Monday, April 2, 2012

From the Goddess of Death to the Emperor of Life (Part 1 of 2)


By Danion Vasile

I am giving this talk because I feel compelled to give witness to the way in which Christ calls to Him those who have been deluded by different religions or by unorthodox spiritual practices. The topic, From the Goddess of Death to the Emperor of Life, relates past and present – since before turning to Christ, the Son of God, and to the teachings of the Orthodox Church, I was a worshipper of Kali, the Goddess of Death.

I would like to start by saying that the things I am going to speak about will seem incredible to some of you. I understand scepticism and I am not trying to convince the sceptics of the validity of what I am going to say; I know that my story will sound like a work of fiction to them, like Orthodox science fiction, in fact, but I also know that there are people out there who will see with their souls and will believe that what I am about to say has actually happened to me. Now, almost fifteen years after I had converted to Orthodoxy, I feel as if I had been born and raised in the Orthodox Church. It is more and more difficult to me to remember the yoga practice I was so keen on and the paranormal forces I used to possess, or the tantric sexual debauchery I used to live in…

Many years have passed since I started writing and speaking against yoga practices, against occultism and the other ramifications of the New Age Movement. Why have I been doing it? Because I know that millions of souls have fallen prey to this delusion, because I know that these souls need Christ’s truth, and because I know how difficult it is to walk along a spiritual path at whose end it is the devil that awaits for you, not God.

It is a lack of humility to speak about one’s life, I know. Yet I shall not speak to you about the good deeds I have done, but about my evil deeds and about the way in which Christ came into my life and gently led me to the light of the truth…

I was born on August 15, 1974, on the day of the Dormition of the Theotokos. As a child I was not close to the church. Although I was baptized when I was a baby, just like most Romanian babies, during the communist regime very few people attended church regularly – and although some of them believed in God they did not provide a religious education to their children.

I remember entering a Catholic Church when I was little; there, on the inside walls I saw scenes from the Passion of Christ. That night I dreamed that Christ was taken to Golgotha and He fell under the weight of the cross. I wanted to pick up His cross… Although the dream moved me, I cannot honestly say that it was the beginning of a commitment to the Christian faith for me. However, I was particularly attracted by a crucifix in our home, which I was told had been brought from Greece, that is, from Mount Athos, by my great-grandparents. I used to look at it and I remember being impressed by Christ’s suffering, but I still did not think about leading a Christian life.

Shortly after I turned thirteen I started my sexual life. My father insisted on it; he kept saying that I was not worthy of being his son if I did not – so I did… To this day, I remember that I used to spend hours on end trying to talk a girl into going to bed with me. Twenty years ago kids led a much purer life than they do nowadays and it was much more difficult to persuade someone to sin.

Right before I turned fourteen my mother committed suicide by throwing herself out the window. She fell approximately six feet away from the spot where my sister happened to be standing; my sister, who was eleven at the time, suffered a terrible shock. My mother’s death made me look for an answer to the question, ”What happens to us after death?”. I had occasionally tried yoga exercises before that tragic incident, but after it, I took to yoga with more dedication. My father brought home yoga books and books of Oriental philosophy for me to read. I tried to control my heartbeat to the point of stopping it altogether, but I could not do it. I also tried astral voyages and levitation exercises, but I was not good at it. I had even come up with a new spiritualistic technique in my attempts to contact my dead mother, without realizing that instead of talking to her or to other spirits I was talking to demons. It became obvious that I could not do things like that by myself: I needed a guru.

It was when I paid a visit to a young woman who was older than me and who had paranormal forces that I decided to give my undivided attention to spiritual quests. For a long time that young woman had been telling fortune from cards with extraordinary precision. She had been doing it until she started having dreams about dilapidated churches and about a voice, which was asking her, “God or the devil?” Nevertheless, she still did not go to church even though she did quit telling fortune from cards.

While I was talking to her, I told an innocent lie. At that moment, I felt a physical force coming out of her and pushing me away… I felt like jumping out the window to get rid of that unseen pressure. The young woman went to another room and I calmed down. When she came back, I told her that I had been lying to her about something and she said that was the reason why panic had seized me. I said I wanted to have such powers too and she suggested I take up yoga. She recommended the yoga courses taught by Gregorian Bivolaru, the most renowned and controversial Romanian guru of our day…

In 2004, the Romanian authorities took legal action against Bivolaru, accusing him of ”white slave trade and law transgressions associated to organized crime” and in 2005 he left the country illegally and sought political asylum in Sweden; the Supreme Court in Stockholm considered that he was persecuted for his religious beliefs and that the charges brought against him had to do with religious persecution and refused to extradite him. Now, after I had known him and the way in which he used to subjugate our souls, I would compare him to Jim Jones, who talked hundreds of disciples into commiting suicide in Guyana, in 1978. Bivolaru did not determine anyone to commit suicide – not yet, anyway, but I would have done it if he, who was my guru, had asked me to; I would have committed suicide without thinking twice because I would have been convinced that if my guru was asking me to do it, it meant that suicide would benefit me spiritually.

