Thursday, August 20, 2009

My Spiritual Community

I know, I know
Here I am, having just finished Cults I have known, and insulting others, then saying, no, I didn't start one myself.
The fact is I'm a solitary being, and much more amenable to living in a cave with a few necessities (and my books of course)
So here I am, a teen, knowing my purpose was to serve. I wasn't shy, quite the opposite, but I was reserved. But when it came to talking, to helping people, I was a gabby one.
Spirit suggested I study Palmistry and Astrology to understand my visions. I did, then was a counselor at age 16. Not fortune telling, but, discussing future possibilities with my friends in college and University. And I was struck by how lonely people were, and would be.
At age 20, I was teaching meditation, and what we had was not a group, or a cult, but a healing community. Most were ex-followers of Guru Maharaji, funnily enough. But there were people from the Process, and Hare Krishna. Seeing the damage done to these spiritual seekers was a confirmation of what I had already observed first hand at their gatherings, and was where I said I wouldn't follow that path. I'm glad too that I didn't. One thing I knew from my parents, from myself: don't misuse your gifts, you can do great good, or great evil.
So I followed the spiritual path in the 70's, put it on hiatus in the 80's as I worked on health and spiritual crisis issues: how much could I tell people what I saw about them and the future? Even in trying to help them could I not do harm? Answer: keep your mouth shut.
Then it was time to change again and I quit my job in the 90's and started full time healing and counselling, and the first thing people asked, was when would I start teaching? And it seemed so natural, and I started with what I knew about the chakras, except, they were also doorways into the void, a pathway to God. And yes it seemed natural I should once again teach meditation. I call it Living Meditation. It's not something one does, it's the space one is in. A space one can always be inside.
Many asked, did this mean they should divorce their husbands and move in with me? And I said No! Yet it seemed they were asking about community, and so, I started one. I think we were all feeling our way through this but it was a wonderful experience, nevertheless.
So I asked a group of my students if they would like to start a spiritual community with me. We would share a large home, and I would teach them to heal, and hold regular meditations. There were 4 women and three men in the end, including me. As soon as I said, this isn't going to be a sex cult, the two men left. They said I was too controlling! :)
The women, it turned out later, had drawn lots to see which nights they would spend with me, but I was already committed to Chloe. Sorry, ladies.
It was a large house in Toronto, with a huge meditation space, and up to 50 people were coming regularly every week on Thursdays for Meditation Night. We ALL took turns washing the bathroom and floors, and cooking as well, though it turned out Chloe and I were more, er, domestic.
Over the course of a year we became quite well known in Toronto, and several thousand people came to our healings, meditations and workshops (We all had our space to do our thing)
Aruna was born in that house, and it was, for one perfect year, a vibrant community, where miracles took place.
It was in this house that the idea of discipleship came to me. The step after being a student was to be a disciple. It was a choice, and it was a test, for me and them. I know I made it difficult, but the fact is, it was difficult for me too. I didn't want people who weren't ready. Then, as soon as the center was successful, I shut it down, to go on A Spiritual Journey to the United States
where I went from one city to another, and saw many times more people than I had in Canada.
Truly, they were in great need of healing, and even more so today, but not, until one person shows me the faith I ask for.
I came back to Canada, gathered the disciples again, then moved to Europe for several months. While there, there was a split within the group, and when I came back, had to start again. I reflected on that, and want to share with you.
I know I'm not an easy person to be with. That I can read what's inside you is not easy, for you or for me. If I test you, I test myself even more. And above all I ask, if I acted with integrity and truth. That we split, was neither your fault nor mine. But in the end, I gave you the choice of freedom, and thank you, all of you, my absent friends, for what you did for me and my family. I may have given much, but, I also received much.
So on the one hand, I was free to follow my own direction than worry about my responsibility to them. On the other hand, I didn't have the support system any more. But oh the freedom!
One early morning, in Hungary 1996. I am in a valley watching hundreds of men, women, and children walk down to us from villages all around, to see the healer from afar, and I was filled with love for our common humanity. We went to 10 different countries in four months, and again, I helped thousands. We saw real models of community living, in European villages, than I ever created in the hothouse atmosphere of a spiritual group. But the fact is, both models are valid.
We arrived back in Canada with 5 dollars in our pocket. I started again, and learned how to ask for help, much as I didn't know how. From 2000 on, I gathered many more students and disciples. They helped me, and I them. I travelled all over again, and met so many more, and this was the most exciting time of my life. And what I learned, I share with you. But I will not lose sight...
I know my goal. I will help you with yours. But I will tell you what I expect, instead of leaving it to whim. I have now reached millions of people through my websites and writing. My community is the people I met, my followers the ones I helped, and the ones who helped me. Neither temple nor ashram shall be my home...

