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  • Sacred journey to peru, mystic travel agency peru, mystic travel
  • Sacred journey to peru, mystic travel agency peru, mystic travel
  • Sacred journey to peru, mystic travel agency peru, mystic travel
  • Sacred journey to peru, mystic travel agency peru, mystic travel

SEVERAL YEARS AGO IN A SMALL VILLAGE outside New Delhi, I was sitting in a small, stuffy room with a very old man and a young priest. The priest sat on the floor swaying back and forth as he recited words inked on bark sheets that looked ancient. I listened, having no idea what the priest was intoning. He was from the far south and his language, Tamil, was foreign to me. But I knew he was telling me the story of my life, past and future. I wondered how I got roped into this and began to squirm.
It had taken strong persuasion from an old friend to get me to the small room. “It’s not just Jyotish, it’s much more amazing,” he coaxed. Indian astrology is calledJyotish, and it goes back thousands of years. Visiting your family astrologer is common practice everywhere in India, where people plan weddings, births, and even routine business transactions around their astrological charts (Indira Gandhi was a famous example of someone who followed Jyotish), but modern times have led to a fading away of tradition. I had chronically avoided any brushes with Jyotish, being a child of modern India and later a working doctor in the West.
But my friend prevailed, and I had to admit that I was curious about what was going to happen. The young priest, dressed in a wrapped skirt with bare chest and hair shiny with coconut oil—both marks of a southerner—didn’t draw up my birth chart. Every chart he needed had already been drawn up hundreds of years ago. In other words, someone sitting under a palm tree many generations ago had taken a strip of bark, known as aNadi, and inscribed my life on it.
These Nadis are scattered all over India, and it’s pure chance to run across one that applies to you. My friend had spent several years tracking down just one for himself; the priest produced a whole sheaf for me, much to my friend’s amazed delight. You have to come for the reading, he insisted.
Now the old man sitting across the table was interpreting in Hindi what the priest was chanting. Because of overlapping birth times and the vagaries of the calendar when we are speaking of centuries, Nadis can overlap, and the first few sheets didn’t apply to me. But by the third sheet or so, the young priest with the sing-song voice was reading facts that were startlingly precise: my birth date, my parents’ names, my own name and my wife’s, the number of children we have and where they live now, the day and hour of my father’s recent death, his exact name, and my mother’s.
At first there seemed to be a glitch: The Nadi gave the wrong first name for my mother, calling her Suchinta, when in fact her name is Pushpa. This mistake bothered me, so I took a break and went to a phone to ask her about it. My mother told me, with great surprise, that in fact her birth name was Suchinta, but since it rhymed with the word for “sad” in Hindi, an uncle suggested that it be changed when she was three years old. I hung up the phone, wondering what this whole experience meant, for the young priest had also read out that a relative would intervene to change my mother’s name. No one in our family had ever mentioned this incident, so the young priest wasn’t indulging in some kind of mind-reading.
For the benefit of skeptics, the young priest had passed nearly his whole life in a temple in South India and did not speak English or Hindi. Neither he nor the old man knew who I was. Anyway, in this school of Jyotish, the astrologer doesn’t take down your birth time and cast a personal chart which he then interprets. Instead, a person walks into a Nadi reader’s house, the reader takes a thumbprint, and based on that, the matching charts are located (always keeping in mind that the Nadis may be lost or scattered to the winds). The astrologer reads out only what someone else has written down perhaps a thousand years ago. Here’s another twist to the mystery: Nadis don’t have to cover everyone who will ever live, only those individuals who will one day show up at an astrologer’s door to ask for a reading!
In rapt fascination I sat through an hour of more arcane information about a past life I had spent in a
South Indian temple, and how my transgressions in that lifetime led to painful problems in this one, and (after a moment’s hesitation while the reader asked if I really wanted to know) the day of my own death.
The date falls reassuringly far in the future, although even more reassuring was the Nadi’s promise that my wife and children would lead long lives full of love and accomplishment.
I walked away from the old man and the young priest into the blinding hot Delhi sunshine, almost dizzy from wondering how my life would change with this new knowledge. It wasn’t the details of the reading that mattered. I have forgotten nearly all of them, and I rarely think of the incident except when my eye falls on one of the polished bark sheets, now framed and kept in a place of honor in our home. The young priest handed it to me with a shy smile before we parted. The one fact that turned out to have a deep impact was the day of my death. As soon as I heard it, I felt both a profound sense of peace and a new sobriety that has been subtly changing my priorities ever since.
Reflecting on everything now, I wish there was another name for astrology, like “nonlocal cognition.”
Someone who lived centuries ago knew me better than I know myself. He saw me as a pattern in the universe playing itself out, linked to earlier patterns layer upon layer. I felt that with that piece of bark I received firsthand proof that I am not restricted to the body, mind, or experiences I call “me.”
If you live at the center of one reality, you begin to witness patterns coming and going. At first, these patterns continue to feel personal. You create the patterns, and that brings a sense of attachment. But artists are famous for not collecting their own works; it is the act of creation itself that brings satisfaction.
Once completed, the painting holds no more life; the juice has been squeezed out of it. The same holds true for the patterns we create. Experience loses its juice when you know that you created it.
The notion of detachment, which crops up in every Eastern spiritual tradition, troubles many people, who equate it with being passive and disinterested. But what’s really implied is the same detachment any creator has once the work is done. Having created an experience and then lived it out, one finds that detachment comes naturally. It doesn’t happen all at once, however. For a long time we remain fascinated by the play of duality with its constantly warring opposites.
Yet eventually one is ready to undergo the experience calledmetanoia— Greek for having a change of heart. Because the word cropped up so many times in the New Testament, it took on a more spiritual meaning. It signified changing your mind about leading a sinful life, then it gained the connotation of repentance, and finally it expanded to mean eternal salvation. Yet if you step outside the walls of theology, metanoia is very close to what we’ve been calling transformation. You shift your sense of self from local to nonlocal. Instead of calling any experience “mine,” you see that every pattern in the universe is temporary. The universe keeps shuffling its basic material into new shapes, and for a time you have called one of those shapes “me.”
Metanoia is the secret behind Nadi reading, I think. A long-ago seer looked inside himself and picked a ripple of consciousness that had the name Deepak attached to it. He wrote the name down along with other details that rippled out into spacetime. This implies a level of awareness that I should be able to reach inside myself. If I could see myself as a ripple in the field of light (Jyotishis Sanskrit for “light”), I would find the freedom that cannot be attained by remaining who I am inside my accepted boundaries. If my parents’ names were known before my birth, and if my father’s time of death could be reckoned generations before he was born, these preconditions are closed off to change.

