“Wondrously dark and irreverent, Evan & Ella: A
21st Century Love Story is the finest nonfiction series
I've read in years: characters so captivating and fetchingly
strange they might have stepped out of a novel. Its fifth
episode, 'India Strikes Back,' undoubtedly attracted legions of
new fans with its train-wreck tale of emotional disaster. As
Evan remained cloistered in his Calcutta hotel room, debilitated
by his neuroses and seeking help from his psychotherapist in
California, Ella suffered at the seductive hands of her
meditation teacher while on retreat in the northern Indian town
of Bodhgaya. Readers were left on the edge of their seats: Would
Evan come to her rescue? Or would he heed his therapist's advice
and renounce her forever? It's suspense like this that gets me
up in the morning.”
The Adelaide Gazette
Sat, 30 Oct 2004 11:53:16 (IST)
i can't come to bodhgaya to be with you. it's not that i
don't feel awful about what happened to you, and if i had the
chance, i'd kick that bastard meditation teacher's ass into the
stratosphere. but i can't get involved in your karmic
stream—not now, because the only way either of us will
ever grow as individuated souls is if we sever our interlinked
chains of karma and begin to forge new paths, alone.
luckily, i have no doubt in my mind where my path is leading
me: straight to GOD. last week, in calcutta, i finished reading
the most incredible, amazing, life-altering book in the world.
i can't believe i didn't know about it before. it's called
“autobiography of a yogi” by paramahansa yogananda.
yogananda was a student in the ancient mystical lineage of the
immortal mahavatar (or “mega-incarnation of god”)
named babaji, who's a nearly 2,000-year-old master of
“kriya yoga” who appears in the form of a teenage
boy. in case you've never heard of it, kriya yoga basically
involves sophisticated breathing techniques that enable you to
experience God-Consciousness, and it's such a powerful practice
that you're only supposed to do it under the strict guidance of
a kriya master. yogananda even warns that “the body of
the average man is like a fifty-watt lamp, which cannot
accommodate the billion watts of power roused by the practice of
pretty cool, right? well, get this—the night i
finished the book, i had this dream where i'd just come in from
surfing this killer wave and was lying on the beach in the warm
california sun. then, from out of nowhere, someone dumped a
bucket of ice-cold lemon-lime gatorade on me! i was like,
“what the fuck?” and when i sat up there was this
dark-haired 16-year-old boy grinning mischievously at me.
“what the hell'd you do that for?!” i shouted at
him. staring into my eyes, he said softly but distinctly:
“evan, my child, you will go to rishikesh, the holy city
at the foothills of the himalayas. there you will wait for your
true guru, a living master of the kriya yoga path.” and
that's when i realized it was babaji himself, appearing to me on
the astral plane.
so, anyway, that's where i am now—rishikesh, on the
banks of the sacred ganges, where the beatles themselves came on
retreat with the maharishi in the late 60s. and i swear that
i'm not going to leave until i find my master.
well, this internet café isn't cheap, so i gotta run.
again, babe, i'm really sorry you feel so bad, but maybe it's
time that you take a good hard look in the mirror and ask
yourself what you're doing. you don't want to give up your
dreams of being a doctor, wasting your whole life away in india,
do you? you should go home to brooklyn where things aren't
quite so intense.
it would probably be best if we didn't contact each other
anymore. our karmic lines are entwined enough to keep us both
bogged down in the swamp of samsara for endless eons unless we
break free now, while we still have the chance.
Sat, 30 Oct 2004 11:55:42 (IST)
RE: saying goodbye
I understand. Good luck finding “GOD.” I hope
that works out
Sat, 25 Dec 2004 09:32:42 (IST)
I know when you last “interfaced” with me two
months ago you said we shouldn't contact each other anymore, but
I was looking over my emails and felt compelled to write you.
Are you in Rishikesh or did you find a guru already? Believe it
or not, I'm still in Bodhgaya, the dirtiest place on earth. It's
smack in the middle of the most corrupt state in all of India,
with bandits and beggars and no proper sewage system or clean
water. But for right now, it's home. And hey, the Buddha was
enlightened here under the Bodhi Tree so it can't be all bad.
Things were so crazy with me for awhile I think I'm still
recovering, trying to get over how incredibly depressed I was.
Or am. After nine months in India it's no wonder I feel as if
I'm coming unhinged.
