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Comments on Chris Boys - in India Trip Notes
by Chris Boys
Many things have been happening my good friend. It is a gift to have a spiritual brother like yourself to write to. I am not sure where I left off in my last email. Right now, I am writing you from Pondicherry, a little city on the coast. I am staying in a beautiful guesthouse (small hotel) that is associated with Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. It costs a dollar a night and is the nicest hotel I have stayed in India. I came here to have a dentist look at my tooth.
I had the tooth worked on my last year in the BOP. The dentist told me it was sort of "iffy". He put a rather complicate filling in it. Maybe a week or so ago part of the filling fell out. I don't think I noticed it though until one night the tooth began to hurt. It was slightly loose too. I went to the local dentist in Tiru to get it pulled. I figured it was loose; it had been worked on too many times; it hurt etc. Just pull it. But then the Great One gave me His gift. The dentist shot me up three times with Novocain, but no go. He couldn't pull it – too much pain. Plus he was a rather crude fellow (later I was warned by everyone not to go to him). He used the needle like a butcher. The whole side of my face swelled up like a baseball. Plus he dug around in the tooth a good deal and traumatized it.
The pain was already pretty severe when I went to him. By the time I got home, I intuited dire straits. Within a half an hour, I thought, "Well, this is the end. My head is just going to explode and my brains will be all over the wall." I was terrified. What to do? So I took out a sheet of paper and did Byron Katie's Work. I did a run through on the tooth and my thinking. I made it through the six statements and the four inquires (questions). By the time I was through, I was not reacting quite so much. I was able to stay closer to the pain.
Immediately I came up against a bigger issue-the Tarot cards. I don't know if I have ever told you of the Tarot cards. When I was eighteen, about four months before the pressure, panic (and confusion!) began; Yatendra (Dennis Harty) and I went to a Tarot card reader. He threw the cards for me, but then after a quick look, he picked them up, reshuffled them, threw them again, and gave me a reading (of which I can remember absolutely nothing). Afterwards, I asked him," How come you picked up the first set of cards and reshuffled them?" He said, "Oh, those cards weren't right." I asked, "What do you mean they were not right?" He said, "Well, I am a Tarot card reader and I know the cards, and those cards couldn't have been right." Then I asked him real straight: "Dude, what was in those cards?" He answered, "Well, as far as I could see those cards were the worst destiny a human being could have." He said something like that. Anyway, over the years that reading has bothered me more and more. I mean, I didn't obsess about it all the time, but sometimes when things were real hard (and often things have been real hard), I would remember and feel bad, weighted down by the implication. So after the run through on the tooth, I picked up paper and pen and did the Work on the Tarot cards. I started with the first statement:
l) I am afraid of the Tarot Card reading because I do not want to live out that destiny because it is a bad destiny.
I didn't even complete the other five statements. I was in so much pain and urgency, I inquired immediately about the above statement. I started with:
"Is it true?"
Quickly I understood:
"No, it is not true that the destiny is bad, because there is only God. So whatever comes up is perfect in God."
I had a bit of a release – even a slight mental picture along the lines of: "Yeah, bring it on baby; it is only God." Now of course, I was already hovering next to the little nuclear reactor that was my tooth (and the whole side of my face). I quickly made the
connection: “The pain is only God too."
Then it happened. The pain changed, smooth and fast. First it went through a sort of gray zone. I knew it directly as consciousness. Then there was pleasure, and then overwhelming joy and bliss. The bliss began to pour out of my tooth. My tooth was a fountain of bliss! I began to make noises like a woman making love. God, it was so beautiful. More and more. A river of the divine had sprouted in my jaw. This went on for maybe ten minutes and then I hit the next biggy – the force in my back began to make itself known. But I just said: "Ah, and that too is only God."
I was able to relax into the force. Or at least accept it bodily. Not know anything about it, except that it was obviously God. My whole body was expanding and filling with God.
