When we have visions, dreams and intuitions, which ones are doors to enlightenment, and which are just “more stuff”? And how can we tell?
When Ma Jaya was starting to share her spiritual experiences, she was influenced by more experienced teachers who were deeply into the psychic. Deeply into it!
A student from that time told me about a trip to Bloomingdale’s with one of these older teachers. When the teacher went on the escalator, the student was instructed to follow and hesitate at the foot of the stairs long enough to make space for a host of invisible spirit beings to get on ahead of her. Then she was to follow and make sure no one stepped on them.
That’s a little extreme, but it was the 70s, and new kinds of spiritual excitement were in the air. We all wondered about our past lives, our soul mates, our auras and which astral beings were paying attention to us.
Maybe you still wonder about that. The evolution of Ma Jaya, her teaching and her students can offer some clues.
As Ma went her own way as a teacher, she explained that psychic phenomena are real, and often amazingly beautiful—but so what? She said that people can waste whole lifetimes with attachments to the psychic worlds, but it’s not much different from wasting lifetimes on the pursuit of anything else, like money, fame and power.
Both the physical world and the psychic realms are parts of the horizontal plane—infinitely changing, infinitely entertaining, and ultimately pointless. If you have visionary spiritual experiences, she told us, welcome them but don’t get attached to them. The point of spiritual life is to know God beyond form, and ultimately to become God by becoming your true self, which is large enough to encompass the universe. This path can be visualized as vertical, and it’s linked to the rising of kundalini, which gives us access to different levels of awareness.
And yet, Ma herself had begun spiritual life with powerful visions of Christ, who appeared in her home in Brooklyn. Then came other teachers, other visions, gods and goddesses and finally her guru, Neem Karoli Baba, who had left his body a year earlier.
For almost 40 years, Ma would continue to teach in Baba’s name, telling us that he was always with her; telling us that she spent every moment at his feet; telling us that she only went where he told her to go. Murtis (holy statues) were deeply sacred to her. Gods and goddesses were always present; she treated them as completely real, and she showed us ways to bring them into our own lives.
So here’s a paradox: How do you know when your inner experiences are the real deal? Are they doorways to enlightenment? Or are they just a “more stuff”?
I feel as if I understand it, but I find that I can’t explain it. One key, though, is service. Are you so busy with the psychic that you forget to help others, right here, right now, in the mud of the world’s moment? Here’s another key: Do you spend much of your time in search of visions and otherworldly guidance, or do you get on with your life and let spirit show up when it chooses?
When she was leading us out of the psychic realms, Ma said, “It is better to feel what you don’t see than to see what you don’t feel.”
Ma left her body in 2012. Since then, some people have seen her in visions, others in powerful dreams. But not me! Do I want her to appear to me? Absolutely! And yet I know that this hunger for experience is just another desire, and it won’t happen unless I actually need it to.
Oh, but I can feel her any time I get quiet and take a deep breath. Just one breath, and there she is, like a pressure in my heart, or a fullness. And sometimes I get an idea that seems to come from somewhere else, just dropping into my mind like a stone thrown from a great distance, like the topic for this article. No, Ma didn’t write it, but I think she suggested it, and if I want to keep my connection strong, I better sit down and write it. “Better to feel what you don’t see than to see what you don’t feel.” OK, I can live with that.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Author: Swami Matagiri
Editor: Travis May
Photo: Swami Dhumavati Jaya