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HIV and the Light

embracing the teacher

January 26, 2011 by gordon matchett

Gordon Matchett (Divine Gordie) advocates for shedding light on HIV and AIDS with a personal account of his diagnosis, the healing power of Divine Light, a supportive community, and the privilege of sweet medicine.  This is part 2 of his ongoing reflections and Satsang talks.

It’s 9 pm and I’m sitting in my room at Yasodhara Ashram, having just walked home after delivering the Satsang talk that forms the basis of this article. “Thank you, Thank you, Thank you” – the song with which we ended Satsang – still vibrates in every cell of my being.

What a wonderful process writing this Lightwaves article has been. I’m grateful to be learning so much about myself, and for this forum that gives us an opportunity to learn from each other’s mistakes and victories.

In my last article, I posed the question: what is the purpose of my life?  In the last few weeks, one purpose coming to light is that I am here to heal myself.

Six months ago, Swami Radhananda handed me my first Anti-Retroviral pill and said: “This is your Prasad, take your medicine and be well.” That I’ve been. It saddens me to watch so many people turn to darkness, using drugs or alcohol to numb the pain. I’m so grateful I had the Light to turn to.

So many people have entrusted me with their own stories of learning they have HIV. What we all have in common is the numbness that comes with the words “Your HIV test came back positive”.

In the weeks that followed learning of my infection with HIV, I had a series of spiritual experiences that changed me; visions, or as Swami Radha calls them, Waking Dreams, that have propelled me forward in my evolution.

Embrace the Teacher, the first message.

What? Embrace the thing that I thought was going to kill me?  These words have stayed with me over the past four years. There are so many times that I want to put my head in the sand and pretend I don’t have this virus. So often I want to run away and forget. Honestly, I’m tired of talking and reflecting about HIV.

But I’m allowing the pain to transform me and take me to heights I’d never dreamed of. The pain has given me so much fuel for self-exploration, encouraging me at every step of the way to go even deeper. HIV has taken me to the depths of darkness within myself and helped me find the Light that I am.

They are all connected, the second message.

I’ve faced addiction, depression, and a broken heart a couple of times. Swami Radha encourages us to look at why we are ill, what actions led us to the position we are in, what is the root cause? I like one of her definitions of Karma being that we reap what we sow. Looking back a decade, I see where the seeds of HIV were planted.

HIV is not a new teacher – it is an old teacher in a new outfit. The teacher has encouraged me to go deeper within myself to find the root cause, like peeling an onion. Each time I think I’ve found and dealt with the root cause, something new emerges. For this I am grateful. HIV is giving me the opportunity to deal with myself now, rather than letting it come back again and again – in this lifetime and in what could be countless others.

I’m at a place now where I think I’ve reached the core of my healing. I’ve given myself the gift of time at Yasodhara Ashram to go into the depths of what I feel is the root cause of my pain.

But how did the root cause get there? Is it about past life karma? Is it a punishment for bad deeds in a past life? Or a gift that allows me immense personal growth?

Gratitude, the overarching message.

Looking back over my healing journey, I can see how it has allowed me to grow and flourish as a spiritual being – almost as if it were a rite of passage. Fire transforms. Out of the ashes something more beautiful than I could have ever imagined is emerging.

I am truly grateful for the experience of being brought to my knees and then learning to stand again. And while I don’t wish illness of any type on anyone, the healing process, learning to stand again, is something I hope everyone is fortunate enough to go through. “By ignoble whips of pain, man is driven at last into the Infinite Presence, whose beauty alone should lure him”.(1)

If you’ve not been fortunate enough to have traumatic or painful experiences to propel you forward on your spiritual path: What experiences have propelled you forward? What motivates you? What are you learning?

(1) Parhamansa Yogananda, Autobiography of a Yogi, p.52


  1. Thank you Gord for your courage and honesty. I know for myself the darkest part in my life brought me closer to my essence and light. Questions without immediate answers allowed me then and now to be open to the vastness of my experiences. Namaste

    Comment by sue — January 26, 2011 @ 6:25 pm

  2. Thank you Gordie for your inspiring message. “Embrace the teacher” – I like that!

    Comment by Jovita Oliveira — January 27, 2011 @ 6:43 am

  3. Thank you Gordie, for your inspiring way of being at the Ashram, where you offer so much. Namaste, Terri

    Comment by Terri — January 27, 2011 @ 4:21 pm

  4. Thank you my friend for the lessons I am learning through you.
    I think I have had painful experiences enough that have propelled me forward, yet I know ‘forward’ is a very long road, and I’m just a little ways up that road. I want to be able to ‘grow and flourish’ as you put it, without that painful path. Is it possible to get there, all the way there without the suffering of such intensity? I know all growth causes some pain but if only I could apply myself at any time, thrust myself into the fire just ’cause. It is something we must learn to do. Perhaps the lesson and revelations just wouldn’t be the same.
    Thank you again for sharing.

    Comment by Jyoti — January 27, 2011 @ 7:49 pm

  5. Amazing that when everything is going fine I take my body for granted. Yet pain and illness have taught me to appreciate the wonderful way all the parts and systems work together.
    Thank you for telling your story. Hari Om.

    Comment by Mary Ruth — January 27, 2011 @ 9:50 pm

  6. Thank you Divine Gordon for sharing your journey. Illness is a profound teacher and after many years in the classroom I have finally learnt to listen. How grateful to read and see you smiling and happy. Our ten days together will never be forgot. May you continue to inspire those that are brought to their knees and have yet to find their feet. Who knew how a ray of divine light could be so solid a place to stand!

    Comment by Sonia Rosychuk — January 29, 2011 @ 12:23 pm

  7. Hi Gordie – thank you for sharing your experience and how you are using it to heal and transform yourself. I am recently finding that the stakes are higher with my health, too. I am motivated to work on myself in the deepest way possible. Maybe I can improve my lab work or maybe I can’t. At first I asked Divine Mother for a sign that I could get the lab values back into normal levels. Then I realized that it is all about my surrender to what is, who I am, how I must continue to take my next step, not about having lab within normal limits or a clean bill of health. I’m still excavating the root causes and working to the best of my ability to grow my awareness and change through the life experiences that got me to where I am now. And I am very grateful to my physician, Dr. Hari Om.

    Comment by Deborah Rose — January 29, 2011 @ 6:26 pm

  8. Thank you. Fire transforms -I´m reflecting about this. Light

    Comment by Susanna — February 4, 2011 @ 5:27 am

  9. thank you so much for your wise words of reflection. as someone who was recently diagnosed with cancer, I relate so well to your reflections of your own diagnosis. I have been looking for some spiritual teachings that I might be able to relate to (being generally spiritual, rather than religious), and it is a great comfort to happen upon this community and find others that are seeking a similar path of healing and learning. all the best to you on your journey.

    Comment by lao — February 14, 2011 @ 6:00 pm

  10. Namaste Gordie

    I felt that cancer was a wonderful gift. I just didn’t like the package! Serious illness propelled me to get to know myself, at my best and my worst, and accept all of me in a way I hadn’t before. Yet now, without the crisis, it’s easy to slip into old patterns. Thank you for your openness and inspiration to keep the process going, entering, deepening, focusing on the Light no matter what is happening.

    Comment by Faith Hayflich — February 16, 2011 @ 2:13 pm

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