INDIA - SPIRITUALITY AND REALITY THERAPY by Satya Claire
Expansion of a talk given to the Brecon Political and Theological Discussion Group on 7th February, 2006.
Due to time limitations I have only related here a few of my most profound experiences over nine years in India. Experiences are experiences and as such are my TRUTH. I do not claim them to be the TRUTH for others. It has been a journey for me to TRUTH and REALITY. There are no such things as negative experiences all teach positive lessons. I have found that the most traumatic experiences I have had have produced the greatest blessings.
NB when I refer to the inner guidance or the inner voice, I am NOT referring to voices in the Head. The TRUTH arises in the Heart, in many forms.
CALLED TO INDIA
In 1996, I was called to India. 'Calling' is something very ordinary and practical. Having spent several months trying to find the direction GOD wanted me to take, on 6th June 1996, in desperation I cried out to GOD, "I CAN'T HEAR YOU! I've tried and tried! You must spell it out in WORDS OF ONE SYLLABLE THAT I CAN UNDERSTAND! WHAT DO YOU WANT OF ME?"
The next day I received a letter from a charity. I felt this might be an answer so I rang the organiser, told him I was unemployed and an addictions counsellor and could he use me? He said he would phone me back. An hour later he phoned and said: "WILL-YOU-FOR-YOUR-FIRST-MISSION-GO-TO -CALCUTTA?", pauses between each word - spelt out so I could understand.
Callings must be tested. I had no cash to buy a ticket or to live off in India. I said to GOD, "If you want me to go to India you will have to provide the cash." The money came! I had a cat whom I loved and I said, "If you want me to go to India you must find a good home for her!" Within half an hour the phone went and someone offered to take the cat immediately.
GOD is the Supreme Truth, the "I", and as such is quite capable of responding with multi media. If you communicate with GOD, God always answers but we have to be open to the many ways God communicates in return.
If you put anything down in India for a micro second, it disappears. The first thing that was stolen from me was my make-up case. I was in an Ashram where we shared communal bathrooms and was under the delusion that Ashrams were holy places, exempt from normal Indian life. WRONG! When you are a four hour drive from the nearest town and that town has never heard of mascara then you become shocked by the enormity of the situation. I genuinely did not see how I could face the world without make-up! I had been taught a profound lesson with such a simple act. I DO NOT NEED MASKS to face the world. I do not need to perform for others or act roles. It is my birthright to be genuine. It started a process that seven years later I realized my life had been given to me for me to LIVE IT (and learn about God)! I did not have to live it for others.
I went to Calcutta (now KOLCATTA) and grappled with the immigration department for several weeks. I learnt that I could have saved myself a lot of time and energy if I had understood the rules of the game. 100 Rupees would have got the business over in twenty minutes. INDIA is corrupt from top to bottom and I could write about the various atrocities for pages. I do not propose to waste the paper. Suffice it to say we have our own corruption in this country but it is covert whereas in India it is overt and much, much more SADISTIC. In 2000 the electricity prices were put up in Andhra Pradesh. Riots broke out all over the state. The director of the electricity company was dragged out of his office, his hands were cut off, then his feet and lastly his head.
Having been an addictions counsellor, I was trained in the principle of 'TOUGH LOVE'! ie the most loving thing you can do for a drunk in the gutter is to leave him there! This way, he/she may have the motivation to change. Playing the Good Samaritan only ensures they will drink again. Most of us 'help' for our own gratification, not looking at the bigger picture and the long term consequences of what we are doing. It takes GREAT LOVE to love enough to be disliked. This principle was to dominate my life in India.
I worked in 'SHISHU BHAVAN', Mother Teresa's home for abandoned children, with seventy handicapped children. Local women were employed for the day to day running of the home. The volunteers were the icing on the cake. Most of the children were left in their cots 24/7 except at feeding time or when volunteers had the time to take them out of their cots and play with them. The children never went outside their room. There was an adoption service for the healthy children but not for the handicapped. NO TOYS were allowed. Many of the children had to be force fed as they had no swallow reflex. This was done by sitting on the floor, laying the child across your lap and then pinching and slapping the child until they cried and then the spoon was shoved in. Mealtimes became a nightmare for me. Before any of us play the 'helping' game, we must seriously examine our motives! LIFE IS NOT A GAME!
The most horrific thing that happened at 'Shishu Bhavan' while I was there was that the Sisters decided to AIDS test the children. They used the same needle! It was a volunteer who eventually saw what was going on and stopped them.
