|Meet Ingrid Naiman|
I have Pisces rising and began reflecting on the nature of the unseen realms very early in life. In my childhood, I was not aware that others did not sense the energies and forces that were so real to me.
There were few highlights of my childhood. A Vedic astrologer, Mr. K. N. Rao, asked to look at my chart. He said it was my karma to be born into a family in which my mother was a gifted musician, that this would shape my soul and lead eventually to the development of my liberal outlook. In fact, my mother was a concert pianist. She played me to sleep every night, and I remember calling from my room to her to beg her to keep playing because I was still awake. Today, I believe I would not have had the fortitude to face the world as I found it had my mother not not provided the refuge she did, not only in her music but in her incredible gentility.
My mother had some rules, some good ones and some perhaps not so. One rule was that all rules were made to be broken, but the one that stuck is that a real lady or gentleman is someone who never does anything to make another person feel uncomfortable. I think this is the basis of a doctrine of kindness, one that has been reinforced by every spiritual teacher since time began.
When I was sixteen, my mother separated from my father and moved to Hawaii. I had just graduated from high school and found my college plans completely upset. I had been accepted at Occidental College and intended to major in international relations (Moon in the ninth house.) Instead, I found myself, in the summer of 1959, attending the East-West Philosopher's Conference at the University of Hawaii. I took some courses that were way over my head; but, at the end of the conference, there was a banquet. I was seated between Prof. Wing-Tsit Chan from whom I had taken a course on Chinese philosophy, and the famous Suzuki-sensei. I was young, Western, eager to be enlightened by someone who knew what I hoped to discover. I don't remember the question I asked Sensei. I remember his answer: "When you eat, eat." The next day, I saw him on campus, I asked another question. He said, "When you walk, walk." Then, he motioned to a bench. We sat down, he said, "When you talk, talk.
I spent the next ten years studying Zen, learning to observe the jumpiness of my own mind and developing the kind of awareness that allows people to see things as they are. To make a long story short, I majored in Asian Studies: Buddhist philosophy and Southeast Asian anthropology. I graduated in 1962 and went to Japan as an East-West Center student and then traveled in Indonesia during a time of great upheaval, 1963.
From Indonesia, I went to Yale, ostensibly to continue these studies, but through some very odd circumstances ended up in development economics, a plan I had for the future but which I felt would take longer to materialize. Yale was not a congenial place for me. I had been very free. My mind was being reborn in the waters of Eastern philosophy and Yale was theoretical. The vogue was models for interpreting and predicting using thousands of variables. No one was "present." There was no "now," no "reality," just theories. My mind was miserably unsuited for these studies, but I somehow obtained a master's degree and left.
Those were the days when women were not a big part of the work force. I wanted to go overseas, use my foreign languages and background, and do something useful to change the poverty and suffering in Southeast Asia. I didn't get any further than New York City. I wound up on Wall Street, in a very courteous investment bank.
That summer, two boats were sunk in the Gulf of Tonkin. I screamed something I dare not print here about Johnson deliberately provoking attack so as to have an excuse to start a war in Southeast Asia. People thought I was a lunatic, and it was at least two or three more years before others seemed to realize that there was a war.
I wound up in Vietnam with the State Department, determined to stop the war. A few friends thought I was playing Joan of Arc or perhaps that I might be her reincarnation, but I was simply a pacifist who could not see any reason to spill blood over any differences whatever they might be. I have a lot of Vietnam stories, but not what you see in movies.
I was in Vietnam from December 3, 1966, to the summer of 1968, through the Tet Offensive. I was a courier to Paris Peace Talks when Orly was closed due to rioting and strikes. While I was in Vietnam, the era of the flower children began. I spent the summer of 1968 at home in Hawaii. I asked my 87-year old Swedish grandfather what a hippie was. He said, "a twentieth century Bolshevik." I asked him how I could find one. He said, "They don't shave." I borrowed a motorcycle and went all over Hawaii looking for a hippie. I found someone hitchhiking and took him to a little town north of Hilo. I told my mother that I might have met my first hippie. She asked what he looked like. I said, "He had a mustache." She said, "That was a Peace Corps volunteer; hippies don't waste their time trimming mustaches." She was right, I had dropped him right at the entrance to the Peace Corps training site.
