A Year to the Day
By William J. Furney
The Bali Times
I’m fiddling with a trinket at the Ananda Krishna spiritual centre while waiting for the man himself. It is in the gift shop – the centre is just off Sunset Road, down a lane beside the hefty Sushi Tei restaurant – and the bauble is a necklace with a small, hobbled silver chunk of metal inside that spins around as the piece is moved. I inquire what it is, the spinning thing, but the staffer I ask doesn’t know. Is it magnetised, as in a compass, so you can find yourself? I wonder.
There’s an Australian woman talking at the cashier, paying for something – a therapy, I think. It strikes me that she is speaking too loudly; she says she’ll be back. I’m wondering what she’s had – massage? Do they do that here? – but can’t hone in. Probably an Ayurvedic treatment, which the centre specialises in.
Shuffled along by smiling staff, I am seated at a small square table in a little courtyard inside that has a water feature, awaiting the guru’s entrance. It occurs to me that as I arrived, in saying I’d see him this afternoon, during emails that morning, I hadn’t set a time. It didn’t seem to fit with the place. I’d thought I would just turn up at some time that afternoon (though I had received a text message asking where I was).
Well, enough of that. Here he is, imposing in a flowing white robe, casting out arching auras and flaring pulses of wisdom and understanding. I am seeking to detect that knowing look some people possess, that deep sigh of contentment with being human, an almost meditative eclipse of potent power that bleats with the sum of existence.
I tell Anand that his people and he himself had been in contact with me precisely one year ago, by phone and email, repeatedly, but that I hadn’t responded. I tell him that that morning (it was last Saturday) I had picked up one of his books that had been sent to me, and tore off the plastic seal-wrap and started reading. It was Christ of Kashmiris, described on the jacket as “a running commentary” that “love is the only solution.” It was morning workout reading material, but cumulatively absorbing.
In a preface, a Sufi mystic professor, Fida Hassnain of Kashmir, says Anand is following in the path of Buddha. “He is a Bodhisattva (awakened being), who carries further the noble eight-fold Path of the great Buddha, as a message for salvation of human misery and pain.”
I wanted to explore, and invite Anand to share his teachings and views with readers of this newspaper, by writing a weekly column.
I had thought the reasoning in exploring spirituality was to become enlightened, to realise the reasons for existence and perhaps see beyond them, as Buddha did. So it was surprising to hear Anand express his view that “a world full of enlightened people would not be good for the world.” This is apparently because nothing would get done!
I pressed on, delving into matters of the physical universe and its immense content and expansion, and Earth’s miniscule part in it all, and sought Anand’s reasoning. When you are enlightened, you stop probing such things and just “enjoy life,” he said. But isn’t that divergent to mankind’s exploratory nature? I asked. Currently there are plans being drawn up to travel to Mars. Perhaps that’s what he means about an apparent side-effect to enlightenment: lack of human progression.
We talk about religion, briefly. Anand has a grounding in them all, and we agree that some may have the potential to turn their adherents into mindless robots; people who do little other than carry out repetitive tasks that dull their spiritual sense and don’t allow room for pondering or questioning, which Anand says is important, in an apparent obfuscation of his preceding view.
“Everyone (alive today) is carrying around about 5,000 lives,” Anand says, of reincarnation. His belief is that we started out as low-level creatures and through the evolution of our soul have gradually moved up to becoming humans – and there’s no regressing. Once human, we will continue to be reborn until we reach a certain state. Incidentally, Anand says the animals we were in past lives are still part of us; hence, certain people’s animalistic tendencies and behaviours (Yes, she’s a real bitch, I mutter).
Soon enough, we’re talking God. A God, Gods, whatever. We dismiss the storybook version of a lofty, bearded individual and talk about a consciousness – perhaps a collective one – a universal vibration that is perhaps linked to another dimension that our primitive senses cannot detect.
It’s been captivating, this afternoon, rounded out by a trip to the centre’s nearby spiritual garden (with free library and health clinic for all), where there is a clear vibration in the air.