THE OLD MAN & THE MISCHIEVOUS CHILD

8c3b451325db273f2b072ce821f5d310Although the way up the Mountain of Oneness can involve some pretty rugged terrain, and one stumbles every now and again, and even gets lost in the thickets of strange new concepts and terms, eventually the journey becomes smooth, pleasurable and easy. Bizarrely enough, all you have struggled to absorb and to practice over lifetimes is now spontaneously jettisoned or distilled into a living inner truth. Some call this cultivating the “view,” and I like this term since that is exactly what we do when we turn decisively into the interior and develop new ways of seeing and being.

For me, comprehending the beauty of Advaita essentially involves understanding the nature of two things: the Self (the Absolute, blissful, immortal, aware and including both manifest and unmanifest) and the Egoic machinery (current body, mind, track record, emotions, etcetera). The goal is to dissolve the building blocks of the ego (known as vasanas or karmic trace impressions accumulated over countless lifetimes) into the vast peaceful ocean of the Self. Continue reading

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BE STILL AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD

ac9a6ed443d206599b4d58f92afee35aYou can’t let the old biddy intimidate you like that, my friend said firmly in his gravelly voice. You have to stand up to her and you’re strong enough to do it. You feel weak after all your recent upheavals, I know, but if you lose this battle, you’ll regret it.

I put my cell phone into the pocket of my fleece jacket with a bitter sigh, knowing he was right. The “old biddy” was part-time leader of the incredibly lovely Zendo to which I had fled, many years ago, to escape the blistering heat of Tiruvannamalai. Aware that I did not care for their strict and ritualistic routine of meditation and wished to be left to my own devices to follow Ramana’s Direct Path of Self-Investigation, she had honed in on me like the battle axe that she was, determined to crush me into submission.

Panicking at her bizarre form of attack, which involved waiting until I was seated in the dining hall with friends before rushing forward to berate me in her heavily accented English, I had called my friend to let him know I was not enjoying my experience. But he was not ready to give in to my request that he immediately send a car to transport me all the way back to Tiruvannamalai, and so I had no other option but to fight this demented oppressor.

That afternoon I decided it was time to grapple with the Fear Monster who had plagued me so many times before. I locked myself into my lovely room and dived under the covers. The sky outside my window was overcast and the general atmosphere was one of doom and gloom. Okay then, I whispered as I closed my eyes and allowed myself to feel the clammy fingers of stress clutching at my heart. Let’s have it out, and right now, okay, you big bully?

Kiri 16GB sd card 6428I lay quiescent and allowed the ugly feelings to engulf me, determined to find out what was behind them. And sure enough, as the waves of fear did their weird thing, I sank below them and saw their source: ah, so the German woman represented the fear of authority that had been instilled in my right from childhood!

You see, my father was authoritarian to the extreme and his word was law. We were ordered to act in a certain way, and god forbid if we dared to question his orders—the consequences were so dire that all of us obeyed, at least on the surface. And then there were the teachers at school who demanded obedience or else, and all the other oppressors one tends to encounter along the byways of life, including those who disguise their nasty habits so well that one can be fooled for years.

At that instant of clear seeing, I actually felt the hold of the demon start to loosen; then, very slowly, those claws begin to fall away and to disappear. Later I was shocked to learn that the struggle had lasted for a couple of hours. The miracle was that right away I lost my fear of the German woman; she must have sensed that she no longer bothered me because she quickly found another newcomer to bully.

Until the vasanas (karmic trace impressions) that run the egoic system completely burn down, they can return to cause us trouble. And ever since, seven days ago to be precise, when a great big door slammed onto my right foot and crushed my toe, Fear and his sneering minions have been harassing me. There are many reasons for my tremulous feelings, but I won’t bore you with them. But I could not help wondering why this had happened in the first place.

This mini-disaster comes on the heels of other painful events. Just a couple of weeks ago, my dog Kali startled me in the middle of the night and I had slid off my huge bed and fallen to the floor with a heavy thud, hurting my left thigh quite badly. But I was soon back on my feet. This was followed by other mini-crises, and now I had almost broken my toe. What the hell was really going on? I confess I went through a medley of negative emotions including grief, anger and resentment. Why me? And this is the retort I would get: Why not you? You think you are special, eh? Well, get over it!

Yesterday afternoon I gazed upon the gray-green slopes of sacred Arunachala and tears sprang to my eyes. Why do you make me suffer like this? I whispered. The answer came as these words rang in my heart: Be Still And Know That I AM God.”

As all devotees of Ramana are aware, this Biblical line was a favorite with the great sage. What does it mean in the context of Advaita? It is certainly not encouragement to be a lazy bum and to wait for things to happen, no; instead we are meant to pour everything we have into stunning the wild mind into a perfect and brilliant stillness. When this miracle happens, the egoic self dissolves into the Self and one knows for sure that ones true nature is immortal bliss and infinite awareness. Be Still And Know That I AM God, yes, this is the highest goal we seekers of peace can hold before us as we make our way into the core of the Spiritual Heart.

ece0e5efb7e69f25bae5daa7f08c1338I don’t deny that I’ve come a long way from the crazy child I was, but there are still miles to go before I burn down that mountain range of karmic predilections that still keep me subject to pleasure and pain, to desire and to fear. My current tendency is to create a comfort zone and to hide in there for as long as possible—which is why the powers that be make sure to crack that zone and shove me willy-nilly back into the world; the idea is, I am convinced, to force me to grow beyond all borders and boundaries.

Greetings from Arunachala, Shiva the Destroyer in the form of a hill of fire and light, who whips us forward despite our protestations, determined to fulfill his vow to destroy all that blocks us from knowing we are joy itself!

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THOSE BLASTED RULES!

