Recieved: 1999/09/09 20:17
Subject: [K-list] Love, Grief and Magic
On 1999/09/09 20:17, Ckress posted thus to the K-list:
In regard to Jill's recent mention of the release of grief leading to a deep
opening of her heart, I'd like to share an experience in which this occurred
for me also. In this instance, the grief was not so much for anything
personal but for the collective sadness we experience as humans. The story
is about a powerful experience I shared with a Japanese graduate student (not
Japanese-American, but a Japanese man who was attending a U.S. university).
I call him "Asakura" in the story but that is not his real name.
There seemed to be something fated about my meeting with Asakura. A week
before I met him, my young son had given me something he'd found on the
street -- an amulet inscribed with oriental lettering. I had no idea what it
meant, but I had hung it on a hook on my bedroom wall. When Asakura noticed
it, he became very excited and wanted to know where I had gotten it. Turned
out it was a replica of the very same amulet he had been given by his family
and always wore for protection and good luck. After Asakura left to return
to Japan, I also learned that the day I met him had been the anniversary of
the bombing of Hiroshima. While he and I were engineering our very private
East/West reconciliation, hundreds of Berkeley students and community members
had gathered to hold hands in an enormous circle surrounding U.C. campus to
commemorate the victims of the bombing and pray that humanity never again
resorts to such devastation.
My utter ignorance of Japanese plus Asakura's limited English reduced our
communication to very simple exchanges, and this brought out the playful
child in me. I took him around Berkeley to show him my idea of the sights,
including a natural history museum. When we came upon an exhibit of the snow
rabbit, whose coat changes from summer brown to camouflage white in winter,
as tongue-in-cheek "translator," I solemnly pointed out the brown-furred
rabbit and announced, "Young," then indicated the white-furred specimen and
intoned, "Old." He fell for it for a moment. We laughed a lot together.
His outsider grasp of English rendered some of his statements unintentionally
poetic, as "The sun is gleaming." I never corrected him, as I liked his
The day before he was going to return to Japan, insanity struck me Big Time.
I asked him if he knew about LSD. He said yes, but considering the language
barrier, I'm not sure if he knew LSD from IBM. Most of my experiments with
mind-altering drugs had happened when I was in my early twenties. At the
time I met Asakura, I had not taken LSD for several years. Months earlier, a
friend had given me some which I'd stashed away in case I was ever in the
I never took acid as a recreational drug. To me, it had been obvious from my
first "trip" that it was a powerful sacrament, to be used with utmost care
and respect. I remember thinking that taking the acid would give us access
to each other on a deeper level, without the impediments of language.
Without a clue to what he was getting himself into, Asakura agreed to take
LSD with me. That evening, I broke out the tinfoil-wrapped tiny square of
acid-soaked paper and cut it into two halves. Closely watching my example,
Asakura placed his half in his mouth and swallowed. Within forty minutes, we
were soaring. Asakura began losing it right away. With what was left of my
intellect, I realized I might have catalyzed an international scandal.
Headlines worldwide would howl: "Son of Wealthy Japanese Businessman Deranged
After Being Drugged by California Hippy."
I knew I had to calm him down fast if we had any hope of making it through
the night intact. He was becoming very physically agitated. Even with his
slight five-foot-seven frame, he was bigger and stronger than I was, and he
had me scared. In a loud, nigh-hysterical voice, he kept repeating, "I must
fight LSD!" As fighting it is a surefire recipe for LSD psychosis, I tried
to reassure him by repeating just as often (in a soft voice I hoped he'd find
soothing), "It's okay."
It clearly wasn't okay, and around the fourth time I said it, he glared at me
as if I were the monster from "Alien" trying to trick him and fairly screamed
at me: "NO! I MUST BEAT LSD!!"
Fortunately, I had just enough of my bearings left to know to shut up and
start silently praying, which I did with vehement sincerity. After another
really iffy few minutes, it worked. Asakura resigned himself to the
situation and things really got interesting. We began perceiving one another
in various pastlife personas. I saw him as a Shinto warrior, which surprised
me, as what little I knew of Shinto was as a religion, not a martial art. At
one point I began to move my hands in positions I'd been learning in my T'ai
Chi classes. When I cupped both hands as if to hold an invisible sphere of
energy, Asakura said, "I understand. One World."
This triggered the most profound pastlife enactment. I became a young Asian
woman sitting at the feet of the Master. He was transformed into an aged
Chinese sage with long white hair and beard. It seemed we sat in this
arrangement for hours while he regaled me with eloquent teachings of the
ancient Taoist wisdom.
It was becoming clear to us both that we had known each other many times, in
many places, on many levels of relationship. We both stood and embraced as
lovers, when I noticed a most peculiar transmogrification had occurred. Our
genders had switched. My body had lost its curves and stood angular and
masculine while he had grown softly rounded, with full breasts, hips and
belly. I said nothing.
Asakura exclaimed in horror, "You man! Me woman!" Although attitudes
towards women have begun to change, this was 20 years ago, and for a Japanese
male to find himself in a female body ranked among the greatest of
humiliations. Early in her training, Roshi Jiyu-Kennett, one of the first
Western women to become a Zen master, was told by a male Japanese trainee:
"Woman baby factory. Man give much pleasure to woman in getting baby. So
man much superior. From birth he preferred in all things over woman." (from
the book, "The Wild, White Goose")
This time, I didn't try to tell Asakura it was okay. I sensed something of
monumental healing value was transpiring. I said only, "Yes."
At this point, our genders switched back to their original (in this
lifetime), and the entire emotional history of the world's fear, hatred and
abuse of women seemed to grab ahold of us. Wordlessly, both Asakura and I
were simultaneously pulled into the full brunt of the soul's grief at the
desecration of the feminine. We wept together as I have never wept with
another human being. We wept with our hearts ripped to shreds until dawn.
It was the most wrenching, cleansing, holy sadness I have ever been
privileged to share with another living being. Grief and love merged into a
sort of exquisitely piercing joy that overflowed our hearts.
In the telling of this, it is impossible to really describe the depth of
purification that occurred. For days afterwards, I was so filled with with
love for Asakura, myself and for the whole of the world, I must have glowed.
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