India 1984

India (5 May 1984 to 1 July 1984)

If you are some place for a year, you might begin to understand.  I was in India for two months.

5 May 1984. Bombay to Ganeshpuri.   Muktananda ashram is a 90-minute drive from Bombay.

6 May 1984. I decide to stay for ten days [which became a month].  Gurumayi exhorted us to go back to the beginning, to start from scratch, in order to experience the truth.

Cf. Rilke in Letters to a Young Poet (p.49)–“For do you not see how everything that happens keeps on being a beginning, and could it not be His beginning, since beginning itself is always so beautiful?”

I purchased two prayer mats, one for my new friend Bjorn from Sweden. Also bought The Nectar of Chanting.  Here there is jazz, Beethoven, Asimov, Star Trek, chess, guitar, etc.

7 May 1984. Guru Gita in Sanskrit chant at 5:00 a.m. — Bhagavad Gita class at 2:00 p.m.

8 May 1984. During the Silent Time, a little girl with enormous eyes asks me if I have the time and I say yes I do it’s 15 minutes until 2, and later she asks me if I have the time and I say yes I do it’s 5 minutes until 2.

What is wrong with sadness that it occasions such anxious efforts to sweep it away? Why do we not embrace sadness as a quiet complement to our happiness?

Jnaneshwari class: imagination is the shakti; the way to get rid of fear is to get rid of duality; sacrifice = following your own dharma = freedom; highest form of austerity is meditation on the Self

9 May 1984.

Jnaneshwari class: real truth never hurts; proclaiming religion is irreligious ostentation; milk is poison to a snake; the wind does not consider where it should blow

a trapeze artist has no concern with heaven, rather obsessed with earth below

10 May 1984.

the tail of a scorpion can tickle

a fire doesn’t question its opposition to everything it encounters

11 May 1984.

what a happy coincidence that her settled expression is a smile

12 May 1984.

now that I have learned to love the sadness, I recognize in its bitter working the preparation of the self for an encounter — sadness makes us quiet, ready to receive another

last night’s Tarot reading — I identified with the Fool, superficially interpreted as an admonition against impetuosity, but I see the beauty of the Fool

  • his loneliness
  • his laughter
  • his absurd behavior
  • his dance of devotion
  • his tragicomic self-knowledge
  • his foolish ego

but as Blake says, “If the fool persists in his folly long enough, he becomes a wise man.”

from The Fiery World, 1935 Vol. 3:

  • 217. Of all the depraved traits of humanity one must subtly note faint-heartedness. This quality borders on many other dark traits. Nearest of all is treachery. Faint-heartedness borders on fear, cowardice, and selfhood. And in the Fiery World there is no place for faint-heartedness. And the crown of courage can be placed only on the brow which is bared in self-renunciation. Yes, let the lone warrior fight single handed. Let the arrows of hypocrites pierce his breast. Let each manifest aspiration be met with rejection. Yet will his armor be studded with courage. Who, then, knows the fiery striving of the warrior? Who knows the truth of the aspiring heart? Only the manifested fiery heart. The subtle consciousness will illumine the manifestation of courage. Faintheartedness is contempt for the higher Ego. Faint-heartedness is slavery of the spirit. Only the head which bows not in faint-heartedness will be adorned with the great crown. And the disdain of slaves of the spirit is an attainment for the warrior who walks the fiery path. And alone, the courageous warrior, scorning and scorned by faint-heartedness, finds the Fiery Gates to the Hierarchy of Light. Verily, faint-heartedness and self-deception are sisters of darkness!


why are you laughing? because i do not like to cry

why did they kill Him?

