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

No Better than Solzhenitsyn’s Village Dogs

Flying man“The moral duty of the free writer is to begin his work at home: to be a critic of his own community, his own country, his own government, his own culture. The more freedom the writer possesses the greater the moral obligation to play the role of the critic. If the writer is unwilling to fill this part then the writer should abandon pretense and find another line of work: become a repairman, a brain surgeon, a janitor, a cowboy, a nuclear physicist, a bus driver…

That’s all I ask of the author. To be a hero, appoint himself a moral leader, wanted or not. I believe words count, that writing matters, that poems , essays, novels – in the long run – make a difference. If they do not, then in the words of my exemplar Aleksander Solzhenitsyn, the writer’s work is of no more importance than the barking village dogs of the night. The hack writer, the temporizer, the toady, and the sycophant, the journalistic courtier (and what is a courtier but a male courtesan?), all of those in the word trade who simply go with the flow, who never oppose the rich and powerful, are no better in my view than Solzhenitsyn’s village dogs. The dogs bark; the caravan moves on.” Edward Abbey, The Writer’s Credo

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IMG_1802Abbey’s words transported me back to the early 90s in Manhattan, when I first decided to focus my energies on writing spiritual fiction.

I was seeing a talk therapist then, in an attempt to work through my general confusion. Simultaneously I dived into the liberating truths of eastern philosophy, trained as a teacher of Hatha Yoga, tackled my addictions head-on, and learned to cull out spiritual buddies from run-of-the-mill company whose negative energies were bringing me down.

This phase was far from easy or pleasant and my frustration grew intense. One Saturday morning I cracked up while cleaning my apartment: turning off the vacuum cleaner, I collapsed onto my wooden floor and wept for all my broken dreams. Then, with all the force of a hammer, it struck me that I had to make some solid decisions in order to dissolve this angst.

P1140240Grabbing a notepad, I jotted down all the things I was good at. Ah, I thought, as Joseph Campbell’s advice to ‘follow your bliss’ flashed across my mind—the problem stemmed from dispersing my energies in too many directions. To find sweet water, one must dig deep in one place; Jack-of-all-trades but master-of-none is a hard place to be for one who craves depth.

Two things in my list jumped out at me: music and writing. When I played music, or poured my heart out in words, relative time seemed to vanish; I entered a zone where nothing mattered but the soaring of my soul.

But music as a career I quickly dismissed: I had neither the training nor the thick skin I felt was needed to make it in the west as a singer/guitarist. Which brought it down to one: Writing. And it was on that oddly magical morning that I decided to focus on expressing my thoughts via the written word.

Encouraged by a friend, I began to write short stories. Each dealt with an Indian woman who battled terrible odds in order to resolve a difficult situation. My protagonists were of all ages, castes, incomes and educational levels; all they had in common was their courage in taking on a variety of goons. I titled the collection SACRIFICE TO THE BLACK GODDESS (the Black Goddess is Kali, the deity known to fight evil) and managed to get a good literary agent. Publishers liked the collection but all of them were unanimous that I should first write a novel.

THIRD EYEBut what to write a novel about?  The answer came years later when I stumbled onto the exciting philosophy of Tantra. Easy to see that folks in both east and west thought Tantra was all about free sex, but I was becoming convinced that Tantra was a highway to heaven for even the celibate. In fact, masters such as the Dalai Lama and other mystics practiced Tantra—minus a human mate.

And so Whip of the Wild God: A Novel of Tantra in Ancient India was born. I finally published it after twenty years, and after at least seven major rewrites! Only then did I turn my energies to a novel I’d been dreaming about since the millennium—Krishna’s Counsel, still a work-in-progress. And then will come my third, Copper Moon Over Pataliputra, which I hope to finish before my spirit leaves this planet.

wwg-book1-mishi

Edward Abbey spoke of the external battle that so many writers take on so brilliantly. But my battle (both as a person and as a writer) concerns the inner struggle against darkness. The subject of all three of my sagas concerns the fusion of finite self (mini-me/ego) with Infinite Self. And in this way I feel my creative work is in harmony with Abbey’s advice to the sincere writer—to be true to oneself, no matter what. 

