Letters from Ananda members, Part 20

A Little Cunning, A Reputation Destroyed
Marilyn Holm

A dozen years ago, I experienced my fifth miscarriage. All my life I had wanted children. I told people that I wanted 17 children, because I felt I had room in my heart for that many. Instead, I was miscarrying, yet again.

It wasn’t a fast process. I was 12 weeks pregnant, and I began to bleed. My doctor ordered me to stay in bed, getting up only to use the bathroom. “I don’t care if it takes 1 week or 40 weeks for the bleeding to stop. You will stay in bed, completely horizontal, until it stops.”

Not only was I an expectant mother, I was a research scientist. I was working on a huge research project that my boss deemed vital to her career. My medical situation posed a very stressful reality for her. I might be gone 1 week or 40 weeks. She couldn’t hire anyone to fill my position. How long would she have that deserted lab bench, useless to her?

I was gone 2 weeks. I lost the baby. My boss’s first conversation with me was to berate me for following my doctor’s orders, thereby postponing a natural process that would have simply happened sooner, if I had used my head. She said that she hoped I wouldn’t be foolish enough to try and get pregnant again, that she had no room in her lab for someone who couldn’t work. In my shock, I answered, simply, that of course I would try again.

The next few months were terrible. She set about to discredit me. She would schedule me to give a presentation of my work to our group, an event that required preparing slides, summarizing work in progress, pulling together references, only to cancel the presentation, 15 minutes prior to the meeting. Then she would make note of how I hadn’t accomplished any lab work that week. She would instruct me to carry out a very small experiment, one that would require only about 15 samples, when I was accustomed to designing experiments containing 400-500 samples. The set up time and run time would be the same, whether 15 or 400 samples were processed, since a robot did the actual manipulation. Then she would explain to her boss that my productivity had declined dramatically since my medical leave. That I was spoiled by laying in bed all day, and couldn’t be relied upon to do a decent day’s work. She had many, many cunning ways of making me look bad.

Luckily, since she had made discriminatory remarks about the wisdom of following my doctor’s orders, and her threat of my not being of any use to her if I chose to get pregnant again, the Human Resources department helped me escape to another lab within the same company. She was a powerful person, and couldn’t be touched herself, but out of fear of possible litigation, even without me mentioning that as a possibility, HR created a position for me in the lab that most interested me. As a disincentive to her, she lost one head count from her own lab.

Over the next year, I regained my reputation as an excellent research scientist. A year after that, she was no longer at the company.

I learned two very important things from this experience. First, the ability to cunningly make someone else look bad is within reach of any unscrupulous person. I knew that from the outside of the four walls of her lab, no one could tell whether she was telling the truth or whether I told truth. From within those four walls, however, it was very clear where the truth lay.

Second, I witnessed the truth of Jesus’ words: “By their fruits ye shall know them.” By simply being myself, I was able to prove that I had spoken truth. She proved her low character and liability to the company and was forced to leave.

Three years ago, a friend introduced me to Ananda. I went to a class given by Asha Praver on the mystical teachings of the Bible. I heard deep truths during that class, and I started going to Sunday Services, simply to hear more of those truths. I decided to move into the Palo Alto Community, in order to immerse myself in the only truly worthy opportunity I had ever encountered.

This was in the middle of the Bertolucci lawsuit. My friends were horrified at my decision. “But they’re a sex-crazed cult! Please don’t go there.” But I had met people with joy in their faces, a light in their eyes, and a wisdom in their words that I had never encountered before. “By their fruits ye shall know them.” And I knew that the only way to know the truth of these horrible allegations, emblazoned in the press, thrown about through the legal process, was to step into the middle of it and find out for myself.

I have discovered an incredible life. All of my life, I have searched and searched for meaning, for happiness, for a life worthy of the intelligence and self-honesty that God has given me. I have found it here at Ananda. Every day I am surrounded by happy friends, laughing voices, beauty, joy, conversations filled with deep reflections on truth. I thank God for giving me the courage to look for the truth myself. If I had believed those newspapers and lawyers, I would have missed the glorious joy of the life I now lead. I would have missed the chance of living on the spiritual path.

Marilyn lives in the Ananda Palo Alto community and works as a consultant clinical research scientist in the pharmaceutical industry.