David Jones, daemon drummer believes on the soul. Gentle man, a meditator of 21 years or more, acolyte of Brahma Baba, the guru of the Brahma Kumaris. BK seems to be global corporate cosmic consciousness with a presence in 80 or so countries & they have an opulent retreat in Stotts Lane, south of Frankston. out Baxter way. One Sunday in February David was conducting a soul session for gentle men.
I got on the Mornington Freeway & the traffic was heavy, aggro, mean & edgy impatient of limits & sensitive souls slowing down to seek turnoffs to spiritual retreats & it flogged me south of Frankston with 1/2 an hour to spare.
To avoid human encounter, with 1/2 a mind to a comfortable infusion of caffeine I sought a way station like the the old Baxter Provender, a relais de camions imaginaire, in the vicinity. Bewildered by a 6-way roundabout, harried by roadrageous horns, I found a Hot Bread Shop just as the sign in the door was slid from OPEN to CLOSED by a round young virgin anxious to be out of there. Probably not a virgin. I dont know.
I needed to consult the Melways. I could make no sense of it. Went round the roundabout mistaking the way 3 times, till the 1/2 an hour well & truly killed, I came by the corrugations of Stott's Lane to the gateway of the Kumaris again. A suitable case for treatment.
The grounds are spacious, parklike, kempt & cyclonefenced. The retreat itself a plush motel, a solid breezeblock conference centre, 100 seeker capacity perhaps. A lobby with chunky handcarved wood & leather chairs, widewindowed, opening onto terrace, plashing water somewhere, leading to a 40 metre wooden bridge, cable stressed across an oddly water free gulley.
NO MORE THAN 10 PEOPLE ON THE BRIDGE AT ONCE
said a sign.
Reiner greets me in a german accent, bids me commit my details to a card & take off my shoes. He's my age, a sexagenarian. He reassures the next arrival, no, booking is not necessary & hands me a carton of plastic cups to insert in a water dispenser surrounded by 1/2 a dozen or so pairs of runners. Ambient music from a lowlit auditorium signifies the location of the 2 hour gentling towards eternity upcoming. 3 gents are sitting close in there, one at the light & sound controls. Chairs are new improved bauhaus with cushions, horseshoed around a mural of a sun over a sea, either rising or setting among lush cirrocumulus, apricock flushed with carmine, tigerish. A pride & joy. I take a seat down the front, overcoming an urgr to skulk, knowing that lurking up the back in such a place will not be allowed.
I'm having problems, impedence, resistance, what's the difference? to the vibe of this soulground. Negativity. My aura must be squidinky. The mural & the soundscape irk me. Kitsch! I cry inwardly. Schmaltz! I am a soul shrieking in german. This is not good. Shallow snobbery. Anodyne! I continue, anaesthetic! Stop this. Pull down thy vanity I say to myself.
I take off my spex, unburden my pockets: pen, Werthers Original Butterscotch, wallet. Lay them on the floor. Breathe. Let go.
DJ enters the space in white, barefoot, folded white scarf over right shoulder, smiling, crinkle eyes wireframed. Little bloke, light, easy, self-assured niceguy, gnomish in the best possible way & he says hello in a voice that beckons a response & finds one from us now 7 brothers. A pitch for intimacy, setting a frequency. We respond, mid-lifers & me the elder. 1/2 euro, 1/2 indo. Why have we come? Who are we? He wants to know & he rembers our names that now as I type I've forgotten. (When's now? It's always now.) All of us have tried to meditate our way into unto peace. The biggest of us, 6' 4" at least, for 1 year solid.
Rousseau: I venture to affirm that the state of reflection is contrary to nature & that the man who meditates is a depraved animal. (Origins of Inequality)
Mock on Rousseau.
The rest of us said we've started lots but cant stay regular. Desisters. I say I'd come to practise, to rehearse. DJ smiles through all our testimony. Affirms everything & led us into an observance of ourselves, our souls, our points of light. Asks us to see ourselves thus: peaceful souls within our husky cocooning bodies, full of light. Look at the beautiful painting, concentrate on just one part of it. The lights dim & the ambient hum is notched up & off we try to be.
I tried. I went for the whiter shader of pale disk in the middle of the mural. I deeply breathed, essaying accord with the sound so deeply phoneyphonic to me. 2 or 3 minutes was all that he asked. I cant keep from craning back to look out a window at a wee patch of real blue sky. Keep wanting DJ to make a Tibetan bowl hum like he did at the concert with bass, piano & singer the Sunday before.
And then I'm distracted by the thought of my wallet on the floor & have impure thoughts of a brother behind me. They pass but I dont get even semi-detached from the mortal coil.
This is not going to work. 3 latecomers arrive from Carlton. Orlando & brothers from the Phillipines. Small burnished middle-aged men. Sagacious faces, lambent brrown eyes. One without much english.
Interpretation is unselfconsciously supplied. In spanish the terms of reference shine brighter: punto de luz, alma, amor, cliche translated out.
DJ wants us to report on our experiences as light. Generally positive but vague, abstract. Tim? I claim to have got stuck on the old Pink Floyd riff:
Shine on you crazy diamond .
(laughter) Fine sez DJ but make that peaceful diamond.
I dont tell that I remained bobylogged, annoyed by the music, marred by the mural & that my attempt to image a star produced not inner peace but the roaring of burning hydrogen. Wise guy, huh? I didnt want to be. One of the Carlton crew wants to talk metaphysics - the soul, his/her relationship to the great father/friend. DJ supplies. I'm taken back to Huxley's anthology The Perennial Philosophy - atman/brahman, the dog barks, the caravan passes etc.
Next exercise is a 10 minutes meditatio. Eyes best kept open. The thought is simply:
I am a soul full of peace.
Punto de luz.
But this time our endeavours are accompanied by a soft insistent murmurous blond voice. It doesnt take me away. I consider an exit at 1/2 time which soon comes around with tea & cookies & nectarines & popping $5 stealthily in one of several wellwrought wooden boxes soliciting support. A walk to the middle of the wonderful long bridge & a pee, all in my purplestocking'd feet. Might as well see it through.
Second half is re-incarnation, subtle bodies, young souls & old souls, essences of long stories dealt with lightness, fluency & utter conviction:
"The father is an eternally disincarnated soul"
"There are very few angels. Yet"
"Finding inner peace promotes peace in the world"
Here's to it
The best is last: all rise, go to eachother & look at eachother's souls. Oh no. But yes, liberating to stare into the eyes of a stranger, barrier-breaking. In some encounters it's back to the no blinking duels in the playgrond. One unblinking Indian owl, other eyes all a-flutter, exposure, then we get the measure of it, gentle obeissances & salutes to bow out the engagements, break the linkage. Peering through the mask, or down wells, powerplays & flickering intimacy. I look down into David's eyes with what I fear might have been taken for a superior smile, a touch of the Aleister Crowleys, which was only the effect of trying to relax my jaw & he breaks off blinking. It's a privileged condition, calmly looking through eachother's windows to see who is in.
I saw no third eyes opening but Orlando said everything went blue for him. DJ said we had achieved a great bonding. Om Shanti.
I put my boots back on & left quickly but the one who had claimed to be an old hand was already driving away from the car park & gave a brotherly wave.
The road home seemed less furious. The image of a pint of Guinness came to me & I thought I could make it to the Mentone Hotel for the last set of Jazz on Sunday.