19 July 2012

Rhino Wars: Order and Connection
Just today I opened an envelope from my tenant, postmarked 2 July 2012. It contained a glossy page from a magazine, folded into three sections like a letter, which contained her rent checks for the months of June and July. On that ripped-out magazine page appears the title, "Rhino Wars," and these words of text, "Rivaling the price of gold on the black market, rhino horn is at the center of a bloody poaching battle."

When my tenant posted this envelope, Zafir and I were in South Africa. She never knew we were there, never knew we had been to Kruger National Park, never knew we had seen rhinos there, and never knew we had learned that 281 rhinos had been killed by poachers from January to June 2012 in South Africa alone.

Never before had she enclosed checks in a page from a magazine. Why this page?

Her choice spoke of order and connection. It told me once again that a profound order undergirds what we perceive as chaos, everything is connected, a single thing affecting all things on countless levels.

10 July 2012

The Power of Mirrors, Limes, and Lemons
Because I am an Intuitive-Psychotherapist-Rabbi my approach to facilitating healing in a person’s life is not that of an Intuitive, not that of a Psychotherapist, not that of a Rabbi. My approach is that of an Intuitive-Psychotherapist-Rabbi. I am a three-cylinder vehicle, if you will.

The night before last, a man, whom I have known for several months, came to me for help. He has been wrestling with chemical addiction, with substance abuse, for some time. He goes to Twelve-Step meetings, has a sponsor, and sees a psychotherapist on a weekly basis but cannot stop using. Moreover, he recognizes that whenever he does use he steps not toward but away from his goals.

This man is attractive, intelligent, articulate, and charismatic, and I am grateful that I can see who he is on the inside. His inner beauty far surpasses his outer beauty. He is much bigger than his body, and oftentimes a very powerful light shines through him.

It is clear to him, as it is to me, that he has an important role in this life. When I saw him the night before last he told me that he had used again. I intuitively knew that not every desire to use that he experiences originates within him.

Because he has a Christian background and has told me that he sometimes prays to Jesus, asks Jesus, for help, I spoke these words to him:

Not every desire to use, to engage in self-destructive behavior, originates within you. Not every desire to use is that of a younger self trying to escape reality, to run from feelings, by numbing out with chemicals. You have heard of angels and demons. One of the big lies that we have been told is that we have five senses. We actually have many senses, and our soul is not dependent on just five physical senses. It uses all of the senses to understand what is happening around it, to it. It may be the case that angels and demons do not exist because most people cannot see them with their flesh and blood eyes, with their physical sense of sight. Or it may be the case that these beings do indeed exist even though most cannot see them. We share this planet with countless nonphysical beings. Every being has an agenda. You have an agenda. I have an agenda. Every being, whether physical or nonphysical, has an agenda. For various reasons, some nonphysical beings try to keep us from realizing our life’s purpose.

At this point I asked the man to close his eyes, and I continued:

Think of the person who hurt you the most in this life. Imagine them hovering above you, peering down at you. Imagine what they are thinking about you, saying to you, doing to you.

As this point, I asked the man to open his right hand. I placed a small mirror in his palm, which he knew I was going to do beforehand. And then we went on to talk about the mirror. When asked, he said that the person who had hurt him would now see themself in the mirror. He understood that the hurt this physical being had caused him would return to this physical being just as the boomerang returns. He likewise understood that any hurt a nonphysical inflicts or tries to inflict on him would, thanks to the mirror, return to that nonphysical being.

I then asked the man to open his eyes and spoke theses words to him:

Whenever the thought to use enters your mind, whenever you experience the desire to use, take out the mirror. Hold it above your head facing it upward. You will discover your own way of using it. Look into it and say out loud what your goals are. You may want to pray while using it. Carry it with you.

After he left, I took out the little mirror I had bought for myself. I faced it upward toward Heaven and then downward toward Earth. I faced it right, then left, then all around me.

I thought of what Paul, Saint Paul, said about “principalities” and “powers” so I Googled those words. In Ephesians 6:2, Paul says, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (KJV) And the NRSV renders his words in this way, “For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”

I heard Paul saying, “Your desire to use does not always originate within you, within your ‘blood and flesh.’ Your struggle is not entirely against yourself, against one of your younger selves. The desire to use sometimes originates outside of you. It originates in one or more of the nonphysical beings who are around you, in ‘the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places,’ who seek to prevent you from realizing your life’s purpose, which will keep the world dark and dense.

I then Googled the words Jewish, myth, magic, and mysticism, knowing that I would find my way to the blog of Rabbi Geoffrey Dennis who wrote the book Jewish, Myth, Magic, and Mysticism. When I searched his site for the word mirror, I found these words:

“Mirrors have occupied an interesting place in human thought. More than just a means of seeing the self, they are often an archetype for a portal between mortal and immortal realms….”

I made my way to bed, and still jet-lagged, I woke up the next morning shortly before 4:30 AM. I immediately started Googling, and when I typed the words addiction, demonic, attack, this link appeared: Lime Ritual—Food Addiction & Demonic Attack-You Tube.

