…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.
When 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?
This 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!
The world into which I was thrust made absolutely no sense to me. I was solemnly informed that there was a God who had created the world, but, even as a child, I considered this arrant nonsense. God, I was further told, was pure Love, which made me even more dubious about the authenticity of this wisdom. If God was pure love, I wondered, how in sweet hell could he have created a world so full of ignorance, misery, hatred and suffering? Did it give him perverse pleasure to watch babies starving, men being blown to bits in senseless wars, innocent brides burned to death for lack of a larger dowry, monstrous inequities in wealth, and a myriad other forms of implausible wickedness?
Soon I discovered that pleasure could be derived from this same world simply by indulging one’s senses and using one’s talents to become rich and famous. Yes, one could enjoy a variety of entertainments, sparkling if fickle companions, terrific parties, sex, drugs, and rock & roll. But why did a feeling of pain and emptiness invariably follow indulgence in these so-called pleasures? Instead of waking us up, I discovered too, this hollowness often drove humans to chase new forms of pleasure, which also ended up in the same dreary hell—which is why, I supposed, insanity is defined as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Continue reading
My father taught me a powerful lesson growing up; I watched many a time as he out-intimidated the legion of official and governmental bullies that routinely harass all Indians and make millions of lives miserable. “Do you know who I am” he would roar, and the would-be bully would literally quake with fear and trepidation. And he did this with genuine anger, because this kind of official misbehavior personally offended him. He stood up not just for himself—in his prime, he was a wealthy, powerful, articulate and educated man with immense influence—but for those with lesser resources, and even for the illiterate poor who had no option but to bow down to these horrible apologies for man so that they could get their work done. Since survival was a burning issue for many of these people, and the bullies knew they held the winning card, most often there was no competition.
Recently I was reminded of how the Indian poor in particular are hounded, harassed and cheated when my maid came crying to me to inform me that the local police had extracted a huge bribe from her laborer brother. Her brother had beaten up his wife’s lover and brought her back home after a sensational elopement. I told my maid I would go with her to the Collector’s office and help her to make an official complaint against these men—something I would hate to do since I dislike offices in general, and the men who run them even more; but I felt so awful at the thought of this poor man being bullied and robbed that I felt I had to do my bit. And what did she say? Gave me a shrug and said it wouldn’t work, that everyone was corrupt and all the family could do in such a situation was to suck up this huge crime and carry on. I yelled at her and said it was because of this passive attitude of the voiceless masses that things have gotten to this ghastly state, but of course she did not understand where I was coming from and did not accept my offer. Continue reading
I 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
Last 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.
As 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.
Greetings 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!
During my stay at a beautiful Ashram in America long years ago, I was consumed with worry about my future. You see, I had jumped out of the mainstream by quitting a great job in Manhattan, sold my lovely apartment, left good friends behind, and landed in the Himalayas without a parachute in the middle of a grueling winter. From there, still restless and seeking, I had moved around in both East and West, on a quest for that perfect refuge where I could focus on my creative and spiritual goals. But nothing seemed to work out and by now I was truly sunk in misery.
A friend saw my sad face; impulsively, she tore a page out of the book she was reading and handed it to me. The title said: Do Not Be Serious About Anything: it was a message from the guru of that Ashram, who advised his students not to take mundane life too seriously, but instead to dive beneath the surface and find the constant peace and joy that is our true nature.
The message begins like this: “We cannot really save the world. We cannot even destroy the world. It is not in our hands. If that Supreme Power wanted to save the world, it wouldn’t even take a second. All of us could be saints and sages overnight. Instead the Divine is allowing us to be a little ignorant. That is His fun. But we forget this and take life too seriously.” Continue reading
‘Samsara’ is a Sanskrit word that approximates to ‘relative reality.’ When Buddha gave us his first noble truth: life is suffering, it was this level of reality he was referring to, simply, the ups and downs of a life lived in duality. It is his fourth truth that points the way out of suffering, and thank Ultimate Consciousness, I say, that there is indeed a highway that can lead us permanently out of this mess!
I’m writing this because I’ve been hit by a series of minor calamities (that’s probably an oxymoron, but never mind.) One dog who refuses since to eat and won’t tell me why, ha ha ha, my other dog who is totally nutso and terrified of most humans, and, out of the blue, a sciatica attack from hell, most likely due to the fact that I’ve been working way too long on the computer. It flared up last night, and this morning I could barely get out of bed. Thank god for my Ayurvedic doc, who came over right away and did some wonderful healing work. Continue reading
I met a wild looking sadhu on the way up to Skand Ashram many moons ago, and noticed that he wore incredible jewelry, all in the shape of serpents, and fashioned of copper and gold.
He told me a jeweler in a town far away had made it for him. I asked if he could make me a ring, and he agreed. I gave him an advance and the ring came as promised—a golden serpent coiled like the kundalini with a small ruby for an eye.
I have grown to love this ring for it represents my passion for the serpent fire (Kundalini)—which is nothing less than the energy of primal mind that fuels the process of enlightenment. Nothing but this fiery energy can halt the power of my chaotic mind, and I use a kundalini practice as a base for Atma-Vichara, Self-Investigation or the Direct Path, as taught by Ramana Maharshi. Continue reading
KRISHNA’S COUNSEL goes alive internationally today, September 3rd 2016!!! Here are the links, not just for this second novel in the Moksha Trilogy, but for the first, WHIP OF THE WILD GOD: A NOVEL OF TANTRA IN ANCIENT INDIA, which I recently took it into my head to burnish to a shimmering gold:
Krishna’s Counsel on Amazon – getbook.at/KcOnAmzn
Krishna’s Counsel on all eBook stores – books2read.com/mpKC
Whip of the Wild God on Amazon – getbook.at/WwgOnAmzn
Whip of the Wild God on all eBook stores – books2read.com/mpWWG
Note: Please do not order a print copy from Amazon.in (Indian site) as there have been some print issues reported.
These memes below were designed by my dear friend, Atul Mehta, using quotes I selected from Krishna’s Counsel. The strikingly beautiful cover is the work of Mishi Bellamy, artiste extraordinaire (see here). Continue reading