The Jivamala
The life of a Shiva Devotee

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Section V - Visions of Shiva

I became a true yogi, a true sadhu, a sannyasi dead to the world. We went to the nearest burning ground, and he put ash upon me reverently, as if I were the statue of the god. It was the first time I wore ash, and I felt proud, like a bride in gold ornaments. I could not be married to Shiva, but I could be dedicated to him, and I was. My Guru said we must go on pilgrimage, to the source of the great river, and we met many sadhus along the way. I was proud to be one of them.

There were many places for sadhus to stay along the pilgrimage roads. Sometimes we stayed inside, and sometimes we stayed outside under the great old trees. One night we slept in a cave, and I meditated and returned to the gate. When its guardian asked my Shiva-name, I told him Bhairavanath. He said, "You may pass."

I found myself in a great garden, with a great sadhu whom I did not recognize. He said, "I have done meditation in this cave for many years, and I have dedicated myself to helping those who meditate here. It is your good karma that brought you to meditate here. Follow me."

So I followed him and we walked through the garden. There were statues of demons, and gods, and kings. He said,

You must only stop before your god. Otherwise, another god may claim you.
So we walked until we saw a great lingam coming out of the water, surrounded by fountains. I went over to it and bowed, and it opened. The Lord walked out of it through an invisible door. He was smiling with shining sapphire skin, like a living jewel. His hair was dark and long, and wrapped in ascetic style. His flesh glistened, and he wore necklaces of beads, and a loincloth of animal skin. He held up before me a crystal with rainbows coming out of it, and one ray from it shot into my heart. It was like fire, and my chest sizzled. Shiva reached into my chest, and held my heart in his hand. It glowed and shone like a jewel, and then a mirror. I looked at it, and saw Shiva's face in it. My heart was a mirror that reflected the Lord. Then he replaced it in my chest, and said, "Now your heart will see and hear clearly."

I bowed before him. I was honored by his presence. He smiled and said, "Come forward." I did and he became wrathful, with flashing snakes, and growling tigers. Then he became peaceful again, and said, "I am both light and dark, creative and destructive. You must know both sides of me."

I said, "Yes, Lord." He drew the three lines of white on my forehead, and said, "These are the waves of my mind, the lines of my trident, the mark of my finger-tips. You are marked by me. You are branded in my name, and you are my slave and devotee from life to life. We will know each other in many ways, in many relationships - are you willing?"

I said. "Lord, I am willing."

He said,

In this life, you will be a wise yogi - you will travel to many worlds, and I will guide you to some of them myself. But later you will fall, and an old curse will return to you. You will be born again, and from there you will rise and remember this. When you remember, you will know your past, and come to know yourself more fully. A different curse will fall away when you do - the curse of a dedicated enemy.
He raised his hand, and I was surrounded by blue lightning. It crackled around me, and through me, and I looked at the world through sheets of lightning. Then there were storm clouds, and they surrounded me, and I could not see through them. They were like a dark veil.

I fought my way through, and opened my eyes back in a dark cave. I was sleeping there, sitting up, next to my guru.

Section VI

In the morning, I told my guru what had happened. He said, "It is good that you have seen the Lord. Many sadhus spend their lives hoping for such a gift. I thought this cave had some special power. It was sanctified by a holy one who had done meditation here. Congratulations on your vision. It was very auspicious."

I said, "But what of falling and curses?" He said,

"It sounds to me like that is another life. One life at a time - be careful of this one, your soul is only in one body. Keep soul and body pure, and you need not fear any falling away."

We continued on pilgrimage, to a mountain where Shiva made his home. It was a long walk - many months passed as we made our way to the source of the waters. Much of the land was bare - the land itself was renunciate. It gave up its clothing of leafy trees, and its rich food of fruit and honey. It was ascetic like us, keeping only the bare bones of survival, for its heart was elsewhere.

We walked around the mountain, and at night, we slept beneath an out cropping. I saw the Lord again, but this time he was tall and dignified, with white hair and beard, in the guise of a rishi. He said, "Follow me." So I did and looked back and saw my body asleep. But my soul went after my Lord. We walked the roads of the sky, and went to a palace of ice, sparkling like a thousand suns. He said, "Welcome to my house." It was like a diamond cave, whose walls and floors were alive - even the light itself. I tried to mentally bow to everything but there were too many things.

He took me before a great shining wall and said, "Behold the ways of karma." I saw Lord Yama do a dance of death, grasping souls with hooks and lassos. I saw them judged at a great round table, around which sat kings and ministers. Hordes passed before them, and they judged whether the souls would go to rebirth, or one of the heaven or hell worlds. They too looked at a shining wall, and each soul had his life quickly run before him. Certain moments lasted a few seconds - the important ones, while others sped by in the wall. Hands went up and down, and the souls were sped on their way.

Lord Shiva said,

"You are judged on your actions, and this determines your future. Never seek power. It is the fastest way to fall. Seek devotion - the love of the god and the guru."

Then he became a blur, and the clouds came. I knew I would leave, so I tried to remember the room but it was hard to do.

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