Kundalini Splendor

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Sunday, November 06, 2005

The Gathering of the Kayaks 

It was a perfect day on the northern California coast. We had gathered on the beach to say farewell to our beloved friend, Mary, who had died (at the age of 56) only a few weeks before. Her partner (who had supported her staunchly through many years of struggle with cancer) was there, and she offered a most moving tribute. Another dear friend showed us the kayak paddle she had made in honor of Mary--it was embellished on one end with the sacred design Mary had worn as a tattoo, and a bear on the other. She told us that she had felt Mary's energy pouring through her hands as she crafted the paddle. Someone sang a native American song. Others spoke their memories.

There were perhaps 50 or 60 of us in all. I marveled to realize that together we represented the many stages of Mary's full and most active life. Some (I was one of these) had known her since she was very young--and some were even friends from her high school days in Kansas. Others met her when she was a brilliant graduate student in comparative literature at U. C. Berkeley (it was rumored that she was the brightest student in the program, and it is a program peopled with only the best and the brightest.) Other friends had come into her life when she entered the world of high tech after jobs for professors of humanities became, in effect, non existent. Always disciplined, always outstanding, she rose quickly through the ranks of her firm and in fact retired to live on the coast with her partner in her early fifties.

Mary had had breast cancer but was declared risk free after five years. Then, three years later, the cancer returned, having metastisized into bone cancer.

She now started a journey unlike any she had experienced before. For, in the course of her seeking ways to heal her body, Mary discovered a doorway into her own soul. And once more Sandy, her partner, journeyed with her.

First, Mary went on a strict diet at the behest of a physician who was known for his success with this treatment. In addition, she dutifully traveled an hour each morning into San Francisco to participate in an early chi gong class offered by a famous medical chi gong teacher. She discovered acupuncture and energy healers. Then she found a dedicated spiritual teacher/counselor near at hand, who led her tenderly and lovingly into the new realms. Mary and Sandy participated in native American healing ceremonies, sometimes sitting eyes open for fifteen hours in the tent while the chanting continued around the sweat lodge fires. As she had during all the earlier phases of her life, she approached these new realms with discipline and total dedication.

But nothing helped for long. She did not suffer extremely in her last months, but she experienced sufficient pain to feel that she was ready to move on.

So, when we gathered to pay tribute to Mary, we were saying goodbye to a most extraordinary human--a person remakably accomplished in mind, body, spirit.

It was totally fitting that her ashes were to be scattered at sea by the kayakers who were her friends--Mary herself had been outstanding as a sea kayaker--even after she was diagnosed the second time, she and two friends had paddled around the wilds of northern Alaska, camping at night on shore in this wilderness area. Sometimes they even saw bears near the campground. She was indomitable.

So, on this sunny November afternoon, the kayakers set out to sea with Mary's ashes and also those of her mother, who had died just two weeks after Mary. It was an impressive flotillia, with 22 kayaks in all,fanning outward toward the distant horizon. Those of us who waited on shore watched in silence for as long as we could see the boats. Then we returned to the house for stories and refreshments.

Now, one of the people attending was a (female) Zen priest who had chanted from the Tibetan Book of the Dead during the days immediately before Mary died. She was present at the actual moment of passing. She told me that a few minutes after the outward breath stopped, she saw on Mary's body the signs of one destined to be reborn as what I at least think of as a bodisattva--a being dedicated to compassionate service on behalf of all humankind. At the very end, she had witnessed Mary's energies flow from her crown in the beautiful colors of an ocean sunset. She saw her countenance take on the radiance and serenity of bliss. And Sandy observed this as well.

i remembered that I had told Mary a few weeks earlier about the theory that the kundalini itself is released at the time of dying, so that at death one is embraced by bliss, total divine love. Mary had made a slight bow with hands held before her as in prayer and murmured, "Yes, yes."

And so it was. Her bliss was fulfilled. Her destiny for her next embodiment was set.

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