The Diamond That Is You

Gangaji, a white woman with snow colored hair, turquoise eyes and a soft, slight accent that reveals her Mississippi roots, travels the world year-round, telling people from Byron Bay to San Rafael to "stop." When someone is on her stage sharing a tale of human suffering, she almost always interrupts him or her: “Stop!” She once tossed a pillow at my friend’s head when he kept going. 

Though it might seem a tad bizarre, this is the essence of her teachings –– teachings that draw thousands of people a year in standing-room-only audiences. Her idea is that as long as we keep seeking, keep scampering toward fulfillment, keep staying wrapped up in our life “stories,” we’ll continue to miss the stillness that will guide us to the ultimate truth. Gangaji’s new book, Diamond in Your Pocket: Discovering Your True Radiance –– ”best of” excerpts from the many talks she’s given since 1990 –– hits on this again and again.

“Stop seeking. Simply be,” she writes in the introduction. “I am not talking about being in a stupor, or going into a trance, but going deeper into the silence of your heart where the revelation of omnipresence can be revealed as your true nature.” It’s not a new riff in the West –– Ram Dass has been saying similar things since his 1971 bestseller Be Here Now. But her delivery is more spare and focused on one central tenet.

Though she’s a self-help star, what I appreciate about Gangaji is her realness: she has no 10 steps, no “workbookable” approaches and no advice with “TM” next to it. The book’s title comes from her own guru, whom she met in India about 15 years ago. He told her this story, which nicely illuminates her it’s-been-with-you-all-along message: A pickpocket would hang around the diamond district watching for gem buyers, follow them and steal their jewels. One day a man bought the purest of diamonds. The pickpocket followed him on a train and tried over three days to steal it, to no avail. Finally, they got off the train and the thief stopped him, and said, “I’m a renowned diamond thief…I was not able to find the gem. I must know your secret.” And the man said, “…I suspected you were a pickpocket. So I hid the diamond where I thought you would be least likely to look for it –– in your own pocket!”

 

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