8,June 2001 San Ramon
On the cover of the CD that Jason gave Mother a couple of years ago was the picture of a slim, hauntingly handsome young man. There was something ethereal in his innocent face. He held an electric guitar. He was a rock guitarist. His songs had titles like “Primal” and “End of the Beginning” and “Meet me in the Morning”. When She listened to the CD on a walkman in the car on the way back from a program, She didn’t hear harmoniums and tablas, and the names of God. She heard an electric keyboard, an electric guitar and bass and snare drums; She heard a classical orchestra, and angelic voices, and She also heard the vibrant shocks of hard rock. These were Jason’s songs, and this was his playing
The next day, when the morning program was almost over, Jason came for darshan. Mother stood and walked over to where he lay flat on his back. She leaned over and stroked his sallow forehead, and then left Her Hand resting on his long hair. She was gazing steadily into his eyes, loving him. She bent over and kissed his forehead, and ran Her Hands down his thin shoulders to his hands, long, graceful pale hands, which did not move to respond.
His fingernails were painted shocking blue, but the fingers no longer plucked guitar strings. Mother knew what to do next: She pushed the button on a small tape player on his lap, and raspy strains of “Amma Amma Taye” broke the otherwise pin-drop silence. She laughed delightedly, and he moved his eyes a fraction. Mother took some sacred ash and poured it over his hands; She caressed it onto the backs of his hands and all down the limp fingers. She rested Her Hands there for some time, again gazing into his eyes. She reached towards the prasad plate and grasped a shiny red apple, which She deposited on his lap, nestling it between the still hands.
A silver-wrapped Hershey’s chocolate Kiss She unwrapped for this son, and She brought it close to his mouth, which could not open to accept it. Gently She pushed it into the corner of his mouth, and he had the joy of a dream coming true—how long had he wished She would feed him with Her own Hand?
Squatting down on the floor at the opposite end of his chair/bed, Mother began caressing his heavily wrapped feet—feet that could no longer dance. Feet that no longer moved. She looked so small there, holding lifeless feet while Her Face bore a look no one understands, something of compassion, of course, and of love, and of some other mysterious experience that probably only another Mahatma can understand.
Mother stood, returned to Jason’s still face, leaned over and whispered into his ear. With the tiniest of subtle movements of his eyes, Jason spelled out what he wanted to say to Mother, and his friend and helper “translated” for Her. Another long slow gaze from this Mother to Her son, another soft caress. Tears filled Her eyes and She wiped them away with Her sari. She made a strange gesture—almost like a shrug of helplessness. She kissed him again, and left the hall.
That was two years ago, and Jason had been coming to see Mother for two years already. Before he knew Her, he was a electric guitar player —until the degenerative disease ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease) struck and left him almost but not quite lifeless. His body became like a limp rag, steadily, inexorably wasting away. Like many people, he first came to Mother with dreams of a healing, for there have been cases of people becoming whole by Her grace—or, as She humbly says, somehow it sometimes happens, due to their strong faith.
The year is now 2001; Jason has been coming to Mother for four years. He feels useless; he is sad about the suffering his parents experience because of his condition. He yearns to be up and active, to have a purpose, to find excitement in life. To move to the beat of music like that he used to play. Hasn’t he suffered enough? Will Mother heal him now?
Every time that he comes for darshan now—which is at the end of most morning programs in San Ramon—people who have known him for years or who are seeing him now for the first time, watch intently. They see the depth of connection between Jason and Amma when their gazes lock. They see the laughter in both pairs of eyes when Jason surprises Mother with what he’s chosen for his tape player.
They see the delight in both pairs of eyes when She takes from his lap the gift he has brought her —a flower or a piece of fruit. They see the tears in both pairs of eyes when his frustration and fear and pain are too much, and She feels them with him, within Her.
The watchers keep waiting for the miracle. It would be spectacular if She suddenly told him to stand—to sing, to dance! Why not? Didn’t She suck the pus from Dattan the Leper’s wounds until he was healed?
Why not? Does it mean She doesn’t, after all, love him? Unimaginable, if you see the penetrating gazes She gives him, and Her Tears. We know things Mother has said: we need to exhaust our prarabdha karmas. Mahatmas usually let themselves be bound by the laws of the universe; miracles don’t breed so much faith as the desire for more miracles. And so forth.
How must it feel to be young and of sound mind, like Jason, and to be exhausted with the depression of burdening others and of feeling you have no purpose and no hope? How can She let him go on in such pain—such physical and mental and emotional and spiritual pain?
It’s because of love. It is Her absolute compassion. It is when we are NOT rescued and yet do not give up, and when we are NOT relieved and yet keep faith, and when we are NOT coddled and yet do not turn away that our souls are stretched beyond the limits they seem to us to have. When our souls are stretched like that we are growing closer and closer to what ultimately we are meant to become. What loving mother would not do all in her power to help her darling child reach such a Goal? Is Mother less than such a mother?
Not every person is able to grow from such immense suffering; most of us are limited to the slower-paced but more humane curriculum of smaller illnesses and disappointments from which we can ultimately recuperate and say, “Well, it wasn’t something I’d have chosen, but I see how it helped me grow.” Mother must surely calculate very carefully just how much each of us can sustain—what mother wouldn’t? We know She sometimes thinks we can take more than WE think we can take (but since we’ve survived to find that out, then wasn’t She, after all right?). For those who are capable, Mother will provide the advanced and accelerated curriculum.
What potential, Mother must see in Jason, and how relentless must be Her compassion.