A DIFFERENT POINT OF VIEW

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9e4db9873c00799c674eaa9df76ed47aI just finished reading a beautifully crafted novel set in Greece where one of the protagonists is a billionaire who adores his only son. And so does his gorgeous mistress. It’s a bizarre situation, because the man’s wife knows he loves his mistress, who has free rein to enter and leave his home as she pleases, and even to openly entertain important guests in his house. This man is so wealthy that his wife has her own plush apartment attached to the main house, and so the two rivals never have to meet and be embarrassed.

Well, the boy enters the lavish room where his father and mistress are enjoying their martinis and chats with both of them in his charming way. When he leaves, the man says to his mistress: I know you love my son dearly, and I can see why, he is special, but I often wonder whether I’ve done right by him.

What do you mean? she asks, puzzled. Continue reading

EVERYTHING IS BEAUTIFUL

b71a7289e9e20118cedd41eba5a47a6fAll through the night it had snowed heavily; when I awoke, in a beautiful Ashram in America with a view of the Blue Ridge Mountains, I looked out to see my world blanketed in pure white. Usually I love the snow, but this time I was furious with myself—for all the mistakes that had led to this point in my tumultuous life.

As many had made it a point to inform me, I’d been blessed with more than most—and yet I’d continued to mess up my life, due to impulsiveness and bad judgment. My most recent crisis was the result of a decision to break away from a man I’d deluded myself into believing would make me a perfect spiritual mate; gradually I came to see him as superficial and ethically unreliable, and had forced myself to cut the cord.

I’d written to my first major spiritual teacher and he’d invited me to this Ashram in order to recover. And yet, despite precious links with this powerful place, I still found it hard to manage in a small cramped dorm space even as I dealt with yet another big life change; the demons of uncertainty threatened me with dire predictions of impending doom and life was, in a word, hellish. Continue reading

BE MINE FOREVER….OR YOU WILL SUFFER THE AGONIES OF THE DAMNED.

1165311e076f9fab8a6e2f39ba6df8caWhen a sage is born, shining like a star in a noon sky, some are fortunate enough to encounter him or her personally and to directly absorb his teachings. But after he passes away, other elements take over, and these folks are rarely of the high caliber of their master. Gradually, sometimes over centuries, what was once a vibrant and liberating teaching often becomes a rigid and entrenched institution, guarded zealously by those who do not understand the true essence of what the sage originally taught.

Consider the fundamentalists of all stripes and religions today, who warp, distort and twist what their original teacher said to serve political, power or financial purposes. How, for instance, could the true teachings of peaceful and pure Jesus of Nazareth ever have been used to justify the unbelievable horrors of the Inquisitions that followed centuries later? We can come up with a thousand other such examples, of course, for no major religion is exempt from this madness.

One thing that really bothered me when I began my own spiritual quest is that a certain ilk of teachers would insist that, once you signed on for their teachings, that was it, you could not leave their fold. Yes, you owed them not perfect and total loyalty until you took your last breath! Some also insist that you tithe part of your income to them, and god forbid if you move on to another guru more suitable to your spiritual needs—then you are nothing less than a despised and fickle traitor. Continue reading

ONE MYSTICAL EXPERIENCE…

b14516b6b40561bfe96c12b674d70118…is all it takes to blast open the mind and to prove to us, from the inside where it counts, that what we take for reality, as revealed to us via the five senses and our limited finite mind, is just a thin covering over an Absolute reality simply staggering in its intricate beauty and vast complexity.

