Sunday, December 26, 2010

Eat Pray Love

Some books electrify me....

One of creative expression that calls out to me is found in Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love. She journeys around the world seeking truth, peace, and joy. There are parts of this book that positively exhilarated me because I have felt what she did, I have seen the Nirvana that she experienced. It’s not some bizarre carnival ride in my brain, it’s a place that others yearn for and some have actually found.

She talks of Turiya, a Hindu concept, which is the “elusive fourth level of human consciousness.” It is a state of observation of all levels of your consciousness, a God’s eye view of yourself. If you can find this fourth level, you can be with God all the time. Gilbert says you know you have reached Turiya when you are in a state of constant bliss. Some descriptors are pure, clean, eternal, tranquil, and most important to me, “abiding in your own greatness.” Gilbert states that the great prophets and saints were living in Turiya all the time. She adds that many of us have had brief glimpses of Turiya. In those moments you are “stirred by grace, swollen with wonder, overflowing with bliss.” These moments are elusive and unexplained, and we all search for ways to live in Turiya permanently. Gilbert comments that we have tried any number of ways to preserve Turiya, from sex and drugs to power and adrenaline. Those who follow the Yogic path seek it through meditation. (196-7)

Gilbert then says that perfection, bliss, Turiya, is within all of us, all the time. That is what I have found. When I am manic, I live in Turiya. I go within myself. It is a fourth level or a fourth dimension. I become bliss, I become Love, I become God. I finally recognize and welcome the divinity within me. I know all of me, love all of me, and fear nothing. As mania has come and gone over the years, I have been able to wear away at the learned fear. I began to see the crusading Christian construct of fear for what it is: ludicrous, manufactured, overblown, entrenched yet tenuous, a true Wizard of Oz, dancing in the shadows of self-doubt and misplaced faith, tormenting us by day and haunting us by night. By banishing the fear I started to knit pieces of heaven into the patchwork of my daily life, so the flashing glimpses of Turiya appear with greater frequency. The hope I have is that I can get back to Turiya or heaven on earth, not through mania, but through you. With you. With all of us.

Gilbert paints the picture of heaven as others have felt it. The yogi Ketut Liyer reports that it is “gold color everywhere, even inside me.” In heaven, I saw the same unstoppable waves of golden love, pouring through and from and into all of us. The man continues that “This gold color is God, who inside me. Same thing that is God is same thing inside me. Same-same.” Exactly. Same-same. We are God, he is us. Same-same. (233)

When Gilbert asks Liyer what Heaven is like, he responds “Beautiful. Everything beautiful is there. Everything beautiful to eat is there. Everything is love there. Heaven is love.”

All of these descriptions are dead on. She describes where I have been, and where I hope to go again, with all of you.

Gilbert reports that for one spiritual sage, being in Heaven with God is “like two fat men living in a small boat---we keep bumping into each other an laughing.” That is exactly the fun and familiarity I find with God when I am in heaven. He is my best friend. We get each other’s jokes. We find the other hilarious. We cluck around like happy hens. When you know that God is you, that he is the best and worst of you and everything in between, you just laugh with such relief. Such an exhale. It is like we have been crying for God, lamenting in tears that he has left us and that we are lost and that we need him to be with us, and then he finds us, we walk out of the maze into his arms, and we let out a huge exhausted shudder when the tears have been wiped away. Our joy at the reunion is matched by his; he has come home too.

The final section of Gilbert’s book that vibrated within my heart tracks God talking to the author when she is at her most hopeless and desperate. God’s voice says:

“I’m here. I love you. I don’t care if you need to stay up crying all night long, I will stay with you. If you need the medication again, go ahead and take it----I will love you through that, as well. If you don’t need the medication, I will love you too. There’s nothing you can ever do to lose my love. I will protect you until you die, and after your death I will still protect you. I am stronger than Depression and I am braver than Loneliness and nothing will ever exhaust me.”

Now this is what we all long to hear from God. But when I read that, I was manic and in heaven, and I was riddled with a love for other human beings so profound and pervasive that the weight of it brought me to tears. These words were mine to you. This was what I longed to say to each of you, what I still long to say to you. It’s how much I love you when I am in heaven….or really, all the time, but when not in heaven, I sometimes get scared to say it. I am afraid of what you will think of me if I say it, but I feel it nonetheless.

As I now read these words again, I realize that we long to hear that from each of us, and we will. But I also see that this is me talking to myself too. Because in heaven I am God, I am my best friend, protector, and comforter. I love myself just as Gilbert’s God loves her, and as soon as I allow myself to do that, I expand with that same love for you too. I cannot help but love with God-love.

So Gilbert has had quite an awakening. Her books resonated with all of us, because she describes the ultimate relationship with God. She got a glimpse of our life as it should and will be. We have all felt it too, and we are excited. I am thrilled to think heaven is just around the corner, but I am twice as delighted to be sharing that good news with you.

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God, to have these guys in a room together again....