Thursday, April 26, 2012

Pre-Operative Meditation

       In a few days, on May 2, for a few hours, I will be going under the bright lights of an operating theatre in the hospital near where I live. Naturally, I’m scared. Fortunately, I have the best possible team of surgeons and healers, well-prepared to replace a faulty valve in this sixty-five year-old heart. I’m kind of amazed at the number of people we know who’ve had this or another heart surgery. So, it’s comforting to see that our survival and recovery statistics are quite high. But, it’s also frightening that we are so many.
      This week I have received many kind wishes and promises that prayers will be offered for me. I thank everyone for prayers, good will and positive energy. I would like to ask that you also offer a word of prayer and blessing for the pig whose life is sacrificed for my sake. I hope he or she had a good life and was spared the suffering of a slaughterhouse. Unless you’ve spent some time with pigs, you probably don’t realize how intelligent and gentle they are. And, pigs have a long history as the sacred property of the Goddess and her priestesses. The pig is the animal associated with Virgo, my birth sign, as it happens.
      I am keenly aware that this procedure is extreme. And I recognize without it, a major stroke or heart attack is likely, soon. As with much in medical science, there’s a critical threshold number for cardiac efficiency, measured as the “ejection fraction.” My heart has crossed into the danger zone. Admittedly, cigarettes have likely hastened the process, but let’s hold addiction for another time.   
     What I want to say has to do with praying, something I’ve been intrigued with ever since I realized that my Christian classmates prayed to Jesus, a Jewish rabbi, but I prayed to God because I was Jewish. This was confusing because we seemed to pray for the same things, but in different ways. I prayed for my Grandmother when she was sick. I prayed for good grades. I prayed for victory in the next game. Some prayers were answered, from time to time. Basically, it seemed to me, prayers were like magic spells you said to make your wishes come true. Although I prayed for the war in Vietnam to end and that my draft number might be very high, neither came to pass. At that point, I stopped to take a look at “Prayer” as a research topic. I think Jim Fadiman was a visiting faculty at Irvine, and he agreed to sign off on my “Independent Study.” Maybe it was Joe Hart….
    Anyway, over the next four years I read hundreds of prayers, ancient and contemporary, learned various chants and forms of incantation. I devoured Castaneda, Traherne, Yogananda, Black Elk, Ram Dass, The Imitation, St Francis, St Julian, The Prophet, Kabir, Rumi, The Way of the Pilgrim… I prayed and fasted and went into the mountains and the desert. In the end, of course, I gave up. I surrendered. I was forced to accept that I could go no further on this path without a guide. My ultimate prayer: Help!
     Some weeks later, I found myself in Tucson listening to some clean-cut guys talking about their 13 year-old Perfect Master, Guru Maharaj Ji, and the Knowledge they had received. The experience they described seemed impossible, but I felt I had to check it out. I posed the question to myself, “If I were living in Palestine 2000 years ago, fighting the imperialist Roman occupation, and Jesus happened to pass through town, would I have recognized him? And how would I know Who he was?”
     It seemed remote, but I went ahead and asked to receive Knowledge. The experience was more beautiful, more extraordinary than words could ever describe. That happened forty years ago, May 2, 1972. Guru Maharaj ji and Knowledge continue to be the heart, core, anchor, compass, foundation of this existence for me. He is my Teacher. He has shown me what reality is. He has shown me what I truly am. This is the perfect knowledge of the self.
     But, don’t take my word. See for yourself.
     I understand that this life is a gift. Each breath is a blessing. Each day I am here is truly miraculous. When I pray to my Lord, all I can say is, “Thank You. Thank You, Lord, for everything, for this life, these friends and family, these loved ones, these treasured days on Earth with you.”
Eagle Rock
26 April 2012 

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