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Post-millennium, I moved permanently from America to India. Here, in the shadow of the sacred hill Arunachala, two decades from the day I conceived the idea and following seven major rewrites, I finished my first novel in the Moksha Trilogy: … Continue reading

THE DASHING FENCER

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8da3adf3c53bf14b391fd6a892025c43At a certain phase of my life, when I was desperately planning my escape from a city many would give their eye teeth (whatever that means!) to enjoy (Manhattan), I worked for a posh law firm and took every opportunity for overtime that I could, hoping to pay down my big fat mortgage, sell my adorable apartment, and flee to the Himalayas. One of my favorite lawyers to work for was the powerful head of the Real Estate Division and a multi-millionaire many times over.  During our post-midnight stints as he churned documents out and I whipped them into shape, he had let slip that as a young idealist he had dreamed of wandering India, ancient land of sacred cows and hoary temples, in quest of himself. But he had sold out when he won a scholarship to an ivy league outfit and even more when he had married a woman who wanted him to make more and more money so he could send their kids for horse-riding lessons and to vacations in Paris.

fb_img_1486272499213It must have been about 3 in the morning when my eyes fell on a photo on his desk. “Who’s that?” I asked, intrigued by the handsome and dashing figure of a young man dressed in fencing garb and brandishing a sword or whatever. He glared at me, offended. “That’s me,” he said. I laughed and shrugged, “how could I tell?” You have mask on.” But the truth was that that slender young man bore absolutely no resemblance to the pot-bellied rotund double-chinned bespectacled worry-wart before me. Continue reading

YOUNG SOUL, OLD SOUL

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Kiri 16GB sd card 6243-1The New Age (which I happen to mostly detest and keep my distance for, for really it is all recycled material that they use often to great detriment of depth and richness) has popularized many buzzwords and one is that someone or the other is an old soul. Now when I threw the words “young soul” at a close friend one day in frustration, he blew up at me and said these phrases were ridiculous nonsense. Not so, I said, for to me the difference between an old and a young soul is as clear as the full moon shining over Arunachala on a balmy summer’s night.

An Old Soul is simply a human who has seen through the mesmerizing veils of Maya, the Cosmic Enchantress. He or she has either experienced the double-edged sword of samsara in this lifetime, or his knowing has emerged from countless past lives. Never mind, but this person is no longer enchanted by stately mansions surrounded by a forest of palm trees, obscenely plump bank accounts or stock portfolios, expensive vehicles, supermodels, celebrities of all kinds, or by those pampered creatures with access to the so-called good life. Why is this? Simply because this person now knows for sure that while there is a great deal of pleasure to be drawn from the world, this pleasure is invariably followed by pain, which is why the mystics refer to indulgence in a hedonistic lifestyle as licking the honey off a razor’s edge. And what about the Young Soul? Oh, he or she is still dazzled by the façade, that’s all.

c945ed890f540a675b775ccb608893f3Now for the critical question: is one better than the other? My honest answer is, while I would prefer to be an Old Soul, the essence of both is exactly the same—pure existence, awareness and bliss. Would you turn back as you ascend an infinite stairway and have contempt for those who have just begun their journey of comprehending reality? Not if you were wise and loving, for sure. An Old Soul was once a  Young Soul and a Young Soul will inevitably evolve into an Old Soul, but, and it’s a big but, this depends on consistent effort. Liberation is guaranteed to all of us, but no one is saying when. So its up to us to prolong the suffering or not.

Greetings from Arunachala, Shiva in the form of a hill of fire and light, who vows to open our inner eye so we can discriminate between the real and the unreal, between true joy and the fake pleasure that comes from the reckless enjoyment of the senses!

