The Sweater Dress of Death

Me, my sister (Ashley), mother, brother (William), and brother (Justin) at our maternal grandfather's funerary wake.

Me, my sister (Ashley), mother, brother (William), and brother (Justin) at our maternal grandfather’s funerary wake.

 

Reader, I see meaning in many things where others might not but often stop short of attributing happenings to the mysterious workings of supernatural things. I’m more likely to explain to you that simply not knowing the cause of something isn’t enough to claim a miracle has happened. However, what you’re about to read hits close to home and even if we say there’s nothing fancy that happened here, it still gives me some goosebumps.

Just two days prior to my birth mother’s two-year death anniversary, I have decided to move forward with a craft idea which I intended to use as Xmas presents. (To be clear: I’m NOT in the habit of crafting Xmas gifts.) The idea came to me months ago from my sister, Ashley, as something we could maybe do to make sentimental pillows (or pillow cases) from our dead mother’s clothes. She showed me a video of someone who did it with a shirt and said she liked the idea… So I thought I’d do that for her for Xmas.

After our mother’s death and the sorting out of her belongings, I managed to find myself with about five bags of her clothing and purses, etc… which were destined for Goodwill because everyone else had picked through them and not wanted those items. A month or two ago I went through them very quickly and grabbed about six garments which I set aside for the day I found myself with time and motivation sufficient to make the memorial pillows. To do this I enlisted the help of my friend Herbert and my sister-in-law, Domonique.

We went to about six stores in the Castleton, Fishers, and Noblesville areas before finding the right variety of pillows at the right price. We got a late dinner at a Chinese buffet and then finally came home around 6pm which is when the pillowing started, and is when things got a little weird.

We were sorting out the pillows, setting up the sewing machine, gathering the articles of clothing which had been my birth mother’s, and we were talking a little about my birth mother. Domonique was sifting through the garments and I was noticing that she was was giving more attention to a black, knitted sweater dress from the pile when suddenly she mentioned that she had never met my birth mother in person and, in fact, she and young William had only known each other for about two months prior to the woman’s death. As Dom mentioned some things, mostly pointing out how little she ever learned about my mother and how little William is willing to speak of her, she sprinkled in mention of having had a single dream wherein my mother came to her. I didn’t ask much about it at first but after she brought it up a few times I asked.

She explained that sometime after mother’s death and before she and young William were married, mother came to her in a dream. She said mother was very pleasant and nice (which still has me scratching my head) and that she gave them both dance lessons for their wedding. (SideNote: This is of particular interest to me because of the very little dreaming I do and which I can remember, one recurring dream deals with the women of my family dancing, in a kind of tribal manner) Dom mentioned mother was wearing a long, simple, black dress like one she’d seen mother wearing in a photo – really the only photo she’d ever seen of our mother. (I’ve included that photo here.)

By this time our attention had moved onto making a tie blanket and so we weren’t focused on the pillows or mother’s garments. We talked a little more about mother and I filled Dom in on some things about my mother and we talked about how a gesture like wedding dance lessons would have been wholly uncharacteristic of the woman – but that perhaps, on the other side of the veil separating life and death, things are entirely different. We finished the tie blanket and moved back to the garments and pillows.

Our decision was that we’d make one simple pillow for Dom’s husband, my brother William, and then we’d take Dom back to her home. Dom expressed that, of all the garments to choose from, the simple black sweater dress was her preference. It was around this time that our conversation returned to mother and more specifically to Domonique’s dream. I forget now exactly how the conversation led us, but the next thing I knew it had dawned on me that it was very possible that the dress on the table right then was the very dress in which mother wore when she visited Dom in her dream and would also make it the dress worn in the only picture of mother Dom had ever seen – coincidentally the only photo I’m aware of which contains my mother and all her children in one shot, and which was taken at my mother’s father’s funeral.

As we all got goose bumps, I grabbed my phone and pulled up Facebook to sift through pictures there until I found THE photo Dom was referencing as the only image she had seen of my mother. Sure enough it was the photo from my mother’s father’s funeral and the only one I know of with all of us together. And sure enough it was the dress she wore in the dream visitation, and sure enough it was the dress on my table right then that was about to be made into a pillow for Dom to take home that night!

Whew! Reader, I’m sure this story has thoroughly underwhelmed you. But the coincidence of it all was a bit spooky to us. That dress was something I think none of us knew our mother to wear hardly ever. In fact, her father’s funeral is not only the only time I think we all were in the same photo together, but also the only time I know her to have worn that dress. That event was also the second-to-last time Dom’s husband, my brother, saw his mother alive. Knowing, too, that of all her belongings which were sorted out among the family, that dress managed to not be taken by anyone but rather went first into my sister’s possession, then into my own possession where it stayed in a bag in my garage for over a year and almost went to Goodwill – before I decided to go finally through with the idea my sister brought to me of making pillows from the clothes of a loved one. And then as I sorted through 5 bags of clothes to have randomly picked THAT dress from among her garments as one of only a few to keep, and then that very dress to be the one Dom felt subconsciously drawn to which is also the dress my mother wore when she appeared to Dom. What do you suppose are the chances?