There is a rehab. centre for lepers run by the brothers of the order in Tittigart. They sweep Calcutta for lepers heal their disease, give them a trade and eventually channel them back into society. I asked Brother Andrew why, as they are offering this treatment free, was I still being hassled by lepers begging on the streets of Calcutta. His reply was that most do not want to be healed they prefer to beg.
Beggars in India are professional, often run by mafias. Some are genuinely poor, but many have nice homes to go to and have TV, fridges etc..
The temple at Calighat is dedicated to KALI. Most Hindus are NOT vegetarian. There is a guillotine in the temple grounds at which 40 goats are sacrificed every Sunday. Animal sacrifice occurs all over India and it is believed that to launch a business successfully human sacrifice is required. The latest craze is to sacrifice a ten year old boy to win the lottery.
I have been a vegetarian since I was 12. I naturally assumed that a renunciant order of nuns in India would be vegetarian too! I was horrified one day when I saw the sisters carrying into Mother House half a cow, blood dripping onto their white saris. I later read that Mother Teresa had said she would like to be a vegetarian but she could not afford the luxury as she had to rely on donations. In India MEAT is the luxury! For me, Mother Teresa was a hypocrite.
I spent several years in and around the Ashram of Sai Baba. One day I lined up at the entrance to the hall for several hours (which is the discipline there) only to arrive at the entrance and be told it was closed and I had to go round the other side. This I did and the same process was repeated and repeated. I went backwards and forwards until I was eventually allowed in. I sat down in rage! furious! I said to GOD "How could you let them treat me like this?" Immediately I heard back "How could you let them TREAT ME LIKE THIS!" To let others abuse me is an abuse of the SUPREME TRUTH, and I WAS IN THE WRONG PLACE, the teachings of SAI BABA were an abuse of TRUTH.
I have had interviews with Sai Baba, witnessed his miracles and he gave me a robe. I was not impressed. I burnt the robe.
He is claimed to be a reincarnation of Krishna and a descendent on earth of SIVA (pronounced 'Shiva'), the destroyer God. At Mahasivarati, the Siva festival, S.B. manifests lingums egg shaped lumps of stone or metal. They come through his mouth. The Hindus go mad and riot when this happens, chanting 'Siva! Siva! Siva!'. I learned never to go to the hall on this festival because many get their legs broken or get seriously damaged. I happened to be in the Ashram grounds at one of these festivals the Ashram was packed with many thousands of people. Those not in the hall chanting were listening to an international test match on their radios. There is an attitude amongst Hindus that to just go to a shrine is enough to obtain blessings you don't have to do anything to change yourself.
I walked to the hall where S.B. had just produced a lingum and the crowd was chanting! and rioting! I thought of Christ going to the crucifixion among similar riots. If GOD were to incarnate directly on earth, would he choose to perform in this circus manifesting jewelry and lingums to the adulation of crowds? or would he choose the renunciant life of Christ prepared to go to his death for the TRUTH of GOD? There was no contest!
I stayed at several other Ashrams and found them all a disappointment and a perversion of the TRUTH. Many were centres of drug recruitment as was the Sai Baba Ashram, and they were centres of financial frauds. Many tricked women into sex slavery. The Bede Griffiths Ashram combined the worst possible features of Roman Catholicism and Hinduism, people were even worshipping the tomb of Bede Griffiths. For me the worship of Saints is a perversion of TRUTH We all have the means to communicate with GOD DIRECTLY!
None of the so-called Gurus at the Ashrams could produce Self Realisation, which was meant to be their selling point.
I visited Buddhist centres in Sri Lanka and Darjeeling. The teachings bore no resemblance to the teachings of Buddha. The Tibetans had incorporated Chinese Gods and Goddesses into their religion and performed puja (worship) to them and ate meat, contrary to two of the main tenets that Buddha stood for non violence, especially to animals, and non-worship of Gods. The Dalai Lama eats meat I find this hypocrisy. Some Sri Lankan Buddhists observe vegetarianism, most worship the idols of Buddha and in Kandi there is a temple in which is allegedly contained Buddha's tooth. This sacred relic is worshipped with elephant processions, fire dancing, there are even temple dancers and drummers. Nothing could be further from the TRUTH that Buddha taught.
Buddhism in Tibet, Nepal, Sri Lanka, has become an extension of Hinduism. There are a few monasteries and meditation centres which hold to the Truth. The same must be said of the Christian Church world wide it is mostly far from the true teachings of Christ.
The great gift I received from all this apparent negativity was to push me out of community religion into a one-to-one relationship with GOD!