NEW!!! My latest book – COPPER MOON OVER PATALIPUTRA – just went live on Jun 30th. Read all about it and on how to get your own copy here.
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EVERYONE HAS A HIGHER POWER

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c54413c0d2a06f18743e8ad014a31eaeManhattan broke down my identity; in south India I was more or less confident that I could accomplish anything I set my mind on. I was popular, well-known in certain circles, and could have launched myself into a lucrative creative career had I wished to. Instead I suffered a deep dread of never leaving home and so I finagled my exit to a foreign country that I admired for many reasons. Yes, I loathed the deep-rooted misogyny, caste and class system I was surrounded by and longed for the freedom I hoped to find in America. But I was unprepared for the shocks to my system in the land of the brave and the free. Indeed, nothing was as I had expected it to be and I had to literally reinvent myself, alone, since my husband and in-laws were no help, and instead actively wanted to shove me into a box, lock me up, and throw away the key. You see, they had not expected an Indian woman to be feisty, independent and outspoken about her rights, and so they lashed out in me in a variety of inventive ways until I was deeply miserable despite abundant material comforts. My husband had promised that I could study creative writing and film at NYU, but now he ruthlessly nixed that idea and I found myself temping on Wall Street and in posh law firms, making a lot of money but still a prisoner of my new family and my husband in particular, who insisted on controlling our finances as well as the trajectory of our lives. Continue reading

CHEAP THRILLS

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9e1a511e7a9166a72e30bd913768d213Growing up in south India at a time when the West was not as accessible as it is to Indians today, my first glimmerings of the wild life I (delusionally) believed all Americans and Europeans led was via the thrillers of writers like James Hadley Chase. Yes, I read Agatha Christie too, and more sedate authors, but it was the paperback thrillers I found most addictive, for they spoke of hippies and drugs and scarlet women pouting at bad guys and getting murdered—and of course there was always the unwary bystander or canny detective who got dragged willy-nilly into the spicy stew.

Oh, how exciting it was to get one of those books in my greedy hands and to devour it at a single stretch! There were times I’d read a book a day, and since it wasn’t easy to find this kind of material lying around then, I’d woo anyone who had a home library and was willing to share his/her hoard with me.

It was my brother-in-law, an academic and professor, who dourly pointed out to me the effects that reading what he called ‘trash’ would have on my impressionable mind. It’s a hard addiction to break, he warned, and when you need to digest serious stuff, you won’t be able to. I dismissed his warnings since I was doing very well in academics myself, and believed, with all the raw arrogance of youth, that I knew better than preachy fuddy-duddies how to separate study from fun. Continue reading

MOUNTAIN GODDESS

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14876327_10155479883214199_334843953_o-768x575When I first landed in Dharamsala in the foothills of the Himalayas, straight from the frenetic city of Manhattan, I was lost and bewildered by a strange new world. Soon I found my way to the Tibetan Library, where every morning a beautiful old Geshe, aided by an English female translator, patiently taught us the ancient scriptures. I was sitting outside the small cafeteria when I saw a woman I liked on sight, nonchalantly rolling a cigarette. I asked her to roll me one, whereupon she handed me the fixings and retorted sarkily that if I wanted one, I’d have to roll it myself. Oh, I thought, amused, liking her even more, for she reminded me of folks in Manhattan who are also uncomfortably direct but also possess shining hearts of gold if you stick around long enough to get past the prickly surface.

We became friends, and I discovered she lived right above my beautiful apartment with the huge glass windows, through which I could gaze at the splendor of the snow-clad Himalayas. As a seasoned practitioner capable of handling any crisis, she was often impatient with me, rightly viewing me as a spoiled infant with no clue how to handle herself in a small Himalayan township peopled by hardy Tibetans (most of whom had bravely made their way over the mountains to be with their charismatic leader, who incidentally lived a mere ten minute walk away from me on the peak of a hill guarded by both Indians and his own people) and equally tough Indians. Continue reading

TINA & IKE TURNER

ac9a6ed443d206599b4d58f92afee35aAnna Mae Bullock was a country girl who escaped her quiet life for the big bad city in her teens and fell headlong in love with Ike Turner, a tall talented black musician with an eye for the girls—as well as an eye for pure talent. He heard Anna Mae sing and knew she was 24-carat gold. Dumping his current woman, he seduced the wide-eyed and laughing teenager, got her pregnant, gave her a new name, married her and made her a star. He also beat the hell out of her and abused her violently, for he’d started doing hard drugs and his rages were demonic and way out of control.

