Warning: You may feel like this while watching…
…but hang in there for the deep questions you’ll want to answer at the end.
Warning: You may feel like this while watching…
…but hang in there for the deep questions you’ll want to answer at the end.
After celebrating my birthday at the Taj Mahal, I returned this week to the charming, remote, extremely quiet Christian ashram in southern India where I have been staying for the past 2.5 months. On this dusty nine-acre hill are twenty-five scattered rooms, only two of which, including my own, have been occupied regularly in the entire time I have been here.
The ashram is overseen by a lovely soft-spoken priest, Anil, who is assisted by Joby, a jovial pot-bellied man in his first few months of priest training, and Beni, a bright 27-year-old tribal woman who does all the (amazing) cooking and has never met a chili pepper she didn’t like.
The trees here are overseen by small monkeys, who steal fruit as well as drying laundry with backward glances like naughty children checking to see if they’ve been caught. There are six wild turkeys who think they live here and two large dogs who actually do, Jimmy and Julie; and Jimmy is as naughty as the monkeys. Every afternoon like clockwork between 5:15 and 5:30 he can be seen running around with one of Beni’s pink flip-flops in his mouth while she’s inside the kitchen getting his dinner ready. She eventually comes out carrying a large bowl and walks one-shoed about 50 yards to his room where he’s waiting to trade her flip flop for his dinner.
Life in this southern ashram is very different than the nunneries in the north. There are no ornate temples here, but the chapel is a large, very cool rock cave. (LOVE the chapel.) There are no mountains but there are tall, shady mahogany trees and breezy palm trees and myriad fruits and flowers hanging from more than a hundred other trees. There are no villages to walk to. I’m not with friends or community. I’m alone with only the truth of myself, comfortably, and the routine of breakfast at 8, lemonade at 11, lunch at 1, tea at 4.
As for slightly less comforts, I bathe from a bucket every other day. I wash my clothes by hand twice a week. The ceiling fan in my room is my only relief from the 95+ degree heat — during the 75% of time the electricity is working.
The requisite job for all guests is daily gardening, and “my” spot is a large four-tiered brick triangular area with small white lilies and carnation-sized fuchsia and pink flowers that open almost exactly at 10AM and close by 4PM. In the simplicity of life here it brings me joy to get up every day and take care of these new colorful parts of life.
I might also mention that sometimes naughty Jimmy is out on a walk when I’m watering in the afternoon and delights in running full speed through the muddy garden bed to tell me hello. This too brings me joy, though I would also be joyful if he would learn to skirt the edges.
Today in my quietude I reflect on the fact that it was a year ago this month that the metaphysical event that became the basis of my 2016 tour took place. With the exception of my interviews and the three talks I did with my former therapists Margery Silverton and Rudy Bauer, I spoke exclusively about this event in which I was shown that the paradigm of our world is a perpetual cycle of self rejection that keeps us unaware of our connection to God. I was shown that all the systems of our world foster our living and relishing the good trumps bad story without anyone realizing this is what makes us deny our own and each other’s Divine nature.
This is why love has never been able to make our suffering go away, and why religions and political policies and economic strategies and world leaders have never led us to peace. We’ve been using all of these things just to try harder to make one part of us (good) make another part of us (bad) go away. When in fact, there is no good or bad. There is only love and the cry for love. And since we like to label our cries for love “bad”, that is what we inherently reject. Instead of rejecting our own or others’ pain — which is born of the Separation mindset and then perpetuated in the same way — we can answer its cry with the intention to honor it as an equal part of us, not to make it go away.
There was a woman in one my talks who asked me during Q&A, “Is it okay that I feel a righteous anger at all the people who support Trump?” I said, “You already feel that righteous anger, so why reject it? It’s not that you don’t want to feel it, it’s that you don’t want to own that you feel it. So you try to reject that feeling out of guilt, but then you judge yourself for actually feeling it, and then you judge yourself for judging yourself. You see the cycle? When we own what we authentically feel we give power to our truth, not to our rejection. The trick, however, is just to let our truth be after we own it.”
This last part is what people seem to struggle with most. We humans either attach ourselves to myriad “bad” feelings while denying their real source, or we attach ourselves to denial of both our “bad” feelings and their real source. Either way, we’re not allowing our authentic truth to just be.
In the movie Wild, there’s a great line that’s quoted from some writer that says, “Denying her wounds came from the same source as her power.” This is it, exactly. In my metaphysical event I saw Separation and Cry For Union as the same thing, all within the Source of real love.
