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650 Disciples Spend a Weekend in the Lives of Shirley MacLaine

July 19, 1987|DICK RORABACK | Times Staff Writer

"During the break," MacLaine is saying, "most of your questions revolved about the conflict of linear versus hologramic. The Life Drama, of course, is non-linear. . . . "

"The Greeks," she continues, "already understood that each of us knows everything already. So when you're vibrating to the totality of your superconscious, you already know everything."

To facilitate resonance, MacLaine prepares to lead the crowd in a mass meditation--eyes closed; lotus posture recommended--that will last fully two hours. First, however, she demonstrates chakras--centers of physical and psychic energy--on the chart of head and torso of the stylized male. Each chakra has a musical note ("a vibrational frequency") and a color ("We are all rainbows").

We are asked to "visualize cleansing through the chakra system," in unison. "When three or more people gather with the same intentionality," MacLaine declares, "the energy unit is squared."

Lights out. Ethereal music. MacLaine exhorting. "Touch your divine mass purpose." "Float above the garden." "Recall your memory, past and present."

Lights up. Music off. Cleansed, a number of disciples repair to the Bagel Nosh.

'Astral," says a lady in the lox line. "That's what Shirley is, astral!"

"It's hard to get actuated when the air-conditioner's off," another says.

"I got to the garden level, then I tried to force it. . . . "

"Rage is my problem. I'm into heavy rage."

" . . . Outtakes of my consciousness . . . "

" My higher consciousness is on my left side. Is that OK?"

"It's an emotional anesthetic is what it is."

"I thought of sticking to my diet, but now I know the body doesn't count , you know what I mean?"

"I guess Shirley asked herself these things so late in life because she's on a different timetable."

"Astral. Absolutely astral."

Post-lunch, chairs are removed and astral adherents take to the floor, most in the lotus position but some prone, seeking succor for their third, or yellow, or belly chakra.

There is a question-and-answer interval, mostly answer.

Many are anxious to express their inner peace, their love, "the understanding I feel, far above any intellectual level."

MacLaine is pleased. "The cloud of unknowing is an illusion," she says.

"When I came out of the light," a believer testifies, "I saw a Roman warrior in gold armor. No, I didn't talk to him. . . . "

"Next time," MacLaine says, "give him my phone number."

She gets serious. We are all manifestations of each other's imagination, she avers. "We create our own spouses, our parents, our children, so how can you get angry with what you chose ?"

There is a laying on of hands, strangers straining to absorb each other's higher self. "Don't visualize," MacLaine says. "Sensualize."

The mood lightens. MacLaine relates an early dream. She is being chased by a gorilla to a precipice. Unwilling to plunge, she confronts her pursuer. "What'll I do now ?" she asks. " I don't know, little girl," says the gorilla. "It's your dream."

Day 2 dawns, overcast. Everyone seems to be back.

A chirpy aide named Midge warms up the crowd: "It takes me a little longer to get up to my higher self because I'm so short."

MacLaine has a confession: "Professionally, I border on Streisand-like perfectionism. I have to feel in control. In this work, it's just the opposite. I am not prepared. I can't allow myself to be prepared, or I would block your spontaneity."

There is a monologue on loneliness ("We must construct more sophisticated ways to make the loneliness more permissible"). A long one on loving yourself above all. Another on choosing the right colors of food to correspond to the neediest chakra. ("How many blue foods are there?" a man whispers to his seat mate.)

Another mass meditation, with a caveat: "Let the intentionality of everyone get out of their own way." This time, we are asked to let higher selves "show you parts of your distant past."

A seeker cheats, opening his eyes to see how Shirley is getting along. Sure enough, her right hand is waving "Hi" to a past acquaintance, her left patting the head of another unseen essence. She smiles, nods, waves again.

"Shift the forces forward, to the future memory," we are told. "If you don't like the picture, you have the power to uncreate it."

Now, "From the positionality of your chairs, recognize the higher selves of everyone in the room. . . ."

An exchange of psyches follows, one that turns out to be somewhat disturbing. MacLaine, well-traveled, picks a volunteer, places her hands on her shoulders, and attempts to divine images of the woman's subconscious, to wit: "Down the Nile on a barge; eating nuts in Africa; India; dust; Coca-Cola; goat carts; abhorrence of dung; South Pole. . . . I'm getting these images from (woman's name)."

Positions are reversed. The woman begins to sob: "It's just me alone is a big, big universe and I'm so afraid. There isn't any light. . . ."

"Good," MacLaine says. "Go with it. You'll get it. Just look in your heart."

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