I watched Tina’s autobiographical movie with friends who came over to visit after my painful almost-broken toe accident. I can’t watch movies alone, so once or twice a year, I will get together with a friend/s and zone out before the screen. The first movie we watched depressed us all—a hard and gritty London-based crime movie that was violent beyond belief and ended horribly. And so, after everyone else had left, I coaxed my friend to watch the Tina movie.

Tina’s tumultuous tale brought up a lot of buried stuff within me, for things are not so different anywhere in the world. As long as ego rules, there will be hate and jealousy and violence. And if a man thinks he owns a woman, just because he gives her his name, some money or possessions, a child and a career, then there is no end to the pain and the trouble he can inflict on an innocent victim who often has nowhere else to turn.

What disturbs me is that this ugly cavalier attitude towards women is not confined to the poor and the illiterate. In fact, gender violence has little to do with money or education, although those who are in the public eye use different insidious methods to put their women down. I have seen poor (economically) men treat their wives like gold and rich men treat their spouses like offal, or even like redundant and replaceable pieces of furniture. Go figure.

8462d42e9a16bd29abeea860e3fadb6dWhat is the answer to this age-old problem? For me, it lies in the great truths of Eastern philosophy, and particularly in the wisdom that claims that what unites us into one vast and mysterious being is the common substratum of our nature (pure awareness, existence and bliss). To the one who realizes this, all relative appearances dissolve and one no longer views the world in terms of gender, status or anything else. Advaita is Not Two, and this is a mystical fact.

Back to Tina. What a hero! I said, after the movie ended (we used the forward button to move through the grisly bits when he almost kills her). Finally she left him, allowed him to keep all the money they had earned together, but fought to keep her professional name. And then she went on to become a solo star who the world loves even more today. Yes, what a hero, my friend echoed.

So many women weakly bow their heads and surrender to the bullies who make their lives hell. Even in corporate Manhattan, every now and again I would see a high-earning woman with bruises on her body and shame and pain in her eyes. Even worse, to me, is the man who hurts his wife or girlfriend in ways that are not visible: Lying, cheating, deceiving, passive-aggression, etc. All these leave deep scars on the emotional body and it is the rare woman who recognizes she is being used as a punching bag by someone with terribly low-esteem (who else would attack and harass a woman in his care but a man with no real self-respect or ethics?) and dumps him before he can crush her completely.

Bhagavan RamanaMany enjoy delving into the highest teachings of the East but don’t realize that, minus an ethical foundation and a transparent relative life, they cannot progress even an inch. The first thing we must do if we are genuine seekers is to truly learn to honor, love and respect our own selves; when this awesome work is done, or being done, we will automatically treat everyone else in the same holy and beautiful way. As Ramana said, at some point in our ascension to pure spirit, we will realize that there are no others.

Greetings from Arunachala, Shiva in the form of a hill of fire and light, who helps us destroy our darkness so that we can enjoy the infinite bliss of our true nature!

NOTE: I wrote this post ages ago: Shiva’s Spectacular Gender Divide – Part 1/6 (Jul 20, 2013)

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Noble Souls That Walk The Earth

Light always wins!

Luthar.com

According to Advaitic/Yogic sages, all sins and atrocities which are committed by individuals and nations against each other are due to ignorance of the true nature of oneness of all life.

When we view “others” as separate from us and different, we are able to justify all types of ignoble acts against them. Sometimes, even the most heinous deeds are justified in the name of God, religion, or law.

