Bob Owens’s Indian guru was a tough nut. His students never knew what he was going to do next. He could do anything, and often did do all manner of things to surprise, awaken, and shake his students from their mindsets. All of his followers were certainly kept on their toes. Actually, he had a relatively small group of followers. Bob was not sure if that was by the Master’s choice or if most people couldn’t tolerate his style.
Once, the guru sent a letter to Bob who was living on his coastal land (now Prana Community) in the Leleks. He asked Bob to come immediately to India to see him. Bob had only recently returned home from a trip to his guru. In those days, it was a long, expensive, and tiring journey. Nevertheless, he devotedly set off the next day. With plenty of time to ponder what could possibly be so important that the Master would call him again so soon, Bob dared to entertain the possibility that his guru might pass on special secrets of the mystical path. Maybe, thought Bob, it is enlightenment.
Barely containing his excitement when he reached the Master’s house in the South Indian village, Bob thought about how much he loved the Master. He has given me so much. He has given me a new life and taught me everything I know, at least, everything of importance that I know. Yes, it’s challenging, but where would I be without him – lost and going around in pointless circles.
Exhausted, but full of love and with tears in his eyes, he opened the door and said, “Master, I have come. I am here. I spared no time or expense in getting back as quickly as I could. Tell me, dear teacher, how may I serve you?”
“Why are you here again?” asked the guru with barely a glance towards the door where the dirty, hungry Bob stood expectantly.
Although confused, Bob persevered “Master, you sent a letter asking me to come. I came as quickly as I possibly could.”
“Oh, yes, so I did,” said the Master. “I forgot. Anyway, it mustn’t have been important.” With a wave of his hand and a slight chuckle, he dismissed Bob.
To say Bob was shocked would be an understatement of grand proportions. He stood motionless. Incredulous. “But Master,” he whimpered.
The Guru turned to look at him squarely and stood to his full height. He was a tall man, especially for India. Tall, and all lean muscle. Years of yoga had formed him slowly and methodically into a perfect, male, yogic specimen of health. He looked at Bob with his dark, unfathomable eyes and repeated, “I said you may go.”
Bob knew not to contradict him. Anyway, what would be the point? he asked himself. I came here out of love, but love I have not received in return.
He closed the door sadly and walked to the end of the guru’s beautiful, tender garden. Tears of sorrow and disappointment streamed down his already wet face. How could he be so cruel when I give him everything I am? The words choked at his throat. Then he got angry. Throwing his sacred books on the ground, he jumped on them for good measure, and stormed off for the arduous trip home, vowing never to return.
Unbeknown to Bob, the Master watched him through the window. A tear also ran down the guru’s face. He turned to one of his disciples and said, “He came so close. So very close. If only he would let me crack him.”
Perched on the cliff, Ajna Temple was the masterpiece of Prana Community. The dome-shaped temple was built by Bob Owens and community members thirty years ago. Bob always said that the special energy of the temple came from a carefully-orchestrated consecration by his guru. The consecration was focused on the large, round, black-granite linga which was front and centre of the temple. Linga is the Sanskrit word for a sacred symbol of Divinity. It is believed that lingas develop their own specific power to heal and transform.
As we already know, Bob’s relationship with his guru was not always smooth sailing. However, once you have met your guru, you are done for. Once you have fallen in love with a guru, there’s no going back. Oh, you can, for sure, leave. You can even say that you hate them. Worse, you can say you were mistaken and that they aren’t your guru at all. But you can never really leave. The magnetic love of a true guru will always be with you because gurus never stop loving their chosen ones. If you come to them and they say yes, the guru knows that whatever stupid thing you may (and probably will) do, they will not stop loving you. Never. Ever. They cannot escape from you and so it is only fair that you cannot escape from them either.
Silence was maintained inside Ajna Temple. The custom was to wash your feet at the entrance, walk slowly through the thin passage of specifically-constructed cement flooring with many acupuncture pressure point triggers, and then sit quietly in front of the linga. Lingas are meant for meditation. You don’t pray to a linga. You merge with a linga. You let the linga enter you. Every fifteen minutes, a chime sounded and you could choose to leave or remain for another session. You couldn’t leave mid-session. Whatever uncomfortable thing you were dealing with, you had to keep dealing with it, at least, until the fifteen minutes were up.