In 1990, at the time that I joined Bivolaru’s group and started yoga classes with him, less than a year had passed since Ceausescu’s dictatorial regime had been abolished and we were finally enjoying religious freedom in Romania. Ceausescu had persecuted the Church and all spiritual groups for years on end. That was why those who had been imprisoned during those harsh times became very popular after 1989 – and Gregorian Bivolaru was one of them. He had been arrested and put in jail on the charge of spreading pornographic materials, but his disciples declared that those accusations were only a pretext and that the true reason for his incarceration were his yoga teachings. It was a plausible defense, taking into consideration the fact that many priests had been jailed for life by the communist regime on the accusation that they had been affiliated to a political group of Nazi orientation…

I had just started school when I turned to yoga; I was in the tenth grade and I believed that everything I was told was the Truth; I certainly believed that Bivolaru was a great spirit, maybe even the new Messiah. We were told that just as Christ had been the master of the spiritual Age of Pisces, even so the Age of Aquarius or the New Age had a Messiah who was about to come in order to take the world to the heights of holiness.

In those days there circulated some prophecies in our country spread by different Christian denominations claiming that Bucharest would be the New Jerusalem and Romania would become the spiritual centre of the planet. I strongly believed that was so – since I was convinced of the great importance of the meditation techniques taught by Bivolaru. I was convinced that he was familiar with the shortest path to spiritual liberation and to the cessation of the reincarnation cycle. Just like all New Age masters, Bivolaru was preaching belief in reincarnation and held that tantra yoga was the most efficient path to perfection. What is tantra yoga? It is sexual yoga. By mental concentration, yogis claim that they transmute sexual energies into spiritual energies. They engage in sexual acts, but not for the mere pleasure of it – because in tantra yoga orgasm is seen as a waste of energy, whereas a sexual act without orgasm is considered a means of spiritual progress.

Being a high school student, I was glad that many college students and intellectuals were attending yoga courses. For me, it was solid proof that I was on the right path. Nowadays, looking back on it after so many years, I realize that some of them were coming just for the sake of sex… It is easier to take up yoga and have as many sexual partners as you wish than to spend your money paying for it in a brothel. At that time, however, I did not see things that way…

Bivolaru was considered the Great Master… For instance, he taught us how to float in the air: it was a technique that had to be practised for four months and then we would just float… Although we were not interested in acquiring paranormal forces, some of us did acquire them and it was no wonder that we did. A young man managed to fly from the ground, where he was sitting in a meditating position, high up, close to the ceiling, placing objects on top of the cupboard. Other people acquired paranormal forces called ”sidhis”… Following many yoga exercises, I, for one, felt that I had become as large as the room I was in and that the four walls of that room were pressing on my energy field. Little did I know that it was all a sensation induced by the devil…

At any rate, I did not really perceive the presence of the evil one except on very rare occasions… During our meditation sessions, they would play a very nice, soft ambient music, but once they played a horrible music that seemed to come from hell… a music that would put rock-and-roll to shame… I was shocked to hear it but I thought I was not sufficiently evolved spiritually to know how to integrate it… Some other time I meditated in front of the mirror by candlelight, trying to catch sight of my aura… I was rehearsing for a meditation that I was going to take up in the Jewish cemetery next to the place where I was living at that time, but I did not have to take the trouble to reach the cemetery… While meditating, I suddenly felt a demonic presence next to me. I did not actually see it, mind you, I just sensed it so vividly that I was very scared.

Still, my most intense contact with the devil came as a result of my initiation into tantra yoga. Although at the time it occurred I thought it was a revelation, a moment of contact with the Absolute, after becoming a Christian I understood that my revelation had been of a demonic origin. Here is how it happened…

I was at the beach with a girl, and there were yogis all around us. We were sitting on the sand in a meditating position, facing each other and touching our palms and our kneecaps… Suddenly I simply forgot that I was human. I perceived the Universe like a being with seven energy centres and I felt that my seven energy centres were connected to the energy of the universe. I do not know how long that ecstatic state lasted but when I came around I thought, “What is the point in taking up fasting when by practicing tantra yoga I can progress much more easily?” Therefore, I made up my mind to practice tantra yoga…

