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Darshanim

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Screen Shot 2015-11-13 at 4.57.46 PM.jpg

Sevagram, Maharashtra, India, 2004

This picture was taken during the time I attended Kalidas Sanskrit University

where I received a degree in Ayurveda. 

While there, I visited the Sevagram Ashram (Village of Service)

of Mahatma Gandhi

To paraphrase the ancient writer Thucydides:

 

“All that I have written are not essays 

to win the moment's applause but to mark a path for all time.” 

“A Parable is made to purify and illuminate the mortal human heart.”

- Adi Da

Let me tell you a story . . .

In the Jewish tradition, a person who tells stories about stories in the Torah is called a Darshanim. His own story about a story in the Torah

was called a Midrash, or a Midrash Haggadah (parable or anecdote). Such a person interpreted biblical narratives and ideas and was an explorer of ethics, theology, and a creator of homilies and parables based on biblical texts. 

 

I thought I might be a Darshanim since the first time I heard the word, and I have always considered my writings to be a Midrash.

 

From: The Apology of the Preacher

- By Abn Allah Ben Saber, 1650

 

"There were wandering Darshanim

who traveled from one town to another,

often because of persecution or adverse economic conditions,

rather than by invitation

 

"Thus, the visiting Darshanim had to apologize

with much humor, self-deprecation, and flowery expressions

to gain the sympathy of the congregation

especially the local Hakimim (wise men)."

 

Consider this my apology. . . .

 

I have never exclusively focused on the Teachings

said to be given to Moses by Yahweh at Mount Sinai (the Torah),

rather,

I swim in that great ocean,

of the now gathered together in the same room

of our consideration

for the first time in history, 

the Great Traditions

of religion and spirituality.

They are my Torah,

and I spin like a wheel around their hub

 

I am a religious studies scholar

and have studied the Talmud (the compilation of religious wisdom),

 not merely of believers, philosophers, and enthusiasts,

but those of the

 Realized Teachers of the world;

those who know by experience of what they speak,

those who became One with that God or Reality

of their beliefs.

 

I have been interested in religious traditions 

since I was a little boy.

I  read the great commentators and teachers,

but I fell in love with the Realizers,

 Saints, Sages, Siddhas;

and the 'Crazy Wise' men and women of the world.

 

These were not 'pipe-smoking philosophers';

the lives they lived and the stories they told 

revealed a constant Miracle in Life

the mysterious Infinity of everything

their non-preference regarding any condition

and the humor of everyday living.

 

 They embodied what they spoke of.

 The tales they told were radical and went to the root.

Their presence in the world changed my life

and the lives of others.

 

In my own life,

along with what I thought was a spiritual practice,

I tasted everything

 sexuality, money, food, possessions.

 Like an explorer, I indulged,

visiting exotic people, places, customs, and practices,

adventuring in foreign lands and practices

and like everything else I experienced,

it did not make a difference.

 

Here are some of the 'jewels' I carried back:

Here are a few stories to share what I found,

here is my Midrash Haggadah . . .

tales and essays of ideas I have come across,

people I have met,

sights I have seen and 

mistakes I made.

 

I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the winds of grace

that filled and still fill my sails.

 

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Two rivers join together at Dev Prayag,

the Alakananda and the Bhagirathi.

After this Divine (Dev) confluence (Prayag)

these same two rivers, now one, are called the 'Ganges.'

 

I  walked the banks of the rivers

of renunciation and indulgence

I bathed in both of them

and neither made any difference

Now, they have joined together in the Ganges of my own life.

Now, I dip my toes in this River of Heaven

and know more about its source, even though

it still tastes of these same waters

Once,

I heard and read about this River of Heaven;

over and over and over in this lifetime

visited and bathed in its waters

But, as Kabir once said:

If bathing in the Ganges brought salvation

then every fish is in heaven

I  have met a few extraordinary teachers

and One

Unbounded as the sky

 

For all of this,

I am overwhelmingly thankful

but I am still an ass,

bearing a load of memories, exquisite books

and assorted tales

Here are a few of the stories I found etched on rocks

along the banks of the River of Heaven . . .

 

But now, let me offer a closing apology

to the wise men and women of my time:

We all make mistakes,

but not all mistakes are necessary.

Therefore, I am obligated

to share what I have seen, what I learned,

the mistakes I made, 

the trail I traveled, and the dead ends I found.

 

'Dead ends'

marked the beginning of Wisdom for me

and if you are fortunate

you will discover your own . . .

wheel of life.jpg

Tibetan Wheel of Life

A symbol of the Buddhist Teaching in symbolic form, made for illiterate people,

 Painted on the right-hand side of the main door

of every Tibetan monastery.

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