My spiritual path has been a journey of gazes, the eyes of the Other an infinity sign leading me back to the Self. Gaze of friend or perfect stranger, gaze of lover and teacher, gaze of the animal guide, gaze of my infant daughter, mother, wife, gaze of my gaze.
Yet through these sparkling corridors of darshan, there were three gazes above all others that took me to the highest peak, where Dante stood with Beatrice, sing the empyrean through her eyes.
The first Great Gaze was the gaze of a fawn. My wife and I were just married, walking through a Maryland corn field. We came upon a newborn deer. We could only spend a moment there, for the mother doe was stamping the ground furiously at the edge of the forest.
Just for a moment we gazed into the bluest eyes I ever saw. Only my daughter's blue eyes come close to that bejeweled Shakti. The word that comes to mind is "familiar." The eyes of that fawn made the entire animal kingdom a clan of cousins. I felt welcomed and warmed into the planetary community. Ever since passing through those faun blue eyes, I've seen one and the same Soul in animals, angels, and human beings, a single Spirit gazing out through myriad facets in the diamond of God-Consciousness.
The second Great Darshan was the gaze of a dolphin. My young family was spending a week at the Jersey Shore, in Avalon. It was late June, solstice time. Every morning I would go to the beach at dawn, practice Sudarshan Kriya and meditation, then swim a mile down the coast in the rising sun, out beyond the breaking waves. Swimming quite a distance from shore, I suddenly saw an enormous shadow-form sweep silently beneath me. My heart shuddered with primordial fear of the deep, the unknown.
I stopped and looked around. I was completely alone. Then a face emerged from the water about three yards in front of me, with perhaps the most intelligent and benign expression I have ever beheld, a smile of respect, parental care, and benediction. A gaze of unconditional love enfolded me, and filled me with the certainty that I am protected, both on earth and among the stars, by a much more advanced and ancient race of Friends.
The peak of my journey was the third Great Darshan Gaze: a meeting with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar at a meditation course in Nova Scotia, back in 1991. Courses were small and intimate in those days, and on the final night I managed to visit alone with Sri Sri in his room for an hour. At one point toward the end of our conversation, I asked, "There is so much chatter about who you are. Are you one of the great avatars, a world teacher from ages past, who has returned to us? I need to know who you REALLY Are!"
So he showed me. It was very simple. He said, "No, no, no. I am Nobody." And he meant it.
Then I saw pure Presence unveiled, no name or story or expectation from the past superimposed by my mind. Truly, I looked into Nobody's eyes. Nobody is my teacher. Nobody is my supreme authority. Nobody is my Lord.
His gaze: twin galaxies spiraling toward the formless source of creation through billions of light-years. Wells of eternity where I fell inward and outward at once, like a thrown pebble, like a lost meteor, in the motionless explosion of a dark yet sparkling rose of infinite circumference. This was the flowering of divine love. Golden petals gently, silently exploding from the empty stillness of the Self we all share.
Jai Guru Dev.
(Photo of Sri Sri by Scott Hague)