THE PARADOX OF ADDICTION

fb_img_1486103868695Right before the millennium, at a birthday celebration held in a spacious loft in downtown Manhattan, I fell into deep conversation with an eccentric artist who was rapidly rising in a city where the competition is known to be beyond fierce. He’d always been intrigued by Indian art, culture and philosophy, he told me, and his art reflected this interest. He then proceeded to ask me searching questions about my life in south India, including how and why I had made my way to the Big Apple, and I found him to be highly intelligent and perceptive—no, this was not superficial party talk, but a true meeting of souls.

In turn he spoke about his own life, and I was stunned by his revelations, particularly because he appeared to be the product of a loving background. He told me that his mother had fled her vicious alcoholic husband when he was only three and that his father had then turned his rage on him, abusing him sexually and beating him viciously, and no one had been around to protect him. Continue reading

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Dying Every Single Day for Months in Manhattan…

IMG_9929_statueA brilliant monk held a motley crew of us dharma students in thrall for many years in the Big Apple. All right, he’d drawl as his eyes lazily scanned the room. So you’re all so cool with your stylish black wardrobes and your sophisticated friends. You live in the hippest city in the world and you think you’re doing great. And in the eyes of the material world, that’s true—fat paychecks, nice apartments, great social life, lookin’ good, lookin’ good.

He’d pause for effect then continue into rapt silence. But tell me: what’s the one thing your bosses can never recompense you for? Ah! You got it, smart people—it’s precious human time! Some of you are doing wonderful things for the sake of humanity. Yes, there are literally thousands of good things you can do with your lives—but, if you listen to the great mystics, the highest goal of human life is permanent liberation from suffering—which is why everyone in this room has chosen to take the Bodhisattva Vow: to seek enlightenment for the sake of all beings.

To enter the Spiritual Olympics you need not just a clear mind but a strong body and perfect commitment—and if you believe that before you begin this inner journey you must first amass money and tie up all your relationships and assets into neat packages that look oh so pretty, there’s a good chance you won’t have those assets when you’re free to discover who you really are—which also means that day of liberation might never come. So, folks, if you really do want to start the greatest journey of all, start it NOW! Continue reading

The Blazing Skyscraper: An Archetypal Moksha Dream

FLYING WOMAN GRAPHICI loved my new apartment in Dharamsala: hardwood floors, a modern bathroom and kitchen, glass windows and a wraparound terrace from which I could contemplate the icy splendor of the ring of surrounding mountains. I’d just moved to this Himalayan town from the urban frenzy of Manhattan—minus a parachute as I often joked; this was my fourth home in just over a year and finally I felt comfortable, at least in physical terms.

It helped that my Himachali landlords were fond of me—possibly because I’d loaned them enough to finish the construction of their building. (Later I discovered via a German friend who sublet my place that they were cheating me blind on electricity etcetera—but at least they cared enough to provide me with the little comforts required to live in such an austere environment. “This is Kali Yuga, remember?” I’d remind myself when I felt cruelly buffeted by life. “It could always be worse!”) Continue reading

Me & The Capricious Sorcery of Cyberspace…

SHIVA IN PURPLE AND BLUE“Oh, I don’t ever worry about Mira being lonely,” a friend declared at a farewell party in Manhattan, thrown to celebrate my terrifying decision to leave mainstream life for the unknown quiet of the Himalayas. “She walks down to the grocery store alone and returns with a hundred friends.”

An exaggeration? Yes, but true in essence: for I was thrust into this world with an openness towards all beings, regardless of gender, age, caste, tribe, or income. You could say I was destined for the philosophy I would espouse as an adult—of Advaita-Vedanta, which teaches, in its most simple form, that all beings emerge from One and return to One.

My quest for a home in which I could focus solely on spiritual and creative goals finally led me to put down roots in a small south Indian town. I was drawn down south from the region of the Himalayas by the cleansing fire of Arunachala, the sacred mountain millions believe to be the living embodiment of Shiva, God of Paradox and Destroyer of Illusion—who burns away our insidious attachment to ephemeral body and mind so we can experience the immortal bliss of our Self. Continue reading

Genesis: Whip of the Wild God – Part I

tantra-chakrasNeither of us being in the mood for the frenetic end-of-year partying for which Manhattan is justly famed, a friend and I decided to spend the last few days of 1993 at Ananda Ashram in upstate New York.

It was stunningly beautiful in that snow-blanketed part of the world, and I was immensely grateful for this brief respite. You see, after years of trying every damn thing to make my marriage work, I had finally left my partner of fourteen years. All I carried away with me were my clothes, some furniture, a precious collection of books and music, and the invisible festering wounds of what felt like a major failure.  Continue reading