GIVING YOUR PAIN TO GOD
Christmas Eve 1998, I was struggling with Guilt. My children had been kidnapped by my ex-husband in 1979. I had carried the pain for twenty years and although intellectually I knew there was nothing I could have done to prevent it, I still blamed myself for it. I asked God to forgive me because I was unable to forgive myself.
I was walking in the Ashram grounds when I saw an Indian woman who seemed to be in pain. I overcame my commitment to NOT INTERFERING with others' processes and asked her if there was something wrong. She looked straight at me and said "My daughter has been murdered", and then broke down. As I held her in my arms the story tumbled out about how the girl's in-laws had done it. It was the first time I had come across 'DOWRY MURDER'. It is very common. A man marries for Dowry (which is in fact illegal in India), brings the girl into his home. When he has spent the dowry he murders her and marries again for more Dowry. The usual murder method is to pour gasoline over her and burn her alive, sometimes the woman is hung. The police do not prosecute they are all well bribed.
I was stunned by this woman's story but knew straight away that she had been sent to heal me. I heard myself say "BUT YOU MUST GIVE YOUR PAIN TO GOD!" and I 'saw' this was a message for me. I had to make a positive act of giving up my pain. I went to the Ashram where the carols were about to start and found myself looking at a picture of Mary holding the baby Jesus. And I 'saw'! Mary had lost her child too! She had stood at the cross and watched him die and IT WAS NOT HER FAULT! AND I KNEW at that moment that there is only ONE MOTHER, ONE PAIN of the loss of a child, a cosmic pain!
A similar experience was to happen to me a few years later in a village near to Bangalore. I visited a woman called Suchilla who was a Christian. She lived in a small room bringing up her three grandsons. She showed me a picture on the wall of her daughter. I asked where her daughter was and why she was bringing up the grandchildren. Her daughter had married a Hindu. He had burnt her alive and married again. Dowry murder happens throughout all castes of India, rich and poor alike. This time I heard myself say "BUT YOU MUST GIVE YOUR PAIN TO JESUS! - he has his hands out to take it, but if you don't give it, he won't take it." Again a message for me.
Two days later I saw Suchilla across the road. She was radiant! She ran across the road to me and burst out "I DID IT! I GAVE HIM MY PAIN AND ITS GONE!" As a counsellor and psychotherapist of many years, this was the best bit of therapy that ever happened THROUGH ME.
GOD IS MY GURU
During the early years in India, I read every book by every so-called Guru and Realized Being. I tried every spiritual practice technique and mantra to attain this illusive self-realization, yoga, or union with God. Eventually I realized that if you want union with God, then ask for it directly. So I asked God to be my Guru, threw away all the books and opened myself to listen.
The first thing that happened was that people kept coming up to me in the street asking me the time. After the sixth person had asked me within half an hour I 'saw' WATCH! practise witness consciousness! OBSERVE! then I was led on the path of self enquiry, NOT "Who am I?" BUT "I AM", questioning every experience that happened to me.
Within a few weeks I remembered my TRUTH. I was walking in a road when I REMEMBERED! I saw that I was eternal, that there had never been a time when I had not existed and there never would be a time when I did not exist.
Another day I was walking under trees and asking what I liked so much about them? strength? stillness? and then it was like a page turning, suddenly I was on the other side, I 'knew' I was the consciousness in the trees and that they were within me.
Another day I asked myself "Where am 'I'?" and I 'knew' that 'I' was everywhere, that I am the WORLD and the WORLD is within me.
You will notice that none of my insights came from meditating in silence at 3.00 a.m., or from practising mind-numbing meditation, from worship or from doing good deeds. I was always walking in a public place.
Along with these realizations came the knowledge that everything Gurus and Lamas etc taught were ignorant You cannot merge with what you already are! Each 'realization' was a remembering of TRUTH and I was amazed at how I could have forgotten it. The spiritual way is NOT trying to get off the wheel of Birth and Death by successive incarnations, but true spiritual progress can only be found in material life Life is not a dream, it is the spiritual reality. It is through practical experience that we progress spiritually. It is about Consciousness NOT UNCONSCIOUSNESS. To try and annihilate the mind by meditation merely brings on early Alzheimer's.
I also saw that the Head is not the highest centre of consciousness. People who have out of the body experiences do so without a Brain. They can feel and see and know without eyes and physical senses.
My highest centre of consciousness is the Heart centre NOT the solar plexus but the centre between the breasts. I AM ONE integrated centre of consciousness seated in the Heart.
