Day Two: Friday September 24, 2010
LISA AND LOUISA: Spiritual Healing
A Surprising Question
Meghan and I meet with the Inuit elder and healers Louisa and Lisa on the second floor of the inn on the soft chairs and sofa in the comfortable lounge. After a couple of minutes together, Sunanda and Rishi join us.
I feel an immediate, deep connection with these two women. I easily open a conversation about spirituality. I am here with sincere openness and receptivity to find out more about the Inuit spiritual traditions that honour the Earth, acknowledging Her as a force that runs through all things. For years shamans have been teaching me through my sleep, guiding my journey through the unseen. Now I am at shores of the Arctic Ocean where the culture has been driven for thousands of years by the ways of the shaman. I am so grateful to be here. I know that the Inuit traditionally have an Angakok or medicine man known to change the weather, effect cures and see things hidden. I wonder what Lisa and Louisa will be able to tell me about these ancient ways.
To my surprise, when I ask them about shamanism and the Inuit spiritual traditions, Louisa responds with a question: “Have you accepted Jesus into your life?” I pause for a moment and take a few deep breaths. I feel stammered by the unexpected. I feel like I am experiencing the effects of Christian missionaries in the Arctic who uprooted the traditional Inuit spiritual practices. This feels like an ironic turning of the tables. Born and raised a Christian, now thousands of miles from my birthplace in the land of the Inuit, I am being asked about Jesus when I seek to know more about their spiritual traditions that pay homage to the Earth. Here in a high Arctic desert, I feel I have stepped into what feels like an age-old gap between western religion and nature wisdom. With a spiritual resolve in my life to practice “non-resistance to what is”, I allow myself to settle in to this moment and let go of preconceived notions of how I think things should be. This, I guess, is the perfect place to be. I feel I have been guided here for a purpose, so I remain open.
I proceed quietly, practicing what I learn in my daily meditation practice about being still and receptive. I intuitively feel deep in my gut that the light that these two women have touched through God the Father and Christianity is the same light that has guided me here on this journey and the same wisdom that traditional cultures find through their connection to the Earth and celebration of Goddess. I know in my heart that there is no separation between us, though the human ego-mind wants to create division. It seems, at this moment, that I must be sensitive to our potential limits in perception. How easy it is to find division when we seek to touch the infinite. The ego-mind only knows how to create separation. But I know, in essence, we are one. I focus on that and allow my intuition and sincere heart to guide this conversation.
I share with these women that I am raised Christian and worked for a few years at the United Church of Canada as an assistant lay-minister. Still their question persists. Have I accepted Jesus into my life?
Rather than closing down, I receive their question as an effort to reach out and touch the sincerity of my heart. Jesus, the Light of Christ is to me that which is the flow of pure consciousness through all living things. I have been graced to know this place. In my heart I feel I have accepted Jesus, the embodiment of pure consciousness, into my life. I cultivate a relationship with pure consciousness daily in my sitting meditation and contemplative prayer practices. This light is the light of life. It is everywhere and in all. I share these feelings with Lisa and Louisa. I also add that I feel we all can know the Light of Christ when we are willing to be open and see clearly, without the tainted view of wanting and egoic attachments.
The mention of egoic attachments is a segue for me to touch upon what I see as the perils and promise of religion. I gently go deeper and voice that though religion can provide an essential framework for spiritual practice, I feel it can also become an obstacle to truth, when people get overly fixated on dogma. I share an analogy that I use often to illustrate this point: spiritual truth calls us to look through the window, not at the window dressing. Often to me people can become overly stuck dressing up the religious window and forget to see the light that is shining through it. At the heart of all spiritual practices, I feel we are called to celebrate the reality of universal light or unconditional love, a pure form of conscious energy that is called many different things to many different people in many different languages all over the world. I reiterate that I am here because we are one people, one family of the same mother, the Earth, animated by the same source light of pure consciousness.
There is a softening in everyone in the room. Our connection deepens.
Sedna and the Holy Spirit
Louisa speaks about the Holy Spirit working through all, through me. She wonders if I am aware of such. I inquire to find out more about what she means by the Holy Spirit. I hear in her words a description of the very same place that moves me. She and Lisa describe how the Holy Spirit is in all living things, in the snow, in the rocks, in the animals, in the air and in the water. Through their words, I hear the unstoppable force of their Inuit traditions, the voice of the shaman who has shape-shifted into that which is now called another name. I feel an expansive warmth run through my heart. I enjoy how for these woman, the traditional Inuit ways have found a way to express themselves through the teachings of Christianity.
Something in the room has changed, as though matter which was suspended above us while holding one’s breath gently released and touched the floor on an exhale. It seems we have arrived through the meandering of our spiritual candour to a place of communion, union through communication, where we touched a luminous place of truth in the still, quiet place in each other’s hearts. This conversation seems to be a continuation of something that began long ago. It feels to each one of us that this is not the first time we have met.