In my 2016 holiday message video, my suggestion for the way ahead was to, “Feel what you feel authentically, then go be and do that which brings the greatest joy to your heart.” That’s what I’m doing here in this ashram. Feeling all of my truth, authentically. This, along with my writing, prayer, meditation and contemplation allow the joy in my heart all the space it needs.
Whether you are living simply or grandly, alone or among the masses, I hope you are allowing yourself to feel your own truth, and letting it be, graciously, as you do what brings the greatest joy to your heart. If you need some inspiration, you might consider a little jaunt to the Taj Mahal. There’s a LOT of joy there.
Much love to one and all. (P.S. – Click on the Videos tab to watch my new video on mysticism, God and love!)
Grab some French wine and cheese and join me for the highlights of my satsang with Reverend Jacquelyn Eckert from Awakening Together. Great questions, heart-driven answers.
If you’re looking for ways to “take the high road” in this new year, here are my thoughts: The High Road. Please share in your communities if you feel this video might be helpful for others.
I hope this festive season you had much to be grateful for and look forward to.
Given the significance of 2016, I’ve had several requests to offer my thoughts on the way ahead, so I am pleased to offer this special holiday message. May you find it helpful and inspiring. Please share in your communities as you like.
Peace on Earth, bountiful best wishes, and Love, Love, Love to all.
Finally, I can let you all in on “it.” If you weren’t able to catch me on tour in the U.S. this summer/fall, you can hear an abbreviated version of my talk here. This is the focus of my next book, and in the coming weeks I will begin posting a series of short videos answering the most common questions from my Q&A sessions. Feel free to email me or use the Contact tab on this website if you have burning questions in the meantime.
Love (the real thing), Mary
As I do every year, I will soon leave India at the start of monsoon. Usually this means going to the U.S. to visit a few communities to give talks based on my book, spirituality, mysticism and other topics of interest in our awakening world.
This year I’m going to do something a little different: with few exceptions, I’m going to talk about only one thing. Because it is the most important thing the world needs to hear right now.
Using the unique lens of mysticism through which I view both Divine and earthly realms, I’m going to reveal what love really is. And it is not what what most people think.
I’m going to talk about why humans can’t get out of bed every morning and just blissfully love themselves.
I’m going to talk about why love hasn’t been able to make suffering go away.
I’m going to talk about how the human experience has been about relishing deeply that which is not love while simultaneously yearning deeply for love.
I’m going to talk about how rejecting pain and fear and judgment is not an act of love.
I’m going to talk about free will. And sorrow. And loneliness. And compassion. And forgiveness.
In other words, I’m going to talk about separation from God.
And then I’m going to talk about reuniting with God.
And I’m going to talk about genuine awakening.
And rising up.
And being real love.
Our understandings of love can go far beyond feel good memes and random mushy moments. We’re capable of MUCH more than that, and it is time to get serious about realizing our individual and collective potential for a greater world. If you’re ready to be inspired to incite real love, invite me to your community. We’ve got a lot to talk about.
I will be in the following general areas during summer and fall 2016:
U.S. West Coast region in July/August
U.S. southern and central region in August/September
U.S. East Coast region September/October
Europe and ?? starting in November
Invite me to share in your group, home, church, community center, retreat, webcast, radio or television show, or publication. This is an important time for us to gather together, and I look forward to doing so with all of you.
Abundant love (the real thing) to all.
P.S. My recent Buddha at the Gas Pump interview has now been viewed more than 13,000 times and has prompted numerous substantive conversations in diverse online and live communities. Please feel free to share this and my award-winning book, Unwitting Mystic, with your friends, loved ones and communities if you feel it could be of benefit.
At 10:30 Monday morning I was carried out from the nunnery on a stretcher. An Indian gardener, a French pastry chef and a French osteopath carried me ten minutes down a narrow rocky path as a Dutch carpenter walked ahead and an Indian yoga teacher walked behind.
When they laid me down on the dirt road to wait for the car to arrive, the pastry chef knelt beside me and took my hand. He began slowly tracing circles around my palm with his finger. In a quiet voice he said, “There is nothing else happening in your body right now except this circle. Just focus on this circle, okay?”
I couldn’t open my eyes to look at him but tried to give all my attention to the circle. It was at once soothing and consoling.
The Dutch abbess of the nunnery pulled up in the Thosamling van. The carpenter helped me into the back bench seat where I could lie down, and the osteopath and yoga teacher slid into the middle bench seat.
As the abbess pulled away, the osteopath turned around, leaned over the seat back, and gently took my hand. She began tracing circles around my palm with her finger, and never let go of me until we arrived at the hospital thirty minutes later.
Fourteen hours earlier a German Tibetan-language translator had heard me yell HELP from my room. I had been yelling periodically for forty minutes after sudden weakness and fever had come up and rapidly increased. Everyone was away from their rooms at that time attending prayers and a talk; during this same time I had also texted four people asking for help but everyone had left their phones in their rooms.
