Diksha (Deeksha) - Section A – Article #29
- Falling Into Grace -
by Kiara Windrider
May 4, 2004
I had always needed to live at the very edge of life. I remember thinking as a child that I wasn’t afraid to die; I was only afraid that after a whole lifetime of living I would discover that I hadn’t really lived.
I always felt that I needed to extract the last bit of experience from every situation. I had to make every moment count; every moment had to be extraordinary, exciting, unforgettable. I remember in my childhood that I was always off on some kind of fantasy adventure, whether it was exploring some far-off jungle where nobody else had been, or making a scientific discovery that would save the world or becoming a great yogi who could heal everybody with just a glance.
The worst thing in the world was to be ordinary. Ordinary meant being in a rut, ordinary meant becoming a robot, ordinary meant losing the very meaning of life.
Fortunately, in those days, there was no television, but needless to say, I was always reading adventure stories and fantasy novels, escaping into one wild daydream after another to take me out of the present moment.
The truth was I needed to get out of myself because I felt so ordinary. I pushed myself to the very limits of my imagination, but outwardly I felt extremely bored and unfulfilled with my life. Ordinary meant I wasn’t seeing the truth of life. Ordinary meant not being truly seen by others. At the same time I was chasing windmills or fighting dragons in my mind, I felt caught up in a mundane existence of meaningless schoolwork, family chores, and routine existence. I screamed inside for deeper meaning in life.
During my high school years I attended an international school in the beautiful hill station of Kodaikanal, in south India. My mother had found a teaching job there, and so the kids got to go for free. Until then, we had lived in crowded cities and scorching climates with very little greenery and little access to nature. Now, suddenly I was in paradise! It was a dream come true!
It was like breaking out of a cage. All the pent-up energy inside me sought to be released, and I found myself going hiking every weekend I could, further and further out into the primal wilderness.
One day, with a group of friends, I was out on one of my favorite hikes, a beautiful mountain stream leading to a huge cascading waterfall named Gundar Falls. We camped overnight at the stream, and early the next morning, I started downriver with one of my classmates. Jumping along from rock to rock at breakneck speed, we were at the Falls in record time. It was a glorious sunny day, and we relaxed, swam in the pools, and tossed huge logs over the edge to watch in fascination as they splintered into tiny bits hundreds of feet below.
Suddenly we decided to climb down the falls. No one else had ever done it before, and that’s all the reason we needed. We raced each other down, daring ourselves to go where nobody in their right minds would think to go.
All of a sudden my friend lost his grip and fell. In extreme horror, I watched as he tumbled down the steep cliffside, and disappeared from sight.
I have no recollection of what happened after that, but the next thing I knew, I was tumbling down the waterfalls myself, bouncing from rock to rock, desperately trying to find something to hold on to, and finally realizing there was nothing I could do to stop myself.
Like most young people, I had somehow assumed I would live forever. Now, suddenly, I realized that I was going to die. Curiously, after that first moment of terror, an immense clarity overwhelmed me as I hurtled towards my death. “Had I lived my life fully?” The question flashed through my mind. Equally swiftly, I heard myself say, “No, but it’s okay. It’s an interesting way to die”.
I surrendered to my death. The next thing I knew I was standing in waist deep water surrounded by rocks. I had fallen onto a ledge, and below me was another long drop as the waterfalls continued for another several hundred feet into the gorge below. My body was smashed up a bit, but I was alive. Equally astonishingly, so was my friend, who had landed in the same pool mere inches away. We climbed out together, dazed and shaken, and tremendously grateful for the gift we had just received.
That experience graphically portrayed my lifelong need to live life “at the edge”! What was it that drove me so desperately to test the outer limits of my existence? Why did I feel so unfulfilled with my ordinary existence? Why was I forever craving more experiences to prove to myself that I wasn’t so ordinary after all?
Over the next few years, the search for meaning in the outer world gradually yielded to a search for meaning in my inner world. My spiritual quest began in earnest. The only thing that mattered was enlightenment, not just for me but for the entire messed up world we lived in. I spent time in ashrams, visited sacred sites, explored all the major world religions. I went to the US for college, became involved with the environmental movement, and became a peace activist. I got interested in psychology and later became a psychotherapist. I studied shamanism and the Native American path. I explored altered states of consciousness through breathwork, psychedelics, vision quests, and deep meditation practices. I learned all kinds of healing modalities, read every New Age book that I could find.
It was all very exciting. I was always running from one workshop to another, one spiritual event or teaching to another, one meditation practice to another. Somehow, I thought, if I could only gather up enough experiences, enough knowledge, enough goodness, I would become enlightened. I had this idea of enlightenment as a state of perfection, and that as I continued climbing my spiritual mountain I would eventually find enlightenment at the peak. I was constantly trying to move to the next level of perfection. But as soon as I thought I had reached the peak, there was another one even further beyond.
