One day I was in the car with a spiritual master and he laughed, “there’s goes Babaji, again”. Babaji, for some, is the name of the Divine; a divinity that comes and goes throughout all of time, showing up periodically in a human body and then disappearing into the spirit world again. This Babaji looked like an accountant.
Like everyone, I have often thought about the face of God, the topography of Heaven, the life of the Infinite. At times, I have prayed, chanted, meditated and spent hours at a time submerged in water with only my nostrils above the water line, cyclical breathing, rebirthing, conjuring my time before time.
Classically, we collectively think of angels, cherubs, pearly gates, wise and wizened men, all of the Hallmark images.
But one time when I saw God, it was none of the above and hardly anything I can explain but of course I will try.
My neck was bothering me so badly I could not bear to sit up for more than 5 minutes. I tried everything, heat, cold, adjustments of every kind, yoga, acupuncture, tinctures, salves, drugs, home cervical traction (a humorous, medieval-looking device, more scary for me than effective) and nothing worked.
So, I went to a surgery center and they shot something into my neck. In order to handle the pain of the shot, I required a mild, anesthetic that would keep me, they said, in a twilight state; someplace in between, instead, I went to Heaven.
And then cascading Escher prints of pure white, whiter than any white we know. The same image, collapsing endlessly, repeatedly into another, into another, into another; it might have been terrifying but it wasn’t. It was lovely, lovelier than anything I had ever seen. Although it never changed, when it collapsed and reappeared, it was every time more and delightful, more and more wonderful, more and more captivating. As if plucked from a Talking Head lyric, Heaven was a place where nothing happened and when the party was over, it started again.
I wanted those white images to collapse into one another for ever. Perhaps, I was wrestling with letting go…I might have been a sad story to those who loved me here on planet Earth. He went in for a routine procedure and passed inexplicably on the operating table.
But I didn’t. I couldn’t. It was not my time, I guess.
Leaving Heaven was unbearably difficult, very sad. “Let me stay”, I wanted to scream, but I didn’t. Some part of me knew that I had more work to do here.
In the end, just the image and the joy; the peace, as they say, that passes human understanding was enough.
I have never been the same.