People who are blinded by fear, greed, and ignorance are not able to see outside the cycle of violence that they are part of.

Fortunately, in the history of the world, there have always been good people as well and such noble souls still walk the earth today. I feel that due to their kindness, love, and compassionate influence, there is always a ray of sunshine and a hope to make this world a better place.

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The wheeling moon in her sleep night

Gorgeous!

Lance Sheridan

She tried to sleep to kiss the dream,
Let fall the clocking time, the slumber eye,
Shifting planets, the wheeling moon.
So, with teddy bear, they flew the sky
And touched the stardust like angel wings.

She fled her mother’s eye who wept,
Fled the nightlight, its ghostly shadows,
On a cloud coast, she climbed the twilight.
Left behind her siblings under blanket and thatch
Caught the windlass winch, the night mist ride.

Softly, silently falling asleep, the inches into dreams,
The quiet dark thimbles, she knows the fairy tale thread,
Yards of the milk white rain, and sly red wind. The fables
Of yore. Leaping gnomes, and the black backed dragons
So deeply sleeping a way in the C-moon wheeling.

Copyright © 08/22/2016 lance sheridan®

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COBRAS WRITHE ABOUT HIS BLUE THROAT


Ramana says, echoing the mystics of all time,

That the three states of waking, sleeping and dreaming

Are unreal, meaning that they are ephemeral, and come and go.

 

Oh, but last night I dreamed I was the Great God Shiva,

Draped in the furs of mighty beasts,

Cobras writhing around my blue throat,

Whipping a nine foot bully harassing

A lovely girl with shining face of gold—

And oh, how I wish that dream was real!

4c43e9597e348e32446dfe8c83a2d488And then I awoke at dawn to the wondrous sight

Of a sacred hill whose crown was wreathed with

Layers of creamy evanescent clouds,

Even as peacocks shrieked and ravens cawed

For their morning feast of rice and milk—

And oh, how I wish that too was real!

 

And what to say about those long afternoon naps

Following a morning of writing and meditating,

When my mind vanishes into a nebulous netherworld

And my cares dissolve into blissful nothingness?

Please, can that not be real?

kiri-16gb-sd-card-6025Amused, the Mountain whispers in my ear:

Only consider, my dear,

That if these states that are but a passing show

Are so pleasant in their aftertaste,

How nectar sweet is your true nature, which is nothing less

Than Mahaprana, Pure Life, Mahachit, Infinite Awareness,

And Ananda, a celestial fountain of bliss?

 

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Move Only As Grace of the Lord Moves You

The incandescent message of Ramana Maharshi – thanks Harsh!

Luthar.com

In 1896, a boy ran away from home. He left a note behind for his family. It stated in part, “I have left, in search of my father…”

The father was the holy mountain of Arunachala.

On September 1, 1896, this 16 years old boy, arrived at Arunachala. He never left. 

September 1, 2018, was the 122nd anniversary Ramana Maharshi’s arrival at Arunachala.

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TAKSHAK, MAHARAJA OF MELUKKHA

Takshak is a handsome, sexy, intelligent, and charismatic monarch who rules a great ancient civilization patterned on the cities of the Indus Valley Civilization. In his early days, Takshak’s father, the powerful Maharaja Shaardul, was a conceited and churlish man; and yet he was wise enough to allow his arrogance to be tamed by the divine fire of the High Tantrika Inanna. Saved from a horrible end, he instead evolved into a superb leader who brought great prosperity and happiness into the lives of his people.

Unfortunately, Takshak, despite being trained in the magic and mystery of Tantra by the best, despite exceptional riches of personality and material assets, chose the dark side. He too was given the amazing opportunity to raise his consciousness with the aid of a brilliant Tantrika, but he preferred the seemingly easy shortcuts of drugs and easy women. Falling into the hands of a mesmerizing foreign sorceress, who herself was ensnared by evil entities, he crashed headlong into disaster, murdering all those who stood in his way, and finally bringing his great civilization down with him. Sound familiar?