It makes for a very weird feeling, especially so close to her death anniversary.

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti

Let Us Not Grow Weary

This has really been a year for me… not the same kind of year as 2014 was. Thank gods, or else I’d not be here now writing to annoy you. But still certainly a year I’ll never forget. I “lost” a dear friend back to our Source (there’s a post about this in the works and will be published here when the time feels right and the post complete) and I more recently feel like I’ve lost my country.

The election for United States President was recent and our new President-elect is Donald J. Trump. That night my husband and I stayed home and ate cheap pizza while we shared a bottle of wine. In weeks leading up to the election things were quite a roller coaster. One day things were up and another day things were down. Regardless of that kind of ebb and flow, which is natural to an election race, moments of being utterly baffled were a consistent thing for me.

Everyone everywhere knows politicians are liars who usually over-promise and under-deliver. Half of them are also cheaters and thieves and can be bought. That much should be a given, I feel. There’s never been a saint-politician and we shouldn’t expect there to be one anytime soon. With that accepted, I do think it’s a useful practice to pay close attention to a politician’s personal character – specifically how they see others and how they treat others. And that’s been the most baffling part of this election race for me. When contrasting Clinton and Trump the differences in character are like differences between salt and pepper, apples and oranges, night and day. Trump unapologetically alienates anyone who isn’t upper class, white, and male – and does so through the use of “locker room talk” and other more blatant behaviors exhibited through the likes of racism and misogyny and chauvinism (just to name a few). He has proven himself to be impulsive, petulant, immature, and disconnected from the reality of America today – both the why and what of our national reality. Never mind that he also has no idea how to successfully navigate the dance that makes up a political career in the USA because he has absolutely no experience doing that.

Early in, supporters were saying that he’s at least a good businessman and that this is what our country needs. Our country DOES need that, but Trump isn’t actually even a good businessman. He fails and files bankruptcy left and right and has been brought to court for refusing to pay people for their work. He’ll also be going to court again soon enough for charges brought against him regarding sexual assault – which he’s actually said he can get away with simply because he’s a man and a celebrity. There are plenty of reasons why someone on the Left or who isn’t a Republican might not vote for him – just from a political perspective. But all of that generally can be lumped up as just a difference of opinion. After all, everyone is trying to solve the same issues, just differently. Again, that much is expected. But where Trump really puts icing on the cake is everything he touches outside of politics – that’s the stuff I mentioned earlier – and since he has ZERO political background these things matter a bit more than they would with a career politician. But, at this point, I suppose it might well be argued pointing these things out is useless because the election has come and gone.

In Clinton’s concession speech, she said a lot of really heart-warming thing to say – all of which really just reiterated her whole campaign which is that we are stronger together. She said we owe Trump an open mind and a chance to leave – and that’s something I agree with strongly. However, as time distances us from that election night it’s become very apparent that there are those who don’t feel that way and now we’re having protests and practically having riots. I want to be very clear that burning effigies and flags and being violent are NOT ways to get what you want and neither are they ways to productively or effectively express how you feel. The initial perception this terrible behavior is that those engaging in this way are sore losers and angry.

And certainly to a small degree, that’s the case with some of the people. However, a statement which is truer and more reflective of reality is that those people are scared. The truth is that Trump is our president-elect and his party currently rules all the rest of our system of check-and-balances – which means nothing is going to be very checked or balanced. Given that, and the fact that he has vowed to do things that are bad news for everyone who isn’t a wealthy, white, hetero male, it’s no wonder people are freaking out and unsure of what to do with themselves.

After the election and prior to the major protests, I had about half a day of scrolling through Facebook to observe responses of those I associate with in social media. I wanted to wait as long as I felt necessary to get a sampling of responses before posting my own. Below, to finish this post, I’ll be attaching a number of images – screen shots from my Facebook feed. To the best of my ability I’ve blacked out images and names so as to minimize identification of those individuals shown. I think there’s one post that is my own which I didn’t black out and there’s one or two from Facebook pages which I understand not to be human individuals which I also didn’t black out. All of these were captured prior to the violent protests and you’ll notice the majority of initial reactions amount to various expressions and levels of shock and fear. It wasn’t until these feelings had built up a bit and needed more of an outlet that the protests started and this certainly isn’t what sore loser-ship looks like. This is the first face of what it looks like when people are afraid that their social welfare benefits will be slashed, that half their family might be deported and then blocked from returning by America’s version of the Great Wall of China, that their marriages will no longer receive crucial government recognition. That’s not being a sore loser. That’s being scared for your life.

