BRAHMA’S DREAM & KRISHNA’S COUNSEL

NOTE: The Kindle Scout campaign for Krishna’s Counsel is over. No further nominations shall be accepted. A Big ‘Thank You’ to everyone who nominated.

FB_IMG_1459874344775I grew up in a traditional south Indian world whose cruel inequities I struggled to make sense of. Nothing quenched my hunger for truth until I stumbled upon the teachings on karma, reincarnation and suchlike. Gradually I taught myself to see with new eyes and began to experience the glimmerings on inner peace.

I was obsessed with unraveling the answer to one striking paradox: how could India, a country so rich in the philosophy of Oneness, also support a caste system that militated against this knowing? This is a BIG question and it took immense effort to find answers that satisfied me. A major turning point was learning about what eastern sages refer to as the Two Great Truths. (Here’s a post you might enjoy: https://miraprabhu.wordpress.com/2015/09/04/two-great-truths-absolute-and-relative-reality-real-and-unreal/).   

It was the answers to my ten thousand questions combined with intriguing myths and stories that led me to write Krishna’s Counsel, the second novel in my Moksha Trilogy. Pia, my protagonist, is a rebellious and hypersensitive girl who grows up in 60s south India and is just as confused by her environment as I was. Continue reading

TRUE CONFESSION & KRISHNA’S COUNSEL

NOTE: The Kindle Scout campaign for Krishna’s Counsel is over. No further nominations shall be accepted. A Big ‘Thank You’ to everyone who nominated.

994912da914e1e24f959f1934c116265True confession—I LOATHE self-promo with a passion! I don’t enjoy nagging and equally shy away from those who badger others to get what they want. If you too were born with a thin skin, I bet you would empathize. Being hypersensitive and hyper-empathetic is not always an asset in a world where external success often hinges on chest-thumping and being pushy.

Anyway, years ago I decided to write in order to channel my turbulent energies. You see, as I studied the nature of both absolute and relative reality, millions of thoughts kept bubbling up from the seething cauldron of my unconscious into my conscious mind, and yet I feared no one person would have the patience to really listen to me. So I melded my love for verbal self-expression with my passion for mysticism and decided to write a series of novels whose theme is enlightenment—and The Moksha Trilogy was born. (https://miraprabhu.wordpress.com/2014/11/16/a-trilogy-of-light-mishi-bellamy-artiste-extraordinaire/) Continue reading

Two Great Truths of Absolute and Relative Reality

SHIVA AND SHAKTI TANTRA

In my volatile teens, I was struck by the poignant beauty of an ancient metaphor (contained within the Mundaka Upanishad) that speaks of two birds perched on the branch of a tree: one bird eats the fruit of the tree while the other watches.

The first bird represents the individual self/soul; distracted by the fruits (signifying sensual pleasures), she forgets her lord and lover and tries to enjoy the fruit independent of him. (This separating amnesia is known in Sanskrit as maha-maya or enthrallment; it results in the plunge of the individual into the ephemeral realm of birth and death.) As for the second bird, it is an aspect of the Divine/Self that rests in every heart—and which remains forever constant even as the individual soul is bedazzled by the material world.

This teaching implies that it is ignorance of our true nature that creates a vicious cycle: the individual, being blinded by the illusion of existing as a separate entity, has no option but to act—and therefore fresh misery is piled on the old. But the Absolute is whole and free of illusion; performing no actions it is not bound by karma.  Continue reading

Speaking of Robes, Broken Vows and Imperfection…

efff95cfcaa8fcb1f0bf154027aaad71When I moved to Dharamsala (seat of the Tibetan Government- in-Exile located in the foothills of the Himalayas) on the eve of the new millennium, my life changed overnight. You see, I had just left the world’s craziest city (Manhattan) for a small mountain town in northern India and was almost totally unprepared for what I was to encounter.

