Palm Springs Diary
December 16, 1998 Wednesday
Getting Ready for the Journey
I am thrilled to see that preparations are underway for such a major travel the day after tomorrow. I received the tickets yesterday. However, I started worrying about the trip as soon as I woke up. Why this torture of traveling again? If it seems like a torture to us, how much more so should it be to UG? Going to a strange place once every couple of months – although they are old faces, indeed, they all look new to him. The cold is becoming more severe here. It will only get worse each day. It must be much colder there in Palm Springs. God only knows why all this is happening. Apparently, UG told Suguna that we will be in Los Angeles on Saturday. Perhaps Mr. And Mrs. Krishnamurti will leave by then. Meanwhile, we are getting ready.
For a man who has no encumbrances, what a big family UG has! But none of this touches him. He remains as worry-free as someone watching images on a movie screen. My mind, entrenched in the notion that I am my body, writhes with every disturbance. For whom all this anxiety? Although I have been questioning myself like this and trying forcibly to wipe out the notion that I am the body and adopt the idea that I am the Universal Self, I am unable to see my own foolishness. To think that all this doesn’t concern me – how do I even know “that I exist”? Thinking – it’s not as easy as thinking. There is an ocean of difference between the ‘I’ notion and the thinking that “I am such and such, and I am my body.” This belief is pretty deep-rooted. It’s very tricky. It’s easy to talk. Bhagavan asks, as though it’s so easy, “Isn’t it enough to think that ‘I am not this’?” In the flood of thoughts arising wave after wave, how small is this little boat of belief! It will capsize in a moment if the ego raises its head. The struggle starts again. This has been going on for so many years. Still, my confidence in my own abilities does not end.
Even at this moment, what am I thinking about? – I’m thinking about what I should take with me. Any books? Among the books I have, which ones should I take? Any of the books that I have written? Must I ask Moorty and take those that he recommends? – My mind thinks along these lines. It doesn’t remember that this time I am going there as a naked man and not to show myself off. What do I have to show off, in the first place? If UG is creating such an opportunity to be in his presence, it is due to his mercy. As a matter of fact, does he have mercy and compassion? Would a great soul who dispenses to each what he or she deserves think that he should show special compassion to a particular person? Is there any difference for him between a stone image in a temple, a photo image, or the bodily forms moving in his presence? If there is, does it only exist in my imagination? I don’t understand any of this. The only solution is to sit at the feet of UG and give myself up. “I beseech UG for only one thing! I can’t battle you. I can’t please you with my power of poetical creations. Please forgive my helplessness. This is the way I am. Let me be. Give me the ability to lay down my weapons.” Isn’t that the true renunciation? Who cares about my superficial lectures?
* * *
December 17, Thursday
We leave tomorrow. Preparations are underway. Close friends are coming to say goodbye. Indiramma and Shyamalamma will stay here while we are gone.
The medicines to take along cost Rs. 1,000. We have bought clothes and gifts. I have spent Rs. 5,000. … I just called UG. Apparently Aruna will not be coming to the airport. Venkat will be in New York on Saturday. I hear that Raghavendra Rao has high blood pressure and that Aruna is coming to Palm Springs for Christmas. “It’s more important for me to be with you. Aruna is important only after you,” I told UG. “Aha, you’re trying to trick me,” says UG. “I’m telling you the truth,” I replied.
Thoughts about the school are crowding in.
* * *
December 18, Friday: New Moon Day
We are leaving at 4 o’clock in the afternoon for Madras. The Jet Airways flight was postponed till 5:30 pm. Still there was no problem. The airport manager, Sastri, puts us in a nice VIP lounge. The effect of the new moon day has waned thanks to UG’s influence.
December 20, Sunday – Day 1
What shall I write? How should I start? I woke up at 4:30 am. How do I know where I am unless I tell myself that I am in America? It’s still cold outside, but inside the room the temperature is moderate. I was surprised to see UG coming to the airport yesterday, and so many others coming with him. Julie’s car is big; it’s a Dodge Caravan. It can seat seven people. UG sat next to Julie in the front seat. While Julie was trying to drive out of the parking lot, a young lady tried to overtake her. The woman was frowning and signing to Julie with her hand to let her go first. Julie started to slow down to let her pass, but UG shouted, “Don’t! Teach that bitch a lesson! Don’t give her any room; don’t allow her to overtake you!” Julie moved ahead blocking her way. That competitive lady was screaming, pouring abuses on Julie. Julie retorted, “Don’t lecture us; go your way!” Apparently, UG wanted to teach that arrogant woman a lesson.
We received the hospitality of the Malladis in the Holiday Inn before we went to Palm Springs. They must have gone to Detroit on the 19th. I phoned Aruna and talked to her.
It’s 7 am in the morning now. In the backyard of the house I see a tree with ripe leaves shining in the golden-yellow sunshine. The sun is white. There are mountains all around. We made our first visit to Jenson Bakery. I thought the prices there were pretty steep. UG also came with us. From there we went to see Moorty, Mahesh and Ramesh, who are all staying at the Whitewater Club. Ramesh prepared some nice tea for us, which Mahesh praised. UG started his harangue, declaring that that we had now polluted the atmosphere by drinking tea. “Anything from the North is taboo here!” Earlier, I had breakfast with slices of oat bread with cream cheese and coffee. UG ate oatmeal in his cottage.
* * *
Mahesh put UG on the spot by asking him why he had dragged us here. What was the need for it? UG answered, “I won’t tell you now. Let Moorty come first. Then I’ll tell you.” In a little while Narayana Moorty joined us. “Now you must tell us,” repeated Mahesh. “No special reason. I wanted to see both of you; so I asked you and Chandrasekhar to come. I am not going to India, let alone Bangalore.” (I feel very drowsy writing this. My jet lag must be kicking in.)
In the evening, when UG was talking with Ramanand and others, I lay down for a little while in Moorty’s room. Earlier, in the afternoon, they had driven us around Palm Springs – downtown, two or three malls, and a Pick and Save (it’s very nice). We went to an Indian cuisine restaurant called Delhi Palace. The lady there was thrilled to see Mahesh. (I can’t keep my eyes open. I must stop now.) Ramesh came in his car. Dr. Raj phoned. His website with his internet “Guide” and the site he has built with photos and comments as a supplement to UG’s website are nice.
* * *
Lisa took us to her hotel. She showed us the spa in a hotel where she works. (Sleep is overwhelming me. I’ll stop here.) We had news from Bangalore that our shoes and clothes were stolen in our house. That caused some disturbance in my mind. Yet there is nothing we can do from here. It’s useless to worry about it.
December 21, Monday – Day 2
Woke up early in the morning at 4 am. Julie was already awake. Lisa is in one wing of the house and we and Bob are in the other. In between are the living room and the kitchen. We two (Julie and I) chatted, drinking coffee and reminiscing about past events. She told me her son Justin phoned at 1:00 am last night. He had talked for half an hour, and then she couldn’t go back to sleep. His mind is not stable. She hopes that if he visits UG he will get better. But he doesn’t come. He is 32 years old now. “If you have trust in UG, he will somehow help you,” I told her. That’s what I feel. His curses are all blessings. “My curses work, but not my blessings,” he says. His curses work as blessings.
* * *
Ramanand is a friend of Nataraj. Luna and a couple of others came yesterday at 4:30 pm. We met at the Whitewater Club in the apartment where Mahesh and Moorty are staying. UG’s discourse is Shitopanishad, said Moorty. His “Om tat shit” got further elaborated in my head as follows:
That is shit. This is shit.
From shit comes all this shit.
Shit alone remains.
Om tat shit.
* * *
Can anyone recognize an enlightened man, I asked UG. “Your question is not correct. What is there in an enlightened man (or in the one you consider to be enlightened)? What do you think there is? You must ask that question. Whatever you have known about it is all that presents itself as an answer. That’s what you will experience. There is nothing besides that,” said UG.
* * *
The TV news is filled with Clinton’s impeachment. All the TV broadcasts are about that. UG’s slogan: “Kill Clinton!” “Politics should not be used for personal destruction,” Clinton comments. The American political scene is chaotic. People have a forgiving attitude toward Clinton. But this is a golden opportunity for Clinton’s political enemies to bring him down. They are keen on getting him to resign.
* * *
December 22, Tuesday – Day 3
I woke up after midnight at 1:30 am. I couldn’t get back to sleep. Yesterday, I inserted all the postcards I had bought for all the teachers in envelopes, writing their individual names on each of the cards, and got them ready for mailing. The time now is 3:30 am. It’s silent all over. The central heater system is making a ‘gudu gudu’ noise, and I can also hear the refrigerator sound in the kitchen. Sleep overwhelmed me last night around 9 o’clock. After I went to bed, about half an hour later, I got a phone call from Aruna.
I don’t know who will come on the weekend. Perhaps Mr. And Mrs. Raghavendra Rao will come along with Aruna and Venkat. His high blood pressure caused them some concern. I wonder how he would fare driving such a long distance. Today Paul is driving in his car from San Francisco.
* * *
What all happened yesterday? The weather outside was very cold. In the morning at 8 o’clock, we went over to the Whitewater Club. Everyone gathered there after a little while. In front of the video camera, Mahesh related how the influence of drugs created in him an interest in spirituality, and how Rajneesh exploited that interest, making him his slave with the pretext of saving him. Bob too spoke of UG as he had known him before his Calamity. Everyone left by 11 o’clock. Moorty and I discussed Shamarao’s Kannada book and he suggested some changes.
Scott came in the afternoon in his van. Suguna and I saw the inside of the van. It looked just like a house. It has all the conveniences. In the afternoon, Suguna and Julie made couscous and papads. We ate them with yogurt. Last night before dinner, UG vented his fury: “I don’t want the stench and stink of an ashram here!” – the usual song. He wouldn’t let Julie breathe nor would he let Mahesh drink his coffee. Scott was scared and he went out to eat. Moorty ate some pizza and brought the remainder to our house. We all ate soup and bread. I don’t know what Mahesh ate. Julie was scolded for turning the house into an ashram. UG says everyone must make their own cooking arrangements. He wants all those people around him, yet he doesn’t like them to eat, drink and have fun. He can’t tolerate it. Especially, he doesn’t like everyone gathering around the table and eating like gluttons. ‘Why is Luna here?’ he asks. He pours more abuse on Julie. The only thing he didn’t poke at was Suguna’s cooking. UG is yelling again, saying that tomorrow Guha and Lakshmi will arrive; they will cook for everyone, ransack the whole house and turn it into an ashram. He warns, “I’ll tell them not to come.” He says to Julie, “Julie, I don’t need you any more. I asked you to come for helping the Malladis. Now you can go.”
* * *
“Each day there is danger, yet you live to be a hundred years!”
December 23, Wednesday – Day 4
Today too, I woke up exactly at 1:50 am. I didn’t feel like going back to bed. I finished washing and have been enjoying a cup of orange juice. Time 2:30 am. Last night, quoting O.S. Reddi, UG said, “The right time for everyone to wake up is between 2:00 am and 3:00 am. During that time the hormones in the pineal gland make all other glands function most effectively.”
What happened yesterday? Julie came while I was writing my diary early in the morning. Then Lisa came and read three poems she had written. They’re very nice. Needless to say that she has been influenced by UG. Moorty and Mahesh also liked them. I must copy them to some other page in this diary.
It’s dawn now. UG stormed into the house like a tornado. UG’s room may seem to be adjacent to this house, but it’s actually 50 to 60 feet away. No sooner had he come than he exploded on Julie, “I told you yesterday not to eat here at all. Why did you do it?” he roared at her. I wasn’t there at that moment. We knew that the UG thundercloud has been building over Julie; but we didn’t think that the cracking would happen so soon. UG was in no condition to hear Julie, even when she tried to explain to him that she hadn’t eaten there. “Vacate your room immediately and leave. You can’t stay here. You must not even stay in town,” he said and cast her out. There is no count of how many times this has happened. Julie cried, vacated her room and left. She rented a room in the Ocotillo Lodge.
As soon as Julie vacated her room, UG told Lisa, “Arrange your kitchen stuff as usual in the middle room,” Lisa got pretty shook up and said, pitifully, dreading the task ahead, “Why now, UG? Everything has to be changed. I don’t know where I left my kitchen stuff and cooking range; I need to arrange them all.” “Don’t worry; all these people will help you,” UG insisted. In his world, things have to be done instantly; he doesn’t tolerate any delay. There is no room to think “I’ll do it later.” Lisa got into action reluctantly. We moved her bed frame and beds into our room. She got busy arranging her kitchen.
UG phoned Lakshmi and Guha and told them not to come. UG believes that if she [Lakshmi] comes she will start cooking communal meals; he says you can’t have such things in this house. Moorty argued last night, “Why do you take responsibility for everyone? Why do you arrange things for them? Why should you give them hospitality? They should take care of themselves. ” But UG is reluctant to let that happen.
It would be nice if those who come would recognize his wish and not cause him hardship; it would be nice if they ate and drank somewhere else and then came here. When they come to visit UG, it would be fine if they stayed for an hour or two. Hanging around UG all day long, not caring about the times when people who live here eat their lunches or drink their coffee – this is the tendency of people, not just in this country, but everywhere. That’s why UG gets so irritated. Why don’t these people understand? Don’t they know that UG doesn’t appreciate their hanging around him for hours together? But that’s the effect of UG’s attraction. No matter how long people spend time with him, it’s never enough. Some deliberately stay on for coffee and meals. UG doesn’t like to eat without caring for them. People like Lakshmi and Nartaki feed them, and they get a joy in such feeding. Such are UG’s problems.
That’s why UG started the discussion when Mahesh, Moorty and Ramesh came in this afternoon. It’s amusing to see UG adopting such roundabout methods in discussions like this, while he is so straightforward, clear and to the point about everything else. Whenever he was straying from the point of discussion, Bob tried with all his might to get him back to the issue at hand.
It’s the usual song: “I have given away all I have. I don’t have a red farthing left. Who will give me money?” he moans sadly. Mahesh agreed long ago to pay for a ticket for UG to go around the world once a year and also for all his expenses. When UG says, “What do you have to give me? All your money is in my hands. I get interest of Rs. 100,000 a month, $30,000 a year, on your money. You’ll get that money only after I die.” Mahesh replies innocently, “How long do you intend to live, UG?” That’s right. What more does UG want? He said, “I am not coming to India anymore. If I need to, I may pass through India, but I won’t come to Bangalore and stay in their (our) house. I am going to be far away from everyone.” He is giving us a sign that in the days to come his style of travel is going change in radical ways.
“I am going to tear America apart with my comments. Maybe this government won’t give me a visa. But I’m not worried,” he says. He is going to severely criticize the policies of the government and the deep-rooted status quo in India. “That’s why I am thinking of staying away from them (meaning our family). The troubles the government and police created for Chandrasekhar’s family at the time of Sai Baba’s murder case are more than enough.” That’s true. My body trembles with fear when I think of the incidents that occurred six years ago. “From now on, I am going to criticize individuals, institutions, establishments and the society more severely – none of them will be able to withstand my attack. But I don’t like anyone to be inconvenienced by my talking,” says UG.
All right, what does he want? What should we do? “UG, what do you really want? What do you want us to do?” I put him on the spot. “I don’t need anything,” he says. Then why have these meetings and discussions? What do you want to do? No one is stopping you. Mahesh says, “You are saved because you don’t have an institution or an ashram. Or else, governments would have strangled your throat long ago. So, no matter how much you criticize or scold as an individual, it’s like rain falling on a buffalo; the world leaders who are entrenched in world establishments don’t care.” That’s true. That’s why from the beginning UG has been taking care that no ashram-like atmosphere, with its “stink and stench”, forms around him. No matter what corner of the world he is in, his manner is the same. This individual called UG has no need to protect himself. He has no shields, armor or cloak. That’s why his situation is so vulnerable, a totally insecure state where there is no security or protection.
I feel that perhaps governments of the world tolerate UG for the same reason. Maybe they think: “He is a crazy guy. He blurts out whatever he pleases. Why bother about him? Why drop an atom bomb on a sparrow?” That’s why there doesn’t seem to be any scope for people at large reading about UG and being influenced by his devastating ideas and rebelling. Only a few people gather around him. Besides, UG doesn’t have assemblies, platforms or public speeches. That’s why, although he talks about overthrowing governments, those governments consider his talk as childish and do not concern themselves with it. Not many people know that this chatterbox is not an ordinary person but is capable of creating chaos without directly involving himself.
* * *
While I was writing this, I lay on my back on the carpet in the hall for a little while. My head felt heavy. I stretched my arms and legs on the floor and lay as if in Savasana. Suddenly I remembered UG’s words from yesterday. He turned to me and said, “Not many days are left between you and me. What will you do with all those tapes, photos and newspaper clippings? Do something with them. Whatever you want to do with them, do it soon.” For a moment I was speechless. “I am ready to let everything go. But my problem is who will do the job? There is no point in just freely distributing them to everyone.” “Whatever taped interviews you want to preserve, you preserve them in some form. You keep the stuff you have written and things which belong to you for yourself. Why do you keep the things made by others?” he asks. I don’t have any intention of keeping them with myself or earning fame or money through them. Something good must come out of them. Everyone must know about them. There is nothing better than the Internet. Bob says I should digitize the video tapes and put them on CD’s. But that’s a huge task which involves a lot of expense. I am unable to do that. I have debts up to my brim; how much expense can I bear?
* * *
The meeting closed without any conclusion. There will be a discussion again today. Moorty will format my journal into book form on the computer and make a floppy for me. With that the publishing job will become easier. The Kannada book also must be published. Moorty gave some suggestions. “Proofreading is very important in desktop publishing. You must proofread the manuscript at least six times,” he said.
* * *
The great job Raj has undertaken cannot be completed in a day; it may take a year to get it into some shape. Luna liked his “Essential UG” website very much. Moorty says that the layout must be changed. He says it’s more appropriate to have one or two quotes under each photo. If we add a brief introduction and some highlights of UG’s life to those pictures, the web page will look very nice. We need some material for that purpose. If we put together highlights of UG’s life with the photos then it becomes another biography. Appropriately so. “We can extract photos from the video tapes,” says Bob. You need computer literacy for all this. One must know those tricks. Raj is that sort of a man. It would be nice if he could come here. I must talk to Bob and ask him to invite him here. Or I must meet him in India. Raj is coming back to the US in February. Bob is leaving for Bombay on January 5. He is trying to get his book into shape. UG asks him to get Moorty’s help. Bob doesn’t like that. Moorty is a strict man. If you want to work with him, you must mostly adjust to his likes and dislikes. Things won’t get accomplished otherwise. Bob doesn’t like to lose his power. He doesn’t agree with Moorty’s opinions. I think that’s why his book has remained unfinished.
I must discuss with UG all the following things:
1) How to bring Bob’s book, his memoirs, into some shape.
2) How to make the project Raj has undertaken more attractive and aesthetic.
3) What should I do with all the stuff that is with me? Is it possible to make some kind of documentary with them?
4) What’s the way to bring my journal, Stopped in our Tracks into a book? When should we publish the Telugu original?
5) Should we publish books at all from now on?
I am trying to figure out what would be my answers if I ask myself these questions. Even though he appears to think with us, UG knows that what is supposed to happen has already been determined. No one can stop it.
The statements Bhagavan had written to his mother come to mind: “Whatever is destined to happen will certainly happen, no matter how much we fight against it; whatever is destined not to happen, will not happen, no matter how much we try otherwise. So, it’s best to sit quietly.”
How true, this teaching! I must listen to it when UG explains it more in detail. As UG says, my days are nearing. I don’t have much time. Should I waste my life running around for the few days I have left on this earth trying to do this and that, or should I sit quietly in a corner and witness everything passively?
As long as I am involved, I must be entangled in the experience of pleasure and pain. As long as I have the notion that I am doing things, I must have anxiety in my mind. Unless I realize that “When the notions of ‘I’ and ‘mine’ end, I wouldn’t have any concern about what happens,” my game won’t be checkmated.
* * *
Yesterday we went in Lisa’s car to many supermarkets, in Palm Springs, Rancho Mirage and Palm Desert. We also went into many shops on Highway 111. Suguna bought a leather handbag, the ‘world’s smallest umbrella’ and a clock. UG paid for them. I bought many more picture postcards at the post office. I must write notes on them. Last night we went around the town once again in a car. They have decorated the houses and trees with varieties of lights (for the Christmas holidays). The whole town is decorated with lights. I was falling asleep in the car. UG was also sleeping. Lisa was so surprised to see UG giving up his front seat to Suguna. Lisa says, “She must be really somebody, some special person.” UG generally never gives up his seat by the driver’s side to anyone. Suguna is an exception.
* * *
Aruna and Venkat are coming by car either Thursday evening or Friday afternoon. Her in-laws will remain home. They are doing OK. I asked Aruna to get me a glucometer so I can test my blood sugar level. Palm Springs is a big town. Yesterday afternoon, I, Suguna and UG went to the Albertsons supermarket by walk. There is a small post office outlet there; and also a Jensen’s supermarket.
It didn’t feel very cold yesterday, but the day before it was very cold. Yesterday, it was so pleasant to walk in the sun at 11:00 in the morning. When I asked him about David Barry, Scott invited us to go to Ojai.
* * *
Ramesh Ganerwal left yesterday. He is going to India in January. I invited him to come to Bangalore, if it is convenient for him, and gave him my address. He has a house in a forest near Sacramento. He lives there alone like a natural man, without a worry. He has no itch to save the world. He is not anxious to interact with other people. He lives fearlessly, away from civilization, in the lap of Mother Nature, with minimal conveniences he has created for himself. As I observe his life, he appears to have been some kind of a sage in his previous life. Otherwise, it is rare to have such qualities living in this country.
* * *
I was thinking the other night that I don’t have a single photograph of myself with UG. Last night Simon took a picture of me and UG together. Let’s see how it will turn out. A German ‘sannyasi’ called Vibodha has been coming every day. These have all been Rajnishi sannyasis, the poor folks that have of late been caught in the net of UG’s attraction.
Something funny happened yesterday: as soon as I said in front of everyone, “I have a problem”, UG answered repeatedly, “You cannot have any problem. I assure you, you have no problem.” I didn’t understand why he said that. I then explained to everyone what my problem was. What should I do with all those things about UG and with UG that I have collected? I must find a way of putting them to use. Whether they are with me or with someone else, the effect is the same. But what should I do with them? Why, for what purpose have I collected them? So that they may be useful for everyone? How will they be of use? Is it to make people realize that they cannot be helped in any way?
* * *
December 24, Thursday – Day 5
“How do I feel here?” I am asking myself. The answer is, I feel very well. I got up early in the morning at 3 am, washed and showered, put cream on my body, drank a cup of orange juice and sat down to write. Both inside and outside I felt peaceful.
I reduced the heat in the house a little last night. When Scott came in the other day, he complained, “It’s very hot inside here; it’s really hot.” (When you come in from the outside cold, that’s of course how it feels.) He stopped when UG said, “We feel fine, no one here is complaining about heat.” Still, every now and then Scott puts his head out the door “for some fresh air”. UG maintains that “this is the only way to drive them out.” “If you can’t stand the heat in the room, just go,” – that’s the path UG shows you. If you pray to him, “I’ve lost my bearings, UG, please show me the way, I’ll be so grateful,” UG shows only one way – the door! Or, you might not even get that. Then, there will be no way out!
* * *
Lisa didn’t have many massage sessions yesterday. She stayed home till 11 am. Mahesh and Moorty came. After them, the Germans and Bob and Paul came. Paul has been sitting in the chair and dozing off. Obviously he is tired. At least today I must find time to talk to him.
Lisa is surprised to see me talking to Aruna for a whole hour on the phone, and Suguna and Aruna talking for hours together. “I don’t know how to talk to my mother like that,” she remarked. “It’s amazing how they are talking so nicely to each other, as if they are close friends,” she said admiring them. Aruna may come tomorrow with Venkat. UG had the second bed from my room moved into his room. When Lynn comes on the 26th, Moorty will stay in UG’s room just for that night. If Aruna and Venkat stay for 26th and 27th, then he will have to spend two nights there. I and Lisa moved the bed into UG’s room. After January, Lisa must either leave this house or share it with a partner.
I said, “UG, you keep this room. Don’t let it go. It would be nice if the rent for it could be arranged whether you are here or not.” The trouble is who would pay the rent for it? Lynn can. But would UG like that?
Narayana Moorty has been declaring his independence recently. “I will take care of my own room and board myself. No one needs to feed me,” he said and hasn’t been eating here or even touching the coffee here.
Lisa doesn’t want to vacate this house. Nor does she want to take in another person to share the rent. UG asked her, “What will you do alone in such a big house?” Lisa said, “I’ll convert one room into a massage room, another will be my office, and I’ll sleep in the third one.” “That’s O.K., if you want to do your massages here also, then the whole house will be put to use,” agreed UG.
* * *
This morning, Moorty has been talking about my journal. Will it be possible to print it through DTP (desktop publishing) if we put it into the Word Perfect format? Or should we publish it through offset printing by saving it as a text file? This is the problem. I asked him to prepare both versions. “I am going through all this trouble trusting that you will surely publish it. Or else, all this effort will be a waste,” warned Moorty. “I don’t have that much money, but I must get it printed even if I have to borrow money,” I replied. Moorty didn’t respond. I raised this question with UG that afternoon. “It’s a waste to invest so much money on the book. Just drop it,” he said. My heart sank. The cost estimate is Rs. 50,000. What will be the Economic Batch Quantity (EBQ)? “How much would it cost if it were published through DTP? What would it cost if we print 250 copies? What would it cost using offset printing? I must find out Shamarao says that for his Kannada book of 100 pages it will cost Rs. 10,000 to print a thousand copies.
* * *
Afternoon 2 o’clock exactly. Simon and Trisha came in his car. UG had arranged for this before. He is going to take us to a place called the ‘Hundred Shops’. The four of us left with UG. On the way, at the base of the foothills, there were hundreds of windmills, but their propellers weren’t moving. When the wind is stronger they start moving and produce electricity. On the way, on Highway 111, UG took us to the Hadley Dates and Nuts Shop. This is the most famous dates shop in this area; here you can find dates grown in the desert. It’s a big shop. UG bought us a date-banana drink which was made like ice cream. It cost nine dollars for three glasses. I didn’t like it much. The shop is filled with dates, almonds, cashew nuts and other kinds of dried fruits and nuts. Almonds are the cheapest item among desert-grown foods. The tag says it’s $3.30 per half a kg. You could have bought a whole kg for that price ten years ago. We drove on further. After going for some distance on Highway 10, we saw a shopping complex which looked like a big town. This is what is called the ‘Hundred Shops’. There are outlets here for all the most famous companies in the world. Their opulence is dazzling. Your heart quivers when you look at the prices of things in the shops. Who can buy such expensive things? Can those who have come from India buy such luxury goods even if they are rich? I think it would be impossible. Any item you touch costs thousands and hundreds of thousands of rupees, if you translate the price into rupees. You have the famous clothing store called Barney’s. In it, UG bought a 100% cashmere sweater for Suguna. It looks very nice. It cost $130. That means its Rs. 5,800. I felt like, “My God!” when I thought of the price in rupees.