13 May 1984.

a girl sat across from me at dinner; i had segregated a single green pea from my potatoes & refused to eat it; i looked over at the girl’s plate & a single green pea similarly segregated; this is the stuff of romance

14 May 1984.

Swami Mukundananda is convinced that the three of us were monks together in England (Bjorn, Swamiji & myself) — today when I came for my visit, Swamiji read a passage from a book on Kashmir Shaivism; later we related our wretching drunk experiences & giggled

my mala beads (from sacred rudraksha seeds) were blessed by Swamiji from water from the Ganges & with Baba’s abishek water (used to ritually clean his body after his death) & the beads were left on Baba’s padukas for a day

18 May 1984.

staring at my mala beads

my copy of Ashram Dharma & my chant book

my mango

my 50 paise

tomorrow is the Intensive with Gurumayi & I have begun to wonder if this place is a joke… not that i should ever regret coming here, but little things that disturb me are collecting

19 May 1984.

The Intensive.  very first impression — slick technological self-importance

  • The Saints say there are 3 things worth having: a human body; a longing for God, & the company of a great being
  • story of Akbar and Birbal — Akbar asks Birbal, who is greater, Akbar or God, and Birbal replies, you are emperor — why? because if you get angry with someone, you can banish them from your kingdom, but poor God…
  • receiving Shaktipat
  • i love maya — what can i do?
  • is my spirituality, my spiritual imagination, a creature of my mind designed to drain off my guilt for immersion in maya?
  • thought is dross, left-over language, bits & pieces
  • a recollected dream (while sitting in the Cave): i was obsessed with the origin of each of my thoughts, determined to trace them back to an original self… this obsession was complicated by thinking about my thoughts, by meta-thoughts — assuming i could posit an original self for a given thought, then what self gave rise to a reflection on the thought, & further to reflection on that reflection…  the image shifted to trees, which i was hurriedly & enthusiastically chopping down, with great fervor, impatience… i became dissatisfied with the stumps remaining & devoted my energy to uprooting the stumps… i was suddenly reduced to the frustration of beating the trees with a stick, & as suddenly, beating the trees with my bare hands, experiencing a profound but cathartic sadness…  then my consciousness faded, perhaps i slept, & upon awakening, i had the distinct impression of having dreamt something significant about spoons (!)


20 May 1984.

The Intensive, continued.

  • the Self is a dancer, an actor
  • be normal — don’t be too spiritual
  • the Divine Hint
  • Vedanta (neti, neti) contra Kashmir Shaivism (eti, eti)
  • worship is nothing more than the awareness of God —Vijnana Bhairava (“nothing more”!!!)
  • virtue takes you to heaven, then back to earth when the virtue is spent — the cycle continues until one is beyond vice and virtue


evening…  a clamoring of selves… does it matter who shall be God today?

relics of the path

i must resolve to stay on the path, whatever my relation to different aspects of the path

23 May 1984.

the solace of language: we use words & phrases to signify states or phenomena of which we are ignorant, hence the vocabulary of spirituality, with which we chatter ourselves into torpidity — even (absurdly) chattering about the limitations of language & the value of silence…

an odd feeling now to be driven to Wittgenstein

24 May 1984.

from Justin’s pamphlet on Sri Swami Satchidananda

  • SATSANG: company of the wise
  • if “Everything is God,” then there’s no fun, no coming, no going, no farewell, no welcoming…
  • ash = holy substance b/c it is totally burnt
    vibhuti = burnt ash (originally dung)
  • COCONUT ceremony
    • 1-husk = tamasic = lazy
    • 2-hard shell = rajasic = restless, active, egoistic
    • 3-white kernel = sattwic = tranquil


from Kirpal Singh, The Crown of Life, A Study in Yoga

  • “We cannot have any appreciable results by meditation on the forms of the past Masters who, having discharged their divine mission on earth of contacting jivas or souls in their own time, are no longer in touch with the physical world.”
  • Does this explain the resurrection of Christ? The ultimate guru with an eternal mission? physical resurrection to establish perpetual contact with the physical planet?


