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

Demon of Eclipses & Illusions – Part 3/9

dharamsalaDuring my post-millennium residence in the magical foothills of the Himalayas, specifically in the picturesque town of Dharamsala, home-in-exile of the Dalai Lama and a thriving Tibetan community, I made friends with a charming American couple who lived a few houses down the way from me on winding Jogiwara Road.

Theo’s father had been one of those eccentric inventors whose patents had made him rich. He’d left his only son with a trust fund large enough for him to do as he pleased. Theo was a recent though fervent convert to Buddhism, intent on achieving Nirvana at the earliest instant. Dana, his social-worker wife, was a svelte beauty with a beatific disposition who made no bones about adoring her scatterbrained husband.

One evening the three of us sat drinking ginger chai on my balcony, watching the sun set over snow-capped peaks and commiserating over a mutual acquaintance who’d recently gone into treatment in New York for severe alcohol poisoning — his skin had actually turned yellow with toxicity, we’d just heard, and his mind was rapidly disintegrating. Ever since he’d left India several years ago, Bert had gone through numerous such crises. I said I honestly didn’t think he’d make it through this time. Continue reading

Genesis: Whip of the Wild God – Part IV

burning-manMy childhood in south India imprinted me with a hatred for suffering. I once saw a man—who had doused himself with kerosene and set himself on fire—walk right past the gate of our suburban home. I still don’t know why he did what he did; servants were buzzing about it for weeks afterward, but I could not bear to hear the details. What could be so terrible that a man would set his own precious body ablaze?

That Burning Man never left my consciousness; what still baffles me is that the flames scorching his body did not seem to affect him—he had staggered past our home defiantly, this blazing human torch, and I swear I don’t recall hearing him scream.

Pain, as we all discover sooner or later, comes in a range of gross and subtle flavors. Some are cursed with having to endure physical pain. My own suffering has always been emotional; to escape from the sometimes relentless inner torment of my earlier days, I confess I would do almost anything.  Continue reading