Katrina Chester - Ram Dass


September 11th is one day we will all likely be remembering forever. It changed the lives of so many. As a New Yorker, I experienced things I’ve never fully been able to capture with words. And honestly… perhaps it’s my words. Or maybe, there just are no words. Fourteen years later and I still feel a shift in myself days prior to 9/11, like a pot of water on the stove in the process of a very slow boil. This time of the year even nature is shifting, and 9/11 shifted a lot for so many people, especially for all the loved ones left behind. As the days approached, one by one I received calls from people close to me telling me their current personal struggles (not associated with 9/11). But the saddest news to swallow is from my oldest, beautiful friend who, the night before, suddenly lost her husband. Maybe there are just no words.  Feeling pretty helpless, far away, thinking, “Sad September has arrived”…I would try something different this year. In honor of all their struggles to be brave, maybe I could too. I sat for meditation with Maharaji and quickly heard a voice inside reporting ‘Maharaji left his body on 9/11 1973′  – this is one powerful day. As I “sit” even taller with the thought I am sitting for them all – as Maharaji leads the journey and 9/11 searches for a home in my heart.

You have carved out a home in my heart big enough to hold the world. I can still smell that world, see that world, and still hear that world. You are a black hole and a rising serpent. You are the beauty of surviving and the conceiver of suffering. You are on me, in me and inside me…forever. That home in my heart is and always will be a seat for those left behind; those who left their bodies that day.

It is not strange to me at all that Maharaji (Neem Karoli Baba) dropped his body too, that day. I was introduced to Maharaji by my teacher Ram Dass who one day said to me “I feel it’s time I introduce you to the puppeteer, I’m just the puppet”. At the time, I panicked as my mind rushed to solve this riddle but left me screaming “Noooo! YOU are my teacher! You are the one who says it like it is, who makes me do things I never associated with the word Spiritual before… LAUGH! I won’t go, I won’t go!”  Well, I didn’t actually say any of that but boy was I thinking it. Instead I replied “what do you mean Ram Dass?” – I crack up laughing now, even as I write this, I see the instant u-turn from my internal NY response! Ram Dass went on to tell me all about Maharaji and I listened to every word. Filled to the brim with his Gurus love, they both taught me to cultivate this wild heart of mine.

I celebrate Maharaji today and am thankful for the merging of Ram Dass into one, before my eyes as he spoke of his Guru. This time in life set me on a path I could never have imagined. And so did the events of 9/11.

For me today is a bittersweet example of the presence of duality in life, in us all, and to the importance of the journey to “true vision” – to truly see while I was also being hijacked by my judging mind – Underneath is all I could see the oppositions in life as valuable wisdom even though the mind would not report this till years later.

Both were a day of pain for many, yet simultaneously a day of releasing and forcible letting go, for others. Yet, if anything changed in Maharaji’s story it may also mean he was never even born. I suppose what I am saying is an understanding and being with the wisdom that everything alive does eventually meet the opposite, death.

Admittedly, it is so hard for us to see grace in the face or the wake of 9/11. For me, being there was about the only way I could believe it, too. What I felt was in the faces of the doctors in their scrubs as they rode doubles on bicycles down 7th avenue with a third person, a homeless man, on the handlebars – in the faces of a local gang member as he pulled a police officer to safety – n the eyes of a 5-year-old child as he helped a woman in her 90’s to get up off the street. The list goes on and on. I saw this as grace, but more importantly I felt grace in the presence of horror.

To honor this day is to honor everyday and to all of us as struggles appear in everyday life – big, little, and in-between. I pass on a message whispered to me…The mirror of our memories are safe to reveal.

I will be remembering…
the day my heart, soul and humanness was completely captured,
smacking me hard on the ass and equally in the head,
collapsing this blind equity I’d placed on my mind – no sense can be made.
I will be remembering…
the day my heart, soul and humanness was completely captured,
smacking me hard on the ass and equally in the head,
exploding an “alive kinda LOVE” as there stopped being “others” and we walked into One.
all the smoke and the mirrors that covered true-faces have released the grip,
allowing and sharing such suffering and grace.
In the mirror’s reflection, only LOVE had survived.

Many times since 9/11 we all experienced suffering or grace just in daily life – one experience seemingly blinding us from the other . One may be steering the bicycle, while the other sits as the passenger on the handlebars. In those moments in NY, with so much suffering there was so much grace as strangers from very different walks of life, from very different places, shared their rides to safety, together.

Need ideas? I know you can think of just one, but if not feel free to email me…a stranger.

With so much love and thanks,

Katrina Chester


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