I am seeing how much of my spiritual journey and practices have not been about Love but about a mammoth self-improvement project. I felt I had gotten free of this several years ago with the great humbling of illness, divorce, homelessness, and rejection of family. But somehow it began to get rebuilt, or perhaps there was just something untouched by this humbling.
I spent four years in intensive meditation, learning from great meditation teachers. I thought maybe I was finally "getting it." I am grateful for all of this. It led me to Ramana and then to Gangaji.
I have been ill for 20 years; 20 years of seeking doctors and solutions, of losing so much time and money. Listening to Gangaji one day, a day I had run to the teachings to find escape from the increasing pain in my body, I realized that I quite possibly had never just been totally and completely with the illness and all of its painful manifestations in these entire 20 years.
It baffled me that I could have never approached this from a place of love and compassion and total acceptance. I had been seeking healing all these years and was leaving out the absolute center of healing. Being completely present with Presence includes all of this pain now; it is not an abandonment of the pain; it is a gentle inquiry rather than a hostage interrogation.
I notice the craving that arises, that wants to be free of medical fees and doctor visits, of taking 20 pills every day; and I say, "yes, yes, I know. I hear you little body in pain." I don't know if this illness will "go" but I do know now that it is totally held in Presence and the outcome has nothing to do with "me."
I have also seen this in action in a problem I had with my car, which seems rather mundane when speaking of Presence, but I realized that this is the way miracles happen. My car has been undrivable for several months. It was going to cost several thousand dollars to fix this 18-year-old car. I didn't have the money. My brother has a car repair shop but he didn't want to help out and his attitude was hostile with me.
One day after he was particularly mean to me, I let God (my word for Presence) know that I was surrendering this completely; I was done trying to figure it out. In this moment, I had a physical sensation of the weight of this issue moving out of me into complete vastness. It was so subtle I barely took notice of it.
Two days later, I needed groceries, and for some inexplicable reason I decided to drive across town to a grocery store I like rather than go to the one near me. I got my groceries and then decided to exit the store at a different exit than I usually take. There, I saw a woman sitting at a table with beautiful handmade jewelry. I stopped to look and she began telling me about her foundation that helps single women living at or below the poverty line find resources for car repair, car purchases and affordable housing. I said to her, "I need your help." Her name is Angela and she is definitely an angel. I will be picking up my car this week, completely repaired.
I hadn't realized how big of a burden the car issue and the issue with my brother has been until the manager at the new repair shop told me they were fixing it for free for me.
My brother also apologized to me; which has NEVER happened in our lifetimes together. It definitely feels like Christmas morning. I can see that I am already surrendered to this miraculous Presence. There is no salvation or liberation to earn. It is already alive "inside and outside."
I look upon all of the causes and conditions of the life I am living and see that it is all held in and shot through with Presence. I'm finally getting a taste of what it means to truly Be rather than always running around doing. I always feared that if I completely surrendered nothing would get done in my life even though this plan was obviously not working out for me so well. I thought I knew what Freedom would look and feel like and that was driving how I should practice and who I should be learning from. I was doing a whole lot of shaming when it felt that my actions weren't measuring up.
It's a bit funny now to see the things that have happened these last few years that I've seen as mistakes, have actually been great moments of Presence taking over; moments when I threw up my hands in despair and screamed, "God! Do something!" I so often regretted the places the answer sent me. Now, I can see all of this and be so grateful, recognize that my prayers have been answered, it just looks nothing like the little self's story of liberation.
Kristine Grace attended a weekend with Gangaji I October 2021. Here is her report:
“This is your resting place, your watering hole. Find what supports you, what includes you, and drink it in. Be nourished. Be enlivened. And when you feel thirsty again, drink some more.” —Gangaji
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