Gaby had had an epiphany at Kissimmee when she saw Maharaji rumble by on his little chariot wearing his Krishna crown. Like an woman inspired to throw her panties on stage at an Elvis concert, she had seen the King. She returned to Iowa with the UNDERSTANDING she needed to receive knowledge. Gaby's period as an aspirant finally came to an end and she received knowledge within a month. Maharaji's grace had liberated her from her pesky intellect. Oh how unfathomable and deep is his love and peace, she thought The sisters in the ashram watched with awe as Gabrielle turned into a true sister of the Lord before their eyes. Moments like this were what they lived for! The Lord was great indeed!
However, Gaby's blissful days of receiving knowledge and living in a bubble of grace came to an end when she decided to give college another shot. Her mother had cut her off financially, but her father was still sending her letters, encouraging her to go back to school and finish. She had failed miserably at the internship with the state legislature, but this time she re-enrolled at school and started an internship writing for the school newspaper. This was a skill she thought might be useful to Maharaji. She became a regular features reporter, covering art exhibits, concerts, and speakers on campus.
In addition, she got a job working full-time at the battered women's shelter, doing child care. Her job, the internship, and her full time student class load was an extreme burden, but she pushed herself through it, ignoring the anxiety, stress, and impossibility of her schedule. The editor of the school paper often told her stories sounded schizophrenic and professors told her the same thing about her papers. She couldn't seem to muster up motivation for subjects that dealt with anything that wasn't tied into knowledge...why should she? She had the key to love, life, everything in her heart, how insignificant child psychology was! Why study theories at all-children just needed love, we all just needed love, Guru Maharaji's love! Knowledge was everything to her, and yet, she also wanted that college degree and some kind of a career. Pleasing her father was also important -he wanted so badly to see her graduate!
She lost her status as the new darling of the premie community overnight. As far as the premies were concerned, she was really in her mind - just as complicated and confused as ever. The ashram sisters had has such hopes for Gaby after Kissimmee - but she was a restless creature!! If she would only surrender, everything would be so clear. But alas, her mind was so powerful, and it pulled her outside of the shining shelter of Maharaji's grace. And they all knew what would happen if Gaby didn't practice meditation, service and satsang faithfully - rotten vegetables!
One night in satsang, Gaby was biting her nails in the back of the room when she saw a sandy-haired stranger sitting on the floor at the feet of the satsang chair, listening intently to the brother giving satsang.. The stranger eventually got up and sat in the satsang chair himself, & closed his eyes. When he opened them again, a humble and sweet smile spread across his lips and he gave satsang that truly seemed to come from a place of love, sincerity and devotion. There were crinkled smile lines around his eyes and mouth, & he was quite tan, as if he worked outdoors in the sun. At one point he locked his blue eyes onto Gaby's, and their spirits poured into one another for a moment, in an intense experience of soul shifting. Sparks of bright orange kundalini energy seemed to pass through him into her and fill her. It was a most peculiar sensation. She drank nectar and waited, like a flower waits for the bumble bee to sip...
Gaby knew that if she stood around after satsang, she would eventually meet the stranger. The college community was small, so any new person was a novelty. But she was willing to make a fool of herself to meet this man.
Finally, Pat, the sweet ashram sister, introduced them. 'Gaby, this is Phil, he's visiting with Greg for a few weeks.' Gaby looked into Phil's eyes again, and immediately felt those karmic shock waves reverberate through her body.
'Jai Sat ChitAnand, beautiful sister,' Phil greeted Gaby, flashing his smile her way finally.
Up close and personal, Phil looked a bit torn and disheveled. His tie dyed T-shirt looked as if it hadn't been washed in 2 weeks, he had razor stubble on his face, and his shoes were beat up. But this was one blissed out boy, there was no doubt about it. His eyes were as innocent as a newborn's 'So I hear you're visiting Greg? Are you old friends?' Gaby asked, violating the no chit-chat rule once again.
'Yeah, I'm doing some work for his Dad for a few weeks, saving up for the next festival. You going?'
'I don't know...I'm kind of on a tight schedule...school, work, no money, I'm still paying off my Visa card from the last festival.'