After another ten minutes light began to appear in my third eye area – sort of a vortex of condensing light, silver and with traces of blue. Then I hit the "wall." There was an urge – a bit of a demand even – to sit up straight. I inquired if this was true, and I kept coming up against that perhaps it was true. But I couldn't sit up straight. I basically can never sit up straight easily because of my hernias and the pain and blah blah blah. So I had to hang out in the nether lands for a while. But it was all still very good. I looked out my door at the breeze and the afternoon sunlight in the trees. I felt diffuse and continuous with it all, and I knew that all was God. After about an hour, the experience trailed off. The force was still "unresolved" in my back. But the tooth was much relieved.
So by the next day I thought I was over the hump. I decided to just take it easy and let the swelling and trauma come down and then come to Pondicherry to see an Indian woman dentist who was highly recommended to me. But the Great one still had gifts to give me (thank you God). After maybe three days, the swelling began again and the tooth was like an open nerve to the air. Of course, all this was much complicated by the great pressure that is always in my back and pushing into my head (or most often doing these things). One morning, I spent like four hours alone with the pain. There was no "space" – to breathe or think (not even a single thought) without more pain. I could only feel the pain. I couldn't sit or lie still. I had to walk around slowly and rock side to side while holding the bed.
The day before, I had done a two-hour session with my friend Shiva on the Work. It was such a gift Rich. I started out with a statement something like: "I hate that pencil-necked nigger in prison who turned on me one day, even though I was basically his only white friend and treated him excellently." But within fifteen minutes, I was with myself (at last) just weeping sweet tears of love and pain and loss and love. I was heartbroken and it was good. Shiva said the sweetest things. My understanding opened to vistas I had never granted myself before. We both wept softly for most of the session. But now, the next day, to be in such pain again; well, somehow I couldn't find the wherewithal to do the Work.
I ate some food and had a cigarette and wanted to die. I ended up stumbling over to Manju's place to see if she could give me a Reiki treatment. But she was asleep with a lady friend who had been sick during the night and whom she was caring for (Even in pain I was not so blinded that I didn't notice Manju in her night gown – quite a treasure). So then I stumbled up to see Ram, the local enlightened American. We sat on his roof in the shade and looked at the mountain. He has a beautiful view of Arunachala, and it seemed to float in the afternoon light.
He read from his autobiography (soon to be published) of the day he became enlightened. It was a very well written, captivating chapter. I only wanted to hear of God and such things. Conventionally, I guess I could be described as a "mess" at that point. My eyes were sunken in pain. My face was swollen, and I had an ashen complexion. I could barely remain in relation with the man.
Then Ram began to rag on people and various popular Gurus (he has a weird habit that way). And too, he began to frighten me with his language – saying how bad I looked and how I should see a dentist pronto. It's funny how some people with so much "wisdom" will end up terrorizing you with their language. I rarely do such things myself (at least to others I don't.). My suffering has granted me a sort of "talent" that way. Just to be with people when they hurt, and they feel safe. But Ram did tell me of this guy who had a digest of all the drugs available in India. I stumbled down to this guy, wrote down the names of the heaviest painkillers and caught a scooter taxi into town to see a doctor. I went and got the painkillers and antibiotics, a bottle of whiskey, and some valiums, gulped a few of everything and went home. But my "friend" would not be refused.
The pain and pressure kept building. I went out on my porch in the afternoon and began to rock back and forth (and to moan and weep a bit). I couldn't do the work in a written form, but I began to inquire. I used Katie’s two questions:
1) Is it true?
2) Can I really know that it is true?
And I remembered my lesson from Whitefield – to be kind to myself and to all the processes within me. I was able to bring to myself what I bring to others. I inquired with kindness and love.