As my eyes opened to a new world of seeing, my views began to transform. For instance, I had long harbored a multitude of unchallenged assumptions about those who consciously enter the spiritual path; one such assumption was that all those who wore monastic robes were blessed creatures emanating love and light. After all, I subconsciously reasoned, most had taken the Boddhisattva Vow in one form or the other—which is to become enlightened for the sake of all beings—and which therefore meant they had to be perfect, right? RIGHT?

So I was both flabbergasted SHIVA IN RED AND YELLOWand upset when I saw how some in robes—both Tibetans as well as western renunciates— misbehaved. Apart from the jewels that gleamed in their ranks, many were, I realized, just as flawed as I was—and some worse, because at least I was honest about my vices.

I spoke to a great lama about this. Geshe-la, I said, they’re wearing robes, and yet they act so petty, mean, vicious and jealous; they’re breaking their vows left, right and center. What’s going on here?

Smiling at me as if I were a bewildered child—which I was then and still can be—he said, Mira, those robes are a sign that these people know something is out of balance within themselves—and that they wish to right this inner wrongness. By putting on a robe, they indicate to the world that they have made a brave choice to evolve. The robe is their protection as they do their inner work. If you can see them this way, you will be much more happy and peaceful.

MAN IN MEDITATIONI thanked him deeply, for he had opened my eyes to something that had never struck me before. So the robe was protection while the inner being transformed itself! Like a vulnerable little grub or worm or caterpillar covering itself with spit or a cocoon to protect it from the burning sun and predators as it gradually metamorphoses into a gorgeous moth or butterfly! What a difference this simple teaching made to my view and my attitude! And not just towards others, but to my own self, given to constant criticism of my own relative imperfections.

Since then, I have heard so many say: oh, but how can so-and-so feel or think or act this way? It is terrible! He or she claims to be on a spiritual path! The fact is that just because many of us make the decision to evolve, does not mean that that work is instantly accomplished. According to eastern teachings, to become completely free of desire and fear and to manifest as our true nature—which is existence-consciousness and bliss itself—is the work of thousands of lifetimes, if not eons.

In fact, even genuine but deluded seekers—brainwashed at times by so-called “gurus”—believe they have to suppress natural feelings that arise in response to the cruelty and injustice that rages, and has raged, all around us. They are conditioned to believe that turning inwards means they have to instantly become saccharine sweet creatures who unconditionally love all beings—including the serial rapist/murderer, the cold-blooded assassin, the pedophile and the brutal imperialist.

Based on decades of study and practice, I say NO! Along this fascinating journey to the blazing center of reality, as we absorb the great truths, we must first process our instinctive feelings…and then allow them to be burned in the fire of wisdom—the wisdom that everything is actually perfect, though it looks terrible, and that a higher power is indeed running the show; it is good to know, however, that this higher power (call it what you will) is not subject to the pressure of human time and does its work at a divine pace and in a mysterious manner we humans cannot even begin to grok.

COLORS 3Why is this? Because, in our human form, we manifest both Relative and Absolute. While the Absolute is our true nature, it is our relative nature that needs cleansing and purifying—and on this often tumultuous path there is much each of us needs to process. In doing so, we often stumble and make mistakes—but it is very much a necessary journey.

Today, on the highest levels of consciousness, I do see that the whole is perfect—for I accept that the laws that run the cosmos are unerring: today’s perpetrator is perhaps yesterday’s victim and so on and of forth in a vicious chain  known as samsara. Invisible laws rule this realm, and when we judge things on the surface as we most often do, we miss out on the roots.

And yet, especially on social media threads, it is impossible to adequately express my own convoluted journey to finding peace within this disturbingly violent planet. While intellectually and in terms of spiritual context I am serene, old emotions still occasionally erupt and demand release; only when I have the courage to process them am I free to return to a state of peace. But to suppress this churning negativity…to deny that relative evil happens, also arrests spiritual evolution: for the process of change involves first becoming aware that something is wrong, then to accept it by whatever means necessary, and finally to trust that purificatory/cleansing action will spontaneously occur due to the loving intervention of higher forces (which is no less than our own Self, and the essence of the cosmos itself).

