I hope this finds you strong in love and Faith.
It seems weird to me to spend time and space talking about my projects, when so many people are living and dying through this pandemic.
But since I quietly announced that I’m coming back on the grid, many people have asked me to tell them what I was doing during the 6 years of spiritual seclusion, and what new work I’ve written.
So, giving full respect to all the things that are much more important, which is just about everything, I’ll give an update on what I’ve been doing for the last 6 years, and my new projects.
I’ll begin with the new book, The Spiritual Path, which will be coming out in Ebook quite soon.
I went off the Grid to focus as much of my time and energy as possible on researching the Spiritual Reality. I didn’t know then that the research experience would take 6 years and counting, and that it would change my life completely.
After many years of study and searching, I felt in my heart that I wanted to make the leap of Faith and acknowledge the existence of the Divine Perfection, or God, and to offer my Devotion come what may, or come what may not.
To do that sincerely and with total commitment, it was necessary to go off the grid and into a profound spiritual seclusion.
For what turned out to be 6 years I didn’t go to theatres, cinemas, restaurants, events, festivals, conferences, weddings, parties, bars, clubs, functions or just about anywhere else.
I rarely saw people, and spent most of time with my family.
It was remarkably similar to Stay-at-Home Social Distancing, which wasn’t even a concept when I began.
The way that I practiced my Devotion was by blowing a conch shell 7 times in a row, twice a day, with sincerity.
My spiritual teacher had given me the conch shell after I’d watched him blow the conch in rituals for several years.
He assured me that if I could find a place of Innocence within my Self, and offer Devotion from that innocent womb of Intention, I would be able to connect with something beyond this Material Reality.
So, I did it. I put in many hours of practice with the conch until I felt ready to offer Devotion, I put together a Sacred space in my small apartment, and then I began.
I kept notes along the way on my journey of blowing the conch in Devotion, and compiled the notes in a little book called The Spiritual Path.
The book explains my thinking – the logical or philosophical framework that allowed me to make the leap of Faith sincerely – and gives details about what happened, year by year, as I blew the conch in a conscious attempt to connect with the Spiritual Reality.
The Spiritual Path will be released in Ebook format in coming weeks. I’ll post updates here, and let you know when it becomes available.
There’s a saying, When the student is ready, the Teacher appears, and my real instruction in spiritual matters began when I met my spiritual teacher at his temple in Mumbai.
For three years I studied with him, asking a million questions because I was receiving clear, meaningful answers for the first time, and watching the impeccable Devotion he committed to the performance of his rituals.
His wise words were a key, but his active Devotion was the doorway for me.
I’d never seen anything like his strenuous commitment, sometimes blowing the conch shell 30 times during a ceremony, and each time for the longest duration and with the purest sound. All the while he offered Sacred elements, poured liquids, sprinkled powders and showered rose petals on his altar.
Watching him the first time, I was reminded of being a child and attending the Mass in Church on Sunday.
But the arduous, fatiguing strain of my spiritual teacher’s performance and the uncompromising commitment of his energy in every ritual, decade after decade, is unparalleled in my experience. It gave me my first real understanding of the spiritual word charismatic.
The fact that he has lived in a windowless concrete temple in the heart of Mumbai for 40 years and never missed or compromised on his rituals gives me my first real understanding of the spiritual word Penance.
He’s not for everyone. He’s a lion. It may give a sense of him to say that he raised himself as a child on the streets of Kolkata, began working life as a male model, has performed his ceremonies in every major temple in India from the oxygen-deprived peaks of the Himalayas to the most secret caves, is revered by people of every Faith, makes his own money with a successful investor pool he directs on the stock market (he says it helps to know what’s coming), has 12 dogs, 10 cats, 3 parrots, a black rooster, several monkeys and a boa constrictor snake roaming freely in the temple, listens to Jimi Hendrix and Bob Marley day and night on huge speakers, and never accepts a penny from anyone. He shouts and curses, and like many a holy man before him he can get very angry, especially when someone insults a woman or offers him money, and smart people run when he does get mad. Not kidding.
I love him. It may sound strange or disrespectful to say it about a spiritual teacher, but I don’t always agree with what he says and I draw my own conclusions about spiritual matters. But from the first time we met he has encouraged me to think for myself, and has constantly instructed me to be my own fully realized person, and not just a copy or follower of his words and way.
I was raised as a Catholic, but I couldn’t bring myself to sincerely believe in God, no matter how hard I tried. Others seemed to find it very easy to believe and commit themselves but I couldn’t join my heart to theirs in sincere prayer. I was saying the words in unison with others but I didn’t feel connected to anything spiritual.
But I never stopped searching.
I learned how to pray in other languages, joined in with believers in their ceremonies whenever invited, and always enjoyed the fellowship of believers. Something always held me back from becoming a believer myself and joining a congregation.
While I was living in India as a fugitive, I met many gurus and teachers.
A lot of gangsters are superstitious, in part because their lifestyle choice is violently dangerous and often ends in imprisonment.
In my time, whenever a young Indian gangster heard about a holy man who could provide a talisman or blessing, he would go there with hashish and mangoes (you can only offer food or hashish to holy men, not money or jewels) and beg to be blessed.
I often tagged along, and sometimes the journeys took us into dense jungle retreats or remote hill country caves. Gangsters will go further than most for a blessing or a good luck charm.
The holy men were all holy, I’m sure, existing as they did with wild Nature in sublimely common, living purpose. But I didn’t find insights, other than those I’d already found in the Sacred texts they were quoting from.
I travelled into science seeking answers and found better questions but no answers that could satisfy my mind and my instincts at the same time.
Then I met my spiritual teacher, and in 6 years of instruction he has still never quoted a teaching or a sentence from anyone else, including Sacred texts.
A scholar asked him once to describe God. My teacher asked him if his Mother was at home. The scholar replied that she was. Go home and stare at your Mother’s face for half an hour, and you will be staring at God, was the reply.
I became committed to offering daily Devotion to the Divine Perfection, or God, but I didn’t join a religion.
My teacher is a Hindu Brahmin, deeply immersed in the mystical, numerological, minute-by-minute Sun, Moon and Planetary-chart wonder of Hinduism, but we would both think it weird if I told him I wanted to become a Hindu.
His instruction has always been about seeking a profound, personal connection with a Spiritual Reality that is available to all, coming from any religious family or from none.
In essence, the teaching is to seek a place of Innocence within the self from which to offer sincere, authentic, active Devotion to the Source of all things. That’s about it.
How we get there is another story, and a different one for each of us.
The Spiritual Path is my story of that journey, and I hope it provides some consolation and inspiration for others finding their way on the Path.
In the next post I’ll talk about the new album, Love&Faith, some of the songs, and the thinking and feeling behind writing and recording them.
Always remember, when we human beings are united, nothing can stand against us.
Love and Faith