On Loss, Addiction, Whales and Guru

My mother died early in the morning before sunrise on Halloween of last year. Just as the portal that connects the everyday newtonian, visible world with the unseen world of magic, spirit and energy opened. And a few days before that, she had become my universe again—  the only world there was. All the other worlds didn’t matter. Mama was all I could see and hear and feel. Her field became so large and the magnetic pull that kept me close so strong that the night before, I lay awake in her bed next to her with my gaze fixed on her chest going ever so subtly up and down with too-long pauses in between that made my widening eyes win the battle against exhaustion and sleep. At that moment my mother was my guru. That’s a trigger word for many because they think it’s about power. It’s not. It’s about Love. Love so strong and magnetic it pulls everything in its vicinity towards it. 


I once had the blessing of swimming with the humpback whales off the coast of my island home Maui. It was a similar experience. Their field was so large and strong that without swimming I felt myself being drawn towards them. The Weighty One.That’s my favorite definition of the word guru. The one that is so weighty that time and space bend towards them. Like The Buddha. Like a Whale. Like a Black Hole. Like Maharaji. Like my mother. The lightness comes after. The dying is heavy. Maybe the heaviest. Definitely the saddest. And yet, it’s part of the design. That’s what saved me from the kind of grief that threatened to swallow me whole. I started thinking about how it’s designed this way. Barring the obvious exceptions, for the most part children are supposed to witness and experience the death of their parents. It’s in the design of being human, growing up and growing old. It’s supposed to be this way. Every death and every experience part of God’s divine plan. There’s an anchor in that for me. A truth that pulls me towards it. 


I’ve been sober for six months. I won’t make you do the math. I was two and a half months sober when my mom died. I wasn’t a raging alcoholic but I am (like most people I know) somewhere on the spectrum of addictive dysfunction for sure. And I was good at using manipulation and social justifications to explain why I wasn’t. When something is legal and socially acceptable, it’s easier to mask the truth behind the impulse. The bigger truth is: I don’t want to be a slave. I told my therapist I would never do a 12 step program, maybe for that same reason.  But I picked up this book and all of a sudden I find myself making a thorough “searching and fearless moral inventory” of myself or as Russell Brand puts it “writing down all the things that are fucking me up or have ever fucked me up.” That’s step 4. Phew! Not for the faint of heart. And nothing makes your heart stronger than the thing that breaks it. In Recovery: Freedom from our Addictions, referencing the third step— the one where you give it all up to a power higher than yourself whether you call it God, Nature, Universe or Source– Brand, a former heroin addict, writes “It is only by finding a more powerful magnetic pull that you can change the patterns completely.” 


The pull towards Maharaji (aka Neem Keroli Baba also known as the guru of Ram Dass and Krishna Dass) has been so powerful for so many that it eclipses time and space. Most of his modern day devotees have never laid eyes on him (author included) but we haven’t needed to. For some it’s a picture or a story or a mantra that is the key that unlocks the portal door to Divine Love. For me it was the faith of another, my teacher, a singular man I greatly love and respect. I got the hit from his eyes and from the moment I saw him, I wanted to know what he knew. Faith was re-ignited in full force. And I haven’t looked back since. And every step, every experience, even bearing the unbearable witnessing of my mother’s passing, I see now has been part of the divine truth that relentlessly keeps pulling me towards it, until it feels, in moments at least, that there is no more path to travel and nowhere else to go. I asked Ram Dass recently to say a prayer for my Mom. He said in quiet and simple words, “She’s a soul…..she’s a soul.” He paused, looked down and inwards towards his heart and without looking back up at me said softly, “She lives in love.” She Lives In Love.  She lives in love. This is my new mantra. A remembrance that pulls me all the way in.  And makes the unbearable loss more than bearable. And changes me, as much as finding freedom from my addictions does, into someone who also lives in love.  

© Christine Nihal Kapoor 2019