“You shouldn’t do that,” says UG. “It’s the same with everything. That reference point is ‘you’. You can’t do anything without that reference point. That’s why I say there is no such thing as your own experience. If you want to experience anything, you must first have the knowledge about it. You can’t experience the present except on the basis of that knowledge. That means the past is transformed into the present. In the same way, the past is also reflected in the future. There is nothing else except the past,” says UG
* * *
We finished shopping and returned at 4 o’clock. Mahesh, Moorty and others were already there. UG asked Bob to show us the video album he had put together. It was18 minutes long; it shows many photos one after another while UG is heard talking in the background. UG’s words did not match the pictures, but the pictures in the video were very good. I think it’s important to weave a theme around the pictures; otherwise, you can’t make heads or tails out of them. Later, I offered to show the “Natural Man” video that I made. Bob first tried to prevent it; he seemed a little agitated. Why? Maybe Moorty wouldn’t like it. But why can’t everyone else see it? If they don’t like it, they could give suggestions as to how to improve it. We watched it for an hour and a half. In the middle of the showing, Mahesh and Moorty got ready to leave. All the while he was there, Moorty looked indifferent. Everyone listened to my commentary and laughed. That was OK. But I wanted to ask them one thing. If you are eager to show UG to the world even a little bit, you can’t but sympathize with the struggle and torture I went through in making this video. It’s easy to brush it off saying “This is all useless.” Is it a big problem that I put Indian music in the background? The tape is evidently too long. I don’t deny it. I must shorten it. It also needs some technical improvement. They can tell me about those things and suggest ways to improve it, but it’s not fair to brush off the whole effort. That’s the question I want to ask them. My original tape has not been returned to me yet. What Bob has given me now is an NTSC copy of that tape.
* * *
December 25, Friday – Christmas – Day 6
I woke up early in the morning at 4:15 am. When I was soaping my body in the shower, I was humming Aditya Hridayam as usual. After washing, I was sitting at the dining table by 5 o’clock, drinking a glass of orange juice. But what am I? Even though I have come here and am so close to UG, why is there no change in me? The delusion that I am my body has only been getting stronger and not going away. Is there such a thing as destiny? I want to ask UG about the message Bhagawan wrote to his mother. But did Bhagavan practice it in his life? Annamalai Swami made it clear in his book that he perhaps used “Whatever is to happen must happen,” as the ultimate weapon, but that he tried at every step to make sure that whatever he wanted to happen did happen. Then what’s the point in asking people not to do anything? Must we think that the actions of those realized people are different and that their teachings and actions could be contradictory to each other? Isn’t that clear when we observe UG’s actions? If we try to measure their actions using their own standards, they will turn around and knock our teeth out. Do those standards apply just to us, then? I feel that these standards are tricks that are used as brakes to stop our minds from time to time; I feel that it’s foolish to think that beyond that these teachings would serve as beacons shedding light on our lives. Then what’s the use of all these teachings, books and tapes? Think. You will find out yourself.
* * *
Yesterday morning I taught Lisa mudras, pranayama and ‘Salutations to the Sun’. She works as a masseuse. Mudras and pranayama can be useful in generating more energy in oneself. She has learned ‘Salutations to the Sun’ to practice in place of her daily exercises.
* * *
Five years ago, UG came to this area trying to find a house in Idyllwild. The town is 30 miles away among the forests on the mountains. It snows there in the winter. Today, they took us up there around 10 o’clock in Paul’s car to show us the snow and the town. It took us 1½ hours to get up there. UG picked up some snow and gave it Suguna. This is the first time in our lives for us to step in snow and to make snowballs in our hands and throw them. Mechanically, as though we were completing a ritual, we checked out an old house for a couple of minutes, bought some picture postcards and got back into the car. There is a thick forest in this whole area. Evergreen trees and thickly snow-packed rooftops. I was wondering if those were casuarina trees; perhaps they are pine trees. They call them Christmas trees. Paul doesn’t know. Poor man, he was very tired after driving the car for three hours. After coming home, we ate the broccoli-couscous Lisa had cooked and went over to the White Water Club where Mahesh and Moorty are staying. But we came back in 15 minutes. Then, until 4:15 pm when UG opened his door to come inside here, I have been napping a little and sitting reading the newspaper.
* * *
In the evening everyone came. Tonight is Christmas night. UG says it’s a very important day. In 1974, exactly on this day, we two, after we were married, went to Jnanashram upon UG’s orders. It was again the day before Christmas [in the year 1969] that I had met UG for the first time. On the same day every year, the battery that is running low gets recharged.
Michael, a diamond merchant who lives in San Francisco, came last night. He came just to spend time with UG. He ate with us. He sat in front of UG with closed eyes. Apparently he is a friend of Jack Masson. He knows UG through him. We were informed that he is an expert in recognizing true diamonds, just like the gold merchant Krishnachari in Bangalore. Or else, why would he come this far to see UG?
We’ve been waiting for the arrival of Guha, Lakshmi, Shilpa and Sumedha. Just as UG was saying “it would be nice if they came,” Shilpa opened the door and came running and hugged UG shouting, “UG!” She dropped herself in UG’s lap. What a captivating scene! Those children just love him so much, especially Sumedha. Guha came in laughing boisterously and sat down near UG’s feet. He said, “They upgraded our tickets to first class, thanks to your grace.” Lakshmi looked thin and small. I thought the children resembled her more [than they did their father]. Sumedha is especially cute.
The whole atmosphere changed as soon as they came in. Till then our crowd had been carrying on conversation with UG using obscenities. Apparently Larry Morris asked UG to give two sermons in his church. UG chose the topics “The Art of Adultery” and “Halleluiah Prostitution!” A case study for the first sermon is the Clinton-Monica love scandal; for the second it’s Kennedy and some other man’s scandals. Then UG was elaborating on sex in Hinduism. The Shiva Lingam signifies the sex act. You worship just the organ without the rest of the form of Shiva. People who follow such a religion have lost their right to speak against sex and sexual desires. UG uses the “f-word” pretty freely in his speech.
He mocks Aruna, saying that by marrying she lost her independence and became a slave in her in-laws’ home. “You’re of no use unless you leave that husband of yours,” he says. He blasts her saying that she does not assert her rights but, instead, is suppressing her own individuality.
They should be coming in today. “Why couldn’t they leave at 4 in the morning? Why wait till 6 o’clock?” he is asking. I didn’t feel like phoning Aruna asking her to leave at 4 o’clock. What’s the loss in just a couple of hours? But we’ll see. I talked to Aruna yesterday morning. Apparently, she could find directions to come here on the Internet. She said that with some software you could find directions to go to any remote place in the US. David says, “If you want, you can see a photo of this house taken from a satellite.” He is married to Maria, sister of Nataraj, an astrologer. They all were once Rajneesh’s devotees; David had been a close disciple of Rajneesh. Later, at 9 pm, Nataraj and his friend Mitra came. Nataraj showed me the Jupiter-Moon conjunction in the sky. He predicted that “by the end of this month a lot of money will rain in UG’s lap.” Guha placed $2,000 in UG’s hands. Before that Moorty had given $50. All that money UG then gave to Guha’s children. He is so fond of them. Earlier, he had given them each $50,000. Apparently, they invested the money in Resurgent India Bonds. In seven years the money will grow to $100,000 each. UG says it will come in handy for their education. “Where do gods live, UG?” asked Sumedha. “They live in the toilet,” UG replied. The girl pinched her nose shut and ran out. We all laughed. She had really been asking about Christmas angels.
* * *
Julie came into the house. UG let her come in. She had driven to the airport to bring Guha’s family here. Yesterday morning we went to the Ocotillo Lodge and checked out the room where Lakshmi and her family are going to stay. UG is never satisfied unless he checks out for himself to see what it’s like.
* * *
December 26, Saturday – Day 7
I woke up at 4:30 in the morning today. That means my body is getting back into its normal rhythm. It will be nice if I wake up from tomorrow at the same time every day. Yesterday was Christmas.
After 8 o’clock we all went to the White Water Club. We all met there. Julie gave me the printout she had gotten made from the floppy that Moorty had given me. It’s a 230-page book. UG took it in his hands and read out pieces from it. “Valentine’s house wasn’t her father’s; she had bought it. The money she got from selling it then came to you,” he said. Since her money went to buy the Bangalore house, it remained in the form of a house. ‘Hridaya Vihar’ is Valentine’s house. It just moved from Geneva to Bangalore, that’s all.
* * *
Aruna and Venkat Arrive
Many people have assembled. Larry, Susan, Claire, the German group, Michael, Luna, Moorty, Mahesh, Bob, Paul, Guha and his family – if I count all of them, the number will exceed 25. Michael has a Lincoln car. UG thought of going for a ride in that car in the afternoon. But everyone waited for Aruna and Venkat to arrive at 4 o’clock. Aruna just dropped in Suguna’s lap crying. There were tears in Suguna’s eyes. Mother and daughter have met after six months. Aruna hugged me and cried, crazy girl! She has become thinner. The couple ate as soon as they came. UG gave Aruna a silk slip. Venkat knew Guha and his family, and also Bob and others. He is less shy this time.
Julie showed a video tape, for awhile, of Mahesh and Bob talking. I didn’t feel very cold yesterday. The house was still warm even after we kept the doors open. It wasn’t so cold outside either. Lakshmi and Suguna cooked together – couscous, dahl and yogurt. Venkat bought wrist watches for Suguna and me. The gifts are very nice. UG expressed his theory that “Youngsters shouldn’t give gifts to the elders. They must only receive them.” UG sat here with Lisa even after everyone had left last night.
* * *
Many people have given money to UG for Christmas. Michael gave three thousand; Guha two thousand. Thousands upon thousands like this. I must see if Nataraj’s prediction is going to come true. Yesterday Guha told his whole story. He is always in joy about having met UG
I am noticing how Lisa loves the children. She watches Shilpa and Sumedha and plays with them. And they love Lisa.
December 27, Sunday – Day 8
I woke up at 3:45 am. Last night, after 8 pm, I couldn’t keep myself awake. I spent most of yesterday with Aruna and Venkat. Venkat and I went to Walmart in his Toyota Corolla car. We got the engine gear-box oil changed and went around in the store for an hour. By the time we returned home, we learned that UG had come and gone to the Ocotillo Lodge. The rest of them had all gotten together at the White Water Club in the morning for a couple of hours. Apparently, UG had said, referring to us, “Let them spend the day with their daughter and son-in-law.”
All four of us ate lunch together in the afternoon. Suguna made rice and dahl. Before lunch the four of us went downtown in the car. After lunch UG came with us to the White Water Club; we said hello to Mahesh and Moorty there and returned at 4 o’clock. Mahesh is alone in that suite. “Please let me go back to India,” he begs. “You can go. If you want, I’ll take you at this moment to Los Angeles and put you on the plane. But you must give me $3,000,” replies UG. “I’m a poor Indian and you are a rich American. Where can I get $3,000? My government doesn’t let me take so much money out of the country,” Mahesh complains. His movie, Zekhm, has been released not only in India but in several other countries. Apparently they banned it in Mauritius. Mahesh looked disturbed. “Give me a trick to use this ban to my advantage, UG,” he requested. “What can you do? By banning the movie they are now giving the movie the publicity it needs. On your part, you should never quit the policy of producing popular movies. Don’t get involved in politics,” said UG in reply.
Of late, Mahesh hasn’t been reading books or watching TV. “I don’t talk to UG either. I keep silent. Moorty too doesn’t talk much. He minds his own business. He cooks very well,” Mahesh told me. UG assigned Moorty the responsibility of feeding Mahesh.
* * *
UG came and took his seat around 7 o’clock yesterday morning. I finished my breakfast at 7:30. Suddenly he started, “I now realize that Sri Ramakrishna and Ramana Maharshi all stopped with some mystical experience. I had such an experience when I was only a 35-year-old. On its strength I could have started big institutions and dished out that experience to everyone. There is nothing in it. It’s very difficult to brush aside experience. Many people stop there,” he said.
“Is it in their capacity to go beyond it?”
“There is nothing in their power. Luckily I got out of it. There is nothing you can do to make it happen.”
“Human effort works up to the point of having a mystical experience. After that, whatever must happen will happen. Ramana Maharshi too said in his message to his mother, ‘Whatever is destined to happen will happen, no matter how much anyone tries to stop it. Whatever is destined not to happen, will not happen, no matter how much anyone tries with all their might,’” I said.
“What’s there to happen in the first place?” is UG’s counter question. Then did nothing happen to UG? That’s strange. The questions UG asks, “What happened? Has anything happened?” – how deep and profound they are!
“These enlightened people, these gurus, based themselves on some useless experience, deceived themselves and misled others,” said UG. “Those who have freed themselves from mystical experience don’t preach morals. They won’t read from books and repeat the sutras written in them. It doesn’t mean that they will act contrary to morality and preach and incite harm and treachery. They don’t do that either,” he said again.
The Body will Take Care of Itself
Last night, UG was talking about his travel travails. Shilpa complained from behind him: “You have already told us about all these in Switzerland – the thing that happened to you when you were there in London Immigration with Valentine and Parveen.” Sumedha sat at UG’s side and was trying to grab his feet. Saying “What are you doing?” he withdrew his feet. “I was trying to look at the cracks in your soles,” she replied. “My feet are dirty, don’t touch them,” he forbade her. A couple of nights ago, Guha tried hard to apply some cream to UG’s feet. “I don’t need any of those things. The cracks will heal by themselves. You are all anxious people worrying about the body. If you don’t interfere with it, it will take care of itself,” said UG. Ramana Maharshi said the same thing about the sore on his arm. The doctors didn’t listen to him; instead they tried to cut it out, thereby turning it into a huge cancer.
“God is in the Vagina” – Sri Ramakrishna
The other day, Guha was reading the Bengali original of Sri Ramakrishna Bodhamrtam, translating it into English for us. “I will remove all my clothes and dance before the women; what do you care about it?” Sri Ramakrishna had scolded one of his disciples. Guha continued, “God is in the vagina. God lets me see him in the copulation of two dogs.” Ramakrishna had used much more obscene and vulgar language [than this] in his conversations. But Nikhilananda, in translating, had corrected all that, changing it so that people would be presented with the image of a holy man to hold in their minds.
* * *
Last night, UG made me call Major on the phone. “You must come here. If you don’t, I won’t come there,” said UG “Not right now,” replied Major. “He will definitely come at another time,” said UG looking at us. We all said hello to Major. Apparently, the other day he had invited Venkata Chalapati and served him Upma.
* * *
UG said he will buy swimsuits for Shilpa and Sumedha. There is a nice pool in the Ocotillo Lodge. The children want to swim in it. Last night, the whole UG gang went out to hunt for swimsuits. Seven of us went in Julie’s van (Chevrolet) and UG, Venkat, Aruna, Shilpa and Sumedha went in Michael’s Lincoln car. We couldn’t find swimsuits in any of the shops. But the light decorations in downtown Palm Springs were very nice to see. UG went around patiently through all the supermarkets. At last, we returned home at 8 o’clock and ate our dinner. UG did the cooking himself with potato buds. We ate to our heart’s content. We also finished all the leftovers from the morning. Venkat was happy playing with Shilpa and Sumedha. He is less shy than he was when he first arrived here. He listens to everything UG says – tidbits about his childhood, quarrels with his grandfather, the requirements he set for his marriage – it would be nice if someone wrote a book with the title The Marriage of UG. It would be a nice storybook in Telugu. The Sports of Life — Rajasekhar gave a nice title to his book. Only the book is too detailed. What you can write concisely he stretches into pages and pages – it gets to be too boring to read.
* * *
Strange Business Transactions
December 28, Monday – Day 9
I woke up at 3:15 am in the morning. I started writing at 4:30 am. It has been getting slowly warmer in the last couple of days. I even have removed the sweater I put on when we went to Palm Desert for shopping last evening. How many shops we roamed through! Finally, in a sports shop near Target we found the swimsuits the children needed. UG came in this morning, bringing Paul Lynn with him. It’s almost five years ago since I met Paul. He came with his family to Yercaud in 1991-92. He is writing a book called Male Menopause. He has found this house and been paying the rent on it so that UG can stay here. Larry bought all the furniture in this house with his church money. To transfer all that furniture to Paul, Larry had to pay UG $1,000! Now Paul Lynn has again to pay UG and close the furniture account! These are all very strange business transactions. They all shell out dollars into his hands without uttering a word of complaint. He took $200 from Julie last evening; that’s twice the amount he had spent on the children’s swimsuits. And apparently, she had already given him that money that he had spent. On top of it, as soon as she opened her purse and gave him the amount he demanded, he complains that she had shortchanged him. Sumedha ran to UG as soon he called her. UG pressed all those bills into her hand. She wanted to give all that money back to Julie. But Julie did not take it. Sumedha turned it all over to her mother. That’s the way!
* * *
Lakshmi is a nice woman. She is an unassuming lady. She had helped Guha come to the US while working there. “Now, we have fewer relationships with our relatives and others. UG is the only one we have. We only do what he says,” says Lakshmi. Because UG forbade it, Guha didn’t even go to India to attend his brother’s wedding. “I found UG, what else do I want? The captain of the helm of my life’s boat is UG,” he says.
You don’t even need to mention the kids. They love UG dearly. If the parents start scolding them, they threaten that they will tell UG. When Lakshmi and Guha were planning to go to India, they had said adamantly, “UG said we are Americans and he told us not to go to India. So we’re not going.” The parents cancelled the trip. These are the only two kids I have seen that take so much liberty with UG and love him so much. Apparently, while he is visiting in Guha’s house, when there are no other visitors, these two kids play with UG by combing his hair and braiding it. If there are signs of anyone coming, UG would pretend as if he is going to hit them and say, “Hey, what are you doing? Get away from me.” If there is no one else, they have UG all for themselves. UG likes to join them and play with them. They are happy speaking with him in English and playing in his lap. No other kids have come so close to him. They have a fancy for watching the video tape of Archana playing with Valentine when she was little. Perhaps they would like to play like that with UG. When there is a crowd they don’t come near him. The other day, when UG was alone, Sumedha was wrestling with him. Of the two, Shilpa looks like the more affectionate type. She wants to be with people and wants their loving attention and favor.
Venkat left yesterday. So the kids got hold of Aruna. “You’re here; that’s so neat!” Shilpa says and drops in her lap and hugs her. They two look like Aruna and Archana when they were younger. UG used to deliberately tease Aruna and Archana. That’s why they were with Valentine more.
* * *
Last night, Mahesh and Moorty also ate here. They brought over here the stuff they had made there. UG says, “Moorty is a great editor, but I don’t like his cooking at all.” Mahesh and Larry both appreciate Moorty’s cooking. UG says, “You like it because you don’t know what Telugu cooking is like. I don’t like it.” He degrades Moorty’s cooking right in front of him saying he doesn’t even know how to cook. Moorty smiles broadly and minds his own business or goes out to do his shopping. The coottu-like dish he has made today was very tasty. Suguna said, “You cooked it with rajma and other grains. It looks like it has a little garlic in it.” Still it was good. Suguna made something like a soup with the leftover dahl from the morning and the foods remaining from yesterday and the day before. Everyone ate well last night.
Yesterday, Venkat and I went to Lucky’s for food supplies and got whatever we needed. In the afternoon, Suguna made couscous, rice and dahl. Venkat ate his lunch and left at 1:30 pm in his car. Aruna will stay here till the 31st and return by air. Apparently you need an ID card even for e-booking. She didn’t bring her passport, so Venkat will send it tomorrow by courier. UG arranged it so we could spend the whole day with both of them. He told us, “Don’t come to the meetings. Spend some time with your daughter and son-in-law.” He came in the evenings with everyone. Venkat stayed here for two nights. “Come as soon as you can, Uncle,” he invited us before he left. UG too said goodbye to him on the phone. Overall, it seems like UG has charmed Venkat. Aruna looks happy. It’s a great vacation for her to come here and spend a few days merrily with everyone. “Coming here and spending a few days here makes her feel like she is visiting her parents’ place,” says Suguna. There are many relatives of UG in this country; and our relatives too. But Aruna is not close to any of them; perhaps a little with Kamesh. But Kamesh doesn’t seem to care very much about her. Everyone else lives in their own world.
Last night, Kittu and Sri Valli spoke with UG on the phone. Sri Valli asked for an autographed photo of Mahesh. Even though she knew we are here, she didn’t say hello; maybe she was waiting for us to talk to her; I don’t know. I have been trying to talk to Kumar, but it hasn’t worked out yet. Our friendship with Guha and Lakshmi is very pleasant. Suguna too feels the same way.
“He is my Enemy No.1”
“UG, let the cat out of the bag,” said Mahesh last night. He can’t figure out why UG fussed so much calling him here. Before we left India, we both felt that there must be a strong reason for it. Although it has been nine days since we have arrived, UG has not broached the ‘real’ reason yet. What could it be? That day in the White Water Club he had said casually, “I am not coming to India. The Bangalore chapter is closed. Sometime, when I go that way and have to pass through India, then maybe I will stay for a few days; but you must pay for my ticket. How about my travel expenses?” That’s the way he has been talking.
He asked me to get rid of the photos and tapes. I don’t care now if I have them or not. Does getting rid of them mean that I should pass them out to everyone? Or does it mean that I should donate them to some library? Who will take them? Sometimes he speaks as though we must preserve them. If we have to preserve them, we must transfer them to CD’s. That’s very expensive. How can I afford it? Who will teach me how to do it? If there is some sort of central archive, I could give them to them.
Last night, when Mahesh repeated his question, UG said, “There is no cat, no bag. You can go back.” Then Mahesh replies, “You could have told me that over the phone. You didn’t have to get me to come this far.” UG said, referring to me, “My photos and tapes are more important to Babu. He may let me go, but he won’t let them go. He doesn’t realize that he will lose me.” I cringed.
Can I bear to lose UG? What good is it to live after that? But if I look into myself, I feel that I can’t bear being close to UG for any length of time. My past impressions and my ego rebel every now and then. The ego doesn’t go down no matter how much it is hammered. The pride that I have known him for 30 years, the pride that I am the first of his long-standing acquaintances, is turning me into my own enemy. It made UG say, “He is my enemy No. 1.”
If he says I am his enemy, his ‘Public Enemy’, what does it mean? I have always striven to preserve memories of UG for a long time and to make those memories accessible to people, joining them and rejoicing with them when they appreciate the result—that’s all I care about. This shows not a simple UG, UG who has no fanfare, that UG who is in the world of Shilpa and Sumedha.
Do I have a hold over that UG? UG is a form which changes from moment to moment. I am trying to fit UG forcibly into a presentation of photos and tapes. Is that possible? The real UG is not the UG I know. Whatever I know, whatever I understand, that’s not UG. How can this truth sink into my consciousness? My
consciousness only writhes in pain when UG says nasty things about me, but do I ever consider what I am doing to UG? When I get away from the real essence and get caught in a network of delusions, how could I be saved if I get intoxicated with the idea that “this is the real UG?” Suppose I ask him, “So, what do you want me to do?” would he answer? Would he give me some suggestions? UG has been telling me what to do; not suggesting, but clearly ordering me. Still, I can’t grasp it. I still need to tune myself. My ego’s agitation must subside. Unless the noise of ‘this fellow’ subsides, I can’t hear UG’s voice. UG’s message is all mixed in with my agitation. “Mahesh, we are not listening; UG has been telling us something!”
* * *
While I was drinking my coffee I felt like going into UG’s room. I felt like telling him what I have understood: “I am constantly preoccupied with myself. Perhaps that’s why I am not able to listen to what you have been saying. This occurred to me just now.” It’s foolish to expect that UG will tell you something, will direct you or order you. He has been telling what he needed to. It’s my foolishness if I don’t listen. Maybe that’s why Jesus had said, “Let them who have ears listen.” I opened the door and walked on the cold ground toward UG’s room. Only the night light was on. I didn’t have the guts to knock on the door. I turned around.
* * *
“You must all be reduced to the level of animals”
“You must all be reduced to the level of animals. Until then you won’t understand what I say,” said UG yesterday suddenly. When all our acquired culture and civilization are burned into ashes, when we remain as just us, who are nothing, who don’t belong to anything, and who don’t think or experience anything – the pure us – then we will understand UG’s message. Without that, there is no use in listening to a lot or saying much. “Whether you agree or not, your body lives by itself as an animal. Only you have problems. The body doesn’t have any problems. It has no worries,” said UG
UG is a living example of someone who lives in this world without a worry, like a drop of water on a lotus leaf, living among all these people, yet uninvolved. We give a shape to that form and look it as UG. We dress it up; we take it around in cars; and we feed it chocolates. We think we are talking to it. We pick up quarrels with it. We assume that the sounds we hear from it are words and we try to understand the words. We care. We cry thinking it is scolding us. We are puffed up thinking it is praising us. Very cleverly we whisper, pointing out that there is nothing saying anything, and that whatever is there and whatever we think we know is all a delusion. UG watches all this and keeps laughing to his heart’s content and spiting us.
* * *
December 29, Tuesday – Day 10
Ten days have passed in UG’s presence. In the beginning I felt like that time had stood still. Why did we come – to do what, to see what? Now I don’t have any such questions. I woke up at 4:30 in the morning. We were up last night till 10:00 pm along with UG, till Wendy and Kiran came. They both traveled for seven hours in the car and arrived at Moorty’s place in Suite #362 Ocotillo Lodge by 9 pm. UG used to stay in Suite #367 before. Lakshmi and her family are in #354. Julie too stays in #363. Yesterday morning, we all went with UG to #362. The Germans, Stanley and Luna also came there. As usual, UG chatted for two hours. Nataraj brought his Karma Cards and did some Tarot reading again. Two days ago, when UG picked from the cards three times, all three times Venus came up. Once in the 2nd house, the second time in the 12th house and the third time it was in the 1st house. Jupiter and Sagittarius another time. Nataraj’s prediction: UG will get a lot of money after ‘killing’ a rich woman with his ‘arrow’. Or he will make her go crazy. Yesterday morning Sumedha asked, “When will the bow and arrow come, UG? When will they be ready?” Nataraj asked UG to pick from the Karma Cards again. The first one was Libra. That’s the sign of Sumedha. The second one was in the 12th place. The third was Guru. Nataraj’s verdict was that the bow and arrow should come only through Sumedha.