Louisa, the elder and mentor to Lisa, encourages Lisa to recount the traditional story of Sedna. “Long ago, a young girl Sedna refused suitors from her clan choosing instead a mysterious lover who turned out to be a sea bird in disguise. Her father set out to rescue his rebellious daughter. Collecting her from the nest of the Sea Bird, the father and daughter began the journey home in a skin boat. The angry Sea Bird made a great storm to stop them. Fearing the Bird’s power, the father threw his daughter into the sea. She grabbed the side of the boat, but fearing for his own life, he cut off her fingers. Her fingers became whales, seals and polar bears. Her nails became whalebone. As the girl sank into the sea, she transformed into the mystical being known as Sedna, Mother of Oceans and ruler over all life in the Sea.”
Though the story is gruesome, it illustrates the power of nature, the folly of humans and the transcendent relationship between nature and man. Inspired by the riches in this connection and conversation, Rishi leans over to reach for his video camera. But I motion to him to put it down as I notice Lisa shift in her seat, seeing the camera. It is too soon for such. We still need to develop more trust. We are all very open and raw. There seems to be a deep healing that is unfolding as we share our inner truths.
A Blue Whale is Calling
Everyone in the room takes a deep breath. It feels like we are moving into a place of understanding, of commonality, of one heart. And it does not feel like we are alone. Though I can see nothing physically, I sense mysterious forces that are much greater than us at play. We have come together for a reason. The fluorescent lights that shine above us and the acrylic plaid couch and chairs that rest on synthetic industrial grey carpet, seem to disappear into vapour. There is a mystical force in this room of which we are all palpably aware.As I lean over to Lisa and Louisa, I share my purpose and visions, why I feel I am here. I explaining how I have literally felt called by the Earth to go to the North Pole to do healing work there. This has been a natural, spontaneous arising through my daily meditation practice. I voice the shamanic call I feel to help heal the Earth that comes through the many dreams that I have had over the years. I share one particular dream I had the night before we left to begin this journey to the North Pole:
A huge, blue whale was swimming below the ice at the North Pole. It was calling me through sound. It knew I was coming to offer healing to the planet, this living being, our mother. I lay down on the ice and went deeply into trance. My body merged with the whale that guided the healing journey. I woke up from this dream knowing that Nature knows I am coming.
Louisa, the elder of the two women, shifts her body weight in her seat and looks at me with her penetrating, deep, dark eyes. “I knew you were coming,” she says. Chills run all through me. “I had a vision that someone was coming to offer healing at the top of the world. This person, I know, is you.” The shivers continue to run through my whole body and seem to undulate into the entire room. Everything I see seems to shudder and ripple, like the world around me is a vibrating bell, struck by a resonant truth.
A Healing for Sunanda and Rishi
Then Louisa turns spontaneously to Sunanda, who has been quietly observing this conversation unfold, saying nothing, seemingly shy. Louisa begins to reveal in this healing space the core of Sunanda’s pain, wounds she carries from her religious upbringing, the doubt in the light that becomes an obstacle to her evolution. Shaken as though from sleep, Sunanda perks up attentively and also becomes more suspicious. Who is this Inuit woman who reads me like a book? The two engage each other and go deeper. Louisa workshops Sunanda’s wounds with the persistence, care and attention of a loving, wise mother. Soon, Sunanda melts into tears, more receptive now to the depth of truth that is revealed. Meghan then begins to share that she too can relate to Sunanda’s journey. Religions can heal. Religions can wound. It seems the folly of human ways will find ways to distort truth. Yet truth and healing will come, when people are open. Through this honesty, we can all share elements of our past and more about the depth of the resistance we can all have to the light. We share how tricky energies can intervene with the work of spirit. We all know that there is only one way: absolute purity of heart and absolute faith.
Louisa then stands up and turns to Rishi, who is his usual buttery self, bursting with joy at this healing sharing. Standing in front of him yet just barely taller than Rishi sitting on a chair, Louisa puts the palm of her hand on his forehead and presses his head backwards. She closes her eyes and sinks inside herself to listen. After a couple of minutes, her eyes pop open with a tinge of confusion. She shares what she hears: Rishi must go deeper, and deeper still. Louisa admits that she does not understand what this means. Rishi beams. He knows exactly what this means. Before he left, he met with my guides and received the same spiritual direction. He must go deeper and deeper into releasing that which resists evolution, deeper into awakening who he truly is. The spiritual demands of this journey are profound. He must not remain as the cameraman looking out at life through his lens, but be the spiritual seeker he is with the capacity for profound spiritual transformation. Louisa, satisfied with the healing, returns to sit beside me on the sofa.
This setting has become what I call “hyper real”, where what I see seems to shift from monochrome to technicolour, as though the windows of perception suddenly became squeaky clean. Truth revealed touches archetypal, transpersonal proportions. The energy in the room is huge. We are not the doers, but mere instruments of a much bigger flow.
