As the decade of the Teens draws to a close, I feel an inclination to write something about what life was like for me at the beginning of the decade. My third attempt at a successful career failed in 2005 when I was not granted tenure by the University of St. Thomas. I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome (now just autism) in 2006. The end of my marriage of 13 years was finalized in 2008. Around the same time, I was approved for Social Security Disability. Around that time, one word used to describe autism was “mind-blindness,” an inability to see how other people think and feel. I felt like the man born blind in the Gospel of John, except that I had not received assistance. I wrote a blog post about this season of life in 2014.
A grand night for Shiva
Right around this time, I discovered that a celebration of Maha Shivratri would be observed at a nearby yoga center. I recall reading that any offering of devotion to Shiva would 100 times more potent when offered on this night than on any other night of the year. I wasn’t a worshipper of Shiva at the time. I wanted to be a good Christian with all the i’s dotted and all the t’s crossed. But it didn’t seem to matter. I felt repudiated. I seemed forsaken. So this observance of Maha Shivatri caught my attention.
I didn’t stay up all night for this observance as a few people did. But I chanted Om Namah Shivaya, “Salutations to the auspicious one.” I bowed down to the little statue of Shiva as my part of the observances. As I left, I asked one of the proprietors of the yoga center if Shiva would cure my autism. I think that on that night, if he had said “Yes,” I might have become a servant of Shiva. But I think he gave a more honest answer, that investigating this path would expand my consciousness and frame of reference. Something like saying “Well, getting out more wouldn’t hurt.”
I cried out to be destroyed
I clearly remember walking home in the bitter midnight cold of Minnesota in February of 2010. I cried out to the God of the Bible, “Didn’t you see what I just did? Didn’t you see me bowing down to Shiva with my behind a half a mile in the air? Aren’t you utterly offended by that? Why didn’t you strike me down right then and there with a bolt of lightning?”
Yes, I admit the whole conversation was rather foolish in retrospect, but it certainly didn’t seem so at the time. My life seemed like an utterly absurd joke, where disaster and catastrophe followed me instead of goodness and mercy.
Yes, I cried out to be destroyed. But I am pleased to report that God had something better in mind than giving me what I wanted. Two months after this event, I cried out “What am I good for?” I didn’t think I was good for anything at the time. But a voice calmly answered “You’re good for finding Knowledge.” I knew what this meant because I had studied Steps to Knowledge shortly after it was received in 1989. I have studied the 365 steps of Steps to Knowledge twice since then. I would like to think this has been a good decade for me.
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