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Friday, May 21, 2010

Great Teachers: Muktananda – CREDO CX

We first met him in California in 1980. We went to a lecture he was giving. Physically, he was a small dark Hindu with expressive eyes and a black dot over them. One certainly got the impression that he projected a powerful aura. He was both gentle yet sharp as a tack! As the custom was to bring a gift, or prasad, which was cast into a large woven basket, Walter brought him the last rose from our garden in La Habra, and Muktananda held it the entire time. Each of us came up to greet him, and I was introduced as a Jungian astrologer. His words were translated by his niece, who later headed the American ashram, I believe. I do not remember what he said all of thirty years ago, but I certainly remember the impact of his presence! A year later, I was invited by my friend from Esalen, Stanislav Grof, to speak at the International Transpersonal Association Conference in Bombay, and after the conference a few of us accompanied Grof to the guru’s ashram in Ganeshpuri.

It was the festival of Shivaratri, and hundreds, if not thousands, of people were attending and celebrating. We lined up to meet him, and when it came to my turn, he pulled me down and bent over and whispered to me, “Will you do my chart?” I was astonished by his memory, and so I decided to stay. I had had a dream about him several months before, in which he was seated in a marble room on a throne and had drawn me onto his lap and asked me if he could use my body to speak through. I replied that I would have to think about it. (I was in training analysis with the Jungian Dr. Christopher Whitmont at the time, and when he heard the story he chuckled and said I was making progress: “A few months ago, you would have said. ‘Sure, any time!’”) Imagine my surprise, when I found that room and throne just as I had dreamt it.

Needless to say, I had no materials to do his horoscope, but among the many Western disciples these were found, so I drew up the chart, and waited to be summoned. During the several days of waiting, I had the opportunity of absorbing the remarkable flavor of the ashram, which was beautiful in every respect. There were many disciples from the States and Europe as well as Indians. Every evening, there was kirtan, and the men and women separated into groups and sang and danced in ecstasy. The whole ashram was spotless and well-ordered, and one sensed a strong positive collective energy. I eagerly attended Muktananda’s daily teachings.

Finally, I was summoned. By then, I had the impression that he was considered a divine being, so how was I to do God’s chart! When I entered his room, he was eager but looked exhausted, so I decided just to give him practical advice. I counseled him to seek the company of children and animals, who would not project divinity upon him. Little did I realize that as a Taurus, he had a stable with pet cows! The interpreter was Noni, a Persian, I think, with a sparkling sense of humor. We connected immediately. I asked Muktananda if he had thought of acting out parts of the epic Mahabharata in the ashram. His face lit up. “Yes,” he explained, “and I always played the part of God!” to which, I responded, “Think what fun God had playing Muktananda!” Noni’s translation was perfect, and he burst out laughing. We were off to a good start.

I decided to tell him an adapted version of a Mullah Nasruddin story that had formed itself in my mind a few years previous, back on Long Island. Mullah was an eleventh-century Sufi “Idiot Sage.” So I told him the following story:

Mullah was recently in Istanbul telling his famous funny teaching stories when his friends accosted him and rebuked him. “Mullah,” they said, “you have to stop all this. Don’t you realize this is a New Age? You have to be serious now, you need to find yourself!”
  “I do? How can I do that?” “Well,” they answered, “we hear that the quickest way is to go to America and attend this guru Muktananda’s ashram in South Fallsburg, New York” “Oh well,” agreed Mullah, shaking his head ,”if you say so.” Then he sold his donkeys and bought a ticket to the USA. But a month later, he was back in Istanbul, telling his funny stories worse than before. “Mullah, what on earth happened?” asked his amazed friends.
  “Well,” grinned Mullah, “I can’t tell you how grateful I am to all of you. I went there, and did all the meditations and yoga exercises to get to the center of my self, and guess what? I discovered that God is the biggest jokester of all. “How come?” asked his friends.
  “Well,” grinned Mullah, “you won’t believe this, but after all that searching, when I got to the very center of my Self, guess what? I wasn’t there!

I was rewarded by Muktananda bursting out laughing! He got up and instead of giving me shaktipat, a tap on the head leading to instant enlightenment, he folded me in his arms and gave me a warm hug and a kiss, and an invitation on the spot, to ride with him in his golf cart to visit his cows. With a wink to Noni, I asked for a Sanskrit name and suggested ‘cowpatti’(!). “No, no,” he exclaimed, “Gomati!” which means Mother Cow. With that, we drove off to see my namesake at his stable and to receive the gift of a picture of him and her, and a lovely scarf. What a privilege!

I owed a lot to Noni, who it seemed had, despite his yearning for enlightenment, a problem with “wine, women, and song.” So, to teach him a lesson, when he was with a woman and at the very climax, he went instead into samadhi, the bliss of which renders one unconscious! He looked appropriately sheepish, when he told me the story, revealing Muktananda’s powers.

Years later, before Muktananda died, his reputation was sullied by, what I believe, a misunderstanding. He was reputed to have slept with young women on occasion. What Westerners do not understand is that old men in India sometimes lie chastely with young women to recharge their astral energy. If you are smirking as you read this, it is true. Perhaps, he did not explain this because he might have wanted his disciples to withdraw their projection onto him and thus find their own Light within. Who knows?

All I can say is that to encounter him was a true blessing. I am especially grateful to him for explaining to me that one of our physical goals is to unite the essences of the pituitary and the pineal glands in the brain, thus producing the Blue Pearl of samadhi or ultimate spiritual bliss, also known perhaps as the ultimate result of uniting the subtle spinal nerve currents of ida and pingala in kundalini.

I highly recommend his books; his center is ongoing in South Fallsburg, New York, though I have never been there except with Mullah Nasruddin.


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