I can hear her screaming, shrieking wildly with joy and abundance, it’s the scream she would let out whenever one of her Queens arrived late, trying to slink in unnoticed, and then in her thick Brooklyn accent, she’d flatly state: “You’re late.”
Oh those screams and the laughter in howls and huzzahs, a cacophony of cackles and then the smile, that giant grin of love without condition or reservation. How could you not fall in love with this woman?
All that and she swore like a sailor. I was hooked.
That was 19 years ago this month.
Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavati touched my life deeply that weekend in April, during a guided meditation, in a place of light, I let go of my friend Bradd, he had died of AIDS and I couldn’t let go of my best friend and song writing partner until that night, in that moment, under a tent on Huntley Drive, I let go and began to live again.
Thus began my journey down a path of unconditional love, of peace, non-violence, and a place of giving and service and good works to help the sick, the stricken, my brothers and sisters dying of AIDS. I baked cookies mostly, thousands of them, they went to patients in hospitals and hospices all over Los Angeles.
Ma Jaya also believed in two words “Feed Everyone” and so we also fed the homeless, and the ashram on Huntley still does. Gathering under a tent in the backyard a group of ten to twenty of us would prepare upwards of 800 meal bags, sandwich, fruit, granola, brownie, condiments, and a bottle of water. All got loaded up into cars and we’d break out across Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Venice, The Valley. We would go where the homeless were and pass out meals. No preaching. “Are you hungry?” or “Would you like some food?” and we’d pass them a bag of food and a bottle of water. The bags were stamped with just three words: “Ma Loves You.”
I came and went a few times over the years, stepping back from the path, I last saw Ma Jaya in NYC a few years ago, she hadn’t changed but her teaching had, she was more serious, and insistent about slaying the ego, and you’d better mean it. But she hadn’t changed, the light, the love, the laughter, the hugs and kisses and the squealing with delight over all the babies her students kept having.
I didn’t mean for that to be the last darshan I went to, it just didn’t work out for me to get to one again. But Ma Jaya is still with me, she is in my heart and the hearts of all her chelas.
Her body has passed, but she lives on in all our lives, and no matter what may happen, I will never forget that Ma loves me.
Always remember: Ma Loves You.
First Image: From the library of Dr. Steven David
Second Image: Kashi Ashram kashi.org