There were many frantic thoughts. Katie says to ask from the head to the heart; so I found myself gazing and feeling down to the heart (or to an area by the heart but perhaps somewhat lower and in front to the body. There seemed to be a soft space there). I had a lot of thoughts about my birth. You see, the pain had gone up into all parts of my skull (I even felt a bone in my forehead "pop" as it moved out from the front of my skull). Everything was being pushed around a good deal! So I thought that the pain was on top of the primal pain of birth (I have had quite a few experiences the last couple of years of the bones in my skull moving around, often associated with birth or with the Kundalini). But I kept inquiring: "Can I really know that it is true?"
Gradually I understood: "All I can know is that these things are arising now." In other words, the whole mechanics of history – cause and effect and logic and "making sense" of things was completely undermined by the inquiry. I was greatly aided in coming to this understanding by having read Adi Da. And too, at this time I began to stop breathing. A great contraction was occurring in my body. I felt perhaps I might die. But again, because of having read The Knee of Listening, this was not a problem. I thought: "Perhaps I will die, perhaps I am dying. Oh, but that is okay."
Rich, I felt I was being drawn by Grace to the place I had always wanted to be – dying – death of the body, the mind, ignorance. And all I had to do was inquire. It was a sort of perfection. Inquiry kept undermining all the boundaries – all the mental, emotional (and psychiatric) boundaries. The inquiry finally settled on two things that kept arising – pain and death. And I noticed that I was adding something to the situation. That is, my mind was interpreting everything via the medium of language. Things were arising and I was calling them “pain, death, distress etc.”
I remember I was whispering to myself, "Go deep my friend; let us go deep into this." Then a space of real consciousness opened in front of me. It was a tangible vortex of consciousness from my heart rising up the front of my body to my head. I was able to inquire directly in consciousness. At this point, inquiry had already become very easy. And now I knew something beyond doubt – that I loved God. I mean, half the time I have no affinity for sadhana or even thinking of liberation. What is that quality they say a sadhak must have – mumukshutva, ‘burning desire for liberation"? I have known that quality is not true of me, and yet I have also known that God has made me interested in liberation and spiritual life. But now I knew. There was no doubt. I was slightly surprised and happy as I noticed that in this space I was loving God truly. And God had even created this space. Somehow I was in it, but the ego had not created it. That was another way that it was an “easy” space. There was no effort and my heart’s desire had been revealed in Truth.
I asked: "Is it true that it is pain?"
Gradually things reversed and again they passed through a gray zone, then into pure consciousness, and the pain disappeared. The heart had answered – there is only God. I began to become ecstatic. My head was lifted up somewhat and I wept and wept that there is only God. So much was understood. The ways of Ramana and Adi Da were being fused under the force of Katie’s inquiry.
Then I began to intuit that I would see the Divine Person. I have had this vision (though only in a partial from) twice in my life. The last time was three months ago while riding my bike around Arunachala. The sky opened in a great presence of consciousness. I had to stop riding my bike and pull off to the side of the road and marvel at the presence of God. Only now I was so deep in the very force of understanding, I felt I would go into a deep samadhi and perhaps fall. I remembered how Ramakrishna used to fall and how his disciples would watch him and hold him up so that he did not hurt himself physically. Also, two months ago while walking around the Mother's shrine at Ramanashram, I had an ecstasy wherein my skull was being opened to God and I felt I would fall. The thought of falling nagged at me. Ha! What humor in retrospect – Only God, but God has this little problem. I inquired deeply about all this, but it seemed that perhaps it was true – that I would fall.
I decided to find a friend and ask him to watch me and see that I didn't fall. I found him quickly on the way to his house. By this time I was weeping openly, even sobbing violently. The sheer kinetic force of the release of the pain was so powerful. I explained to my friend what was happening and asked him to watch me, and he agreed. But when we got his house he tried to help me. Another little joke of the Lord.
