Mahasamadhi Retreat 2009: A Disciple’s Experience
Editors Note: The 2009 Mahasamadhi retreat was dedicated to Lord Shiva. The event focused on participants making 125,000 lingams from clay. (see video)
When the 2009 Mahasamadhi retreat began on Wednesday, I was incredibly tired. I had been working so hard for weeks before this event and by the time I arrived, I felt like I was in a stupor. I felt such heaviness in my body that I wondered how I’d make it through the retreat. My mood seemed to get worse as the first two and a half days of the retreat wore on and I couldn’t shake that heavy feeling in my body. Everything, including anything people said, seemed to annoy me. I kept thinking how on earth would we ever make all these Shiva lingams and accomplish the many other myriad tasks in time for the puja on Friday.
I wondered more and more why I thought this was a good idea: coming to the retreat (I wanted to leave), staying at the retreat, and having decided to move to Antioch to be near Ma and DYC.
It was comforting to repeat “Om Namah Shivaya” over and over as I worked on the Shiva lingams, but other than that, I felt pushed to my limits and didn’t feel that I was meeting the challenges with any grace at all. From Wednesday until Friday with all of this dark and ceaseless agitation cycling around my mind, I felt like I just wanted to go home, to go off on my own.
On top of all this I felt very removed from Ma, not something I’d felt at other retreats. It seemed as if she were in a dream state and later my husband reminded me that she was probably doing all kinds of work on the subtle planes with all of us there.
This mental ‘stew’ of mine went on for most of the day, then finally as we were approaching our goal number of lingams, my mood started lightening.
At one point I asked the women around me if it had gotten very hot and they all replied “no”. But I just kept heating up and heating up. I recall that during a satsang at a past retreat with Ma I asked about the difference between the heat of the kundalini rising and the heat of hot flashes. The simple answer was that the sensation of kundalini is a pleasant one.
In the six years since I’ve had shaktipat, I have never experienced heat like that. I remember reading in Guruji’s instructions after shaktipat that, if you experience heat after shaktipat and during the Bhut Shuddhi anusthan, to just drink some warm milk with a bit of ghee but I’d never had to do that. Since I’d started into menopause just about the time I had shaktipat, the only heat I’d had to deal with, prior to this retreat, was from hot flashes.
Throughout most of Friday that dry and potent heat continued to build in me. At the same time the uncomfortable heaviness remained, making it hard to sit up in meditation or during the pujas.
Even though all sorts of fears started coming up, at the same time another part of me was deeply engaged in the pujas, loving the offerings to Shiva. I felt blessed though the heat continued to build and I continued to fidget through it all. I started feeling tremendous gratitude for the privilege of being a part of this group, of being near Ma while her whole family was gathered around to participate in these beautiful ceremonies.
That entire evening I felt as though I were on fire and I realized it was totally different from hot flashes. It was pleasurable, as though great changes and movement, a kind of major shifting were taking place within me. My mind started to quiet down a bit finally. My body felt lighter and I began to feel as if I were being filled with love and awe. Joy started creeping in where heaviness and doubts had been just a few hours before. I felt such gratitude even though some discomforts and confused thoughts continued. All the while, the heat continued.
On Saturday morning, after two hours of sleep, I had the most intense and rewarding meditation I’ve ever had. A CD of Tibetan bowls and bells played along with Guruji’s mantrochar, and I started to “go out” to a place Iʼve never been. My mind started to quiet down. At the beginning of the meditation, an intense, almost painful, sensation pierced my temple, as though a laser beam of bright light were racing toward me. I realized as I kept my eyes closed that it was coming from Guruji’s murti (statue), I was sitting at just the right angle for his energy to penetrate me there. I felt as if that light was penetrating my ‘thick skull,’ so to speak. The intense sensation in my temple eased up as I realized what it was and the fear dissipated completely.
It was soon after that experience that I began to feel much lighter and it was easier for me to actually sit up straight. The heaviness was dropping away completely! I felt light! I felt lit up.
Still in meditation, I saw lovely images of a huge winged snake made of a beautifully colored pattern. It danced away from the Shiva lingam in the front of the hall, came toward me and then went right into me through my heart, up my spine and out again dancing back toward the front of the room. Soon after the piercing light and the snake images, my mind just completely quieted down, which was a first for me.
Still in meditation, I saw lovely images of a huge winged snake made of a beautifully colored pattern. It danced away from the Shiva lingam in the front of the hall, came toward me and then went right into me through my heart, up my spine and out again dancing back toward the front of the room. Soon after the piercing light and the snake images, my mind just completely quieted down, which was a first for me. I stopped feeling my body and I stopped thinking about anything at all. The hour-long meditation seemed to go by in five minutes.
Later we had a ‘birthday party’ for Pravinji, Ma’s dad, who had just turned seventy-five. There was so much love in the room and the talks Ma & Bapuji gave about Pravinji were so filled with grace and love. As I sat there watching the family all around Ma I felt so much love flowing out from them filling up the whole room.
I rejoiced in this feeling of love and connection and felt recharged. I wondered again at how blessed I was to be a part of this. I felt my doubts dropping away and realized how thoroughly Shiva had worked with me at such a deep level to help me clear obstacles toward my soul’s evolution, the main obstacle for me of course being one of faith.
By the final mediation on Sunday, I felt renewed. I knew then and know now that I will never be the same. What a demonstration of working to destroy the ego! No doubt, there’ll be more of that to come, but I am so grateful to have started chipping away at this hard blockhead (so to speak!)
But the most precious gift I received at this retreat, was finding my faith, something I’ve struggled with my entire fifty-six years. I was struck once by something Dileepji said about faith. He told us that Guruji always said that faith has to be blind because if it’s not blind, it’s not faith.
Sita Ram! Jai Gurudev!