, spanning many lifetimes. You may need to summon the power of the Karma Clean-up Committee. It can take some powerful awareness and hard spiritual work, but it is totally possible to heal the wound that keeps coming up, lifetime after lifetime, with a person.

We may have tried to break the bond before, but often it isn’t possible until:
  1. The karmic pattern/trigger is seen clearly (coming out of denial)
  2. We become willing to not engage with the pattern/trigger, no matter how uncomfortable it is
  3. We release the other person – and ourselves – with love and forgiveness
This is the way to clear up the lifetimes of ‘hook,’ and to move on with our lives into true freedom. It takes guts, and willingness, but if you are ready to clear up a past life relationship, to heal and/or to move on, it could be time for you to get a Past Life Reading.

In this reading, I psychically access the Akashic records, which store holographic information over non-linear time, and use the Universal Waite Tarot deck for specific information concerning you, the other person, the relationship's past, present, and recommended course of action or non-action for clearing the karma. I work over the phone, by Skype, or by email – whichever you prefer. The rate for a Past Life Reading is $65 for ½ hour, or $120 for a 1 hour reading.

This reading will change your life - past, present and future.

Love and freedom,
Please feel free to forward to interested family and friends.

Should you like a reading on another area of your present life – your career, art, love relationship, life direction, etc. we can do that too. Just let me know. I look forward to hearing from you.
Recent testimonial:

"Erin has a way of infusing readings with her rich knowledge of symbolism, her warm and friendly intuitiveness and a collective connectedness with the universe.  She reaches deep in your soul and joyfully illuminates your path. She teaches, comforts and inspires you all at once."   ~ K.K., Ohio