I clicked, clicked again, and a guy began speaking. He looked Indian, and he had snow-white hair and a snow-white beard. He spoke slowly and seemed both sane and sincere, and his eyes appeared gentle. He started talking about people who suffer from food addiction, and he explained that their desire for “wrong” food isn’t their desire but the desire of a demon. A demon instills the desire for unhealthy food in the person and then feeds off of the suffering that results. He advised people who experience a desire for unhealthy food to slice a lime or lemon and then throw it away, which over time will cause such a desire to disappear.

I found it interesting that I had prescribed a spiritual ritual to combat chemical addiction and this guy had prescribed a spiritual ritual to combat food addiction. Intrigued, I went to the guy’s website and started poking around. There were books, CDs, courses, you name it. I tried to pull up a Wikipedia article on this Dr. Pillai but couldn’t find anything.

Then I found a video of him teaching a mantra to quench thirst and hunger. I listened to the mantra over and over again, repeating after him each time:


I kept poking around and came across this guy’s first name: Baskaran.

I knew this name.

From 1985 to 1986, I was a graduate student at the University of Pittsburgh, pursuing a master’s in Public and International Affairs. I took a number of courses having to do with Latin America, including a course on Latin American Mythology. That particular course was taught by Dr. Juan Vazquez who responded to my interest in meditation by referring me to a doctoral student in Religious Studies by the name of Baskaran, whom he referred to as “Mr. Baskaran.”

This Baskaran, whose last name I never knew, taught me how to meditate. I meditated two hours every day, once in the morning and once in the evening. At his suggestion, I kept a journal of what I experienced while meditating.

I still have that journal, the pages of which are yellowed. The first entry reads:

“1-11-86” Using technique 1: alternating breathing. I feel relaxed and peaceful. During the meditation I felt the bliss that Baskaran spoke of….”

I meditated daily until moving to Chicago twelve months later, after which I meditated sporadically.

I met with Baskaran a number of times. He would teach me a new technique and / or we would discuss my journal entries. I remember going to his apartment, which was filled with stacks of books, and meeting his wife and a young child (if I am not mistaken). I also remember that once we meditated together for quite a while. I recall him telling me that he regretted having allowed people to talk him into pursuing a doctorate and wanted to found a community where people would live together and meditate.

And only now, twenty six years later, do I remember him taking me out onto the balcony of a building on campus and telling me that he was going to open my third eye, proceeding to chant in Sanskrit (I presume) and pressing hard on my third-eye point. At this time I didn't even understand the meaning of the term third eye and attributed my feeling as though I had awakened from a dream entirely to my daily meditation.

In my article “My Journey to Judaism,” which appears on my website, I write of my experience with Baskaran:

While enrolled in a class on Latin American mythology, I met a doctoral student in religious studies from India, who taught meditation. I can only remember his first name, Baskaran. I became one of his students. Twice daily, I dutifully practiced the meditation exercises he gave me and recorded my experiences in a journal. On one occasion, he said, "You shouldn't be able to go as far as you are with the techniques I'm giving you. You must have studied meditation in a previous life. I'm going to have to be careful about what I teach you." My practice of meditation resulted in my experiencing both the immanence and transcendence of God in a fresh way. I felt God inside of me while at the same time looked to God as the Source of All. My inner life was becoming rich and my dreams unusually vivid.

I stopped poking around Dr. Baskaran Pillai’s website and Googled Baskaran, Pillai, University, and Pittsburgh, which led me to the site Biography of Dr. Baskaran Pillai where I read: “His scholarly background includes Master’s degrees in English Literature and Comparative Literature from Madurai University and a Ph.D. in Religious Studies from the University of Pittsburgh.”

At that moment, at 5:17 AM, on 10 July 2012, I recognized the photograph of Dr. Baskaran Pillai as the Baskaran I knew, and I began to sob and sob, knowing that I was loved. I cried tears of joy knowing that we are all enfolded in love, tears of joy knowing that the man who turned to me for help is being attacked by nonphysical beings who instill in him the desire to use, tears of joy knowing that I am also being attacked, tears of joy knowing that awareness is power and we can save ourselves, tears of joy knowing that my approach, the approach of an Intuitive-Psychotherapist-Rabbi, is effective, tears of joy knowing that I have a true guru through whom the Divine changed and continues to change the course of my life.

Father and Mother, One, Echad, in Bliss, Source of Life, thank you, thank you. Clear our minds and clean our hearts. Fill our hearts with your love, your healing, your peace, and your blessing. Make us your channels, your instruments, your servants in your world. Purify us, use us, and in the fullness of time absorb us. Fill us with peace and prosperity. Fill every being on the face of the Earth with peace and prosperity. Awaken us. Awaken every being on the face of the Earth.

Uri! Uri! Awaken! Awaken!

I Iook forward to seeing you again, Baskaran.

Stay blessed and be well.