Catskills. Shree Muktananda Ashram. Summer of ’79. I’m sitting cross legged in the serenely cool and dark Meditation
Hall waiting for Swami Muktananda to walk down my aisle and give blessings with his wand of peacock feathers. I am surrounded by 1000+ people who have gathered to receive Shaktipat from a true and qualified Master of meditation. He is about to transmit and awaken the Kundalini energy in each person present. I soon began to catch a glimpse of a real potential to evolve my understanding, and discover a spiritual connection that I previously had not known.
I don’t really know how I came to be here in this strangely holy environment.. a 28 year old small town girl from Pennsylvania, now in the company of a man whose mere presence was so compelling that I was paying several hundred dollars a weekend, of my hard earned money, for three meditation intensives this “Guru” held there that beautiful and very hot summer. Two long days, 8am through 5 or 6 pm of teachings, chanting and meditation presented by a brilliant, fun and wise holy man from India. Having never heard of a Guru, I learned that the sanskrit syllable Gu meant darkness, and Ru, light. It seemed to me that there was a larger meaning in this title, something beyond the man called Baba’s personhood. If I were to describe what he was like, I'd first say he seemed to be made of a combination of love, light, compassion and devotion all wrapped up in a body of grace. Gradually and gratefully, I was able to piece things together a bit as the summer and subsequent years of study and practice unfolded. I did know the instant I saw him that I had much to gain by hanging out with this lovely and most kind gentleman...this exquisite being who taught me about my own true nature and the divinity that dwells within. He was definitely on a mission to transform everyone’s experience and sought to inspire us to look beyond the “face value” of our lives.
The wand of peacock feathers he carried with him was scented with some deliciously intoxicating oils from India. As Muktananda approached me during one of these sessions, I could smell the scent become increasingly heavy, and sensed the expansion of the Kundalini Shakti energy. The whole hall seemed to be encapsulated in a protective cocoon of blessings as Baba showered each person with Shakti. There was alot of energetic movement, shifting, and loud emotions expressed; laughing and crying and other classic auditory expressions of the awakening Kundalini. It was a big unnerving. But, I was glued to my seat.
During the afternoon session of the first day, Muktananda finally arrived and stood behind me. He stroked my face lightly and lovingly with his hands. After a short while, he moved on to the next person. It had been an unprecedented caress, very intimate, but pre-personal. Like, I wasn’t Karen at this point. As he was standing directly behind me, he couldn’t see my face. I couldn’t see him at all. I just felt his hands on my face.
It was an incredibly powerful and mysterious experience. So amazingly simple but so other worldly. I was totally present in my body in a way that I had never felt before. In a state of surrender, my personality was erased momentarily, and something very deep and very healing happened. In those luminescent moments, my face was sculpted anew by someone who was certain of my true identity, and it wasn’t who I’d thought I was. As old traces and samskaras were left behind and I was introduced to a love that was empty of concepts and duality, a love whose nature was pure and golden compassion and bliss. It wasn’t just a sensual, physical or elemental experience but a combination of all of the kayas and realms, of both heaven and earth. Only the singular presence of the lover and the beloved and the profoundly divine space that existed between us remained. From that day, my experience of myself in my body has been transformed and an alchemical process which began to integrate this awakened consciousness, has never stopped. He taught with his word, transmitted through his will, his thought and his touch. Muktananda not only said “God dwells within you as you”, he masterfully willed this experience to the receiver.
written by Karen Ferguson