On the way to campus, I decided to listen to an mp3 disc I made that contains the standard chants that form part of the daily devotions at Amma's ashram, as well as some Devi, Durga, and Kali chants I would like to incorporate into my personal spiritual practice if I could ever find the time to do so. At least having these things available in the car helps to acquaint me with them gradually until I can find more time to sit at my shrine and read them.
I decided to stop at Starbucks before beginning my meetings with students. While I was there I ran into my grad assistants and ended up giving one of them a ride back to campus. She is Catholic, and we have had some preliminary conversations about interreligious stuff. I explained a little bit to her about the chants I had on in the car, about Amma, and about Sufism. When I got back to my office building, I noticed that I was in a rather devotional space. It felt nice to revisit that space, after having been away from that kind of experience for a while.
When I got to my office, I started looking for the Darshan film about Amma online, to send to my student. I didn't find it (except for the trailer), but I found a nice clip from a BBC documentary about Indian gurus. The young man in the video had a friend and an acquaintance who helped guide him through his first darshan with Amma. Unlike the rather jarring US TV news coverage of Amma, this one allowed more of the atmosphere and mystery of the experience to come through. In looking at this and at other clips, I found myself in a deep place--as if I were in Amma's presence--and even was in tears at one point. I have not felt like that, even while in Amma's physical presence, probably since the summer before my mother died (i.e., summer of 2007). Yes, I went to Amma's programs in 2008, 2009, and 2010, but I just wasn't as open to as full an experience as I had today.
I ran into a student afterward who invited me to hear him perform during today's convocation, so I opened up some time to do that, even though I hadn't planned on it. Then I had to deal with another student who stopped by unexpectedly with an advisement question. There were issues with students who missed their final exams in the courses taught by my TAs. I dealt with all of this with my heart open, as if I had just had darshan, and it felt a little bizarre. I'm now starting to cook dinner, will try to finish grading papers, and will then turn around to go to a concert this evening, and then get up at 5:30 tomorrow morning to teach my classes. Tomorrow night there is an opera that I should go to, and Saturday I need to be on campus for the first day of auditions. Final exams and assorted meetings are next week. Eventually I hope to have time to start listening to the recordings I made back in September, so I can suggest edits to the producer.
In any event, it's good to know that I can find my way back into a devotional space via reminders of what it can be like to be in Amma's presence. It occurs to me that I may simply have processing too much pain for the last few years, and therefore may not have been able to find myself back to as receptive a place as I had been previously. There is a sense of stepping back into memories of some painful events and beginning to shed some of the self-blame that may have been inhibiting me from digesting those experiences more fully.
I also had a hallway chat with a colleague whom I often resent for being unavailable and/or patronizing. That went pretty well. All around, it was probably a good idea to spend the time at convocation and to do the other things that I did today, even though it means further deferring scholarly and musical activities that I need to attend to at some point.
Om Kreem Kalyai Namaha,