6cfa74207d9988dbbdc3a2b428999120Recently I had a disturbing conversation with a man who considers himself an ardent devotee of Arunachala and Ramana Maharshi. He was convalescing after a serious bout of illness and, amazingly, since he’d been ordered to give up some seriously toxic habits in order to heal, he was actually looking better than I had ever seen him. Yes, he’d lost significant weight, there was a sparkle in his eyes, and a new glow to his skin.  Jubilantly, he told me he’d been cured by a naturopath after a team of expensive allopathic doctors had only worsened his condition and given him a shocking prognosis. Of course I was thrilled to hear he was well again, and I told him I had been sending him strong good vibes ever since I had heard of his illness. As we were talking, softly, since this was close to the Main Hall, a bunch of visitors to the Ashram passed by, one man almost screaming on his cell phone. I gestured towards him, asking him to move to the bookstore, where he would not disturb those who needed quiet for their inner practice.

Whereupon my friend looked askance at me; you know, he said admonishingly, Ramana never told people how to behave, so why are you telling them to be silent? I said, silence is an Ashram rule in certain areas, although no one seems to care enough to enforce it. And don’t forget that Ramana’s highest teaching is Atma-Vichara, which involves a profoundly subtle examination of reality. The time will come when, as a result of the right effort and plenty of grace, all of us will be just as equanimous as Ramana was—but do keep in mind that when he came to Arunachala at the age of sixteen, he was already a sage. As for me, and many others who share concerns about the lack of silence here, we are not yet done with our inner work and need at least some areas within the Ashram where we can be quiet Continue reading

The Destructive Dance of Monkey Mind

6d683d43b8fae0a1465e0c51199d5190-1Last 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.

FB_IMG_1472401603075As 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.

Kiri 16GB sd card 6390Greetings 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!

Samsara is a Fickle Beast!

Kiri 16GB sd card 3273‘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

Serpent Ring And The Magic of Acceptance

Kiri 16GB sd card 5294I 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

7 Micro Windows into Krishna’s Counsel

51yxbpvna9lKRISHNA’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

I am no coward, O Krishna,” Arjuna muttered in despair…

14138969_521298861409469_33203630_oAlmost twenty years ago, my Manhattan-based literary agent planted in my consciousness the seed of a contemporary novel—and so began to flower the saga of a brilliant and rebellious Indian girl who grows up in 60s south India, and, against all odds, metamorphoses into a Spiritual Warrior when she is forced to go into mortal combat against a ruthless serial killer.

I wrote Krishna’s Counsel in bits and pieces as I traversed the globe, seeking the perfect womb within which to complete my creative and spiritual work. I put the seal on this second novel in the shadow of the sacred hill Arunachala, symbol of the pure consciousness which is the substratum of our true nature.

Thanks to our impulsive foray into Kindle Scout, you have all heard way too much about this “Mystical Novel of Obsession & Illumination”; if I had the sorcery to turn back the clock, I might have done things differently—and yet, as Lord Krishna himself might inform us with a twinkle in his divine eye, nothing is an accident and all events have far deeper purpose than we can conceive of at the time they happen.

Anyway, Krishna’s Counsel is finally making her international debut…and except for the print edition (POD) which will become available on Amazon.com on SEPTEMBER 3, 2016, all the e-book versions are ready for pre-order. Oh, and for those of you who enjoyed my first novel, Whip of the Wild God: A Novel of Tantra in Ancient India, or would like to read it now, please know that I decided to give her a final polish…and now Whip too is frolicking out in this mad, mad world, garbed in resplendent attire. Continue reading

THAT INFURIATING PATTERN FROM HELL!!!

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.

9c6cabcd493c356f45a11a6cebdc5685Well, so this is the last day you can NOMINATE my mystical novel Krishna’s Counsel for inclusion on the Kindle Scout list, so, if you haven’t already done so, please do!

Even as I make this request, I’m watching a pattern rise up from subterranean depths—only this time I’m watching it with amused curiosity. And why is this? Because, many years ago a brilliant Tantrik guru (Harish Johari) gave me a piece of advice: He said that all I had to do to penetrate the great mystery of who I AM beyond body and mind was to keep watching the insidious antics of my egoic self or mini-me. Just following his perceptive advice has gifted me with an increasing ability to simply witness life as it flows. Continue reading

THE DIRTY LITTLE SECRET

‘The Secret’—a ‘spiritual’ self-help documentary launched in Australia in 2006—hit the Western world with incredible impact, generating millions for its producers. I wrote the following article a year or so later but never published it. Today, although a thousand other scams have rushed in to take its place, the reasons why I reacted so negatively to it are still pertinent. The plethora of gross misinformation spreading across our planet has inspired me to write spiritual fiction, and all three of my novels in the MOKSHA TRILOGY (Whip of the Wild God, Krishna’s Counsel and Copper Moon Over Pataliputra—Whip is out and the other two novels are soon to be published) deal with the great eastern truths that helped me come to grips with reality.) So here goes….

9159ab7fd715aa61603466cadef10395In the summer of 2008, I lived in a delightful suburb located a twenty-minute drive from the White House in Washington D.C. A string of disappointments had driven me into a chasm of despair. Despite the spiritual tools I’d acquired over the decades, my state of consciousness had sunk into such a quicksand of self-doubt that I expected the bathroom mirror to crack every time I peered cautiously into it. At night, as breezes ruffled the branches of the majestic old trees surrounding that beautiful home, I would hear the fat lady screech, and know I was trapped within another dark night of the soul.

I called my friend Meredith who had moved to Taos, New Mexico. “I’ve got the perfect remedy for you, hon!” she cried when I mumbled the shameful details of my depression. “Watch The Secret! It will change everything for you!” Continue reading