Here is an excerpt from the penultimate chapter of Whip, when the dying Takshak tracks his errant priestess down and begs her to save him from the demon:

The fire rumbled, disturbed by her dangerous thoughts, even as the demon stared back at her through Takshak’s yellow eyes—voracious, cunning, insidious. She recoiled, coming to her senses—this demon had fed on Takshak from his youth, growing stronger the sicker the Maharaja had become; it could well destroy her. There was only so much the fire could combat while her spirit was still encased in human flesh.

Though no breath of wind stirred, the torches left behind by the guardsmen flickered and died. In the pale silver of moonlight, an ethereal being appeared before Takshak. Ishvari uttered a soft cry of wonder, for she knew her to be Mahadevi in her guise as goddess of death, immortal consort of Yama, lord of the underworld. The lovely apparition touched Takshak on his third eye and he groaned as he glimpsed the hell realms to which he was bound. Then she was gone and silence crashed like thunder about Ishvari’s ears. She fell to her knees, weeping soundlessly for Takshak. Leave now, her soul whispered urgently. Head for the jungle!

“Guards!” Takshak screeched weakly, pounding on the sides of his palanquin, and Ishvari slid down the rock and raced along the banks of the river, towards the dark shape of the jungle.

cc56cbb87382e2c7f74faf1c64cc03f7Time is only a human construct; if we study history with a discerning eye, we might see the same old insidious patterns emerging. The substratum of all beings is pure existence, awareness and bliss, but if we let the ego triumph over our Spirit, and feed it with denial and rage, the demons enter and take over; soon there is no human left, only a sad puppet, who, when he or she inevitably ages and dies, carries with him the bad seeds of terrible karmas into future lives. And this, in a nutshell, is the tedious saga of samsara or relative reality, an endless spinning wheel that perpetuates misery and delusion.

Genocidal dictators, callous world leaders who give a damn for the agony they unleash on innocent women and children when they order the bombing of foreign cities (even as they relish rich chocolate cake!); men and women who put their own needs and desires for gratification above the common decency of caring for others, and who choose the dark shutters of secrecy over the bright innocence of transparency; all those who refuse to see the cosmos as One, rather than as something born to serve their needs alone—these are all possessed by negative entities, for our true nature is love.

Call me naïve or foolish, but I know, based on personal experience, and from watching the lives of many, that these humans have been usurped by malicious and malevolent entities whose prime goal is to feed on the one thing they must have in order to thrive—which is human prana, or life essence. Worse still, since they operate on the invisible energetic level, they can move from human to human, and it is not difficult for them to spread from one sick host through the whole family, and then to the community. This can go on for generations, which is why our world is as sick as it is.

Consider this: We humans don’t have a problem believing that an invisible virus can knock us off our feet for weeks. I once caught Taiwanese flu in Manhattan and was out for the count for a fortnight; I was so weakened by this invisible virus that I had to literally crawl to the bathroom. I thought I was going to die, but not for an instant did I doubt that something tiny and unseen could have done this to my strong body. Nor did those who knew I was down with a hideous form of flu. So why then do we have such a problem understanding that other such malevolent entities can infiltrate our spirits and wreak unimaginable havoc?

538cf907978caff0a650bf781ae961d4I wrote Whip because I was appalled by how many, in East and West, had misunderstood and distorted the ancient pure teachings on Tantra, which, in essence, simply means the transmutation of darkness into light. You might want to read it for yourself: https://miraprabhu.wordpress.com/mira-prabhu-all-links/ and arrive at your own conclusions.

Greetings from Arunachala, Shiva in the form of a hill of fire and light, the epitome of infinite awareness and blazing light, who leads us surely from slavery to dark masters and towards the blissful luminescence of the Self!