These are some of the amusing incidents that have occurred around UG. But we don’t know their implications at this moment. I think that the ‘bow’ and ‘arrow’ are symbols of Saturn, Budha and Guru. Their celestial powers reside in the form of regions. They say that the region of Saturn is bow-shaped and that of Budha is arrow-shaped. It sounds as if UG will collect all these powers and destroy the mind, which is close to Moon (Chandra), with one stroke. Perhaps it should be interpreted like this. I mentioned this in UG’s presence.
Nataraj’s has been sitting for a long time with his eyes closed. Simon also sits silently; and David even more so. Nataraj’s sister gave UG some more money – a hundred dollars. “Gifts will only be accepted till 11:59 pm of the 31st of this month. After that, I won’t take a penny,” says UG. UG’s chest of gifts is never full! We were about to give Lisa a small gift and showed it to UG. “You’re giving gifts to everyone; what about me?” he says. “What can we give you, UG? You give to everyone. Isn’t all this your grace?” said Suguna. He laughed. True, what gift can we give him? If he is taking money, it means those who give it are lucky. He is making some people give. Even those who are in no position to give are stuffing his hands with dollars. Simon feels his pockets sadly and says, “I don’t have any money left!”
UG detected a great musician in Moorty’s son, Kiran. Kiran plays piano and percussion very well. UG decided to buy him a piano. He made an envelop ready with $6,000 in it and handed it to Kiran yesterday. “This is for your piano,” he said. Wendy tried to stop him. “This doesn’t concern you or Moorty. It’s between Kiran and me. Leave it to us,” UG said to Wendy. I was right next to her. I said, “It’s best not to interfere in such matters; it’s better leave things to UG.” She showed the photos of the piano.
Yesterday in the evening we went to a shopping mall called ‘Perceptions’. UG bought Aruna a microwave oven and a set of utensils in Costco – altogether it cost $125. Suguna has been planning to get them. She wanted to buy them here and send them with Aruna. Her wish has been fulfilled. Aruna bought me a pair of shoes. We went to many other shops.
Claire and Larry
Yesterday, in the afternoon, Claire came with me for a walk. We walked about a mile from the Ocotillo Lodge along the road and came back. She asked a lot of questions about India and about India’s poverty, disease and economic conditions. She knew about my first marriage. She also asked questions about it. She is an intelligent girl. I invited her to come to India. When I mentioned that to UG, he said, “She will come. But Larry won’t, yet.” Apparently, Larry hasn’t gotten a green signal yet. He met Shau 30 years ago when he came to India with Moorty. He has a great liking and respect for Shau. “I remember that you were there too at that time. You lay in front of her and had her drop vibhuti (ashes) in your mouth,” he said. I wasn’t there then. If I had seen Narayana Moorty at that time, I couldn’t have forgotten him. It now occurs to me that Larry is probably confusing me with Mr. Basava Raju.
* * *
Today Mahesh is leaving. He must be in L.A. by 1:00 pm. Paul Lynn booked a plane ticket for him from here. UG first planned that all of us should go to L.A. But the 7-seat van will not have enough space for all of us. We needed another car. So UG says, “Why go so far?” Larry reminded him that we should go to Paru’s Restaurant. Paru’s is a South Indian restaurant which is quite famous in L.A. A Madrasi called Kannan is running it. He is a good friend of UG and Larry. U. G. speaks Tamil with him fluently. He asked Lisa to phone Kannan. “We are not coming tomorrow; we’ll come again some other time,” UG said to him in Tamil. So the ‘danger’ of going to Los Angeles has been averted. Today, the main business is to drop Mahesh off at the airport and go around town. Yesterday, when I was about to go with Julie to drop off Stanley at the airport, everyone, including UG, joined us. Stanley was very pleased. He was reluctant to go. He is a confused man. When I look at the way he acts, it looks like he has some drug habits.
Last night, Julie and I dropped off Luna Tarlo also at the airport. She doesn’t reveal her true age, says Julie. Although she is not a very rich woman, she made herself a name through her book Mother of God. I feel there is something special about her. She read my whole journal. Now Nataraj is reading it.
* * *
Lakshmi and Guha
“Everyone searches for UG, and goes and meets him. But UG came looking for us to our house and became our guru,” says Lakshmi. After Guha met UG in New York, when he would go to see UG, Lakshmi used to send with him idlis she had made for UG. “I must meet the lady who has made such good idlis; let’s go to your house,” said UG to Guha and went with him to their home. I don’t know what auspicious moment it was when he stepped into their house, but he became their household deity and became implanted in all their hearts forever. He built a nest in the innocent hearts of Shilpa and Sumedha permanently. From that day, UG is their God. His word is their law. Contemplating UG is their life. What self-forgetfulness in Guha! If he is around UG he is totally lost. The same is true with Lakshmi. As I watch their family, it’s not clear to me whether they were created for UG, or UG has become incarnate just for them.
UG knows very few Indian families in the US. All these years he has known Narayana Moorty in the West Coast. Now, he sees Guha and Lakshmi in the East Coast. Guha was a practitioner of Sahaja Marg before he met UG. He used to be very active in the Ramachandra Mission. Apparently he had heard about my grandfather Kuppuswami (who was also a senior devotee in Sahaj Marg). Guha used to tour Bangalore, Coimbatore and such other places to publicize that institution. He moved away from that ever since he met UG. Now he is filled with UG
* * *
Scott made a beautiful wooden sofa for UG, brought it over in his van and left without seeing anyone. The sofa is very nice. Lisa was happy with it. People’s bottoms could fit in it exactly. UG has been showing it to everyone. I want to visit Ojai sometime. I don’t know if it will be possible. When all these people leave after their visit, I’ll find out. Guha and family will be here till January 5. Larry is leaving on the 31st via L.A. Aruna may leave with them. From there she will go to San Jose by air.
* * *
December 30, Wednesday – Day 11
I woke up early at 4:30 am. We went to bed at 10:30 last night. Aruna got her passport yesterday by courier at 11:30 am. UG got the microwave oven and the box of utensils shipped by UPS to Aruna’s address. It cost $35 to ship them. But that saved her the worry of carrying them with her on the plane. Still, if they were bought while Venkat was still here, he could have taken them with him and we could have saved the $35. That’s how my mind calculates! It regrets having spent so much money unnecessarily, but it doesn’t think that it too is part of the cost of the purchase. If we think that for $35 we could have bought something useful, how about the convenience of Aruna traveling without a bother and not having to check it in and pay for excess baggage? Aren’t these advantages? That’s how the mind is. It never quits its meanness. It constantly grumbles and complains.
Conflict between Moorty and UG
Last night, there was a minor conflict between Moorty and UG. Moorty told me earlier that he would cook that night for the three of them, him and his family. He thought that it was best that each family cooked for themselves. That’s true too. How is it possible to have one person cooking for this many people? Suguna, Aruna and I thought we would cook separately. When we asked, UG told us to prepare food for Guha’s family also here. Then, he finally added Julie to the list. Then Suguna and Lakshmi started the inventory: what they have and what they don’t and what they needed to bring. Finally, they decided to finish all the leftovers from yesterday; so they just cooked some couscous.
UG didn’t like Moorty cooking separately like this. But then, if all of us have to eat together, who would do the cooking? What would they cook? Questions of this sort and of differences in tastes come up. Guha and his family have their own house. They have a kitchen there. They could cook their own meals. But UG doesn’t leave them alone. For the last two days they have been eating here, except for the day before yesterday when we ate in their house in the afternoon. The night before the last, yesterday afternoon, and last night too they have eaten here. UG scolds Julie and tells her to cook separately.
Moorty got mad when UG asked him casually, “How long are you going to be in the kitchen? You get out of the kitchen.” “I won’t come into the kitchen again; the three of us will go out to eat. We won’t cook here,” Moorty asserted. UG tried to explain himself and probably regretted that he had needlessly hurt Moorty’s feelings – all that was funny. It was clear that UG was upset. Moorty was adamant and said he would stop cooking here and would eat outside from the next day. UG said, “You are guests here; I don’t like your eating outside.” “Why do you have such a sentiment? This is a decision I have come to after thinking practically. It doesn’t matter to me. I am earning money. It’s not a problem for me,” said Moorty.
UG faltered in his speech and his voice was weakened, reflecting the disturbance in him. “You haven’t eaten anything? Why is your voice like that?” asked Moorty. UG had already cooked his oats and eaten them.
I then went to UG’s room. “Why should Guha and their family eat here? Why should Julie eat here?” he said. But it was he who wanted them to stay.
I can’t wait to see how far this saga of eating will go on today. “I am not going to have any more meetings or talks from now on. I never invited the Germans. They can do what they please,” UG said. He turned to Larry and said, “America is finished. This is also the end of the Palm Springs chapter. I am not even going to India.” Then he turned to Lisa and said, “Why do we have this big chair here? It’s a waste. Return it to the owner. I must vacate this place by the end of January. I’ll tell Lynn. There won’t be any more meetings. There won’t be any talking.”
He talked like that, rather incoherently, for a while. This incident is proof that he too reacts to situations by being sorry for what happened and being hurt. Although he says “I never question my actions,” it’s clear that he is affected by what happens in such contexts. The principal actor of the drama, Moorty, however, sat quietly like a cool cucumber. The three of them ate after we finished.
Aruna, a Hard-working Girl
Lisa opened her ‘sweat shop’ in the evening. She went to a shop and brought all the stuff she needed to make two pillows, especially Velcro. Suguna also bought some stuff. Lisa sewed the covers for the pillows with the help of Aruna and Wendy. Aruna and Lisa cleaned UG’s room and his bathroom. It was so nice to see Aruna doing everything so briskly. She seems to have turned into quite a hard-working girl. When Julie was putting gas in her car, Aruna got out of the car and cleaned the windshields. She helps Suguna and Lakshmi in the kitchen. She has learned a lot of things in the six months she has been in the US. Last night, Moorty gave her some suggestions that he thought of in regard to her education. He suggested that she should do her M.S. I notice a sort of self-confidence in Aruna now. She is not confused anymore. She can think for herself. Venkat is the same. He doesn’t blurt out whatever comes to his mind. He deliberates carefully and then makes his decisions. He is training Aruna very well in all things. He is developing her skills in taking care of things in and out of the house. I’m happy about that.
UG asked when Aruna will be able to get the money invested in her name [in India]. I answered that she can get it next May. “I will take those Rs. 200,000 and give dollars in exchange. She needs an account here,” he said. She has already acquired a lot of credit cards. When Aruna tried to pay for things while shopping, UG prevented her. “I know you are a rich girl, but keep your money,” he said, smiling.
* * *
Money due to Mahesh
Mahesh left yesterday morning to return to Bombay. As UG asked him to have breakfast before leaving, he and Moorty vacated their apartment and came early in the morning. “Have you figured out in these ten days why UG has forced you to come here, Mahesh?” I asked him. “Just to tell me that I should stop questioning,” he answered without thinking about it. “I learned that questions like ‘why’, ‘what’s going to happen’, ‘what will happen next’ should never occur to me,” Mahesh said. Then he talked to UG about the money due to him. “You said that I shouldn’t direct movies any more; you asked me not to meddle in politics; you told me not to bother with Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha. But when I ask you about the pension that is due to me, you say it will come soon, but you don’t give me a penny. How am I going to survive then? How will I get money?” he said putting UG on the spot. “Your pension is Rs.100,000 per month. But you must go to Bangalore and get it there. That’s only the interest. You cannot touch the principal. The pension will start only from August 1999,” UG told him.
Mahesh has still to buy UG a business-class round-the-world plane ticket once a year. “Asgar Ali will take care of that. No problem,” says Mahesh.
“If that’s the case, where will Mahesh get the money when he wants to come and see you, UG?” I asked.
“Why should he come? I won’t see his face. This is all one way. When I want to come, he must send me the ticket,” UG replied. We all laughed at the exchange between UG and Mahesh.
* * *
Lisa’s Stay in the House
The weather has gotten warmer. It’s quite sunny today. In the nights it’s pretty cold outside. If I stay indoors, I feel I don’t need to put on a shirt. The number of this house is 2003. The land area is 100’ x 100’; and on it they built a long house of 20’ x 70’. UG’s room, which is a separate unit in front of the house, is 20’ x 20’ in area. It’s very cute and convenient for UG in every way. It has a western entrance like the house in Yercaud. This, however, is more convenient. It would be nice if UG could make some permanent arrangement in this house so that he could come here again and again. UG’s worry is that Lisa will have to live here alone. He says it would be nice if she has someone to share the house with. But who will? He says, “She must find some fat cat.” If there is such a fat cat, why would Lisa live with UG? “Lisa has orgasms even without thinking about men,” UG says. “She is in a state superior to Ramana Maharshi’s,” he says. Apparently, once when she was making love she got into a state in which she didn’t know if she was a man or a woman. When she tells UG such things, he broadcasts them to everyone.
* * *
December 31, Thursday – Day 12
Today, I woke up at 4:45 am. That means my body has gone back to its normal routine. By the time I washed and sat down here, it’s 5:30 am. I am finding less and less time to write in this diary. From now on, I must try to wake up at least by 4 o’clock.
Yesterday, everyone came. UG told the Germans that he is not going to see anyone from now on. “Hi and Bye” has become his slogan. Those who come cannot stay here for hours. They must see him and then leave. That’s what UG wants. That’s enough. In those few minutes those who truly want UG’s grace will find it. “Don’t come back,” UG was telling Larry Morris. Isn’t it a perversion on the part of people to interpret what Ramana Maharshi says in the vein of Vedanta and say that Bhagavan is actually ordering us not to come back into the orbit of births and deaths?
“Came down quickly!”
There is a mountain called Eggli in Gstaad. It’s one of the mountains in the Alps. Once a friend of UG called Henry Dennison asked UG to write a poem, as he considered poetry is a sign of enlightenment. All enlightened people are poets. Poetry pours out of them spontaneously. They don’t need to write it down. However, UG agreed and composed a Haiku:
I went up Eggli
Found it ugly
Came down quickly.
It occurred to me that there are great poetic qualities to this poem. The ‘Eggli’ peak is a symbol for a spiritual peak. After putting in great effort and reaching it, UG realized how disgusting it is, and came down quickly into his natural state. Coming down like that is enlightenment.
* * *
Air Museum and War Heroes
Yesterday, I had the opportunity of talking to Paul Lynn for a length of time. At 1:30 in the afternoon we all went to the Palm Springs Air Museum. Arranged there is an exhibition of all the war planes used in the Second World War exactly as they were then. They have arranged them very well. In the WWII, warplanes like P-38s and P-40s created terrifying showers of bombs and decimated strategic locations of Japanese and German armies. Here they have collected specimens of the airplanes and assembled their histories carefully, and arranged the displays well. When we see how carefully they preserved the war memories by setting up this museum, we can understand how people of this country love war. It’s not just that they won that war.
We ran into a war hero. He had been an airplane pilot in the war. In his attempt to down a German plane, he got acquainted with an enemy pilot in a short period of time. Apparently after the war was over, the American pilot hero met the enemy pilot once again in Hemet near Palm Springs. Both of them had settled in the same country. Now they are both friends. This incident shows how foolish these wars and sacrificing of lives are.
Karna and Arjuna
Who fought so long on the screen
Lie down embracing
In the coffin of time.
-- Sudha, Chalam
What a great truth! What’s real? Setting up boundaries such as “I am this” and “this is mine”, marking borders, and fighting and cutting each others’ throats – you won’t find such things among animals, but only in the human species. Maybe animals too have the fighting quality – dogs fight off neighboring dogs which encroach upon their territory. Men have inherited the same quality.
* * *
Larry and Susan
Larry will leave today for Albuquerque with Susan and Claire. Everyday he sits in front of UG with one leg folded around another and keeps saying ‘yes’, ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to everything. UG asks him casually, “What do you preach in your church? Domination, right?” and he answers, “Yes, sir, domination,” without hesitating a moment.
“That bastard Jesus, if he had had security men, there wouldn’t have been any Christianity at all,” says UG. And Larry immediately echoes, “Yes, Sir, there wouldn’t have been any Christianity.
“But you are a Jew. You cleverly concealed that fact.” “Yes, I am a Jew.”
“Jesus provided an opportunity for your living. You made him your living.”
“Yes, sir, he is my living.”
“You must be grateful and pray to him everyday.”
“Yes, sir, I go down on my knees daily.”
When you watch this sort conversation between UG and Larry, you can’t stop laughing.
* * *
You would think that Radhakishan in Bangalore equals Larry, but only to some extent, only to the extent of shouting loudly to justify UG. Larry is more than that. “You are a total goner,” says UG. “Yes, I am a goner,” Larry joins the chorus. Everyone bursts out laughing.
But Susan doesn’t move her mouth. She just smiles and watches the show. Claire knows their relationship. She tells of all the funny things he does in the church. He comes down from the pulpit after the service and hugs and kisses everyone, and he listens to everyone’s problems and comforts them. One woman who has been harassed by her husband tells him of her problems and asks him for his advice as to what she should do. Larry’s advice to her was: “If you want to live with your husband, live with him; if you want to leave him, then leave him; if you don’t feel like doing anything, then don’t do anything.” That somehow consoled her and she left. That’s how it works! But Larry is a great man. He has enormous regard and infinite love for UG. Narayana Moorty says “he’s crazy.”
* * *
There was a sign in the Air Museum which says “June 6, 1944 – Normandy operation.” I thought of YNK. Only he can speak of the importance of June 6. When I looked at the date on this page of the diary, I thought of it.
* * *
Aruna is leaving today for San Francisco from LA on the 6 pm flight. UG will probably go with everyone in Julie’s van. Aruna bought me a pair of shoes in Costco. My left foot is developing a few sores because of them. They need to be broken in some more. Last night, Julie recorded all the Sanskrit, Hindi and Telugu songs that Aruna sang. The recording Kiran played for us of his piano playing was very nice. I don’t know how to appreciate Western music. But it was quite nice to listen to. Part of it sounded similar to Indian music. On Christmas night, Suguna and I were also recorded. Suguna recited Aditya Hridayam. They asked me too to recite something. That night I recited “Shannomitra samvarunah” and also the Santi Patha. I recited some poems and devotional songs on Bhagavan. Guha sang a Bengali song – Rabindra Sangeet. Everyone sang joyfully in front of UG – it was like a celebration. “UG celebration” – everyone’s enthusiasm overflowed; especially the children.
Kiran is a little strange. He doesn’t easily mix with others. He is a little shy. The earlier active nature of his has disappeared. He is now 13-years-old. UG says he is a genius. UG says to play on the piano is a very difficult skill. Everyone is praising Kiran saying it’s wonderful that he can play on the piano so well at this young age. He can also play percussion instruments. But I don’t know where he is now. He doesn’t even take liberties with UG as Shilpa and Sumedha do. Claire is not so bad. Occasionally she asks UG a question or two. UG prods Claire to express her opinions about Larry’s talks. She complies without hesitation. She has a nice face. It probably resembles her father’s.
* * *
Paul Lynn and Family
Sophia, Paul Lynn’s daughter, has grown up quite a bit. She has a mature face. She is Lynn’s daughter with his first wife. Bonnie and Paul have a son called Zack. He is Paul’s replica. Paul thinks that Sophia should go to college in Palm Springs. Currently they are living in Mill Valley near San Francisco. I must visit his clinic sometime. Lynn has a high regard for UG. He lived with UG in Mahabaleshwar [near Pune] and also in the house on Vani Vilas Road in 1971-72. We talked about things that had happened then. We remembered Hanumanta Reddi. I must send him a greeting card.
I must remember to write cards to some other old friends today, New Year greeting cards. It’s over. With today, it’s goodbye to this year. I am saying goodbye to this year, saluting in my heart, with tears of joy in my eyes, to the Primal Energy for letting me start the last lap of this century in UG’s presence, and for creating this opportunity.
* * *
January 1, 1999, Friday – New Year’s day – Day 13
Palm Springs on New Years’ Eve
Last night it was New Year’s Eve. We two went in Wendy’s car with Moorty’s family to see the city. When we drove around in the streets of the city of Palm Springs and watched all the decorations the citizens of the city have made to welcome the New Year, I felt as if the whole glory of America is displayed in this one street. Wherever you look, you see electric lights. Crowds of people everywhere, from small restaurants to huge restaurants, bands, dances, laughter and screams. There was a new liveliness among people, and new couples and young men and women were paying their homage to the New Year. After we went around the town and returned home, it was 11:15 pm. As expected, Paul Lynn and his family came. They opened the champagne bottle which Wendy had bought and gave themselves each a little champagne in glasses. I had some soda in my hand and Suguna had water. Anticipating the New Year, many cakes and eatables were spread out on the table. We ate those and watched the New York Times Square celebrations on a TV channel. The countdown started. We finished eating and at exactly midnight we all said “cheers” and wished each other Happy New Year, sipping the drinks. Lisa joined us. It’s almost the same old crowd. The New Year was ushered in this way, in this strange place, among old friends. UG stayed in his room away from all this noise.
Yesterday morning, Larry Morris and others have left. UG has had a hoarse voice ever since he drank the ‘Naked’ juice. But he continued to talk. The Germans came after a little while. Larry as usual became a chorus of one repeating UG’s talk.
Before he left, Larry asked half-seriously, “UG, is there such a thing as perfect justice on this earth?” “If there is such as thing as justice or righteousness, you and I wouldn’t be sitting here like this. Creation would have wiped out mankind a long time ago. The only justice I know is the laws created by your men – the laws you have forced on people with not only your army, navy and air force, but also with nuclear weapons. There is no other justice except this. What is man after all among all the species that have come into being in this creation and have become extinct? If we consider the whole span of creation as 12 hours, there is no trace of man in it for 11 hours 59 minutes and 59 seconds. Such a species is arrogantly trying to subdue the whole of creation. Man is plundering and destroying all the riches of the earth with the idea that all other species are inferior to him and that the whole of creation is meant for his enjoyment. Mankind’s destruction is inevitable,” said UG
That’s UG’s message, his welcome to the New Year. “I am not worried if my children and their children are all destroyed,” he says. This ever-increasing quest for pleasure, this depraved culture which transforms common men into demons and pests (maricha and mahammari), must be totally uprooted. Only when this culture and tradition are destroyed without a trace do your bodily organs vibrate with new life. Larry, you should go. That’s the only way. Everyone must ‘go’ beyond recognition,” he said. This consciousness of ‘I’ and ‘mine’ is the coloring that culture has imposed on us. Under the illusion that it’s all true, we forget our true nature; and we cry and laugh thinking that our garb is our real essence. The moment that illusion is removed, we will open our eyes to reality.
* * *
Lakshmi and Guha (continued)
Aruna, Lakshmi, Suguna and I went in Julie’s car to L.A. at 2 pm. It took 2½ hours to get to the LA airport. As a 5 o’clock flight was ready to leave, Aruna left on it an hour early. Using Julie’s cell phone, she phoned Venkat and told him of the change of flight. They both called from there last night around 8 pm. By that time we had gotten back home. The house looks deserted after Aruna has gone. Archana is alone in Bangalore. This time the New Year’s is strange. But we have UG’s company.
On our return trip from LA in the car, Lakshmi got into the mood of telling her whole story. As she related the story of how Guha had suffered with the problem of gurus before he had met UG, how she and her children had to suffer its consequences, how the problems all got cleared [with UG’s acquaintance] like layers of fog being burned off by the morning sun, emotion choked her voice. “We’ll walk the way he will lead us.”
Guha had gotten acquainted with UG in December 1995. “I didn’t meet UG until six months later.” She was so sorry she had lost so much time. After Guha had come under UG’s spell, his former guru once called him on the phone and asked him to see him. Guha agreed. But he was reluctant to go. When he asked UG for advice, “That’s something which concerns you. You must decide for yourself. But why do you want to go there?” UG asked. That question burned away the indecision that was raging in Guha. He immediately called his former guru and made it clear to him that he wasn’t going to see him and that he wouldn’t have any more relationship with him. But things didn’t end so simply. People close to the guru started giving Guha moral lectures. Once these people had been his and Lakshmi’s life. But he pushed them away. Now Guha is alone, just like me. Lakshmi on the one hand, and children and family on the other, created a chaotic situation for him. But he has been managing nicely.
Lakshmi has an idli connection with UG. UG said once, “I must see the lady who prepares idli so well and sends them to me,” and went to her house on his own. She thinks that this is all due to the merits from her good deeds in her previous lives. “It was different with the previous gurus. They acted as if it was our privilege to serve them. UG is different.” Lakshmi couldn’t contain her joy when UG came to her house so affectionately and appreciated her idlis. Since then she has been feeling like Yashoda who had found her little Krishna.
I noticed that her voice had become hoarse when she mentioned things about UG and the changes he had brought about in herself and her children. She quit her job before she met UG. Guha works in the university. UG commanded him saying, “You must earn with both hands. You must work days in the university and nights somewhere else, and earn money for the sake of the children. These children are my friends. They must not lack anything.”
They have not been to India in two years. But UG is not letting it happen. He made Guha obtain a green card. Guha hadn’t wanted to get a green card before. He had let go of all his past chances to get one. But soon after he returned from seeing UG in Palm Springs, he talked to his professor and applied for his green card. The professor tried to bend the rules for Guha’s sake. He was able to get a green card for Guha in three months. All this wheeling and dealing annoyed the authorities. Becoming suspicious, the authorities decided to investigate the professor. Meanwhile, certain unexpected developments had taken place as a result of which the whole department of which the authorities were part got reshuffled and Guha’s green-card affair receded into the background, just like magic. Guha and Lakshmi say, “It is all due to UG’s grace.”
* * *
Narayana Moorty has been working on my journal on the computer. Yesterday, we combined our efforts and brought it into shape. We must work today too. I must record something more in the context of writing things about Lakshmi – it’s about all of them becoming friends with Julie. The whole family loves Julie. “She is our elder sister and an elder who takes care of us,” says Lakshmi. The whole family delights in watching UG videos and learning things about him through her. Shilpa and Sumedha know by heart all UG tapes and his quotes.
* * *
Moorty Walks Out
January 2, 1999, Saturday – Day 14
I woke up early in the morning at 4:45 am. I came here to the table at 5:30 am.
