in Northern California is one of Americas most sacred
and well hidden secrets. I arrived at Olema for the first time
in April of 1990. I had heard of Olema only a few weeks before
and did not know quite what to expect. My ten-year spiritual pilgrimage
had only just begun at the time and Olema was one of my first
|I immediately sensed
something powerful and silent as I drove into the monastery compound.
The environment was deserted, but beautiful. I could see deer
of many colors grazing in the distance and a big white turn-of
the century mansion stood next to some barn buildings. From the
outside this monastery did not look too auspicious.
But it was here that the journey started.
|I met Swami Asitananda
at Olema and he would become my chief spiritual counselor
throughout the next ten years. It was a good start. Olema was
Ramakrishnas home in America. Here the Divine Mother dwelled.
The San Andreas fault-line was just a few yards from the mansion,
but the silence was louder than any potential earth-quake. I slept
little that night. Who could with so much bliss in the vicinity?
These first memories
would carry me through many a challenge. But the karmic build-up
had been going on for many life-times.
My writing career
began as soon as I left UC Berkeley and decided to go on a quest
to Asia in 1984. Japan, China, and Tibet were explored and
in 1986 I rented a cabin near a beautiful lake in Washington
state to write about this adventure. The cabin became a kind
of spiritual laboratory for eight months. I wrote about Asia,
but also about my experiences with the New Age Movement in California.
I started to explore silence, but also all the dark corners
of the human mind. Out of this long "Walden retreat"
came my first two books: "Inside the Kingdom" and
"The Endless Journey." But there would be no time
at all for publishing.
Michael with Tibetan nomad
Michael's father 1989
|I started a career
in the American financial markets and this along with my fathers
spiritual journey from a terminal illness pretty much dominated
my life for the next three years. I saw large amounts of money
pass though my computer screen until these waves became ephemeral
and irrelevant. My fathers madness and illness also brought
home the impermanence of existence to me in a rather powerful
and intense way. I continued my spiritual explorations and even
met the Dalai Lama in Los Angeles. By 1989, Eastern Europe
had collapsed and a few months later my father passed away.
These events became
the source materials for Harvest of Gems Volume One. But I
need to get back to the introduction now.
In April, 1990 I
left San Diego with $500 and my Honda and instead of selling my car
and going to Nepal. I arrived at Olema. I thus began a spiritual
journey here in America for the next three years. The higher forces
had other plans, you see. After I left Olema, I drove where the karmic
wind took me. I spent time in an airport with a crazy Zen American.
I met a crazy American Tibetan Buddhist who would become a key player
in my life for many years.
I stayed at the Green Gulch
Zen Center in Marin, I stayed a winter at Tangpulu monastery where
Harvest of Gems Vol. Two was started along with the Little
Monk. I confronted not only Tangpulus presence, but also
Laing-Tet Sayadaw, the abbot of Tangpulu monastery and one of Tangpulus
closest disciples. I also met many Tibetan lamas during this time
from all four of the quarreling sects and received also many spiritual
||Life was lived at
the very edge and it was a fine, if stressful kind of existence.
But the spiritual protection was always there. It was never very
far away. By 1992, I had spent some time at a beautiful Catholic
monastery, I had spent time with Jewish mystics, I had danced
with ecstatic Sufis and I also met the Hopi Indians in Arizona.
But finally I met
the great Bhante Dharmawara. Bhante was a 104 year old
Cambodian monk who took me into his mysteriously deep world
and taught me much about healing and the spiritual life. By
1993, I was ready to go to Eurasia and this is what you are
all experiencing now in your editing and translation work.
By 1994, upon my
return to California, Harvest of Gems vol. Three was
ready to erupt. I decided to do bold verbal collage experiments.
Gone was the Salinger narrative style. Now it was time to start
hopping the karma on all kinds of levels. Well, the result is
in your hands. Summer came back to America and many adventures
followed. Also many tragic events that led to a higher practise.
Thats all in Harvest Vol. Four.
Then Ginger Smudge
was created in 1995 and a poetry phase began in 1996. Which
is still going strong.
I then left for Asia
again and did not come back until 1998. Forty Immutable Parables
is the result of this journey. You could say its an additional
and unofficial Harvest of Gems volume. Maybe its vol.
Five, but maybe its something else.
Harvest of Gems
vol. Three was published on the web in 1999, also The
little Monk. Today, the translation of these works into
15 languages was made possible by the existence of the mighty
internet and by the hyper-speed of life in the digital age.
We are all living in a new economic and cultural era, you see.
Parables, release 2004
Michael Arthur Finberg
having now left the earth's atmosphere proceeds with Forty Immutable
Parables to move quickly into a bold new visionary terrain.
A journey to Japan, Nepal, Bhutan, and then India becomes a
prelude before an unexpected plunge into a cosmic black hole
where the laws of space/time soon become unrecognizable. What
is really on the other side of this mysterious threshold? Michael
Arthur Finberg only gives a few tantalizing hints. But the active
imagination of any bold reader will be rewarded a thousand-fold.
A final pilgrimage
is planned in late 2004 which will take me to Southeast Asia and India.
I hope to see Laing-Tet in Burma and the Karmapa in India. Ankor Wat
and Bhantes memorial stupa await me in Cambodia. Then its
Mohanjedaro in Pakistan, Chinas Sinkiang province, Sufi centers
in Uzbekistan, and a return to Russia, Poland, Germany, France, and
Belgium; and my first trip to Spain and Portugal. Its like Harvest
Vol. Three but in reverse and theres a reason for this. There
is some necessary clean-up that's needed.
contents of this site © Finberg Books 2000-2004 by Michael Arthur