In everyone’s life, there comes a moment when we realize we’re not who we think we are. Through some change of fortune, some shock of the real, a gap opens up between the story of ‘me’ – the persona’s mask – and the face of the authentic Self underneath. This opening is our doorway to the seeker’s life and the discovery of an essential identity, that goes by many names – the Buddha nature, the God within, the witness, the atman, the ground of being – all pointing to the same eternal truth: that the presence we share with one another, the selfsame spirit that animates life, is who and what we are, the true Self that we overlook, closer than our very breath, always connected and always free. But how do we remember this authentic Self in the midst of our ordinary lives? How can we draw on this source of Being for clarity, compassion, and power in our all-too-human struggles? What practices can help us when we begin to forget? By answering the question, Who Am I? we enter a dimension of life beyond our own imagining.
Seekers Session Recording and Transcript
Guest Interview with Mirabai Starr
Mirabai Starr is the author of the long-anticipated memoir, CARAVAN OF NO DESPAIR: A Memoir of Loss and Transformation. In her critically acclaimed new translations of the mystics and reflections on the unifying teachings at the heart of all spiritual paths, Mirabai uses fresh, lyrical language to help make timeless wisdom accessible to a contemporary circle of seekers.
Daughter of the counter-culture, Mirabai was born in New York in 1961 to secular Jewish parents who rejected the patriarchy of institutionalized religion. Intellectual artists and advocates of social justice and environmental responsibility, Mirabai’s family was active in the anti-war protest movement of the Vietnam era.
In 1972, Mirabai’s mother, father, and her younger brother and sister uprooted from their suburban life and embarked on an extended road trip that led them through the jungles of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, where they lived for many months on an isolated Caribbean beach, and ended in the mountains of Taos, New Mexico. There, the family embraced an alternative, “back-to-the-land” lifestyle, in a communal effort to live simply and sustainably, values that remain important to Mirabai to this day.
As a teenager, Mirabai lived at the Lama Foundation, an intentional spiritual community that has honored all the world’s faith traditions since its inception in 1967. This ecumenical experience became formative in the universal quality that has infused Mirabai’s work ever since. Mirabai was an adjunct professor of Philosophy and World Religions at the University of New Mexico-Taos for 20 years. Her emphasis has always been on making connections between the perennial teachings found at the heart of all the world’s spiritual paths, in an effort to promote peace and justice.
Mirabai speaks and teaches nationally and internationally on the teachings of the mystics and contemplative practice, and the transformational power of grief and loss. She is available for interviews, speaking engagements, workshops and contemplative retreats. She lives in the mountains of Northern New Mexico with her husband, Jeff Little (Ganga Das). Between them, Mirabai and Jeff have four grown daughters and six grandchildren. Mirabai’s youngest daughter, Jenny, was killed in a car accident in 2001 at the age of fourteen. On that same day, Mirabai’s first book, a translation of Dark Night of the Soul, was released. She considers this experience, and the connection between profound loss and longing for God, the ground of her own spiritual life.