Who are UG’s friends? Who is close to him? Who is dear to him? Whom does he not like? I have been thinking about these while I was taking my shower. Suddenly yesterday morning, Moorty announced to UG, “I am going home today; I am leaving with Wendy this morning.” For a moment, UG was stunned along with me. He said, “All right.” He didn’t say anything more. I didn’t understand why Moorty came to such a sudden decision. It’s disturbing that the thought of moving away from UG occurred to Moorty on New Year’s Day. Has Moorty remained hurt so long by UG telling him jokingly two days ago “Get out of the kitchen?” Doesn’t UG tease everyone in so many ways? I asked Moorty when we were both correcting the journal on the computer, “Why did you make such a sudden decision?” “I am not expecting anything from UG. I don’t want anything from him. He knows that. So, when he has no respect or recognition for my words or actions, I don’t feel like staying here anymore. When there is a lack of trust in me, I don’t feel at peace in that place. I’m like that. He knows that,” Moorty said.
Why did Moorty feel this way about UG? Does he find it objectionable that UG repeatedly refers to him saying “He is my guru”? “What’s the difference between you and J.K? If you want to establish a fund with all that money, what’s the difference between you and J.K.? If you want to simply give it away, do so; but why do you make arrangements for bequeathing your money?” When Moorty criticized UG like that that summer in Switzerland, U.G distributed all that he had to whomever he had been intending to give it to. He hasn’t kept any money for himself. UG tells everyone that Moorty has inspired him to make such a decision. Before that he had wanted to discuss with university authorities at MIT about setting up a scholarship fund to help Indian girls to do research on inventing a virus which will wipe out the entire human race. He also discussed the matter with MIT lawyers.
At first he thought of giving the money to Aruna to take up research in Genetics and help invent the virus. But apparently Aruna had said, “We’re just starting our lives. It’s not fair to nip them in the beginning.” “What she said opened my eyes. Aruna taught me a great lesson,” said UG. So he abandoned the idea of setting up a scholarship in a university. All this happened in August 1998.
Then what’s the real meaning in Moorty’s being mad at UG? Why did he become so angry? He said, “This computer is also a burden to me. I don’t need it. You keep it,” and pushed away the Toshiba Libretto laptop computer which UG had given him. “I have no use for it. You keep it. It’s useful for you,” said UG. “I don’t need it; it will be a burden. Give it to someone else.” “No one else needs it. If you don’t need it, give it to Julie or throw it away,” said UG. The computer ended up with Julie.
We were working on the computer till 12:30 in the afternoon. Moorty completed the job by breaking up the whole text, putting headers on it and formatting it as a book. When he tried to copy it onto a floppy, the computer didn’t cooperate, I don’t know why. He tried for 45 minutes and quit. That job Julie will do on her computer. Thanks to Moorty’s effort, my journal has the good fortune of coming out as a DTP product with all the paraphernalia.
After the job was done, Moorty left with Wendy and Kiran in Wendy’s car. Wendy cried without stop in front of Suguna. UG didn’t say anything. It looks like his voice gave in a little. When he learned that Moorty was going to leave in the afternoon, UG ordered Guha and family to vacate the hotel room and move into Moorty’s room. Guha, Lakshmi and the children came over with all their baggage. They will stay here for a couple more days and leave for New Jersey on Monday. Then Julie will take that room. We all must vacate and leave by January 15. We go our own way to Aruna’s place.
But where will UG go? We don’t know yet. I don’t think he knows either. He keeps saying, “I will know it when the time comes. Why should I think about it now?” The jungles of Brazil are still beckoning to us. “Let’s all go to the jungles in Brazil in search of UG. Then UG won’t move out of Palm Springs,” I said. UG didn’t answer. Paul Lynn is leaving today with his family. He is thinking of moving with his family to Palm Springs this year. “Sophia must continue her higher education; Palm Springs is convenient for that,” he said. But his wife Bonnie doesn’t seem to favor that idea. We must wait and see what happens. Perhaps Lisa might have to vacate the house under these circumstances. Or Paul might fix another house. He says that anyway this house is not adequate for him; he wants a four-bedroom house.
* * *
In the afternoon, around 3:00 pm, we all went to Indian Canyon in Julie’s car. It’s about 15 miles from here. From there begins the Red Indian Valley. I felt, “Why have we come all this distance to see this valley?” What’s there? Some date palms, thickly grown brushes and a small stream. They have made a trail to walk down from the top. There is a trail on top of the mountain leading to Murray Canyon. In that canyon there are some ancient dwellings of the Red Indians. Even now, we can see two or three houses on top of the mountain. I asked, “Who lives here?” Paul answered, “Red Indians.” Americans drove them all away or massacred them and occupied their territory about two centuries ago. Now the whole canyon belongs to Red Indians. “Some of them are very wealthy. They hire non-Indian Americans and put them to work. All the income that is generated from this valley goes to them,” said Paul. You have to pay a toll of $6 per person to see this valley. It was nice to climb the mountain. Shilpa and Sumedha were able to hike on that trail just as well as I could. We all returned by 5:00 pm.
* * *
Last night we saw a video made by Kelkar, a friend of Sri Ram. He is an American citizen. He lives in Atlanta. Ever since he met UG, his interest in UG has become more intense. His wife is American. They have children. He likes America, but he doesn’t like its ways of living. Although he doesn’t hate it, he doesn’t seem to like it.
* * *
January 3, Sunday – Day 15
The December routine hasn’t gone yet: I wake up at 4:45 early in the morning. It’s two weeks since I have set my foot on this land. The eyes which saw the place ten years ago are not here any more. The last time, we came to the west coast via New York. This time we came with the idea that we would come to the west coast and spend all our days here and return. But I don’t know what will happen.
Yesterday, Kamesh, Kittu, Shailaja and others called and talked to us. Kumar did too. They asked us when we will be visiting the east coast. We said it won’t be possible this time. It does occur to me that it’s too bad that we will return to India without seeing any of them, after traveling all this distance, especially after I talked to Lakshmi and Guha last night.
Working at a Job
I don’t know why, but when I talk to them both, I feel like I am talking to people very dear to me. Guha appears to me to be my alter ego. He doesn’t care to work at his job. Like me, when he sits down to work, questions come up in his mind such as, “What am I doing? What do I care about this work? Why am I wasting my time here?” But he too must find another way of supporting the household if he quits his job and remains jobless.
UG had asked me then to quit my job. That was O.K., but I lost my peace of mind with headaches from involving myself with other activities. I don’t have the disposition to just sit in a corner telling myself I shouldn’t do anything. It’s all the same what you do so long as you could say that I want this and I don’t want this. To have a delusion that everything is due to my greatness, that it will all happen because of me, makes matters worse.
Working at a job, in my view, at least as far as I am concerned, is purely a result of past karma. As soon as the karma wears off, then going to some place mechanically every day, thinking about one’s prospects at some institution, having to make unnecessary conversation with colleagues, acting and thinking contrary to one’s nature, and fighting constant battles while making the efforts to climb the ladder of success – all these are gone. But in their place, I got involved in the school, its prospects and its future. Thoughts about the school haunt me. When I think about why I got so involved in it, it’s clear that it’s not the fault of the school. It’s my nature. If the school wasn’t there, something else would be in its place to occupy me.
This karma is inevitable as long as the mind has the tendency to always struggle, to be stuck with something like this and not be able to get out of the snares of thoughts. I can’t but laugh when I think about this mess. The first delusion is to think that I am. If I stop with the idea that I have a body and that this body has some necessities, it would be fine. But as soon as thoughts such as “I live in this body; I have some duties, obligations and responsibilities,” start piling up, I sink under my own weight. These are not thoughts one can easily avoid. It will not do to just give myself a command “Don’t think like that!” This is all a mysteriously complex tangle. Thought gets caught in a thousand more tangles as soon as you undo some of them. Is thought something that exists separate from me? The more I think the more tangles there are.
This is the current situation with Guha. What can I do for him? UG is there to take care of everything. Lakshmi has a lot of courage. Guha is lucky to have her as his life-mate. She takes the responsibility of raising the children. But it’s not as easy as we think to live anonymously like someone who has no place in society. These concerns are all the result of past impressions we have acquired over many lifetimes. They don’t break up so easily. They won’t ripen. When they are ripe enough, they drop off by themselves. Then they won’t bother us. They won’t even leave a trace of their falling off. It will all happen so easily. Everything will disappear as if one woke up from a dream.
* * *
Guha finished his washing and came and sat with me. He says, “I won’t disturb you.” Writing this is not such a big job. But it’s as essential as breathing to me. There is no purpose or higher aim in doing this. I am writing this because I can. Just as the air from outside goes into the lungs and goes out as soon as its business with the body is finished, these thoughts go from my head, via my hands and fingers, take shape on the paper, express themselves and disappear. These are not my thoughts. The individuality called “I” is a delusion in the first place. I am not just looking at it from the Vedanta point of view. Who has ordained me to write this? Have I planned ahead about what I am going to write? As soon as I sit at the table and pick up my pen, thoughts flow on to the paper.
What are these sounds? Am I reading what I have written or am I talking to myself first and then putting those words down on paper? Which comes first? How could it be sound if I don’t talk to myself?
But this ‘I’ is tied up with this body, these organs and this form. Where am I in this body? What’s my role in the mechanical activity that is happening at this moment? What’s my true existence? Am I deluded in thinking that I am thinking? Could it be that I am actually doing nothing? Do these thoughts all happen by themselves just like my breathing movements? Is breathing in and out something in my control? I am not even conscious that I am breathing unless I pay attention to it. The most important activity in the body occurs mechanically without any involvement on my part. How foolish it is to be deluded that my thoughts and other activities happen as a result of my willful thinking!
Here there is a break. “This is all nothing. There is everything. Still, there is nothing.” How can I grasp all this? Who can teach me? Who can help me? Who can teach me to stop anywhere and everywhere? I need a support to walk with, I need a guiding light and I need strength. Still, why do I need anyone’s help to stop taking steps and stand still?
* * *
All yesterday we spent five hours in Julie’s car on a trip to Laguna Beach. That beach is south of Los Angeles. There was fog there; it was so thick that we couldn’t see the vehicle in front of us. Then what would we be able to see at the beach? While we were in a store there, UG bought an alarm clock for Suguna. He had bought ten such clocks before and then had distributed them to everyone. Now, when UG asked the shopkeeper for more watches, the shopkeeper said he only had one. We bought it and started on our journey back home via the towns of Peris and Riverside. On the way, there were mountains, valleys, a big lake with boats in it, and there was greenery everywhere we looked.
There were many interesting places to see in Los Angeles. Aruna said we should see Universal Studios. Apparently it’s quite interesting, but my interest in such things has dried up. Even when I go to a new place, I feel like “What’s so new about this place?”
Today is the last day for Guha and his family. I could see on Guha’s face his dread of resuming his routine life, “My mechanical life, my life in the mill will start tomorrow.” There is nothing more. That’s all there is, that life in the mill. If one hand is aching, you use the other; if one leg aches, you stand on the other. That’s all you can do. I felt it was a boon to spend these few days with Guha, Lakshmi and the children.
* * *
We think so many things are our duties, and take burdens on ourselves and suffer in life. We can’t see anything else. We know that in the subtle [principle] there is salvation, but that ‘subtlety’ doesn’t always stay. Stuff gathers on it like onto a rolling snowball. Until the sun of knowledge melts the ice with his rays, those things gathered won’t go away. When darkness comes again, the snow gathers as usual. It’s inevitable. The sun will rise and the snow will melt again.
* * *
January 4, Monday – Day 16
The old habit hasn’t gone yet. I still think it is December now. Guha and his family are leaving today. It is 15 days since they have come here. I am very happy to have made friends with such a nice family. I feel as if I have known Lakshmi and the children for ages. I don’t know why, but yesterday UG suddenly said to Guha, “Take these people also with you.” Guha was overjoyed. He said, “You too come with Chandrasekhar and Suguna, UG” “I won’t come if Julie is there. She is the big obstacle in my way,” said UG. Just as he said this, Julie came in. Lakshmi was asking Julie to remain here. “Julie, if you don’t come, UG says he will come to New York. So stay here. I even have the key to your house with me. So we will take care of it,” she said.
* * *
We have two seats reserved for us on an Alaska Airlines flight to go to San Francisco. But Malaysian Airlines operates to Madras only from LA; their planes don’t leave from San Francisco. So we must return from San Francisco to LA on the 29th. That means it won’t be possible for us to make our return journey to India from San Francisco. I talked to Venkat and Aruna. Julie and I went to the airport and enquired about all the airlines. Round trip tickets to San Francisco from LA are cheaper than from Palm Springs. Airlines like Reno Air are charging $108 round trip. We must let go of the Alaskan air ticket completely. We will lose $108. So, UG asked us to keep the same ticket. Meanwhile, he is talking about making a trip to New York.
I am not worried about how it all will turn out. First, I must get my journal printed with Julie’s help. I need photos for the cover page. Julie took a photo of me with UG. She will get it developed and printed tomorrow. She took many pictures with her digital camera. One was a picture of me, Guha and UG. Another picture – of Suguna and Guha’s children outdoors under the tree – came out very well. Julie delights in taking pictures and printing them from her computer printer.
UG has been teasing Nataraj everyday saying, “Nataraj, I will kill you if I don’t get the money which you predicted about. I will take your life with this spear.”
Lakshmi and others must be leaving now. I will stop for now.
* * *
Julie and I have returned from the airport. Guha and his family have left. On our way back, as soon as we turned onto the road leaving the airport, you could see the high mountain before you. The morning sun’s pink rays were illuminating the mountain and making them look red. For just a moment, I had the illusion that I was viewing Arunachala. It looked just like Arunachala. However, here there are mountains all around. They appear to be holding the city with outstretched arms. I don’t know what this mountain range is called. You don’t find boulders or vegetation on them. All the mountains here look barren, like heaps of ashes.
The longer I stay in Palm Springs the deeper the beauties here sink into my consciousness. In less than five minutes, the morning sun has become more intense. The sun is rushing forth over the treetops. There are date palms everywhere around. There is a street called Palm Canyon Street. On it they have planted rows of date palms on both sides of the street. They put lights on those trees. In the nights, the houses, shops and trees all glow in those lights.
I would like to collect more details about this town and write an article. I must also collect photos for the Inadu Magazine. Lisa was telling me that I could get all the details I want at the Visitors’ Center.
* * *
Julie vacated her room in the Ocotillo Lodge and moved to UG’s house. Lakshmi said in the airport, “I feel as if I am visiting my parents’ place whenever I come to this town.” UG had been going to receive them at the airport every time they came. This time he has sent his ‘eldest son’ (referring to me) to see them off. As Lakshmi was telling me this, I could sense enormous affection and fondness in her voice. I told Lakshmi, “Bharati named me UG’s ‘child of the mind’ 25 years ago.” Sentiments such as these don’t touch UG. But you can see great compassion and affection in his actions. His just doesn’t talk in those terms. That’s the difference between ordinary men and UG.
UG has been considering moving the dollar fund from the Swiss bank to Canara Bank. Today, I phoned the manager of the Canara Bank and talked to him, telling him that we need to deposit $250,000 there. But whatever UG does, he takes care that no one will have any trouble after him. It’s UG’s wish that whoever inherits that money should have easy access to it. There is a chance that the Indian government might object if foreigners are designated as heirs. That’s why he asked me to talk to the manager to find out about all those rules and laws. The manager will find out in a couple of days. I will call him again.
* * *
January 5, Tuesday – Day 17
All of us went to the Visitors’ Center yesterday. I couldn’t find the stuff I wanted there. There was only a very brief history of Palm Springs in a small book in a bookstore. Trisha said I could find the details I wanted in the local library. Then we all went with UG in Julie’s van to the Sky Jordon Inn. Nataraj, Mitra and Trisha are all staying there in separate rooms. Simon was living there before, too. Mitra served coffee to everyone. Even though the Lodge is small, it’s good-looking. There is a swimming pool on the premises located in front of the rooms. The owner lives in the two front rooms. She rents out all the other rooms cheaply to people; it’s $25 per day. You can say that’s pretty cheap in America. Ten years ago, when I was in Indianapolis, I used to pay the same rent in the American Inn. Nataraj’s friends came also in the evening.
Why Did Moorty Get Mad at UG?
Today the discussion was mostly about Moorty. Why did Moorty get mad at UG? I would not have been surprised if anyone else had gotten angry and left, but a guy like Moorty, who bragged, “There is no distance between UG and me. I don’t even have the consciousness that I am separate from him”— what’s the reason for his moving away from UG? The reason may be anything. It may be related to the eating issue, as UG says. “He is a glutton. He thought I said something, and with that he refused to eat here. It’s not practical to live here and eat outside. So, he left,” says UG. However, Moorty wrote in his e-mail to Scotty Scott, “I said the final goodbye to UG and left to live my life alone.” Scott disappeared strangely, without saying goodbye to UG. He has done the same thing several times before. Then he suddenly reappears.
It’s strange that a person like Moorty, who I thought of as a patient man who doesn’t react quickly, has broken up with UG and left. It’s hard to imagine what happens inside a person, what sort of changes take place.
How many times did such extreme thoughts arise even in me? When I think about it now, it’s all accumulated filth and mud. Even if we try as hard as we can to push it down to the bottom, it comes up to the surface in UG’s presence. He brings it out deliberately. He sweeps and cleans up all the mud and trash that is caught in the depths and crevices inside us unbeknown to us. In those moments, we don’t have any good feelings about UG. We don’t have any understanding of him. The mind closes to itself. A person loses his power of discrimination in every way, as in the saying. “A person nearing his death doesn’t listen to his friends, doesn’t see the star Arundhati or smell the odor emanating from a lamp that’s being put out.” That’s the beginning of the fall.
But I didn’t imagine that this would happen to Moorty. I wonder how long he has been holding such thoughts in his mind. What does UG have to lose? He said, “What do I need the computer for? You can toss it on the rubbish heap.” “What do I lose if you remove the whole webpage? Do you think I will care if I don’t see his face again in my life?” says UG. True. None of this touches UG
* * *
Julie and I made a copy of my journal. Last night with Lisa and her computer we went to the copy shop. There they bound the copies nicely in spiral binding. We don’t yet know how to print it in book format from the computer. A lady in the shop gave Julie some hints. But I don’t have confidence that Julie can do it. Lisa made some enlarged prints of the color pictures she had. They look very nice. Although they look like big posters, they do look attractive. It’s amazing that they came out so wonderfully color Xeroxed. They looked just like photographs.
Guha and family phoned UG after they had arrived in New Jersey. The house is quiet after the children have left. It looks like Julie woke up early in the morning at 4:00 am. She can’t sleep in the nights. It seems that Suguna has been sleeping too much.
Yesterday, we faxed UG’s letter to Sitaram to RK Enterprises from the copy/mail center. Last night, I called him again and told him to get the fax. In it UG had written in detail all his ideas of investment. Sitaram is supposed to phone back after collecting all that information, the answers to the questions UG has asked.
* * *
Last night, I read to everyone some excerpts from my journal – the memories of Purnananda Tirtha and the story of Hyderabad Shanta. UG said that he didn’t like the subtitle for the book, Stories of UG in India. Even the title Stopped in Our Tracks sounds too high-flown to my ears. Nataraj and others have suggested various alternative words like “events”, “incidents”, “occurrences”, and many others. UG didn’t respond. When the time is right, he comes up with the right word.
* * *
Today, we will go to LA leaving at 10:00 am, three of Nataraj’s group and five of us. I don’t know how all of us will fit in Julie’s van. Nataraj says he will stay back. There is an Indian restaurant called Paru’s. Its owner Kannan is a friend of UG. Lisa made a reservation there for lunch. Both of Julie’s sons are in LA, but they are scared to come to see UG.
* * *
January 6, Wednesday – Day 18
I woke up at 5 o’clock. Julie is still sleeping. Last night, on top of being fatigued from driving the car for about five or six hours and UG’s banging her till her head hurt because of telling UG of the e-mail which she had gotten from Scott, she caught a cold and a headache. She took one of the Sinarex pills I gave her and went to bed. Running away from UG suddenly and then coming back repentantly, wagging his tail, is nothing new to Scotty. Apparently he wrote to Julie yesterday asking her to write to him of the goings on here. “What did UG say after reading my letter? How did he react? Write to me about it,” he wrote to Julie. UG had flared up when Julie told him about it. “He thinks he is great and better than everyone who gathers around me. If he has left thinking he doesn’t need me, why does he need to know what’s happening here and what I have said or what my reaction is? Does he think that only he is clever and everyone else is stupid? Why did you tell him about Moorty going away in the first place? You are showing your usual traits. Julie, you can’t stay here anymore. Get out! Do you want me to kick you out again?” UG roared. “Please, don’t,” pleaded Julie pitifully. “What else? If I am tolerating you, it’s not for my sake or for your sake. It’s for their sake (meaning me and Suguna). I know very well that you and your mentality will not change in this lifetime. You can’t play your games with me. Why did you have to tell Scott?”
Julie didn’t say a word in response. UG calmed down after a while. After she went into her room, she was still afraid that she would be thrown out. She just can’t imagine being away from UG. The very things, words and actions which irritate him simply slip out of Julie without her knowing it. Then the casting out begins. This is the routine that has been going on for the last ten years.
* * *
Yesterday Lisa was off from her work. Eight of us left for Hollywood in Julie’s van. On the way, we bought some clothes in the Burlington supermarket. From there we went to the ’99 Cent Market’. There whatever you buy costs 99 cents. Suguna and I freely bought things which you can’t get or are rare in India, as well as many gift items for people close to us. UG too bought several wrist watches and gave them to us. About 90% of the stuff in that shop seems to have been made in China. Whatever you see, it has ‘Made in China’, marked on it. My head turned. The Chinese are making so many things of so many kinds; I was impressed by the amount of progress they have made in the world of technology. We didn’t see Indian made goods anywhere except some stainless steel glasses and some Rajasthani skirts in a shop or two. Wherever you look in the shops, you find clothes of silk and wool, all made in China.
From there we went to Paru’s Restaurant. As soon as he saw us, Kannan darted out to receive us with his broad face showering smiles on us. Although we haven’t met before, he recognized me by my name. He happily said hello to UG, and in Tamil, “It’s has been so long since I’ve seen you.” He knows each one of those who came with us by name. He said hello to Julie calling her, “Julie dear!” “Where is Larry? Have the Malladis left? The man who came from San Francisco, Douglas, is he O.K.? UG, how is your health? Lisa, how are you?”
He was dancing around in that small hall, moving the tables around while greeting us, without stopping for one moment. Meanwhile, he had also been greeting customers at other tables, filling them with his smiles as well. He was saying goodbye and thanks to those who were leaving. At the same time he was welcoming those who were coming in and finding out what they wanted to order.
Then he rushed over and sat next to me. “Hello, Chandrasekhar. I am so happy that you have come. Are you from Madras or Bangalore? Everything is OK for you here? How long has it been since you have come to LA? Is this your first time?” Thus he made me answer in my broken Tamil while he happily chatted away in his mother tongue. I was very much impressed by Kannan’s friendly manner and his style of hospitality.
I have read recently about Paru’s restaurant in the Hindu. Well known Indians from LA frequent this restaurant. The place is filled with many colorful decorations. Kannan has hung pictures of almost all the gurus currently in the holy business. “I want to see where he hung UG’s picture,” interjected Suguna. Kannan answered, “If I put up his picture, UG will kick me out. That’s why I have to keep it safely hung in my mind.” We couldn’t but laugh loudly at his smartness.
He served the ‘Tanjore tali’ to all of us – two idlis, a vadai, masala dosai, upma and coffee. But he served UG three idlis. He knows that UG doesn’t eat anything else. He first asked the waiter to bring some hot water for UG.
It looks like his business is thriving. Not just Indians, but Americans as well come here to taste Indian dishes. Before we left the place Julie took pictures of all of us. Kannan walked us to the car and said goodbye with a smile. He said goodbye to me cordially: “Please make sure to come again before you leave, Chandrasekhar!”
* * *
From Hollywood we went to Beverly Hills. We had been to Barney’s there before. Next to it is Sak’s Fifth Avenue. This is the place is where wealthy people, the richest people in the world, go shopping. Money is no object for them. But our eyes first look at the price tags. A sweater costs $65. Suguna bought hair clips for Aruna and Archana. From there we headed back to Palm Springs. On the way we stopped in two clothing stores – Ross Dress for Less and another one. It was 7:30 pm by the time we arrived home. Suguna made angel’s hair which we ate with cheese and yogurt. It was 10:00 pm by the time we put away all the things we had bought.
* * *
Shopping is a hobby for UG. He especially goes into clothing stores a lot. He looks for cashmere clothes. In Beverly Hills we had gone up to the fifth floor in Barney’s. When he saw us, the supervisor came over to us asking, “Can I help you with anything?” I replied smiling, “I came to buy this whole shop. I am taking my time looking at everything. He understood my joke. He said smiling, “Please look around; there are many things on sale.”
The whole of America looks to me like a big supermarket. Many different kinds of things. Many different kinds of people. And big businesses. UG says, “America is a banana republic.” There are so many supermarkets here. So many people are pushing their carts and buying and eating. Still the shops look deserted. Everyone says that Christmas buying has been slower this year.
The Euro currency was inaugurated in Europe on January 1. Many economists believe that it will have a serious effect on the dollar. The dollar may go down in value. Some others prophesize that the ‘great depression’ is not far away and that it might start in March or April. “Do you think there will be an economic crisis?” I asked UG “Everything depends on Japan and its economic condition. The world economic situation depends on its health,” said UG. If the dollar falls, then the whole world will be topsy-turvy.
* * *
Lakshmi and Guha phoned separately. It doesn’t look like UG has picked up the phone in his room.
January 7, Thursday – Day 19
Woke up at 4:30 am. I woke up so early even though I had gone to bed late at 11:00 pm; yet I am not tired. Julie and I phoned and talked to Guha and Lakshmi. It’s cold and snowing where they are. Here it’s hot. In the afternoon the sun scorches like in hot summer till about 4:00 pm. Then the weather starts cooling off. In the evenings we can’t go out without a sweater. It’s very pleasant nonetheless. People in this country like to go out in the evenings. Almost all the shops are open not only the whole day, but also in the nights. When we drive by in the car, you can see the cities illuminated brilliantly with colorful electric lights. The three cities, Palm Springs – Rancho Mirage and Palm Desert – run into each other. There are supermarkets everywhere. They all compete with one another. Each shop is a world in itself. Yesterday, when I took my suitcase with me to get it repaired, the shop assistant in a shop called ‘It’s Your Bag’ demanded $40 to fix it. You can buy a new bag with that much money. I have to buy a new suitcase anyway. “Let’s go to Marshall’s,” said UG.