True freedom occurs only in nonlocal awareness.

The ability to shift from local to nonlocal awareness is for me the meaning of redemption or salvation.
You go to that place where the soul lives without having to die first. Rather than argue the metaphysics of this again, let me reduce the issue of nonlocality to something everyone is pursuing: happiness. To try to be happy is intensely personal, and therefore it’s something we give over to the ego, whose sole goal is to make “me” happy. If it turns out that happiness lies outside “me,” in the domain of nonlocal awareness, that would be a convincing argument for metanoia.
Happiness is a complex thing for human beings. We find it hard to experience happiness without being reminded of the things that could shatter it. Some of these things stick to us from our past as traumatic wounds; others are projections into the future as worries and anticipations of disaster.
It’s no one’s fault that happiness is elusive. The play of opposites is a cosmic drama, and our minds have been conditioned to fit into it. Happiness, as everyone knows, is too good to last. And this is true, as long as you define it as “my” happiness; by doing so you have already tied yourself to a wheel that must spin to the other side. Metanoia, or nonlocal awareness, solves this problem by transcending it because there is no other way. The elements making up your life are conflicting. Even if you could manipulate every element so that it consistently led to happiness, there is the subtle problem of imagined suffering.
Therapists spend years detaching people from all the things they imagine might go wrong with their lives, things that have nothing to do with actual circumstances.
This reminds me of an experience that occurred to a medical colleague when I was in training years ago.
He had an anxious patient who came in every few months for a complete physical, terrified by the prospect of contracting cancer. The X-rays were always negative, but she continued to come back, each time as worried as before. Finally after many years, her X-ray did indeed confirm that she had a malignancy. With a triumphant look she cried, “See, I told you so!” Imagined suffering is as real as any other kind, and sometimes they merge.
The fact that anyone would cling to unhappiness as fiercely as others cling to happiness is baffling until you look more closely at local awareness. Local awareness is caught on the border between the ego and the universe. This is an anxious place. On the one hand, the ego operates as if it were in control. You navigate through the world on the unspoken assumption that you are important and that getting what you want matters. But the universe is vast and the forces of nature impersonal. The ego’s sense of control and self-importance seem like a total illusion when you consider that human beings are barely a speck on the cosmic canvas. There is no security for the individual who senses deep down that he or she is pretending to be at the center of creation—the physical evidence of your unimportance is too overwhelming.
But is escape really possible? In its own domain, the ego says no. Your personality is a karmic pattern fiercely holding on to itself. However, when you detach yourself from local awareness, you stop playing the ego’s game—meaning that you step outside the whole problem of making “me” happy. The individual can’t be crushed by the universe if there is no individual. As long as you attach your identity to even one small part of your ego-personality, everything else comes along. It’s like walking into a theater and hearing an actor say the words “To be or not to be.” Instantly you know the character, his history, and his tragic fate.
Actors can throw off one role and put on another without having to do more than make a quick mental adjustment. Remembering to be Hamlet instead of Macbeth isn’t done one word at a time. You simply call the right character up. Moreover, when you change one character for another, you find yourself in a new place—Scotland instead of Denmark, a witch’s camp beside the road instead of a castle by the North Sea.
One way to give up local awareness is to realize that you already have. When you go home for Thanksgiving, you probably find yourself falling automatically into the role of the child you once were. At work, you play a different role than when you go on vacation. Our minds are so good at storing totally conflicting roles that even small children know how to switch smoothly from one to the other. When candid cameras are set up to catch three-year-olds at play without adults around, parents are often shocked by the transformations they see before their eyes: The sweet, obedient, conciliatory child they knew at home can turn into a raging bully. Some child psychologists go so far as to claim that upbringing plays only a minor part in who we grow up to be. Two children raised under the same roof with the same parental attention can be so different outside the home as to be unrecognizable as siblings. But it would be more correct to say that growing children learn many roles simultaneously, and the role learned at home is only one of many—nor should we expect it to be otherwise.
If you can see this in yourself, then nonlocal awareness is only a step away. All you need to realize is that all your roles exist simultaneously. Just like an actor, you keep your personas in a place beyond space and time. Macbeth and Hamlet are simultaneously found inside an actor’s memory. It takes hours to play them out on the stage, but their real home isn’t a place where hours pass. In awareness, the whole role exists silently but is complete in every detail.
Likewise, you store your overlapping roles in a place that is more home to you than the stage where you play out the dramas. If you try to sort out these overlapping roles, you’ll find none of them is you. You are the one who pushes the mental button to enable the role to spring to life. From your vast repertoire, you select situations that play out personal karma, each ingredient seamlessly fitting into place to provide the illusion of being an individual ego.
The real you is detached from any role, any scenery, any drama. In spiritual terms, detachment isn’t an end unto itself—it develops into a kind of mastery. When you have this mastery, you can shift into nonlocal awareness anytime you want. This is what theShiva Sutras mean by using memory without allowing memory to use you. You exercise detachment by stepping outside your memorized persona, and then the karma attached to any role no longer sticks. If you try to change your karma one piece at a time, you may achieve limited results, but the improved model of yourself will not be any more free than the unimproved one.
If there is really a secret to happiness, it can be found only at the source of happiness, which has the following characteristics:


  • Nonlocal
  • Detached
  • Impersonal
  • Universal
  • Beyond change
  • Made of essence

This list breaks down metanoia into its component parts. Metanoia originally meant a change of heart, and I think the same elements apply:

Nonlocal: Before you can have a change of heart, you must step outside yourself to get a larger perspective. The ego tries to narrow every issue down to “What will I get out of this?” When you reframe the question as “What willwe get out of this?” or “What will everyone get out of this?” your heart will immediately feel less confined and constricted.

If you have a stake in a particular outcome, you can’t afford a change of heart. The boundaries are drawn; everyone has chosen a side to be on. The ego insists that keeping your eye on the prize—meaning the result it wants—is all-important. But in detachment, you realize that many outcomes could be beneficial to you. You work toward the outcome you believe is right, yet you remain detached enough to shift when your heart tells you that you should.

Impersonal: Situations seem to happen to people, but in reality they unfold from deeper karmic causes.
The universe unfolds to itself, bringing to bear every cause that needs to be included. Don’t take this process personally. The working out of cause and effect is eternal. You are part of this rising and falling that never ends, and only by riding the wave can you ensure that the waves don’t drown you. The ego takes everything personally, leaving no room for higher guidance or purpose. If you can, realize that a cosmic plan is unfolding and appreciate the incredibly woven tapestry for what it is, a design of unparalleled marvel.

Universal: One time, when I was trying hard to understand the Buddhist concept of ego death (a concept that seemed at the time very cold and heartless), someone eased my mind by saying, “It’s not that you destroy who you are. You just expand the sense of ‘I’ from your little ego to the cosmic ego.”
That’s a big proposition, but what I liked about this version is that nothing gets excluded. You start seeing every situation as belonging in our world, and even though that sense of inclusion may start out small—my family, my house, my neighborhood—it can grow naturally. The very fact that the ego finds it absurd to say my world, my galaxy, my universe implies that there is a shift at hand that it can’t make on its own.
The key idea is to keep in mind that awareness is universal, however confined your ego makes you feel at any given moment.

Beyond change: The happiness you are used to comes and goes. Instead of thinking of this as a well that runs dry, imagine the atmosphere. There’s always humidity in the atmosphere, and sometimes it releases itself as rain. The days when it doesn’t rain haven’t made the humidity go away; it’s always present in the air, waiting to precipitate as conditions change. You can take the same attitude toward happiness, which is always present in awareness without having to precipitate every moment—it shows itself as conditions change. People are different in their baseline of emotion, and some experience more cheerfulness, optimism, and contentment than others.