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YOU CAN RUN, BUT YOU CAN’T HIDE

a1bdebfedc1b5d7a87e7e2f16e9da363Consider for a moment the many ways you have tried to escape suffering—both the gigantic miseries of loss, grief and death, as well as the wee pains, frustrations and irritations that are part of the menu of being born as a human on this planet. Gautama Buddha nailed it when he gave us his First Noble Truth: that mundane life is suffering. Thank heavens he also went on to tell us that our own fears, desires and expectations lie at the root of our wretchedness, and that he then went on to clearly and lovingly proceeded to show us a way out.

I was stunned some time ago to hear that the anti-depressant industry is one of the biggest money-spinners in our world. And yet I was not really surprised, because I have seen from my own experience, and that of others, that most of us have no clue about reality and are therefore befogged with gloom and bewilderment. Our true nature, incredible as it may seem when we are depressed, lonely and sad, is nothing less that pure life, infinite awareness and radiant bliss. Millions of false coverings hide this radiance from us, especially since the ego is determined to live on at all costs, and because we stupidly and obstinately feed the wrong beast, rather than the shimmering angel who sits whispering sweetly on our shoulder. And so we continue to be in pain.

As Gautama said again, suffering is necessary (he meant the varied pains of old age, suffering and death), but misery (our persisting in increasing our sadness and confusion by wrong thought, speech and action) is an option.

2f4c71528deef4500603e274335bc7edAlcohol, drugs, sex, violence, workaholism, greed—all these are destructive and bottomless addictions that temporarily delude ourselves into thinking we are sitting on top of the dung heap of samsara and having a right blast…yes, that’s how many of us hide from the naked truth that, as humans, we are fragile and limited, and that our mind, no matter how honed, cannot even begin to comprehend the great mysteries of life and death.

What is the way out of this endless maze? Well, that depends on who we are, in terms of our karmic predilections and ability to understand subtle truths. For those who cannot grasp the simple but sophisticated teachings of jnana (eastern wisdom), there are a multitude of paths we can take, all of which, if sincerely followed, will, according to the great sage Ramana Maharshi, eventually lead us to investigate the nature of our own Self, which is blissful, immortal and aware.

Some of us are gripped so hard by the sharp claws of ego that we cannot see or think clearly. Think sociopath, psychopath, genocidal dictator, voracious entrepreneur, egomaniacal political leader, etcetera, ad nauseam. (As the Scottish poet Robert Burns said, God give us the gift to see ourselves as others see us). Yes, clear seeing is the beginning of the inner path. At some point we must admit, if only to ourselves, that nothing external has managed to give us the peace and joy we seek. It doesn’t take long to find examples of great beauties and materially commanding humans who, driven by relentless angst, took their own lives in despair. Why? Simply because they took the unreal for the real and failed to see that beneath their suffering was pure gold.

Bhagavan RamanaWhich leads me to the critical Advaitic definition of the words “real” and “unreal”: real is that which is permanent and lasting, the unreal is that which comes and goes and is ephemeral in nature. But once we begin to truly discriminate between that which gives us genuine and lasting pleasure, and that which provides momentary flashes of happiness, but ends us only giving us pain, willy-nilly we are led to the treasure that is our inner being. In truth, and I swear by this for I have had personal experiences that have convinced me, higher beings are always hovering around, waiting for us to become ready for the greatest task of all—which is to merge the finite egoic self that we believe we are, with the grand and immortal Self.

Greetings from Arunachala, Shiva the Destroyer in the form of a hill of fire and light, who took this form out of great compassion and solely in order to lead us from darkness to light!

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ON THE CURVED HORNS OF A DILEMMA

615d07728be5f75d5dd066fd9849c5f3A few years ago I met a man who had been born in a Communist regime. He loved to talk and freely shared his story with me: As a boy, he had loved and admired his jovial father who was devoted to his wife and kids. Although those were hard times for millions of others, this man made sure that no expense and care was spared to ensure the comfort of his loved ones. As far as this lad knew, daddy held a high position in government and was the beneficiary of many perks, which would account for their privileged lifestyle.