Photo Credit: Bernd Kalidas Flory

Photo Credit: Bernd Kalidas Flory

Greetings from Arunachala, Shiva in the form of a sacred mountain, where the seeker of freedom is aided in the quest to be permanently free of desire and fear by the destruction of the ego!

 

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Revealing Hidden Codes That Cause Suffering…

DSC_5415As a young bride in Manhattan, I spent my first couple of months shopping, cooking and wandering goggle-eyed around that fascinating city.

One day I happened to bump into my next door neighbor (we lived in a relatively small mid-town apartment building at the time). “It’s got to be you cooking all that Indian food,” he said with a friendly grin. “Spicy odors disturbing you?” I asked. “Oh no,” he said. “I LOVE Indian food…in fact my tummy growls every time I pass your apartment.” “Come get some if you’re hungry,” I said. “Plenty of leftovers.” And he did.

My new buddy turned out to be a writer who made his rent and food money working as a freelancer/temp on Wall Street and in the city’s many law firms. Under his guidance, I soon signed up with an agency that taught me the basics of WordPerfect—the software currently in use in corporate Manhattan. I had never used a computer before. In fact, the first time I hit the print button and saw a piece of paper rolling out of a laser printer with what I’d typed during my training at the agency, I shrieked with excitement—to me, a true lover of the power of words, this was pure magic! Continue reading

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

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

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

Demon of Eclipses & Illusions – Part 9/9

twelve_step_cartoonThe non-addict does not understand why an addict continues to hurt himself. A “normal” person sees an alcoholic woman racked by smokers’ cough; her teeth are yellow, her fingers stained with nicotine, she stinks of booze, sounds like death warmed over, and is under medical supervision for a range of potentially fatal illnesses.

The “normal” person scratches her head, puzzled  — why the hell is this woman doing this to herself? Why can’t she just stop this nonsense right now? Why indeed! The bitter truth is that the urge to self-destruct is built into addiction, and only the fellow addict discerns this — which is why the Twelve Step Program — designed by addicts and alcoholics to help addicts and alcoholics stay sober — has such an astounding track record.

Built into this dis-ease of self-destruction is shame  — a sickening emotion that continues to fuel the addiction. The genius of the Twelve Step tradition lies in defusing this shame by encouraging addicts to speak openly about their demons. “We are only as sick as we are secret,” is one 12-step motto, and in the cozy anonymity of thousands of church basements and other meeting spaces all over the globe, addicts and alcoholics are encouraged to spill their deepest darkest secrets, knowing full well that they are not alone, and that they have the support of millions who famously “love them until they can learn to love themselves.” 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

The Spider & The Blue-Throated God – Part 2/2

sad_woman

Did I go from being a neurotic worrier to a goddess radiating mega-rays of tranquillity in a few short weeks? Sorry, but this ain’t no fairy tale. The sad truth is that I was born with a depressive gene: to see a glass as half-full instead of half-empty can still often be for me a true labor of Hercules. But by putting a positive spin on my life, my fears shrank, my vision cleared, and I could move forward with increasing confidence. Still, there were many times since that I found myself embroiled in situations so dark I could not find a single reason to be grateful.

One such nightmare saw me trapped me in a guesthouse in Rishikesh during the Neelkanth Mahadev temple festival that annually draws close to half a million rambunctious rural devotees down from their villages to worship Lord Shiva. The temple is surrounded by dense forest and is adjacent to the Nar-Narayan mountain ranges. Hindu myth claims it was here that Lord Shiva consumed the poison Halahala that originated from the ocean when the Gods and the Demons churned the deep waters in order to obtain Amrita, the nectar of immortality. To save creation, Shiva swallowed this poison, which turned his throat blue — which is why he is known as Nilkanth, literally The Blue Throated One. Continue reading