(Dvorahji with her GURU Sri Sri Ravi Shankar)
It is really Ironical, that when I was in desperate search of a Spiritual Master, I never met Shri Nisargadatta Maharaj, who lived a few kilometers away from my place. Today, when i need to reinforce my beliefs, I happen to come across Dvorahji, who lives thousands of miles away, yet she can be conversed with everyday, giving me strength to believe in the Masters words!
I do not know much about Dvorahji, except that she is like a lighthouse, for seekers floundering in deep waters. It is better you hear her in her own words:
I came to the United States on the General Moore, a ship that landed in New York Harbor 57 years ago. My father held me on his shoulders so I could see the Statue of Liberty holding her torch of hope and welcome. We were refugees from Nazi Germany, spared from the ovens and on our way to a distant uncle in Los Angeles, who was willing to take us in and offer us citizenship. I still remember the cheers when we finally hit shore. America! We were safe.
My mother ended up working as a line-man in a Cheetos factory, and my father, a tailor made clothes for Lucille Ball. On Saturdays my Mom and I would go downtown to get colored blouses to match the skirts my Dad made, so I'd look well-dressed for school.
I remember being 8 years old, sitting alone on the grass at Queen Anne Park in South Los Angeles (we lived in a ghetto), eating my lunch, when I notice that a dozen young black boys coming my way, first walking, then running and then shouting. I froze. They encircled me, I couldn't move. I tried to get up and one of them pushed me down again. Suddenly, a huge black man came running up shouting at the young boys, "Leave her alone! You punks, get outta here!" They scattered, I ran home. Saved again, but for what?
One morning, my father wakes me up, "Get up Dvorah, You're Mother's in the hospital". We rush to the hospital, my mother's dead – a heart attack at 40. One day she's making me breakfast for school, the next day she's gone. I looked for her in the streets of Los Angeles for years, only to discover she was really gone. But where did she go? That's a question that stayed with me. How can someone be here one second, and gone the next? It was all like a dream. And then the eternal questions began. What's it all about? Why am I here? How is it possible that a person, my mother could just disappear?
Years went by, I rocked n rolled on the Dick Clark show, graduated high school still a virgin; and at nineteen married the first good-looking guy that resembled Elvis. It was the 60's. I remember riding my bike through Griffith Park listening to a hot local band called, "the Doors". I fell in love with Van Morrison.
Then the LA riots came! I was huddled in my apartment pregnant at 20 with my first child. What was happening in "my America". From that day on, I got involved. I marched for Civil Rights, singing "We shall Over Come" at rallies until my throat was raw. I taught parents and pre-schoolers in East LA and Watts, while gunshots were firing outside. I felt part of Martin Luther King's vision - I had a Dream, and I was dedicated to making this a better world – my parents and I were not saved so we could eat apple pie and watch television. It had to be for a greater purpose.
One day, at a picnic with my husband and 3-year-old son, I had a strong urge to leave immediately. "Come on, let's pack up and go! It's time to go home!" I was so insistent that he got up immediately, and we all started walking towards the car. We heard a loud noise and looked up to see a car careening off the road and landing up-side-down exactly where we'd been sitting. Crazy! Unbelievable. And saved again. Why?
I went to San Francisco, left my son and husband for a couple of months and marched against the war. I hung out with the underground freedom fighters, hoping to change the world – it was in a mess, AGAIN! I had never done drugs, but one day a guy handed me a joint. "Go ahead, try it. It won't hurt you." Why not, I thought. I took a couple of drags and fell asleep.
I woke up the next morning – and everything looked different. I walked to Haight- Ashbury Park, looked up at the trees and sky – and they were vibrating, sparkling, as was everything and everyone, including me. Things were not as they appeared to be. We were not solid. Everything blended. The Trees, the rocks, the people, my hand, we were all vibrating in unison. We were all ONE.
I went back to the apartment I was staying, and noticed a book on table. It was by Allan Watts called, "This Is It!" I took the next plane home to Los Angeles and learned to meditate. Dope was not my path – meditation was. I became a teacher of Transcendental Meditation. I wanted to know what was real and fair in a world that seemed so unreal and so unfair. For me the ticket was looking inside this body and mind – where else could I go for answers?
I meditated for 30 years, teaching meditation all over the world. I Studied with some of the greatest Masters and Madmen – and still knew nothing. I talked the Advaita talk and cried the Bhakti prayer and had the usual spiritual answers about past lives, energy, consciousness etc. I had the rhetoric down. But I "knew" nothing. This may have been "It" according to Allan Watts, but I wasn't IT!
And then, one day, a rainbow shinning through a window landed on top of my hand. I looked at all the colors - mesmerized in amazement. "How could something so unreal, look so real?" It looked as if true colors were painted on my hand, and yet it was only a reflection. I felt a switch go off in my brain. This world is not as it appears to be. The ONENESS I'd experienced in Haight-Ashbury came flooding back. This division, this unhappiness in myself and others, was like a mass hypnosis, an illusion, like the rainbow shinning on my hand.
All I can say, is there is deep peace in the middle of this world that appears to be so chaotic, uncaring and random. There is deep knowledge that you can ONLY BE, and sounds so ridiculous and trite when you talk about it. Anyone Can Wake Up to their True Peaceful Enlightened Nature in the midst of heartbreak and confusion. That Possibility, that Invitation exists for Everyone.