Lakulisha and the Two Dog-tags, Part 2

Well, that was a pretty good story, but why did Lakulisha give me dog-tags instead of just zapping me? Truly, I do not believe, nor did I then, that such a saint would do something so peculiar for no good reason. The reason was mine to contemplate, and contemplate it I did, for more years that I care to admit—how, after so may years of sadhana, could I be so dense! It was as plain as a pikestaff, but by trying to make sense of it (both ‘trying’ and ‘make sense’ being the operative words here), the answer to this puzzle remained illusive. But eventually my ignorance was resolved, so now I can move on, and tell you.

It is a good thing to be able to understand mysteries, especially mysteries that involve ourselves and the things in our own lives that are important to us. It is my sadhana that is most important to me, but perhaps there are other things more important to you. Still, we both surely have one thing in common: the importance of our own selves! It is for this reason I thought you might like to be in on how my mystery unravelled, as this process is useful for many other things in life, such as sorting out the meanings of dreams and other mysterious circumstances.

The first step is to ask yourself what a thing is and what it signifies. For instance, consider what dog-tags are and what purpose they serve. (At this point you may want to reread Part One of this story, especially if you don’t remember what dog-tags are.) The answer is:

IDENTITY

Dog-tags serve the purpose of identifying the wearer. For many years I was comfortable with the realization that I was not a body, not a mind, not a personality, not feelings, actions or anything else my mind would have me believe; I was comfortable not being identified with any of these. But there was still a piece missing. I had been aware of this, but I had not found that piece. Now I can tell you what it was:

IDENTITY

The same word again (remember, there were two dog-tags), but with a different application altogether. There are always two dog-tags in a soldier’s kit. This is also the case for you and I. Our problem is that we are only inclined to notice one of them. If you are missing one, it is probably the same one I was missing.

De-identifying with what you are not is only the beginning. This will not serve you until you fill the gap with something else—you will either become self-deluded that you are enlightened, or you will be haunted by this sense of something being missing. This realization will leave a hole as big as the cosmos itself if you don’t identify with something else. But identify with what?

Cease to identify with Creation and identify with the Creator. 

It hadn’t occurred to me that the key wasn’t in de-identifying with what you are not (the first dog-tag). The key was to be found in what one identifies with (the second dog-tag).

Cease to identify with “stuff” and identify with its Source.

Living in Truth is not about being true to yourself, it’s about being your True Self. This begins with seeing your Self. I know that sounds strange (and yes, here comes another story), but in the realms of Spirit, things are often not consistent with what we like to think of as “reality”. In fact, they can be downright opposed to it, illogical, and not make any sense at all.

In my early days of meditating, I found myself crossing a bridge (how symbolic!), and having crossed the bridge to the other side, I noticed someone lying on the ground. She was smiling sweetly and naked as a jaybird, lying on her side, left side up. As I came closer, I observed two things in particular: She was enveloped in divine bliss, and she was me.

Me? How could this be? If she were me, then who was this “me” doing the looking? Yet I knew without so much as a smidgen of doubt that she was my very Self. Which presented another puzzle: What is this form of her’s? Why is there a form at all? And if she is me, why am I thinking of her as “her” as if she were other than me?

The experience was a wonderous joy, but remained a mystery for some time. I later learned about the five koshas (sheaths), which are what you might call five bodies, or five subtle forms. My “Self” had been wearing the ananda kosha (bliss body), the subtlest of the five.

This is what yoga (union) is all about: the union of the self with the Self. That is one way to put it. Union of you with Absolute God is another way, which isn’t really a different statement, but this is actually already a done deal (realizing it is the trick). Union of the self with the Self is more to the point.

This brings me to the conclusion of my story(s). I promised that learning the purpose of the two dog-tags would be enlightening. I meant that in more ways than one (as I often do). I hope you found it so.

Namaste (I bow to the Divine One that you really are),
Durga Ma
durgama.com

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Lakulisha and the Two Dog-tags, Part 1

I have decided to tell you a little story. The memory of a very special event that took place many years ago during a difficult time in my life, entered my awareness this morning in meditation. I have not shared this story with more than two people, but this morning I felt moved to tell it to you.

It happened during my morning meditation many years ago. I had begun remembering Lakulisha and the amazing experiences I had had that caused me to think of him as a “heart magnet”, for that he is indeed: His love is literally magnetic, drawing you to him in waves of joy so intense that you stumble over your own feet (if you happen to be on them). The memory of him brought about this same feeling of being drawn to him. It became so strong it was as if he were in the room with me, and I began to imagine that I could feel his presence, and couldn’t resist the urge to look. And to my astonishment, there he was, just coming out of my closet!

He was dressed in nothing but a ragged old loin cloth, looking like a bedraggled sadhu, and smiling widely. He was so solid, so “real”, that at first I thought, Who is this begger? Who do I know in this part of the world who looks like that who would be in my house, much less in my meditation room?

