Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Meditation Anecdotes

by Bill Johnson

(I practice yoga meditation as taught by Paramahansa Yogananda. The following are short pieces I've written about the meditation group I've attended).


A Meditation on Pine Sol

Paramahansa Yogananda relates the story of the businessman in India who had to travel to England to attend to business interests. He approached a great yogi to ask for a technique that would allow him to travel to England by a yogic method and avoid paying the cost to travel by boat. The great yogi taught the worldly businessman a technique that he could use to transport himself to England and back, but mentioned as the businessman was leaving that he should not think about monkeys while he practiced the technique.

All the man could meditate on was monkeys. Dozens of monkeys. Thousands of monkeys. Monkeys were all he could think about.

When our meditation group moved into its chapel on 32nd and NE Broadway, the group rented its space from a Foos Ball company on the first floor of the building. A devotee cleaning the chapel on the day of the first service thought that if a little Pine Sol cleaned things well, a lot of Pine Sol would do an even better job.

That first service reeked of Pine Sol. Anyone who didn't wear a Hazmat suit to the meditation service surely found themselves thinking about Pine Sol.

The devotee who learned something about Pine Sol that night could think of nothing else. Not even a monkey could have made it through his inner mental chambers, unless the monkey was carrying a mop soaked in Pine Sol.


The Most Catholic Receptionist

When our meditation group moved in to our new chapel on 32nd and Broadway, the street front of the building was a company that sold Foos Ball equipment and a small space directly under our chapel was a doctor's office. The doctor's receptionist was an 80 year old lady.

Because the circuit breakers for the building were at the foot of the stairwell, if a circuit breaker was tripped, she needed access to the panel, so she would speak with the usher a few times a month. It came out that this lady very much enjoyed looking up the stairwell at Master's picture.

It came out that she'd been raised as a traditional catholic, which meant that if she ever did have a question about religion, a priest had the answer, and that was that. No meditation, no reflection.

She insisted she'd never had a spiritual experience in her life, but it came out that was being woken at night by a strange sound, which the usher informed her was probably an astral sound. He told her about the energy body and the astral currents in the spine. She was skeptical, but a few nights later she woke up and experienced her energy body instead of her physical body.

A few days after that, on the way to work and listening to her car radio, the music faded into the background and she heard a symphony of astral sounds.

Which she didn't like at all, and prayed that it be taken away.

The usher realized that, as Paramahansa Yogananda has said, only a master can really tell why someone is on a particular path in this life and what kind of spiritual awareness someone has. In the case of our most catholic receptionist, in this life looking up the stairwell at Master's picture with adoring eyes was enough of the spiritual life for her.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Co-Authored Projects`

Going through an issue with someone involving a co-authored project. In hindsight, I've realized a written agreement needs to be both what the authors are agreeing to and what they are not agreeing to, what is allowed and what isn't allowed for the partners. Someone took a small permission and drove a semi through it.

Another author contacted me about what she could do with a project without the permission of the director who brought her in to it, and the director wasn't giving permission. Not much.

Really, all agreements among writers should be put into writing, even if it's just an email, including what will happen if the partners can't agree. Anyone who tells you a project should be done on trust is going to rape, loot, and pillage you, and then tell you that you knew what they were going to do when you went along without getting an agreement in words.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

A Night of Storytelling

I went to see Mawson's Mettle, a reading by storyteller Lawrence Howard, performed as part of Portland's Fertile Ground festival. It was a wonderful event. This was the first time in many, many years I listened to an oral storyteller as opposed to attending plays. Listening to Lawrence tell Mawson's story (Mawson was an explorer of the Antarctic) held my attention for over two hours.

Lawrence belongs to a group called Portland Story Theater.