How would I have handled that situation now? Did my students derive
enough from my teaching? If ever the litany of a man unsure of his quality
came to be sung, this was the song. It was the dirge of a man unable to
release his power , but "soldiering on" ... keeping his feelings
(which weren't clearly understood) to himself. It was the song of a man
projecting "Everything's OK".. Ever sensitive to atmosphere and energies
around her, Narayani's antennae picked up the currents. In these conditions,
a headache is inevitable for her, and this was no exception.
By Thursday evening of that week, early in June, the winter had set in. Winter in Coffs Harbour, on New South Wales's lovely mid-north coast, is no great matter. Sharply chill by night and in the early mornings, often blazing sunshine through the day until mid-afternoon. This day was not one whit different. She had been for her walk along the beach, and over the headland, perhaps a thought too late for her comfort as the cool evening closed in. Whatever the immediate physical cause, the effect was an incipient headache. She was fractious, not seeing or hearing clearly; an early night was prescribed, with quiet and warmth. These were easy to provide.
Through Friday and into Saturday the throbbing ache, the dizziness, the need for comfort persisted. By Saturday, it was clear that this was no ordinary headache, indeed, not even a common or garden migraine. This one was special.
I went into " Carer" mode-" Helper" in the "Victim-Persecutor- Helper" model expounded at a later session by Narayani's son, Andrew-and did what I later saw were all the wrong things. I buzzed about getting compresses, drove sixty miles to obtain healing gem elixirs, walked about in stockinged feet for silence, took the phone off the hook. In the enormously enhanced sensitivity of the migraine, with her nerve ends out and seeking, she picked it all up... and dived deeper into pain. She became dehydrated from her ability even to swallow water, nauseous yet vomiting nothing.
Late on Saturday night, she crawled into my room, into my bed, into
my arms, beside herself with pain. "What will you have me do?" asked.
"Whatever. Take me to the hospital perhaps-they'll do something, give me something" she said. Moving slowly, I wrapped her up in a soft blanket, warmed up the car, took her to the Base Hospital for treatment. Quiet smooth efficiency there, augmented by my request that the lights be dimmed until Narayani was lying down with her eyes covered.
A few quietly uttered questions about allergies and the like and "We'll give you a shot of pethidine to ease you" said the doctor, This done, they left her in a darkened corner of the Emergency Ward, absolutely quiet, wrapped in heated paper-light cellular blankets, only me near to watch her slowly relax, to watch her give way to her utter exhaustion.
Time passed, a dreamlike quality in the darkened room although there as the Saturday night emergency fuss going on in the main treatment area.
There was one old fellow, tearing off bandages from some head wound,
getting off his bed and seeking a lost shoe. They tied him down in the
end, but he was absolutely convinced that he was in fine fettle. Nothing
would persuade him that he wasn't, and he repeated his conviction frequently
to anybody who would listen-and for the benefit of any who didn't want
to listen too! There was a young man, whose anguished, eldritch plea to
the world to "Look at my arm", utter panic in every syllable, went right
to the quick, and was silenced only by his removal to the operating theatre.
Saturday night in the Emergency Ward of a General Hospital was no place
for the faint-hearted, as any who watch television soapies of the genre
of "Emergency Ward 10" will agree. We much later heard a doctor quietly
asking the young man to answer him, eventually getting the response which
indicated that the young man was still present.
It transpired that his right arm had been amputated at the shoulder, and in the moment of memory of an injury to my own right shoulder, years ago that it was, I bled for him, projecting a future made the less by the result of his Saturday night out... a projection and interpretation drawn from reference to my own past experience. In fact this was a typical illustration of this, for I didn't really know what had happened or what was happening to the young man. It was only an overactive imagination which took his future into my conceptualising.
Here in the dimly-lit corner space, surrounded by curtains, guarded Narayani's quiet. "Do you know what pethidine is?" softly from the bed came Narayani's voice, rather sleepily as it should be, given the treatment she had received. Before I could answer, she continued "It's the truth drug. You could ask me anything now." I didn't feel to ask her anything at all under such conditions: squeezed her fingers lightly. A little later: "I love you, you know" she said. And drifted back into her half-world.
Suddenly, she strained to turn towards me, her arms stretched out to
"Dravidian" she cried. "Dravidian! " And aghast, as I watched the control dials of the monitors plummeting down towards zero-respiration, blood pressure 29 over 15 and falling, temperature dropping fast, pulse not recording-I knew her life hung in the balance but not the why thereof. I felt as though I had left my body: I was looking down on my instant multiple response. I hit the alarm button and called the sister in charge. There in a flash, she took one look and swung the absolute emergency life-support procedures into action. Some sort of injection which may have been glucose-based, an oxygen apparatus, the mask to her face rapidly an irritant to Narayani, the bed cranked up to semi-sitting, layers of heated cellular blankets to warm her chilled-to-the-core, rigor-shaking body. They lowered her bed again to recline. I sat on, her hand light in mine so I could feel the delicate pulse beat. "Breathe, Narayani. Breathe." I whispered, and willed the pace of her breathing to match with mine as she inhaled pure oxygen.