Although I had taken up yoga in order to get rid of the spiritual misery that the sexual sins had left in my soul, I started having sex again – only that this time I was firmly convinced that I was doing the right thing. Each night I said Our Father three times, asking God to forgive all my trespasses and to give me the strength to do only good. The thought that I was sinning by having sex did not even cross my mind; I thought that if I had given up having orgasm, everything was clean… My conviction that tantra yoga was a good thing was so strong that I wished that the master had sex even with my sister, who was a virgin and was around fifteen years old. At a time, the master had sex with my girlfriend each week and she told me that other girls were queuing in front of his room, waiting for their turn; they were all eager to have a tantra yoga training session with the master…

I would not want you to think that yoga had become a pastime for me… I was fasting and I even thought of giving up food altogether – that is, I was thinking about living without eating anything at all…

I started by not eating at all for a day, two days and then even three days in a row… Then, I managed to fast for an entire week; I just drank water and that was it. I was not even eighteen at the time, which means that I was still growing up – so that it was very hard for me when I decided to fast for another week, but with no water this time. I fed on air and on energy from the evil one… It was during Passion Week in 1992. I remember asking myself at the beginning of the Great Lent of that year, “Whom shall I ask for help: Bivolaru or Christ?” I chose to ask Christ to help me first and then if He did not help me, I said to myself, I would subsequently appeal to my guru.

I had great confidence in the forces of my guru. We had been informed of a special form of yoga, called Guru Yoga, which was conditioned by a complete obedience to one’s master. There was a story too, which everybody believed was true, of a man who had thrown himself into a precipice because his master did not accept him as his disciple; he broke his arms and legs and his master put them back in place and then resurrected him… Such stories made me trust my master even more. I even had a vision about him, which I realize now was a demonic vision: the universe was full of millions of cells and my master was sitting in a lotus position in each one of them. I was breathing in those cells – inhaling them as it were – and then when I exhaled the cells came out, but my master remained inside me…

A friend of mine that I had invited to attend a conference delivered by Bivolaru told me that she saw rays of light coming out of him…

Since I had such a great confidence in the guru’s powers, I think that God put in my mind the thought of fasting and asking for Christ’s help just to offer me a way out of the trap I had fallen into.

During that week of fasting, I read excerpts from the Philokalia for the first time. I did not realize that my meditations on Shiva or on Milarepa had nothing in common with the spiritual teachings contained in the Philokalia… I had my moment of weakness when I thought I was going out of my mind because of the fast, but I asked for Christ’s help and I succeeded in overcoming it; true, I was a yogi, but I had not given up Christ. Moreover, each week the master asked us to meditate with Christ’s conscience… So, standing in front of the crucifix, I was praying like this: ”God, I received baptism by water in childhood and it did not help me at all. Baptize me with fire now…” I really thought that Christ would help me progress along the path of yoga…

On Good Friday, I admired the sunrise in a park, meditating in front of a big stone crucifix… Although I did not go to church on Easter, preferring to meditate at home, my relationship with Christ became much more powerful after that period of fasting.
Nevertheless, my relationship to Christ did not disengage me from my commitment to the Hindu deities. I liked to meditate with Kali, one of the cosmic powers, the national goddess of Tibet, pictured with a chain of skulls around her neck, holding a knife in one hand and a skull in the other one, and with her tongue full of blood. It is said that she is frightening for all those who do not know her, but very close to those who worship her. Here was how I prayed to her: ”Oh, Kali, make me yours! Make love to me. Come inside me and let me come inside you. I want to be one with you. Give me the strength to defeat death, give me the strength to master time. Make me yours.” I perceived Kali as a huge woman, with overwhelming powers. I felt bound to her, but I also felt bound to Christ.

That was why I was surprised when I asked Bivolaru after a yoga class about the connection between Christ and the cosmic powers (we were writing our questions down and sending the slips of paper to the master), I heard his answer: ”What connection? There is no connection…” If he had answered, “Christ is a great conscience that looks after our planet, while Kali is one of the beings that keep the universe in existence, and although Christ is not as important as Kali, they are familiar with each other” – I would have believed him. But he said that there was no connection between Christ and the cosmic powers, as if there were two parallel truths, totally unrelated to each other, and I could not accept that. It was for the first time that I seriously doubted my master’s wisdom. Then I asked him, aloud this time, which yoga path was higher, the path of asceticism taken to extremes, or the path of tantra yoga, which involved a very sexual active life. His answer was that each individual should choose the path that suited him the most, but before he gave me that answer, most people in the audience burst into peals of laughter; the very idea of sexual asceticism was received with such heavy irony… Those peals of laughter, as well as the master’s answer, made me wish to find the truth elsewhere…

Continued ... Part Two here.
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