As a child growing up in south India, I used to catch strangely disorienting fevers that incapacitated me for a couple of days. I would fall into a heavy sleep at night, then wake up to find myself floating above my body; what would hold my ethereal body from floating away, was, believe it or not, the thin cotton top of the mosquito net we always slept under! I would look down with a gasp of surprised terror to see my sleeping body below, and the next second I would be back within it. This happened often enough for me to ponder its meaning: If I had left my body, I realized, then my body was not “me”; of course, it was this numinous knowing that led me gradually to explore this “I” that had so easily left my body—and then, decades later, after much suffering and confusion in the external world, to begin the awesome journey into discovering (or rather, uncovering) who I AM beyond body, mind, emotions, track record, etc. Continue reading

ONLY AS SICK AS WE ARE SECRET

ed54db0481b9c9836e19388d8ce6f3d0Anyone who has grown up in a traditional community knows that one is strongly urged to never speak about the skeletons rattling around in both individual and community closets. As for me, I was so open with strangers right from the get go that my conformist mother would warn me to hush. “Your big mouth will get you into trouble,” she’d say sternly. “There’s no need to tell everyone how you think or feel. If you continue like this, no one will marry you.” I would snigger, thrilled at the thought that this innate habit of frank communication would repel prospective partners who didn’t appreciate honesty. Life had thrown enough chains on me already—why on earth would I want one more?

My mother was wrong. My wildness drew people to me. But I had seen too much already to be dazzled by the usual courtship rituals and already horrified by what I saw happen to women who were outspoken and bold—the patriarchy crushed them, and the matriarchy colluded in this, for often it was mothers-and sisters-in-law who did their worst to make sure that any new woman who entered the fold was made to suffer dire consequences if she dared to rebel. Yes, I knew quite well that if I fell into that age-old trap of marrying into the community, driven by the twin needs of security and approval, sooner or later I would be in for 50 shades of hell. This is how I viewed the scenario anyway and it led me to marry out of my community and move to Manhattan; now that marriage did not survive either, because we were driven by different value systems—in simple terms, he loved money more than honesty  and for me honesty always came first— but that is a story for another day. Continue reading

NAGARJUNA’S KILLER TIME GAP

1ce24b49ef2c97c59535c8ba9b69f382I am no scholar and frankly admit that my long years of immersion in Eastern Philosophy were driven solely by an obsession to destroy my own darkness. In my teens, I dived into esoteric teachings in an attempt to understand my angst, and while much I learned took me a little further down the road to peace, it was a Buddhist Geshe I met in Manhattan many years ago who finally helped me sort out the confusion I felt about the nature of reality; it was through him that I came upon the luminous Indian scholar Nāgārjuna, considered second only to Gautama Siddhartha in the context of his critical contributions to eastern thought.

Nagarjuna’s life is a bit of a mystery to us moderns since surviving accounts of his life were written, in Chinese and Tibetan, centuries after his death. Most likely he was born into a Brahmin family in South India and later became a Buddhist. Some say he was an advisor to Yajna Sri Satakarni, a king of the Satavahana dynasty who ruled between 167 and 196 CE, which places him around 150–250 CE. Nagarjuna is considered the founder of the Madhyamaka School; due to his efforts, the concept of ‘emptiness’ (shunyata)—which he focused on in order to refute the metaphysics of some of his contemporaries—became the central ontological concept in Mahayana Buddhism. Continue reading

STEALING GEMS FROM A CORPSE

fb_img_1476180317452During my years in Manhattan, I flew to Florida to spend a long weekend with a close friend. At the time I was agonizing over whether to cut loose from a relationship that had been wonderful at the start but was now beginning to seriously drain and confuse me. You see, I had turned decisively to the inner path, but my friend had turned his back on the mystical path and was pursuing happiness in the external world. We had come to a major crossroads but neither of us were able to take that final decision to cut the cord. You see, he had arrived when I desperately needed spiritual companionship and our work together had allowed me to open the portal to great jewels in my awakening consciousness; apart from being willing to walk with me through hard, he had also inspired me to write my first novel.

