A RADICAL POINT OF VIEW

fc5f42ebd9cde2880ecba45f83338027There’s a middle-aged sadhu here in Tiruvannamalai whom I often give a ride to on my way to and from the Ashram. He’s skinny, bespectacled and a speed walker; he foots it everywhere, from morning to night, getting his free food at the various Ashrams, and then finding a quiet place to do his meditation and study. He tells me he practices yoga everyday too, and most passionately. In his frayed shoulder bag he carries cheap packets of biscuits and feeds the stray dogs he encounters on his daily travels. I’ve known him now for close to eight years now and he tells me he prays for me every single day, which makes me inordinately happy.

Recently he mentioned that he felt enormously blessed to be able to do what he does. Penniless and dependent on the largesse of local Ashrams for his sustenance and clothes (he wears only an ochre lungi), he is always happy and grateful. Laughing like a child, he told me why: because he knows that eventually his road will lead him to moksha, while the rich folks who pass him by on the Girivalam Road in their fancy automobiles are still lost in the relative dream. Who knows how much suffering they will have to endure before it dawns upon them that their present way of living, with its focus on accumulating assets they cannot take with them when their body dies, finally takes root?

609df17e7afd69d496563edfe63c57a7He sighed at this point, with genuine compassion. Then they will have to turn back, he added sadly, and begin their journey on the path that leads to the Spiritual Heart. And this is why he smiles when these “rich” humans stop their cars and hand him a few rupees, believing they are being oh so generous to a homeless wanderer.

Greetings from Arunachala, Shiva the Destroyer, who vows to destroy the intricate web of illusion that Maya, Cosmic Enchantress, spins around us, – so that we may finally know that we are the blissful and immortal Self!

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The Ego Is Not Your Amigo – Part 1 of 2

Arunachala

Arunachala

One twilit Sunday evening, a friend and I embarked on the 14-kilometre Giripradakshina trek. In  this specific case, Giripradakshina refers to the ancient practice of circumambulating the sacred hill Arunachala—which rises majestic from the center of the intriguing ancient temple town of Tiruvannamalai in Tamil Nadu, south India.

Taking off from Ramana Ashram, we made our way through a segment of crazy busy highway until we reached the serpentine tree-shaded mountain path (Girivalam) road populated with varying types of sadhu—from the often belligerent itinerant hoping to escape a tricky mundane situation by donning the orange robe that bestows instant spiritual status and garners support from many quarters—to the true renunciate of radiant countenance. Continue reading

Luminous Kalyanamitras – Part 3

images-ramana1Looking back, I guess my earliest kalyanamitras were Carol and Venu, who dispensed solace and help as I careened wildly in and out of their lives during my frenzied adolescence and twenties; without them, and without exaggeration, I may not have survived.

At a time in Manhattan when I could not see beyond the thicket of my personal problems, Joneve insisted I start writing again. Her persistence unleashed a force within me that soon began to roar like a tiger; simultaneously, a wellspring of courage began to flow, allowing me to grow to meet the challenges I faced.

Silver-haired and gracious talk-therapist Amy met with me once a week for years in her spacious office in lower Manhattan. As I listened to myself trot out a nauseating stream of excuses about why I could not change my domestic circumstances, I realized the sniveling coward in the mirror would have to die if I was to thrive again. Amy taught me how to cut through the babble of guilt, fear and social conditioning in order to hear the still small voice within. Continue reading