This fellow and his lady are very beautiful people – long time students of Osho and of Papaji. But he couldn't seem to get that all he had to do was sit and watch me. Instead their hearts went out to me, and so they touched me and held me. He even began to play his guitar and talk to me and give me advice. The whole scene got sort of confusing, and I lost the thread. Eventually after maybe twenty minutes, I just thanked them and left. I went home and came back to the body (a harrowing journey). I used all the knowledge I had learned from Anna Murphy and managed to "land" in the body to some degree, though it was sizzling with the after effects of the pain, and every bone in my skull was naked and open to the world.
I remember that while I was walking back to my flat I kept thinking of Ramana, Adi Da, and Byron Katie. I looked at the mountain. I thought that I had been blessed beyond all words to have come under the influence of three of the greatest beings who have ever lived and there at the foot of the sacred mountain. I wept and wept and thanked God for his gifts.
The next two days were not fun. The pain just up and kicked my ass good. A butt whipping that put me on my knees. Back to zero. Fuck it all. I got on the train to Pondicherry.
Then I met Ella. I met Ella at the train station in the early morning. We decided to share a booth. God knows how I must have looked to her. I was loaded to the gills with valium and painkillers. I had a goofy rag wrapped around my jaw, a wool cap on my head. I think perhaps I looked a bit like Montgomery Cliff from The Misfits, Jack Nicholson from One Flew Over the Cookoos Nest, with a little bit of Omar Sharif from Dr. Zhivago when he comes in out of the snow.
But I wasn't in too much pain, and I had slept a bit the night before. So my natural gift of conversation took over. Ella and I shared a lovely three-hour train ride. She is about 38 years old, a pretty Swiss gal (now living in France). She is intelligent, impossibly sweet and gentle, and also happy (though in a fragile sort of way). She seemed to warm to me (and I to her). She is a student of Swami Premananda. She told me of her Master, and I remembered that I had heard something of him.
Premananda is from Sri Lanka originally, but he left there perhaps ten years ago to come to India. The political scene in Sri Lanka is very bad. Basically, there has been a vicious guerrilla war going on for like fifteen years. Anyway, they burned down Premananda's ashram and tried to assassinate him. He is like Sai Baba (even looks like him, though younger and stouter). He does all those incredible things that Baba does. Anyway, Ella came to India ten years ago and lived in his ashram. She eventually became a fairly big administrator in the ashram. Then one of Premananda's lieutenants decided he would like to run the show – to be the man. This guy was very connected in Tamil Nadu and had a ton of money. He ended up engineering this criminal case against Premananda. Premananda was convicted and got two life sentences! It's true.
Ella told me of how she testified in the case. It went before a judge who was in cahoots with the prosecutor (the corruption in India is off the scale). The whole thing was very difficult for her. But not for her guru. He was happy throughout, she said. She has only returned to India for the first time in three years, but now she is happy and even humorous about the whole thing. The case is on appeal, but her teacher is in prison and doing all types of cool things with the inmates there, etc.
Anyway, on the train ride we told each other of our adventures. Somehow, I sang her a couple of ballads (softly) that she greatly enjoyed. I had been working on These Foolish Things by Sinatra for a week. I love that song and have it wired. It is such as smooth, sensual and lovely ballad (Do you know how it begins? “…A cigarette that bears a lipstick's traces..."). We got to Pondy, and we both knew of Garden Guest House and decided to stay there.
I went off to the dentist who prescribed a regime of antibiotics, mouth rinses etc. I had already swore myself to a liquid die – -basically a fast. I began to sleep better. It is seven days now and the swelling is much reduced. I go back to see the dentist in another four days. I'll probably go back to Tiru today (22 rupees – 50 cents – for a hundred mile train ride, cool huh?). I will go back because I can live cheaper there, plus I want to do more of the Work with Shiva.
As I got better, Ella got sick – a fever and headache (she often gets them in India she says). So I took care of her some. I massaged her neck and head one night. She liked that. I sang to her many songs (very softly), which she also liked. We talked a bit. Basically I was just there for her. We shared a lovely intimacy. I have no desire for this woman, even though she is very pretty with a nice body too. Such a relief. Rich, I really need a break from desire. It hurts and crimps my style around the ladies. I can't be present and flow with the energy and heart space that is always already present, where there is natural love and intimacy. With Ella I was discovering a new way.
