I returned to Mickey Singer’s Temple of the Universe this past weekend after visiting back in March. Before describing this trip, here’s a quick recap of that March trip.
In a word, it was amazing. I’d let Mickey’s people know that I’d written several articles about his teachings and also gave my background. My hope was to have a quick introduction and maybe talk for a minute.
That request turned into an hour and a half walk around the Temple grounds wherein we talked about Ram Dass, Ramana Maharshi, my crazy (fun) kids and everything under the sun. We even went into his house and chatted in his living room for a while.
Thrilled to be asked on another walk
Then the next morning, after the daily one-hour chant he does of the Sri Atma Gita, he asked me to join two of his associates on another walk. I was flabbergasted. And honored. And tickled. And thrilled.
But that wasn’t all. After that walk, Mickey invited me to have dinner at the big house next to the Temple with his group that lives on the property. I couldn’t believe it. I was pinching myself.
High as can be
Bottom line: I was high as a kite. This man, who is my favorite spiritual teacher, met me and brought me into the fold. It was deeply gratifying.
Which brings me to this week’s trip and the invaluable gift that Mickey gave me. What was that gift?
He ignored me.
You read that right. Let me explain.
My first interaction with him came on Sunday morning after his talk when the whole group (around 100 people) gathers on a large grass field outside the Temple. They serve tea and cookies and Mickey chats with people and signs books.
Deflated in the book sign line
I stood in a short line to have him sign a copy of my favorite book of his, The Surrender Experiment. One of his close associates, Stephanie, was standing there and said, “Mickey, you remember David?” He looked up at me and said, “Yes.” Then he leaned over and signed my book.
And that was that. On to the next book. There was no, “David! Welcome back. Can’t wait to catch up. You want to take a walk after everybody heads out?” as we’d done on my first trip.
I walked back to my room at the main Temple house feeling deflated. But it was only day one.
Sunday night I went to the short service they do and, same thing, no recognition.
After the talk, no walk
Monday morning I got my lazy butt out of bed for the 6:30–7:30 (3:30–4:40 my time!) chant of the Sri Atma Gita. Afterward, I walked out and saw Mickey, Stephanie and another Temple colleague gearing up to go on a walk, which they do every morning after this service.
On the last trip, Mickey saw me and asked whether I wanted to join them on the walk, which, of course, I jumped at. This time, I walked out, looked over at them and…Nothing.
Mondays are one of three nights that the small Temple group — Mickey, Stephanie, Donna (Mickey’s wife) and a handful of others eat dinner together in the big house where I stayed. People staying at the house are invited to these dinners so of course I went.
Small talk at the big house
I sat near Mickey at dinner where there were around eight people. I had a couple quick interactions with him, but nothing in-depth. I did make a point of telling him that I was leaving the next day and in case I missed him, wanted to thank him for an amazing stay at the Temple house.
Tuesday morning was a repeat of Monday — they all gathered to walk and didn’t give me a second look. One highlight was that right after the Sri Atma Gita service ended, I happened to walk past him inside the Temple and he looked at me and quietly said, “Come back and see us.” So he remembered my telling him the night before that I was heading out the next day.
I should add that Mickey was not the slightest bit rude to me. Or dismissive. He treated me the same way he treated the other visitors, which was with kindness and courteousness.
Wondering why he ignored me
So that’s my tale of two trips to the Temple.
The human part of me kept going to the why. Did he read something of mine that offended him? Answer: Almost zero probability because he hardly reads anything, much less my articles.
The Club Med Theory
Did he and his people simply forget about my earlier trip? This is my Club Med theory. People who work at Club Meds meet oodles of people every week. They come and they go and there’s no way they remember most of them.
Same at the Temple. People come from all over the world to see Mickey. This trip there was someone from Switzerland. Last trip someone from Germany. The Club Med theory is the most probable.
But here’s the thing: It doesn’t matter. Which gets us to the meat of the matter.
It all boils down to EGO
The reason I chose to devote an entire article to this can be summed up in one word: Ego. Because ego is the central character in this whole melodrama.
In the March trip, it was my ego that lit up like the Eiffel Tower when Mickey showered me with all that attention. I tried to fool myself into thinking it was something else by couching it in terms of, “Wow. This great spiritual teacher, my favorite in fact, saw some sort of depth and wisdom in me. That’s really profoundly good.”
In retrospect, I now realize that that was a phony reaction. It was my ego that got stroked. Period.
This week’s trip was also all about ego. Only this time it got poked instead of stroked.
So what does this all add up to? A valuable lesson. That we need to be ever-vigilant about not clinging to (the adulation of the March trip) or resisting (this week’s trip) the events of our lives.
Recognizing when we cling or resist is invaluable in being able to let go of the egoic baggage that is coming up. And as I’ve written many times before, letting go of that baggage is an indispensable part of liberating ourselves from ourselves…otherwise known as the spiritual path.
That is why I view the experience of these two trips as such a gift. It was like getting a cooler of ice water poured over my head, with the intention of waking me up to the egoic reality underpinning both trips.
The real stuff lay in Mickey’s talks and the services I attended which taught me to stay anchored in what this stuff is all about. Getting quiet inside. Letting go of our stuff. Chopping the wood and carrying the water. Every day.