One of the new-age words I hate the most is “energies”, a word used to explain everything, and which is therefore fit to explain nothing. In fact I think we can say that this word indicates a subjective relationship more than an objective reality. So when someone tells you that “At Rabbi Nachman’s grave in Uman the energies are so powerful, fuggetaboutit”, all you can deduce from that is that the speaker had an extraordinary experience at the tomb, and nothing more. This overly-popular and overused word therefore constitutes an equivalent of the word “readable” in literature or “appropriate” in the social world, that is words that pose as indicating a trait of the object’s, but in fact say nothing beyond the fact that the speaker has a subjective position toward the matter under discussion.
I assume that the origin of the word “energies” lay in an attempt to gather, under one name, various forces mentioned in oriental spiritual schools: The Chinese “qi” and the Indian “prana” and “shakti” – various potent currents both within and without the body, whose proper and balanced flow guarantees health (and at times even enlightenment). These forces can’t actually be measured with devices, and therefore they become metaphysical theories more than concrete reality, and in the end we use them, under the group name “energies”, in order to speak metaphorically about any cool spiritual experience we may have had.
Not that I don’t believe in the existence of such powers. I do, actually. But I think that their displacement from their original context (i.e. those oriental schools of thought) and grouping under the same general headline (which is a sort of half-baked new-age theology) sells them short. That’s not what I want to write about, however, but about something that happened to me, since which I believe in these “energies” flowing through the body a bit more than I did before.
It happened on my third trip to India, while I was in the holy city of Tiruvannamalai, at the time of year considered “the season” there, which is December and January. During those months spiritual teachers and seekers from all over the world gather there, and you can choose who to go and hear some words of wisdom from. According to the diary I kept it happened on December 28th, 2005. I went that morning to a satsang (“encounter with the truth”) with Mooji, a Jamaican-born British teacher who taught there (and whom I later interviewed for a news-portal, by the way). I liked Mooji, but he was a little too sentimental, a little too imprecise for my taste. He also promoted Ramana Maharishi’s method of self-inquiry (“Who am I?”) which is nice but I’d never understood what’s so brilliant about it. But the meetings with him were pleasant and he himself is impressive in quite a few ways.
Throughout the talk he gave I sat beside him (I got there early and grabbed a spot) meditating, in a rather introverted state of mind, steady and quiet, in touch with the basic life-sense of body and consciousness. Now, after the talk and answering the audience’s questions, Mooji would always hug whoever wanted to be hugged – and everyone wanted to be hugged. This is how I described it in the introduction to the aforementioned interview:
The very essence of the encounter with Mooji takes place then, after the satsang, as one by one the people would emerge from the crowd, approach the teacher still seated in his chair, and receive a tight embrace, usually accompanied by soothing words and calming pats on the back. It was then that one could see the immensity of the occasion for the audience. Men and women weeping, laying their heads on the teacher’s shoulder with tears in their eyes, awash in a catharsis of excitement and relief and almost refusing to part with his comforting touch. On his part, Mooji remained there for a long while until everyone was satisfied (at least until the next day, when another satsang takes place.) So if you’re on your way to a satsang with Moji, don’t forget a handkerchief.
So, after the time for talking was over, being close to Mooji, I got up first (still in quite a meditative mode) and went to hug him. And then it happened: After a second or two of embrace I felt a jolt of… energy (sorry) rising up my right arm, from the palm behind Mooji’s back to my shoulder, and from there to my head. The next thing I remember I was in his embrace, waking from a fainting spell. I was out for some fifteen seconds, I was told, and when I came to I was completely disoriented: at first I didn’t know where I was, and when I realized I wanted to apologize, but I couldn’t speak English – all that came out was words in Hebrew! After a few seconds it all came back to me. I felt very awkward (even though Mooji laughed the whole thing away) and I crawled off to the corner to recover.
This was the first time in my life that I fainted, and the last so far. The next day one of Mooji’s veteran students told me that sometimes people faint when they hug him, but only at Tiruvannamalai, due to the serious energies (what else?) that exist there. To sum: My right hand continued to ache for two weeks after the incident. In terms of awareness I felt no change (on the contrary: immediately after waking from the fainting I actually felt the ego trying to reestablish itself with renewed force, as though frightened by those fifteen seconds when it was completely neutralized.) In subsequent meetings with Moji I hugged him and nothing out of the ordinary happened. To the best of my knowledge, I was the only one to faint at Moji’s during that “season.”
So? Can anyone explain this incident? I’m ruling out excessive excitement, because it was maybe my seventh or eighth hug with Mooji. And anyway, I wasn’t that impressed with him, although I liked him a lot. Besides, excitement doesn’t travel up the arm to the head. I thought about static electricity. But does it make sense for static to cause such a shock? And why was I the only one it happened to, and why only that time? I just don’t know, and I would be truly glad if someone could think of a “natural” explanation for the matter. For now it seems likely to me that energy, yes, some sort of energy in the body, whether mine of Mooji’s or both of us’, reached a certain level of charge, or force, or something, and when we hugged it was released, moved like a current upwards and caused me to faint when it reached the head. The hand, as I mentioned, ached long afterward. The head didn’t. After half an hour of recuperation in began trying to understand things again.