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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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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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!

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BE STILL AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD

ac9a6ed443d206599b4d58f92afee35aYou can’t let the old biddy intimidate you like that, my friend said firmly in his gravelly voice. You have to stand up to her and you’re strong enough to do it. You feel weak after all your recent upheavals, I know, but if you lose this battle, you’ll regret it.

I put my cell phone into the pocket of my fleece jacket with a bitter sigh, knowing he was right. The “old biddy” was part-time leader of the incredibly lovely Zendo to which I had fled, many years ago, to escape the blistering heat of Tiruvannamalai. Aware that I did not care for their strict and ritualistic routine of meditation and wished to be left to my own devices to follow Ramana’s Direct Path of Self-Investigation, she had honed in on me like the battle axe that she was, determined to crush me into submission.

Panicking at her bizarre form of attack, which involved waiting until I was seated in the dining hall with friends before rushing forward to berate me in her heavily accented English, I had called my friend to let him know I was not enjoying my experience. But he was not ready to give in to my request that he immediately send a car to transport me all the way back to Tiruvannamalai, and so I had no other option but to fight this demented oppressor.

That afternoon I decided it was time to grapple with the Fear Monster who had plagued me so many times before. I locked myself into my lovely room and dived under the covers. The sky outside my window was overcast and the general atmosphere was one of doom and gloom. Okay then, I whispered as I closed my eyes and allowed myself to feel the clammy fingers of stress clutching at my heart. Let’s have it out, and right now, okay, you big bully?

Kiri 16GB sd card 6428I lay quiescent and allowed the ugly feelings to engulf me, determined to find out what was behind them. And sure enough, as the waves of fear did their weird thing, I sank below them and saw their source: ah, so the German woman represented the fear of authority that had been instilled in my right from childhood!

You see, my father was authoritarian to the extreme and his word was law. We were ordered to act in a certain way, and god forbid if we dared to question his orders—the consequences were so dire that all of us obeyed, at least on the surface. And then there were the teachers at school who demanded obedience or else, and all the other oppressors one tends to encounter along the byways of life, including those who disguise their nasty habits so well that one can be fooled for years.

At that instant of clear seeing, I actually felt the hold of the demon start to loosen; then, very slowly, those claws begin to fall away and to disappear. Later I was shocked to learn that the struggle had lasted for a couple of hours. The miracle was that right away I lost my fear of the German woman; she must have sensed that she no longer bothered me because she quickly found another newcomer to bully.

Until the vasanas (karmic trace impressions) that run the egoic system completely burn down, they can return to cause us trouble. And ever since, seven days ago to be precise, when a great big door slammed onto my right foot and crushed my toe, Fear and his sneering minions have been harassing me. There are many reasons for my tremulous feelings, but I won’t bore you with them. But I could not help wondering why this had happened in the first place.

This mini-disaster comes on the heels of other painful events. Just a couple of weeks ago, my dog Kali startled me in the middle of the night and I had slid off my huge bed and fallen to the floor with a heavy thud, hurting my left thigh quite badly. But I was soon back on my feet. This was followed by other mini-crises, and now I had almost broken my toe. What the hell was really going on? I confess I went through a medley of negative emotions including grief, anger and resentment. Why me? And this is the retort I would get: Why not you? You think you are special, eh? Well, get over it!

Yesterday afternoon I gazed upon the gray-green slopes of sacred Arunachala and tears sprang to my eyes. Why do you make me suffer like this? I whispered. The answer came as these words rang in my heart: Be Still And Know That I AM God.”

As all devotees of Ramana are aware, this Biblical line was a favorite with the great sage. What does it mean in the context of Advaita? It is certainly not encouragement to be a lazy bum and to wait for things to happen, no; instead we are meant to pour everything we have into stunning the wild mind into a perfect and brilliant stillness. When this miracle happens, the egoic self dissolves into the Self and one knows for sure that ones true nature is immortal bliss and infinite awareness. Be Still And Know That I AM God, yes, this is the highest goal we seekers of peace can hold before us as we make our way into the core of the Spiritual Heart.

ece0e5efb7e69f25bae5daa7f08c1338I don’t deny that I’ve come a long way from the crazy child I was, but there are still miles to go before I burn down that mountain range of karmic predilections that still keep me subject to pleasure and pain, to desire and to fear. My current tendency is to create a comfort zone and to hide in there for as long as possible—which is why the powers that be make sure to crack that zone and shove me willy-nilly back into the world; the idea is, I am convinced, to force me to grow beyond all borders and boundaries.

