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An American Sadhu, by Keith McPherson

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I maintain a blog called "erosapiens" (http://erosapiens.blogspot.com), and one of it's bylines in the past was a quote from a science-fiction movie:

"You don't choose the things you believe in. They choose you."

When I first heard those words spoken in the movie ('Minority Report'), they were spoken very quickly in a very forgettable part of the film. But those words struck me like a thunderclap, and had me almost uncontrollably "rewinding the videotape of my life" in my mind, and hitting the pause button here and there, to see what things had chosen me, instead of me choosing them.

The Sadhus of India chose me to believe in them.

They chose me many, many years before I heard that quote. I was living and working in San Francisco back in the late 1980's when I landed a security guard job in a prestigious fine arts museum. Being a guard, I had access to just about everything in the place, including it's behind-the-scenes secret library, filled with every type of art book that one can imagine. During my rounds in the middle of the night, I was eating-up everything I could on just about any art subject, because I had a natural liking for the Arts and knew that I now had access to "the good stuff", in the days before The Internet...resources that only art historians, museum curators, art restoration techs, docents, and the like, had access to. I was especially eating-up the ancient Eastern arts, trying to see if I could find books on ancient sex practices. Back in those days, the books one could find on Tantra and the like were still mostly 'watered-down', if you could find them at all.
One night, invisible hands pushed me to the Arts of India sections, and eventually I ended up with a book that literally made my hands tremble. It's frontispiece was a large black-and-white photograph that burned itself into my mind forever.
It was taken in the 1960's I think, and it was a bustling street scene in a town somewhere in India. In clear view, stretching from one side of the photo to the other, was a procession-of-sorts, of completely full-frontal naked men, matter-of-factly walking down the side of the busy street. In the background and presumably all around them, ordinary passersby did their shopping and what-not, against a typically urban and kaleidescopic backdrop of pedestrians, bicyclists, street vendors and neon Coca-Cola signs. At that time, the photo was especially stunning to me in the sense that the men were walking calmly but deliberately, with absolutely no signs of "we're up to no good", nor "we know we're being photographed and are taking directions from the photographer", nor were there any bugged-out eyes amongst them, with tensed-up bodies and mouths open in terror in anticipation of a ferocious police attack. They just "were", as if they were fully clothed and simply had their minds on something else, like their destination, in the determined manner that textiled folk do. And the passersby just "were" as well, as if this naked procession happened all the time in their town.
When I viewed this photo in the late 80's, I had already become a Western nudist-at-heart, if not in constant practice, and I was already very familiar with all the rules, mores, opinions, fantasies, secrets and other "hot air" about many worlds of nakedness. This photo that had me captivated was a snaphot of yet another naked world I hadn't stumbled across yet. But there was something more to this particular world, besides the very-public male nudity that made my blood boil. The wildly tittilating topic (to me) of certain faiths being linked, or at-one-with sex, nudity, orgasm, and generally rejecting all things Western was only the tip of the iceberg. Little did I know back then how little of the tip that photograph would actually be.

By the mid-1990's I had dug up a lot of information on the naked, dreadlocked, and flower-garlanded Sadhus by spending countless hours in public libraries. Though many of the sources still basically tip-toed around the Sadhus, I managed to get very rough idea of what they were all about. I was still a few years away from having a computer of my own, so whatever book I found on the subject was, well, "this will have to do", because checking books in and out of a library back then was as it still is now: a mild pain to be tolerated. In the books that I "tolerated" I found, through the Sadhus' philosophies, and other ancient non-Western cultures as well, that the modern world I was enslaved in wasn't "it". There was more, a lot more, in other worlds that were still alive-and-kicking, right alongside our modern world, but sadly just fading in and out of focus in our peripheral vision, and kept under lock-and-key by powerful governments.
From the late 1980's to the early 2000's I had caught "the Sadhu bug", and though I would have labelled my sometimes intense researching as a passion-filled hobby, it indeed became research that was subtly, thoroughly, and permanently changing my outlook on life in ways I would never have dreamed about.

It was roughly around 2002-3 that I took the first step in physically emulating the detached-themed life somewhat similar to the Sadhus', by embracing the values of Nasalam, the gay tantric sex monastery I would eventually join permanently nearly 10 years later. I believe it took that amount of time for the universe to make me absolutely sure of the decisions I was pondering, by continually showing me the ways of this brainwashed and mis-guided world, in comparison to the so-called strange ways of the Sadhus, and by making me consider the ways of Nasalam as a very loose but an actual, physical, and do-able alternative to the hurdles of relocating and assimilating into Indian culture.
So is Nasalam an orthodox Hindu ashram in the west? No. Do I personally walk around as a "Hindu-wanna-be", speaking with a fake, clipped accent, and wear exotic clothes and headgear? No. Do I own "absolutely nothing" like a Sadhu? No. (I have, though, 'downsized' my physical and mental attachments to a degree that would make most people gasp in amazement.) Have I become outwardly 'sexually dead' like the Sadhus who have been suffering from British brainwashing? No. Do I practice anything that will eventually make me keel over dead like a Sadhu who's deep into a strict religious asceticism? No. Do I chant Hindu prayers? Sometimes, but never out loud. Do I run around butt-nekkid? Weather permitting.
With all those "no" answers to those questions I'm sure my readers have, their biggest question undoubtedly is "what, then, is the point of being infatuated with Sadhus?"

It's their Spirit, their Energies, that chose me to follow them, not necessarily all their "trappings". A Christian's faith isn't defined by the height of the spires atop a huge cathedral, or by how deeply he digs into his wallet to help make the spires loftier. The same goes for the Hinduism that personally speaks to me via the Sadhus. The recognition, understanding and embrace of their Spirit alone is all that matters. Their Spirit isn't unique in the sense that they alone hold the monopoly on things I feel are right, natural and good: the Daoists, Tantrics, Digambar Jains, Tibetans, Buddhists, Ancient Ajivikas, Ancient Egyptians, Wiccans, Occultists, Sex Magicians, Pagans of all varieties all around the world, and the infinite, man-made blurred lines between them all, are the Brothers and Sisters of the Sadhus. But the Sadhus are the Brothers standing right next to me in Spirit, with their hands directly gripping my shoulders, turning me this way and that.

They, as well as their Brothers and Sisters, chose me to be a student in their Energy Schools, to learn about the many levels of Energy that we modern humans label separately, due to stubborn complications arising from  fear, ego, survival, fear of death, hunger, sex-drive, power, loneliness, fear of the unknown, etc. Physical energy, Erotic energy, and Creative energy are just three of the subjects in these Energy schools that   I'm enrolled in, with Hindu Sadhus as my long-distance teachers. I'll be the first to say that I still have a lot to learn before getting anything resembling a diploma in all this. But the lessons I'm learning are helping me to become unconcerned about a goal, a reward, or some sort of light at the end of a long tunnel. With my Brother Sadhus' hands on my shoulders, the light looks pretty bright right where I'm at, right now.

Keith McPherson
October 5, 2012


1 comment:

  1. It is very interesting and encouraging to read of your personal journey. thank you for courageously sharing what is essentially a solitary trek. I hope that you will expand on this. For example,I would love to read about how the culture in San Francisco during the 1980s helped (or hindered) your being chosen as a modernday-American Sadhu. I ask this because there are things to which I can relate having spent the 1970s delving deeply into the sexual arenas of The City, consciously pursuing the pleasing of Phallus--- not necessarily my own, but moreso, others' glorious Penises as I fell into my own vocation as a Phallo-centric Christian Man.