A Plane Crash and Discernment
I turn to Louisa and Lisa and tell them that I am aware of the dangers we face on this journey to the North Pole to provide healing for our mother, the planet. There are many energies seen and unseen that do not wish for change, healing and release. I tell them about the plane crash vision I had after a long meditation sit when back at my shrine weeks ago in my meditation room. I know that there is a real danger of a crash, so I ask for their prayers.Louisa looks at me sternly. She too saw the crash in her vision. She knows that it is a true possibility. With the wisdom and potency that only an elder can have, she says: “Now that it is spoken, it has no more power.” Again, a ripple of energy runs through my body now tingling.
Then Louisa changes her sitting position on the sofa so that she can gaze directly into my eyes. She reaches out and takes my hands. With the warmth of our hands merging, it feels like it is just the two of us sitting alone on the sofa. The rest of the world falls away into nothingness. Our eyes lock and an immense space opens between us. In her dark, Inuit eyes, I see my Guru, Amma, Mata Amritanandamayi Devi, looking straight at me. I inwardly melt, faced with this force, and receive what feels like a shower of Grace from above the crown of my head and right into my spine. The tingles keep coming like rays of rainbow light from beyond. Louisa and I giggle as each wave flows through my spine. “Download”, I say. Tears roll down my face. I feel immense expansion. There is a huge, multi-dimensional energy here and a presence coming through this exchange that to me feels like Amma’s darshan. I feel open, loved and receptive to the powerful healing taking place here.
The energy then shifts. Louisa utters that I must be very careful. I must be discerning. She says that which seems like light may not be. I wonder why she says this. If anything, I err on the side of cautious. Discernment has been a good friend. I sense that perhaps it is her Christian conversion speaking, questioning my interest in what could be judged as the dark ways of shamanism. She speaks of being careful when listening to dreams, leaning to know what is the Will of Jesus and what is temptation. Though I would phrase it differently, I fully agree and know this to be true, which is why the practice of discernment is essential on the spiritual path. So I ask myself, why am I hearing this now? Her particular words do not resonate much, but something shared through them does. I know that there is some kind of discernment I must have when faced with the risk of this trip to the North Pole, the risk to my life and those I love. There is something I have not yet seen. I do not understand but consciously decide to let it be. Whatever it is will be revealed when the time is right. Of that I am sure.
The loving warmth in the room envelopes each one of us. We stand up and hug each other, giving thanks for what we have shared and for the bond of newfound friendship. Louisa tells us that she feels she has gained new children. We all feel a familial closeness with these two beautiful, gifted Inuit healers.
We end our meeting with a group prayer, asking for grace for one another, asking for grace for the North Pole journey. As the group parts ways for the night, Sunanda, Rishi and I go to my room. We share the same awe at what just transpired. Each of us independently felt that our Guru, Amma, had come here to this inn in Resolute Bay to give us darshan. Teary-eyed and humbled, our spirits have been renewed and souls filled.
Yet I am left with a gnawing question. Both Lisa and Louisa seemed to be accurate in their intuitive perception with everyone so there must be truth in the request for me to be discerning. What am I not seeing?
To Come or Not to Come, That is the Question
Like a flash of illumination, I suddenly see that what Louisa was sensing was my inner conflict about the outstanding decision I have been carrying. We met a wonderful healer who has been moved by our trip to the North Pole and wishes to join us for the last leg of our journey. With the powerful skills of a mantra yogi and healer, I know that his presence could literally save our lives and avoid an untimely death. Yet, Sunanda, Rishi and I have already contacted the unseen, worked with the Nature Devas and asked for our Guru’s Grace, which we feel more than ever we have. We have acted exactly as we have been called to do, willing even to risk our lives. Do we stay on course or do we now include this friend as well? Is this Grace or is it distraction? The stakes are very high. The decision has been weighing heavily on me. We speak not of a fun-filled adventure, but of a journey that could cost us our lives.
With just one day left before we make the last leg of our journey to the pole, I feel an urgent need to go inside and listen more deeply for guidance on how to proceed. I find a quiet place in my room and move into a deep place of listening to invoke guidance. Sunanda and Rishi join me. I want to know what we must say to our friend who so wants to join us. Is it in Divine Right Order that he comes? Or is it not? This journey is in service to energies so much bigger than us. We are in service to Grace unseen. So what does Amma, Grace, unconditional-love, the light of the Christ wish for us to do at this time? After a long time in deep inner listening, allowing for an open, unrestricted field of possibility to expand through me, a resounding answer arises and spontaneously spills from my mouth: “No.” Sunanda and Rishi, who are meditating nearby, look over at me with stark seriousness. We nod to each other, all in agreement. In less than 36 hours, the three of us will board a tiny sea-otter plane, charged with prayers and purity of heart, and go to the North Pole on our own.
To be continued…