..Victoria Barkley..

Darshan in the Dark Light of the Moon

Hoping to experience a personal audience (called a Darshan) with the Mother, Ammachi, was what coaxed me out of my cozy home on this Friday the 13th. Getting to meet her, however, was a bit rough going.

"Are you here for the first time?" the lady in a long white sarong — and sweet, smiling face to go with it — wanted to know while I was contemplating leaving the long line potentially leading to spiritual liberation, and taking in a good movie instead.

"No, I saw her once before, about 10 years ago." I admitted, as I chose to wait at least until the friend I was supposed to meet there could find me. I was given a token (a small slip of paper with letter and number) indicating my place in the procession to receive Ammachi's blessings.

Next, a crowd of devotees shoved me down many flights of winding stairs to the basement and then pushed me up again, to be eventually perched in the next-to-the-last row on the highest balcony. This roller coaster entry into the belly of the event foreshadowed the course of the night on many levels, as I was having second thoughts about going ahead with it.

The last bit of enthusiasm for this adventure quickly faded as soon as I squeezed into a seat between a tall man with long legs to my right and his short, fat cousin to my left. They made me want to head for the aisles and stand this one out, had it been allowed.

Making matters even less comfortable, we were warehoused in a hot, airless auditorium with wide columns up ahead obstructing much of the stage from view. Volunteer ushers asked us to silence our cell phones as we were seated, so I couldn't even share the misery with my happily unaware accomplice — somewhere out there enjoying her life. By now, I wished she had never told me about this "once-in-a-lifetime" opportunity, that she herself had the wisdom to miss.

Ammachi entered stage left, performed a short ceremony — much of which was described to me in reverently hushed tones by those who were privy to see — and helpers bearing big trays of holy water began to distribute the blessed elixir to everyone. The guy on my right gulped his right down, shortly before the announcer told us, in broken English, to treat it as a homeopathic spiritual remedy and keep diluting it to share with others, or sip slowly whenever we needed physical, mental or emotional healing. Realizing that these instructions might have been too late for some, he added, "If you drank it already...don't worry," followed by uproarious laughter.

Ammachi gave a long lecture in her native dialect, translated by a man who had a heavy accent, making it difficult to understand some of what he was saying. What were they thinking turning the volume way up so my eardrums hurt; perhaps if the message was delivered loudly enough we'd get the content without proper pronunciation? Group chanting of the thousand names of the Goddess came next, just before entering the sacred silence.

We were quietly petitioning the Divine Feminine to descend as the phone in my hand began to vibrate. I guessed that it was my pal, probably still outside, trying to locate me. Bummer; her timing was way off. It was too late to spring me from this place. I resigned myself to remain a little while longer.

At the tale end of the lecture and ceremonies we were instructed to form the Darshan lines on either side of the stage by letter and number while the rest could opt for a modestly priced vegetarian dinner. The largest dining area was in the basement and those of us not on the main floor were asked to wait in our seats until the traffic thinned out a bit. Another eternity had passed.

Earlier, I ran into an acquaintance, who was now visible a short distance from me. We moved down to the lowest balcony and began to chat. Warming up to our friendly banter, feeling sociable, I leaned forward to casually click a couple of pictures of the stage.

As soon as the flash popped for the first photo, an angry genie appeared — in the shape of a young man dressed in all white — who demanded that I surrender the low-tech, disposable camera. When I protested, saying I had irreplaceable personal pictures in there, he said he was sorry but I should have known better and I had to let those mementos go. I reluctantly relinquished the offending equipment, and sat in stunned silence after that. I had been robbed.

The woman, who was joyfully conversing with me just moments before, became apologetic. She said she should have warned me but she was "high" from the energy all around her and wasn't thinking straight. Looking at me fighting back tears, she tried to soothe me by pointing out that on such a positive occasion, she was sure the Mother would eventually compensate me for my loss.

Seeing that she could not cheer me up, she tactfully left, so I could finally sulk to my heart's content. That's when I had hit emotional bottom. I felt sad, unheard, misunderstood, disempowered, angry and hurt, as well as unjustly punished for an innocently misguided act. I was a mess, having a hissy fit, and I needed help to climb out of this bottomless emotional pit I'd fallen into.