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Cults I have known

The Process Church of the Final Judgment

Toronto was an interesting place in 1970.

I taught meditation, and met many colorful groups: hippies and American draft dodgers, saffron garbed Krishna devotees, and, people in dark Harry Potter robes with embroidered patches of oh yeah, Satan on the one side and silver crosses and the swastika like P logo on the other, belonging to the Process Church of the Final Judgment. I made many friends, and got to know them well, and in the end I could either join the Process "there's this (18 year old) girl who really, really, likes you" or Hare Krishna "here's a tambourine and you can chant all day" I choose neither, of course. My path was not so simple.

The Krishna Consciousness movement was a microcosm of every thing wrong with the ‘Indian guru goes to America and does well’ aspect of the New Age movement and it was, unfortunately, a cult. The focus on raising money, the sexual improprieties and abuse, unbalanced diet and conditions designed to keep people in a state of fatigue and more easily open to suggestion. It fell apart after the death of its founder Swami Prabhupada as his disciples fought amongst themselves.

I know that Swami Prabhupada was motivated by the purpose of bringing Krishna Consciousness to the world. I know he helped many people. I know he was not aware of the abuse, and did not condone it; the allegations came out after his death. They were also true, as several insiders confirmed to me. But that isn’t my point, which is that a focus on matters outside of this world can lead only to imbalances within this one, as I have seen over and over again in all sorts of groups and movements.

The Process Church was even more interesting, read the article and links at:

Led by Robert de Grimston and his wife Mary Anne MacLean, they were a splinter group from Scientology. In 1966, they retreated from the world to Xtul, in the Yucatan peninsula. There, with the aid of various stimuli and psychedelia, they channeled God, aka Jehovah, then, the later aspects Christ, Lucifer and Satan, and stated we all vibrate according to one or the other aspect, and we must eventually integrate all four. They were much perturbed when I said I already integrated all four :) I was a young whippersnapper then.

Having been born out of the various psychoanalytical therapy movements of the 60’s, the Process was widely influential with Rock Stars and in the counter culture movement. The Process eventually fell apart when it turned out they had some connection with multiple killers Charles Manson and Sam Berkowitz, the son of Sam.

I found it interesting they had a secret, undisclosed belief in long ago UFO’s visiting Earth based on the writings of Brinsley Le Poer Trench,,_8th_Earl_of_Clancarty and and that their
ideology had some resemblance with mine. But I saw also elements of manipulation and control I would never be able to live with.

Yet, for all they might truly believe in an apocalyptical world and that Charles Manson was a sign of the end times, but, there was something beautiful there too, in that even if they got Satan all wrong, they still got God, somewhat right.

Robert de Grimston, Process Church of the Final Judgment.

Yeow! The reading is a riff on War, and yes it should be read in full, great poetry cannot be summarised but read in its entirety.
But here's the conclusion:

"1.15 Humanity as a whole will not rise above its conflicts. Even if it were to do so it would still destroy all the physical, social and moral structures which it has created, because it would see their total invalidity. But it will not; so the destruction will take place in a chaos and confusion of ignorance, with the vast majority still clinging desperately to their hollow materialistic dreams, even in the depths of their final despair; whilst the few who do rise above the conflicts, will stand aside, separated from the mass, united not within but without the man-made structures of the human game, and linked to a new reality founded not on the laws of men but on the Laws of GOD."

The Process Church reinvented itself as the New Ager Foundation Faith of the Millennium, then as one of America’s most well known Animal Rescue services, the Best Friends Animal Society based in Utah. It pleases me to know that my old friends Brothers Micah and Michael, and Mother Ophelia, who sought so hard in the 60’s and the 70’s to create a better new world, now serve our animal friends. (They were the organization that went in and rescued many animals from New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, and if they ignored the humans, at least they did good, nevertheless)

I lived through tumultuous times and saw how hard people tried to change the corrupt society they lived in. The assassinations of JFK, RFK, Martin Luther King Jr. and John Lennon, the Vietnam War, Kent State and anti-war movement, Che Guevara’s execution, the 1966-68 student riots, the music, the films. We were the idealistic generation, and if some choose to drop out and explore the possibility of a beautiful spiritual alternative, then more power to them.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

My Gay Friend

M Everyone in school thought I was gay. The funny thing was, I wasn't.

The funny thing was, that in a hypersexualised school where horny 14 year old teenagers actually dragged a donkey into a dorm and attempted a really unnatural act I was the one considered to be er, different.

The fact is that I have had many gay friends, and through them I have learned many lessons about healing, compassion, and sexuality.

