A couple of days ago I mentioned a conversation with the Goddess, and Focus asked me to say more about it.
Before I describe the conversation, let me tell you the background. During the summer of 2015 I began to have many mystical experiences. They were very intense for a few months and then tapered off over a period of about two years. During this time I talked frequently with an entity who I call “the Goddess.”
I’ve avoided writing very much about these sorts of things because they sound crazy to most people and I don’t think they are essential for getting enlightened. Was I hallucinating? No, because by definition a hallucination is a false perception of a sensory object and I never imagined that she was physically present. She communicated with me through my mind. Was I imagining her? She used all the faculties of my mind to communicate with me, including my imagination, but this tells us nothing about whether she was real because people can imagine real things. Right now, for example, I can close my eyes and visualize the camera in the desk drawer next to my right arm. I’m imagining it, but if I open the drawer I’ll see the camera without my imagination because it’s really there. (I’m using the word “real” here in the ordinary way, not in the Advaitin sense.)
So the question should be whether she was merely my imagination. I don’t think so. I think in some way she is real. In some way the universe is such that something we intuit as a female goddess, the female Goddess, the goddess that Shaktas call Devi, really exists. One of the reasons why I believe this is that she taught me things that are as profound as anything I’ve ever come across.
Another reason why I believe it is because she didn’t just communicate with me. She also did things to me. There’s an example of this in the story you are about to read.
When I started this blog in 2015, the first two posts were about my visit to Meenakshi Amman Temple that had taken place 30 years earlier. During that visit I went into a sort of altered state of consciousness, a walking trance, for hours. I didn’t explain why the blog began that way. I’ll explain now. When I started the blog, I had just realized (or come to believe) that my experience in the temple was a sort of initiation. The Goddess put a seed in me that day. Over the next 30 years, the seed sprouted and made me become interested in enlightenment and led me to Ramana and eventually brought me to where I was in 2015 having deep mystical experiences and talking to the Goddess. For the first 30 years after she planted the seed, I never suspected that it was an initiation or that it had anything to do with the way my life unfolded afterward. When in 2015 I finally became aware of this 30-year-long process, when I finally became aware that the Goddess had been watching over me and directing my evolution for 30 years, when I saw that she had arranged for me to find Ramana, I was very deeply moved.
On September 2, 2015, I asked her, “Why did you give me that experience (the initiation) in 1985 when I entered your temple?”
That question was the start of the conversation that Focus asked me about. Right after it finished, I recorded the highlights in the following email:
I must really be losing my mind, but I just sat in my chair and talked to the goddess for about an hour.
I asked her why she gave me that experience in 1985 in her temple. Why me? She answered, “Because you wanted it.” I said, “How could i have wanted it when I knew nothing about these things and had hardly ever thought about them?” She answered by showing me my mental state on that day. She’s right; without knowing what I wanted, I wanted it. Then she started talking about the desire for liberation and why she responds that way:
She said she’s like the flip side of certain desires… if you want those certain things, then she is automatically there at the same time. The desire for God is God. It’s not really a desire but a kind of heartbeat. it’s like a sound we hear, but we perceive it as a desire. It can’t be a desire because it’s God desiring God which makes no sense. The existence of the feeling depends on a misunderstanding. The misunderstanding tries to unravel itself because due to its inherent nature it has to try to unravel just like a bent spring will try to straighten out.
The email has the virtue of immediacy and accuracy but it’s so terse and was written so fast that it’s hard to understand. Let me try to flesh it out and clarify a few things.
When I asked her why she gave me that experience, she answered with an amused tone, as if it was the most obvious thing in the world and it was funny that I couldn’t see it, “Because you wanted it.” She often spoke with that amused tone. I once asked her whether she was really amused or I was misinterpreting. She said she was really amused.
When she answered, “Because you wanted it,” I had no idea what she was talking about. How could I have wanted an initiation into enlightenment in 1985? I knew nothing about such things. I had never thought about such things. So I said, “Huh? I didn’t want it.”