* * *
This morning Nataraj and his friends will be coming. Maybe we will go out with them. Yesterday afternoon, Lynn called to pour gossip about the latest Clinton scandal into UG’s ears. Apparently, it has become known that Clinton had a son with a black prostitute. The boy is now 13 years old. Clinton had a relationship with the woman. He took her to his mother’s house (when the mother was not in town) and had sex adventures with her there. When once she told him “your image is making a home in my womb,” he apparently said that it couldn’t be his child. But the Clinton baby was born and he resembled Clinton closely. Now at 13, he looks even more like a replica of Clinton. It’s not just a rumor if responsible newspapers like New York Post are also writing about it. There must be some truth in it. Apparently they are performing DNA tests to verify that the boy is in indeed an offspring of Clinton. With those test results Clinton’s true colors will be revealed. So what if Clinton had relationships with several women? Isn’t that common with people in this country?
UG says that every American home is a brothel. There is no distinction between what is moral and immoral in people’s minds here. They talk to each other about the things they do in bed as freely as they talk about brushing their teeth. On the Internet they describe their sex activities to each other in public. It’s common in India for people to look at and talk about sex stealthily, drooling over it; but then in public they pose as if they are chaste saints. “India decrying pornography? That country is the birthplace of pornography! Search through any temple, listen to any hymn, examine any icon; you can’t but notice the enormous amount of sex and libertinism. People of such a country have no right to condemn pornography,” says UG. True. Our ancestors tried to satisfy themselves by sublimating their sexual desires into their gods and goddesses. What is there in classical poetry except pornographic descriptions? Plain obscenity and sex. It doesn’t make any sense that such a country criticizes foreigners’ less hidden pornography. Old proverbs, riddles and folklore, all prove how obscenities are an important part of our culture.
In UG obscenity takes a very natural form. Here in this country everyone uses ‘fuck’ as a catchword. In earlier days, I used to have difficulty listening to UG use even words like ‘bitch’ and ‘bastard’. Compared to the obscene words he is currently using, they would sound holy.
UG stopped calling Julie a ‘bitch’. How puffed up she looked when she reported that in anger UG roared at her, “You are such a dunderhead!” Crazy Julie! She doesn’t mind when he calls her names in front of everyone. But she can’t stand it if he keeps her away from him.
Yesterday, UG was asking Julie questions about her financial condition. Besides her own income, she has spent in these past four years all the $180,000 she got from selling her mother’s house. Apparently, it costs about $5,000 a month to take care of her mother. Add to it the money for her travels and the money she spends on people who come to visit UG. Her capital is dwindling slowly. “At this rate you will soon become a beggar,” warns UG. When UG asks her, “How rich are you?” she used to say, “As rich as you have made me.” “Hereafter, she will say, ‘As poor as you have made me,’” says UG.
* * *
Attempts to get my Journal printed are bearing fruit. Yesterday, Julie talked to a DTP publishing company and got the whole thing printed in a book form. We even added some photos. We went to Kinko’s last night and got the copies bound. We must show them to UG. We can correct any errors in one copy and get two or three more copies printed on Julie’s printer.
* * *
Why indeed am I writing all this? I can’t hold all the thoughts that run around in my head; so I am putting them on paper. Or else, what’s their point? Who needs the stuff that I write here? Even I don’t need it. These pages are worth less than toilet paper.
* * *
January 8, Friday – Day 20
I didn’t wake up till 5:30 in the morning. I don’t know why I slept so long. Last night, I went to bed before 10 pm. Yet, I don’t know why I didn’t wake up. Julie spilled some hot coffee on herself in the morning while making it. All the milk is now gone. There were no blisters on her hand, but her skin turned red. She continued regretting her spilling of the coffee for half an hour. Today it took me 45 minutes to finish washing and showering and sit down here to write.
Last night we went to K-Mart and the Dollar Store in Desert Hot Springs. The shops there looked like shops in Bangalore. K-Mart was no good. All in all, Palm Springs, Palm Desert and Rancho Mirage – these three towns are the best in the desert. These are the rich towns. All the rest of them are poor.
* * *
As soon as Nataraj came in yesterday UG asked, “What do the planets say, Nataraj? When is the money going to rain?” “The planets Venus and Neptune are in conjunction. There must be a lady coming before the 10th,” says Nataraj. What lady? Some very wealthy woman somewhere must have been counting currency bills just waiting to give to UG! In the meantime, UG has been cleaning up all the money that is with him and giving it away. UG asked Nataraj to invest 10,000 francs in our Finance Corporation as a fixed deposit. I couldn’t believe my own ears. That means almost Rs.300,000. UG asks me, “How much interest will you give?” I said, “He will get Rs.4,500 per month. We are paying 18% interest.” “Nataraj, what else do you need? I will guarantee you the principal, OK?” assured UG. UG making someone invest in my finance corporation took me by surprise. Trisha has left.
* * *
After we leave on the 18th, Nataraj and Mitra will stay in this house till the end of the month. UG is asking them to stay in the north wing so that Lisa won’t have to be alone. Lisa will have to make a different arrangement starting February 1. For these ten days, UG will go somewhere. “If I remain in America, I’ll return in February and stay till March 15 and then go to Australia and New Zealand. Or else, I’ll disappear into the jungles in Brazil. No more America,” UG says. He doesn’t think about what he should do next. He appears to makes plans, but he doesn’t think at all the way we do. But something will happen in these 15 days. I strongly feel that he will make some very important decisions. Astrologers predict that there might be a very rich woman coming into his life, but I don’t see any signs of it. Julie must win the lottery and become a millionaire; that’s the only way.
* * *
The Future of America
The future of America is going to be terrible, says UG. Economic experts predict that because the European nations got together and instituted their Euro currency, the American dollar will go down in prominence. “Why didn’t Britain join the European Commonwealth? They are worried that the British pound’s domination will be lost. But England must become part of the US. England is not compatible with the European nations in any area. The English used to say, ‘The Channel divides us from Europe.’ Instead, they should say, ‘The Atlantic Ocean divides us from America.’”
UG praises China a lot. “There is a lot India can learn from China. Like Russia, India is also a nation of slaves. Their people are slaves. They only serve in their jobs and are devoid of independent thought and effort. From the start, the Chinese have been freedom lovers. England tried to destroy China by supplying opium and getting its people addicted to it. But that did not succeed. Chinese philosophy is superior to India’s. In that country spiritual philosophers abound. India is inferior to that country even in that respect. Ancient Indian philosophical thought is like a lamp before the sun when compared to Chinese philosophical thought,” says UG. “Can India produce one person like Mao Zedong?” he asks. He attacked Nehru’s useless arrogance and egotism, and also his policies which, according to him, drove the country to poverty. “Nehru was more egotistic than Julius Caesar. He caused the downfall of India in his fifteen years of rule.”
What will be the future of the world? “Other countries must put a stop to America’s monopoly and arrogance. All other Muslim countries must join hands with Iraq and stop exporting oil to America. The world’s future won’t get better unless America is destroyed. The American economy is dependent on the Japanese economy. If Japan goes down, America will be totally destroyed. Who is America to drop bombs on Iraq? Who gave them the authority? In China, 21 missiles are set up aiming at various American cities. If there is going to be a year-2000 (Y2K) crisis, in that crisis the computers which control those missiles might also go berserk. Anyone can imagine what would happen next.” UG has been talking in this vein. Yet he asks those in India who have any talent to go to America. “India is a useless country. It has no future. There are still opportunities in America for individual talents to flourish,” he says.
* * *
January 9, Saturday – Day 21
It’s exactly three weeks since we have come to visit UG. Today, I woke up at 5:30 am. That means my body has gone back to its routine. Still, when I sit quietly in the evenings in some place, I can’t keep my eyes open. Yesterday, we were watching news and special items about Clinton. I sat in the chair next to UG and dozed on and off. Suguna was smiling, watching my plight.
* * *
Pleasure-Seeking and the Continuity of the ‘I’
Man uses his every action, thought and experience to seek pleasure. The search for pleasure has the only aim of maintaining the continuity of the ‘I’ without a break. When we notice that our attempts are, even in sorrow, worry and depression, to make the ‘I’ continue, we must also count them as part of the search for pleasure. It is as much a pleasure movement when the devotee pines for God’s mercy, when the spiritual aspirant yearns for oneness while struggling in duality, unable to achieve unity with the animate and inanimate world, as when the lover trembles in eagerness for the bliss of his beloved’s embrace. We seek pleasure especially in the food we try to find, prepare and fill our bellies with. The body doesn’t know what we eat, nor does it care. The body doesn’t know hunger. Hunger is a chemical event. If thought does not translate the chemical event that occurs when the blood glucose level drops to a certain level as ‘hunger’, we wouldn’t be anxious to fill our stomachs; and in that condition there wouldn’t be any debate in the body about what to eat and what not to eat. The body grabs whatever is within its reach. It won’t be eager to hoard for the next day. All that food worry is only for the false, delusional individuality, for the separate identity called the ‘I’ that this culture and civilization have created in the body. That individuality constantly – every moment, day and night – fights with the mechanism of the body to assert its separate existence. It needs permanence. It must always survive. It must live higher and higher, wealthier and wealthier, happier and happier. Even if one’s body is in ruins, is decomposed or dead, it must continue to live at least in another body.
Immortality and permanence, living forever, these are the primary goals of this ‘existence’. It is thanks to these goals that man has become a pleasure seeker. By trying to plan every action based on wanting to secure his happiness, his pleasure, his satisfaction, he becomes a poisonous worm, destroying the whole of creation which supports his body. The body tries to shake off this poisonous worm with all its might. It’s this struggle which the ‘individual’ experiences as fear, anxiety, disease and psychosomatic illnesses.
When the struggle with the body stops, the individuality called ‘I’ will disappear. It will appear only when it is necessary for the protection of the body. At other times, it is merged with the mechanisms of the body with no separate existence of its own; and it does not separate itself from this creation and struggle in duality; it lives quietly, united with life. In that state there is no ‘pleasure movement’. There is no search for pleasure. That’s the natural state of each one of us. That’s what I feel UG is saying.
“The guy called Chandrasekhar is a squatter there [in that body]; he is an alien. He is a thief who is trying to appropriate [that body]. The body mechanism tries with all its might to expel him. From time to time, human culture and civilization pour life into him, seeking to maintain him permanently. What you call life is only the struggle between these two conflicting goals. The body is not concerned about Chandrasekhar’s likes and dislikes. In fact, whatever he likes are like poison to the body. Still he imposes them on the body. He wants to impose them forcibly and lock in his experience of pleasure permanently. The body pushes it all out as shit. The thoughts that come into his head, it throws out through the mouth as verbal shit.” This is why wise men command us to sit quietly shutting up both the top and bottom orifices. Yesterday UG demonstrated this truth so forcefully that it has left a deep and lasting impression on our minds.
* * *
Julie went in the morning to Lucky’s for shopping at 7:30. She walked in with all the stuff in heavy bags; she bought all the things we needed in the house, different kinds of foodstuffs for cooking and for snacks. UG was sitting in the chair next to the TV. He just came out of his room into this part of the house. As soon as he saw Julie with the bags, he pounced on her: “Why did you buy all those things? To eat like a pig? What business do you have in the kitchen? If I am tolerating you, it’s only for the sake those two. Not for your sake. No one needs your help. Get out, right now!” he yelled at her. Julie was paralyzed. She couldn’t say a word. “Throw all that stuff in the garbage! Get out! If you don’t, I’ll push you out!” he roared.
Julie instantly ran out, carrying all the bags to her car, and drove away and dropped them off at the garbage bin near the store and returned. UG’s anger hasn’t subsided yet. He asked us to pull out all the foodstuffs accumulated in the kitchen cupboards and refrigerator and throw them away. “You keep only what you need for cooking. That bitch can’t eat here any more. She wastes all the food like this,” he said to Suguna. As I watched, all the cupboards were emptied. Julie stuffed all those things into garbage bags and took them out. The kitchen became bare. Suguna couldn’t find sugar for her coffee. But all the stuff that has been left over – the stuff that Lakshmi and Narayana Moorty had bought during the last month and used, as well as the stuff that some others brought and has been sitting rotting – has been thrown out.
“Who are these fruits for?” asked UG, noticing some apples and bananas in a corner. When Suguna said she wanted them, he relented. “You keep just what you need for today. You should throw away in the garbage what you don’t need,” he warned. “Julie, you are not needed here. You can’t play your games with me. Your friends are deluded in thinking that some change has happened in you. The only change that needs to happen in you is to move away from here permanently.”
July was terrified. She slipped into her room and didn’t come out for a long time. Meanwhile, while this Daksha sacrifice was going on, Nataraj and his friends came. UG’s mood was still ferocious. He talked about how mean man is, how he destroys the whole of creation for his pleasure and for continuing permanently. There was a Creator’s fury in UG’s outburst. The whole universe belongs to the Creator. If man, who is only one among the millions of species in creation, blinded by his arrogance, thinks that he is in charge of the whole of creation and that the whole world exists only for his enjoyment, and acts without any respect for life, exploiting and plundering the resources of all other living species in creation for his own selfish enjoyment, truly all that must bring forth the wrath of the Creator! Yesterday morning, that wrath was reflected in UG.
“Why should you eat fruit? They are meant for the animals. Grains and seeds are food for the birds. Why should man eat any of them? That’s why he has all these diseases. Eating is a great pleasure. That Ramana Maharshi who renounced all other pleasures ate like a pig! Why did that ‘gentleman’ who had the habit of quoting, ‘There is no father, no mother…’ get a temple built for his mother? Why did he pass on the ashram to his younger brother?” thus UG attacked Bhagavan for some time. I don’t know what world he might be in now after he died, but yesterday UG blew away in one minute all the teaching that old man put out for fifty years, lying on a sofa with his legs stretched out, feeling his belly.
“The ashram people fabricated stories that Ramana Maharshi had undergone surgery without an anesthetic. One of the members of the team of doctors who had performed surgery on him, my brother-in-law, Dr. Seshagiri Rao, is still alive. He will tell you how many times he had administered an anesthetic to him. What they tell you are made-up stories. J. Krishnamurti drank gallons of whisky before he died because he couldn’t bear the pain of his cancer. He cried, ‘Why do I have this cancer? I can’t bear it.’ No one writes about these things. These things must be brought to light. I am not sure if he cried, ‘What sins have I committed?’ He surely must have cried so,” this is how UG continued his tirade against Ramana and JK.
* * *
Narayana Moorty phoned UG last night. He apologized for his behavior. I think he probably said something like “There were many reasons why I had go away. But it wasn’t because of you. UG, you shouldn’t take it any other way.” UG was saying in reply, “I told you that you are my ‘guru’. You don’t need to explain about what had happened. I have never had any misunderstanding about you. I thought you were probably enlightened when you said you were leaving me.” My mind felt relieved. I knew that Moorty would fall in line again. I can imagine the hell he has gone through for the past one week. “The whole atmosphere inside and outside froze like ice. I couldn’t breathe,” Moorty apparently said. Now the ice curtain has cleared for Moorty.
* * *
January 10, Sunday – Day 22
Today I didn’t wake up till 6 am. I stirred in bed around 5 am, but sleep rushed in again. If I get up late like this, I may have to write this diary in the afternoons also. Yesterday morning, as UG walked in, I said, “I am getting another evil thought.” Half-curiously he asked, “What is it?” “That I should stay in the US longer,” I said mischievously smiling. I elaborated on my and Suguna’s thoughts. If we are going to stay with Narayana Moorty for three days, we could postpone our journey for another week. Then we could stay with Aruna for ten days. By that time Raghavendra Rao and others will have gone to Bangalore. Aruna’s apartment won’t be too crowded.
UG replied that it’s a good idea. Then, right away, Julie called Malaysian Airlines and changed our tickets. We will now leave on February 6, Saturday. We will arrive in Bangalore Tuesday morning, around 9 am. On the way we will have a layover in Kuala Lumpur for a day. The airlines will arrange for our stay in a hotel. After we completed the ticket change business, I informed Venkat and Aruna of the changes in our plans. When we talked to Archana and others last night, we told them too. Archana said sadly, “You won’t be here then when I get the results of my examination?” I comforted her and said not to worry.
* * *
Nataraj and friends are coming everyday both morning and afternoon. Yesterday, Nataraj seemed ill. Perhaps he has a fever. He doesn’t take medicines. He says it’s nothing. When UG asks, “Then, why do you look like that?” he replies, “You know very well what it is. You know what’s happening in my body better than I do.” He says that it’s some sort of energy attack all over his body. “It’s not fever. Some energy is agitating my body. I know. I am fine,” he talks mysteriously. Apparently, things calm down a bit when he sits in front of UG. What are all these changes? I hope they are not signs of some craziness. UG asked Nataraj to eat here. They both ate here.
Last night, I, Suguna and Lisa went with Julie to the Rock Garden Restaurant. There, after we finished, we had a lot of French fries and ice cream as well as a veggie burger left over. We had the food packed in doggie bags and brought it home. Today, we consumed all of it. Suguna made dahl and rice. We ate that as well. As a matter of fact, during our stay here, we have no thought of what we eat or what we cook. At each time, on each day, we eat whatever there is to eat. In the stores they sell ready-to-eat chapattis. They too taste good. We can buy buttermilk. Last night Suguna made couscous. And she made idlis for UG.
* * *
I found a nice, cheap suitcase for $28 in Wal-Mart. In other shops suitcases like that cost at least $50. Lisa took me to Dollar Shop. There too, we bought a few things. I hesitate to buy anything valuable, anything which costs more than ten dollars. So, UG bought us all the things we picked for our personal use. UG is spending a lot of money on us. To add to it, through Guha he also gave us $1,150 in rupees to pay off Major’s loan. Our travel tickets alone cost a total of about $2,500. In addition, he is buying us many things. He spent $160 on a microwave oven and kitchen pots and utensils for Aruna.
* * *
Yesterday morning, I was reading aloud from a page in my journal. It was called “My approach ...,” the first of the excerpts I had extracted from UG’s tapes: Lisa was very much moved by it. They were the words UG spoke when he talked to Adamar Math Swami in 1972. It’s hard to describe how he had expressed his opinions in such elaborate detail. Why he was talking; if he had a thing like his own philosophy, how it would be; what he intended to communicate through his speaking – all these UG had mentioned very poignantly. He hasn’t done so anywhere else. I too like that piece very much.
When I read the second part of the journal, it seems so eye-opening even to me. I selected those pieces very carefully for my own use and transcribed them. How good they sound! Is this also pleasure-seeking? Listening to tapes, chewing on old written and spoken pieces like this and relishing them with associated memories – these too are pleasure movements. If they are not there, where do I exist? They create me. Yesterday, Suguna said to UG, “After my wedding I came here to Bangalore, and I can’t forget the first handshake you gave me at the airport while saying goodbye; I can never forget the feeling of your touch.” “Did I shake your hand?” UG asked surprised and smiling. “Yes, you offered your hand first. I was surprised and hesitant. Something like that happened. I don’t quite remember. But when you stretched out your hand I took it. How soft and smooth it felt! I’ll always remember that feeling of touch,” said Suguna. Normally UG doesn’t shake women’s hands, but he shook Suguna’s hand at the end of their very first meeting. In unimaginable contexts UG brings us under his influence without even our knowing it.
* * *
UG reminded us of something else. “You remember, when you [Suguna] first came to Bangalore, before your marriage, Valentine asked me to call you so that she could see you? Your parents hesitated because you were in your period and they thought that was an inauspicious time. We asked you to come anyway, vetoing their opinions as mere superstition,” said UG. Even I had forgotten about it. “Yes, yes,” agreed Suguna shyly.
* * *
January 11, Monday – Day 23
I didn’t wake up early in the morning. It was 5:30 when I opened my eyes. I had various dreams before I woke up. I can’t remember them even if I want to. They were not nightmares, however. A couple of days ago, Lisa dreamt that she was traveling in the back seat of a car. Suddenly a fire broke out in the engine. It was enveloping the car in circles. She was terrified that the car might explode. Then she woke up. That day she left a pan with some milk in it on the stove and by mistake turned the stove down but left without turning it off. Then she forgot about it. By the time she returned the pan was all warped and bent. She barely escaped a fire accident. The house was filled with heat. That was the same day on which Julie spilled hot coffee on herself and burned herself. It was also on the same day that UG had flared up on Julie, making her throw out all the stuff she had bought, and then having us collect the stuff that was in the house and throw it away too.
* * *
Punit and Family
Yesterday, a man called Punit came from San Diego with his family to see UG. Once upon a time he had been a devotee of Rajneesh. His parents, his sister and wife came with him. I didn’t ask his father’s name [his name is ‘Satyapal’, the world famous dealer of ‘Satyapal’ brand designer saris], but everyone, including me, appreciated his father’s personality. Punit is a handsome man. And he has wealth that surpasses his looks. He has a millionaire father who gave hundreds of thousands of rupees to Rajneesh. It was his father who had arranged for Rajneesh to fly from America to India on a chartered flight. He has huge properties in Delhi. Punit’s uncle once came to Yercaud to see UG.
This is the first time for his father to see UG. They brought many foods they had prepared. Ever since they arrived, UG talked constantly about money matters, repeating the word ‘money’ many times; he talked about sex matters, discussed sex and commented on the sex scandals of Clinton and Monica. He talked only about such things; he did not let people’s attention be diverted to spiritual matters. He brought out the ‘porno album’ of sex games and pictures of Clinton’s sex mess printed from the Internet for him by his friends.
What’s surprising is that you don’t notice any expressions of disgust or shock on even the women’s faces. Punit’s father kept laughing. UG narrated in detail, on purpose, once again, the story of Buddha’s birth. Everyone listened with keen interest about his meeting the 95-year-old Zen master in Kyoto and the mystery behind Buddha’s birth and then broke into loud laughter.
He introduced me and made me read three or four verses in Telugu. I read the poems translating them and explaining them in English. They seem to have enjoyed them.
Lisa is an old girlfriend of Punit. Punit’s family are all Jitendra Baba’s disciples now. Punit has created a webpage for him on the internet. Apparently, Reshanwala Baba will come to America in February. Baba venerates UG as a guru. They say his blood cancer has stabilized.
Nataraj felt that UG has been fooling them with his words; he has been suggesting to them off and on to ask some serious questions. “There are no serious questions and there are no answers to them either,” said UG. He asked Julie to play the video tape of Mahesh and Bob talking here on Christmas Day about their respective experiences. Mahesh had spoken in it about his friendship with Rajneesh, his breaking away from him, and about Rajneesh’s condition in his last days.
We all ate together. There were six of us and five of them. We all enjoyed the meal which included the rice pudding made by Suguna and the various food items and fruit they brought with them. Then UG fell into his real groove. He recited his Veda to everyone while they were all dozing on and off with heavy stomachs. Punit’s father, Satyapal, was the only one who listened with rapt attention. I can’t remember exactly what UG said. Whatever it was, it was great. Everyone was content. They sat here till the evening. The father had no choice except to get up when Punit signed that they should go now. Satyapal suddenly tried to reach and touch UG’s feet. UG prevented it by grasping Satyapal’s hands and bidding him goodbye.
* * *
Today, I must go with Julie to the DTP Company to proofread the book. Punit had talked about a software called Page Maker. He didn’t know about Word Perfect, he said. He is also in the DTP business in San Diego. We thought that he might give us some helpful hints, but he doesn’t know about Word Perfect. We’ll see how the DTP lady will be able to help us. UG says that when this job is finished we must go to Las Vegas. I don’t know who all will go.
UG appeared weak by the evening – perhaps from those people’s visit and his talking so much. He says he will eat his normal oatmeal. Earlier this afternoon, he ate idlis with us and a bit of a chapati they had brought. That chapati was hot. They brought stuff like sesame meal, three kinds of chapattis, a couscous dish, stuffed bitter melon curry and fruit – they brought so many things.
* * *
Last night, UG and I talked to Rajasekhara Reddi. UG decided that the UG devotee Rajasekhar had mentioned – Sharmila – and the unknown devotee whom Bharati had mentioned in her astrological reading are one and the same. Rajasekhar talked emotionally and said that something is happening to him, and it’s all leading to a big change in him. “That old Raja is dead, Chandrasekhar; the old Raja is no more,” he says. Something is happening to him.
* * *
January 12-13, Tuesday and Wednesday – Days 23 and 24
Las Vegas – Palm Springs
Trip to Las Vegas
Yesterday about this time, we were sleeping in the Holiday Inn Hotel in Las Vegas. Such a sudden decision of UG’s! After he talked Monday morning with Lisa, that same afternoon he decided to go to Las Vegas. Lisa was off on Tuesday. It’s possible that UG might have thought that the trip to Los Angeles wouldn’t be as much fun without Lisa. In America, he makes a pilgrimage to Las Vegas at least once in a year. Sometimes he went to Grand Canyon, and from there to Las Vegas; another four hours of travel in the car. UG doesn’t like the Grand Canyon very much. “What is there in the Grand Canyon? It’s a big hole in the ground.” In the same stroke he asks, “What’s so attractive about any woman? Any hole is the same.” Apparently, he used to talk like that to his wife! “What kind of love is there between us? Where is love in the first place except [an exchange of] fluids? You are a just a man with a hole in the middle. I agreed to marry you with the idea that it’s easier to marry one hole instead of looking for a hole every night” – only UG can speak bluntly like that!
Before we left we had an appointment with the DTP computer company at 1 pm. Just one lady manages that company. She is very active and intelligent. She could easily grasp what our problem was and how we had gotten into a jam. She told us she would fix the book and get it ready for printing by Thursday. Right after we got back from there, we, seven of us, left at 2:15 pm in Julie’s car.
Although it’s still winter, it’s very hot in the sun. The sun shines brilliantly in these areas against a clear blue sky. You don’t sweat a lot because the atmosphere is not polluted and there is no humidity in the air. If you move into the shade it’s cool and nice. People keep all the doors in their houses open so that fresh breeze can come in. In the nights it’s cold. You must turn the heater on in the house. Apparently, it rains three or four times a year in these areas. There are tall barren mountains all around. Sometimes you have very swift winds. But there are no rain showers. That’s why they set up hundreds of windmills on the hill slopes here. It looks like they produce electricity from them. The mills have huge propellers. Those wheels turn slowly even with a small breeze.
* * *
Julie, UG, the Germans, Suguna, Lisa and I – we all left for Las Vegas. Because we are going to stay there for one night, we packed the necessities in a small bag. Nataraj’s friend Mitra drove.
