–If one wishes to have a gift from the Sugmad his heart must become pure and gentle. __The Shariyat-Ki-Sugmad, Book One
Once the new car came into my life, things started happening fast at work. Management placed a second major book of business under my care and supervision. Instead of one assistant, there were suddenly two, and then three, with talk of more. On November 1, a promotion and a hefty raise. For a few weeks, the prestige of all these happenings–car included–eclipsed any discomfort that might otherwise have been noticed. Adjusting to GT after Old Thunder took a little while, and several coworkers gave the car looks of admiration that proved emotionally satisfying. Hearing praise from management helped as well. Still….
By mid-November, I knew I was in trouble. Our unit had work backing up day by day. Stress levels rose throughout the underwriting department, mine right at the top. When irritation went underground, stomach cramps moved in. Nothing subtle about them, either. At first, they appeared only at the office. In time, unfortunately, even thinking about work brought them back. It seemed the negativity of the people a few of us positive types had to deal with…would absolutely overwhelm us in the end. Naturally, I knew it was me, not the rest of the world, that had the attitude problem.
But what to do about it?
By Thanksgiving weekend, the dream of winning the lottery and retiring rich looked mighty attractive. Naturally, I would invest wisely, spend prudently, and remain financially independent, happy, and all that good stuff for years to come. One problem remained: In order to bring that kind of freedom into my life, I had to master the spiritual lesson at hand. Some mornings, the thought of even continuing in the same job–where the people had from the beginning been wonderful to me–seemed out of the question.
Another part of me recognized the touch of the Eck. It felt like all the stress points in my entire system were gathering together, bunching like muscles preparing to throw off the descending gloom. My sweetheart saw the struggle clearly, and she did not like it.
“You do have an attitude problem toward work.” She agreed with me on that point, big time.
Mercifully, Thanksgiving did arrive. Relatives gathered to devour turkey and fixin’s, and the prospect of a four day weekend away from the office brought good cheer in its own right. The gathering on Thanksgiving Day turned out to be relaxed and congenial. We played host and hostess, thoroughly enjoying the day.
After the visitors left and evening settled in, however, my beloved collapsed in bed with a severe head cold that hit her almost without warning. She slept most of the time until Sunday, and then it was my turn. After missing two days of work and stretching the four day holiday into six days away from the office–during a peak workload time at that–I returned to my desk with considerable trepidation, distinctly aware of an unhealthy imbalance between a not-quite-healed body…and guilt. The following weekend arrived barely in time. Then, as it seems to do with considerable regularity, Monday rolled around again.
This time, my physical body felt strangely heavy.
“Remember any dreams this morning?” I asked before leaving for work.
“No. But I feel heavy this morning. Sort of like maybe I’d been out of the body and didn’t want to come back.”
“Me too. That’s just the way I feel.”
Once in the car, I pulled a cassette tape from the glove compartment and inserted it into the stereo. Soul Dance, announced the title on the tape. Jim Hagan and Dream Spinner. The tape had been in my possession for weeks, but other interests had kept me from listening to it. Then the beauty of Jim’s voice and the talented band filled the car. Filled me. And nothing else mattered. The Eck songs combined powerful lyrics with inspired instrumental work and vocals…well. For the first time in years, I found myself vowing that one day I would learn at least some of these songs. Flowing with the music, I found myself lifted above the human consciousness entirely, no trace of heavy feeling left, in love with all life.
Wow. Here was a catalyst, a secret formula that put it all together. I walked into the office singing, smiling at the world, my attention on the Inner Master and my love embracing everyone in the building, everyone with whom I would deal in person or on the phone that day. My love embraced the work itself, reached out to caress the numbers on the papers.
At day’s end, I still had not experienced a single negative thought toward the same work that a week earlier threatened to destroy me. Somehow, the head cold had marked the final release in a gigantic spiritual healing. Every morning, I listened to the tape en route to work. Every evening, I listened again on the way home. At lunchtime when possible, I listened to a song or two in the parking lot. Some of the lyrics became a part of me:
Let me love you…one more time
Past the worlds of emotion
Past illusions of the mind
Let me love you
As you guide me through the shoals
to hear the song of Sugmad, to see…
All things as Soul
Oh, for the sheet music! Chords and guitar-picking, words that escaped identification here and there (was that word really “shoals.” for instance…it seemed to work….) But even without the sheet music and little time to pick my own guitar, it was enough. I could see clearly again…and the cold sores went away.
For most of my life to that point, I’d had to deal with intermittent attacks of cold sores. Or canker sores, whatever they’re properly called: Open sores inside the mouth that can make talking miserable, let alone eating. Nothing like an open sore under the tongue to offset the taste of good food.
About every remedy on the market had been tried, but nothing seemed to keep the symptoms down for more than a few months at a time. After many years, though, a fairly standard list of healing agents were kept in stock to be used at the first twinge of mouth pain. Acidophilus, hydrogen peroxide, Carmex…and an occasional Eckankar Seminar. The high vibrations of a large gathering of Eckists often healed the mouth temporarily, especially if the Living Eck Master of the times attended in person.