Phil shrugged. 'It's your choice, but I want to spend every minute I can with the Lord incarnate here on earth.'
Gaby sighed. These devoted premies always seemed to have such a sure path. Here she was, a baby premie yet, with knowledge for only 5 months, and she still so much in her mind, wondering how she would finance the next festival.
'You know what, ' she said. 'You are so right. Why am I getting so worried about school and money! It's ridiculous, isn't it? I don't know why it's so important to me.'
'Me, I'm into learning every day, whatever life throws my way. So much of the crap they teach you in school is bullshit anyway, totally useless in the real world. I'll tell you something. Out where I live in Oregon, I live in a teepee. Don't need money, don't need nothing, just the open land and Guru Maharaji's grace. Phil smiled. "You wanna ride somewhere? I've got Greg's car.'
Phil drove Gaby to her apartment which was on the top floor of an old Victorian house. 'Pretty fancy, you're quite the ingenue, aren't you?' Phil joked. Did Gaby catch a bit of a sarcasm in his voice?
'It's just a one bedroom apartment on the top floor. What do you mean by 'ingenue'?' She laughed, uncomfortably.
'I can tell you have a rich daddy. You have that vibe about you,' Phil replied. 'You're from the east coast, aren't you?' How could he tell all these things about her? He made her uncomfortable but she also longed to be closer to him.'
In the next few days, Gaby spent more and more time with Phil. One day she called in sick to work and she showed him around the campus. There was a rose garden in the center of campus with stone archways. She and Phil sat down on a bench next to a rusted out sundial. Phil lit up a joint that had the aroma of strong Colombian gold. The heavy hemp scent mixed with the smell of the roses made Gaby lightheaded.
'You're so beautiful, you'd be the ideal woman if you weren't in your mind so much, Gaby,' Phil finally said, after taking a few hits.
Upon hearing these words, Gaby felt like she had a huge weight on her chest. She longed for Phil's love and approval and love.
'You mean I think too much?' she asked.
'Your intellect is a curse, you question everything, you're working too hard, for what? think about it! To please your daddy and mommy. You're so repressed, Gaby. I could really help you unchain yourself from those binds.'
Gaby's heart skipped wildly. This man frightened her, but yet she was so drawn to him. They gazed into each others eyes, and Gaby felt that same wild kundalini energy dancing up her spine. Her solar plexus filled with heat and then her loins started to burn. Then the energy spiraled up to her heart like hot molten fluid. Phil held the joint up to her mouth and she took a hit. He put his mouth on hers and breathed the smoke out of her mouth. His mouth came down on hers again and the stored-up passion between them broke loose.
'Mmmmm, MMMMM,' Phil exclaimed as his sweet hungry tongue explored Gaby's soft mouth. Gaby was overcome by the purity in Phil's kiss. He seemed to be consciously making love to her with every movement of his tongue, and he tasted sweet. It was intoxicating to be loved like this. His hands stroked her hair and her arms, and he took her hand in one of his and kissed it. Gaby had made love to many, many men but there was a tenderness, an innocence here that overwhelmed her and brought tears to her eyes. This, at last, must be what is like to be truly cherished, she thought.
'Why are you crying, Gaby?,' Phil asked gently, cupping his hand under her chin and looking at her face intently. There was so much, so much love in his eyes...
'I can't believe this is happening..,' Gaby whispered, 'I've never met anyone like you.'
Dear reader, lest you wonder why the hell Gaby is so taken with a stoned out hippie who lives in a tee-pee, who tells her that she's too smart and 'in her mind', let us remind you that this was the 70's and that Gaby and Phil were very very young.
'Gaby,' Phil said. 'I love you. I don't take these things lightly. Love is a serious thing to me. I don't just throw away something like we've found...I could never hurt you....I want to love you.'
Later that night in Gabrielle's bed, she felt things that she had never felt. Phil made love to her soul, her spirit, and her body. She was the goddess Shakti, he was the god Shiva, and their garden was one of the tenderest fruits and flowers. He gave himself to her with such complete and total concentration. Every movement contained the highest concern for her pleasure. She was overwhelmed by the sweet perfume of this night. Of course the Colombian Gold helped, not to mention the sounds of Cat Stevens singing 'I'm crazy about you, baby, my, my, my, your love just drives me crazy, heaven knows why...' on her tape player, and the smell of the soft summer breeze that fluttered the curtains at the window...