Mitra used to be a receptionist in the former Rajneesh Center in Cologne. Currently, he is going around in the UG orbit. He is probably about 30 years of age. When Lisa told me that he has a seven-year-old son, I was surprised. His girlfriend has been pining for him in Cologne; but he is stuck here with UG. The man is very gentle. He knows UG’s moods and doesn’t talk much. Unless there is a need, he doesn’t open his mouth. I thought he is a sensitive and cultured man who can understand others’ problems. Last Sunday, he was the only one who noticed that Punit’s pregnant wife had trouble sitting in the chair and also on the floor because of her huge belly. He got up from the sofa and offered it to her. Two days ago, when he drove us to Las Vegas, we also learned about his driving skill.
American highways are a standard for the whole world. In no other country do you find such nice highways. Besides, this is a vast country. It is three times bigger in area than India. But the population is about a third of that country. You see more cars here than people. Standing in front of the shopping malls and pointing at the cars parked there, UG says, “They don’t belong to the buyers; they belong to the employees who work in those shopping centers. Visitors seeing those cars are fooled into thinking that business here is booming.”
* * *
Mitra showed us Joshua trees in Las Vegas. There is a street in Las Vegas called Joshua Street. There is a national park of these trees on the mountains. Nataraj says it’s beautiful. It has a forest of Joshua trees going for miles and miles. I remembered Gurram Joshua. When I was mentioning him to Nataraj, UG said from the front seat, “In my childhood, we read Joshua’s poems in our textbooks. His poetry was great.” The collection of his poems Firdausi is like a flower that never fades in the garden of Telugu poetry. Driving a car on American highways and traveling in it are a pleasure. Besides, Julie’s is a rental car, a navy blue Chevrolet. Seven people can travel in it comfortably. Mitra was driving at 80 miles an hour; still the car didn’t feel like it was moving. No one talked much on the way. Without stopping anywhere Mitra drove 300 miles straight through and finished in 3½ hours. By 6 o’clock we were parked in front of the Holiday Inn. On the way, we saw the sunset in the western sky; the sky was covered with many colors. We were driving east. The highway was straight for miles at a time without a curve or a bend.
UG rented four rooms in the Holiday Inn – one for Julie and Lisa, another for me and Suguna, a third for Mitra and Nataraj, and the fourth for himself. On the weekends these rooms are rented for $80 a night. But because UG has a Preferential Card, we are only paying $45 a night for these rooms. The rooms are very nice. By 7 am everyone got out of their rooms. We bought whatever we needed in a Lucky supermarket, especially cream for UG.
The glory of Las Vegas can only be seen at night. Colorful lights illuminate the whole city. There are casinos everywhere. When a person steps into this world he will forget his own existence. But you must have money in your pocket. The more money you have the more entertainment you will get. So much pleasure! But people like us don’t have money.
There are light shows of dazzling electric lights flashing in various shapes, appearing very high as if they are touching the sky – a thousand eyes are not adequate to behold a city like Las Vegas. There is a big lake in front of the Bellagio Hotel. In it they have a water fountain show once every hour, in which they make the water fountains dance to the music played on the loud speakers. It’s a scene that everyone must see. The water rises high suddenly from those fountains, along with some flood lights, each jet dancing beautifully in its own way – that’s a kind of entertainment. We have had something like this in the Mysore Brindavan Gardens for a long time, but that’s nothing compared to the water fountains here.
As soon as we went into a casino from the Bellagio Hotel, another magical world was waiting for us. The description of it as Maya’s court [the architect of Devas is Maya; he created a magnificent court for the Pandavas in the epic Mahabharata] is not adequate to capture it. In the middle of the lobby there is a glass frog; around it they created a pond with colorful leaves, flowers and vines. Lights shine from within these things.
In this huge casino there are different kinds of gambling machines. You hear the sound of coins in machines everywhere. The jingling of coins sounds like music to the players’ ears. All of a sudden some fellow becomes lucky. You hear the sounds of the coins dropping into the winner’s bucket. There are hundreds of game machines there. Some are $5 machines, some $1 and some others twenty-five cents machines. These machines are everywhere. There are counters where you can get change. Besides these, there are different tables where there is gambling with cards. There is a crowd around each table.
The gambler in a man jumps out in this environment. You hear nothing but sounds of coins rolling. In the game machine, you insert a quarter and turn the wheel. It’s enough if you press a button; the wheel turns by itself. When the wheel stops, the machine gives you coins appropriate to the numbers that come up. Those who are lucky win hundreds and hundreds of dollars. There is a gambler in everyone. That gambler possessed Dharmaraja and made him lose the shirt on his back, his wife and his brothers. Here you see many such Dharmarajas. You see different varieties of people: those who lose a hundred dollars in half an hour in front a game machine and then despair, those who go into ecstasies when there is a shower of coins, and those who struggle looking for ways of finding more money after their money has disappeared into those machines. I felt that these vast gambling houses prove that a gambler and a debaucher are hidden within every person. We get to experience here what it means to look for easy ways of making money, and, trusting our luck, lose whatever we have.
We must pay homage not only to these games, but to the glory there. We can never say we have seen enough. You feel that man cannot create any more than this for his entertainment. You can spend days upon days going around shops, eating snacks, having drinks and worshipping the goddess of luck in front of these game machines. This whole world is different. You don’t have a worry. It’s another world. I felt [the illusion] that Las Vegas is the city which hands out pure entertainment to thousands of people without giving way to bloodshed, crime or deception.
Caesar’s Palace is another hotel. If you want to see all the hotels completely and in detail, it would take hours upon hours. You can witness the glory of the Roman times here. You have the experience of standing in the middle of a crossroads in Rome. They decorated the ceiling with lights to look like the evening skies of Rome. It’s a very unique sight. And there is no count of the number of shops. You will see and hear all the world’s famous names here. The whole splendor of America dazzles in Las Vegas.
It was 1 o’clock in the night by the time we had finished our touring and got back to the hotel room. We went to bed and were ready again the next morning by 8 am. This time it took two hours for us to see two casinos called ‘New York, New York’ and MGM. A pair of eyes is not enough to see these places and a pair of legs is not enough to walk these distances. And a pair of hands is not enough to buy in the shops and to play the games. 24 hours are not enough hours for a day. You can’t sleep. Suguna won $30 playing the games there. Mitra gave UG the $20 he had won. An old rule is that whatever anyone wins, he or she must give the winnings to UG. UG’s rule is “What’s lost is yours and what’s won is mine.” Suguna also gave him her winnings. UG gave it all back to Suguna. Julie spent a lot of money on us and on our entertainment. She must have spent at least a $100 that night for entertainment.
* * *
We vacated the rooms at 11 am and left on our return trip in the car, arriving home yesterday around 2:30 pm. Suguna made couscous and we all ate. UG ate idlis. This time, it’s surprising that although she traveled such a distance, was awake all night and again traveled in the car, Suguna was not tired. Then, last night, Lisa, Julie and I went into town and brought some veggie burgers and French fries. We went into a bookstore. I was looking for detailed information about Palm Springs. I haven’t found the right book yet. Last night, Lisa started playing a game with cards. The numbers on the cards in each hand must add up to 21. Any number of people can play the game. Four of us played for an hour for money. Lisa gave us the change she had, pennies, etc. How many games there are in Las Vegas! It’s all over now. UG’s pilgrimage has been completed in a day.
UG thinks that a visit to America is never complete without seeing New York City and Las Vegas. The last time, he showed New York to us both; and this time he has shown us Las Vegas. Last evening, we went to Pick & Save and bought several small items. Now we have to transport all these back to that country [India]. That’s the biggest burden.
* * *
January 14, Thursday – Day 25
The counting of days for our return journey has begun. Four days remain until it is time to go to San Francisco. I woke up this morning at 6:00 am. I wondered how I could have slept so long. I went to bed at 10 o’clock. Why am I spending so many hours in sleep? I don’t know. We spoke to Archana yesterday. We tried so many times to call Venkata Chalapati on the phone, but no one picked it up on the other end. We remembered that it was Sankranti yesterday in India. It was Dakshinamurti’s birthday. All of us called him on the phone and talked to him. … Last night we talked to Sitaram. He said he didn’t get the money from the Swiss bank yet. He said he will invest it as per instructions as soon as receives it.
* * *
What’s There to be Proud of?
We have been looking for the history and legends of Palm Springs. Yesterday, we went to the Visitors’ Information Center and to the City Library. I copied material from four or five books to bring home. I would like to prepare an essay on America in general and another especially on Palm Springs. Many writers write appreciating the American way of life, the people’s economic status and their entertainment needs, and criticizing our country and its conditions. But UG talks about how many atrocities are being committed in this country, and how many horrible things are imbedded in its history.
* * *
What’s there to be proud of
In the history of any nation?
The entire history of humanity
Is [filled with] the exploitation of others.
When I look into American history, I feel that the above is literally true. In olden times, Red Indians lived in Palm Springs. They had their own ways of living adapted to the desert life. While Mexicans invaded them, occupied California and destroyed some of them, a hundred fifty years ago, Americans hunted them, tortured them and slashed their throats, and destroyed about 90% of their population. The slogan was “A good Indian is a dead Indian.” They were killed for no particular reason. On such a blood-soaked land present-day Americans have built a heaven on earth.
When we speak of Americans, who are these Americans? What is their race? It’s not one race. All those unwanted rogues from the dominant European nations like Germany, England, Italy, Spain and France planted themselves here. Theirs is a mixed race. They didn’t come from one country. They fought among themselves and destroyed about 6 to 7 million Red Indians. When they formed the United States, the question arose as to which language was to be the national language. English and German competed for that status. They polled everyone. English won by one vote. “Otherwise, German would have been the national language of this country,” says UG. At the time of the Second World War, all the scientists in Germany ran for their lives. They were all Jews. As Nazis were killing the Jews, they escaped to Russia and America to save their own lives.
Later, probably in 1955, the news that Russia sent Sputnik into an orbit in the sky amazed the world. The then-President Eisenhower was envious of Russia’s glory; so he commented: “Russia is bragging about throwing a tennis ball into the sky.” The Hollywood actor living in Palm Springs called Bob Hope said on TV: “Half of the German scientists escaped to Russia after the Second World War. The other half found shelter in America. The ones who got away to Russia proved themselves superior to the ones that had come here.”
How have they come to dominate the world in this fashion? Asians – Vietnamese, Japanese, Chinese and Indians – are far brighter than the average American. When America imposed sanctions on India, our leaders must have warned the American government that they would withdraw Indian electronic engineers from America. In the electronics field in America, about 50% are Asians. Hundreds of thousands of Indians are working here. They are all working to benefit the progress of America. If they all go back, what will happen to this country?
As a matter of fact, Asians are able to find admissions more easily in colleges and schools here. In years to come, the US government may need to reserve seats for the local citizens.
The world population is five billions. What a small part 300 million from America are compared to that? However, 25% of the world’s resources are in America. It’s a land of plenty given by God. But they are plundering all that (on this planet there are enough resources to feed 12 billion people). So much of the world’s wealth is accumulated in the demonic hands of arrogant wealthy nations like America, reducing the rest of the earth to poverty. As long as Russia was strong, it acted as a goading hook so that America could not wag its tail. But with Russia’s fall, America is no longer answerable to anyone. China is the only country which could perhaps pose a challenge.
People in America are abusing the world’s natural resources. They have a ‘throwaway’ mentality in regard to everything. It’s a ‘throwaway’ culture. It’s a culture in which people use everything and then throw those things away. How much paper is wasted! Still, these gentlemen who use tons and tons of toilet paper, throwing it away, talk about ecology and protection of the environment! For them wasting is a hobby. Now Asian countries are also mimicking this behavior. Unless this mimicking is nipped in the bud, man cannot survive on planet earth.
* * *
People here think that America is the whole world. There is an International Film Festival in Palm Springs this month. It’s still going on. There is not a single film in it from India. There is not even a mention of the name of that country. Doesn’t it indicate the arrogance of the people of this country not to take into consideration a country in which a fifth of the world’s population lives?
It was Hollywood actors who made Palm Springs famous. There is a close link between Palm Springs and movie actors. An actor called Gene Autry built the Ocotillo Lodge; he also built the Givenchy Hotel. There are many other places with his name. There is also an important highway with his name.
* * *
“Bob Hope made more money on real estate here than he did in his films,” UG observes. Bob Hope’s mansion is located on the hill east of Palm Springs. He and his wife have just celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary.
* * *
Elvis Presley used to live here. This city once used to be a honeymoon resort.
* * *
When we go into the shops in this country, we learn how little technical and industrial progress our country has made. Wherever you look in the stores, you find “MADE IN CHINA” on all kinds of things. In earlier times, about fifteen years ago, you could see “Made in China” only on small electric gadgets and nail clippers. It’s not an exaggeration to say that now about 90% of the things sold in American stores are Chinese made. You don’t even hear the name of India. All the electronic manufactured goods are from China, Japan and Taiwan. You hear the name of India, especial of Andhra, only in the software industry. The iron manhole covers (inspection covers) over the sewers in New York City are made in India.
* * *
“Water shortage on this planet is going to be a more serious problem than the shortage of gasoline,” says UG. Even now you can see the signs of it everywhere. Even in America.
* * *
This is a land of entertainment. It invests heavily in the entertainment industry. Hollywood movies, theaters – people invest millions of dollars and make movies.
* * *
Only those countries which have ‘economic power and military might’, what UG calls ‘the two weapons’, are the topmost countries. If India cannot obtain them, America wouldn’t care. The same advice that UG has given to Lisa applies to India: “You must prove yourself needed and indispensable. You shouldn’t find fault with the management and criticize them.”
* * *
January 15, Friday – Day 26
I had several different dreams as I was waking up around 6 am – a dream that I was still hungry and eating and a dream about jubilation over meeting my uncles and aunts, and so on. Why doesn’t UG appreciate the joy of letting everything go? In one of the dreams I had thoughts about asking him and finding out about it. Thus I woke up. Yesterday morning when I was on the toilet seat, I thought, “I must give all the money I get from the books to UG. He must spend it and I must not have anything to do with it.”
When UG came in this morning he spoke about the exact same matter, “Julie gave me the money for the books. I’ll pay it to you in rupees. If you want, I can give you dollars.” “No, no, I wanted to tell you that I don’t need that money at all,” I answered. I was very happy when UG said, “OK, I’ll take it then.” In some way, a burden has been lifted off my chest. How light I felt when I thought that “that money is not mine, and I don’t need it!” Apparently, Julie gave $60 to UG. Mitra gave $10 for a copy. I gave that money also to UG. He took it.
We spent all yesterday shopping. The handicrafts shop in downtown called “The Alley” was very nice. We went out again in the evening, this time to visit a place called “El Paseo” in Palm Desert. That’s a street name. All the shops on it have been opened recently, that is, in the last month or two. That street is wonderful! When I look at its glory, I feel like going there every day. Sak’s Fifth Avenue was there. All the shops were neatly organized. They compete with each other in decorating. The wonderful buildings which contain them looked very pleasing to the eye. UG calls some people “stinking rich”. Only those sorts of people can buy in these shops. UG bought a top in one of them.
* * *
Julie has been taking pictures of UG and me for the last week or ten days for a photo for the back cover of my book. Not a single one was satisfactory. Yesterday, I put on Julie’s glasses and got a picture taken by Lisa. I thought it was OK. Or else, my black frame glasses cover my whole face and would not let my eyes be shown in the picture. I must change my glasses after I go back to India.
* * *
‘Public Enemy No. 1’
Unless the agitation in my mind subsides, I can’t hear what UG says. The more distracted I am the more distant I become from him. When the agitation subsides, I see the truth in what UG says. I used to ask myself why UG calls me ‘Public Enemy No.1’. I would give myself different explanations. But none were satisfactory. Finally, yesterday the answer dawned on me. UG tries to wipe out all the memories, traces and signs of himself from the earth along with his actual self. He says forgetting him and his ‘teaching’ completely is the greatest favor we could do for him. He says it even now. However, every thought of mine, every action and every word – they are all contrary to his wishes. My attempts are centered on making people remember him for a long time. That’s why I feel that he calls me ‘Public Enemy No.1’.
* * *
Fair in Palm Springs
Every Thursday night (like last night), there is a street fair in Palm Springs. There are stalls set up on both sides of Palm Canyon street. Last night the street looked very busy. I asked Julie to write the names of the foods we ate last night. It was a Middle eastern mixed plate containing: falafel (deep-fried cakes like bondas), stuffed grape leaves (like stuffed eggplant), tabouli (some kind of leaves [parsley] chopped finely and mixed with pasta [cracked wheat]), hummus (with a cream-like sauce on top of it– I felt it had a bit too much salt) and pita bread (these are thick and round, like chapattis; one of them is enough to fill your stomach).
There were many other stalls in the street fair. One musician was playing on the guitar. He was chatting and playing it wonderfully at the same time. Julie bought me a CD of his. In another place, they were cutting marble-looking stones into thin slices and selling them as cutting boards to cut vegetables on. Julie bought one for $15 and Lisa another for $10. I was surprised when the sales person gave Suguna a heart-shaped Corian slate wishing her “Happy Valentine’s Day.” When Suguna mentioned to him that she was from India, he acted surprised and, making theatrical gestures, said he thought she was from China. Lisa told us that he knew that she was Indian.
* * *
January 16, Saturday – Day 27
There are two days left for our departure. I woke up at 5 am today. But I didn’t feel quite like getting up, so I lay in bed till 5:15 am. Yesterday afternoon, Mitra phoned saying that since the central heater had been making noise, he had removed the plug to it. Without the heater on, the whole house felt a little cold. Right away I plugged the heater back in. The heater is now working and the heat in the house is increasing gradually. In the nights and early in the morning, it gets pretty cold here. In the town where Aruna lives it’s many times colder.
* * *
Photos for My Book
The efforts to get photos suitable for my book haven’t borne fruit till yesterday. Julie and Lisa together took dozens of photos of UG and me together. My glasses are the big problem. As soon as the sun or light falls on them, they turn dark and my eyes won’t show through. My face comes out terribly in the photos. Julie took a lot of pictures with her digital camera. As we didn’t like even a single one of them, UG scolded her for her ineptness. “This idiot doesn’t know how to take a picture for a book. She lies and says that she had worked for the Time magazine as a photographer. She is a dunderhead. She has clay in her head!” so the badgering goes on. I thought that one of the close-up pictures which Lisa had taken was all right, but UG didn’t like it.
While the sun was setting, last evening, Lisa took another series of pictures, making UG and me stand outside on the street. Not one of them came out satisfactorily. When each of them was commenting, “This is good, that is good”, “None of you really understand that on a cover picture the features of the person must appear very clearly. Who cares about the mountains and the trees in the background? I am the one to select a picture, no one else!” UG blasted away.
He asked me to take all the videos that were in the table drawer. He also asked me to throw the file of Clinton’s ‘sexcapades’ into the wastepaper basket. I arranged all the computer photo prints which Julie has taken in a file. UG flipped through those pages and said, “This photo looks good for the book,” pointing to the picture taken of me, UG and Guha. He advised, “You just have to cut Guha out of the picture, that’s all.” Julie printed the photo on the computer within minutes. It really looked good, I thought. UG was sitting back in a relaxed fashion. I was sitting on the bench next to him, matching his height. Julie printed the cover page with the photo.
Last night we took all that stuff and went to Kinko’s at 10:00 pm. In the afternoon, in the hot sun, we went to that Sushi DTP publishing expert and picked up the book and the floppies. When we went to Kinko’s in that sun, they told us to come back at night. So last night, we waited there for half an hour. The guy made four copies besides the original. After so many days the book has finally taken a complete shape. Suguna got the photos of both of us together blown up in Kinko’s to A4 size. They can be enlarged into even bigger, poster size pictures. The color Xerox pictures came out pretty well. Kinko’s is a leading copying and book-making store. There are many automatic Xerox machines in it. The man there made four copies of the book and spiral-bound them for $45. They look very good. We should see what UG says.
* * *
UG’s Kuja Stage
Nataraj is saying that we must see Joshua Tree and Bear Lake national forests. That was the big discussion yesterday morning. “Nataraj, you are not saying anything. What else must they see here? There are just two days left,” UG kept asking again and again. And then he would veto, saying “No” to whatever Nataraj suggested. Finally, he said that they should take us to Joshua Tree. But he himself wouldn’t come. “It’s not fun if you don’t come,” said Suguna.
“I’m fed up with these two guys. They are leaving,” he was telling Moorty on the phone. Moorty seems to have said, “You are fed up with all of us.” If we go to San Francisco, UG will go somewhere else. Larry is coming in his car on the 19th. They both will probably run away somewhere. He is not mentioning the topic of the jungles of Brazil nowadays. “I will stay here if they start a Senate investigation of Clinton. Watching that will be a nice pastime,” he says. UG comments that every home in America is a brothel. He criticizes Clinton saying, “It’s not enough to condemn Clinton’s sexual promiscuity. What’s worse is that he has tried to deceive so many people with his lies. Behaving in such a base fashion being a President is an insult to the office of the President.” “It would be more honorable and sensible to resign. Being attached to the seat of the President, he got stuck and got buried in the mire. It’s entirely his own fault,” he says. UG’s slogan: “Kill Clinton!”
It’s sometimes frightening to see UG throwing his criticisms and opinions about so candidly, fearlessly and freely. He is warning us again saying, “It will be a lot more horrible when the Kuja stage begins.” “I don’t know how it is going to be; it will be completely contrary to my past life,” he says. “It’s not correct to say it will be completely opposed to it, but there will be a complete change,” he expands further. Why just countries, their leaders, scientists, the innovations in technology, the protectors of the environment, psychiatrists and educators, even the thought trends of those who have made these human skeletons into great people – each model that the culture follows and each great soul that it imitates – he tears them apart one by one. “Gandhi too exploited the Harijan problem and the problem of poverty and used both as pawns in politics for his own grandeur,” he says.
“You are using the misery of the people to show in your films. Why should I see them?” UG asks Mahesh. He attacks every politician, writer and artist, everyone, the same way. They want to share their feelings of misery with everyone; so they highlight them in their works; other than that they have no altruistic motivation. That’s the way the world is. It’s all pretensions. Compassion, sympathy, pity, empathy – are all cover-ups. UG reveals before our eyes such cruelly selfish beings with their horrible fangs and devilish laughter. All our thoughts and experiences are crooked; they are all deceptive. We don’t think of it until UG shows us the reality hidden in them. Our culture regards mother’s love as divine. When UG remarks that “mothers are monsters with respect to their children,” not only mothers but even their children pounce upon UG. But how many can see the destructive nature of mothers who, with their first kisses, ignite the debased idea of the ‘I’ in their children for their own self-satisfaction? Some ask the question, “So, we shouldn’t love our children?” They think they are arguing very cleverly. “What do you think is love? Who are you to show love?” – these ‘loving’ people don’t ask such questions.
Lisa’s Gift for Mario
The other day, Lisa was mentioning an incident in relation to her lover Mario who lives in a foreign land. UG doesn’t let the two get together. Lisa has been learning to live independently, under UG’s oversight. He puts Mario down in front of everyone saying that he can’t do anything and he doesn’t deserve Lisa. But Lisa likes Mario immensely. She constantly dreams of her future with him. UG knows all that.
Once, Lisa bought four different kinds of articles of clothing to send to Mario. UG told her, “I want all of them.” Lisa gave them to him without question. A few days later she again bought some nice jackets that would fit Mario to send to him. UG showed his liking for them this time too. “I want this particular one,” she said, and gave the rest reluctantly to UG. The next day, she walked into UG’s cottage and Nataraj was there at the time. All the things she had wanted to send to Mario with all her love were lying there on the table. Nataraj was trying them on. In a moment Lisa realized that UG had been giving them to Nataraj. The next moment, all the frustration and anger she had been holding within herself broke loose. “He can’t, Nataraj can’t wear these, I bought them for Mario!” UG was right there. “Once you have given them to me, you don’t need to know to whom else I will give them away,” said UG. He had a big package in his hand. He was asking Nataraj to mail it to Mario. The package was filled with several beautiful pieces of clothing, more valuable than the ones Lisa had bought; the clothes stared at Lisa, mocking her. She almost collapsed at UG’s feet. She felt like pulling her own tongue out for hastily questioning the love with which he had been collecting the clothing more carefully than she ever did to send to Mario. That’s how UG’s grace is!
* * *
January 17, Sunday – Day 28
Today is Suguna’s birthday. It has been four weeks since we came here. I woke up at 6:00 am, early in the morning. After washing and showering, I demonstrated to Lisa the ‘Sun Salutations’. She too did them. I wrote down some mantras for her. Julie videotaped it all for Lisa. I showed Lisa some tricks. I also taught her mudras and pranayama. She believes that these will help her in her massage practice.
* * *
Yesterday at 12 noon we went to the Joshua Tree National Forest. UG didn’t come. Lisa went to work. The trip took us four hours. We rode about 150 miles and saw different sorts of hills, rocks and skies of various colors. We saw the ocotillo tree. We came across a coyote on the road, an animal which looks like a jackal. Julie took a video of it. UG stayed here all of yesterday until 8 o’clock.
* * *
Last Day in Palm Springs
Today is our last day here. Last night, we packed all our suitcases. “It feels like we have settled down here,” Suguna said to UG. UG laughed. There is no count of how many times he has moved or to how many places. I don’t know where UG will go after we leave on the 18th. “What I shouldn’t do is clear to me; I know that well. I won’t come to the Bay Area. I won’t go to New York. But I don’t know what I will do,” he says.
While UG was talking yesterday, I thought I should note down several things. But when I actually sit down to write, I can’t remember them. That’s how it goes. He certainly poured abuse on the Buddha: “Buddha was the first in human history to start sannyasa. He is the first rogue who initiated it as an institution. He is the first advocate of the doctrine of illusoriness [of the world] (mithyavadi), who arrogantly said that ‘As long as a single soul is caught in the snare of delusion, I refuse to enter the gates of Nirvana.’” Who else in this world except UG has the guts to pour all those abuses on the Buddha? He can pour abuses upon abuses without repeating a single one of them.
* * *
UG is worried that Lisa will remain here alone. He thinks it’s not safe for her to live in this house alone. He asked Nataraj and Mitra to stay in one of the wings – in the wing in which we are currently staying – till the end of this month. The whole house will be under Lisa’s control after February 1. I feel that UG will continue to stay here. The weather is very nice. It’s suitable to UG in every way. He likes dry weather. Anywhere else in the world right now it’s cold and snowing. Even the weather in San Francisco is not so good. But it’s heavenly here in Palm Springs.
Aruna phoned. The time is 8 am. I must put a stop to this writing now. If I have the time, I’ll pick it up again later today. Or else, who knows when?
* * *
Afternoon, 2 pm. Everyone has been sitting here a long time and dozing off. UG went into his room. “You finished all your shopping?” he asked Suguna. Today, it’s Suguna’s birthday. It’s going on smoothly without much fanfare. We ate the idlis she has made today. I don’t know what we’ll eat tonight. UG is blasting away at Julie.
