Book excerpts from the Spirit and Flesh religion and spirituality online library.
Kali Temple, Dakshineswar, India: mystical encounter with Kali: Ramakrishna's samadhi
excerpted from OM, baby! a pilgrimage to the eternal self, by Jack Haas
Our train journey ended the next morning in Calcutta, where we intended only a brief stay, so as to visit one of the most important Goddess sites in all of India: the Kali Temple at Dakshineswar, a place made famous by the nineteenth century Hindu saint and devotee to the Mother, Sri Ramakrishna.
It is said that even as a boy Ramakrishna was given to bouts of mystic ecstasy. Though it was not until he was a young man and was hired as the keeper of the Kali Temple that he began, almost instantly, falling regularly into a deep, inexorable oblivion and samadhi while rapt in a catatonic union with the Divine Mother.
Apparently Ramakrishna soon became incapable of fulfilling his occupational duties, and it was only because of the temple manager's lucid understanding of the spiritual profundity of Ramakrishna's regress, that Ramakrishna was not sacked and sent out into the streets for his obvious incompetence; he was instead given a lifelong stipend, and a suspension of all duties, so that he could have his entire life free to perform the one essential task that he could not avoid performing anyways- communion with Her.
From that point onward Ramakrishna almost never left the temple grounds, and was so often found gripped in a spasmodic submersion with the Mother that he would go for days on end without moving or eating, and often would have to be mercilessly beaten by one of his 'devotees' in order to snap him away from the divine union long enough to force some rice down his throat so as to sustain him again during his exodus into the Goddess.
A few years later, Ramakrishna's wife- who had been married off to him as a young girl, as it sometimes happens in India- came to be with him at the temple. But Ramakrishna was now obviously incapable of being a husband, in the common sense, for he was inextricably married to Her, the Mother, and could not be expected to take on any semblance of a normal life. However, this wise woman by the name of Sarada Devi quickly recognized that what Ramakrishna had to offer was far greater than a comfortable home and a brood of children, and so she asked to remain with him at the temple, under his spiritual guidance, rather than return to the world in search of the profane accoutrements of life. In later years Ramakrishna was to proclaim that the three Goddess- Kali, Saraswati, and Laksmi- had become incarnate in the singular body of Sri Sarada Devi, and so the Mother whom he worshipped had become manifest right before him, as his wife, right in the temple grounds dedicated to Her being.
My soror and I arrived at the temple complex on a rainy, monsoon afternoon. After following the trail of pilgrims up to the Kali image in the main building, we made our way into the adjacent, open-air meditation grounds, and sat down cross-legged amongst the supplicants.
Sitting side-by-side we both soon fell into a penetrating, meditative consciousness, and in that state I could feel my soror's soul become linked with the Mother's being, and a strong energy shift began pulling me into Her core.
I sensed then that physical gravity is simply a manifestation of the sublime gravitational pull the Mother has upon us, which draws us into Her, knowingly or not, in a subtle yet undeniable embrace that ends in either suffocation, or liberation. Suffocation if we do not love Her. Liberation if we do. As simple as that. However, the requirements of this love are perhaps different for every individual, since the Mother has a unique relationship with each of Her children.
The most important requirement, of course, is to love Her and all Her children. However, this axiom does not imply that one must lie down and be walked upon by others. Oh no, we must remember- this is Kali. And the raging love of Kali does not ask for complacency. She asks for volatile, passionate, libertine love. In fact, it is Her demand for Her children's emancipation that causes Her to come with fire and force in order to drive Her children towards their own divine perfection. She is ruthless, and She is love, for She is ruthless love.
This raging love of the Mother reminds me of a certain species of owl in which the female, it is said, is a generous caregiver of her young until they are ready to spread their own wings. But when the fledglings have grown to the age when they must fly, She throws them out of the nest, sending them plummeting to the ground where the law of the jungle leaves only two options- fly, or die. And even when the soft-hearted father owl comes swooping down to aid and protect the young ones who have not yet risen in the wind, the mother owl comes tearing wildly out of the nest and drives him off, for She knows that love is not always about coddling and comfort; She knows that this world is a hard and unforgiving place, and the only way to give Her children a fighting chance is to be more hard and more unforgiving than the world.
This is Kali. This is Her love. Fly or die. She will not come to assist you. She is against you. And She is against you because She loves you. If you get sucked into Her gravity, into Her darkened soul, you will turn into ashes and vanish. And she will try to suck you in and hold you. She will pull you down into the pit of her black abyss, and She will close the door and devour you. And that is Her love. Because if you have not the strength to fly from Her bondage, you have not the right to fly. But if you love yourself enough to fight back, to grow and push and thrash and dance and scream and sing and fly, then alone will you have gleaned what Kali's dark, destructive love has to offer. Otherwise you are finished.
In that deep, gravitational pull I felt through my soror's soul and into Kali's gravity, I knew then that Her depth was so immense, so powerful, and so suffocating to anyone who had not yet learned how to fly, that I recoiled from the black hole of Her dark love, spread my wings, and looked towards the sky.
I had experienced too much expansion, too much liberation, too much disentanglement from the profane plane already, and had no desire to descend unwillingly into the claustrophobic matrix of the Goddess's womb.
Perhaps it was the case that it was Her love that was sucking me down, forcing me to grow strong enough to repel Her, but it was my intent that was lifting me from the ground, and I vowed that I would not go down.
I had just learned that I was no longer responsible for walking any one else's path. But to be sure I still had to walk my own. And my path was that of transcendence. I wanted freedom. I chose freedom. I chose to fly.
 This odd juxtaposition of a mystic's wife being also his mother is a common theme running through world mythology; it seems that at a certain point in the growth of the soul, the archetypical Mother manifests as a man's spouse; that is, his lover is an emanation of the Mother.
To encounter this, as I have encountered it, is to enter into an odd relationship with the archetypical blueprint of the cosmos. It means that now when you make love to your mate, you are making love to the Mother Goddess herself, who is your Mother, but is also your wife.
This is the reason why Jesus' mother and lover were both called Mary, for they were one being in two bodies; emanations of the same overself. The esoteric significance of their sameness is a sublime reality which a literal reading of the Bible does not betray.
 For example, at one point I received direct understanding that I would not have complete union with the Mother until I ceased to own a vehicle, because the Mother was not fond of the foul, polluting, desecrating act of oil production and consumption. And I can say that after I gave up owning a vehicle, my relationship with Her soon changed.
 The reader might wonder- how is it possible to have had such intimate communion with the Mother and Father one minute, and then such repulsion the next? The reason is this: all of life is a contradiction, a duality, including the Godhead. There are light and dark aspects to both the Father and the Mother. Both are necessary. Destruction is as essential as creation. However, given that we all have free-will, we have the right and the ability to choose our own directions, our own alliances, and our own responses to this dual nature of the Godhead.
by Jack Haas