Yet it was still interesting that I had so many encounters with gay people. At college, my best friend came on to me, and maybe it was my extreme sexual naiveté and maybe it was just my own inner self protection that told me this wasn't my choice, but it took me many years to realise my best friend was gay.

Such things were not unknown in Pakistan; at college there were many young men who had lovers (the others would peek through the windows and watch) and many of them went on to marry and have children. But my best friend was, and remains, gay.

Now I've seen this in many Islamic countries, even in Iran. As long as the person is discreet, you usually are left alone. My friend, being part of the elite, had an added layer of protection. In Iran, homosexuality is a capital crime, and in Pakistan punishable by a hundred lashes (though many charges it seems are politically or financially motivated) but my deepest sadness would be the nonacceptance of these men and women by their family or society.

You see, God doesn't discriminate against gays, nor does God love them any less than the rest of his creation. This is one thing I hold against all religions, their artificial rules and control of self-ruling people's sexuality.

The thing is, God gave humanity free choice. And if people choose to be gay, bless them. When my Muslim father said a hurricane in Halifax was God's punishment for a Gay Pride parade in Toronto I asked whether God couldn't get directions to Toronto and when a Christian pastor said God punished the US for its homosexuals I said Hurricane Katrina was a result of the imbalance in the earth and not God's punishment (though the US has its own, terrible karma, which has nothing to do with sexual morality, it still has ONE last chance to change-they must follow me)

Though to be absolutely honest, I do think man and woman is the natural order of things because of the yin yang flow of energy, but that does not take away your freedom of choice.

I have noted there are three areas in which our karma can be primarily manifested:

1. Our relationships.
2. The society and culture we are born into.
3. Being born as a man or a woman.

So what if those who were men in a previous life were born as women, and women, men?
What if we were confused about our sexuality because we were men in women's bodies and women in men's bodies? Is that our fault? No it isn't, we may or may not be predisposed, and it's not a genetic fault, or a disease that needs to be 'cured' or 'worked through'. It's a part of our healing journey, and that's the only way it can be approached. It doesn't matter what choice you make, as long as you're at peace with your choice. And if I talk about the balance between the male and female energy, then how you express it is, entirely up to you.

So here I am in Toronto in 1970 and I'm getting a come on from women and men. A man comes out of an elevator and kisses me, a complete stranger, full on the lips. Cool. Would I like a coffee? Sure. We chat. Would I like to go to his home? Not wishing to mislead him, I said, "just to let you know, I'm not homosexual" (gay wasn't used then)

A spiritualist reverend (another friend) asks if I'd like to have sex with him "you'll really like it". I decline and read his palm "You'll be married and have a son when you're 30" He did.

Maybe my male female vibe confused people. Maybe it was my natural friendliness :) And I was now becoming really really heterosexual ;) so nothing much happened for a while, till I began to commit to my healing work.

The AIDS epidemic really frightened a lot of people. I volunteered my time at an AIDS clinic, and when they couldn't get around to setting up a schedule, I visited patients at home. Even those with full blown AIDS actually got better. Btw, AIDS is a man made virus, designed to target certain populations. I knew this psychically and spiritually, but when I confirmed this with my own research and through my activist friends, this filled me with a rage that I still feel to this day. And I don't like this retroviral crap or criminal organisation called Big Pharma either.

There was a young man named Daniel who came to our clinic. He'd already been helped with a macrobiotic diet and through the spiritual healing became really well. He came to all the weekly meditations and workshops and was the sweetest person. When Aruna was born he held her for such a long time and I could see how much he wanted to be a father. In his family only his sister accepted and defended him, so we were his extended family.

When we moved to the U.S., without the regular treatments, he became ill. He passed away after a year, and we never found out until we returned. He forgave his family at the end, and he's at peace now, but he didn't die of AIDS, he died of a broken heart. How could any parent deny their own child; how could any deity deny his own creation?

I make clear that in healing one helps the body heal, the mind to be at peace, the spirit to be free. It isn't my place to tell people what they should or should not be or do. If they ask for help in anything, I do so as a neutral party. If it had been in Daniel's karma to be who he was, that was fine. If he wanted to at least have a family of his own that would have been great. If he'd asked me to officiate at his marriage then I would have, because who was I to deny we can not control who we love, to someone who had shown me such faith?

Because it is possible to love any and all beings. Because even if I did not love my friends that way, I loved them still. My male, female, tran gendered friends, to let them know that God would love them always.

I had to decide between two movie posters for this article, My Beautiful Launderette, and Wilde. Wilde, then, because I'd played Ernest in a school play. Both great movies about human love. I also recommend Touch of Pink, and eventually I suppose I'll see Brokeback Mountain, even though I thought at first it might be too Hollywoody :)