An Eternal Wilderness

Ivan_Kramskoy's_1872_-_Christ_in_the_Wilderness

A lot of us get by with the agenda life sets for us. An education, a career, family and the other assorted conventions get our attentions.

A few choose to question this default agenda. Attempt to intuit the mechanics behind this grand machinery, to understand the method behind this madness.

To a privileged few is given the wilderness. A barren interior landscape devoid of transient joys.

The inner monologue is the only company. And the ever present silent question that mocks us.

We stumble into the question at the most inopportune times. Life’s pressing urgencies carry no meaning here.

We contemplate, we wait and wonder in awe at the endurance of those who passed before us through the wilderness.

5 Indispensable Books to Guide Your Soul

This is for each of you who have aspired to a higher state within.

Sometimes one hits a wall. A wall of obstruction that prevents us from making progress. These states come out as an unease, a state of disquiet, a sense of being alienated from the world and its events.

However this state of unease is not a conducive condition for any sort of contemplation. Sri Aurobindo talks about ‘uthsaaha’, the Sanskrit word for enthusiasm, as a necessary condition for all yogic endeavors.

But enthusiasm and hope are not the easiest of qualities to gain when one is beset by travails within and without.

Sometimes, just sometimes, there are intimations..like postcards from eternity. They arrive without warning. The discerning mind of the aspirant latches onto them.

Every time I have lost my grip, and was to slip into the abyss, a life-line has been thrown to me, often in the form of a book. Today I shall share details of 5 of these books. My review shall be brief, for the essence has seeped deep within me and the specifics of time, place and plot have given way to reveal the story of every aspiration and mine.

The Sannyasin

Satprem A partly autobiographical work of Satprem, a disciple of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, it speaks of the chief protagonist Nil’s attempts to storm the gates of Heaven. And how in the process this pleasant green earth eludes him. The impossible intensity with which Nil feels the burning question, all point to an experience lived and savored, not merely thought out in the mind and cast on paper.

Siddhartha

41RV449YN2L._SL160_ Contrary to what I expected this is not the story of the one called the Buddha. Rather its the story of character called Siddhartha who lived during Buddha’s times. He too wishes to reach the source and find answers. But unlike the Buddha, this Siddhartha’s methods and means are more commonplace, which makes this book resonate more deeply with our own quest.

 

 

Ka

51T6Q1WDFYL._SL160_ The story and myths of the Indian pantheon. A god of birds in search of ransom that would redeem his mother, the king of gods who often falls prey to lust, a Rishi who whispers the highest secret to his wife with the lower gods straining to catch the cadence of it – words hardly do justice here. The author displays a very rare understanding of the symbolic and metaphorical nature of the Hindu psyche. Forget the Ganges, take a dip in this book, and the gods might just notice you.

 

Last Temptation of Christ

51585A01V6L._SL160_ The Christian institution I studied in attempted numerous times to ‘save’ my soul. None of these evangelical methods worked of course. The super-son or the super-lamb portrayals popular with the common mass and the official system, or the sanitized and simplified biblical version might suit the evangelistic purposes of the establishment but means very little to the true seeker. Read it to understand the very real torments even of the chosen ones. Also know what it is to suffer, that wounds of the flesh are mere trifles before the anguish of eternal separation from the Highest Divine. This book has single handedly birthed in me a profound devotion for Christ.

Essays on the Gita

41mXMgHhZdL._SL160_ There is a scene in the assault on Minas Tirith in LOTR with Pippin and Gandalf. Pippin wonders aloud, “I didn’t think it would end this way”, to which Gandalf replies, “End? No, the journey doesn’t end here. Death is just another path… One that we all must take. The grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass… And then you see it.”. The setting is critical. Right in the thick of the battlefield, Gandalf chooses to comfort the hobbit with a truth that is universal. Such is the setting of the Gita. In response to Arjuna’s shirking from the great battle of Mahabharata, Sri Krishna, the incarnate Godhead, sings of the eternal nature of the soul and the imperative to follow ones duty, however bitter the act and the outcome. One can almost hear in the intimacy of the inner ear Sri Krishna himself. This more than any other version of the Gita seems to channel the Higher Word without the interpreting agency of the human element.

Of course this is a just a quick list. The number of books that I have sought solace from are many. Based on time and your interest, I shall share more.

Sarah Palin and Joan of Arc- Same God Spoke to Both?

427px-Jeanne_d'_Arc_(Eugene_Thirion)

All this talk by Sarah Palin about the “voice of god” and “his will” remind me of another historical character, Joan of Arc.

I deeply admire Joan and think its unjust to even mention her name in the same web page as Sarah Palin!

The movie by Luc Besson, is a favorite of mine. Especially for casting Milla Jovovich as Joan herself, an unusual casting but works to fantastic effect.

The scenes where Milla deals with her inner self, portrayed by Dustin Hoffman, has to be a masterpiece of cinematic narration.

The initial rousing triumph of lifting an anonymous peasant to the heights of leading a nation, the blind anticipation of the will of the Unseen Divine, the irrational yielding to Infallibility masked as instinct and the eventual self doubt and soul killing questioning are the traditional marks of a life yielded to the Divine. Besson captures all these moods with as much aptness as practically possible.

Even the series of mystic visions that Joan has reveal an originality of artistic inspiration in portrayal that is rare when dealing with spiritual subjects.

Compare this to how Christ is portrayed in “The Passion of Christ” by Mel Gibson. You will see the Gallic sensibility at work in Besson and the crass sensationalism of hollywood painting Christ’s story with ugly gore.

You ask, what has this got to do with the title of this post? Well, I had to absolve myself from taking the name of SP, a little soul cleansing was in order…hence the rambling on Joan of Arc and heck I even have something akin to devotion to Joan…so why not!

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