Spiritual Autobiography as Narrative Fiction : Eleven Short Stories from The Mindful Word
TOWARD AN INTERIOR SUN: a book by Max Reif
(currently in pre-publication)
"City/Self Mandala", 1989, by the author
Below are eleven stories, all published in the online journal THE MINDFUL WORD, which constitute a kind of spiritual autobiography. The events of my life have been archetypal. Both Light and illusory shadows have far outstripped what my younger self would have believed possible. In the footsteps of novelists such as Henry Miller and Thomas Wolfe, I've tried to tell these tales from life as "narrative fiction" which remains emotionally, and usually literally, true to events. The world is, after all, God's fiction.
A book, with the tentative title Toward an Interior Sun, is currently in production stages.
"It's not how often you fall down, it's how often you get back up." —Stephen Levine
"When longing is most intense separation is complete, and the purpose of separation, which was that Love might experience itself as Lover and Beloved, is fulfilled; and union follows. And when union is attained, the Lover knows that he himself was all along the Beloved whom he loved and desired union with; and that all the impossible situations that he overcame were obstacles which he himself had placed in the path to himself." —Meher Baba, The Everything and the Nothing
"I'd like to tell my story, because you know I feel I'm turning into gold." —Leonard Cohen, "A Bunch of Lonesome Heroes"
"Florida!" (from THE MINDFUL WORD)
An eleven year-old's first adventure beyond his home environs brings surprises of both the joyful and painful kind.
"Prelude to a Wagnerian Springtime" (from THE MINDFUL WORD)
A story of First Love.
Read "Prelude to a Wagnerian Springtime"
"The Incident": a story about '60s activism (from THE MINDFUL WORD)
Fast forward a few years from "Prelude" to a college campus, on which everything, everything is changing!
Read "The Incident"
"Summer of '68" (from THE MINDFUL WORD)
Young, on the trail of love, breezes of freedom in the air.
Read "Summer of '68"
"Coming Into It" (from THE MINDFUL WORD)
Another college story, on another campus. The '60s continue, as do visions of 'the chimes of Freedom flashing." Psychedelics enter the picture as a possible way
through, or out. But there are warnings, as well!
Read "Coming Into It"
"Fare to Malcolm Bliss" (from THE MINDFUL WORD)
A few years later, at work in the city. A taxicab, with a photo of a smiling Meher Baba silently saying DON'T WORRY—BE HAPPY doubles as a Sanctuary for wayfarers.
"The Key Turned" (from THE MINDFUL WORD)
"A story of mystical catharsis and shattered illusions. Martin anticipates a blissful life with his new wife, and while their Indian honeymoon doesn't go quite as
expected, essential inner discoveries are made."
Read "The Key Turned"
"Falling Off the Map" (from THE MINDFUL WORD)
Sometimes we get completely lost.
Read "Falling Off the Map"
"Alternating Current" (from THE MINDFUL WORD)
A story about Electric Shock Treatment (ECT), with some surprising twists in it. ECT actually plays a role here in restoring stability. But there's also a role it can't play, one which awaits a God-inspired human touch.
"The Life You Save May Be Your Own" (from THE MINDFUL WORD)
And sometimes we can get lost only to be found in new ways! This is a short story about the miraculous healing possibilities of "Art, when inspired by
Read "The Life You Save May Be Your Own"
*quoting Meher Baba: "Art, when inspired by Love, leads to higher realms."
"Adieu, Rivendell" : Leaving God to find God
The protagonist leaves Meher Baba's "Home in the West," the Meher Spiitual Center (a 500-acre wildlife preserve and retreat facility right on the Atlantic) and the surrounding community in Myrtle
Beach, South Carolina. After 6 years in residence, he feels "not ripe enough" to remain. "Leaving God to find God," he sets up a life in his home town, and discovers he must take a number of
self-facing steps. He is stunned to find the Indian adage, "Take one step toward God and He will take ten steps toward you" actually coming true in his life.
Read "Adieu, Rivendell"
"Coming to Baba: My 43-year Romance with Meher Baba" from The Mindful Word. An essay describing my first, totally unexpected experience of Meher Baba's Love in a friend's advertising agency office high in a Chicago skyscraper, and how I happened to be there that day.
Read "Coming to Baba"
"Happy Re-Birthday to Me: a personal essay" from The Mindful Word. Written on the 37th anniversary of the second of two major transformative experiences, my meeting with Ram Dass* (aka Richard Alpert) in Oklahoma City, OK, in 1976. My life had become frozen due to shame about "things in childhood) I could not talk about." I left the room two hours later—shining
Read "Happy Re-Birthday to Me"
* I felt the Love I call "Meher Baba" working "through Ram Dass" during our entire period of association. Many years later, I was able to document that Baba had actually said of Richard Alpert, way back in the '60s, "Richard is Mine."
Through repeated sincere prayers it is possible to effect an exit from the otherwise inexorable working out of the law of karma. The forgiveness asked from God
evokes from Him His inscrutable grace, which alone can give new direction to the inexorable karmic determination. — Meher Baba