Greetings from Arunachala, Shiva the Destroyer in the form of a hill of fire and light, who whips us forward despite our protestations, determined to fulfill his vow to destroy all that blocks us from knowing we are joy itself!

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YOU HAVE NO SHAME…

5b6c0d42ff5f59f543e94fc0f5bb2343…my mother would say to me sternly whenever I misbehaved, which admittedly was often. I was a curious child and did not believe in the maxim of children should be seen but not heard (a friend turned that around jokingly and said: children should be obscene but not heard!) And so I butted into adult conversations and asked outrageous questions, simply because I wanted to know what made this strange world tick. I also had the “bad” habit of striking up conversations with anyone who took my fancy—total strangers, servants, the old, the young, the rich, the poor, beggars.

“You have no shame,” my puritanical mother would scold again, and I grew so used to hearing this that it no longer had an effect on me. I knew, you see, that I meant no harm but was merely trying to comprehend my world. Unlike many of my friends with progressive parents who had studied abroad, my mother was raised in a small town and believed we should remain securely within our birth matrix lest the wicked world ruin us. I found her constant attempts to shield us extremely irritating, but I also knew for sure that, in her pure and simple way, she was only trying to protect us.

Clearly we were like oil and water; nevertheless she loved and admired not just me, but all her kids. She had been married off against her will at sixteen and was literally forced to have a large family, which was then the norm for affluent segments of society. While she and I definitely had our troubles, today, as I deepen my own journey into the Spiritual Heart via Ramana Maharshi’s Direct Path of Self-Investigation, I find myself utterly grateful for the system of values and ethics she passed on to me.

FB_IMG_1490023422946When I asked her what she wanted as a birthday gift, she’d murmur that she’d be happy if was “a good girl.” This would make me mad, because I knew that, by no stretch of the imagination, was I “good.” I lied (the only way we could explore the world was to deceive our strict parents so we could slip away from the house to partake of fresh adventures), stole money (although most of my friends had liberal parents who believed in giving them pocket money, mine did not) etcetera, but nevertheless her values still embedded themselves deep within me.

If I borrowed a book or an article, for instance, she would insist that I return it in good shape and on time. Both my father and she showed us by example that we should always keep our word and were strictly against corruption and dishonesty of all kinds. Her heroes, not surprisingly, were great men and women who sacrificed personal gratification for others. She had no love for the tinsel aspects of life, nor for stars and celebrities, and lived a prayerful life. Whoda thunk that this woman I rebelled against so strongly when young would seriously impact me as an adult?

f92f7dea9f17b0dbcc31e5be036538d6This post is inspired by my watching a certain wealthy family, who has recently entered the political scene in America, abuse their position by taking as much from over-taxed citizens as they can, while they can. I laugh softly to myself as the bizarre thought flashes that my mother (who has long since passed away) would have had no hesitation informing them that they have no shame.

Greetings from Arunachala, Shiva the Destroyer in the form of a hill of fire and light, who whips us into shape so we can enter the blissful Spiritual Heart and bask in our true nature!

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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

INTENSIVE CARE

65de284a09d3f427432db8daf3729bb9Ages ago, lunching with friends in a restaurant with a spectacular view of the Himalayas, a European woman began to boast about how close she was to her guru, and how integral her presence was to his inner circle of devotees. We listened politely, and this encouraged her to rave even more. Suddenly, a friend of mine, a cynical chap who had been around the block several times and appears to have no illusions about anything, interrupted her: ah, so you’re in Intensive Care, he said bluntly. Clearly you need the direct intervention and proximity of a guru, or your ego would completely destroy you.