The translator arrived to find me flushed and with pain in my mid-back and stomach, so she went to fetch an Austrian nun who is a former nurse. In the meantime one of the people I had texted, a German nun, arrived. The nuns took my temperature while the translator went to get cold juice and ice. The nuns removed the thermometer before it beeped because it seemed to be taking too long; the reading at that point was 39.9C, or 103.9F.
The abbess soon arrived in my room, followed by the osteopath. The Austrian nun left and came back with aspirin. The Germans put ice on my head and wet towels around my legs, and helped me sip cold orange juice. The abbess called the doctor.
The aspirin and cold applications gradually began to reduce my fever, and the abbess and German nun took shifts checking on me throughout the night. I took aspirin promptly every four hours trying to keep the fever down.
Diarrhea that had slowly started hours earlier became urgent by midnight. I woke up four times in the night shitting on myself. My mid-back and stomach grew more painful.
By morning the fever started to escalate again. Someone placed the stretcher outside my door, and minutes later the transport stage of the event was underway.
The hospital lobby was extremely full; throngs of Indian families were standing or walking around either checking in, paying or waiting. Within seconds of being helped through the door a young Indian attendant appeared in front of me with a wheelchair and whisked me to a room where I could lay down on an examination table.
In less than one minute an Indian urologist with kind paternal eyes appeared beside me, asking me questions while pressing on my stomach and kidney areas. He instructed the attendant to take me directly to the emergency care ward.
My body was in hypotensive shock so my blood pressure and pulse were very low. It took the apologetic Nepalese nurse three tries to get the IV needle in and two tries to get blood to flow into tubes. IV fluids. IV antibiotics. Pain med injections. Ultrasound.
Just after 3pm two Indian attendants, one of whom had a pronounced limp, wheeled me up six long, crumbling concrete ramps to room 419.
The abbess paid all the bills in advance on my behalf — medicines, tests, doctors fees and room charges. Before she left she knelt beside my bed, put her hand on my arm, and looked at me tenderly with her brilliant blue eyes. “It’s going to be okay, yes?” she said, patting my arm twice firmly. “I will be back in the morning and maybe take you home, or just check on you.”
The osteopath slept that night on the bench eighteen inches opposite my bed. The yoga teacher slept on a narrow stretch of the floor at the end of the bench. Eight times in as many hours the osteopath leapt up to help me to the bathroom as the urgency of diarrhea hit. Two of those times I again shit on myself before I could make it to the toilet.
When the attending Indian gastroenterologist came to see me around at 10:30am he had already prescribed six more bottles of fluids and three more bottles of antibiotics. This, following ten bags of fluids and three bottles of antibiotics I had already received.
“I want to go home,” I told the doctor.
He frowned disapprovingly and shook his head. “I cannot advise that. You are still very sick.”
“But my fever is gone and I can take the fluids and medications orally now. And I can rest in my own bed.”
He laughed lightly. “But you are still very sick and it is much better and faster to take these things by fluids and we can monitor you.”
I looked at him with every bit of persuasive strength I could muster. “I know. But to be honest I’m just really worried about the money.”
Compassion immediately sparked across his face. This is India, after all; they know all about the balancing act between money and self care. The doctor bobbled his head and thought for a moment. Finally he said, “Okay, it is not good, but I understand. I will talk with the other doctors and we will see.”
Three hours later I walked gingerly through the gates of Thosamling. I was immediately greeted by a Polish student, an American student, a Scottish nanny, and a Russian massage therapist, all of whom I had been taking on morning hikes. The Polish student said, “We were just writing notes to you!” Everyone hugged me and walked me to my room; one held me by my arm, another carried a saucer of rice and bread, another carried my bag of medicines and reports, and another carried my small backpack. On my windowsill was an apple left by an American nun and a fresh sprig of jasmine left by an Israeli volunteer.
Throughout the day a parade of people came bearing fruit, juice, water and hugs. That night a British social worker took turns with the German translator checking on me every three hours.
Wednesday morning as I lie in my bed looking out my window the pastry chef passed by and happened to glance my way; he immediately smiled brightly. He gave me two thumbs up as he raised his eyebrows, silently asking, “Better, yes?” I smiled weakly and nodded, and he walked away cheerfully.
That’s when the tears finally hit.
In my body, which by now I had learned was housing more than a dozen repulsive, large parasites, I could suddenly feel something other than the swell of pain and the saturation of medicine and the staunch rebellion of alien life. In this moment I could feel an immense web of compassion coursing through a circular field, intersecting from all directions through one central hub: my body.
