Lokananda, January 10 2016, 5:00 am
Students were awakened by carbon monoxide detectors sounding off. They evacuated into the early morning rain, saw smoke coming out of the street and called 911. The fire engines came. It took them a few hours to figure out that it was caused by an underground fire in the PECO utility lines.
A student phoned us, so Kusuma, Heather and I went right over. They were holed up in the coffeshop across across the street. They ended up camping there for almost 3 hours, drinking way too much coffee, which didn’t improve their state.
Once the Fire Chief determined that it seemed to be caused by the underground fire, they got PECO on the way, and had the ambulance crew test all the yogis for carbon monoxide poisoning. They were all clear, hooray! Another reason I love technology – carbon monoxide alarms.
As soon as they were declared clean, we took them to the Ashram. and had their breakfast delivered there. We led them through a yoga class and then assembled in the meditation hall for debriefing. It took them only a few minutes to uncover the fear of death, so appropriate after the discourse on the kleshas the day before. We did an amazing 90 minutes on this invaluable line of inquiry. Then we did japa and meditated.
Due to the efforts of our admin staff, along with the Fire Dept, PECO, and our heating contractor, the building was cleared of carbon monoxide and opened up again by noon! Amazing. The yogis went back there for lunch and the rest of the teaching day. Kusuma went with them to seal the building energetically.
What does all this mean?
First – being spiritual doesn’t free you from surprises. Events still transpire, but you deal with them differently because you are different inside.
Secondly – even though it was our carbon monoxide detectors that went off, it was not our building that was emitting the carbon monoxide. In fact, our Grand Old Dame of a campus did exactly what she should have done, which was to keep everyone safe by kicking them out. It wasn’t a false alarm, but it was, sort of…
And most importantly – life isn’t about what happens, but it is about who you are while you are handling it. I was first surprised by the wide range of yogis’ reactions. They were all going through the same events, but they had very different experiences of them. Thus, the vichara was so important – not only for them to sort out their feelings but for me to learn from them about the majesty of individuality. Shiva has become so many fascinating selves – even you.
In our various campus locations over the decades, we were burglarized twice, flooded out, burnt to the ground and now there’s been a poisoning attempt! It’s not easy bringing these teachings into the world. But it is essential.
So glad that students and building alike came out of this unscathed! Very interesting to read the process you all went through to “come down” from the jitters afterwards. What a blessing to be in such wise company when faced with a sudden night-time drama like this.