I burst into giggles at her astounded expression, but while she may have thought he was trying to take her down a notch or two, I knew that as usual he was only speaking his mind and did not intend to deliberately hurt or insult her. Oddly enough, his words continued to resonate with me, because they certainly applied to my own condition.

A singer said this about Van Gogh—that this world was not made for men as beautiful as him. And there’s no denying that the goings-on of our planet can be hard to handle for anyone who is ultra-sensitive to suffering, simply because there are no barriers and empathy rules. Now I was born so sensitive that I would immediately burst into a storm of tears when I encountered a person or animal whose situation awakened my compassion. My mother referred to these mini-breakdowns as “crocodile tears,” not because she was unkind, far from it, but because she did not wish to encourage me in being ridiculously soft and therefore ill-equipped to cope with life’s hard realities.

83b2a51f4f6d5715320a27a71becac3aA few mornings ago, right out of the blue, a huge wooden door blew shut and almost broke my little toe. The pain was excruciating. I expected it to heal in a day or two, but I’ve been forced to stay home to nurse it, which is pure torture for someone as active as me, and whose threshold for both emotional and physical pain is abysmally low.

I put on my mystical thinking cap and studied my predicament. Why did this happen to me? One answer is that something majorly bad was supposed to happen to me, and instead (perhaps because these days I’m being such a “good girl”), the powers that be reduced that ominous would-be event to an almost-broken toe. (It’s an undeniable fact that I could be lying in a morgue right now, especially since I’m a bit of a speed freak on the highway and Indian truck, bus and lorry drivers are notoriously reckless.) I won’t bore you with the other thoughts that arose in this connection, but I will say that today I have such great faith in Arunachala in whose holy shadow I now reside, that I have no flicker of doubt that there is excellent reason for me to be held hostage at home.

I flashed back to soon after I got to Tiruvannamalai, some eight years ago, when I got drenched for hours while walking on the inner path that circles the mountain. I was in the company of a British friend who is a top-notch hiker. He quickly slipped into a rain jacket, but I was badly affected. There was nowhere to take shelter since we were on the inner path. By the time I got home, hours later, I was already shivering with fever. My friend left for England the next day and I developed a terrible flu and lay shivering in bed. Seventeen days later I was finally well enough to walk outside. I gazed up at Arunachala’s dawn glory and for the first time realized His power. I knew then that it was his fierce grace that had forced me to undergo that intense suffering—to burn away countless layers of ego that were preventing me from entering the Spiritual Heart. (Check out: ARUNACHALA, NOT ABRACADABRA )

This afternoon I gazed out of my living room window at the reassuring bulk of Arunachala. Don’t you think you’ve whipped me enough? I asked, as a wave of self-pity assailed me. Then I hastened to add that I had learned to trust Him, and that He had proven to me, time and time again, that when He heaped pain, disappointments and frustrations on my poor human head, enhanced peace, understanding and joy surely followed. Thank you for placing me in Intensive Care, I murmured gratefully; who knows what would have happened to maverick mini-me out there in the big bad world had you not drawn me into your protective embrace? We humans blindly put our faith in other humans, not realizing perhaps that they are just as limited than we are. Best to surrender to the cosmic powers that have genuine love and concern for our wellbeing.

303537_3128548673069_1069126392_nOne major difference between the mainstreamer and the genuine seeker of inner peace is the view/ attitude we choose to take. This too shall pass—powerful words I use on myself and on others when appropriate. Even this life, I remind myself, is just a tiny speck on an infinite lifeline. In truth we are pure existence, awareness and bliss and have had a million bodies and minds. When life aims yet another kick at our unprotected bottoms, and we go flying yet again into the mud and the slime of samsara, we must never ever give up ,for we live in duality and the tide will definitely turn, especiallly if we are patient and have faith. The trick is to turn our focus to Spirit and ask it humbly to heal all relative ills, and to never ever lose sight of our highest goal, which is permanent freedom from suffering.

Greetings from Arunachala, Shiva the Destroyer in the form of a hill of fire and light, who has no hesitation in whipping those he loves with his mighty psychic whip, but only to lead us to the blissful light of the Self!

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