076. Joi Sharp

One fine morning when I was in my mid-twenties, I woke up and the life I had previously led was over. I was consumed by a longing to be truly intimate with God, the one truth.

This great longing grew daily, and it first manifested as being aware of the unseen in nature. Nature invited me into itself, and I found myself taking very long solo trips deep into the wilderness of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. This naturally led to a resonance with Native traditions, and before long I met my first teacher, a highly-respected Lakota medicine man who was very committed to upholding the Old Way. With this association, the intimate awareness of spirit deepened.

As the longing for union intensified, the heart opened. This journey took on the qualities of para-bhakti, or intense devotion to the divine. Spontaneous giving of myself to spirit through prayer and tears was a natural response, and I felt myself being consumed.

I met my master, Mata Amritanandamayi, in 1993. There was an immediate recognition that I needed to spend as much time as possible in her presence, so I spent most of the next nine years in her ashram in India.

This was a period of intense de-conditioning where so much was exposed. Amma knew my longing for truth, and consequently pushed me quite hard, so that a natural, authentic surrender and love was all I knew.

It is said in the scriptures that love leads to knowledge (Bhakti to Jnana), and knowledge leads to love. That they are two sides of the same coin-not separate. There arose in me a natural resonance with self-inquiry, and with Amma’s blessing I spent two years a Ramana Maharshi’s ashram in Tiruvannamalai. Then one day I knew I was done with India, and returned to the west.

When I returned, I had nothing to hold on to. No family, home, money, job, car, or health. The body was quite weak and tired, and the old way of striving couldn’t survive. Surrender naturally deepened, and it was at this time that the personal self really lost its hold.

A couple of satsang teachers came through my little town in Colorado. Satsang in America was a new experience for me. I realized that these teachers were talking about what I was experiencing.

In 2004, Pamela Wilson invited me to share my experience with others. After talking to Amma about it and receiving instruction from her, I felt an overflowing and a readiness to share.

In recent years, Adyashanti has been and continues to be an invaluable guide and a support in this unfoldment and recognition of what’s true. He has my deepest gratitude.

My heart bows down to all of my teachers and friends who make up the fullness of this life, and no words can describe how this heart bows to Amma.

Joi’s site

Interview recorded 7/2/11

Video and audio below. Audio also available as a Podcast.

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