When he entered her, there was no room for doubt in her mind. She was in love. As they climbed to heights of ecstasy his soft voice beseeched her to 'raise the energy' so that their bonding became a tantric love offering rather than a mere lustful carnal act. Gaby felt that the love they had expressed for each other was sealed, bonded, imprinted upon every cell of their bodies and upon their karmic destinies that night. She was blissfully happy.
When Phil finished the construction job for Greg's father, he went back to Oregon, got his things, and came back to live with Gaby. Gaby welcomed him to her love shack with open arms. He had hitchhiked all the way from Portland, with nothing but a backpack and holy name. She fed him rice, vegetables and tofu and tucked him into bed.
However, reality struck soon. Having an unemployed man sponging off of her added another burdensome facet to Gaby's already ridiculously hectic life. Phil smoked massive amounts of dope which only made the situation worse, because Gaby herself was compulsive when it came to cannabis. She was such a mass of anxiety that one toke of the magical weed was like medicine. If she could have stopped there she would have been fine, but her body craved more and more. This rendered her unable to study for school, to write the articles for the newspaper, or to function competently at her job.
In their second week of playing house, a couple arrived at Gaby's door one night. When Gaby opened the door, she saw a stocky, cheerful woman with short dark hair. 'Jai Satchitanand, sister, I'm Ariel.
'Jai Satchitanand,' Gaby responded.
'And I'm Tom', said the tall man behind her with a hooked nose. 'Thanks so much for letting us crash here. Phil has told us so much about you.'
'Oh, you're friends of Phil's?, Gaby said. "Come on in.'
'We'll just run down to get our gear,' said Tom, and both he and Ariel disappeared down the staircase.
Gaby stood perplexed in the doorway, and called to Phil, who was lying on the bed smoking a joint and listening to a Steve Goodman tape.
'Honey, some friends of yours, Tom and Ariel, are at the door. They said you invited them to stay here?' Gaby asked, waiting for an explanation.
'All right, they're here!! Did I forget to tell you about that, honey? Oh well, that's great, you're going to love them.'
'But this is my apartment! I pay the rent, and you needed to ask my permission, Phil,' Gaby said.
'Gaby, honey, what are you getting such an attitude about? Jesus, you're so uptight and repressed sometimes. What did they teach you at that finishing school you went to, to hoard everything for yourself? You're so selfish. When Maharaji builds his golden city and all come to recognize him, do you think you're going to be able to hoard your stuff like you do? Remember what arti says 'Mine, thine, give them to the lotus feet of love'....'
Tom and Ariel re-appeared in the doorway just as Phil went on automatic pilot and started spewing out more satsang.
Ariel beamed. 'That is so beautiful that you both share satsang. Look at that, Tom!'
'Wow,' Tom said. ' A relationship cemented in the grace of Maharaji. That is so beautiful. Now, where should we put our stuff?'
Gaby awoke at 6:00 am, showered, and stumbled into the kitchen. Her once peaceful home was a shambles, with plates, pots and pans stacked randomly over the table and stove. The sink was stuffed with beer cans, wine bottle, and dirty dishes. Cigarette butts were snuffed out on her dishes. Her dishes were from the Goodwill store but she loved them the way her mother loved her good china.
She opened the refrigerator to get some milk for her cereal, and saw that the milk was all gone. There was one flake left in the granola box, too. 'Shit, I'll just grab something on campus,' she muttered.
Just then, Ariel stumbled into the kitchen, smoking a cigarette. She smiled a blissful smile.
'Ariel, are you wearing my dress?' Gaby asked. She was stunned.
'Isn't it beautiful??,' Ariel purred,' You can probably see that we had a little party here last night. We decided to dress up so I raided your closet. I guess I fell asleep in it.' Ariel spun around in a Natalie Merchant-style dance. Gaby wanted to slap her. The dress in question was a long champagne colored 30's era gown that Gaby had bought in London at a vintage clothing store. It was straight out of a Ginger Rogers-Fred Astaire film, and it was one of Gaby's most prized possessions. When Ariel spun around again, Gaby noticed there was a huge brownish-red spot on the back.