Hopefully some greater good will come from this election and resultant presidency. Right now it’s awfully challenging to foresee any greater good whatsoever but perhaps, if nothing else, a tough lesson will be learned.

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti

 

20161109-133656

 

20161109-133743

 

 

20161109-083229

 

 

20161109-082859

 

 

 

20161109-081908

 

20161109-081925

 

20161109-081945

 

20161109-082020

 

 

 

20161109-082037

 

20161109-082110

 

20161109-082859

 

20161109-082450

 

 

 

20161109-082326

 

 

 

20161109-082413

 

20161109-082305

 

20161109-082230

 

 

20161109-082201

 

 

20161109-082133

 

20161109-111617

 

 

 

20161109-111629

 

20161109-111647

 

 

 

20161109-111749

 

 

 

20161109-111759

 

 

Ekadashi And Daaji

From early October I found a post published to “From The Desk of Daaji” where he spoke to us about fasting and the regularly-occurring observance associated to Ekadashi and, as one would expect, he does really well at relating the practice of fasting (specifically the fasting of Ekadashi) to our practice in Heartfulness and the work involved there.

Every once in a while, I’ll be reminded by readers that it’s important to include definitions and context with regard to some of the vocab you might see here on Sthapati Samanvayam – especially because I use many “Hindu” words which are often from the Sanskrit language. I’m happy to tell you in this post that Daaji has made all that effort for me and you should feel confident to read the publication to “Daaji’s Desk” and know that you will understand fully.

One word I’d like to address just briefly, though, is autophagy, which you’ll find mentioned in the article. Here in the USA (and I’m sure really anywhere else the word would be used these days) the word autophagy would strictly fall within the medical / scientific realm and would be encountered almost nowhere else. Daaji certainly explains autophagy, and given his background in the medical field, he’s certainly qualified to explain such a word. But for me this really was a key part of the article I found. It’s a kind of alchemy, it seems. I also find it to be a fantastic pointer to the intelligence inherent everywhere in the universe and within everything inside it.

The wonder in it all is a truth I’ve known from the first time I read the Bhagavad Gita and started learning the dark-n-wondrous things of my chosen religion: Nothing is wasted. Ever. And what’s more is that we’re able (and required) to rise from our own ashes (even if it takes numerous attempts!), to make something better than what was before it – from what was before it. This is a source of immense hope to the Hindu and to the Heartfulness abhyasi.

Click HERE to read the post. It won’t take you long.

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha

Aum Shanti

Evolution of Our Mission

The following is being reposted / shared from an abhyasi bulletin from the middle of October and includes Daaji’s words for our benefit and guidance…

“Let us look at how our Sahaj Marg has evolved since times of most revered Lalaji Sahab. There was no Sahaj Marg during the lifetime of Lalaji Maharaj, yet, activities went on. He was as busy, perhaps more than we are, with little or no organization. During Pujya Babuji’s life-time, SRCM was established to serve humanity in an organized manner. He worked all the while, singlehandedly with no help. He was a lot busier than all of us.

“Dear Chariji faced many challenges due to legal issues faced by SRCM and, to safeguard the assets and spiritual tradition, SMSF came into the picture. Many minor outlets were formed, like SHPT that handles publications and media, plus a few more to handle abhyasis’ residential colonies. All this was with one intention: to streamline our efforts to serve most efficiently.

“Now, with Heartfulness Institute, the intention is also to smooth the way forward in an orderly manner, so that the things that cannot be taken up by SRCM or SMSF can be taken up by HFI. Maybe some of our members find it a bit heavy to understand, and react due to complexities involved in organizing this. We will be serving the same spirituality, the way most revered Lalaji Maharaj did in his times, but now with multiple tributaries or subsets so as to make serving more efficient. Also, this way we are able to protect and preserve the by-laws or the principles of the respective organizations like SRCM or SMSF while remaining in complete compliance with the laws of the land. The delivery remains the same ‘spirituality’.

“While we are working, we must take younger minds with us, groom them with love and care, and prepare them with love and respect. We are expected to be graceful, extremely refined, light-hearted, ever-ready to help, respectful and trusting towards each other. We have to leave the legacy of our inner `royal’ status with our descendants; with our spiritual sisters and brothers.

“It is surprising to note that our predecessors were extremely busy, and we are hardly contributing even 10% of what they could offer in terms of their qualitative delivery, plus we lack the input of necessary efforts, despite our efficiencies, education and technology.”

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha

Aum Shanti