I must read Julie’s journal. UG asked me to look into what she has written and how she has written it.
* * *
We talked to Archana on the phone; we also spoke to Aruna. There is no news except that Henk is in Bangalore. Bob and Raj are in Bombay. Apparently, Mahesh got some awards for his films. Tanuja’s movie got three awards. Mahesh’s article has been published in a newspaper. I don’t know which newspaper. This morning, Guha’s family sent birthday greetings to Suguna over the phone and on the computer.
The sun is very hot outside. It looks white; it looks as if melted silver has been poured over it. It’s over: our ties with Palm Springs end today. Tomorrow we go to San Francisco. We’ll start a new chapter from there. We will travel to Seaside tomorrow night. Narayana Moorty phoned saying that their bathroom is being repaired and that we should come a day later. UG said no. “It doesn’t matter. Go on the 18th,” he said. He told the same thing to Moorty.
* * *
January 18, Monday – Day 29
The alarm went off early in the morning at 4:45 am. I finished the morning rituals by 5:30 and sat down. All yesterday we had discussions about Julie’s book. Julie read some pages to UG. I read another twenty pages. Suguna also read some. Nataraj read some parts of it and started laughing. Unable to contain his happiness, he said, “I feel like dancing,” and hopped around. I said, “I’ll sing if you dance.” Nataraj says, “We will dish out some entertainment for everyone on Suguna’s birthday.” The things Julie has written in her book portray UG as a different sort of person. She used to be associated with a teacher called Andrew Cohen before she met UG. Her getting disillusioned with him after she had met UG, getting attached to UG, trying to get close to UG, UG spurning her, and finally asking her to get out – all these are steps in Julie’s dance. “But if you show those steps again and again, the reader gets bored,” UG comments. That’s a fair assessment. That’s why she must condense her 1,000-page story. She should cut out about three quarters of it. Julie has the problem of what and how much to cut. She can do that job. She said she will send me a copy. I too promised to help her.
* * *
We finished packing. It’s time to leave. We must leave at 6:15 am. Our time is up in Palm Springs. Last evening, we went on a car ride with UG one more time. We went via Indian Canyon Road to downtown on Palm Canyon Road. On the way we saw some historical monuments. The Starbucks coffee shop was packed with people. We saw the Desert Museum from the outside.
It looks like UG has come in. I must close this now and sit with him. I don’t know when I will be free again.
* * *
Yesterday morning at 6:15, we took leave of UG. Julie took us to the airport in her car. We checked in around 6:40 and went into the airport restaurant. Julie looked sad. She is going to LA from here. “You can’t come back here. You must leave directly from the airport,” UG ordered her. She doesn’t know what to do. Without UG she has no world. Her son Justin is mentally ill. He calls in the middle of the night. He wants to see her. He says he will come. Then he says he won’t. “He is mad,” says UG. Julie is anxious that he should see UG at least once. Her older son, Marc, is married and has a family.
Her daughter Sasha is an opera singer and has her own apartment in New York. None of Julie’s children need her. Julie’s mother, however, lives nicely in Julie’s apartment under the care of two maids. Her mother is getting pretty old. It’s easy for Julie to take care of her. But if you just sit idly and spend the money, even mountains will be reduced to small heaps. It’s not new to her to burn thousands upon thousands like this.
* * *
En Route to Seaside
In the airport they told us that Alaska Airlines departure is at Gate 6. We talked a bit with Julie at the gate. Finally, we said goodbye and sat down in the Boeing 737. The plane left exactly at 7:35. It was 9:00 am when we got to San Francisco. Aruna and Venkat came to the gate. It took another half hour to get the baggage. And it was 10:00 am by the time we arrived at their home. On the way, they both showed us several things. I figured that Foster City is not even 10 miles from the airport. It was raining outside. The sky was heavily overcast. “What’s the point in going to Seaside in this weather? You can spend the night here and we’ll go tomorrow night in the car,” said Aruna. Venkat said the same. We agreed. I phone UG before I called Moorty and told him that we are staying here for today. Then I told Moorty that we will come there tomorrow.
It has been raining lightly all day long. We chatted with Raghavendra Rao and his wife. We saw a video and ate lunch. Then I read for a little while a novel by M. V. Krishnamurti, ‘Nattalostunnay Jagratta’ [Beware, The Snails are Coming] and dozed off. In the evening, around 7 pm, after Venkat returned, we went out for a car ride for a little while. We shopped in Safeway and K-mart and then chatted again. That’s how we spent all our time. ...
This trip has worked out now after ten years. Aruna and Venkat living here on the West coast, Venkat’s parents and us coming to America before the end of the year after Aruna and Venkat got married, meeting them here and having a good time – all these happened in a strange fashion. Whoever thought we would come here in this manner?
* * *
I woke up today at 7 am. After finishing the morning rituals, I called UG at 9 am. I told him of the details of my conversation with the manager of the Canara Bank. Just before then Julie called from Santa Monica. She said she is going to New York today. UG said that he is going to LA and meet Julie there. He will probably take Mitra and Nataraj with him. Lisa is also off today. Perhaps they have all left by now. Around noon we all went up to the San Mateo Bridge and came back home, having taken videos and photos.
* * *
Outside, it’s cloudy again. The sun came out for a while in the morning. We thought that was not bad. Before long, however, dark clouds covered the sky. When it is sunny, the whole apartment has a lot of light. It looks nice.
* * *
Yesterday, someone called Harry phoned me and said he wanted two copies of No Way Out. I gave him Chrystal’s phone number and told him to ask her. He reserved two copies in the Quest Bookstore. He called me again to tell me that. He said he wanted a copy of my journal. He also wanted the audio tapes. I took his address. I could send him the galley copy I have with me. I must phone him and ask. I don’t know what UG’s plans are yet. Apparently, Dr. Lynn is coming to Palm Springs in February. Will UG also be there till then? He asked Larry not to come. He said he was going to LA to confirm his tickets to New Zealand and Australia. I don’t know when he will travel there; perhaps in February? Nataraj and Mitra will be there till the end of the month.
* * *
Outside, clouds are gathering heavily. It’s dark already at 4:30 pm. In the last 30 days, I haven’t seen this kind of weather even once in Palm Springs. In India I blamed UG for being so unkind to ask us to come to the US in winter. “Why did he call us to come to America in the winter cold weather? Why didn’t he let us remain happy in Bangalore and why did he cause all this hardship to us?” I had complained. But when I set my foot in Palm Springs, I realized what sort of a heaven he has invited us to. When I think about how he didn’t cause us the slightest inconvenience, how he had called Aruna and Venkat too and created an opportunity for them to spend some time with us, how he bought a microwave oven for Aruna and thus fulfilled Suguna’s wish, and how he had tried to remove my anxieties in so many ways, my heart is filled with happiness and gratitude. He saw to it that my book got into a shape. How many hundreds of dollars he has spent on us! At last, the book is ready. Moorty will put the final touches to it. UG is paying off the Rs.50,000 that I have borrowed from Major. It must all be due to the merits of my past karma, I thought. Moreover, he is asking Nataraj to invest Rs.300,000 in our finance company. I will look and see if it is possible to invest all of it in one person’s name. I must ask Gururaj about it.
* * *
It’s almost 5 pm. Venkat should be coming about now. We should leave for Seaside as soon as he comes. By the time we return from Seaside, Raghavendra Rao and his wife will have gone. Ten days after that we too will make our return trip to India.
* * *
January 25, Monday (San Francisco)
I had to look up in the calendar to find about today’s date and how many days have elapsed. Although it’s a week since we have come here, I haven’t had the free time to touch this diary. I thought it had been just three days.
That’s right, we arrived here Tuesday, the 19th. That day, by the time we went out with Raghavendra Rao and his wife in the afternoon for an outing and returned, it was dark and cold. It already starts getting dark here by 4 pm. Venkat came around 6 pm from his office in a hurry and took us to Seaside in his car after taking some photos at 6:30 pm. Aruna also came with us. It was raining and cold outside. We had to travel more than a hundred miles in this sort of weather. In India people wouldn’t dare to do that. Here on Highway 101, many cars were darting very fast, competing with us to get ahead. No one seemed to mind the weather. The car was warm and dry. The roads were shining, reflecting the lights. Because we took a wrong turn on the way, it took us half an hour to get back to the highway going to Seaside.
It was about 9 pm by the time we got to Narayana Moorty’s house. We ate quickly and Venkat and Aruna left to return at 9:50 pm in the rain. Although they knew their way back, apparently it was 11:30 pm by the time they got back to their home.
In Moorty’s house, they arranged for us the bedroom adjacent to the kitchen. It was very cold. The heater did not make much difference. Wendy was getting tiles put on the floor in the bathroom. Moorty said it was impossible for us to take our baths here as long as the work was not finished; so he said he would arrange for our showers in his friend Murali’s place. I asked myself why we should go to his friend’s house just for a shower; so we quit taking showers for a day. The second day, I had an idea: I thought we could take our baths sitting in the bathtub without the water spilling on the tiles. So I talked to Wendy and when she put up a plastic sheet on the wall, the bathroom became available for a bath. For the next three days we both had our baths that way. We brought hot water in buckets, sat in the tub and poured water on ourselves with a tumbler. Except for this inconvenience, we spent the three days (from 19th night till 23rd morning) in Moorty’s house pleasantly. For each meal Moorty cooked a variety of foods with his own hands and served them and made sure that we ate well. I felt that in Moorty’s house we have eaten again to our heart’s content after a long time. Wendy spends all her time, ever since she gets up from bed in the morning, with Kiran – looking after his needs, taking him to his music lessons, taking care of the house cat Whitney, shopping and bringing the stuff they need at home. On workdays, Moorty cooks half the time. On holidays he takes over the cooking responsibility completely.
* * *
Kiran lives in a different world. He wouldn’t come into our world. If we said hello to him, he would come down from that world, as if he is coming out of sleep, mumble a couple of words, smile within himself and slip back into his world again. School, study, the piano which UG has bought him, and other percussion instruments and his mother Wendy – Kiran has no other world except these. He is not bothered about who is visiting, why they are here or what they need etc. When Moorty calls him five times, one of those times he responds smiling. No one can hear what he says. He loves piano. Everyone thinks he has gained proficiency in piano. Moorty says he is very skilled in percussion instruments also.
* * *
The very next day after we came, on Wednesday the 20th, Moorty and I sat down and completed whatever we had to do for my book on his computer. He too liked the book cover. Neither of us liked the photo of both UG and me on the back cover. Moorty’s friend Sajid came with us last Saturday to San Mateo and took some pictures of me with UG in the Holiday Inn. Moorty believes that we can find at least one or two of them which will be suitable for printing. Sajid lives in Santa Cruz. His wife is Laura. They are quite amicable with each other. Sajid is also an engineer. He is currently not working. Computer graphics is his hobby. The walls in his living room are filled with his drawings and paintings of nude models in various poses.
* * *
The weather was beautiful for the three days we were in Seaside. The first day, we went to Carmel. From there we went on the coast, on the 17-mile drive, in the car. You have to pay a $7.50 toll to get in. It was great. We stopped at places and saw the sea lions and birds on the distant rocks in the ocean. The Pacific Ocean looks spread out in blue in any direction. Natural scenery – it looks like the ocean is incessantly working hard to wash away all the filth which man has created.
* * *
It was probably in 1993 that Mahesh wrote UG’s biography in 30 days; he had written it in Carmel. Moorty showed us that house. From there we went to a bookstore called Pilgrim’s Way on the main street. It was there that Julie had first bought UG’s book. Luna too met UG through the manager of that shop. His name is Paul. I felt like I could spend hours in that shop. How many different books, it’s like a library! The store is famous especially for spiritual and religious books. I bought a used book on palmistry and an astrological calendar. The latter is for Vedam Satyanarayana. From there we returned home via Monterey by the evening. We had a feast of music in Moorty’s home, music from old records – Pankaj Mallik, Dilip Kumar Roy, Balamurali, Ali Akbar Khan, Amzad Ali Khan, Dwaram, L. Subramaniam, Lalgudi Jayaraman and Lakshmi Shankar – music of many voices and instruments. We heard till the rust in our ears was cleaned out. Moorty gave me a copy of his book of Vemana’s verses. He also gave a book each of Chuang Tzu and Allan Watts. Very generous man, he has a tendency to give away whatever he has without considering it his. He constantly seems to think about what else to give next.
* * *
January 26, Tuesday – Day 37
With Aruna and Venkat
Woke up at 6:30 in the morning. Last night, after Venkat has returned from his office, we went for a drive at 7:30. By the time we finished the shopping and got back home it was 10 pm. N. Moorty and Sajid have sent photos of me with UG by e-mail. Moorty has selected one of them for the cover page. I thought I couldn’t imagine anything better than that, although I was wearing glasses in it. Sajid had taken that picture. Yesterday, at 12 noon I sent e-mails to Moorty and Sajid. All the fine details needed for the book are now worked out. The Word Perfect CD disc which Julie sent has also come in the mail. We talked to Julie on the phone yesterday. I also spoke to John Allen. He said he will come on Thursday and take us in his car.
* * *
Slowly my mind is getting crowded with thoughts of India, thoughts about all the issues there, one after another – the future of the school, our future activities, financial issues and such. My mind was quieter when I was around UG. I wondered if I even had a mind. There were no anxieties. Now waves of thoughts are rolling in. That’s the way it goes. This writing will turn out like Julie’s journal. Last Saturday night, there was a talk about that journal in UG’s presence at Holiday Inn. “There is nothing interesting in it. Everything in it is repetitive,” UG had said. “That’s not true,” said Moorty, “not all of it is like that. Those thousand pages have to be edited into a book of about 200 pages. But until UG gives me a clear sign, I am not going to touch that manuscript. If he asks me to, I will.” UG didn’t respond. When the time comes he will make the decision. Till then it has to wait. If Moorty could polish the crude material written by O. S. Reddi and turn it into something readable, it’s not hard for him to work on Julie’s journal. He never bothered about it because sometime ago in the past UG asked him not to. It looks like Julie’s journal might see better times now.
* * *
The four of us went to the Siva-Vishnu temple in Livermore last Sunday. It’s about an hour’s journey from here by car. The temple is built in a large area. The main temple top is taller than the Bangalore Banasankari Venkateswara temple. In the compound there are temples of Shiva, Parvati, Ganapati, Subrahmanya, Venkateswara, Sri Devi and Bhu Devi. They have installed some very good-looking images. There are also images of Radha and Krishna, Sita, Rama and Anjaneya as well as of the nine planets. Apparently they had the Kumbha Abhisheka in 1996. There is certain peacefulness in the atmosphere around the temple. As we walked into the temple, the priest was chanting the mantra pushpa and was presenting the aarti to everyone [to receive gods’ grace]. We too received grace. We learned later that it was Ratha Saptami that day. But by that time it would be Sunday night [in India]. Still there would be a remnant of Saptami [the 7th day of the lunar month]. Ratha Saptami was precisely the day eight years ago on which we immersed the ashes of Valentine in the Kaveri River. This year it falls on the 24th. Valentine died on January 20th. I didn’t remember it this year. That was the day that Moorty and I completed the work on the book in Seaside. Valentine, you are secure in my memory. Now you are taking a concrete shape in my book. I must dedicate this book to you. It would be nice to insert a picture of UG and Valentine in the book.
* * *
It’s colder here near San Francisco than in Palm Springs. Besides, it’s always cloudy and raining. For the first time, we stayed indoors all day, packing the suitcases. We have filled the large suitcase I had previously sent with Aruna with the stuff we have bought here. If we take stock, the things we have bought are all trifles. Half the space in the suitcase is occupied by tablecloths, videotapes and books. Now we will need another suitcase to carry the things we have yet to buy. To transport them all to India is the big task now.
* * *
Aruna took us to the public library of Foster City. It’s two blocks from here, that is, from the Water’s Edge Apartments. There is a lake next to it. Surrounding the lake there are clubs and playgrounds. When I entered the library, I felt like never leaving. Besides books, they also have CD’s. They let you borrow books free of charge. There are many magazines as well as numerous books. There is also a children’s section. Anyone can surf the Internet on the computers. Aruna goes there almost every day. She reads the books right there. All these past days, Raghavendra Rao and his wife have been here. Now we two are here. A year ago, I never gave a thought to Aruna’s family life. They had just been married and were setting up their family. It’s uncanny how UG called us both here and saw to it that we are with them. Things are happening at an unimaginably fast rate.
* * *
Chinatown in San Francisco
In every big city in this country there is a Chinatown. There are many Chinese in America. They have been here for a couple of centuries. They are good in business. Mainland Chinese have trade relations with many countries. Now, when you look in any supermarket, 50% of the merchandise is marked “Made in China”. You would wonder what it is that they don’t manufacture. There is a Chinatown in the middle of San Francisco.
On Sunday, after we left the temple in Livermore, we went to see the Golden Gate Bridge. We drove around downtown San Francisco in the late afternoon, ate French fries in the Burger King Restaurant, also had some coffee there, and then started walking from the gate of Chinatown. After we had walked some distance, we saw Raghu and Gargi walking on the other side of the road and we called out to them. We all stood there talking on the sidewalk for about 15 minutes and we invited them to our home. Gargi is Aruna’s friend. Her brother, Nachiketa, works in Oracle.
From there we went all around Chinatown returning home by 10 pm. All the shops there are run by the Chinese. Different kinds of toys, electronic goods, curios, gold jewelry, jackets laced with expensive diamonds and other colorful precious stones such as gems and topaz, pearl and coral bead chains – are all sold in abundance. If you don’t bargain with them, you can easily be taken in. We bargained a lot in a shop called Pearl Bazaar and told them we would come again, and we did go there again today.
* * *
Unexpectedly, John Allen came this morning with his mother-in-law who is visiting from England. She is over 80. She still looks healthy and active. In downtown San Francisco, in the Union Square, there is a shop called Needlepoint and she wanted cross-stitch mats there. That’s why John took her with him, came to our house on his way to San Francisco and took the three of us with him.
It has been many years since I have seen John. He lives in Palo Alto. He has two sons going to school and his wife is Margaret. He works in computers in Stanford. We went all around downtown San Francisco in his Volkswagen car. We went to Chinatown and went back to the Pearl Bazaar shop. Aruna bought pearl necklaces for Suguna, and emeralds and jade for her friend. When we all returned home, it was 3 pm. John dropped us off at our home.
* * *
Nataraj has not phoned yet.
* * *
January 27, Wednesday – Day 38
Telugu Language and Telugu People
It was Republic Day in India yesterday. There probably was a celebration in the school. They would have hoisted a flag under the supervision of Venkata Chalapati. I need to find the exact equivalents of English words in Telugu. I don’t know enough technical vocabulary. If an idea cannot be expressed in a language precisely, then it’s either the fault of the writer or the fault of the language. Chalam has expressed all sorts of emotional ideas in Telugu very precisely, so there is no dearth in the language. In the Telugu vocabulary there are many words. We can easily express our ideas. But we have to look up the Telugu equivalents for some technical terms in English. One’s style, one’s way of writing, however, is purely personal. Different writers can express the same subject matter in different ways. Chalam’s writing style is different from R.V. Sastry’s style. Kutumba Rao’s is different from either of them. If we compare their styles, we understand their personalities.
All the Telugu people in this city celebrate Sankranti under the auspices of BATA [Bay Area Telugu Association], Aruna told me. “We saw such things celebrated by Kannada people before. They weren’t very good. Once we go there, the whole day is filled with events. They arrange for meals there. If you like, we can go,” she said. The admission is $15 per head. That means we have to pay $60 for the four of us. I thought that would be a waste. We wouldn’t know anyone there. As a matter of fact, it would be nice to meet with one or two Telugu friends, but I can’t stand Telugu groups. The pettiness of Telugu people comes through when they are in groups. That’s why I try to keep away even from celebrations of annual Telugu gatherings called Melukalayika in Bangalore.
Everyone tries to show off a greatness and brilliance which they don’t really have, and no one appreciates the nobility apparent in the person in front of them. They can’t honor true art. That’s why Telugu people cannot succeed in their own Telugu land. Other Telugus won’t let them. If they want to get themselves known to the world, they must go outside the borders of Andhra and settle there.
UG’s case is proof enough for us to feel ashamed. Telugu people don’t take the initiative [to recognize him] even after several of his books have been published in English, even after he has given four interviews in Delhi Doordarshan, and has a lot of stuff published in newspapers and magazines in English and other languages. They haven’t even given him one TV interview. Not a single important Andhra newspaper has published news about UG. They only publish news of useless scandals. In 1980, Andhra Prabha Daily did publish a long essay. After that, no press correspondent from Andhra has ever written on him in Telugu and none tried to meet him. These people don’t realize how proud they ought to be that a seer like UG, a candid man, a philosopher and a world traveler, is Telugu. The Telugus don’t know how to honor and celebrate their own great people while they are still alive. Then after they are dead, everyone starts praising them. It’s only the Telugus who fear that their own greatness might be diminished if they admit the greatness of another. That’s their bane.
* * *
I am noticing a peculiarity in UG’s friends and people who are close to him, especially in this country. When UG is here or comes here, everyone gathers around him. Everyone says hello to each other and chats about this and that. When UG leaves, each goes his or her own way. They don’t meet again unless they need to. They don’t talk to each other for months. When UG comes again, they all reappear. It’s different in India. Once they become close, people make it a point to meet each other, or at least phone each other, even after UG leaves. They write to each other. They talk to each other about various things that UG says. You don’t see any of that here. They don’t say hello to each other, even though everyone has a phone, a computer and other modern tools and conveniences. When John mentioned this to me yesterday, I was surprised. He is not in touch with anyone.
For instance, everyone knows that Douglas is in financial troubles. No one tries to help him. Even UG did not let him come near him this time. He helped Douglas with what he needed before. UG says it is Douglas’s own doing. Nonetheless, when there is a need, UG will certainly help.
* * *
Today it’s very sunny. It’s now 8 am. There is a canal flowing behind the house. Its waters join the ocean. There are ducks and cranes on the water. People have built houses on the canal’s banks. Some people have small boats and in the summertime they go around in the water rowing them. Now it’s winter and the cold is bone-biting. Even if you are clad very warmly, you still feel cold. Even though I am indoors my fingers freeze when I sit here writing early in the morning. The ducks gliding on the water are making noises. But the cold here never freezes the water. When you go north from here, you notice a change of weather every ten miles.
It was extremely cold yesterday in downtown San Francisco. When we were walking along the streets, John’s mother-in-law – an English lady – was also shivering. I must wear thermal underwear. Even when wearing two sweaters and a jacket, because I don’t wear gloves, I feel cold in my palms. If I don’t wear boots to cover my entire feet, the cold creeps in from under my feet. In this cold, Venkat puts on a single jacket and walks around comfortably without even any thermals. Yesterday, Suguna had hard time moving her feet with the weight of the things she was carrying. We can’t tell when the clouds will gather or when it will start raining. Even though it’s sunny, it’s only warm in the car. It’s only cold when we walk. I think that UG is fulfilling my hidden desire that I should experience the weather in this country in wintertime.
* * *
January 28, Thursday – Day 39
We should be leaving tomorrow according to the plan we made two days ago. But we have postponed our departure by a week. If we were leaving tomorrow, then our stay would have been ‘forty days and forty nights’ exactly. It’s now 7 am and it’s cold. It’s still cold even if I wear a sweater on top of the thermals and close all the doors. There is central heating in the house, but Venkat is allergic to its heat. Apparently, he will start sneezing and go on sneezing all day. That’s why Aruna doesn’t turn the heater on. That’s why it’s so cold in the house. It was quite sunny yesterday. There was not a single spec of a cloud and the entire sky was blue. When I put a chair out and sat in the sun for ten minutes, the sun began to scorch my skin.
* * *
Yesterday, Aruna took us both to the Foster City mall. We went on the city bus. A bus company called Santrans runs the buses in Foster City. There are many routes. One route takes us from their apartment to the mall. The fare of $1.10 is the same for any destination. The buses are very convenient, but they seem empty whenever you look in them. They are not crowded like in our country.
In the mall we went around for three hours. We went into Sears and Nordstrom and many other stores. We couldn’t find anything to buy anywhere. We had coffee in Burger King and headed back home in the bus around 5 pm. Yesterday UG was in New Jersey; he spoke to us from Guha’s home.
* * *
Aruna has turned into quite a hard-working girl. From the time she gets up from bed in the morning till Venkat leaves for his office she keeps herself busy. She is completely occupied with taking care of his needs. She packs his lunch box. She makes a different dish every day – normally foods like upma and chapatti. Venkat eats his breakfast here and takes the lunch with him. He eats something light in the canteen in the afternoons. He has coffee when he comes home. Meanwhile, Aruna takes care of all the household chores. She keeps the house tidy. And she visits the library everyday.
* * *
January 29, Friday – Day 40
Today it has been exactly 40 days that we’ve set foot on this soil. This is the first time that I have been in a foreign land for such a long time. On our last trip, we stayed in Switzerland for a month and in London for a week.
Suguna just brought me some hot coffee. The weather was good yesterday too. There was bright sun all day long. The sky was plunged in blue color. Yesterday at 11 am, Suguna and I visited a school here, an elementary school called Kids Connection. There was a lady administrator at the front reception desk. We explained to her our background and asked if we could see the school. She asked us to check with the principal. We talked to the principal for about 15 minutes. She said she would call us on Wednesday or Thursday. They don’t allow stray visitors into the school here. In view of the children’s safety they don’t allow photographing or filming them. You can take a video of the school facilities. Still, if we can take some sort of video, we could show it in India. We’ll have to see what the principal will allow.
We walked from the school to the beach park on the sidewalk next to the San Mateo Bridge. We walked a long time. There we got acquainted with a young Telugu woman with a two-year-old daughter. Her name is Anuradha and her child is Anjali. Her husband, Rajesh, works for Oracle. Venkat says that the majority of people who live around here work for Oracle.
* * *
Yesterday we started editing and copying old videotapes from the handy cam camcorder onto a VHS tape. We completed one tape. There are four left. I must finish them. Last night, there was a message on the answering machine that Julie had called. She said she would call again tonight.
I talked to Moorty yesterday. He has a fever. It hasn’t come down yet. Yet, he sits in front of the computer and works. Moorty is a real karma yogi. Nataraj and Mitra must have left yesterday in their car. Apparently they spent some time with Paul Lynn and Michael.
Paul Arms called. He hasn’t come here from San Rafael nor have I gone there. We must meet him sometime. We’ll see. If we go on the train to downtown, it would be nice, if he could meet us there. Or else, Venkat must take us on a Saturday in his car. He can’t take us on workdays. There is only the next weekend remaining to spend time with these two.