This variety expresses the diversity of creation. You can’t expect the desert and the rain forest to behave the same. Yet these alterations in personal makeup are superficial. The same unchanging happiness can be accessed in everyone’s awareness. Know that this is true, and don’t use the ups and downs of your personal happiness as a reason for not journeying to the source.

Essence: Happiness is not a unique thing. It is one flavor of essence among many. One time, a disciple complained to his teacher that all the time spent on spiritual work hadn’t made him happy. “Your job right now isn’t to be happy,” the teacher swiftly replied. “Your job is to become real.” Essence is real, and when you capture it, happiness follows because all the qualities of essence follow. Trying to be happy as an end in itself is limited; you will be fortunate just to meet your ego’s requirements for a happy life. If instead you devote yourself to a total shift in awareness, happiness arrives as a gift freely bestowed by consciousness.


The thirteenth secret is about personal freedom. You cannot be truly free if your interactions with the universe are personal because a person is a limited package. If you remain inside the package, so will your awareness. Today, start to act as if your influence extends everywhere. One of the most common sights in India, or anywhere else in the East, used to be saffron-robed monks in meditation before dawn.
Many other people (my grandmother and mother among them) rise at the same early hour and go to the temple to pray. The point of this practice is that they are meeting the day before it begins.
To meet the day before it begins means that you are present when it is born. You open yourself to a possibility. Because there are not yet any events, the infant day is open, fresh, and new. It could turn into anything. The meditating monks and the people at prayer want to add their influence of consciousness at that critical moment, like being present for the beginning of a baby’s life.
Today you can do the same thing. Wake up as early as you usually do—ideally you would perform this exercise at first light in a seated position, but you can do it lying in bed before you get up—and let your mind look forward to the day ahead. At first you will probably notice the residue of habit. You will see yourself going through your usual routine at work, the everyday duties surrounding your family and other obligations. Then you are likely to experience residues from yesterday: the project you haven’t finished, the deadline coming up, an unresolved disagreement. Next you will likely experience the return of worries, whatever is hanging over your head at the moment.
Let all this move in and out of awareness as it wants to. Have the intention that you want this tangle of images and words to clear. Your ego is going to take care of all these habitual issues anyway. Keep looking at the day ahead, which is not a thing of images or thoughts since it is just being born. Get a feeling for it; try to meet it with your being.
After a few moments you’ll notice that your mind is less inclined to jump out of bed. You will drift in and out of a fuzzy awareness—this means you have dived a bit deeper than the surface layer of mental restlessness. (Don’t let yourself fall asleep again, however. When drowsiness arises, return to your intention of meeting the day.)
At this point you’ll find that, instead of images, your mind settles into a rhythm of feelings. This state is more difficult to describe than images or voices. It’s like a sense of how things are going to be, or a sensation of being ready for whatever will come. Don’t look for anything dramatic. I’m not talking about premonitions and portents. You are having a simple experience: Your being is meeting the day at the level of incubation, where events are seeds getting ready to sprout. Your only purpose is to be there. You don’t need to change anything; you don’t have to attach yourself to judgments or opinions about what you think should unfold today. When you meet the day, you add the influence of your awareness in silence.
And what good is that? The effect occurs on a subtle level. It’s like sitting next to a child’s bed just as she falls asleep. Your presence is enough, without words or actions, to settle the child. A day needs to begin in a settled state, free of the residues and eddies of yesterday’s activity. But you are also adding a subtle level of intention by meeting the day. You are intending to let life unfold as it will. You’ve showed up with open mind and open heart.
I’ve described this exercise in detail as a way of opening the path your mind may take. You won’t find yourself exactly duplicating the stages being outlined, but the exercise has been successful if you touch, however briefly, on any of the following states of awareness:

  • You feel new. This day is going to be unique.
  • You feel at peace. This day is going to settle some stressful issue.
  • You feel in harmony. This day is going to be free of conflict.
  • You feel creative. This day is going to show you something never seen before.
  • You feel loving. This day is going to soothe differences and include those who feel left out.
  • You feel whole. This day is going to flow seamlessly.

Now you’ve been introduced to the predawn world where saints and sages have functioned for thousands of years. What they have been doing, and what you are now beginning to do, is to precipitate reality onto the earth. You are opening a channel in your own awareness through which renewal, peace, harmony, creativity, love, and wholeness get a chance to be here. Without someone to meet the day, these qualities exist only inside individuals—or sometimes not at all. Like rain falling out of a clear sky, your influence causes a possibility to become manifest.


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