25 May 1984.

short story idea: “The Guru”

  • then light breeze set the fans in a languid spin
  • even as the orange flag curled and unfurled and fell without the appearance of activity
  • the Holy Gust
  • the sadness of God made him very sad… and he loved to console God when it rained
  • externals: meditation, chanting, vocabulary
  • character of Dan — eats raw onions, animated conversation
  • Dan in meditation hall… screaming whisper, “Hey you’re snoring! Yes you are! You’re going ‘snort snort’ and I can hear you all the way from the other end!”
  • God in the pain of separation
  • never direct encounter with guru
  • frogs… shakti
  • be normal, not too spiritual
  • meaningless tolle lege
  • going back to the beginning
  • Vishnu in the shade across the palm grove
    Shiva Linga next to the swans near the fountain
  • Henry character: actor; recitation of “Brahman” by Emerson
  • kriyas (barking, roaring, extended limbs, moaning, extended tongue, etc.)
  • Tarot reading… The Fool
  • clouds = vritis (…but i like clouds, i make shapes out of clouds)
  • Ragu character, American, didactic, serious


the Intensive… nothing really… minus 300 rupees

“liberation” is itself a dualism of “liberation-bondage”

poems given to the Guru Chidvilisananda — and she took them, though I was told later that it is unusual for the Guru to accept gifts directly…

a parting

we will separate so soon

and when we meet again

perhaps I shall have learned

a hundred million little things

for that seems my way

with my dalliance on the path

and you

holy Master

you shall gracefully age

like rudraksha beads

blessed and complete

at their birth


i was with you Lord

for such a very few moments

and in the end

after such wonderful times

of watching you

and learning peace beyond

my power of description —

in the end…

there in the garden


i fell asleep

while you waited and prayed —

of what consequence that i dreamed

of you

that i dreamed of watching you sleep

when the moment was still —

of what consequence?

when you roused me from my sleep

i learned everything in your eyes

a child in the kingdom of heaven

i knew the ancient in his youth

when he was sad

at peace with his sadness

for it taught him many things

and when it rained

he imagined God was sad as well

and with his self-forgetting urgency

he lifted up his arms to the storm in the heavens

seeking to console God

like the child who squeezes the hand of his weeping mother —

everything will be alright God


30 May 1984.

Jnaneshwari class:

  • the essence of Bhagavad Gita = guru-disciple relationship, Lord-jiva union
  • the union effaces awareness of the union — non-duality — losing concepts of Lord, God, the Self
  • one should speak only that which without speech cannot be spoken
  • the relationship is an inner thing — dramatized externally to retrieve it from subtlety — Krishna-Arjuna dramatization
  • other philosophies can destroy ignorance, but only the guru can occasion self-realization
  • grace = peace = grace
  • mind at the service of the ego is a powerful instrument
  • what if rice wanted to sprout as a rose?
  • taking refuge in God means uniting with God
  • remember, the Word created the universe, so what enormous power there is in speech
    • what an expenditure is language


31 May 1984.


  • as long as we don’t have It, we know what It is; when we attain It, we do not know what It is.
  • if you think you’re a spiritual person, you’re a hypocrite
  • do not make love a relationship, for then it becomes a scorpion


1 June 1984.

  • Castaneda — ASTRAL PLANE activities?
  • the practical importance of silence — preservation of energy — the enormous dissipation of words — corollary: the dissipation of all relationships — BUT, along the way, the centrality of relationships in self-discovery
  • as self-awareness progresses, only humility permits continued discovery — discovery becomes more difficult, the path more subtle & the tendency is towards complacency, even toward the thickening of PRIDE that renders the river a sludge — in short, self-awareness works against humility at one level, but it is precisely that humility that guarantees the critical progression of self-awareness, else we are like the river that dries up just before spilling into the ocean, or the pilgrim who settles down just short of his destination & spends his final days in trivial labor
  • only intimate devotion to language will permit me transcendence of it
  • the structuralist mind validates phenomena as it discovers homologous structural elements present in divergent structures (this validation is simply the category of more palatable realities)


2 June 1984.

  • Christ & Antichrist resolve into God; Christ generates Antichrist… then Hegelian aufheben (sublation); karma thrusts Antichrist into his role, however surrendered to God
  • Baba conversed at length with Carlos Castaneda, & expressed an interest in meeting Don Juan
  • resolution…
    • 1-to bring devotion into balance with knowledge
    • 2-to retain & nurture strength/fearlessness
    • 3-to retain & nurture humility before God & his infinite manifestations
    • Arjuna’s ultimate realization: nothing left to do but serve God
    • the ant perceives the sun as well as the goddess of the dawn


4 June 1984.

after lunch a little lizard ran from me on the stairs, trapped, but running from my teasing hand — finally to take refuge under my foot

7-18 June 1984.  Gatpuri. Dhamma Giri Ashram.