On Wednesday we traveled to see her teacher. He gives satsang to Europeans on Wednesday (from behind a wire cage). An interesting experience going back to the joint. Those Indian guards are really packing – nice automatic rifles with short barrels and big banana clips. The prison itself is an idyllic setting – typical rural India. The Europeans were mostly French; that is, they were all speaking French. Pondicherry is an old French city and there is beaucoup French spoken here (Pondy is also a nice clean city – no air pollution. A joy to stay here). There were about 20 or 30 of us for the satsang.
Premananda is full of energy and happy. But his teaching is like Sai Baba's – confusing. I was not attracted to him. Mostly I am interested in the Work of Byron Katie. I have done a few sessions now on my own, but still have not got the art of it down too well. I remember when I was in prison I couldn't do it at all. I would get halfway through a run through and then stumble around in a daze (and a rage!). But Shiva told me he had a similar experience when he began – finding himself after a half hour just sitting in his chair wondering where he had been, not knowing how to proceed. He told me of working in the intensive with Katie herself. My God, such grace. The woman is not of this world.
On the bus back from the prison (I came back early; Ella stayed for a personal talk with her teacher) I fell again into the heart-broken space and inquired. It was very good. Brother I do not know anything; least of all of how anything will turn out. Often I am a bit afraid. I find that when I am not in desperate straights I do not have any appetite for liberation or the Work or for anything. But this situation is not always the case, and I think that a new way is unfolding. And too, I remember what Arthur Janov said of primal therapy – that the body will accept and release the pain at it's own rate, that often there will be pauses for recuperation; so I am trying to accept these things. Accept everything and everyone and myself. In India, everyone I meet is only talking of God and love and liberation. There are many smiles and much laughter. So it is easy to move into relation – to bow at the shrines, sing the bhajans with friends, to talk of the Real. A wonderful gift.
The day I left Pondy to catch the train, Ella and I sat in her room. We held hands and whispered softly to each other of the gifts we had received in the last few days together. We both said how much we hoped we would meet again later in the year. The space was soft and full of love.
My only work in a conventional sense these days is the singing. I just come back to it naturally. Have you heard I Am Who You Are by Crane Kirkbride? It is a majestic song. He hits these incredible long high notes (evidently he once was trained in opera). Anyway, one night I decide to experiment with it. For 45 minutes I was working on it and laughing my head off! No way I could hit those notes. But the words were the way: “This is the heart. This is the heart of my confession. Be heart found by me, the only one who is. I am who you are. I am who you are. I am who you are. Be loved.” I had found the key. I just let myself go deeper and deeper into the heart region. Finally I let go completely into the heart – into the unknown. And I was hitting every note. My whole head and neck and throat opened up. Wonderful stuff. Eventually I had to stop, because with this toothache there was too much pressure on my left eye and the swelling in my jaw. But I was happy.
Like I told you, I have been reading Ross McDonald, the detective novelist (but now I have read all the books they have in the library here). He too has been a gift. His books are such finely crafted and painful journeys into the errors of our ways. But now I see him as a mythic writer. The entire world of our suffering is a myth. Just like Adi Da says – a schism in Reality. Now with the Work I can see things more clearly and inquire and undo this Maya. I am only beginning to understand the Work. Katie says we do not try and change the mind. Wonderful! Rather we just bring some love and understanding to the situation and then the mind begins to change and fall away of its own accord. The heart is present. She says no one has ever let go of anything – things let go of you.
Here are a couple more of my favorites of hers:
I am the perpetrator of my pain--but only all of it.
Don't attempt to pretend yourself beyond your evolution..
I am so busy thinking what you are thinking that I have lost my mind.
Anyway, I will buzz off now.
Take care and love, Christo
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