Apparently Ariel had gotten her period last night. The gown was ruined.
'Ariel, I got that gown in Chelsea, and it is irreplaceable. You should have asked me before you borrowed it. You had no right.'
'Well, I guess it's ruined now,' Ariel responded, not getting the point at all. 'But I'll just keep it to wear as a nightgown.'
Phil entered the room, stretching his lovely muscular arms and rubbing his eyes. 'What's for breakfast, honey?' he asked.
'Nothing, there's no food,' Gaby snapped.
'Well, how about if I do some grocery shopping. Leave me some money and I'll do it,' Phil suggested, with the largesse of one who has a lot of time on his hands.
'I don't have any money, Phil, remember? I don't get paid until next Monday. That food that you all consumed was supposed to last us another week. Despite the fact that my parents have money they cut me off, remember? I work for a living, I make $5 an hour. I was barely able to make it on my own on my salary before all of you came to live here.'
'Honey, aren't you losing your focus?', Phil asked in that patronizingly familiar voice that premies used to correct their wayward brethren. ' You're really in your mind. Did you meditate this morning?'
Gaby took a deep breath and looked at Phil. Her eyes were like daggers. She felt like she could cut through his bullshit and her own bemusement for once. 'Your friends are out of here by noon today and if you don't have a job by next week, you're out of here , too,' she said, and walked out the door, slamming it behind her.
Meanwhile, the local premie community was buzzing. An initiator was coming! Gaby volunteered to do service at the ashram. As usual, two very strange ashram men named Alex and Craig hung around her the entire time, supposedly giving her satsang. As she polished the arti tray, Alex fidgeted next to her. 'I haven't looked in the mirror in months,' he said. 'I think I'm disappearing. The me that was me isn't there anymore.'
'That sounds scary,' Gaby said. 'Like something from Alice in Wonderland. I don't want to disappear.'
'That's because you have so much ego, Gaby,' Craig said. 'Guru Maharaji says that the ego is like an endless sea. It's infinite. There's no chance, no chance at all for any one out there without His grace. Do you know how lucky we are?'
Gaby put the silver polish bottle back on the table and looked at Alex, then at Craig. They didn't look very lucky. In fact they looked like the saddest, most miserable of men. In truth, they looked psychotic, especially Alex, who had developed a twitch and who looked as if his body was racked with pain. A flood of compassion poured through Gaby. The ashram seemed like an unimaginable existence to her. The absence of stimulation would have driven her mad. Still, she respected them. They were doing what they felt they were called by the Lord to do.
The initiator was named Jenny Johnson. She looked like a Barbie doll and had all the warmth of one, too. Her face would have been beautiful if it hadn't appeared to be devoid of all humanness. It looked as if her real self had been wiped out and replaced by a robot. She gave satsang and all the premies sat around her, thirstily awaiting her words like baby birds awaiting fresh worms.
At one point, Don, a brother from the community, asked 'Can I take my jacket off. It's warm in here'
'Do whatever makes you feel comfortable,' Jenny Johnson replied.
After satsang, Don walked home with Phil and Gaby. 'God, that was so beautiful when she told me that it was okay for me to take my jacket off, Don said. 'When she said 'do whatever makes you feel comfortable', it was as if Maharaji was speaking directly to me. I just felt this whole burden lift off of me.'
Don was a dear man, and a good friend of Gaby's. But this incident bothered Gaby for days, months, years. In fact, the story of Don's jacket bothers her to this day.
Why is that, dear reader?? When you are cold, don't you raise the thermostat? When you are hot, don't you lower it? If you are hungry, don't you eat? If a baby cries, don't you pick it up and comfort it? If you have to pee, don't you use the toilet? Don had to ask the initiator's permission to do the most simple act, the act of taking off his jacket.
This simple incident started to haunt Gaby more and more, and she saw many, many more instances where common sense was abandoned in the pursuit of bliss. Yet, oddly, she never once questioned Maharaji. She just chalked it up to premie weirdness. Maharaji was pure, perfect, and blameless in her mind.