BACK TO INDIA
I returned to the UK in 1998 thinking I was going to stay. One day I got up at 2.00 a.m. and packed my case for INDIA. The next day I resisted (to say the least) as I had just settled in. Then I had a dream. I was telephoned long distance and shown a hall in darkness with many people sitting on the floor. The 'voice over' was "I have a Hall full of children, will you come and teach them the Lord's Prayer in English?" I gave up what rights I had to MY WILL in 1990 when I surrendered my life completely to GOD. I should point out that in my experience Surrender is not about obeying a set of rules, it is a tuning in to the ONE WILL, the highest WILL. I have also learnt that there is no shame in asking for help with this.
Again I had no money to buy a ticket, but on the day I had to pay for my ticket someone wrote me a cheque which covered it.
I travel light! ONE BAG! I have learnt in India just how little I truly need. NO shampoo! Water is enough or a cake of soap. One soap powder cleans everything. Salt water is the best mouth wash. I have one change of clothes. There were no doctors or dentists where I was for most of the time so I had to rely on Divine Help but I had to ask for it. When I've read a book I pass it on or recycle it. I have two mugs. I lived alone in rooms and had to develop a profound relationship with GOD.
Moving on three years, still puzzling over the dream, I was living in Kadugodi, a village near to Bangalore, I heard the message, "Go and buy a Bible!" I was surprised. As an act of faith I took a TAXI to Bangalore not knowing where I was going to find a Bible but eventually I found myself at the door of the Bible Society of India. I procured a copy of the GOOD NEWS BIBLE. I got back to my room and said: "I am not going to wade through all this just give me the TRUTH!"
The Bible opened at Proverbs Ch.8, vs 22, headlined 'A Hymn to Wisdom'. It said "I was the first thing created." Next was John Ch.17, vs 21, headlined 'Jesus Prays' "I pray that my disciples will be one in the father as I am one in the father, that they may be ONE in US." This I recognized immediately as the genuine Lord's Prayer and the one I had been asked to teach in my dream. It was my experience of GOD and we can only teach what we know and experience to be TRUE for ourselves, not theory or hypothesis.
I understood profoundly what Jesus was praying for I AM in the Creation and the Creation is in ME. I 'saw' that Jesus was the only truly SELF-REALIZED BEING, the only one who knew what he was talking about, because I identified exactly with his experience.
I was in my room on 12th September 2001. I had no radio, no newspaper, no access to the outside world. I heard in the Heart: "The 4 horses of the Apocalypse have been released." I was appalled. I said "You can't say things like that to me without proving it!" I demanded proof for several hours. That night I met someone who told me there was a fax for me at a hotel. I went there and was handed a newspaper with the events of 9/11.
Walking down a road I saw a dying dog surrounded by a group of people. Dead or dying animals are common in India, there are few vets. This dog was vomiting blood, was in spasm and had obviously been poisoned. Not only had he been poisoned but he had been stabbed through the eyes and all over his body like a pin cushion. The shock made me speechless. I eventually asked who had done this and a young man said "A Boy round the corner. He did not like the dog." The inner voice said, "NOW THIS IS EVIL are you going to make an excuse for this?" I couldn't!
I used to be a total pacifist and advocate of non-violence. Now I AM NOT! I have seen that in some cases evil has to be destroyed. Not that it is my job to do it physically but I no longer protect evil with excuses.
I have witnessed corruption in Churches, in every walk of life in India. I have been trampled on in apostolic churches, pushed out of the line for communion in another church, exposed financial corruption in another. The church is used in many cases for free education for children. There is state education but it is not as good. There is religious war. Hindus persecute Christians. In Kodaikanal the Hindus took the Muslims and Christians to the High Court for making too much noise. Each religion, church, temple, mosque, has is own amplifiers. The Hindus broadcast their chants early in the morning across the mountains at mega decibels. The Muslims broadcast music at Ramadan and Friday prayers, the Christians broadcast Sunday Mass, and daily Mass during Lent. The noise is unbelievable and is torture to residents. The High Court threw out the Hindus' case on the grounds that they made more noise than the Christians and Muslims. This happens all over India and the Hindus usually win on the decibel stakes because they have a festival about every ten days and hire amplifiers for each festival.
The only person I can change is myself. Those who don't want to look at the dark side of life and themselves are putting a barrier between themselves and the TRUTH and GOD. The glass is both half full and half empty concurrently and only by accepting this can we see Reality.
I have learnt that progress is the spiritual law, as it is in nature, that God is patterned in nature and the whole creation, that what I find in the macrocosm can be found in the microcosm, that the goal is not peace, it is in the challenges that we grow. There can be only one priority in life and that is GOD!