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Friday, July 28, 2006: Seeing the Face of God

        It began with a remark by Dr. V.G. Kulkarni, about how he had begun his own spiritual search; one small phrase he used had created a burning desire within myself.  His life story was more traditional and straightforward than the spiritual paths I had wandered.

         Trained in the university, and with all the enthusiasm of a university student, V.G. had persistently attended lectures on Sanskrit, holy texts and spiritual disciplines.  Afterwards, he would confront the lecturers, politely but pointedly asking each one the same two questions: "Have you yourself seen the Face of God; can you show me the Face of God?"  All had solemnly shook their heads no, suddenly brought down from their lofty height as an expert in spiritual matters.  It was different when he finally met his guru and master, Rama.

         What caught me was not so much V.G.’s reverence and devotion to Rama, but that phrase V.G. had used—‘seeing the Face of God’.  I was already running into deities or godforms within my meditations, despite my best attempts to avoid any encounter.  There existed a passionate love-hate relationship with these episodes.  I tried desperately to avoid encounters, only to be mesmerized and totally smitten, once caught up in the experience itself.

        To stand before a godform was awesome—painfully spellbinding, beautiful and terrifying.  There is nothing (no matter how one may idolize, worship or seek connection with person, place or experience in this world) that could compare with being in the presence of a deity.  It is as if—after a lifetime in a cold, damp cave—you suddenly stepped out into the intense heat of the blazing sun.  How glorious to be hit with the overwhelming sensation of heat wrapping its warmth about your entire being.  How desperately you embrace the sensation, acutely aware of delicious warmth sinking deeper and deeper into the cold reaches of your inner being.

        No, never could I give up the memory of such experiences.  Yet, I remember also reaching a point where the bone-chilling dampness of the cave had melted away, where the intensity of warmth became increasingly uncomfortable, when an overpowering desire arose to crawl back into the coolness of shade to rest.  Too much of a good thing brings its own pain.  Despite the initial ecstacy of stepping into the sunlight, only a fool would choose unlimited exposure to the sun’s burning rays.

         Even later, in the most congenial and gentle encounters, there would come a moment when the delight of being in the loving presence of a godform subsided, the human mind saturated by all it could manage of such blessings.  Then I would feel the burning desire to be far away, to not have my flaws so visibly exposed (truly, godforms never sat in judgement; the pain was my own awareness of the gulf that separated us).

       How sad, in retrospect, to remember the way I used to resign myself to meeting with godforms. The times were not of my choosing.  Various deities would begin appearing in my meditations, would make themselves available when I reached out to them.  During these rare moments in my life, it was easy to connect with godforms, though I was conscious that the timing of when these moments might occur remained beyond my control.  The encounters would help me past specific stumbling blocks, would turn my attention to unexpected but necessary departures from a traditional spiritual path.  In these time periods I could seek out a godform because of the burning need inside myself to find deeper truths.  I remained on guard because one could never tell when there might be a price to be paid for answers given.

        Never would I seek out a godform to prove I could do it. If someone were to ask, "Could you stand before Jesus or Shiva, Sekhmet or Tara," I would only stare at them.  What was I to say when I stood before the godform?  What excuse would I have for being in his or her presence, other than pride and ego of proving myself different from other humans?  I could think of no worse ordeal than standing before that patient and knowing gaze, aware that the deity could see the deepest motives in my heart.  Seeing a godform, standing before or interacting with a deity, was an awesome experience.  It was not the spiritual goal that I was seeking.

Posted on Friday, July 28, 2006 at 09:14AM by Registered CommenterThe Skeptical Mystic | CommentsPost a Comment

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