In my house on a Saturday late morning, I sit at my harmonium and trying to chant, but something is not right. No matter what chant I work on it is out of tune. Before they came, those Baptists trying to save me, all was going well. Yama sat down beside me, a frown on his brow.
YAMA: Can’t say Krishna or any of them are going to be too impressed with what you are feeding them.
DISCIPLE: Very funny. I don’t get it. Something is wrong.
YAMA: Are you talking about with yourself or with the instrument? Oh wait, are they not both instruments?
DISCIPLE: I’m talking about with the harmonium, thank you very much.
I continued fiddling about with the bellow and the keyboard, frustrated at my limited knowledge of the harmonium, an instrument I have been learning to play for a few months.
YAMA: You seem a little testy. In fact, you seem a little pissed off.
The dam released.
DISCIPLE: Damn right, I am. Here I am singing to God and the various Names of God, and this posse of Baptists come and try to save me, picking out littles bits of the Bible to prove their points. They had no interest in what I was doing, what I believe in, or who I am, this woman, their leader, just wanted to shove her version of God down my throat.
I don’t usually mind it, and sometimes even enjoy it, when some come to the door and want to share their love for God and hear what I have to say. There is great wisdom in the Bible, echoed by many other scriptures, and my understandings. But this was not a meeting of devotion, but an assault.
YAMA: And how did you act or, should I say, react?
DISCIPLE: I opened the door beaming with devotion. When the leader asked if I went to church, I replied, yes, right here, and I pointed to my house. Then she asked if I believed I was going to heaven. I hesitated. Not that I doubted God’s Infinite Love, I wasn’t sure what she meant by heaven. Was it some actual psuedo-physical land that resembled a Thomas Kincaid painting? But, not wanting to get into a Socratic discussion, I said, yes. Then, seemingly discounting my statement, she pointed to some passage that was highlighted that said something to the effect that there is nothing we can do to achieve heaven. I replied, what about meditating to know that I AM? And she reemphasized the point that we can do nothing, that it is all Grace. Yes I said, and is it not Grace to want to meditate? Then she started talking about sin and I proceeded to start punching holes in her arguments. I asked her if she knew the origins of the word sin and its original meaning. And she pointed to her Bible and said sin was discussed in these pages. I told her about the Greek word sin and how it was an archer’s term meaning to miss the mark. And I asked her what translation of the Bible she was citing and she said the King James, the true translation.
And then I started challenging the veracity of the translation, a translation from how many translations? The energy just got worst. Finally she gave me her church’s card and invited me to her church and off she went with her procession.
YAMA: Did you learn anything from this encounter?
DISCIPLE: Yeah, I understand why there are Satanists. Her Bible thumping pushed something in me to go the opposite way of being a Christian, or at least a Christian by her definition. I cannot understand the nonthinking way of following words written down by other humans, especially translations of translations. Sacred texts are wonderful guidance, and they can point one of their spiritual journey; but they are not the goal of the journey.
And I would feel the same way if some Hindus, such as the Hare Krishnas came to my door trying to persuade me that that Krishna was the Supreme Godhead.
YAMA: I don’t care about your judgment about this Baptist, this sister of yours. I have not met a judgment yet that was the Truth. However, what did you learn about yourself?
He jabbed his finger into my chest. It felt like a flame went into me. The force pushed me back a bit and I closed my eyes, rubbing my chest. I took some deep breaths.
DISCIPLE: It reminded me why I avoid arguments. My whole body shook with adrenaline, just like I used to after actually physically fighting. It’s a horrible feeling. A feeling I have not felt for a long time.
YAMA: And who was it that participated in this dual, your Self or your ego?
DISCIPLE: Obviously my ego. It wanted to crush her arguments--wanted to make her wrong and foolish. And oh how it was spinning afterwards with all the things it had wanted to say, to put her down on her arrogant ass.
YAMA: And what would have been the Self’s response?
I thought a while.
DISCIPLE: When she had started to go to the place of persuasion, the Self wold have said to her, “Thank you for sharing. However, I have my path. Have a nice day.” And bless her with my thoughts.
|Spirit Breath, Janaka Stagnaro|
YAMA: And how would you have felt afterwards?
YAMA: And how do you feel now?
DISCIPLE: A lot calmer.
YAMA: Maybe you can check out your harmonium now?
I played it and still it sounded off key. Then I looked inside again and this time I noticed that two keys were not fully covering their gaps where air escaped to make sound. I bellowed it without pressing any keys, and sure enough, unwanted sound was issuing from them. I simply adjusted the keys and the sound ceased.
I played it now and how beautiful the sound came, the hair rising on my neck.
YAMA: When we are off balance and not adjusted, sounds and thoughts come forth that bring disharmony into the world. But when we are in alignment we are the Beloved’s chant into the world.
Yama took the harmonium and began to play “Amazing Grace.” And I happily joined him.