"If You're Thirsty,Drink!"
I was already deeply involved in the “Gurdjieff Work” and I had no interest in meeting this yogi, but agreed to attend a small, semi-private gathering with him when he was visiting some of his followers in Chicago. I had heard that he was an old Shaktipat yogi, a yogi that works with Kundalini, a powerful energy that can be awakened within us that leads to powerful experiences of mystical powers and spiritual bliss. I had heard that this yogi was not well known in spiritual and New-Age circles, and that he was the “real deal”.
As I mentioned, I was not interested, or even curious about the yogi, and I all but forgot about him, and never connected him to the strangeness I began to experience in my internal state during those days before the gathering. I was very emotional; I remember eating lunch in a little restaurant and being unable to control my own weeping—weeping neither tears of unhappiness nor happiness, but those cool tears of release and longing. I was not “under” my mood, as is often the case with the intensity of normal emotions, I was “above” my mood watching myself with myself.
This was sometime in the late 1970’s so my recollection of many of the details is a little sketchy. But, the “program” took place in a medium-size room in a neighborhood wellness center. There were perhaps no more than thirty to fifty people in attendance.
The yogi was introduced. He had the longest name I have ever heard and I don’t remember it. He was small of stature and looked like he could have been in his sixties, though something he mentioned to a friend of mine indicated that he was probably in his early to mid-eighties.
I had heard that he did not speak very much, and true to form, his remarks were brief and left no impression on me but for the fact that he said he was on the “sixth level” and could not advance further in the body he was now in. What he meant by the “sixth level” I really don’t know, but I assumed he was talking about the sixth plane of consciousness, the highest plane of illusion before God-realization.
The sixth plane is called Brahmaloke—the World of God. One whose consciousness is of the sixth plane sees God everywhere, in everyone and everything, even himself, but does not identify himself as God, still remaining identified with himself as mind.
He indicated that we were to meditate with him, which we did for about forty minutes. He gave no instructions and I engaged the practice of watching my breath and trying not to follow my thoughts. I experienced a powerful meditation—deep and silent—but did get distracted on two occasions, one when there was some noise—voices—coming from a closed door to an adjacent room that caused me to open my eyes to see the yogi stand up and take a step in the direction of the door. The voices immediately stopped. The other time I opened my eyes during the meditation—and I don’t know what prompted me to do so—I saw the yogi walk over to a young woman, a friend of mine, who was sitting in a very stiff formal posture and tell her to relax and not work so hard at her meditation.
The “young woman” of this story is none other than Dr. Dorothy Mead, the co-author of my most recent book, SuperVisions (available through our website, eladi-publications.com). She gave me permission to publish a few of her comments on her meeting with the yogi…
“Just read the blog and it made me giggle...because all I spontaneously remembered from the meditation was that I was tense, and that was pointed out to me. So I was very curious to see what you might have remembered...
“ I remember this yogi as being somewhat athletic (and bald) because it was such a contrast to the other yogi Bob B. had introduced us to, who had the flowing gray/black hair and somewhat fragile demeanor more 'typical' of pictures I had seen of yogis. As you said, he appeared to be in his sixties...
“Another thing I remember was that after he told me not to work so hard, I began to experience energy moving up my spine in a way I had never experienced before. It was all so new to me - meditation was something completely foreign (and difficult) for me, having really only encountered it in the G. group at the time...and not being of the type to sit still anyway!
“I wish I could say his admonition changed everything for me forever (how loudly are you laughing now?), but that 'formal' pose has haunted me for years (and been rather crippling at times)...even now, as I approach the study of biodynamic craniosacral therapy, it can take hold - we spent literally hours and hours working with expanding attention, deepening awareness and relaxation, the weekend before last, and when it was over, my body felt fractured. Plenty of work to do...”
I don’t remember how it happened, but after the gathering was over, I received an invitation, along with a few other people, to meditate with the yogi for the next few mornings while he was still in town. I accepted the invitation.
The yogi was traveling with three eastern disciples, two men and a woman, and staying in Chicago at the apartment of one of his western disciples. The pattern was always the same…
We, the invited guests—there were about five of us— would arrive at the apartment at the appointed time in the morning—somewhere around 7 or 8 AM. We would be escorted to a small bedroom and would sit on the floor around the yogi’s bed. I don’t recall him ever saying anything to us. We would meditate until he indicated to us that it was over—about an hour—and then we would be escorted to the door and out of the apartment.
As I mentioned, this went on for about five days. After the morning meditations I would resume my normal schedule, mainly working on music and teaching guitar. I remember quite clearly that for this period of time I remained in a super-charged state of awareness. I felt different, not really comfortable or uncomfortable, but with a strong feeling that many of my usual limitations, psychologically, musically, etc. had been transcended. I was playing my scales and exercises much faster than I ever had and the world at large appeared to me to be very small and mechanical and asleep
I think it was on the third day; things were different when I arrived for the morning meditation. As I mentioned, the previous days we were met at the door and escorted into the yogi’s room. It was all very orderly; the three disciples were very friendly and efficient with us.
But this day, when I walked into the apartment, I could see that one of the disciples—the woman—was, apparently, still asleep on her bedding on the living room floor. The other two disciples seemed agitated, if not alarmed.
I learned from someone that the woman was not asleep, but was stuck in some kind of Samadhi—a trance-like state of consciousness—and could not “wake up”. Within minutes the yogi appeared and began to work on the woman. I was surprised to see how forceful he was as he began to press various points on her head and neck. At first I observed no noticeable effect from his actions, but then when he began to force his thumbs deep into the disciple’s eye sockets she began to stir. At times, the yogi’s thumbs were pushed so far behind her eyeballs that I could not see them.
It took a matter of minutes for her to “come back”. It seemed to me like the yogi was dragging her back from some faraway place. It was a tremendous struggle, but as soon as it was over, she immediately rose to her feet and began to do things—as if nothing had happened to her at all! The yogi returned to his room and we joined him, as usual, for our morning meditation.
From observing the disciple’s experience I learned one thing; if you are seriously going to follow a real yogi—I’m not talking here about classes at your neighborhood health club, or even your average spiritual retreat—if you seriously follow a real yogi or teacher, you had better be prepared to trust him with your life, health, and sanity, for in a very real way, that is exactly what you will be doing.
After the morning meditation on the day before the yogi was to leave town, I received an offer to become a disciple. This brief conversation with the yogi ensued:
“Thank you for this opportunity, but I must decline your offer because I am already in the Gurdjieff work and feel it would be a conflict to follow two paths.”
“There is no conflict; If you’re thirsty, drink!”
“No doubt, you are right. At your level of unity there would be no conflict, but at my level of dichotomy, there is this conflict. So, I will refuse your offer, but I do request one thing.”
“Please help me internally to achieve that state of unity from which you see.”
The yogi nodded his head. “Yes,” he said.
It was not long after that a series of events occurred in my life that culminated in me going to India, realizing my connection to Avatar Meher Baba, and leaving the Gurdjieff work.