Due to my diplomatic service, I missed the whole hippie era and the Beatles. However, I sat in the front row when the Dalai Lama gave his first talk in exile in India. That was my next post with the State Department. My long-time interest in Zen changed to Tibetan Buddhism.
Zen had taught me how to use my mind as an instrument of perception, but it never answered any of my questions about the purpose of life or how Creation began and why. I spent the next ten years as a student of Tibetan Buddhism. I loved the esotericism of Tibetan Buddhism.
In 1977, I took vows from Nechung Rinpoche, the former abbot of the monastery that provided the oracle for the Dalai Lama. If you have seen the movie, Kundun, you saw the oracle trancing for the Dalai Lama. Nechung Rinpoche suffered greatly. He was the prime target of a Chinese political scheme: if they could get him to influence the oracle to persuade the Dalai Lama to go along with the Chinese plan to occupy Tibet, it would be simple. The Chinese began by courting Nechung, showing him the best of Chinese hospitality, then by imprisoning him and subjecting him to unspeakable deeds. Through all this, Nechung Rinpoche displayed what I came to respect most about him: forbearance and patience and perfect Oriental manners. Nechung gave me a spiritual name and one message that I treasure above all else: practice goodness.
In those days, everyone wanted enlightenment and most were seeking shortcuts through drugs and sometimes bizarre and ill-conceived meditation practices. Nechung Rinpoche said that enlightenment is the most difficult and probably last attainment; in the meantime, we can practice goodness.
A bit later, I met another incredible person, a kahuna named Morrnah Simeona. She was the first person I knew who was conscious of other dimensions. I had been clairvoyant for a time, but Morrnah seemed to see way more than I had ever seen. She gave me my first important healing lesson: before you can cure anyone, you must remove the obstacles to cure. She taught a Hawaiian method for problem solving called "ho'oponopono." This is a group endeavor that is facilitated by an elder who allows family members to "spill their guts." Pent up rage and guilt are brought out into the open where they can be resolved. Morrnah maintained that no one will get well if he or she feels he or she does not deserve to be well.
In 1979, I moved to New Mexico. My first big involvement there was with people who elicited past life memories through massage to classical music. I began recording the memories and comparing them to the horoscopes of the individuals relating the accounts from previous times. This was the beginning of my really profound work with retrograde planets and later with the Moon.
In 1980, I began studying Ayurveda with Dr. Shrikrishna Kashyap, a former yogi who once treated the other yogis in the Himalayas. Dr. Vasant Lad was teaching in Santa Fe at the same time. Dr. Lad and I eventually taught some workshops together. Dr. Lad is a traditionally trained Ayurvedic doctor; Shyam was and perhaps still is a mystic. For the first time in my career as a medical astrologer, I began to interface the practical with the esoteric. It is through Shyam that my work with food and herbs began to take shape. It is also at this time that others became interested in my work.
This was confusing to me as I valued the esoteric over the practical, but the years have taught me a loving balance that I now treasure above my previous beliefs.
Some time after my delving into Ayurveda, I also discovered psychology and immediately understood the conflict it posed to spirituality. I opened a clinic in 1990 and saw daily how the inner must shift before the outer will change. I sought desperately to find the keys to inner healing. This brought me into the deepest love I have ever known, for it necessitated my crossing fearlessly into the realms of suffering and death, realms I had fought with my light and faith for eons.
It is trite in today's world of weekend shamanism to compare my experiences with the more popular versions. I had to come to a point where I could see not only how the psyche is structured and the mysterious chemistry that gives the psyche its characteristics but where the place of integrity and immortality is.
With Pisces rising, I feel I have always been close to Pathos, that I have always gone through dark nights of the soul and always emerged the believer. My only treasures are the wisdom of my experiences in the intangible realms of the soul, but I went through yet another big adventure in 1995 when bitten by a black widow spider. I was rendered completely passive for more than a year while my psyche traveled where it would.
Today, I have evolved my own system of medical astrology, based on my own experiences and the answers I have found to my endless questioning. The system is practical and philosophical, grounded and esoteric, psychological and spiritual. Most of all, it worksand it appeals to our need for common sense and inspiration, a wholesome balance of which is essential for life!
Taken in Northern India by a young Tibetan refugee
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Copyright by Ingrid Naiman 2007 and 2014