When I owned my school of Tai Chi Chuan in Cambridge, Massachusetts, I had a lot of energy. People would feel it and even I would be overwhelmed by it, yet I had no wisdom. People thought I was something more than I was because they were entranced with the energy and identified me with it. The energy knew things; I had much to learn.
Baba had tremendous energy. He gave shaktipāt (awakening) to many thousands of people at a time. But I did not go to Baba for the shakti. I went to Baba for his wisdom. I experienced the Truth within him, and I knew he could teach it to me. There are myriad teachers with shakti, but very few with wisdom, and almost none who have realized the Truth.
Being with Baba meant, for me, surrendering to his wisdom and receiving what he had to give me. He passed on to me the essence of spiritual practice—not an insight or idea, but an actual moment-to-moment practice that will lead us Home, where wisdom resides. In teaching me, Baba removed the obstacles blocking my path, and activated what was latent within me.
Everyone has a gift. Within each of us there is some latent capacity that spiritual practice will nurture. In the course of sādhana, a person’s gift or gifts will expand, and may take on qualities that had not appeared before. Over the last thirty years, my own gift has developed. This gift is the ability to burn up people’s pain. This removal of pain is what happened for me with Baba. It is one of the many things he taught me.
Yes: people’s pain is dissolved when they sit with me. I go deep within myself to the groundwater of consciousness, where I can feel their pain as if it were my own; then I dissolve it in the light of consciousness. In relative reality, of course, their pain isn’t mine, but in an Absolute sense we all share all the pain and joy in the universe. Many people have experienced me removing their pain.
When Baba was teaching me, all I had to do to facilitate his dissolving my pain was to let go. And yet very few people are willing to do this. They want to hold onto their pain. They would not know who they were if they let it go. Their small self would lose its grip. They would lose their motivation. They would lose everything if they sat and I dissolved their pain. And they certainly wouldn’t want to acknowledge that they needed me to do for them something they couldn’t do for themselves. The small self prefers to believe that I just sit there while it dissolves its own pain. The problem is, the small self cannot dissolve its own pain.
I have to say that I am naïve, as Baba once said I was. I really thought people would want to get rid of their pain. People are always saying they do, but when it comes to actually doing it, the resistance is palpable. We all have fear and resistance, but we do not have to let fear and resistance run us. I want to teach people to get to a point in their practice where they can burn up their own pain, but people refuse to give up their sense of control. They don’t want to feel dependent on me as their guide. Nor do they want to be wholly independent, because that means taking full responsibility for their own pain.
So I am left with the realization that very few people want to accept what I have to offer. Many don’t even want to accept that I have something to offer. Baba used to say, “I give you what you want, so that one day you will want what I have to give.” Now I see every day what he meant.
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