Maharashtra, India, 2004
I attended Kalidas Sanskrit University
and 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 applause of the moment, but to mark a path for all time.”
In the Jewish tradition, a person who tells stories about stories in the Torah is called a Darsanim and his story about a story in the Torah
is called a Midrash, or a Midrash Haggadah. Such a person interpreted biblical narratives and ideas, was an explorer of ethics and theology and a creator of homilies and parables based on biblical texts.
I thought I might be a Darsanim since the first time I heard the word,
But 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 Darsanim
who traveled from one town to another
often because of persecution or adverse economic conditions
rather than by invitation
"Thus, the visiting Darsanim had to apologize
with much humor, self-deprecation and flowery expressions
in order to gain the sympathy of the congregation
especially the local Hakimim (wise men)."
Consider this my apology . . .
I am not exclusively focused on the Teachings
said to be given to Moses by God at Mount Sinai (the Torah),
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 world-wide great traditions
of religion and spirituality.
They are my Torah.
and I spin like a wheel round their hub
I am a religious studies scholar
and I have studied the Talmud ( the commentaries)
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 have become One with the 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
and the humor of everyday living.
They embodied what they spoke of
the tales they told were radical (went to the root)
their mere presence in the world changed my life
and the lives of others.
In my own life
Along with what I thought was 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 like everything else I experienced
it did not make the difference
Here are some 'jewels' I carried back:
Here are stories to share what I found,
here is my Midrash . . .
tales and essays that tell of
the mistakes I made
gratitude for the winds of grace that filled my sails.
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 along 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 bathe in the river of heaven
and know more of it sources
it still tastes of these same waters
I heard and read about this river of heaven,
over this lifetime I have
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
One Unbounded as the sky
For all of this,
I am overwhelmingly thankful
I am still an ass,
bearing a load of memories and exquisite books
Here are a few of the tales I found etched on rocks
found along the banks of the river of heaven . . .
But now, for my closing apology . . .
We all make mistakes
but not all mistakes are necessary
Therefore, I feel obligated
what I have seen
what I learned;
the mistakes I made
the trail I traveled and the dead ends I found there
These 'dead ends'
mark the beginning of wisdom for me
if you are fortunate
you will discover your own . . .
Tibetan Wheel of Life
Painted on the right-hand side of the main door
of every Tibetan monastery.