That night I discussed the situation with this other close friend—a man in whose good heart and caring for me I trusted. Fascinated by the subconscious, he had developed a special mastery over lucid dreaming; in response, he guided me into meditation and told me to request my inner being for an answer to my conundrum. Continue reading

PLATINUM INSURANCE

36e4cbc86a09d338c9b54bed3a0b98fdHow are you? I asked a friend in Manhattan. Oh, I’m just FINE, he said with a laugh—then proceeded to inform me that FINE was an anagram for Fuddled, Insecure, Neurotic and Egocentric. (Actually he used two hyphenated words for the ‘f,’ but I think I’ll leave what they are to your rich imagination.)

The fact is that almost every one of us is (or has been) fraught by a million insecurities—and who could blame us? Consider the world wars our species has endured, the concentration camps and gulags, the ugliness of misogyny and patriarchy that plague so many, in a nutshell, man’s inhumanity to man—all of which leave scars on the collective human psyche. Above all, consider our ephemeral nature, as fragile as a snowflake melting under a hot sun. No matter how big we are in the world, nothing can protect us from old age, sickness and death; yes, when Yama , Lord of Death throws his deadly noose around our necks to remove us from this plane of existence, no power on earth can stop him. Continue reading

HAITIAN HEALER DESTROYS MY STORY

e66dbfe1be2dfb0aa41d484a689123ddI love stepping into a new year for one major reason—a fresh chunk of time yawns before me, encouraging me to drop destructive behaviors and to cultivate new habits that better serve my highest goals. I decided to make this an early post (in 2017) so I can share with you how I came to dump the garbage of the past in order to create the kind of life I sought.

Well, a few years after my return to south India from New York at the cusp of the millennium, a Haitian woman I met at an Ashram asked if she could stay at my home for a couple of weeks. I agreed, albeit reluctantly, for at the time I was in a state of profound confusion and really didn’t want company. You see, I had returned to India to find a sure way to inner peace, but every one of my plans had gone awry; now, many crises later, I did not know which way to turn. Returning to the USA was tempting for various reasons—in general, a circle of good friends and a much more liberal way of life—but then I had no desire to get back into the 9-5 boogie in order to keep body and soul together. As for India, after enjoying the exuberant frenzy of life in Manhattan, I was finding it difficult to re-adapt, especially since my beautiful new home was located in the suburbs and it was a real chore to drive all the way to the city on a regular basis where I could engage in new activities. I had reached a mental and emotional stalemate and panic about the future was driving me pretty crazy. Continue reading

The Destructive Dance of Monkey Mind

6d683d43b8fae0a1465e0c51199d5190-1Last night something happened that disturbed my mind. Unable to sleep, I stayed awake until the wee hours, reading an illuminating book a friend had given me containing the reminiscences of those fortunate enough to have had personal contact with Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi.

I woke up feeling bedraggled—but the sun was shining through many windows, and doggies and humans would soon be calling for my attention, so I rose. I did my morning practice of diving into the Self and was able to dispassionately view the antics of my mind—as if I was a wise old grandfather indulgently watching his rambunctious grandson mess up the living room. Simply being watched with love stopped my mind from spinning into even more chaos—and then bliss arose in a strong wave.

FB_IMG_1472401603075As Gautama Buddha said so beautifully over two thousand years ago, sometimes the mind is like a drunken wild elephant in rut. Somehow we must stop it from ruining the beauty of our lives, and each of us must find our own way— fortunately, magically, the way is always there, glittering with promise beneath the muck of the dreary highway of the unexamined life.

It may take eons to learn how to halt the charging mind, but it is possible. Those few able to stop the mind permanently evolve into sages, rishis, seers, jnanis and enjoy a permanent state of peace and bliss. This of course is the ultimate goal of Atma-Vichara—and practiced regularly, Atma-Vichara (Ramana’s Direct Path) really does possess the power to destroy the wrong thinking that manufactures all our suffering.

Kiri 16GB sd card 6390Greetings from Arunachala, the sacred mountain believed to be God Shiva Himself, who promises to destroy every bit of cheap tinsel that covers the shining gold of who we truly are!