My body, while in the extremely undignified state of being shit on, blazed, pricked, and grotesquely invaded, had become a common circulation point for compassion shared instinctively and generously by a German translator, an Austrian nun, a Dutch abbess, a French osteopath, a German nun, an Indian gardener, a French pastry chef, an Indian yoga teacher, a Dutch carpenter, three Indian attendants, an Indian urologist, a Nepalese nurse, an Indian gastroenterologist, a Polish student, an American student, a Scottish nanny, a Russian massage therapist, an Israeli volunteer, an American nun, and a British social worker.
Many vessels, one enormously bountiful circle of compassion.
As I lie here in my bed now still recovering, I think about the pastry chef smiling brightly with his two thumbs up, and I consider his words: “There is nothing else happening in your body except this circle. Just focus on this circle, okay?”
Yes. Yes, I will do just that, Pierre. Because the swirling, sweet, multicultural circle of compassion circulating all around and within me is a tremendously healing salve. It is Love’s elegant response to a foul moment of vulnerability in a body that is constantly seeking to radiate God’s presence in a world that believes it is separate from God. I see The Circle radiating God back to me, and I have no trouble at all focusing on that. For that is all that is happening in my body.
Readers frequently thank me for introducing them to artist Akiane Kramerik, whose work I featured in Unwitting Mystic. She epitomizes the exceptional, gracious insight and wisdom I see being ushered into the collective consciousness by today’s youth. She is the gentle Rumi of our day, evoking emotion and resonance so deeply divine one feels effortlessly transported to the meaning of God that we know but have misplaced in our distracted lives.
I am constantly inspired by Akiane’s poetry and paintings, and with her latest piece she does not disappoint. This is the quintessential story of the direction of humanity today and why we can rest in confidence that all is well in our world. All is very, very well.
Recently I did an interview with Rick Archer at Buddha at the Gas Pump. I had not been given any questions in advance, so I had no idea what direction Rick would take the discussions.
The first direction he took was toward my suicide attempt.
The archive of that interview has been up only four days at this point, and between the unedited original video and the official BATGAP video, it has already been watched more than 5000 times. http://batgap.com
The responses have been incredible, and one of the most common comments I have received is thanks for the compassion and “realness” with which I talked about the subject of severe depression.
Rick clearly pushed a lot of buttons with a “chin up” and “it’s just wrong” comment he made, but his remarks were important for all of us to hear. He gave voice to a common frustration that many people feel in not knowing how to relate to others who feel so alone or helpless in their despair. In the same way that one who has never had metaphysical events cannot relate to the scale of confusion that comes from having such profound experiences, one who has never reached such severe depths of despair as to attempt suicide cannot relate to the scale of confusion that comes from hitting a psychological/mental/emotional bottom where death seems to be the only way to finally end the suffering. For the person embodying the metaphysical event or suicidal ideation, everything is far too intimately and individually experienced for most others to empathetically relate.
Since the interview, I have been contacted by academics, therapists, social media groups and individuals who thanked me for helping to illuminate the immense struggles of people seeking to connect and feel less alone, less confused, and less depressed. Many said that just hearing me tell my story made them feel relief; that it was helpful to hear someone admit publicly that as our world is changing it can by REALLY hard to adjust to new feelings, new experiences and new understandings.
Most who contacted me also expressed dismay over Rick’s judgmental “it’s just wrong” comments, which they viewed as a lack of compassion. But I want to urge people who look at this kind of judgment as heartless to reach a little deeper. As I talked about in the second half of my interview, our individual reactions in these times have the power to change the world. Rather than responding to what one might consider to be a lack of compassion with an equal measure of lack of compassion, we can use our own experiences and our own voices to invite greater dialogue and understanding.
We can start by simply acknowledging the vast common ground we all stand on. We can acknowledge that while we may have different perspectives and opinions, we all share a deep desire to be happy and to see others happy as well. We can embrace that in each other right where we are, without imposing anything further into the equation.
Once we’re willing to meet each other where we are, and we open up to both receive and give from a more compassionate place within, we will soon be able to see and acknowledge joyfully that we also share a deep desire to love each other unconditionally. We can admit that we have no idea how to do that yet, but that doesn’t prevent us from finding ways to direct our spiritual life toward that end. Because unconditional love is where we’re heading. It’s what Jesus and Buddha taught and what countless religious doctrines teach. So why not point our spiritual compass in that direction now?
I encourage everyone to aim to gather on our vast common ground and support each other wherever, however, whenever we can. Because every voice, every presence matters. None of us are in this alone, ever.
I love you and I am so glad we’re here in this exciting time together.