Signs and Wonders

* * * * 

     Our young marriage was severely tested, however, when I became a devotee of Gurudeva Ji. For though I’ve focused here on a few rather exotic experiences, it was the subtler but more consistent quality of devotion emanating from the guru’s followers (but not my wife) that was winning my spiritual heart. These were people of all ages, some children and some in their eighties. At nightly gatherings called satsang, they would step to the front of the room and extemporaneously express their love for God in the most personal and eloquent ways. There were no agendas, scripts or cue cards at these sessions. Only those who felt moved to speak came forward, and no one rushed to fill the occasional meditative hiatus.

I found the inspiration and sense of well-being at satsang so intoxicating, I soon was taking pains to get there for my nightly fix. Needless to say, our home life was profoundly affected by this dependency; and by my absence.

Diane had just completed her masters in social work and taken a job as a family and child therapist. She had also started into her own psychoanalysis. Her personal and professional lives were thus orienting her 180 degrees from the direction life was taking me.

I don’t recall the exchange that finally brought things to a head, but I ended up packing my bags and taking an apartment not far from my office. I shared this space with a “blissed-out” but utterly derelict devotee whose previous address had been the woods across from Deva Ji’s ashram. My separation from Diane didn’t last more than a few weeks, however, and our reconciliation was triggered by another cosmic intervention I credited to the guru.

My car was in the shop and I was sitting in the customers’ lounge, reading The Aquarian Gospel. This book was popular among the devotees but I couldn’t seem to concentrate on it. Diane and I hadn’t spoken for about a week and my mind kept wandering to that situation. Should I call her? Should I wait for her to call me?

I paced a number of times to the pay phone on the wall. Then a rather authoritative thought occurred to me. “READ THE NEXT CHAPTER OF THE BOOK BEFORE YOU DECIDE.” I sat back down, opened to exactly where I had left off and this is what I found:

Chapter 77

Jesus in Hebron. Goes to Bethany.

Advises Ruth Regarding Certain

Family Troubles.

* * *

The evening came; the multitudes were gone, and Jesus, Lazarus and his sisters, Martha, Ruth and Mary, were alone. And Ruth was sore distressed. Her home was down in Jericho; her husband was the keeper of an inn; his name was Asher-ben.

Now, Asher was a Pharisee of strictest mien and thought, and he regarded Jesus with disdain.

And when his wife confessed her faith in Christ, he drove her from his home.

But Ruth resisted not; she said, “If Jesus is the Christ, He knows the way, and I am sure he is the Christ.”

“My husband may become enraged and slay my human form; he cannot kill the soul, and in the many mansions of my Fatherland, I have a dwelling-place.”

And Ruth told Jesus all; and then she said, “What shall I do?

And Jesus said: “ Your husband is not willingly at fault; he is devout. He prays to God, our Father-God.

He feels assured that he has done the will of God in driving you away. Intolerance is ignorance matured.

The light will come to him someday, and then he will repay for all your heartaches, griefs and tears.

And Ruth, you must not think that you are free from blame.

If you had walked in wisdom’s ways and been content to hold your peace, this grief would not have come to you.

It takes a long, long time for light to break into the shell of prejudice, and patience is the lesson you have need to learn.

The constant dropping of the water wears away the hardest stone.

The sweet and holy incense of a godly life will melt intolerance much quicker than the hottest flame or hardest blow.

Just wait a little time and then go home, with sympathy and love. Talk not of Christ nor of the kingdom of the Holy One.

Just live a godly life, refrain from harshness in your speech, and you will lead your husband to the light.”

And it was so.*

*Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ, by Levi (reprinted by permission of De Vorss Publications)

Decades later, I can hardly read this text without getting a lump in my throat. Diane was as ensconced as any Pharisee in her psychoanalytic religion. Her concern for my well-being was sincere. But like Ruth’s husband, she had grown intolerant of my heresy.

However skeptical any reader may be about this incident, convinced that having subliminally glimpsed the next chapter heading, I used it as a means of resolving my ambivalence about calling Diane, I ask you to give at least my sincerity (or naivete) the benefit of the doubt. Can you imagine what it meant to me to think the guru was now interceding in my marital behalf?

I did phone Diane and we got together about an hour later. But quite contrary to the counsel Jesus had given Ruth, I heard myself extolling Deva Ji yet again to my long suffering wife. For five seamless minutes, some trance-like satsang poured out of me. Only this time, Diane was taken, not turned off, by the onslaught. When I finally stopped speaking, she declared she could no longer deny her attraction to whatever was so moving me … or her desire to experience it herself!

I’m reminded here of the scene in When Harry Met Sally where Meg Ryan fakes an orgasm in the restaurant to prove to Billy Crystal she’s not sexually repressed. (A woman at the next table tells the waitress, “I’ll have whatever she’s having.”)

So was this all some kind of spiritual masturbation? Was any part of it real? Or was it, like Meg Ryan’s performance, an audacious prank? (And if so, who was the prankster?)