Manhattan January 1993: A friend offers to pay for a Vedic Astrological reading with James Kelleher, an American who studied with great teachers in India and returned to the west to share his amazing gifts of illumination.
I don’t believe in this outdated crap, I say to him, stubborn as ever—how the hell can a complete stranger possibly help me? But my friend insists—he cannot stand to see me continuing to reel, both emotionally and financially, without a clue about what I should do—at the time I was on the verge of losing considerable financial assets due to a pending divorce.
Believe it or not, Kelleher’s compassionate reading that freezing morning in Manhattan did save my life. He warned me that what was to come would test my emotional mettle to breaking point—and assured me that if I did make it through that hellish year, I would enter a period of progressive prosperity, creativity and renewed zest for life. It was listening to his calm voice on the audio tape he handed me after his reading that pulled me through that darkest of times. Why did I have such faith in him? Because his other predictions had rung so true.
Another thing Kelleher said was that the novel dominating my consciousness at the time—and please note he did not even know I was a writer—we were strangers, he from Los Gatos, California, I from Manhattan via south India—would be a success—but only after decades of struggle. He urged me to finish it no matter the obstacles because it was my dharma to do so so. And true enough, writing Whip of the Wild God, which took me twenty years to complete to my satisfaction, was indeed my dharma, for, as it took shape, it refined my own jagged persona.
Early this morning, I read Kelleher’s newsletter and enjoyed his offering:
Do you want to Fly?
Reprinted from: Path of Light by James Kelleher
India constantly draws me back. On one occasion, while visiting Delhi, I had a flying dream. Okay, I admit it, I’m a flapper. I know it’s common for people to fly in their dreams, but I have a recurring flying dream in which I begin to float. The floating goes along with an inner realization that I have the ability to fly, which leads me to start flapping my arms. I don’t soar through the air like other people, however, directing every movement like some astral jet-pilot. Instead, I flap, float a little, and then flap some more. Pitiful, isn’t it? On this particular night, I was flapping and floating, and apparently quite pleased with my progress, because I was also repeating to myself, “I’m getting lighter and lighter and lighter, I’m getting lighter and lighter and lighter!”
The next morning I woke up feeling refreshed and energized. Flying dreams always leave me with an expansive feeling that I can do anything.
I had heard through the grapevine that Hans Baba was in Delhi. I had met Hans Baba the previous year for the first time. At that time I was suffering from a bad case of food poisoning. Hans Baba had me stand under his hut while he put his foot over the side of his porch, resting it on my head. He then channeled energy through his foot, telling me that I would begin to feel warm. It was January, and Delhi was cold. I was wearing a down parka. After 2 minutes of standing under Hans Baba’s foot, however, I began to feel very hot and started sweating profusely. I took off my parka and sweater, and stood there in my T-shirt feeling like I was burning up. The whole time, Hans Baba was laughing. He finally said ” Go now, you will feel better”. I did feel better. In fact, I felt great for the rest of the month-long trip in India.
On this occasion, however, I had no health problems for Hans Baba to cure. In fact, I was just going to say hello and to receive darshan. As I entered the compound, I could see his manch (the hut on stilts) from a distance. I could see Hans Baba sitting there singing to himself. I was in luck. There was no one else there. I walked up and stood in front of the manch. Hans Baba’s smiling eyes looked down at me. His eyes danced and twinkled like the eyes of some great cosmic prankster, “Do you want to fly?” he asked. I paused, “What is he talking about?”, I thought. “Uhhh…”I said, a little confused. “Do you want to fl?y?” he asked again, laughing. “What the heck!” I thought to myself, and then blurted out, “Yes! I’d like to fly!” For the second time I found myself standing beneath Hans Baba’s manch, with his foot on my head. I was remembering the miraculous healing that he gave me the previous year, thinking, “What now? Is he going to levitate me into the air in front of his hut?” I could feel the energy coming through his foot, through my crown chakra, down through my neck and spine, and down to my feet. It felt exhilarating. “I’m ready for anything!” I was thinking. Then, out of the blue, Hans Baba began saying, “Are you getting lighter and lighter and lighter? Are you getting lighter and lighter and lighter and lighter?”. He laughed and continued to channel energy, repeating the exact words from my previous nights dream to me for the next 15 minutes.
The next day, Dr. Dinesh Sharma and I caught a flight to Udaipur. As I looked out the window of the plane, I noticed how barren this part of India looked from the air. “Looks can be deceiving,” I thought, as I reflected on the previous days meeting with Hans Baba. India is a country of stark contrast, incredible poverty, side by side with incredible wisdom, the most barren deserts and the highest mountains in the world, all in one country. I was thinking about the experience of standing under his foot, and how he asked me if I wanted to fly. “But I didn’t actually fly. Well, never mind.” I thought, ” It was a great experience anyway, and besides, he seemed to know the contents of my dream!”
Whenever I travel to India, I always visit any good astrologer I hear about. Over the years this has taken me into remote villages, big cities and various nooks and crannies throughout India. In the process, I have experienced a variety of different types of astrology and other divination systems. Just as each area of India has its own cuisine, so too, each area has its own unique style of Jyotish. My trip to Udaipur was for the purpose of getting a Brighu reading. Brighu astrology is a unique style of astrology which works in the following way. Thousands of years ago, there was a lineage of great jyotishis who were followers of a great sage named Brighu. These astrologers wrote down the horoscopes of hundreds of thousands of people. But the horoscopes they calculated were not the charts of people of their own time, but rather people from the future. The Brighus also interpreted these charts giving great detail about the lives of the people who owned the horoscopes. These charts were kept in families, passed down through the centuries. The idea is that you go to visit a brighu astrologer, he looks up your chart, and reads to you what the ancient jyotishis predicted about you.