The good news is a couple months ago, I was taken in by a
wonderful family. They're from Tibet originally but they live in
Nepal and every year they travel to Bodhgaya and set up a
teashop for the Tibetan New Year. I was spending so much time in
their shop drinking tea and smoking bidis,* and of course I was
crying a lot, so I guess they thought I was an orphan or
In any case, there's Tenzin and his wife Ani as well as
their two young boys, Jigme and Kelsing, who are totally sweet.
In the mornings I help Tenzin learn to write English, and then
Ani and I set up the shop. It basically entails moving the beds
around the periphery of the tent and putting rugs over them for
people to sit on and moving some tables, getting water.
Incredibly, I've managed to pick up some Tibetan and have even
taken a liking to butter tea. The taste is pretty brutal the
first time around, it's salty and the butter they put in it
comes from yaks.
There are a lot of Europeans and Americans traveling through
Bodhgaya all the time; they hang out at a funky café
called Shiva's so I meet some interesting people there. But
mostly I spend time with the Tibetans. They are the only thing
that has kept me from losing it these past months. You really
can't imagine what a unique people they are until you spend time
around them-—so beautiful, incredibly smart and funny. I'm
often awed by how simple yet complete their devotion is to
Buddhism. It's like their faith permeates every aspect of their
lives, which is basically the complete opposite of where I'm at.
After what happened with Percy Musgrove, a guy who was supposed
to be enlightened (whatever that means), my ability or
motivation to pursue the Buddha-Dharma has completely withered.
I long to open my heart to it like the Tibetans do, but it's
just not possible anymore.
I don't want to talk your ear off with my depressing
blather, but I hope you're doing ok and that maybe I'll hear
from you sometime. Merry Christmas.
Wed, 05 Jan 2005 18:10:02 (IST)
even though i'm kind of glad to hear from you, i should let
you know right now that emailing you is in direct conflict with
my yogic practices. a few weeks ago i took a vow of
which means celibacy. even though
it may seem extreme to you, i'm taking this very seriously and i
don't want to put myself in a position where there's even the
potential for sensual thoughts to arise.
but since you wanted to know so badly . . . no, i haven't
found my guru yet. it's only been two months, and i'm not
worried because i've been praying every night for him to come to
me—sometimes for hours on end. besides, finding your true
guru can take lifetimes. and what else is there to do
anyway in this crazy, illusory world of maya and
mayhem? as the Guru Gita states: “The Guru is the
beginning and beginningless, / the Guru is the supreme deity, /
higher than the Guru nothing is, / to that,
still, being in rishikesh is completely great. it's really
hard to believe that i've been here so long. i've honestly
never been happier. i feel so light, peaceful, and serene all
the time, from dawn to dusk. i'm doing lots of yogic breathing
and meditating two hours a day, and i have no material
possessions whatsoever except for my wallet, my watch, my ipod,
a toothbrush, a pair of sandals, an orange lungi,* an old
pumpkins t-shirt, and a few good books. have you ever read
“the upanishads,” ella? they're the most profound
and inspiring hindu scriptures around. unfortunately my copy
was stolen by one of those deranged brown demon monkeys this
morning while i was eating breakfast. i tried to chase him down
but he climbed onto a rooftop and began chattering angrily at
me. finally, i turned away in disgust, but then something
amazing happened: as i was walking back, i thought i caught a
glimpse of babaji himself. but just as i spun around to look,
he was gone—vanished. i think this was the third
time he's visited me in two weeks!! what could it
so, el . . . you're still in bodhgaya, huh? and as
miserable as ever. god, you're so stubborn—why didn't you
go home? what on earth are you waiting for? it is
cool that you're hanging out with tibetans, though. when i was
8 or 9 my dad read me a book called “the third eye”
by this tibetan mystic named lobsang rampa, who had a hole
drilled in his forehead and a splinter of wood stuck into his
brain to activate his third eye, immediately giving him all
kinds of kickass powers. i think my dad used to carry the book
with him in his back pocket during his raging hippie days.
tibetans are awesome. but ever since i discovered hinduism, i
just can't relate to buddhism at all anymore. it seems so
boring by comparison. it's probably the only religion
in the world that doesn't believe in God. can you believe it?
a religion that denies the existence of our immortal, undying
soul? buddhists believe in karma, reincarnation, and even in
the existence of “deities”—but not in the
existence of souls or the one and only God: Brahman, the
All-Pervading. it's pretty messed up. sure, they have
“emptiness” and “compassion” and
“no-self,” but where's God and Love and the radiant
well . . . once again, it's time to say adieu, my lovely
sweet ecco girl. maybe i'll see you around someday. in one
lifetime or another.