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.
I thought I might be a Darsanim since the first time I heard the word,
in any case, I have always considered my stories to be a midrash.
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)."
Please 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 the 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
have studied the Talmud ( the commentaries)
not merely of believers, philosophers and enthusiasts,
but of the
Realized Teachers of the world
Those who have become One with God or Reality
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 'Crazy Wise' men and women of the world.
They were not 'pipe-smoking philosophers';
the lives they lived and the stories they told
revealed the constant miracle of life
and 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.
Along with what I thought was spiritual practice,
I tasted everything
sexuality, money, food.
I indulged like an explorer
visiting exotic people, places and practices in a foreign land
and like everything else I experienced
found they did not make the difference
Here are some of the 'jewels' I carried back:
Here are stories to share what I found,
tales and essays that speak of
the mistakes I or others 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 waters are called the 'Ganges'
The two rivers of renunciation and indulgence
joined together in the river of my own life.
I walked along them all my life
I bathed in both of them
and neither made any difference
Now it seems they have joined into the river of heaven
and I realize I have always been traveling in this direction
I had heard and read about this river of heaven,
and on many occasions
I visited and bathed in these waters
But as Kabir once said:
If bathing in the Ganges brought salvation
then every fish is in heaven
I have met with a few extraordinary teachers
and One Unbounded as the sky
For all of this,
I am overwhelmingly thankful
but as for myself,
I am still an ass,
bearing a load of memories, exquisite books
Here are some of the tales written on the banks
of the river of heaven . . .
And now for my closing apology . . .
We all make mistakes
but not all mistakes are necessary
This is the reason I am obligated
what I have learned;
to point out the mistakes I have made;
mark the trail I traveled
and tell of the dead ends I arrived at
These dead ends
marked the beginning of wisdom for me
if you are fortunate
you will discover your own . . .
The Wheel of Life