Olema monastery in Northern California is one of America’s 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 stops.
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.

Michael with Swami Asitananda

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 Ramakrishna’s 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 father’s 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 father’s 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 Tangpulu’s presence, but also Laing-Tet Sayadaw, the abbot of Tangpulu monastery and one of Tangpulu’s closest disciples. I also met many Tibetan lamas during this time from all four of the quarreling sects and received also many spiritual empowerments.

Michael with Bhante 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. That’s 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 it’s an additional and unofficial Harvest of Gems volume. Maybe it’s vol. Five, but maybe it’s 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.

Michael Arthur Finberg:  Harvest of Gems   Michael Arthur Finberg:  The little Monk
Michael Arthur Finberg: Forty Immutable Parables

Forty Immutable 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 Bhante’s memorial stupa await me in Cambodia. Then it’s Mohanjedaro in Pakistan, China’s Sinkiang province, Sufi centers in Uzbekistan, and a return to Russia, Poland, Germany, France, and Belgium; and my first trip to Spain and Portugal. It’s like Harvest Vol. Three but in reverse and there’s a reason for this. There is some necessary clean-up that's needed.

All contents of this site © Finberg Books 2000-2004 by Michael Arthur Finberg