I needed a dose of detachment. What if I asked Spirit to help restore me to a more even keel, as my friend had suggested, so I could be at peace with myself and with the world around me? I didn't have to love where I was, just accept it, so I wouldn't feel so dismal. So, I prayed to be restored to sanity and hoped that I'd be shown a way to do just that.

Nothing outside had changed but I began to feel a little calmer. Not happy, not joyful — not yet understanding what happened or why — just slightly less distraught. In fact, I had regained just enough composure to want to explore a bit more of this huge space with these thousands of people and let the healing begin as it may, of its own accord, trusting that it would happen if I took the first step.

The Darshan line was up to "B"; my token began with an "O." I didn't know how long I'd have to wait for my turn but thought if I'd come this far, I might as well hang around for my private moment with Ammachi. I still didn't know what the heck I was really doing there. I was just curious enough about the experience to give it one more try.

I opted for dinner in the makeshift basement dining room. With a full plate in hand, I spotted an empty chair at one of the round tables and found myself in the middle of an astrological conversation about the upcoming new moon in Cancer, culminating in a few hours. It was getting really interesting to hear various points of view. Suddenly, our mealtime discussion heated up and boiled over as a Sagittarian lady lashed out in disagreement at a Scorpio man seated near me. To change the subject away from controversy I asked him how long he'd known Ammachi.

He recalled a tale of their first meeting and how he came to follow her teachings over the past many years, in India and around the world. As he spoke, he gradually became more and more animated. Disgusted by his display of spiritual zeal, and finding herself no longer the center of attention, the Sagittarian lady left our circle.

Mr. Scorpio was an emotional transformer who could dip down into the depths of feeling without flinching and salvage sunken treasure lost to less hardy souls. He offered morsels of truth and expounded upon them in such a scintillating way it was astounding to behold. I was hooked. He pulled me in and kept me buoyantly floating in the moment. There was nothing but the spacious present, which kept expanding. He said his passion was teaching what he had learned. I could see why.

One by one, the chairs thinned out around us as we remained, exploring many topics — comparing Christ's journey to other teachers, covering Hinduism, Shamanism, true and false aspects of self, the meaning of freedom, nature of physical reality and humanity in the greater scheme of things. Before I knew it, hours had disappeared as I was learning much from this healing spirit with white beard and hair like Rasputin, aflame with inner fire.

He was a magician conjuring images to balance mind and heart. The instant we clicked, something more than us had entered our connection. From this larger perspective, I could perceive the meaning of what had taken place earlier that night and beyond. This consciousness expansion happened spontaneously, and we both knew how rare a gift we were given. Drama grew, but without ego involvement there was peace in joyful intensity.

Slowly, my feelings of anger, hurt, and disempowerment were morphing, as I was soaking up a gift of clarity. I was offered a higher view, and finally understood why things happened the way they did. The secret of how a greater part of self might perceive the human predicament was revealed — knowing that lessons were being learned, emotions were played out and were acted on — and when the incarnation was over, she would get to go home and share a good "earth life story."

Had the camera not been taken away, I probably would have taken a picture or two of my newfound "best" friend. And if I had a pen on me, I would have started to take notes on all the fascinating ideas we had shared until the wee hours of the morning. Because I didn't have these tools to hide behind, I was undefended and ready to receive much more than I initially requested healing for.

All that was asked of me was to show up, stay open, remain authentic and allow another to meet me there. At that level, we stopped being a man and a woman of different ages and backgrounds, and all of our dissimilarities and non-essential parts of self fell away. Letting our minds be stripped down to ageless, timeless self-aware points of light, we united in much laughter at the BIG JOKE of "doing time on earth" and delighting in our humanness. It was an incredible experience.

In those few hours, we were gifts to each other and to this world, lightening the load for all of us. From that angle, having a physical body took on immense value and I was once again thankful to be a person — with oppressive emotional burdens lifted — feeling whole and free again. When it was time for me to join the Darshan line, our work together complete, we went our separate ways, glowing.

It was 3 a.m. when Ammachi held me tightly to her floral scented bosom and repeated words for my ears alone. Approaching her seated figure on my knees but centered within my own divinity — cleansed, balanced and renewed — I felt lifted by the love. Although she had been with me forever, it was a transcendent moment. I was grateful to have stayed.