Dangerous Compassions


Today I went to Berkeley with church friends to receive darshan from a person from India who’s considered a living saint. She’s called Mother Meera. She put her hands on my head, and then we looked into one another’s eyes for a few seconds. I feel skeptical about this being a spiritually worthwhile thing to do, but it was a learning experience. It was my first time at any kind of “let’s go see a saint” event, and I’m glad I did it.

It took place at a Presbyterian church called St John’s. The entire two and a half hours of hundreds of us receiving darshan was in complete silence. I went in the same car with three older men, and we sat together: our spot was in the front row on the left side. Our row was first to receive darshan. Afterwards we were kind of supposed to meditate, but I did very little of that. Mostly I sat there watching hundreds of people receive darshan. I looked at their clothes, their hair, their socks, the expressions they had right after receiving darshan. It was interesting and boring at the same time.

After all of this, we went to dinner at a place just off University called Bombay Bistro. The food was pretty good. One of the older men treated me to dinner, which was a nice surprise. Then we went to a bookstore called Pegasus. I browsed a bit and called Erik on my cell phone.

Then we came home. Constant conversation in the car, both on the way there and on the way back. I was frazzled by so much social contact–furthermore, I forgot to take my medication this morning, so I was a little worried about that–as it happened, I was fine.

When I say that I feel skeptical that it was a spiritually worthwhile thing to do, I mean that I tend to doubt that anyone is more divine than anyone else. I suspect that you could find a spark of divinity in just about everyone. But some people develop a reputation.

My friend P once told me that she thinks it’s silly to travel long distances to receive darshan, and I’m not sure about her reason, but I mostly think we should see the divinity in the people and things nearby. But I wanted to try it, and maybe it wasn’t silly. I’m not sure. I’ll think about it for a few days and maybe get back to you.

One of the older men I traveled with said that we can have an experience like this and not think much of it, but it can actually do us a lot of good. I don’t know if I believe that. I have issues with faith–I don’t believe much of anything.

But I went. The men I went with compared Mother Meera to Ammachi, the hugging saint. They told me that Amma is very warm and charismatic. She grabs you and hugs you and whispers mantras in your ear. Mother Meera is very detached, almost cold. I would like to see Amma someday. I missed her this year–maybe next year. Seeing Mother Meera is free–I don’t know if seeing Amma is free.

By Laura-Marie

Good at listening to the noise until it makes sense.

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