It was exhausting, but I couldn’t stop. Every time I stopped long enough to reflect, it was with the painful realization that I was no further along the path of enlightenment than I had been before. There were some good things in my life, and I was helping a lot of people, but it wasn’t enough. I had become identified with the search. I had to keep seeking, have more experiences, go deeper into myself, understand the totality of the universe.
Occasionally I would slow down, drop into my center, and enter the river of being. Still, I wasn’t happy with just being, I was always trying to become more than myself. I was happy as long as I was searching, because as long as I was searching I could continue to feed my fantasies of the ideal world. This ideal was always in the future. The present moment was never enough.
I don’t want to downplay my desire to seek more in life. I have led a useful, creative, varied, and even a fulfilling life in a lot of ways. I have received a lot of life’s gifts, a lot of love, a lot of beauty. As a peace activist, psychotherapist, spiritual teacher, and writer, I have helped a lot of people and contributed to making a better world. But what it always came down to is that it wasn’t enough. Which also meant that I wasn’t enough – not good enough, not loving enough, not accomplished enough, not spiritual enough. If I just had that one more experience, one more tool in my spiritual toolkit…and the whole cycle would repeat itself.
Instead of recognizing the gifts I had already received, I was still focusing on my limitations. Instead of realizing the extraordinary nature of each ordinary moment, I was still trying to turn the seemingly ordinary moments into an extraordinary ideal. I was still seeking perfection.
I came back to India two years ago with the inner awareness that what I was seeking could not be found in the way I was seeking it. As I was talking with a close friend and spiritual brother one day, he felt a strong intuition that I would meet somebody in India who would help me take the final step into enlightenment. I felt the same.
After searching through many ashrams, many gurus, I eventually found my way to Bhagavan’s ashram, along with my wife, Grace, who had also had some extraordinary visions guiding her to come here. We were in Nemam for Amma’s birthday celebration when the first public mukti deeksha was given.
Grace went through an extraordinary transformation, and a few days later, received her enlightenment. I had deeksha at the same time, and later even went through a 5-day enlightenment process. Nothing happened.
Now I was really pissed off at the Universe. “How come Grace gets it, who wasn’t even looking for it, and I don’t, after all my efforts, all my seeking, all my meditating?” I could feel the Universe laughing at me, gently slipping in past all the noise in my mind, “Because she wasn’t seeking, she wasn’t trying, she was ready…”
Six months later I went through a “teacher’s process”. I finally acknowledged that all the long years of seeking were prompted by a sense of self that itself was an illusion! I understood the cosmic joke! The long search was over!
I understood the paradox of seeking. I realized that with all our seeking for enlightenment through the long millennia of human history, we had created a field of struggle around the experience of enlightenment. Now that Bhagavan and Amma’s grace is here, enlightenment is as simple as recognizing that there is no one to get enlightened. That’s all the teaching that is really necessary. Bhagavan’s deeksha does the rest. In all of our efforts to do something, become worthy, pray some more, practice some more, we are simply contributing to this field of struggle, simply catering to this sense of self.
As another great Master once said, “Unless you become like a little child, you will not enter the Kingdom of God.” What does a child do? Is he busy running around trying to squeeze the last drop out of life? Is she desperately trying to change herself so she can fit into some ideal image of what she should or shouldn’t become? No, a child is simply being a child. There is no craving to become something other than what he or she already is.
We all experience jealousy, resentment, anger, hurt, and depression. We all struggle with feelings of worthlessness. We constantly experience judgment towards others and towards self, we are forever looking to others to define our sense of who we are, and we all wish to make ourselves look better than we think we are.
All this is simply the nature of the mind, a mind that we all share in common. Bhagavan tells us that our suffering comes not from having these feelings, but in trying to change them. Our suffering comes from creating an image of ourselves as good, kind, respectable, loving and selfless human beings, calling it our ‘self’, and then constantly fighting with aspects of ourselves that do not fit this image.
The more spiritual we think ourselves to be, the more we fight against everything that does not fit this ideal, assuming somehow that if we only try hard enough, pray enough, do more seva, earn more satkarma…maybe we can change ourselves. It is the same cycle of seeking. We perceive that life is dull and dreary, and are constantly seeking the extraordinary moments, the peak experiences. We perceive that somehow we are not spiritual enough to deserve grace or enlightenment, and constantly run around the treadmill of effort. Meanwhile, all of life is passing by, and we don’t even see it.
It all comes down to accepting who we are, all of it, the good, the bad, and the ugly. This is the gift that Bhagavan gives us. When we see that the self is an illusion, there is no more need to defend ourselves against our own or anybody else’s judgements. Then, the entire universe can flow through us!
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