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A 21st century love story

Part VI: Compassion vs. Kundalini

“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.”

—T.J. Marx
The Adelaide Gazette

From: “Evan McAllister” []
To: “Ella Paris” []
Date: Sat, 30 Oct 2004 11:53:16 (IST)
Subject: saying goodbye

dear ella,

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 kriya.”

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.



From: “Ella Paris” []
To: “Evan McAllister” []
Date: Sat, 30 Oct 2004 11:55:42 (IST)
Subject: RE: saying goodbye

Dear Evan,

I understand. Good luck finding “GOD.” I hope that works out for you.



From: “Ella Paris” []
To: “Evan McAllister” []
Date: 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 something.

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.



From: “Evan McAllister” []
To: “Ella Paris” []
Date: Wed, 05 Jan 2005 18:10:02 (IST)
Subject: babaji

hi ella,

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 brahmacharya— 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, O Guru, salutations!”

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 mean?

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 eternal SELF??

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.


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