A few weeks before Thanksgiving, a persistent set of sores had contributed to my overall (seemingly job related) stress level. Now they just quietly disappeared. My mouth wasn’t sore, and I wasn’t sore at anybody. I got the connection…even if it did take forty-three years.
There remained the matter of the chicken bones. One evening, my lady fixed baked chicken for supper. The fowl had already lost a leg the night before, victim of a snack attack by one teenaged stepdaughter. This evening, her mother cooked the entire supper as she usually did. When she placed the one-legged chicken in the center of the table alongside a carving knife and fork, I commented foolishly, “Hope you don’t want me to carve the chicken. I’m not all that good at it.”
Immediately, my beloved’s jaw set. “So you want to get out of carving the chicken, too? If you don’t want to carve the chicken, don’t carve the chicken!”
Picking up knife and fork, she began removing the one remaining leg from the baked bird. The chicken leg resisted. Soon, the sound of dull knife sawing away at solid bone filled the little dining room.
Sitting beside the infuriated sawyer, I found myself highly uncomfortable. When we’d first met, I’d made at least an occasional attempt to demonstrate that the new man in her life could cook. When not cooking, I’d at least made sure to promptly do the dishes as soon as the meal was over. And vacuumed the carpet, and even done a little dusting. But it hadn’t stayed that way. As the weeks and months of our togetherness passed, I’d casually, gradually slid face first into sloth–the ancient disease of the lazy man. She worked so hard and so effectively and made it all so-o easy. And now Fred Baker was in bi-ig trouble. That wasn’t any mere chicken leg she was really sawing.
Eventually, I managed to get the knife and fork from her and began to cut up the chicken. In truth, “shredding” was more like it. The brand new knife–not dull at all, as it turned out–didn’t want to follow the bones to cut away the white meat smoothly. Before long, enough had been more or less scraped onto our plates to suffice. An amateurish job at best, but better than the alternative.
Supper over, I promptly rose to clear the table and do the dishes. She shredded the leftover chicken meat into the leftover rice. I hadn’t carved up the whole bird after all, but it was a start.
The next night, we made our weekly trek to the Laundromat. I made sure I helped move wet clothes from the washers to the dryers, although she did the folding while I read to her from a favorite book. Eventually, I asked, “Did you notice I’m being more helpful?”
“Yes,” she admitted. “Why?”
“Why? Hm. If you had to ask that, you must have noticed I wasn’t being much help some other times, right?”
“You could say that.”
“Ah.” I’d been in more trouble than I knew. By this time, we had returned home with the clean laundry. I helped put the towels away and helped make the bed.
“That’s the way it always goes,” she finally added.
Wait a minute…. “You mean you figure this is the way all men are, that they start ducking the real work as time goes on in a relationship?”
“Sure.” She smiled, but she was serious, too. “They want to make a good impression at first, right?”
I couldn’t very well argue the point. But I could–and would–remember the lesson of the chicken bone. First, a few minutes at the word processor to record thoughts on the subject. Then a quick zip out to the kitchen to make an iced juice drink, filling two glasses and handing the frostier, yummier of the two to my sweetheart. I don’t always learn quickly, but I learn exceedingly well.
Back at the office in the days that followed, more and more brown folders make their way to my cubicle. Most of the company’s underwriting files are kept in plain off-white file folders, but a few of them–usually those generating $150,000 or more in annual insurance premiums–contain too much paper for the regular files. These oversized accounts are thus organized in six-sided brown folders that expand, accordion style, to as much as four inches in thickness. The mere sight of a thick brown file is enough to trigger an underwriter’s awareness. Ah, goes the thought process, there’s one of the big ones. Management has faith in my ability to handle them appropriately, especially with my new, healed attitude.
Day by day now, the brown folders continue to pile up around my desk. But despite the amount of work they represent, despite the fact that few people in the office could even manage to organize such a vast conglomeration of cellulose and ink into something workable…I actually like them. It is hard to remember what once seemed to irritating. These files are part and parcel of the Golden Heart, a precious opportunity to learn to handle the challenge. Once this work is mastered, I will be ready to move on to the next level, to tackle greater problems and accept greater responsibilities.
Thus closes the Year of Spiritual Healing. It has been, as the song says, a very good year. Yet my journey to Sugmad has just begun, and I am eager to continue.
Post Script: The previous 26 chapters comprise Tales of a Golden Heart as the book was first written in 1986. Thirty years later, the never ending journey saw the beginning of the sequel (Chapter 27), written and published on this site in May of 2016. There will be more chapters added later, but there is no hurry. In the meantime, Ptolia–my first completed science fiction novel, written in 1975 and published in 1982–will be posted here in the near future. Although an occasional copy still turns up on Amazon, Ptolia has long been out of print, but we’re about to rectify that.
For our readers who may not recognize terms like Eck, Eckankar, Living Eck Master, Eckist, or Mahanta, the definitions can be found in A Glossary of Eck Terms at Eckankar.org.