Good Brighu astrologers are not easy to find in India. There are, understandably, many charlatans. But the recommendation for this particular Brighu astrologer had come from a reliable source and I was very curious to finally meet someone who actually practiced this ancient form of jyotish. At the airport in Udaipur we hired a taxi and set out for Karoi, a small village, three hours outside of Udaipur on the Jaipur-Udaipur road. The road to Karoi is not particularly beautiful, but it does have character. It is a mix of rolling hills covered with scrubby-looking trees. We passed through small villages along the way and stopped at one so the driver could get some tea.
When we finally arrived at the Brighu astrologer’s place, he already had a line of people waiting at this door. His place was a simple adobe-like house, with a side room for an office. The pundit used to sit there each day and see clients on a first come, first serve basis; no appointments. The pundit was busy with some clients when we arrived so we sat outside with the villagers and waited for a couple of hours for our turn.
The reading itself started in a very unique way. The pundit spoke Hindi, and although I speak Hindi, I am not fluent, so Dinesh translated. The pundit asked to see my horoscope. I gave him my chart. “Show me your palms.” he said. Even though I had come for an astrology reading, it did not surprise me that he had asked to see my palms. In India it is very common for astrology and palmistry to be practiced together. What did surprise me, however, was the way he used the palms to verify the horoscope. He did not read my palms as a means of prediction. Instead, as he looked at my palms, he busily wrote with a piece of chalk on a small blackboard on his lap. He filled one side of the black board with different numbers. Then he wrote something on the other side. After examining my palms, he showed me the side with the numbers and said, “Point to a number.” I pointed to 55. Then the pundit turned over the black board where he had already written, “he will point to 55”. Apparently, I had passed the test. He accepted the chart I had brought as the correct chart.
Next the pundit used a dial of some sort to locate my chart, apparently keying on planetary positions in the chart I had brought. He then went to one of the many trunks that surrounded him on the floor and started searching for the Brighu version of my chart. Finally, he came up with a chart, and matched the positions on the chart with those on the chart I had brought. Dinesh also got in on this process, verifying for me that the two charts were the same. Both of us satisfied that he had chosen the correct chart, the pundit began his reading.
“Your chart is one in a million!” he exclaimed. “Right.”, I thought cynically, “Every person’s chart is one in a million!” I had a sinking feeling, as if all of the time, effort and money I had already spent on this trip was about to be wasted. He went on, “You are an astrologer and you also read palms.” My ears perked up. “Okay, I’m listening.” I thought. He went on. “On the day you came here, it is a Tuesday, and you came with one other man. Your father is dead. Your mother is sick. You have 3 brothers and two sisters…etc., etc.” He continued like this for about a half an hour giving intricate details of my life which were all extremely accurate, and making predictions on my future, many of which have already come true. I was really amazed. And then, amidst all of the details, he said, “At the age of 48 you will purchase an airplane!” My immediate reaction was, “Okay, he’s allowed one mistake.” An airplane is an extravagance, which would be too great a stretch for my frugal nature. It was an obvious mistake, but he was batting 99 per cent and I was very impressed.
On the drive back to Udaipur, as I looked out the car window at the scruffy looking hills, I reflected on the pundits reading. “India is a place of mysteries.” I thought. First Hans Baba, now the Brighu pundit. How an astrologer from ancient times could calculate and interpret my chart, giving the accurate detail of my life, a life taking place many centuries after his time, is a great mystery. I was filled with wonder. In fact, it didn’t even matter to me whether any of his predictions came true, much less the one about the airplane. The mere fact that some ancient astrologer had described my life so accurately simply inspired a great sense of wonder. As a practicing jyotishi, I am used to having clients go away with a sense of wonder. It is one of the great side-effects of getting a good astrology reading. It reminds you of the divine mystery of life. But after doing thousands of readings, I am used to how mainstream Jyotish works, so it no longer seems mysterious to me. It just seems beautiful and natural when something that I say in a reading for a client actually comes true. Mainstream astrology has become like a close friend who I know intimately and love dearly. It is part of daily life, part of my family. The Brighu reading, however, seemed a little mysterious and made me wonder. And I was grateful for that feeling.
One last thing. A couple of years later, a number of events led my wife and I to buy a house in Nevada City, in the foothills of the Sierra Mountains, in Northern California. We also have a residence in Los Gatos, and for the time being, we were intending to maintain our offices in the San Jose area and to commute to Nevada City on the weekends. We wanted to retire there eventually. In the mean time, we were faced with a 3-hour commute, once a week, which on a Friday afternoon can turn into a 6-hour commute. Without even thinking about the Brighu reading, I got a wild idea. Why not learn to fly and buy a plane? I researched the idea and it seemed a practical solution to our commuting problem. I immediately started taking flying lessons, intending to get my license and plane at age 47. The process got delayed when my flight instructor was unexpectedly fired, setting back my training by several months. I finally got my private pilot’s license a year later and, two weeks before my 48th birthday, I purchased an airplane. The pundit’s words came back to me. Amazingly, however, so did Hans Baba’s, “Do you want to fly?” Now, I am getting “lighter and lighter and lighter”, but the only flapping I do is when I put down the flaps on the plane as I make my final approach for a landing!
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