I psychically shrank back in my comfy, overstuffed chair, wishing I were just about anywhere but pinned under that gaze. What do I know about woman? I thought.
Repeating it in my head didn’t help. What a damnable question. I stalled with a weak attempt at humor.
“Aside from what I know being one?”
His gaze didn’t flicker. No trace of a smile, he waited.
I had come to the interview prepared to ask Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev questions, not give him answers. Seventy-five questions to be exact. And now, within minutes of sitting down on the sofa next to me in the hotel lounge, I was the one on the grill. Damn gurus. They don’t play fair.
I had to admit his question was justified. After all, if I was going to interview him about the feminine, he needed to know what I knew just as much as I wanted to know what he knew. I just wasn’t ready to go first.
“Well,” I started slowly. “I’ve read some feminist literature, Western of course. And … and I’ve spent a lot of time meditating on the nature of the feminine and masculine as primal creative forces.”
It wasn’t the answer he was looking for. It wasn’t the answer I was looking for either. His hands slowly smoothed a section of his linen robe. He glanced away, giving me breathing room, his long salt and pepper beard flowing across his chest as he turned his head to look towards the wide windows overlooking the marina. He was wearing socks with his sandals, I noticed idiotically. With a copper ring and thread around one ankle.
Was there any meaningful reply I could give that wasn’t based in my life’s experience? Probably not. But how to make sense of what I knew? So much understanding about the feminine had only recently come to me, prostrated face down on the white marble floor of the temple, left arm outstretched towards the outrageous eight foot tall obsidian yoni with its ten stubby arms and three eyes, swooping golden eyebrows and nose ring: the Linga Bhairavi, the new goddess Sadhguru had consecrated in India just weeks beforehand.
Unstoppable life force now flowed from the linga, saturating the temple compound at the ashram in the Velliangiri Hills outside Coimbatore. Lively, enticing, potently inviting … when you sat in her presence the Linga Bhairavi reintroduced you to the dance whether you wanted her to or not. She hurled life at you, into you, around you like a whirlwind. And yet she was gentle, laughing, amused at the thought you might think you could be something other than her.
Silly human, she breathes. Life is everything. There is only one face of God and it’s me.
This is the answer I want to give him. But I don’t know how to say it in an organized way that can be easily heard and logically understood. Perhaps it is the impossibility of the short answer that mutes my tongue. If only I could take the long way around and tell him the story of my life. It would all make so much better sense.
Turns out, he was about to give me the chance. Turning back and skewering me once again with his gaze he said, “We can go to the conference room and you can ask your reporter questions. And I will give you reporter answers. It will be a very one-dimensional approach to the feminine.” He cocked his turbaned head and reflected for another moment. “I don’t want to do that.”
No interview? My heart sank even as it still pattered nervously in my chest. What the hell had I spent the money flying down to LA for this interview for!?
“A question and answer format won’t go well in the West either.”
It was a flat statement. After only a few seconds thought, I reluctantly agreed. It would work in India and be well received amongst the Isha Yoga practitioners who were Sadhguru’s followers around the globe. But preaching to the choir was not what either of us had in mind. He raised his brown eyes back to mine, measuring. “It should be a story. You should write a story about the feminine.”
My heart sank. I should write a story? Christ, I couldn’t even answer the simplest question about what I knew about woman, let alone write a whole frickin’ story. Shock and dismay must have been written upon my face, for he smiled tolerantly (if not a little impishly) as he rose to his feet. The non-interview was plainly over. My task had been assigned. After a few closing words (very few), I bowed solemnly back at him and watched him walk away.
The next step on my journey towards understanding the feminine was about to unfold.