The temple design was modelled on the energy system running through all human bodies. The prana or life-force of the individual runs along the spine from the base to the crown of the head. The chakras are centralised locations of swirling, subtle energy channels which play a vital role in the health and functioning of the person. One of these energy centres is not superior to another. They all must function in an optimal way for the well-being of the whole individual.
- Muladhara is at the base of the spine and is the earth element. It governs the primal urges of food, sleep, sex, and self-preservation. It gives us a sense of groundedness and stability.
- Svadhisthana is at the pelvis and is the water element. It is associated with creativity, emotions, sexual energy, and the unconscious.
- Manipura is at the naval and is the fire element. It is the centre of personal power and helps us to live with courage and determination.
- Anahata is at the heart and is the air element. It is the centre of emotion and unconditional love.
- Vishuddha is at the base of the throat and is the ether or space element. Its function is to help us find authentic self-expression.
- Ajna is between the eyebrows and is not associated with an element as it is beyond the physical domain. It is the centre of intuition, self-assurance, and inner-knowing.
- Sahasrara is above the crown of the head and is also not aligned with a physical element. It is pure consciousness and Divine energy.
Ajna Temple was obviously named after the Ajna chakra. Like the chakra, the temple was a place for deep inner-development and spiritual connection. Although the temple was dedicated to one of the higher, more ethereal chakras, there was one particular group which frequented the temple who were wholeheartedly dedicated to the lower chakras. They were the Manipura Dancers. They were wild. It was the only time that noise was allowed in the temple. They were a damn noisy lot. Noisy and wild. Everyone loved them.
Merlyn could hear chimes, bells, and gongs as she approached Ajna Temple by the narrow path which ran along the cliff face. It was the much-anticipated monthly gathering of the Manipura Dancers. A small group of community members sat under a tree with their Tibetan instruments. They weren’t really musicians as the instruments could be played by anyone and there wasn’t a music score. You could probably say that they were as much musicians as the summer evening breeze which raced noisily up and down the cliff, the screeching gliders swooshing from limb to limb, and the chorus of ringing crickets who had replaced the incessant daytime cicada racket leaving far too small a space of quiet.
Seeing Esther enter the temple, Merlyn followed in pursuit; through the foot-washing station, over the acupuncture hallway, onto one of the mats which had been strategically placed around the circular temple. The professional musicians inside were beating out a strong, rhythmic pulse. Merlyn was a little surprised not only by how loud it was but also by how earthy, physical, and even sexual it was in a temple of such high spiritual vibration. She wondered if the linga objected. Nothing was explained. The music simply throbbed, hypnotised, and seduced. What it was seducing and for what purpose, Merlyn wasn’t sure.
The Manipura Dancers were like Sufi dancers – wild and ecstatic. However, unlike Sufi dancers, they didn’t just twirl in endless circles. They moved everywhere and with everything – especially with their hips, core, and the lower part of their bodies. Ah, thought Merlyn, that’s why they are called the Manipura Dancers. It’s the powerhouse fire element coming from the centre.
Before long, people began joining in the dancing. Merlyn gave a quick glance around and then, throwing caution to the wind, she bounced up from her mat and merged with the throbbing mass. It wasn’t so much an exercise in community bonding, although it looked like a party. Essentially, everyone danced within themselves; unrestrained but not attaching to anyone else; with abandon but self-contained. Round and round the linga. More recklessly. More internally. More externally. Swirling, stamping, and mesmerising. The music, the temple, the linga, and all the bodies seemed to be committed to a process which was simultaneously familiar and utterly mysterious.
After two hours, thoroughly exhausted and happy, everyone left the temple. Again, Merlyn saw Esther in the distance. She was fairly sure that Esther had seen her too but she didn’t seem to want to talk to her. Why? Merlyn wondered. I’m not her client anymore. Only Ben is. So, why doesn’t she want to talk to me?