Venkat is very amicable. He is quite capable and knowledgeable. I must say Aruna is lucky to have someone like Venkat as her partner.
This is the third day this week that the sun is shining brightly in the sky. But unfortunately, we don’t have a car to go around town.
* * *
Just a while ago, I had a call from Julie. UG, Lakshmi and Guha spoke. Hearing Guha’s laughter, I said, “I hear a sad undertone in your laughter.” True, today, UG is leaving for Palm Springs. I could hear the disappointment in his laughter. Guha is inebriated with UG. UG is saying, “You are a crazy guy,” in the background. I said, “May your tribe increase,” from my end. Guha laughed again even louder. He said, “Chandrasekhar is asking to include him in the ‘goners’ list,” repeating to UG what I said. UG said, “Aha!” Tonight, by 9:30 pm, UG will be in Palm Springs. He will probably come to LA on the day we will be leaving; that will be exactly next Saturday. Last Saturday, we were with UG in the Holiday Inn. Julie said she will call tonight at 6 pm from New Jersey.
* * *
Venkat will leave for his office at 8:45 am. Every morning Aruna walks him to the car. Raghavendra Rao can’t keep himself from praising her for such niceties. Venkat doesn’t return until the evening. In between, he phones Aruna at least three times.
When I watch Aruna’s family and think of UG’s grace my eyes become moist.
* * *
January 30, Saturday – Day 41
Gandhi Worship Day. Does anyone think of Gandhi today? I doubt it. Is there anyone who thinks of the horrible incident which had occurred 51 years ago? The public sector, TV Doordarshan and All India make a lot of noise, but that’s because they are obliged to do that. Other than that, is there the slightest sympathy in anyone’s heart for Gandhi and his self-sacrifice?
“Gandhi, who tried to put out hatred
In restless violent hearts;
Ravi, who tapped at the doors
of impenetrable hearts;
Jesus, who came down pleading,
Promising the fallen ones to redeem their sins
With his own blood;
Mohammad, who chopped off people’s
Heads and peeped into their souls;
Today all these are mere names
In religions, fights and passions,” said Chalam in Sudha.
‘How true!” I feel. It is to Moorty’s credit that he has translated such a poem. He told me the story of Motilal Banarsidass’s publishing the book and the troubles they had caused him. Whatever might have happened, the book is brought to the English reader’s notice. But how much and to how many? Who thinks of that book even among Telugu speakers? Can people appreciate Chalam’s Sudha as much as they chow down Yandamuri’s novels? Everyone gobbles up Chalam’s stories like Maidanam and Brahmaneekam, but how many can appreciate the nectar of passion in Sudha. There are only two or three others who can appreciate the poetry in that book as well as I can. Sundar, Hanumant and now Narayana Moorty. When I first read the book, I was breathless with its poetry. The arrangement of words, the composition of phrases, the music that the words sing – they all work together to beautify the poems. Whenever I think of the poems in Sudha my mind becomes lighter.
Chalam’s and Dhurjati’s Writing Styles
Chalam’s translation of Ravindra’s Gitanjali is also brilliant. The poetry of Dhurjati called Sri Kalahastiswara Satakam, written four hundred years ago, is great poetry, too. Its poetic style is unforgettable. Whether he used complex Sanskrit phrases or expressed music in his words with light Telugu vocabulary, Dhurjati’s style is unique. What’s striking in both these poets is the concise use of words. They use just those words that are necessary and to just the extent needed. Not indulging in showy vocabulary is a sign of great poetry. We can perceive such a characteristic in UG’s day-to-day conversations. He uses words in a balanced fashion. Try as you may, you can’t find alternate terms for his words. Other words don’t have the same sharpness, force and intensity. The arrangement of his words appears to compete with the energy behind them. Everyone knows that he doesn’t think about what says before he says it.
* * *
Yesterday, I sat with Aruna and copied all the videotapes onto one big tape. Only one tape remains. I wrote “American Sojourn of Father and Mother” on the tape. I don’t know if Aruna liked my label or not. She tries to look at her likes and dislikes in the mirror of Venkat’s tastes. She wonders if he will like something or not.
* * *
Today the weather is foggy. I don’t know if it will be possible to go out or not. We thought of going to San Jose or Santa Cruz. If the weather is like this outside, perhaps it’s better to stay home. You can’t even hear the noise of the ducks on the water in the stream. They must all be taking shelter in a corner from the cold. Venkat got up and talked about old things for a while and is now phoning to India. Every Saturday and Sunday they both phone to India. Their phone bill altogether runs into more than $200 a month. That means Rs. 9,000. In India we get Rs. 3,000 phone bill per month on an average. Still, if we compare, they are better off.
* * *
January 31, Sunday – Day 42
My mind is like, “Even if you wash a mouse’s tail for a whole year....” No matter how much it learns, how much experience it has gathered, indeed, it doesn’t quit its worries. As soon as I heard early in the morning today from Archana that they have kept the school application pending, my mind collapsed. How terrible, I thought. Immediately, I had my fears and anxieties; I worried about what I should do next. Who will help? Why have I been so lazy for so many days? What will happen now? How much longer will the application process take? What will happen to the kids’ future? Thoughts spring up like mushrooms in this fashion. Just as I watch, they take over my entire mind and kill my joy that Archana has passed her Inter CA examination.
Last night, Aruna and Venkat got Archana’s examination number from her and looked up her results on the Internet. Archana’s name is included on the ‘passed’ list of both groups. We were very happy. We phoned her this morning and she spoke in detail about everything.
That’s when she also gave me the school news. My mind has become all chaotic ever since I heard the news. That’s how mental states are. My mind has not yet developed equanimity of facing everything bravely or remaining indifferent, saying, “what do I care what happens?” It won’t happen before I die. But why should I be anxious that this [agitation] should go away? What if I do have a disturbance in my mind? If it makes trouble on its own, why should I bother to try to distract it, console it or cheer it? If it is not this, it will get hold of some other thing and worry about it, plucking its feathers. If it quits one, it picks up another. Even after I have seen its ways for so many years, why hope that it will be straightened one day? But can I survive without hope? I have an attachment to my mind. I try to somehow keep it cheerful and happy forever. What do I care about what happens around me? What are all these people to me? What do I need?
Just a while ago, Eddy and Lulu phoned. Eddy wanted Henry Dennison’s number; so he phoned Julie and she gave it to him. When I told him that UG is still in Palm Springs, he felt like teasing UG a little bit. He likes to make practical jokes. He phoned UG. When UG picked up the phone, he assumed a Texan accent and said that he was a 90-year-old millionaire and urged, “I must become enlightened; I must be enlightened before I die.” UG couldn’t detect it was Eddy by his voice. “You go to whoever is promising you enlightenment. What’s the use of asking me? As far as I am concerned there is no such thing as enlightenment,” he replied. “I know you are the only one who can give it to me. If you want me to come, I can put on wings and be there instantly in your presence. Please grant me enlightenment,” Eddy begged. “I spent all my three-qaurters of a million dollars without a second thought. That’s all I can do. I don’t have any enlightenment to grant,” said UG
“Then you must have one-quarter of a million dollars still with you. What did you do with the rest of the money?” asked Eddy. “What do you mean a quarter million?” asked UG. “The Bible says donate a tenth of your property. So, you must still have some millions left.” While Eddy was saying that, Lulu was laughing listening in on another phone. After teasing him for a while, “If I come, you may ask me to donate my millions. I don’t like that. So, I’m not coming,” Eddy said and hung up. Eddy says UG couldn’t identify his voice. Then when Suguna and I called UG a while ago and talked to him, he told us, “I knew that it was Eddy talking to me; I heard Lulu laughing in the background.”
Apparently, Shilpa and Sumedha called UG. Sumedha apparently asked UG, “You say that you are not educated. Then how come so many people come to you and ask you questions? Tell us the truth. You are not a drop-out. You’re not illiterate, right?” “The reason why you are asking me this question is the same reason why everyone else is asking me questions,” UG said. Sumedha hung up the phone. Yesterday, Lakshmi talked on the phone joyfully for half an hour about the time they had spent with UG and about other news.
* * *
February 1, Monday – Day 43
Tranquility of Mind
New Month. The second time a new month has started in this country. The counting of the final days has begun. We will leave six days from today. We haven’t finished shopping yet. Our days here have been spent in an interesting and jolly fashion. We have had a pleasant time. When we get back to India, the usual rut will begin.
Why should I get the feeling of “what am I doing all these things for?” These fifty years, or at least forty years, I have been struggling in my life; I have been trying to keep my mind in a tranquil state. My whole life has been spent in trying to control myself by turning my mind away from disturbance, anxiety, sadness, worry and such. I have taught my mind not to lose its equanimity; whether I taste the frontiers of joy or delve into the depths of sorrow, I have learned to stand firm. I persuaded it. It listens to everything. But then when it meets a similar situation again, it collapses. Is this what I have learned in so many years? Why doesn’t the truth work?
I know that my efforts – my efforts to see that I should never be sad, or that I should never cringe, and that I should always be jumping with joy – are futile. Yet I can’t help but make them. Must this go on for the rest of my life? Is life nothing but this constant wrestling with air? There is no end to this except in death.
But what do I know about death? I can’t experience ‘death’. How can I experience my not being at all? I can’t, even in my dreams. If anything comes into the realm of my experience, that has to be something I have imagined. I am only imagining as death the lack which I feel when I watch people around me die. But what do I know about ‘death’? Who knows? How does he who says he knows know? It’s all a grand deception. No one knows. How can there be something which no one knows? There is no death.
But then is there birth? That’s the problem. Was I born? When? How did I know that? Was I there on March 26, 1945? How come I don’t remember it? I don’t have that information in my head, do I? If my being born was in fact an event, how am I concerned with events that I can’t remember? How come my mind thinks about everything else, but lets go of such an important issue without resolving it? If I can’t resolve the question of whether I have ever been born, who cares about all these other botheration?
In the very question, “Was I born?” is hidden the answer that I wasn’t. There is no birth and there is no death. This is all old hash. Haven’t I been listening to this philosophy for eternity? How do you think you are alive without being born, you fool?
How do you know that you are alive? Why do you want to separate your life from yourself and look at it? Do you know every moment that you are breathing? Do you know it in sleep as well? Even when you think you are awake, how much are you conscious that you are alive and that you are breathing in and out? Was that awareness ever constant? Then, where is the certainty, what’s the proof that you are alive?
The feelings, thoughts and ideas that go on in you become known. They are reflected in you like in a mirror. If I say that you look at yourself in that reflection and assume that those actions are yours, and are thereby deluded into thinking that you are living as a separate being, how would you respond? You dumb head, none of the thoughts, anxieties, emotions and feelings are yours. They belong to the image reflected in that mirror. Those are changes occurring in the image on the movie screen. It lives by itself. Without keeping that reflection in your mind, could you still grasp the truth that you are alive? Doesn’t whatever you know pertain to that reflection? It’s indeed not yours.
This tranquility and this anxiety are, indeed, not yours. Why, then, are you concerned with them?
What’s the guarantee that you were born? Don’t try to convince me with logic. If I don’t accept the basis of your logic, what happens to it? So, first you don’t know whether you were born or not. As a matter of fact, you don’t even know whether you are alive or dead. You don’t know at all for sure the truth that there is no possibility of knowing. These are the truths that are going to enlighten your life. Why do you hanker after truths which you don’t know? What a waste of effort! Let it go.
Can you let it go? Can you just be without doing anything? “Without movement or vitality, paralyzed and untainted” – don’t just repeat those words. It’s not just recalling UG’s and Chalam’s words. Every place, every moment, every minute, every hour and every day: can you stop and remain in that aloneness where only you exist and nothing else remains? Don’t try. You crazy fool! That’s the mistake you have been making. You just stop where you are. You can’t do it? Just collapse. Struggle like this.
Stopping doesn’t mean doing something. It is stopping all doing, as an unwound doll stops all its movements, at any minute and any moment. This is the secret of Vedanta and the essence of all religions and all paths. There is nothing else. Whether you realize or not that there is nothing else, the truth won’t stop. It says hello to everyone on the way and moves on. In the meantime, you stop. You stop wherever you are.
* * *
Outside, the young sun is crawling upward brilliantly in the sky. He is brightening the earth with white light. The sun’s rays, reflected on the ripples, are spread along the waters in back of the house. You can hear the cries of the ducks from a distance. There is not much noise anywhere around although it’s past 8:00 am. I am trying to turn my mind away from my philosophical reflections.
* * *
Yesterday we went to the Exploratorium science exhibition. It’s near the Golden Gate bridge. The admission is $9 a head. There are nice exhibits of physics experiments in light, sound and magnetism. Completing the tour took about four hours. By the time we finished shopping at K-Mart and returned home it was 8:00 pm.
* * *
February 2, Tuesday – Day 44
It’s no wonder that Tyagaraja lamented once: “No matter how much you have learned or experienced ...” That’s the nature of the mind. Wherever it is, it gets stuck there. I wonder where it got all these past impressions from; it doesn’t let go of them so easily. Even when it knows that they afflict it, it still hangs on to them. “O my mind, how can I bear this, please listen to my request....” Tyagaraja pleads plaintively, poor fellow! He despairs, saying, “If I can’t hold my mind steady, what good is it to have or achieve anything?” No matter how much he struggled, it doesn’t look like Tyagaraja himself had his mind under control. He was wailing like this all his life. Poor fellow, did his mind cease to be finally? Did only ‘he’ remain while his existence was gone? Who knows? Suppose that Rama, to whom he was so devoted, had appeared to him, so what? Then his mind would get tangled in Rama. Tyagaraja’s agony occurred whenever his mind strayed from the thought of Rama and moved on to something else. Why? He had the crazy desire that he should have only that one thing and not anything else. Aren’t we all doing the same thing – struggling with the same craziness?
Every living thing is eager always to live happily and not have a single moment of pain. How many struggles we go through to keep these shadows of happiness permanent! If we can’t hold on to happiness in this moment, it seems to move to a distance, egging us on to come towards it. With the hope that we will be able to find it in the future, we agonize day and night, unable to stay in one place – this is life. The moment we become weary, our body is in ruins and we collapse, incapacitated and unable to move, Then It [death] takes us into its arms, and then it’s too late. The mind that has agonized so much, this individuality, subsides, becomes dissolved and goes into a long sleep. Perhaps it will wake up again, sometime, some place. Then it will start all over from the beginning. The old memories warn from a distance. But the past impressions drag us on forcefully. That’s all. That’s all that remains in the final analysis.
Meanwhile, how many deceptions, how many illusions, how many fabrications, how much arrogance that everything is due to my greatness! How we fall, get hurt and get bumps on our foreheads! No matter how many times the head gets bumped, it never learns. It never drops its foolish desire for capturing happiness in its grip permanently. Once in a while, a great soul like UG comes down and bangs on our heads. A fellow like me keeps striving futilely for that happiness in the midst of so much pain. This fellow can’t just be. He may become unconscious with the hammer strokes that fall on his head; nevertheless when he regains consciousness he will resume his struggle as usual.
Is it in my power to keep quiet? Isn’t keeping quiet another trick to sustain my happiness? The logical mind is again raising these thoughts. If I say, “I should keep quiet,” that too is another kind of movement which is opposed to the original movement. In its background there is greed prancing around which whispers that if we stay quiet, then we can gain permanent happiness. In that case, how could it be called “being quiet”? What’s the difference between that and running around? Whatever I try to do, I am still in bondage. In the final analysis, running around and being quiet are one and the same.
Otherwise, it may be somewhat better to shut up and sit quietly. “What’s better?” asks my logic. Compared to what is it better? Does being quiet mean falling asleep? If I can spend the rest of my life in sleep, what more do I want? There won’t be any of these worries in sleep. But there will be dreams. I will be woken up from my sleep. No use. None of these will work.
Whether you like it or not, to stop making an effort is not in your hands. The effort will keep on going as long as you breathe. You can’t but both suffer and enjoy because of it. If you don’t try to escape from it, pain is not so painful. It’s not that it will go away completely, but it won’t have that intensity. If the struggle to sustain happiness is diminished, then the intensity of happiness it delivers is also diminished. It’s wise to live reducing the intensity of both as much as possible. Neither will go away completely, no matter how great a person is. But you are not really concerned about anyone else. As far as you are concerned, that’s the way. This balancing game is nothing new to you. Don’t complain, saying, “After all this, am I not starting all over?” You haven’t moved one step forward!
* * *
Last night we had dinner at Deepak and Renu’s home. After coming home, we went to bed after I copied the data from the floppy I had into the computer. Venkat said he would make a CD out of it in his office. Moorty also had said that would be better. I called Sajid and asked him to send the TIFF file again. He said he will.
* * *
February 3, Wednesday – Day 45
During the night I woke up a couple of times and checked the clock – it was 1:00 am and then 4:00 am, so I went back to bed and finally got up around 7 am. I have the same routine everyday: By 7:30 am, I finish the morning rituals and sit at the table to write.
Yesterday, we went to John’s home. We have been friends for 25 years. Back then, when UG lived on West Anjaneya Street, Volker, John, Lynn and I lived there also. None of us were married at that time. We used to cook together. After so many years, John and I have both grown older; we have families, children, and their problems.
* * *
At John’s home, John and I made masur dahl. On the spur of the moment, we went to a shop and bought some tomatoes and cucumbers. He had bought cilantro before. He had already brought mustard seeds, cumin seeds, asafetida and ghee. Apparently, he cooks rice and dahl like this occasionally. With Suguna’s help we finished cooking basmati rice and dahl, while John and I remembered the old days. I was happy to see John being jolly. How much of those days he remembers!
* * *
Coming back from his office, Venkat arrived at John’s at 6:30 pm. After dinner, we all left for home at 8:30 pm. We bought the things we needed in K-Mart and Target and got home by 10:00 pm.
* * *
Today also it has been nice and sunny. I now worry about how the weather will be tomorrow. This is the sickness of the mind. It doesn’t remain in the present moment. It always thinks about the past or about tomorrow. Its attention is always on what’s going to happen; and it also thinks about what has already happened. It cannot stay on what is currently happening. What’s the use writing like this so many times?
The white sun is coming through the Venetian blinds, spreading on the table and moving on the wall. The waters are still in the canal behind the house. There is no noise of the ducks. If I push open the pane on the glass window, there is a cold breeze. The air outside hasn’t warmed up yet. The sun’s rays are slanted even at noon. That’s why the sun is not very hot. Even after walking in the sun, it feels cold when you get in the shade. Still, in wintertime, this Bay Area is like heaven compared to other places.
* * *
February 4, Thursday – Day 46
I think that UG will perhaps come to India even this month, maybe because of Malladis’ pleadings, or for some other reason. Yesterday, he said he will go to Australia for a week and then come to India.
On the one hand, I am happy that UG is coming now; on the other hand, I am worried that the school business will take a back seat. Why do I worry about it? Is the school more important than UG? Why does my mind get involved like this? When will I open my eyes? What do I really want? As long as UG is there, what does it matter if the school is still there or it closes? Business? Why do I pay attention to the school business? Whatever will happen will happen. Why worry about things before they happen? Who has been taking care of them when I am not there? Has it not been working out? It will work out even if I don’t do anything about it. Why worry? Will my anxiety remove the obstacles in the way? Isn’t UG coming to set everything right? It can’t be a sin to chop this mind to its roots.
* * *
I have time to write for one more day, i.e., tomorrow. I think we will be in LA by this time the day after tomorrow. I must phone UG and tell him. How is UG going to come there? He has to start early in the morning in the cold weather, in order to see us off. I don’t know what he will do.
* * *
February 5, Friday – Day 47
It’s all over. This is our last day in the Bay area. Tomorrow by this time we will be on a plane flying to LA. I have been amazed at how fast the days have passed, and we have just now adjusted ourselves to this place. Today also it’s nice and sunny. The sun looks a like red globe in the sky. The sunrise here is not like in India. The sun is bright here.
Julie called while I was still washing. Since we are leaving tomorrow, she called to say goodbye. She hopes to come to India with UG. Doesn’t he know that? He knows everything. When the time comes, he grants to each what he or she needs.
Some good fortune from our past lives is standing by our side and filling our lives with joy in the form of UG. How many people have this opportunity to know UG? How many people have the unique opportunity of spending even a few moments with him? I cannot be grateful enough to him for sponsoring for so many years a guy like me who is an idiot, a useless fellow, someone who didn’t have any talent in any area, one who is totally worthless in looks or riches, and for rekindling the light of my life which was about to be extinguished and making a place for me amongst people.
* * *
Last night, Aruna and Venkat took us to K-Mart. There, in the photo studio, we had portraits and group photos taken. Venkat also gave me prints of the photos taken with his parents. The photos cost $40. If I translate that into Indian currency, it would be Rs. 2,000. You feel like screaming, “My God!” All right, I must quit. Ever since I sat down to write this, I have been getting phone calls. Aruna and Suguna are sitting across the table. Suguna says, “I am sad that I have to leave now.” Aruna answers, “Stay here, then.” That’s how it goes!
* * *
I took my shower, ate Raisin Bran with milk and phoned UG. He says he is leaving for Australia on the 20th. He will come to India two weeks later. Mahesh told him that if he doesn’t come to India he will pay him Rs. 50,000. UG said he will think about it if he offered the money in dollars. In any case, he is not going to China. Perhaps he will stay with the Malladis in Madras for some time. At this time Krishnamurti needs some direction from UG.
UG is not coming to LA tomorrow. He wouldn’t be able to spend even an hour or half-and-a-half with us, if he came. That’s why he must have given up the idea. Besides, to be in LA on time, he must leave Palm Springs early in the morning in the cold. And then he must go back. In some ways, it’s better for UG not to come. It won’t be a problem for us. We are going to see him in India again in another month. Meanwhile, I must take care of many things there.
The time is 10:40 am. It feels like time is moving at a snail’s pace. Ramesh Ganerwal said he will call again. I don’t know when that ‘again’ is. Moorty talked on the phone. Soon today I must close this diary and open it again in Kuala Lumpur, or else, finally, when I get to India. “Pleasant journey and safe landing,” said UG on the phone, using JK’s phrases.
Yesterday Aruna and I recorded on the video the environs of Aruna’s apartment and the apartment complex and the facilities in it and transferred the recording onto a tape. The sun has become suddenly intense. It’s very pleasant as long as it is sunny like this.
Ramesh phoned a while ago. Apparently he is trying to go to India in March. He says Raj got involved in many complications in Bombay. Raj tried to bring the money he got from selling his factory into this country. Perhaps the authorities got wind of it. These complications are bound to happen. That’s why I asked him to talk to UG and put the matter into his hands. He didn’t listen to me. Who can help Raj better than UG? Mahesh has put everything into UG’s hands and has indeed remained worriless.
What more does one want? But you must trust him. The feelings of ‘I’ and ‘mine’ must end. When UG tries to make them cease, you must submit yourself. I am telling this to myself. I must listen to UG; I must submit myself to him. I must let him bang me on my head. I must accept his abuse. The ‘I’ must be suppressed. Whatever I do, the pride of ‘I’ and ‘mine’ must disappear. This is my meditation. This is my sadhana. I have Julie and Guha as ideals in front of me.
I wonder if UG will let Julie come to India. If he lets her, she will grow wings and fly there.
* * *
February 8, Monday (Kuala Lumpur)
Yesterday morning, that is, on February 6, we left for LAX on United Air. It was still Saturday in San Francisco. The air travel is 20 hours long from LAX to Kuala Lumpur. We arrived here early in the morning at 1:30 am. On the way, when we got to the Tokyo airport, it was Sunday 6 pm. It was sunny the whole time we were flying in the air. It never got dark. I don’t know how Saturday night has disappeared into the dark. I don’t know when it has become Sunday morning. This is all a mystery. It’s Monday here today and almost 4 o’clock in the afternoon. Right now, it’s Sunday 12 midnight in San Francisco. They must all be sleeping there. Earlier, we called Aruna on the phone to talk to her and tell her that we arrived here.
We are guests in the Renaissance Palm Gardens Hotel. For this one day, a Malay taxi driver called Deno took us around in his taxi, showing us all the important places and helping us shop. He charged $30 for it. Compared to American costs, that was cheap.
By the time we returned to the room today it was 4 o’clock. Deno showed us many things today. The 421-meter-high tower, Menara KL, looked great.
* * *
February 9, Tuesday, Madras Airport
Last night, we left from Kuala Lumpur at 10 pm on flight MH180 for Madras. By the time we arrived here it was 11:15 pm. We finished getting the baggage and going through immigration and customs by 12:45 am. We confirmed our tickets for Bangalore on Jet Airways and collapsed on the cushion seats arranged around a post in the waiting room. Now it’s 4 o’clock in the morning. I phoned Archana last night and also Aruna. Aruna had fever and cough yesterday. She must have been very tired, poor thing. I don’t know if Archana can come to the airport. She has to work today. I could breathe the Indian air after so many days. The body felt happy sitting on the Indian toilet in Madras. All last night I was dozing on and off sitting in front of the trolley on which we had placed all our baggage. Suguna found a convenient place where she could lie down. She said she couldn’t sleep. I just finished washing and shaving and sat down refreshed, to write in this diary.
The whole airport looks empty. There are a few people here and there who have to catch early morning flights like us. I must have some coffee. Then I will be revived. I have been sitting here reading the Time magazine. I didn’t like the food on the Madras flight. I felt very weak. On top of it, I am worrying about tomorrow. Thoughts about the things I have to do are swarming like bees. My mind has been quite upset for a little while and now it has settled down. This whole ordeal will come to a close when we get home in a taxi after taking the 6:45 am flight to Bangalore in Jet Airways and getting off there at 8:00 am. It would be nice if Archana could come to the airport. Maybe she will go to her office, instead.
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After Getting Back to the Nest
February 10, Wednesday (Bangalore)
I woke up before 5 am, but got up at 5. Now it’s 5:30. Yesterday we arrived at home at 8:30 in the morning. It only took half-an-hour to get out of the airport. Archana hugged me in the airport. I was worried she might break into tears. Sai came in a taxi. All our bags reached home safely.
I will stop here.
 Julie’s comment: “I think UG was showing me how innately aggressive I was, why would he bother upsetting a woman he didn’t even know?”
 A star in the cluster Pleiades, named after Arundhati, the wife of sage Vasishta, known for her virtue. The star is shown to a couple during their wedding ceremony as an auspicious sign.
 “...it won’t be straightened...”: allusion to a verse of Vemana, a 17th Century Telugu poet and philosopher.
Go to Part II