She was only one breath away from no breath at all, only one small moment in time. I came to see what each moment in time means, what its value is, the measure of its irreplaceability. That moment in time between each of her breaths was, for me, a series of lifetimes projecting on the screen of my consciousness a kaleidoscope of memories, past and future entwined. I knew not if the last breath was to be followed by another, or whether the last breath was the Last Breath.
Just one moment in time, that's all. The night wore on. She told me later that the space in time between each breath was the only time without pain. "it's the only time the pain stops," she murmured at the time. "I don't even want to breathe." And time no longer existed, for her or for me. Her vital readings held, then crashed again! The bed was raised. A glucose drip administered by the doctor, she breathed again, and the readings stabilised. This repeated itself again and again through the night. "I was almost there" she said later. "You owe me for that...." At that time I was stunned by the remark, having no idea that she wanted to die then. I realised later that she held me beholden for not letting her go as her life force called her to go, and she was content to go.
In a later letter to Ferdinand, I wrote "If you look back over what I've said, you'll see that 'I love you' and my name, might have been the last words she spoke. I had felt completely useless all Saturday. There's nothing much anyone can do, as she even told me herself, for a migraine when once it has taken hold. And then she'd come to me in the night and I'd just said, in effect, 'I can't do anything, what do you want to do?' She had said to take her to the hospital, which was the best possible thing."
I had heard from a friendly homoeopath that a doctor who is also an acupuncturist had said ' .. allopathic medicine is very good at keeping one alive, while naturopathic medicine helps one to live.' In taking Narayani to the hospital, I felt that I was taking that line. So, through the long night, until the day staff appeared, I sat, her hand resting in mine. Through the long night I looked at how precious to me was this fragile being whom I was guarding so carefully. Through the long night, my supplications went up to any being who would listen to preserve the soul of Narayani in life. In fact, I believe I issued some very definite threats to the Universe if they don't do something about her, and do it quickly. Well, the Goddess told me that She and Her colleagues had work for Narayani yet, and to pipe down.
Slowly she stabilised, until the sisters sent me home for a shower and breakfast, to return in mid-morning to take her home. An example of the care offered to her: the Doctor, exhausted after twelve hours of Saturday night Emergency duty in a busy General Hospital, stayed yet longer to administer a further glucose injection before she returned home.
I had already had a light, delicious hospital breakfast. There is no doubt in my mind that anything would have tasted delicious after that night, after I had watched my loved sister stand at the door of death, after I saw her tired smile as the dawn came.
It was with a sense of profound awe and respect for their tireless dedication
and professionalism that I went up to the young Doctor who led the
emergency team through that night and thanked him in the name of the whole
staff. And then the floodgates of feeling opened, just a crack, as I let
the doctor see how near to total breakdown I had come, how I had died ten
times a minute with the cessation of each breath from Narayani's bed.
When I returned to collect Narayani, to take her home, the morning was well advanced.
It was certainly after ten o'clock. The night staff, relieved two hours or more earlier, had mostly left to a well-earned rest, but it seemed that the sister-in-charge had taken Narayani's life as a personal mission. As she emerged from her curtained alcove, walking slowly, a thought unsteadily, the sister gently embraced her in a warm and loving hug. "You gave us such a fright. We really thought we'd lost you there" she said, and the joy in her eyes at seeing Narayani on her feet was truly something beautiful to behold, as she gently eased her into a wheelchair for the journey to the car.
A Letter to Ferdinand, continued.
"I got her settled at home and took a bite of lunch. She told me to go out and have a good walk on the beach, and over the headland to the cave to watch the sea beating the cliffs to death. After sitting by her bed all night, my body was decidedly crumpled and needed stretching, '... lest it go back again into old patterns' she said. Now, the last thing I wanted was to go for a long walk. I was tired. 'Yes, I know, but go stretch yourself' again she said. I thought it was all very well for her to tell me to stretch myself-the only stretching she was doing was in bed! Anyway, out I went, and realised how stiff I was when I looked at my pace, my stride, and so on, as I walked along our street. So I said to myself, starting the internal dialogue, you know, 'This won't do, now. Step it out.' And honestly, you could have heard the creaking of my old bones all the way to Sydney!
"I reached the beach. 'Well,' went my internal dialogue, 'here it is, high tide, and she wants me to go over the headland. And here's the beach-raining all last night and the sand is like a suet pudding, and she wants me to walk along it!' (Stamp, stamp, stamp, kick over a flooded sand castle, grrrr, grrrr-can't you just see and hear it?) 'And go over the headland' she says. 'The rotten tide is so rotten high the rotten headland is near under water itself, let alone the rotten cave' (mutter mutter mutter grrrr) 'and anyway it's a horrible beach and the rotten sun is too bright' (grrrr grrrr growl snarl snap).
"By the time I reached the end of the beach I was walking very well indeed. My back was upright, my arms were swinging, my stride was smooth and rhythmic, a couple of very pretty girls said hello and smiled at me, and I was thoroughly enjoying the walk. I climbed the headland, couldn't go down to the cave because the water really was wild. I lay down on the grass and let the wintry early-afternoon sun cook me slowly for about half an hour before I returned to the beach and walked strongly-not quickly, but purposefully-to Wedding Point and home.
