Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Breaking Down

By the spring of 1988, I had begun to panic. While still master of my domain, the psychic flame had been out for nearly six months, replaced by an ever present and increasingly powerful sexual desire.

I struggled to keep it in check, but a confluence of factors worked against me. First, I was stressed at work. At that point, I had worked about two years straight with just two days off a month. Needless to explain, perhaps, the restaurant business was getting old. Plus, despite living a Spartan lifestyle, I couldn't even afford to buy a new pair of running shoes (instead Sundar, who sold shoes out of his barbershop for extra cash, extended me credit).

This stress combined with my inability to meditate -- to immerse myself in the occult movement that had once owned me -- left me with little desire to attend Guru's regular functions. And it seemed my nascent sexual desire fed on this stress. The obvious implication of these developments -- that I would eventually leave the Center -- scared me.

There was nothing ambiguous about Guru's attitude toward the Center -- one was to remain in the "Golden Boat," as he called it, at all costs. While Guru has written that once a disciple, always a disciple (in an occult sense), he has also said on numerous occasions that to leave the Center voluntarily is to court disaster. Thus the explicit prohibition from speaking to ex-disciples without permission. Your soul, Guru would say, would punish you for leaving.

While such pronouncements were cause for concern, I've never responded well to threats. What really tortured me, though, was the colossal failure that the rebirth of my sexual desire represented. The only ambition I ever had in my life was to be the best at something, to reach the pinnacle of achievement in some field.

As a youngster, I had wanted to be an Olympic sprinter, but was not fast enough. Then I wanted to win the Heisman Trophy, but was not big enough. In the spiritual life, however, it seemed I had found my calling. I was young, independent, and above all, I had some mysterious psychic aptitude for it. Now, just as mysteriously, the psychic flame that had driven me to a singular moment of achievement, had abandoned me to crushing depression.

One night, after April Celebrations had failed to rekindle the flame, I went for a run out Union Turnpike. As I turned around at the two and a half mile marker and headed into the upscale Bayside neighborhood adjacent to Cunningham Park, I broke down.

Walking in the middle of a quiet residential street, I cried openly, surrendering to my formless God with hushed anguish. "Out of the blue, you lit the flame to begin with," I whispered, my tear-filled eyes looking upwards, towards the night sky. "Now you've taken it away."

I continued walking in silence and then continued my pathetic soliloquy. "My only prayer has been to become consciously one with Thee -- but I don't control it, I don't control anything," I cried. "Let Thy will be done. If you want me to aspire for Thee, you alone will rekindle the flame."

I walked the remaining two miles home, spent both physically and emotionally.

Photo credit here.

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