Thursday, December 25, 2008

Growing Family

In December 1997, I completed my undergraduate degree, and because I had gone to school full-time over both summers, I was on track to finish my graduate degree just a few months later.

Before that final graduation from the Monterey Institute, however, I had an interesting experience at the local shopping mall. While walking behind a young couple and their five or six year old daughter, it occurred to me that having another child would be nice.

At that point (in early 1998), Elaine and I had not discussed having another child. Sean was about four at the time and until then, I had thought that one child was enough. My focus was on finishing up school and then getting a career of some kind started. Having more children had been the last thing on my mind.

And yet, that's what I was thinking as I watched that little girl walking along with her parents at the mall. Later that week, Elaine told me that she was pregnant -- the baby was due in November 1998.

The news of Elaine's pregnancy was the last blow to my long dying dream of becoming a spy. The blow fell softly though; over the previous few years, and certainly since my re-awakening, I had begun to realize that my path in life lay elsewhere.

So, with my graduation from the Monterey Institute in late May 1998, I began looking for a job with benefits that would permit us to remain living on the Monterey Peninsula. With luck, I landed a position at a local college textbook publisher as a project manager of sorts in its editorial department. It was located just a ten-minute walk from our apartment.

The pay there was abysmal -- especially considering my looming student loans -- but it provided us with health insurance, great working conditions, and the people were very nice to work with. And because I could walk back and forth to work each day, I was able to continue with the spiritual practice I had started about a year earlier. I had been secretly chanting the seed sounds, to which practice I attributed some new experiences I had been having.

In the hour or so just before waking up in the morning -- when my conscious mind began to register sensory data but would remain asleep for another hour or so if left undisturbed -- I began to feel a circular buzzing sensation in different parts of my body. One morning it was at the base of my throat, the next morning in my chest or throat or navel or groin -- the very areas I had been concentrating on while chanting each day.

The "buzzing" felt sort of like that sensation one gets when one's leg falls asleep. You know, when you adjust it and the circulation begins again? It feels like its buzzing kind of. But the sensation I felt wasn't uncomfortable at all. It was also localized in one area (sometimes two) and it seemed to be spinning very quickly. Laying in bed, I'd immediately become aware of the motion and silently observe it for the minute or so that the experience lasted.

The only other noticeable effect on my consciousness which I attributed to my chanting was a more varied dream life. Until then, I had never been very conscious of my dream life. Typically, I slept pretty hard and even those few dreams that I remembered were pretty mundane. As I've written before, I was never prone to visions.

By the time I had graduated and began working at the publishing company, however, that had changed. I was having more dreams -- often vivid ones -- and I was remembering them. Some of them I remember even now with a thrill. In one, for example, I found myself sitting in the basement meditation room of the old San Francisco Center with Guru and Swami Yogananda. In another dream, I was alone with Sri Ramakrishna in his room at Dakshineswar. We were sitting next to each other, cross-legged. How magical it was to sit with Thakur, our knees touching one another.

In late October 1998, though, with just a few weeks until our second child was due, I dreamt of a vibrant and intense little girl, with long curly hair. It was thrilling to see her. And though Elaine and I had purposefully kept ourselves in the dark about our new baby's sex, when I awoke I knew that I had dreamt of our daughter.

Erin was born about a week later.

That's Nirbachita, me and Jeevan, above, at my graduation from the Monterey Institute in May 1998.

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