"There was an hilarious interlude when I had put Narayani to bed after taking her home. She had had, as I said, all sorts of electronic wizardry going for her right through the night. All these life-support gismos required electronic contacts on her body. When put her to bed we were in stitches of laughter because she had these things all over her-big pink electrodes, about five centimetres in diameter, and with a bulge in the centre... you can imagine what they looked like... and at the very least Narayani's comments were salted! 'Like witches teats for a succubus,' is among the milder comments which she actually offered! Well, they were too!-but it took her some little while to frame that comment, as she discovered that she had suffered considerable amnesia and loss of ability to form and enunciate words after this whole event."
A night or so later, Narayani and I searched through the whole weekend's
story to find the teachings inherent in it, the lessons for me thoroughly
to learn. There were the technical ones: that all that can be done for
a migraine sufferer's extreme sensitiveness is to keep a light neutral
energy around her. And what I learned from that on another level, that
she showed me, was this. I had shared my awareness of being unable
to help constructively. What I had not realised, had been totally in unawareness,
was that by being 'the strong quiet carer, always there, ready for any
request' and hiding my own anguish, suppressing my tears for her pain,
stifling my fury at my own impotence to do any good, I actually exacerbated
her pain because she was (without then analysing it all) picking up these
confused vibrations, these unexpressed and, again, probably unidentified
This further examination had come about, that Wednesday evening because Narayani had seen that my posture had reverted to an old pattern, hunched and twisted as it had been when I first came out of Melbourne. We saw that this might have been due to sitting in an unsuitable chair for ten solid hours, not really moving, through that night in the hospital. We saw also that it might have been the result of insecure feelings brought about by hearing aids which had just been fitted, and which seemed to cause differences in my balance. And we saw the deeper issues together.
A Letter to Ferdinand continues:
"... and from doing things from a clear space. Because my feelings (actually, when both pieces of string were followed, feelings of inadequacy, impotence even, anger) were suppressed, the energy in them was bottled, curdled, turned in on itself. That revealed itself in body stance, posture, screwed-up face. You recall my story about walking along the beach after I brought Narayani home?-that was a pointer to me, had I only eyes to see it. And Narayani, through her distress, saw it.
"So she showed me how my care for her was part of an old repeating pattern, done in unawareness of that. Again, she reinforced me in my belief that there is nothing necessarily apparently wrong in using old patterns, so long as I am aware of the fact that I am using them. Then it has become a choice made to achieve whatever it is I'm trying to achieve and why I'm trying to achieve it in that moment. On the other hand, running on an old pattern without being aware of that, is a 'shotgun' way to achieve my objective-even if, under those conditions, I even knew what my objective is.
"Well, I felt about six months old, anyway just like a baby. So I curled
up under the rose bush and went to sleep. I awoke and rolled over and was
just reaching up to pick the biggest, most beautiful, black-red rose,
with the most unworldly perfume, when..." ...
Narayani slipped into my bed beside me and took me in her arms. She showed me in another way the sweetness in every moment, if every moment is treated as if it were the last, as the one moment in time.
As we sat together and reviewed this chapter, Narayani pointed out to me the symbolism in my dream, that to pluck that superb rose was to kill it. And in very truth, the way in which I had acted throughout this chapter was in line with an old pattern, in which pain has to be inflicted-if not to me then to the other person-if there is to be love. It was another, though more insidious, more devious, more cunning even, version of the kill rage in the bus, back there in January when Ferdinand had built his bridge for us to touch again in peace.
She led me through something else, which had far-reaching implications, and this was the feeling of uselessness to which referred in the early stages of the weekend's story. Such emotions, she said, reveal themselves in the physical body. I was, as I have said before, slightly asthmatic as a child, and this was to erupt with some malevolence only a short time after the long weekend I have been recounting. It was with arrested attention I that followed her lead through the impotence which I felt, through the feeling of incapability, through the feelings of being a child again unable to cope, a child unable to work it out, to the child's reaction to go into an asthma attack. That was the next stage-descent into a mysterious illness centred in my chest, which predicated a month or so in bed whenever I wasn't working. Sulking? Probably. But whatever it was, there was a big lesson coming, as we shall see together....
and Narayani have just opened a wonderful on-line bookshop where you can
not only get lots of Osho's books but a great variety on Celts and early
English history including Arthurian Times. Dravidian is a scholar and well
known in the 'acaedamic realms' as an expert in this particular area of
history. So if King Arthur or the Celts interest you go and have a peek....
and pick up that Osho book, music, tarot etc while you are at it.
Enter Osho Amar Bookshop
Swami Atit Dravidian and Ma Narayani
Osho Amar Meditation Centre & Bookshop
"Shunyata" Unit One, 19 Tulipwood Court
Bray Park via MURWILLUMBAH 2484
Telephone and Fax.... +61 (0)66 72 7087
E-mail (1) : firstname.lastname@example.org
E-mail (2) : email@example.com