So the next time you consider pointing a finger at a person who has turned away from the mainstream and decided to refine their insides—because that person appears to be angry or depressed or is harboring a grudge against the seeming villains of the world—remember that robe! It is protection while we do our inner work—and believe me, that work is going on, whether we can see it in others or not.

images-snakeThat said, I feel strongly that an intelligent person—armed with the resources to change, but who still chooses to hide behind the apparent sanctity of a robe in order to perpetrate evil— does not merit my compassion. (If, say, a pedophile lurks behind the benevolent facade of a priest, then I strongly condemn the action—for while it is no secret that most sexual predators are themselves the victims of predators, there is no excuse for educated adults not to seek appropriate help).

ARUNACHALA WITH PURPLE SKYIt is a gorgeous windy morning here and I am about to take the doggies out for their morning walk on the mountain path; for this simple pleasure, I am immensely grateful. Greetings from Arunachala, manifestation of the Wild God who promises to annihilate our ego so we can experience ourselves as pure consciousness and bliss!

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From “Consider the Source” to “Who Am I?”

opening-imageI flew from south India to Manhattan in the summer of 1986 as a young bride with great expectations. Almost none of these hopes were met; as the saying goes, the Great Goddess laughs when you tell her your plans.

For one thing, I had yearned to study creative writing for film at New York University. My husband (now ex) had assured me I could. It didn’t take long for this exciting plan to be shot down by my mother-in-law, who wielded a powerfully negative influence on our life. I was urged to find a job instead, so I could get used to a new culture and lifestyle—and assured this was all for my own good. Once I found my feet, they both promised earnestly, I would be in a better position to really study.

Gnashing my teeth, I learned how to wear a suit and pumps so I could interview. Soon I had a job I did not deserve: I had been an advertising copywriter in south India but now I was Director of Media and Public Relations of a small but prosperous trade advertising agency located on downtown Broadway. Apparently the confident demeanor I had projected along with my excellent speaking English had impressed my new employer. Shell-shocked by the prospect of what lay ahead, I could see no way out of this predicament other than to brazen things out. Continue reading

The Magic of Arunachala: Kali, Aghori & Unconditional Love #6/6

image-11What, in the first place, is unconditional love? Each of us is likely to have our own special definition of this phenomenon, while Google would likely manifest a gazillion definitions in about three seconds flat.

For me, as I write this post, it is that perfect love that flows freely minus the expectations of the ego (mini-me), love without strings, love that seeks nothing but the welfare of the recipient, love that surges effortlessly from the infinite abundance of our true nature—not the raucous, limited, limiting, clamoring, two-legged “love” that dies, shrinks or withdraws when its conditions are unmet—or even worse, the so-called “love” that turns into vicious hate when not reciprocated—as when a spurned lover throws acid on a pretty girl’s face, or a jealous husband stabs his cheating wife to death. As Will Shakespeare said so eloquently so many centuries ago, love is not love that alters when it alteration finds.

What about the love of a mother for a beloved only child? A grieving mother ready to trade her life for that of her daughters—as Chloe had claimed she’d been prepared to do, so long ago in Manhattan? A mother who makes endless sacrifices so her child may flourish? Through my particular lens, while this is most certainly a refined form of human love, it does not even begin to approach my ideal of unconditional love—for the love of a biological parent is, after all, a heightened form of egoic love. Think about it dispassionately for a moment—would Chloe have been willing to surrender her own life for Amelia had Amelia been born to other parents? Unlikely, huh? Continue reading

Freedom From the Matrix – Samsara’s Seven Flavors #12/12

RamanaThe goal of our practice is not to put up with crapbut to eradicate suffering in all its forms. These were the words of the guru who taught me Mahamudra and so much else.

