The years flew by and our group of fantastic females disintegrated. Some left Manhattan or began new lives that did not allow for the intimacy we’d shared as single women. As for me, I took a huge leap into the unknown at the eve of the millenium: I left my comfortable life in Manhattan for the foothills of the Himalayas in order to become a good Tibetan Buddhist. But that plan for enlightenment did not work out for a variety of reasons, and once again I found myself travelling here, there and everywhere, searching for that perfect home into which I could settle for the rest of my life, in order to focus on my creative and spiritual goals.
At one point, this search led me back into America, where I met a man whom I believed could evolve into the perfect mate for me. But soon I began to see ethical flaws in him that my rose-colored spectacles had initially masked.
While I myself am no masterpiece of humanity, I at least acknowledge that I am a work-in-progress composed of—relatively speaking—both good and bad; this fellow, however, hid his flaws beneath a million masks. As my vision cleared, I began to see a narcissistic and slippery man with no true respect for women and who suffered from the cardinal sin of emotional and material cheapness.
Heart-broken, I fled to a gorgeous ashram situated in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. My link with this sanctuary went all the way back to the late 1980s, when I’d studied to be a yoga teacher at the Integral Yoga Institute in Manhattan; this ashram happened to be its parent organization.
I’d admired the gentle Swami who had run the IYI, and who had so skilfully and humbly taught us how to convey the ancient teachings of Hatha Yoga. One night after class I had approached him with a personal problem for which I sought a spiritual answer. I had sat before him in an empty yoga room and poured out the muddled contents of my heart. So engrossed was I in my tale of woe that I had shut my eyes. All of a sudden I had felt light flooding the space around me. Thinking someone had entered the room and turned on a light, I swung around, but found no one there. I turned back to my guru and saw him shimmering with a soft golden light. My jaw dropped and I forgot my story. When I could speak again, I begged him to explain what was going on. “Disinterested love,” he murmured, but would say no more.
Decades later, the memory of that awesome night—when waves of divine love had first caressed me—drew me back to reconnect with this Swami, now head of the ashram in rural Virginia. The year was drawing to a close and most of my new yogi friends were heading back home to their families for the coming celebrations. A few invited me to their homes, but I declined: I needed to be alone to heal. In between working shifts at reception and in the kitchen, I began to take solitary walks through the countryside as I grappled with my own mushrooming pain.
During one of these rambles, I bumped into Bear, a Native American who worked as a landscaper at the ashram. Bear never lost an opportunity to compliment me on the Indian vegetarian meals I prepared every now and then for the ashram with the help of an enthusiastic team; slowly he and I had become friends. “Hey Mira!” he called now. “What’s wrong, baby? You look so sad!”
On impulse, because I knew Bear to be a man one could trust with secret sorrows, I spilled my pain. Bear raised his face to the sky and ordered me to look upward; the sky just happened to be incredible that day in its sheer vast blueness. “You want love?” he thundered. “See that eagle flying so high over there…and those amazing clouds…and all those hills and valleys and whatnot….who you think’s behind all this goddamned beauty, huh, Mira? Love! Big Love! Cosmic Love! Great Spirit! Now don’t you go worrying about some stupid feller who don’t know how to appreciate the gold that you are, baby! Two-legged love ain’t love at all but mostly attachment, or lust, or whatever! If you want to feel real love, go into your heart!”