Experiments with Truth and Untruth

I have developed my meditation practice from experiments in truth and untruth. Gandhi titled his autobiography My Experiments with Truth but I think it is just as important to experiment with untruth as it is to experiment with truth. 

Just as I was developing my meditation practice as a teenager, my cousin was possessed by a spirit. My uncle, concerned about his daughter's well-being, consulted with his sister, my mother, as well as their mother, who was grandmother to both me and my cousin. 

They all decided to pay attention to what the spirit had to say for himself, for it was a male voice that my cousin would speak in when possessed. Every night the spirit  would appear to enter my cousin's body and over time the story of his life was presented to us. He was a man who had lived in a different time and place, had done terrible things including beating his wife, and was now, in spirit, asking for help to be released, to be free. 

Through their extensive network of contacts aaji, grandma, aai, mother, and mama, uncle found masters of the dark spirit arts, and enlisted their help. They all said the same thing: the spirit had to be passed off to an unsuspecting victim. But each had a dramatically different method that had to be followed to the letter to work. One of them made a toran, long string of lemons and chillies, claiming to have cajoled the dark spirits to push the possessing spirit into the toran. All that remained was to find a volunteer who would visit the temple toran in hand, then cast the toran into the street, and not look back. The next person to step over the toran would then be possessed by the spirit and my cousin would be free of her possession. 

Aaji volunteered to carry the toran containing the spirit to the temple. Then she left it lying in the street.

The thing about untruth is that even when it seems to work the solution is never wholeness. Untruth leads to further splitting and splitting, as illustrated by J. K. Rowling's Lord Voldemort, is the fundamental problem facing humanity. Even wizards are not exempt from it! So the spirit returned to my cousin's body and possessed her even more firmly than before. In our desperation the family experimented further with untruth, pushing my cousin deeper into the dark world of spirits.

Then unexpectedly we heard from a simple man, a retired government servant, who had prayed to Ganesh, the elephant-headed god, all his life. He offered to help. He would light incense sticks during his prayers to Ganesh and collect the ashes. He believed that the ashes from his life-long practice of praying could heal my cousin as well as heal the spirit possessing her. That what they needed was not exorcism but healing. 

At that point the family had tried everything else so they resignedly accepted this simple man's offer of healing through the ashes of prayer. A little bit of ash was placed upon her forehead each day after the simple man finished his prayers. Bit by bit my cousin got better. A year later the spirit had left her. They had both healed. 

This experience taught me that truth is simple, it does not involve manipulating energy, forcing of any kind. That it takes time. That if I was going to meditate, I needed to simply follow rather than lead and spend my entire life doing it.

Peace and love,


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