More Than A Healing
Tonight's mass meditation session holds valuable lessons, even for skeptics like our columnist.
“Amenable” is how I like to think of myself. It comes from the French for “can be dragged”. It’s a conjunction of accepting the outcome while putting in the minimum of one’s own effort that also, I believe, reflects the appropriate analysis of the side-to-side head bob.
That’s how I once wound up in Chembur for a full moon pranic healing session. And that’s why I’ll be heading on Monday evening to a mass meditation at the Mahalaxmi Racecourse, a spectacle that I’m certain to find no less meaningful for its absurdity.
The discipline of pranic healing has attracted devoted followers in India and elsewhere. It’s the brainchild of the late Master Choa Kok Sui, a Filipino chemical engineer who drew from Hindu scriptures a variety of practices described as “energy medicine”. He devised a series of technical operations (involving little more than the hands and a great deal of salt) said to “cleanse auras” and reactivate the body’s “prana”, or life-energy.
As a skeptic by both constitution and training, I’ve always welcomed the menagerie of doctrines and dogmata available in India, each aspiring to the status of “science”, as a kind of cosmic joke. Master Choa’s book The Existence of God is Self-Evident, for instance, contains a surprisingly large number of words given its title. I was expecting a day planner. For me, pranic healing is little different from the rest: a teaching that fuses uncontroversial truths with dubious ones, preaching kindness along the way.
And that’s not really meant as a criticism. After nearly seven years spent studying Vedanta, ten silent days sitting through Vipassana, and a thorough assay of Velveeta, I can honestly say I’ve enjoyed and felt richer for them all.
At a conference full of particularly open-minded people a few weeks ago, I was asked, seemingly at random, if I read tarot. As is my habit, I happened to be carrying a deck of cards I’ve stamped with pictures of rickshaws, buses and taxis. Why not? I thought. Over the course of the week, I read perhaps 20 or 25 “throws” of my Mumbaicha cards. Nearly every time, I discovered that I had voiced—as a result of a totally arbitrary system I’d developed along the way—something interesting and meaningful to the person sitting opposite me. (My grades for ordinary conversations can’t be nearly as good.) To be clear, I thought it was bullshit. Not in spite of that fact but, oddly, because of it, the practice of reading the cards became meaningful to me, too.
Touching though these heart-to-heart experiences were, they can’t hold a candle, literally or otherwise, to a mass spectacle. And as spectacles go, Monday’s promises to be a Kumbh Mela of the soul. (The original Kumbh Mela, most sadhus agree, has become too commercialised.)
While many of the city’s most impressive events aren’t even full, “Energise the spirit of Mumbai”, as the meditation has been billed, promises to assemble a large and reassuringly diverse cross-section of humanity. Pranic healing meets—in contrast, again, to typical cultural events—bring out polyester trousers and Bata chappals as well as Kanchivaram saris.
Most encouraging of all is the return to active use of the city’s landmark venues. I recall my disappointment when a Zakir Hussain performance scheduled to take place in the shadow of the Gateway of India was shunted to a schoolyard in Dadar. The resulting event lacked that spark that transforms a great show into a magical one. Mumbai is blessed with a wide number of venues closed on various pretexts or sadly underused, including Rang Bhavan and Churchgate’s Cross Maidan. My favourite event so far this year took place in the unheralded Edward Theatre. These open-air spaces and auditoria cry out for the loving caress of butts in seats.
That explains why the CST flash mob brought a tear to my eye. It reclaimed a “soft target” and turned it into a site of expression and enjoyment; in other words, made it public.
Twin Hearts, the particular meditation that will be practiced at Monday’s event, is designed to unite the heart and the crown, described as “focal points of emotional and divine love, respectively.” Though I may not subscribe to Master Choa’s particular beliefs, I’m expecting a crowd uniting in Mumbai’s beating heart to overflow with healing, revitalising energy.Tags: Mahalaxmi Racecourse, Meditation, Pranic Healing, The Holdout
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Relevant DatesMonday, March 19
HoursGates open at 5.30pm
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