He was carrying something in his hand that I assumed was a begging bowl, so I went to him to pranam. We spoke briefly and I began to realize who he really was. I was stunned. His grin got wider.

In his hand I saw that he held not a begging bowl, but something that I couldn’t make out. He opened his hand and there were two dog-tags on a long chain, the kind of dog-tags soldiers wear so that when bodies are recovered from the battlefield they can be identified. I thought this was strange (mala beads would have made more sense). It was certainly unexpected. He held them out to me as a gift, which I gratefully, but uncomprehendingly, accepted.

He told me that one the two tags was very special and that I should open it. Well, I’d never heard of dog-tags that could be opened, but who was I do question; after all, I was talking to Lakulisha! So I tried to open one of them but couldn’t figure out how to do it. He said, no, that one didn’t open and to open the other one. So I tried the other dog-tag, and sure enough, it easily slid open. What happened next is the heart of my story:

From the opened dog-tag there emitted a light by which I was instantly encompassed, a light like that of the White Swami** (could Lakulisha have been the White Swami???) and bearing the same characteristics:

“There was simultaneously everything and nothing, an unimaginable light more brilliant than I could ever describe, timelessness, and though there was nothing physical about it, no sensation as we know it, I had a sense of floating. There was no thought, no memory, nothing left to want. Everything was perfect just as it was.” **

Well, that’s a pretty good story, but why did Lakulisha give me dog-tags? Why not just zap me and be done with it? This is the subject of the next installment, Lakulisha and the Two Dog-tags, Part 2, so please be sure not to miss it. I think you will find it enlightening. (I will try not to keep you waiting a whole week.)

Namaste (I bow to the Divine One that you really are),
Durga Ma
durgama.com

** You can find this and the story of The White Swami in Living the Mysteries.

Swami Kripalu Recognizes His Guru

The village people took the holy statue from the farmer’s field, placed it in a chariot and brought into the town. They established it in a very small temple, and people came from all around. But again, as an effect of time, after two or three years the village became quiet again.

People did feel that this was a most unusual statue, but they did not know what to do about it. It was as if this pilgrimage place had lost its power again. Where there was such a divine image, there was complete darkness, as if God were waiting for someone.

One day I was invited to that town to give a discourse. I never used to go anywhere for a whole day. I don’t know why, but I said yes to that lecture. Upon arriving there, I was told that this was another Kashi [the highest spiritual center]. The flow of the Sanatana Dharama was emanating from there. I was surprised to find out this was another Kashi, but the most surprising thing was that my birth place was only ten miles from there. Here was a tirtha so cose to my birthplace and I didn’t know anything about it. So I told them that I would go with them for darshan.

With me were four of five leaders of the village. They told me the history as they pointed to all the historical places. The leaders were very intelligent, and what was worth showing they showed me last! Finally they took me to the temple where the statue that had been discovered was established. I entered the temple and looked at the image of the great sage and was so surprised—in front of a linga was the statue of my own guru! I was familiar with every part of his form.

Looking back, when I was first at this feet, I was only nineteen years old. He had lots of love for me and I loved him very much. Whenever I was disappointed in some way he used to hug me and convey enormous love for me. But all that time, his body was the body of an old swami. At that time, I could not imagine that someone’s soul could enter another body.

Later in my life, I was in the area of the Himalaya Mountains in Rishikesha. There are many yogis who live there. I was a new swami dressed in a swami dress. One day I went to a faraway place on top of a hill to cut a special branch from a tree. As I started cutting the branch, I saw an individual walking down the hill. He had only a cloth around his waist. I didn’t pay any attention to him because there are many saints in that land. As I was cutting the branch, I heard a voice whisper from behind saying, “swami”. It was the voice of my guru whom I had first met when I was nineteen.

I was confused because only my guru used to address me by the name of Swami. But when I turned around, I saw that this was not that old swami body. This body that I saw near Rishikesha was just like the body of the statue: the Divine Body of my guru. There is such power in that body that it can take any form or even enter into a dead body [the swami whose body Lakulisha has used had just died].

This inidividual who was saying “swami” looked only eighteen years old.  It was winter time but he was only wearing a cloth from the waist, the rest of his body was bare. My body was covered with lots of woolen clothes. When I looked at him, he smiled, his eyes twinkling. I knew then that this was indeed my gurudeva. I forgot to bow down and ran over to him and hugged him. He stroked his hand over my head and my body. I just kept on weeping. Then I remembered that I had forgotten to bow down at his feet. “Gurudeva, please excuse me”, I said, and bowed down at his feet.    

Once I had asked him, “Gurudev, how does the Divine Body look?”, and he told me that sometime I would see it. Now I asked, “Gurudev, it this the Divine Body?” He said, “Yes, this is the Divine Body.” I asked him how many years old it was. He answered, “My son, you will have to find out for yourself.” Then I asked, “How will I be able to find it out?” I had not even imagined that I would be so fortunate to ever see a Divine Body.

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Jaya Bhagavan (victory to God),
Durga Ma
durgama.com

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