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An elaborate hoax


“The one thing people might be surprised about—Roger [Ebert] said that he didn’t know if he could believe in God. He had his doubts. But toward the end, something really interesting happened. That week before Roger passed away, I would see him and he would talk about having visited this other place. I thought he was hallucinating. I thought they were giving him too much medication. But the day before he passed away, he wrote me a note: “This is all an elaborate hoax.” I asked him, “What’s a hoax?” And he was talking about this world, this place. He said it was all an illusion. I thought he was just confused. But he was not confused. He wasn’t visiting heaven, not the way we think of heaven. He described it as a vastness that you can’t even imagine. It was a place where the past, present, and future were happening all at once.”

– from interview with Chaz, Roger Ebert’s wife



Native English Upanishads


Prof. K. Swaminathan writes:

Bhagavan [Ramana Maharshi] listened like a child to passages from Shakespeare’s plays and Keat’s letters and quickly and convincingly revealed the universal truth in each flower unique in its own beauty. On Keat’s letter on ‘negative capability’ his passing comment was: “So there are Upanishads in English as in Sanskrit.” After a passage from Shakespeare was read, discussed and duly praised, Bhagavan said, “Shakespeare the Self enjoyed writing this, so that, born again as we, he might enjoy reading it.”

Ursula Fleming, Marco Pallis, Meister Eckhart


The following is from the [Meister] Eckhart Society’s page on the life of their founder Ursula Fleming:

At the age of fifteen [Ursula Fleming’s] Father died. Following this event she gave up her Catholic religion and started looking for her own answers to questions about life and death. In 1951 she met Marco Pallis, musician, author, mountaineer and a Buddhist. As she says in her book The Man from Whom God Hid Nothing:

I asked him how it could be possible to be reasonably intelligent and also a Christian when no one seemed to admit that there were questions to ask. I was always told to go home and say my prayers and to pray for faith particularly. In fact my faith, except in the reality of God’s existence, was gone, not of my own volition but from lack of understanding. (Fleming, 1995 p. xvii)

Marco Pallis told her ‘Go back to the religion of your birth. Go to the Sacraments. Read Eckhart’ (Ibid.) She did this and when she encountered difficulties with understanding what Eckhart wrote he told her ‘Don’t try to understand him. Just go on reading him’ (Ibid.). She acted as he suggested and later wrote ‘Now every time I read again what I have read before I understand a little better’ (Ibid.).

Chogyam Trungpa on Ramana Maharshi


Steve Roth tells the story of asking Chogyam Trungpa about three well known spiritual personages. Regarding Ramana Maharshi, Trungpa purportedly said: “Totally, completely enlightened!” (long pause) … “But his students seem to miss the point.”

Wonder what the point is.

Shakespeare II : Borges


Everything and Nothing

Jorge Luis Borges

There was no one in him; behind his face (which even in the poor paintings of the period is unlike any other) and his words, which were copious, imaginative, and emotional, there was nothing but a little chill, a dream not dreamed by anyone. At first he thought everyone was like him, but the puzzled look on a friend’s face when he remarked on that emptiness told him he was mistaken and convinced him forever that an individual must not differ from his species. Occasionally he thought he would find in books the cure for his ill, and so he learned the small Latin and less Greek of which a contemporary was to speak. Later he thought that in the exercise of an elemental human rite he might well find what he sought, and he let himself be initiated by Anne Hathaway one long June afternoon. At twenty-odd he went to London. Instinctively, he had already trained himself in the habit of pretending that he was someone, so it would not be discovered that he was no one. In London he hit upon the profession to which he was predestined, that of the actor, who plays on stage at being someone else. His playacting taught him a singular happiness, perhaps the first he had known; but when the last line was applauded and the last corpse removed from the stage, the hated sense of unreality came over him again. He ceased to be Ferrex or Tamburlaine and again became a nobody. Trapped, he fell to imagining other heroes and other tragic tales. Thus, while in London’s bawdyhouses and taverns his body fulfilled its destiny as body, the soul that dwelled in it was Caesar, failing to heed the augurer’s admonition, and Juliet, detesting the lark, and Macbeth, conversing on the heath with the witches, who are also the fates. Nobody was ever as many men as that man, who like the Egyptian Proteus managed to exhaust all the possible shapes of being. At times he slipped into some corner of his work a confession, certain that it would not be deciphered; Richard affirms that in his single person he plays many parts, and Iago says with strange words, “I am not what I am.” His passages on the fundamental identity of existing, dreaming, and acting are famous.

Twenty years he persisted in that controlled hallucination, but one morning he was overcome by the surfeit and the horror of being so many kings who die by the sword and so many unhappy lovers who converge, diverge, and melodiously agonize. That same day he disposed of his theater. Before a week was out he had returned to the village of his birth, where he recovered the trees and the river of his childhood; and he did not bind them to those others his muse had celebrated, those made illustrious by mythological allusions and Latin phrases. He had to be someone; he became a retired impresario who has made his fortune and who interests himself in loans, lawsuits, and petty usury. In this character he dictated the arid final will and testament that we know, deliberately excluding from it every trace of emotion and of literature. Friends from London used to visit his retreat, and for them he would take on again the role of poet.

The story goes that, before or after he died, he found himself before God and he said: “I, who have been so many men in vain, want to be one man: myself.” The voice of God replied from a whirlwind: “Neither am I one self; I dreamed the world as you dreamed your work, my Shakespeare, and among the shapes of my dream are you, who, like me, are many persons — and none.”

[From Dreamtigers, by Jorge Luis Borges, translated by Mildred Boyer]

Shakespeare I


These are Sri Atmananda (Krishna Menon)’s comments on Shakespeare, found in Notes on Spiritual Discourses.



In my opinion, Shakespeare was a realized soul (in the language of
the west) or a jivan-mukta (in the language of India). Spirituality is not the monopoly
of any nation or country. Conditions might be favourable or partially favourable to the
development of spirituality in one part of the world, and the means adopted might not
be perfect in all places. But that does not preclude the possibility of rare individuals
coming to perfection.

It is the law of nature, without exception, to provide the environment necessary for
the fulfilment of the spiritual thirst for perfection in an individual in any part of the
world, if the aspirant is sincere and earnest enough. Therefore the Sages have said: ‘If
you really want to know the Truth, you shall have it.’

Shakespeare was one such. No intellectual standards can ever test the spiritual
greatness of a jivan-mukta. Shakespeare, in his dramas, has created diverse characters
of conflicting types, each with a perfection possible to perfection alone. A writer who
has an individuality and character of his own can successfully depict only characters
of a nature akin to his own. It is only one who stands beyond all characters, or in other
words as witness, that can be capable of such a wonderful performance as Shakespeare
has done. Therefore I say Shakespeare must have been a jivan-mukta.

No sign of who


“The matrix cannot tell you who you are.”

– Trinity in The Matrix

“What you are is not established by your perception, and is not influenced by it at all.”