Moksha [Common Meter]

The Sadhu sits upon the ghat,
so free from suffering.
Like butterflies in still moments
with wings not fluttering.

There's no living and no dying,
just a rare kind of dead,
in which bodies move, but minds don't,
and worlds are gently tread.

BOOK REVIEW: Sadhus by Patrick Levy

Sadhus: Going Beyond the DreadlocksSadhus: Going Beyond the Dreadlocks by Patrick Levy
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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I got to the last couple chapters before I realized that this was a novel, and not a work of immersion journalism. I don’t mean to suggest that it wasn’t as compelling as I’d wish a work of fiction to be. On the contrary, it’s a fascinating look into a group of people (Sadhus / renunciants) who are little understood because they exist on the edges of society and can appear strange – if not a little scary – in their countercultural existence. The book reads like an authentic account of the Sadhu experience of a Frenchman who gives up his money and all but a few meager possessions to become a wandering ascetic under the tutelage a philosophically compatible Baba. (Until the fever dream ending instills a bit of surrealism and fourth-wall breaking.) The fact that the lead is demographically and a philosophically like the author, heightens the tendency to believe it’s nonfiction. [It’s quite possibly fictionalized autobiography to some degree, but I couldn’t say to what extent.]

Besides telling a story centered on a wandering Western ascetic in Northern India, the book does double duty in reflecting upon Hindu-Yogic-Tantric philosophy, particularly with respect to metaphysics. The lead character is neither religious nor a believer in the supernatural. Rather, he is (like many of us) in search of an almost defunct variety of a philosophy, the kind practiced by Socrates and some historic and present-day Buddhists, a variety that’s open to questioning and challenging all beliefs and assumptions as the means to better understand one’s world, a variety that recognizes the ubiquity of ignorance with respect to key questions of metaphysics. The story includes a number of Socratic method style conversations, as well as quotes from texts such as the “Avadhuta Gita” and “Ashtavakra Gita.”

I found this story to be compelling and informative, shining a light on a rarely-seen side of India.

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Purposeful Pauper [Free Verse]

a discard pile of lifelines
- money & pseudo-money
- technologies & redundancies

some donated,
some burnt,
&
some left 
to be found 
by the
willing & the grateful

he walked with
a cloak,
a staff,
a satchel,
& a bowl

he walked
until 
it hurt
&
kept walking 
until
his prided died

then took
what was given
&
lived without
what wasn't

everything beyond
food,
water,
&
air
became a burden

while finding
food,
water,
space,
&
the means of
cleanliness
became the sum
of all endeavors

the terror-bliss barrier
took time to break down,
but when it did...

how free he was