To show me that she was right, instead of replying with words, she restored my mind to the state it was in when I walked into the temple thirty years earlier. She didn’t warn me, “Hold on to your seat belt, I’m about to wind your brain back to 1985.” She simply did it. One moment I was 62-year-old Freddie in 2015; an instant later I was 32 years old again — mentally, at least. Suddenly the thoughts and emotions swirling through my head were the ones that were there when I walked into her temple in 1985. I had forgotten them but now that she restored them, I recognized them. This is one of the most astonishing things that has ever happened to me. Thirty years is a long time in a person’s life, and normally we can’t see how much our minds change because there is no way to retrieve the old state and compare it to the new. But she allowed me to do exactly that.
I saw instantly that she was right. On that day in 1985, my father had just died. My head was filled with moody inchoate deep thoughts. If I put those thoughts into words they would be questions like, “What is life for? Why do we die? What’s the point? What should I do in the few dozen years that remain before I follow my father into death?”
But such states don’t consist of words. The thoughts were deeper than words. Events like the death of my father are terrible storms that churn the oceans of our minds to a froth. Even the ocean floor gets disturbed; even the tectonic plates under the floor get jostled apart, and the raw burning magma, the pure energy of our real lives, leaks out in an incandescent haze. On that day in 1985 when I walked into her temple, I was in that state. Although I had no words for that state, I was filled with a desire for ultimate truth and meaning and reality. That’s all I could think about. If that isn’t a desire for enlightenment, nothing is a desire for enlightenment.
You don’t have to think, “I want enlightenment” in order to want enlightenment. The real desire is beyond words; the real desire is for the substance of enlightenment, its actual flesh, for truth and meaning and divinity and holiness and liberation from the suffocating confines of the ego. Not for the words in the previous sentence, but for the things they represent.
She told me “the desire for God is God” with great emphasis. Sometimes she “spoke” by putting ideas or knowledge directly in my head without words, but if I recall correctly, she pronounced those words like a mahavakya. When she said “God” she meant that word in a very broad sense. She meant anything holy or divine, anything related to ultimate truth or goodness or love.
She showed me with a visual metaphor that any desire for such things has special properties. Such a desire is not like other desires. It’s based on a misunderstanding that tries to correct itself, and because the correction of the error is the gratification of the desire, the desire is self-fulfilling. She used a metaphor from physics: we crumple a piece of paper in our hand, then let go, and it uncrumples a little due to the paper’s elasticity. The idea is the same as a ball rolling downhill or a coiled spring unwinding. Just as a spring unwinds due to a physical law — in other words, due to the nature of the universe — so too the desire for God gets gratified due to the nature of the universe.
I’m saying “desire” because we perceive it that way but she said it’s not really a desire. Desires belong to the ego; in fact the ego consists in large part of desires. But the ego can desire God only by making a mistake, by imagining that it’s apart from God. When the ego intuits God, it reacts by desiring God; therefore in a way this desire is the ego’s representation of God; but God isn’t a desire; the representation is faulty; and since God is everything, the ego is God and can’t ever not be God. It occurs to me now that the ego can be defined as the fantasy that it’s something other than God. People without spiritual understanding sometimes think it’s a terrible sacrilege to say that the ego is God; but actually it’s a worse sacrilege to say it’s not, because that implies that God isn’t everything, that God is limited, that God is not infinite.
I can’t remember if she explained what she meant when she said that the desire for God is really a sound like a heartbeat. Maybe she meant that it’s always there, like God is always there, like our heartbeat is always there, and that it’s not something our minds contrive but something they misperceive. Also, when we perceive through a certain channel of intuition, the heart beat is the center. Sometimes, I don’t know why, I become very sensitive to the heartbeat. I feel the heart beating — feel it moving in the chest as it contracts and relaxes — and I feel the pulse wave radiate outward through my arteries after every beat all the way to my fingers and toes. At those times the heart is the center. In a similar way, God is the center.
Before I end this post, I’d like to quote something I wrote in an email about a year before my conversations with the Goddess began. (Thank you, Focus, for reminding me of this.)
The most successful sadhana I ever did was simply craving and desiring experience of the divine. I wanted it. I wanted it for hours on end, every day. And so it came to me. I didn’t even realize it was sadhana. It was just my state at the time. It was just what was happening in my mind. I only realized later, in retrospect, after God came to me, that there had been cause and effect.
That quote could go in a post by itself under the title, Grace.