Hence there are at least two ways to present in fictional
form the teaching of nonduality. One is the structured, manicured way. The other
is the immediate, non-linear, here and now way. The two ways are in
some degree combined in Kerouac's books, but you never get the sense you're
being instructed in Kerouac's books.
Let's take a look at the measured story telling of Mukesh
and the more 'in the moment' perception of Kerouac. First Mukesh. In this
extract the Swami is speaking and Michael, the main character is
~ ~ ~
"True mastery lies in the spontaneous acceptance of
whatever comes your way, good as well as bad, without desiring anything else. It
is embodied in the attitude of Job, who said, 'If I accept good from the hand of
God, shall I not also accept evil?' But that degree of perfection comes at the
end of a long and drawn out struggle -- and only when, one way or another, the
ego surrenders. For only then can you be free from desire."
"Then why not cut the process short and surrender right
away?" Michael asked.
Swami seem enormously amused. "And save yourself all
Swami chuckled and then started laughing -- so hard, in
fact, that he was shaking. "In theory, that may be possible," he said when his
mirth had subsided, "but in practice, you will discover, the self does not give
up without a fight -- a fight to the death, actually. I'm reminded of a remark
made by a medieval mystic, Meister Eckart. He said there is no battle that
requires greater valor than the one in which a man tries to overcome himself.
That is very true. The only thing I would add is that this is not merely a
battle; it is a war, and one that requires your sustained
"A weird war, where the self is fighting the self. I still
don't see the point of it all."
"The ego surrenders only when it has exhausted all its
resources and is completely persuaded that no other recourse is open to it.
Until it is brought to that extremity, the war will go on and surrender is quite
out of the question. The actual moment of surrender is the crucial
"It is hard to even know what the best strategy is in this
civil war, as you call it."
"Any direct engagement with the self is not a good idea.
Waging a war on the ego by using the ego is rather like setting a thief to catch
a thief, as Ramana Maharshi used to say. He suggested that the best way to
undermine the self is by laying a siege."
"Yes. His point was that the ego stays alive by attaching
to the thoughts in your mind and by manipulating them. It survives by using
thoughts for food, as it were. If you cut off this supply line by refusing to
take the bait of thoughts -- refusing to identify with them for a sufficiently
long time -- then, faced with starvation, the ego sooner or later
~ ~ ~
Later in the same chapter Michael has absorbed Swami's
words and is recalling his home on the Mississippi River...
When it rains, the Mississippi swells to reveal its savage
side. With frightening force, it washes away boathouses, bridges, highways,
houses and towns. To subdue Old Man River, miles and miles of levees have been
built at safe distances from the water. Locks, spillways, and floodways have
been constructed to regulate the flow and to siphon off the overflow in
emergencies. Yet there is no telling when the fury of this indomitable river
might destroy these with the ease of an elephant trampling a picket
The Mississippi, Michael recalled, had played a pivotal
role in the Civil War. Both sides had viewed the river as a powerful ally, for
the side that assumed command of the river could harness its power to undermine
the rival. The city of Vicksburg, a stronghold of the Confederates, had
controlled the traffic on the Mississippi for most of the War. This had made it
possible for them to ship troops, supplies, and ammunition for their troops up
Since the fortress in Vicksburg had prevented through
traffic along the river for the Union army, it had become an important focus of
North's campaign under the aegis of Major General Ulysses Grant. He had decided
that the best strategy for capturing the well-forfeited city was to lay a siege.
The siege lasted for nearly seven weeks before the city, having run out of food
and supplies, finally surrendered. Union control of the Mississippi split the
Confederation states; they could no longer ship men and goods across the river.
The siege of Vicksburg, by deciding the fate of the Civil War in large measure,
was instrumental in emancipating the slaves.
The Mississippi has largely run its course by the time it
reaches New Orleans. This city -- with its bustling life, its wealth, its
commerce, the joys and travails of its inhabitants -- owes its growth and
importance to the river, for it is the trade spawned by the river that has given
the city its stature. In fact, the city owes its very existence to the creative
powers of the river: the accumulation over time of its silt deposits created the
delta on which New Orleans stands.
The river rolls past the Crescent City without looking
back, as if it now fathoms that its deliverance is not to be found in its own
creations. A mere hundred miles southeast of the city lies the mouth of the
Mississippi. The river fragments into about a dozen separate channels at a
junction called 'Head of Passes'. Old Man River finally finds its rest by
surrendering itself to the Gulf of Mexico.
~ ~ ~
So that's a taste of The Sublime
Homecoming. The book tells a very good story of a man named Michael who
is learning about his fundamental nature. The book tells about how the
Mississippi River of life lays siege to what Michael had constructed and so much
believed in on its banks.
Now for a taste of the Desolation Angels
and its sense of grit and confessional immediacy, here is an
All the saints have gone to the grave with the same pout
as the murderer and the hater, the dirt doesn't discriminate, it'll eat all lips
no matter what they did and that's because nothing matters and we all know
But what we gonna do?
Pretty soon there'll be a new kind of murderer, who will
kill without any reason at all, just to prove that it doesn't matter, and his
accomplishment will be worth no more and no less than Beethoven's last quartets
and Boito's Requiem -- Churches will fall, Mongolian hordes will piss on the map
of the West, idiot kings will burp at bones, nobody'll care then the earth
itself'll disintegrate into atomic dust (as it was in the beginning) and the
void still the void wont care, the void'll just go on with that maddening little
smile of its that I see everywhere, I look at a tree, a rock, a house, a street,
I see that little smile-- That "secret God-grin" but what a God is this who
didn't invent justice?--So they'll light candles and make speeches and the
angels rage. Ah but "I don't know, I don't care, and it doesn't matter" will be
the final human prayer...
The candle burns
And when that's done
The wax lies in cold artistic piles
--s about all I know
~ ~ ~
This Highlights has been about the new novel, The
Sublime Homecoming, which may be ordered through Amazon.com at http://snipurl.com/xl4e.
I also took the opportunity to give an example of another
kind of "nondual novel", if I may use that term: Desolation Angels. They
are novels that bring us the teaching of nonduality.
If you haven't read a nondual novel in a while and you
like to be led into the ordered unfolding of Michael, read The Sublime
Homecoming. Or consider Kerouac's "in your face", messy, poetic confession
of what reality is. Also considered nondual novels are the books by Jed McKenna,
which are kinda in between. Kriben Pillay can also write fiction
very effectively. Few can.
Because I'm telling you, a novel is a hell of lot
harder to write than a book of teachings. Just because someone is
recognized as a spiritual teacher and has written successful nonfiction books,
doesn't mean for one second that they can write a work of fiction. Writing a
good novel is like building an elaborate house from the ground
up. Harder than that, actually. It ain't easy at
all. Congratulations to Mukesh Eswaran on writing a good novel that
communicates the teaching of nonduality. We should all be supporting his
The Sublime Homecoming
by Mukesh Eswaran