Vipassana meditation 10-1/2 hours per day — no reading, no writing, no speaking

(these notes were jotted in secret)

  • Master’s Thesis topic idea; Eastern spirituality in 20th century America — Hare Krishna, Moonies, TM, Vipassana, Alan Watts, Ram Dass, Dharma Bums by Kerouac, Zen (haiku to modern poetry, Suzuki, Herrigal, Persign, etc.), Jung, Hesse, gurus (Muktananda, Satyananda, Satchitananda, Atmananda, Sivananda & Divine Life Society, Yogananda, Sri Chinmoy, etc.), Rajneesh, 19th century Transcendentalists
  • Yogic dialogue of the selves — dual selves — antipathy, serious seeker, indulgent sloth; the way of discipline = fitness, but cannot destroy the indulgent one — ah, discipline = freedom; compassion for the indulgent one; enter the Thinker, insubstantial; seeker suspects alliance between Thinker & indulgent one; Thinker=an illusion (or perhaps a projection of the Indulgent One); therefore use, do not be used by; indulgent one laughs — you need me, you cannot be rid of me; screening of Great Thoughts, the Comedy of Thoughts;  the RAMPAGE of a self-eruption, destruction, fury; equanimity throughout the massacre of memories; the frolic of the selves
  • outside the waning rain
    water dripping
    on itself
  • equanimity can be very boring
  • certain dream elements: J-Diamonds-servant; K-Spades-you will die soon
  • an empty room with no books: Zen library
  • of social workers and mosquitoes — God promises that only the neediest mosquitoes will be filled
  • No man cometh to the Father but by Me. — cf. Advaita concept: cannot attain the Formless but through the Form, hence the role of worship/devotion
  • onset of a storm, cool, breezy, the sound of trains and crows, a tinkling bell, faint conversation, a cough
  • a chief problem: nothing yet has taught me true humility, deep humility
  • during meditation, a startling clap of thunder:
    “Be grateful for luck. Pay the thunder no mind — listen to the birds. And don’t hate nobody.”
    –Eubie Blake, d. 1983 at age 100, Ragtime Pianist
  • I couldn’t do it at first, but then I could — sit still for hours.  I do not know why it does not matter to me.


23 June 1984. Rangpur. Anand Niketan Ashram.

  • i am feverish, food makes me sicker & i am surrounded by Western Social Workers with pale blue eyes staring blankly at the occasional ironic remark before shuffling off to Social Work… a type not exactly averse to humor, but neither well-acquainted with it
  • the night is for sleeping
    or the day, one of the two

 Glucose biscuits

25 June 1984.

  • from the patio upstairs the tops of the palms and the stars
  • by the river, gentle sweeping waves, smooth stones, cool dusk, the breeze, talking talking quiet, harmonica (!), and a flute from the village up the hill
  • befriending a cold trickle from the morning shower


30 June 1984. last day. Mahim Junction. Bombay.

dark rainy early morning… sitting on a bench… watching people watch me, especially a little man across the tracks, a man covered in rags lying on the bench next to me, a sudden stench, he’s scratching his posterior — by 6 a.m., light and gathering people, a man huddled in a corner smoking his bidi, Superman III poster and countless posters of Hindi films; a policeman pokes the sleeper next to me with a stick, token sternness, he wanders on… a man walks by and engages in some sort of aggrieved expostulation, the thrust of which must have been a complaint to God that I should be sitting down surrounded by my things munching Glucose Biscuits, while he, equally a creature of God, was compelled to wander about in rags…  I hear it’s the reverse in Varanasi… the paupers look with pity on the well-to-do…

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