That said, analytical antidotes to human suffering only help us cope with the endless pains of relative reality. Using only these seven flavors as antidotes to our suffering of body and mind is like using band-aids on the deep wound of our humanity — though I’ve heard it said that a complete understanding and acceptance of the final flavor of Mahamudra (that all we experience is the result of our own past thought, speech and action, or karma) is powerful enough to transform lower into higher consciousness. Continue reading

Absolute & Relative Reality – Samsara’s Seven Flavors #2/12

buddhist-teacherAngelica and I rode the subway into downtown Manhattan, then walked to a packed hall near 8th street in the simmering east village to hear this lama speak. And she was right — he was brilliant and magnetic. In hindsight, it is easy to see how his unique methods of teaching eastern wisdom gave my own life rich meaning, and forever changed its course.

The next few years flashed by as I studied with him, absorbing every nugget he dropped. I saw his ego grow monstrous as his flock swelled, but I stayed on, convinced that his teachings were authentic, culled directly as they were from the ancient scriptures. In fact I was so enraptured by his efforts to spread the dharma among the lost tribes of Manhattan that I offered to transcribe his teachings on Mahamudra — a word that has many connotations in the Buddhist world, but which he introduced to us as an ancient teaching on the nature of samsara, or relative reality. Continue reading

Demon of Eclipses & Illusions – Part 8/9

girl_smokingDuring my teens in south India, I sneaked outside during a boisterous party for a secret puff. An older male relative caught me in the act. “Put that out immediately!” he ordered, even as he lit up his own ciggie and exhaled a stream of toxic smoke in my direction. “Think you’re cool to ape those foreign movie stars, do you? Well, let me warn you, young lady, an Indian woman who smokes is seen as nothing but a whore!”

“What about you guys?” I’d demanded, itching to throttle the arrogant sod. “You smoke like a chimney! Are you a whore?” He’d sighed and shaken his head, despairing. If I didn’t stop smoking pronto, he added sternly, he’d advise my father to get me married as soon as possible — it being sound Indian policy to tame a hellion before she brought unutterable shame to the family. I’d stomped away in a huff, too proud to let him see how his words had both shaken and infuriated me.

But I could not stop brooding over what he had said — why did I want to keep smoking? The truth was complex: one major reason was that cigarettes were available for me when people and situations let me down. And so I continued to smoke, on and off, for decades, despite all the wisdom and training I was simultaneously acquiring. Looking back, I can see that on the psychological level I smoked to separate myself from the traditional herd of Indian women, to make myself unwanted on the marriage market, to tell the guys that if you can get away with it, so can I! Continue reading

Demon of Eclipses & Illusions – Part 6/9

Tsultrim_AllioneAs a farewell gift, Theo handed me an audio tape the evening he and Dana were to head back to their mountain home in Colorado. The subject was Chöd, translated as Feeding Your Demons, an ancient Tibetan healing practice; the woman teaching it was Lama Tsultrim Allione, one of the first American women to be ordained as a Tibetan nun.

Allione had been given her monastic vows by the Karmapa of the Karma Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism; she’d given back her vows four years later in order to marry. In 1993, she had founded Tara Mandala, a retreat center in southern Colorado. Her book Feeding Your Demons explores an approach based on the Chöd lineage of Machig Labdrön that Allione has practiced since 1973. “One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light,” Allione quotes Jung, “but by making the darkness conscious.”

The practice of Chöd teaches us how to work with our demons. What, in the first place, are these demons? Machig Labdrön, the brilliant Tibetan woman who inspired the practice of Chöd, defined a demon as: anything which hinders liberation. No matter our personal beliefs about the supernatural, no one can deny that our thoughts and emotions can be like relentless demons who drive our behavior into harmful channels. Most humans confronted with heavy emotions like anger, sadness and fear either suppress them, or act them out. Continue reading