This is a story of a humble religious experience, of how the Almighty graced and saved me in a stormy day.
The other day I had a pretty rough morning at the university, the burden of projects and things not working, and especially the spiritual turbulence of the week. While driving back home the mini-storm of thoughts in the mind underwent a butterfly effect and created a tornado of negative thoughts about the rough year, made it into a rough life, and then into a rough existence. The spiritual imbalance was the most unbearable part of these days. I started intensely praying to God, begging him to calm this mind down, to tell me that everything is ok.
Disclaimer: Yes, I do comfortably refer to God as a He, simply because I like it. Though in principle the Godhead transcends gender, I don’t hide the fact that I perceive God as the masculine aspect of the Godhead while I perceive nature, the manifestation, as the feminine aspect of the Godhead. I have heard rumors that some people of no occupation but preoccupation with gender have actually bothered to invent a name for a person who uses a masculine pronoun for God; I think it’s called “sexist.” I personally like the name; it makes me feel naughty. Besides, I am just happy to see that employment opportunities are rising for people obsessed with gender and linguistics.
Back to my tornado: So as I was driving I was intensely praying for some spiritual guidance, some sign. I must add that I am a proudly religious person; but my relationship with God is mostly a purely intellectual/metaphysical relationship with the impersonal Godhead, the absolute truth or the transcendent principle. I chose this kind of relationship because it chose me; I have the essential temperament of what Hindus call a Jnani, a practitioner of the path of knowledge. The personal God of religion with its symbolic narratives of creation and destruction doesn’t interest me; in general the outward form of religion doesn’t speak to me. This being the said, I am still a human and like everyone else I am blessed with the three faculties of will, intelligent, and sentiment. Deep down I have a very strong sentimental aspect that I have been systematically suppressing by the force of mathematics and philosophy. Why? Because when I was 9 I had a small chicken (I love love love animals) that got sick and died only a week after I’d bought it. I was devastated since I was emotionally very attached to it. I couldn’t stop crying but I stopped eating and couldn’t sleep. I buried it in the yard and put a cross on the burial site (lol, we weren’t Christian and I didn’t even know what a cross meant but I had seen it done in western movies and just assumed that’s what modern people do, put a cross on the grave, so I thought it was cool.) Due to devoted mourning I couldn’t go to school and instead spent day and night next to the burial crying. The gross part was that many time during each day I would dig the soil, take out its body and kiss it while crying; the ants were crawling over it but I couldn’t part ways. I suffered a deep, wounding suffering. That mourning drama lasted for a few weeks until the corpse was almost gone. My soul was tormented for weeks and I still remember the pain vividly. After that incident, which was partly responsible for driving me into philosophy, I learned the lesson, that attachment is the last thing I want in this world. As a result I decided to do physics, mathematics, and philosophy and exclude myself from attention and attachment to all things organic and their conditions. But even now seeing an animal hurt or seeing the pain of others makes me suffer deeply as if it were my own suffering. So I am in a way very sentimental but I have managed to keep the volcano under some control most of the times. Please excuse the digressions.
So under the pressure of my sentimental aspect I sometimes wish I could also have a personal relationship with God, to love him, to adore him, to be just like a little child in His presence. I had heard stories from mystics and even normal religious people who loved God; yet I never understood what it means to love God, what it’s like to love God! To love a woman I get, to love an animal I get; but to love God I never got. But that day I begged for it.
That day when things became unbearable I begged God to be the good old God of Old Testament, to actually speak, to perform a miracle right then and there so I would know He is with me and I with Him. I just needed an assurance of His presence, an assurance without the need of intellectual intuition which can only perceive ontological necessity; I didn’t need to be assured of his existence of which I am absolutely certain; I didn’t need Brahman or Principle; I needed an intimate relationship with a loving and caring agency whose presence I can feel rather than think.
Anyways, the mind was going crazy and I was tearing my throat repeating the name of God. I got home and jumped in the shower with the hope of cooling down. My shower is a pretty tiny stall kind of shower; you cannot fit two people in it (not that I have tied.) As I was showering I kept repeating His name; I had read and heard from spiritual masters that repeating the name of God has a tremendous spiritual power. Though I could never understand how, I kept saying the name as I was too desperate, too human instead of metaphysician, for feeling His presence. As I was repeating the name and longing to feel God’s presence the idea of a funny but childish scenario interrupted the mental storm: The thought came to me that I cannot ask God to appear before me here; we cannot both fit in this small shower! Besides, I always perceive God as a He; being in the shower with Him would be too gay. At this point you may bite your lower lip but I mean no profanity against God; I do these small gigs in my mind which often involves God with the religious intention of making him laugh, and he doesn’t mind them if they’re a little dirty. He and I have an understanding, and he likes me as His court’s joker and personal stand-up comedian than anything else. Anyhow, this idea just put a smile on my face and distracted me from the mental tornado, but it was just the beginning; it was meant only as an opening toward a memorable grace which unfolded as following:
The idea of that scenario was replaced by a strong feeling of presence; the thought downed on me, with the intensity of a divine inspiration, that “He is the doer and the enjoyer of all things. Who do you think is moving your hands? Who do you think is moving your head? Who do you think is washing you and making your tongue repeat the holy name?!” The inspiration continued, “It is all Me: You are desperately looking for me while I am here with you; without me you can’t lift a finer; I am the one washing your body. You’re crying to feel me; I am the one bathing you.” These words touched me so deeply and made me feel something I had never felt. Tears rolled down my cheeks and I was filled with infinite joy. I leaned against the shower wall and cried like a baby as I listened again to the inspired words “I am the one bathing you.” I stroked my body and felt his strokes. I was intoxicated; the tornado was totally gone and replaced with a deep sense of serenity. I felt so light, so carefree as I had never been. I had become like a child and out of impulse started to make the noises a newborn child makes when the mother spoils him.
As I was drying myself with the towel I felt, and knew again, that it was still Him, drying me this time, that it has always been Him, and that it will never be anything But him. How could I feel so infinitely joyful, infinitely great and yet infinitely light, exactly the moment I denied my own existence and saw Him as all that there is, as the doer and enjoyer of all things, but this time not as a thought but as an intimately felt reality with the highest degree of certainty; I knew that he was the one making the jokes, gay or otherwise. After drying myself I danced naked around the room and then threw myself on the bed and rolled around like a child. For the first time I loved God as God, not as principle or nondual ground of all things. Yes I need the latter form of communication, the intellection, but this new feeling of intimacy with God spoke to an essential part of me that had been silenced till that day. Oh, such a great day I had and that message is still with me. Thanks God for that storm, and for all the others to come; we see the storm but in Reality it is Him trying to tell us something. That day’s experience may appear to the outsider as nothing special but for me it was a deeply felt reality, and considering the depth to which it penetrated and transformed my rigid idea of the divine it was one of the most profound religious experiences I’ve ever had.
God is good; God bless Him.