Then, out of the blue, at his eighteenth birthday party, his uncle (who had drunk a bit too much vodka) spilled the beans that his father headed a KGB unit that specialized in the torture and brainwashing of political prisoners. Shocked, for instinctively he knew this to be true, the teenager turned irrevocably against his father; although young and sheltered, he knew more than enough about what went on in the dreaded secret prisons and gulags to be appalled. The mere thought that he had sprung from a monster who, backed by a cruel state machine, had probably broken the bodies, minds and spirits of hundreds of dissenters in return for a luxurious lifestyle and power was too dreadful for him to digest. He also intuited that to confront his father would be a desperate and futile act.

Unable to continue living in the family dacha, he slipped away soon after, not just from his native land but right across the ocean, knowing he would never be safe in the Communist world as long as his father was alive. His wanderings eventually brought him to India, and here he lived for many decades, teaching yoga for his living. He also discovered a genius for mystical artwork, and this brought him a certain amount of fame as well as the income he needed to establish himself in quiet comfort.

I thought of him this morning as I read yet another report on how a certain politician (who is currently engaged in selfish and cruel machinations to enrich himself and his cohorts) is being staunchly supported by his own children. The man who confided in me that he fled Communist Russia because he could not come to terms with a sadistic father (who was probably both a schizophrenic and a psychopath) was incredibly brave to follow his heart. But these American kids appear to have no independent thoughts or a moral backbone, are nauseatingly arrogant and exude an annoying air of entitlement. They have been spoiled all their lives, and it is daddy’s money that has enabled them to strut about the world like royalty. But what if overnight daddy went bankrupt? How then would they react to his heartless shenanigans?

kiri-16gb-sd-card-6025This train of thought led me to recall yet another friend whose brilliant father became notorious for embezzling his upscale firm of millions of dollars. Despite mounting evidence proving his guilt, and many law suits filed against him for corruption, my friend adamantly refused to admit that his father had done anything wrong. His denial shocked me, because for me it is a relentless investigation into relative truth that frees us up to follow a higher path to lasting peace and bliss. True love enables us to confront close ones; if the bond is real, then everyone can evolve from the interaction.

Besides, Eastern teachings inform us we have incarnated a million times if not more; if this is true, then we have had millions of families and intimate relationships—so why cling to the toxic relationships of this current life as if they are all we have?

So what do we do when someone close to us reveals a relentlessly dark, perhaps even a demonic side? Since we are all fashioned differently, the answer will naturally vary. For me, it is a matter of principle above all mundane considerations. While I was blessed to have ethical parents (which does not mean they were perfect), I feel sure that had I a corrupt parent, sibling, lover or friend, I would first do all I could to help them transform; if that does not work (it rarely does), then only would I decide to disconnect, and with love.

Bhagavan RamanaIf we are so scared of the consequences of breaking free that we continue to proclaim the innocence of a close one against all evidence to the contrary, then drop by drop we ourselves turn evil, for energy is invisible and it spreads. If, on the other hand, we follow the guidance of our heart and cut poisonous ties despite the hassles and the terrific pain that generally follows such abrupt partings, then we have a shot at experiencing our true nature, which is nothing less than blazing light. As always, the choice is ours.

Greetings from Arunachala, Shiva the Destroyer in the form of a hill of fire and light, who forces us to grow through all the dilemmas and vicissitudes He hurls at us!

