I Feel Like Tired or Bon Jovi
I feel like tired or bon jovi. Following a four plus hour fire ceremony on the second floor of a brahmin priest’s personal home we were wandering the streets of Trymbakeshwar trying to find a place that once served as a restaurant in an alleyway somewhere around this area. The mazes of Indian village streets were all looking the same to us, the six of us who had been brave enough to join our teacher on pilgrimage to India where we had no idea what was happening. We were all incredibly high after the ceremony wherein we were supposedly relieved of seven lifetimes of karma and our teacher knew we needed something to eat soon or we might just evaporate or become so ungrounded that we stayed that way, so he stopped in front of a fruit salesman on the street to buy us some bananas until we could find this elusive dining establishment. Like literal monkeys, we were standing there in a cluster eating our bananas and two men pulled up on a motorcycle to park. They stopped to look at us (quite a site! seven white people in Indian clothes generally loosing their minds from an incredible Shakti high awkwardly eating bananas in a semi-circle like asylum escapees) and one of these men was wearing a t-shirt that quite calmly said “I feel like tired or Bon Jovi”. Seriously. This is one of those moments where you are all in alignment with the same trip, like a bunch of stoners who all hear the same extra tambourine player on the record or the more innocent school girls sleepover where you totally see the ghost of so-and-so in the frame of the rom-com movie.
Here was this man, in a t-shirt, that accurately described our collective state of mind: “I feel like tired or Bon Jovi.” I wish i had a picture of it but we were just sitting, as I said, on the second floor of this brahmin priests house where there was a fire pit in the floor, and having just chanted Vedic chants and offered our lifetimes of karma to the fire SWAHA and circumambulated the shiva temple 12 times, om nama shivaya, and having washed our heads in the waters of the Nasik river nearby, we were not on a tourist exploration and had left our phones and cameras back at the hotel. It was all we could do to keep our actual physical bodies together let alone be responsible for personal possessions. So you’ll have to just take my word for it, or trust the drawing I made in my journal, or find and ask one of the other students who was with me at that time to confirm that this is what his shirt said. I think it was light blue lettering on a pale yellow t but it could be the inverse. All I know is that today, walking home to from my breakfast uptown, I was feeling very strange and this is the phrase that came to mind - “I feel like tired or Bon Jovi” and I was like - that’s exactly it!
I had just ate an incredible breakfast of eggs benedict, hashbrowns, grapefruit juice and coffee at the prestigious Harvard Club with my new friend, mentor, and contemplative leader, Mirabai Bush. I am always floored by how quickly the guru takes me out of my own way when I’m least expecting it. I had had a terrible night and a terrible day before. Terrible. Like, the first thing that happened to me the previous morning . . . as I was walking to get my morning coffee, a man lost control of his dog and (accidentally) shoved me into a tree and a puddle while whacking me repeatedly in the face with his umbrella. I started to cry and had to go back home to change and try again. The rest of the day unfolded very much the same with my mounting frustrations ending in anger and feelings of utter defeat with unretunred emails and losing my debit card and nothing really going at all okay. I cursed my guru and wondered where and why I had gone so wrong and if it would ever change. I decided to put myself to bed early, knowing I had this breakfast meeting, and try again the next day, but as soon as I hit the pillow, the downstairs neighbors began a bass-fueled dance party and so I was relegated to the living room where the rumble of the subway and honking of passing taxis was the lesser noise. Sleep was fitful yet I woke up ready to try again and got started on my morning routine . . .
So we went into the dining hall and sat to eat. The delightful staff brought us our own silver service of coffee and fresh grapefruit juice. I instantly ordered the eggs benedict because of the gold-plated plates and mahogany paneled walls and started in on the most wonderful of conversations. Mirabai Bush is a master of conversation. She is so unassuming and smart and sweet and kind and strong and good at being herself. She has so much life to share and so much openness of heart. I was more than happy to spend this time with her and we hardly spoke of spiritual things but as I was leaving I began to feel very strange. The elephant head in the common room. The tapestries on the walls. The portraits of men and women lining the hallways. The little “Harvard Club” chocolates on the way out. She hopped a cab to the Open Center and I decided to walk back downtown since the rain had stopped. I was walking and trying to find myself. I couldn’t. I have been feeling very strange for several days now - thought maybe it was the new moon or the change of seasons but it’s been this very divided feeling. Really the feeling of a snake shedding it’s skin. Molting. I have felt both in ecstactic love and hopeless despair. I have felt absolutely empowered and completely futile. I have been feeling ready for anything and totally exhausted. And as I was walking back I started to try and reflect on how I was feeling or what I was thinking or how the hell I could even be standing after all that has transpired in the last several years and what am I trying to hold onto and what is just over and where am I in resistance and who am I going to be and on and on and I just could not find myself at all and then I said to myself, I feel very strange. I really just don’t understand what is happening. Truly. That is the feeling. I don’t know what is happening to and with and for me. I don’t get it. So I remembered this t-shirt and I was like, Yes! I feel like tired or Bon Jovi — exactly!
One devotee in Miracle of Love sites, “I remember one day we had eaten very well, as usual, and we all napped afterward. But there was a feeling of what the Sufis call, baraka (blessing or spiritual power). When we woke up we were disoriented, but it felt so delightful.” That is the feeling. I was just blessed! I remember now - the disorientation that is so often rejected in normal life, IS THE CENTER OF SPIRITUAL LIFE. So much of our looking for god or peace or calm is referenced in trying to find the center, to be grounded. But the real freedom is in the UN-GROUND, the place of reordering the mind and heart, of opening to an ENTIRELY NEW PLATFORM of understanding . . . letting go …
During the Bhramin fire ceremony, we were sweating and throwing these seeds into the fire while the guy was pouring the ghee and the priests were doing the chanting and outside people were ringing the bell and a small baby was sitting on rug nearby and we were breathing nothing but smoke and absolutely leaving the past behind. Wandering the streets of Trymbakeshwar was like a scene from across the universe, disorienting. Acid. Psychedelic in the way that psychedelics will transform your perspective to see things in a completely different way or to see things that may or may not be there on a certain plane of reality. Withdrawing from this fire is getting into some real trouble. The work of spirit seekers today is not to get centered - no!, but to get unhinged! Tim Leary’s first pass was “tune in, turn on, and drop out!” but, as Danny Goldberg tells in his book, Searching for the Sound, when confronted by Allen Ginsberg’s criticism of this line, Leary offered it maybe could be - Tune out, Turn on, Drop in!
Where are you headed?
I feel like tired or Bon Jovi.
I didn’t imagine I would feel this way again.
It’s the feeling of being in love but not in love like infatuation, in love like woah, I wasn’t expecting THAT! That’s that feeling. It’s not a feeling born of attraction or flirtation or seduction but of complete and utter sensation! The sensual world without the senses. Ram Dass said to me about my practices as I was listing them off - chanting, eating, breathing, yoga - - he said, those are your senses - Where do you get wisdom? I get wisdom in the crowd. I get wisdom in the sea of experiences held in the hearts of my elders and community members. I get wisdom from looking within and finding nothing familiar. I get wisdom from listening to someone else tell their story. I get wisdom from meditation. I get wisdom from being without a center and not trying to find it again.