Darsanim

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),

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 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

Once,

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

 

but,

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

to share

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

and

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.