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IN SEARCH OF SECRET INDIA

ece0e5efb7e69f25bae5daa7f08c1338Long decades ago, the Englishman Paul Brunton was consumed by a luminous quest: to locate the rishis or holy men that had once made India sparkle with their mystical teachings and pronouncements, and then to relate his discoveries to the West

Brunton was more than just another run-of-the-mill writer-journo in search of sensational material, for his secret yearning was to find an authentic master who would dissolve all his troubling questions and lead him to peace. Against many odds, he traveled across the seas to India in the last years of British colonial rule. I believe it was his pure heart that finally led him to Ramana Maharshi, the entrancing copper-skinned Sage of Arunachala. Interesting to note that, of all the illuminating and bizarre experiences Brunton was privileged to experience during his rather lengthy exploration of this ancient world, it was the radiant and blissful Maharishi who left a lasting imprint on his spirit.

I’ve discovered that years of intervening study and practice can reveal new facets of a book one has already read, and this is what happened to me as I plunged again into this fascinating saga. As before, I was cynically amused by the “white man’s” smug and blinkered view of India. For instance, early in the book, Brunton laughs at the ridiculous notion that great Western nations would bother to hark to the wisdom of meek brown men. (Just consider Trump meeting with Mahatma Gandhi!)

Clearly, despite his own magnetic attraction and respect for the East, Brunton too was a victim of the archaic and insidious idea that all Indians without exception are a credulous, old-fashioned, superstitious and easily-dominated lot. But, in truth, as my mother used to say, India is so rich, vast and variegated that one could spend entire lifetimes trying to figure it out and still manage to touch only its iridescent rim. In my opinion, no sane or open-hearted person can make generalizations about this country or its people, for they range from the highly refined and educated to the illiterate, with every shade in between. As for the arrogant assumption that all Indians are small, meek and brown-skinned, Brunton clearly never met those tall, fair, stalwart and imposing Indians, some with green, gray or blue eyes, who also inhabit this amazingly diverse region.

303537_3128548673069_1069126392_nThe Enlishman’s genuine yearning for spiritual knowledge prevented him from being blown away by the range of incredible fakirs and gurus he met on his travels, many of whom revealed to him marvels of which no ordinary Westerner could dream. Instinctively (more likely from past lives spent in the sub-continent) he knew that there was more to the whole business of enlightenment then what are known as “siddhis” or extrasensory powers. Despite chronic insomnia, a variety of physical illnesses and a thousand other inconveniences, he kept resolutely on, until he met the Shining One who had fused his finite egoic self into his grand and immortal Self, and then stayed on to show us how to accomplish the same incredible goal.

Years ago when I lived in an affluent suburb of Washington DC, an American friend asked me why I wanted to return to India. I mulled over her question and said, you know, when I take my daily forty-five minute evening walk to that fabulous park, there are times when I don’t encounter a single human. That may be because most of the residents here work in the neighboring cities, but still, it feels eerily like a ghost town to me. Sometimes as I walk along that long road a curtain rustles in one of those big houses and I know that I am being peered at from a safe distance. But even when I get to the park, where people are walking their dogs or exercising their own bodies, and except for those predators on the prowl that one encounters everywhere, most are too scared to smile or even make eye contact.

Now, this would never happen in most of India. Yes, there are wealthy secluded areas where it could, but, for the most part, India is bursting with all manner of humans willing to engage with you on all levels, and brimming with energy, color, sound and light. One need never feel disconnected or lonely here.

IMG-20160410-WA0043Besides, especially for the seeker, all the terrible things that Gautama Buddha warned us are the lot of all human beings—old age, illness and death—are out in the open, and not carefully hidden behind closed doors as often happens in the West; and so it is much easier to digest the fact that, no matter how opulent our lifestyles are, nothing in relative reality can make us permanently happy or peaceful. For me, this is the great teaching of India and why so many foreigners imbued with a true longing for truth are hooked for life when they first come here, despite their initial revulsion for much they encounter.

Greetings from Arunachala, Shiva the Destroyer in the form of a hill of fire and light, who helps us transcend the flawed notion that living the worldly good life can bring us even a millimeter closer to the luminous and blissful Self that we truly are!

If you’ve enjoyed reading my posts, please also check out my BOOKS and LINKS.

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