KILL YOUR DARLINGS

609df17e7afd69d496563edfe63c57a7This is serious advice for serious writers—to kill our darlings. Sounds brutal, no? Well, actually, what it means is that sometimes we come up with great material, but, in the context of the whole piece of work, say a short story or novel, this terrific piece of writing does not work to create a vivid continuous dream that the reader can resonate with. It hurts to do this, yes, that particular piece may have been celestially inspired, but sorry, it ruins the whole and therefore, once we have stepped from our opus and decided that it sticks out like a sore thumb or ruins the thread of the plot, we must be willing to commit word murder. A sacrifice of the brilliant part to the cosmic whole.

Fortunately today we have computers—I often marvel at what great writers in the past did. Imagine writing War & Peace with ink and paper and then trying to kill or rework sections of it—my god, how lucky we are today! We can cut our darling out of the current piece and store it safely in another file so we can use her later, in a place where she does work. And it strikes me that this advice is valuable anywhere, even as we begin the intense and often lonesome journey into the spiritual heart. We must kill our darlings, all those ideas, habits, dreams, concepts and conditioning that no longer mesh with our present map of reality. And we must make sure they stay dead, by burning their very roots, so that they do not rise up again with a vengeance to ruin our perfect plan for blissful liberation. Continue reading

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BLISS JUNKIE

9a98b5caac8b4a9fc6c46747c8fdfc73One result of discovering the amazing teachings of Eastern philosophy was that I began to closely study my own relative nature. Over time I came to the conclusion that it was composed of two almost equal but opposing sides: yes, I was half hedonist and half ascetic. Not surprising since we are enmeshed in a dualistic structure and are inclined to strong likes and dislikes. The stronger the personality, the more intense are these likes and dislikes, so, someone like me, for instance, would seek all sorts of sensory pleasure while suffering from an abysmally low tolerance for pain.

Now a wise human would gravitate to pleasures that are meaningful and that last, but the confused adolescent that I was sought enjoyment in fleeting things that left me dissatisfied and hungry for more. It was only when I heard the phrase: “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results” that I woke up with a start and realized that I had been frittering away my precious life in repeating the same old nonsense and foolishly expecting the results to be gratifying. Continue reading

ONE MYSTICAL EXPERIENCE…

b14516b6b40561bfe96c12b674d70118…is all it takes to blast open the mind and to prove to us, from the inside where it counts, that what we take for reality, as revealed to us via the five senses and our limited finite mind, is just a thin covering over an Absolute reality simply staggering in its intricate beauty and vast complexity.

As a child growing up in south India, I used to catch strangely disorienting fevers that incapacitated me for a couple of days. I would fall into a heavy sleep at night, then wake up to find myself floating above my body; what would hold my ethereal body from floating away, was, believe it or not, the thin cotton top of the mosquito net we always slept under! I would look down with a gasp of surprised terror to see my sleeping body below, and the next second I would be back within it. This happened often enough for me to ponder its meaning: If I had left my body, I realized, then my body was not “me”; of course, it was this numinous knowing that led me gradually to explore this “I” that had so easily left my body—and then, decades later, after much suffering and confusion in the external world, to begin the awesome journey into discovering (or rather, uncovering) who I AM beyond body, mind, emotions, track record, etc. Continue reading

Psychotic or Saint? Who Killed Jasmine #4/4

karma_cafeEastern philosophy has convinced me that just one invisible factor separates the psychotic facing the electric chair from a great being like Mahatma Gandhi — and that is karma. In order to evolve, it is essential we improve ourselves on all levels — and that begins with changing the root of our egocentric thought patterns. Practicing gratitude is a great way to do this, for it diverts the channel of our thoughts from negative to positive, even as it expands our appreciation of this dazzling cosmos and our role in it.

It is our responsibility to discover that we are all far greater than our bodies, our minds, and our circumstances. My own deeper quest began when I came to grips with the stark realization that mainstream life would never ever satisfy me, that when I assessed my worth in terms of shifting relative factors — appearance, talents, wealth, power — I was fighting a losing battle. There was always someone wittier, more talented, prettier and richer hovering in the wings. And even if I believed I was God’s gift to humanity, there was a fair chance no one else would perceive me that way; some might even see me as a major pain in the batootie. Continue reading

EGO = Easing God Out. Who Killed Jasmine #3/4

egoLet’s face the bitter truth, Jasmine: it was not your circumstances that caused you (and those other celebrities) to snuff out their lives…the real assassin was and is the ego — the false self that seduces us into believing — despite all the misery and seeming unfairness of life — that we should be given all that our little hearts desire — in your specific case, a stellar celluloid career and the love of an honorable man.

There’s an acronym for the EGO that hits the nail squarely on the head: Easing God Out. When the untrammeled ego dominates one’s view of relative reality, sanity, love, compassion – all higher qualities – go right out the window. Who is “god” in this context? The noble part of your being, the Self which includes everyone and everything, manifest and unmanifest, and whose nature is, according to rishis and jnanis of the east, pure existence-consciousness and bliss. Continue reading

From Bollywood Celeb to Mother Teresa? Who Killed Jasmine #2/4

rich_poor_gapFood apart, what about other critical issues? You probably had access to an excellent education, Jasmine, but did you know that nearly a billion people entered the 21st century unable to read? Here are other shocking stats: less than one per cent of the global expense on arms could educate the world’s children — but few humans, least of all the super-wealthy who could make a difference, give a good goddamn.

Forty million live with HIV/AIDS; every year one million die of malaria; half of humanity suffers due to bad water and lousy sanitation; millions of women spend hours every day just collecting water; 1 billion live in slums, and 2.5 billion rely on wood, charcoal and animal dung to cook their meager food. As for money — the love of which the good book says is the root of all evil — would it have surprised you to learn that roughly less than one percent of the world’s population controls a quarter of the world’s financial assets? Continue reading

Hang It All! Who Killed Jasmine #1/4

sad_womanRecent headlines about a young Bollywood star who hung herself one fine day in her posh Mumbai home set me to wondering just why a woman so blessed would resort to so irrevocable an act. I dug a little deeper: career and romantic problems, screeched the media, citing the same boring reasons that have led other glamorous stars all over the globe to snuff out their privileged lives.

Well, Jasmine, you certainly looked chic and spunky in those pics the media splashed around — a gorgeous celeb with everything to live for. So what really led you to kill yourself? Were you devastated because another star bagged the role you craved? Frustrated with sparse media and public attention? Or did the knife of shame and despair cut too deep when you discovered your boyfriend was messing around behind your slender back? Did a combination of all these — coupled with secret agonies you’d nursed since you were a little girl — hurl you into the abyss of depression and gradually lead you to tie that noose around your slender neck? Continue reading