Signs and Wonders

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 The very idea of an exalted Satguru was not easy for me. This was the early ’70s, and the Jesus freaks, “est”-people and followers of myriad babas and anandas (often themselves former Epsteins and Moskowitzes) all had signs and wonders of their own. It was as though there were three types of people in the world: skeptics, those who had found God and those who only thought that they had found Him. (And of course, the latter only made it harder for those of us in the middle category to get through to those in the first.)

Nevertheless, I continued to have extraordinary experiences that reinforced my allegiance to the guru. For example, while practicing a meditation technique called “listening to the music,” strains of a Renaissance motet wafted ethereally through my right ear! The sound was so vivid, I barely made it through the first stanza before jumping up to make certain no one had a radio on in the adjacent room. (There was no radio, but after the unscheduled intermission, no more motet either.)

Another time, I became immersed in something I can only relate to the phrase “filled with the Holy Spirit.” I called my wife Diane into the little, darkened hallway I used for meditation and tried to describe what I was feeling. But the sensation only quickened, outstripping any thought of running commentary. This time, it seemed right to give the experience my undivided attention, and Diane (assessing me no danger to myself or others) graciously excused me to whatever I was in the throes of.

This meditation had the feel of a tutorial – some precognitive colloquy that rose, as I tuned in, to an inspired height. I exulted there some inchoate while. And then, like the parting kiss of a spiritual lover, my reverie came into more prosaic focus.

I was working as a public defender by this time, and the upshot was a new perspective on my clients (indigent criminal defendants), on one hand, and those presiding over their due process, on the other. Years later, I tried to capture the idea part of this in a poem:

  Paragons and Miscreants

 Our paragons and miscreants were cut from selfsame cloth.

And equally enfranchised in the only mortal business –

that of getting (or of staying)

just as comfortable as circumstance permits.

By dint of jurisprudence drafted by my well placed peers,

our livelihood seems honest and secure.

My clients, though, must answer

for desires we can satisfy but they can ill afford.

And for us, a nonpecuniary perk:

We’re seen all the more upstanding for our salutary work.

Our pride and joy; their due process . . .

All men are berated equal.

Whatever the above evokes, there was no trace of cynicism or self-reproach in the experience itself. No polemic against lawyers or some power elite, the essence of the epiphany was its very objectivity. Crowning of a bright, non-verbal piece, it was awareness, not thought – a beholding: of the ultimate innocence of every human being, however derelict his behavior.