While I was living in South India, I had a very interesting experience with a Swami, or holy man. He was the principal and founder of a school as well as an advanced Yoga teacher. My friend and I went to visit him with the intention to see if his school that he had started, a creative Hindu arts and Yoga school, would be suitable for receiving funding from our foundation at that time. I had heard a rumor that he was a ‘manifester’ but had no idea what that meant.
My friend and I headed to Trivandrum, the capital of Kerala. We first stopped at a spiritual bookstore where I randomly chose a book called Dharana Darshan from the Bihar School of Yoga who are publishers of excellent English Yogic books and translations. We carried on to visit the Swami where we had a nice chat about his school, toured the facilities and talked with a few of the children.
We sat for a while talking with the Swami who was wearing only a thin white lungi or cloth wrapped around his waist. As we rose to leave, I was almost out the door, when suddenly the Swami said in a very strange and loud voice, “Do you have a house?” He was practically shouting so I yelled back, “Yes!” Then he began to shake and twitch, vibrating all over. Finally, he held out his hands and said, “Take this for your house!” I walked back over to him, held out my hands and he dropped a white Siva lingam stone into my hands. This was a smooth oval shaped stone about two inches long (any stone of this shape can be likened to the lingam, which is the masculine principle in Yogic philosophy). The stone was very cold when it dropped into my hands.
Then he said, “Place it in a pure silver container with water, meditate on it and it will be a blessing for your house.” I tried not to roll my eyes and burst into giggles when I got outside. My friend had a completely opposite response. She was so excited and said, “When a master gives you a Siva lingam, it means you will be enlightened in this life!” Honestly I laughed at her and said, “Yeah, right, a manifester? More like a magician.” I have to admit I did find it odd that the stone was so cold and I couldn’t imagine where he had been keeping it tucked away wearing such a tiny piece of cloth.
We went to the market later and I looked at silver bowls which cost about Rs. 1000, or $20 USD and because I can be cheap, I decided not to get one. I did put the stone in a bowl of water however, on my altar, as instructed and sort of meditated on it. Three days later I had a dream that the Swami came and broke open the lingam stone like a candy egg and encouraged me to eat it. First I refused, then finally agreed and ate the candy feeling incredibly blissful afterward. The Swami danced around me in brilliant white and golden light.
I awoke from the dream feeling refreshed and wondering about this little lingam. Perhaps I meditated a bit more on it, I can’t remember. Then, exactly seven days later, the lingam vanished from my altar! Simply vanished. Nothing else was touched, moved, or disturbed. It was too heavy to be picked up by any rat, and we were pretty adept at rat catching anyway. I have to admit, the manifesting did not impress me nearly as much as the disappearing. When I told my friend she had just as strong a reaction this time, however very negative. She said I was bad and terrible for not purchasing the silver bowl and would likely be cursed and end up in the hell realms. I dismissed this notion as quickly as the enlightenment one.
I was very curious about this mysterious disappearance of the lingam and went back to the ashram a few weeks later to ask the Swami about it. He simply smiled at me, chucked and murmured, “You must analyze.” He then closed his eyes momentarily and opened them again and looked at me directly, “And look at that book you have. Answers are there.” At first I had no idea what he was talking about, until I got home and remembered the book I had bought the same day I met the Swami!
Later that day I opened the book I had purchased to find an interesting meditation called dhāraṇā which invited practitioners to use an object to develop concentration. The meditation was to concentrate on the object and then make it different sizes, tiny and large and play with it as a reflection of the nature of mind. I began to practice this, using the lingam as my object and found it very much helped develop concentration. Not only that, I also realized the power of the object in its non-existing state.
The months following I practiced dhāraṇā with the lingam as inspiration and found it very useful. I also became somewhat obsessed with all of my objects that I owned and began to meticulously go through each one. I gave away many, but with intention, making sure to give things to the right people. I also began to give away things I was very much attached to; making a special effort to dissolve my attachments to these items and also recognize that they still exist on some level regardless if they are in my possession or not. Somehow the seemingly magical disappearance of the lingam had a profound effect on my linear mind which enabled me to dissolve some of my fixed perceptions of the world.