is East and West is West and never the twain shall meet"
might have been true in Kipling's day, but in a matter of a few
decades East and West have become closer than Kipling could have
ever imagined. Part of the reason for this is unique individuals
whose lives bridge both cultures. One of these extraordinary
people is John Harricharan.
Born to East
Indian parents in Guyana, South America, in a village with the
unlikely name of "Bush Lot," Harricharan distinguished
himself by winning scholarships, first under the British school
system and then in the United States. He became a self-made millionaire
by the time he was in his thirties, but he was to know both luxury
and hardship. The dissolution of his financial empire is chronicled
in his first book, When You Can Walk on Water, Take the
Boat, which rather than being a story of loss
and sadness, is an inspiring tale of courage and strength.
book, Morning Has Been All Night Coming, begins
with the death of his beloved wife Mardai, and follows his efforts
to care for his two children and rebuild his life from its lowest
I have been
friends with John for a number of years, during which his faith
and perseverance have frequently amazed me. While dealing with
his own struggles, he has always given help and encouragement
to everyone around him. To me he represents the best of the mystical
East and pragmatic West, and I was delighted to have an opportunity
to ask him some questions about his work.
Body, Mind & Spirit:
a lot of people writing metaphysical books these days who claim
to have real time/space relationships with mysterious teachers.
There are so many, in fact, that readers are beginning to seriously
question the truth of these stories. You have called your books
"parables." What do you mean by that exactly?
John Harricharan: Actually, my books
are "extended allegories" or stories that illustrate
spiritual principles. These stories are a result of the human
experience and, therefore, of necessity, reflect a part of my
personal experience. One question asked most by readers of my
books is, "Is it true?" The answer to this question
was given in the introduction to my first book. I ask the age-old
question, "What is truth?" I imagine that at some level
my books do become "living parables" and convey a timeless
Spirit: Then who is Gideon?
Harricharan: You are, of course, referring to one
of the main characters in the books. Gideon represents that other,
higher aspect of ourselves. He symbolizes the Teacher Within.
Some may prefer to refer to him as an angel, a guide, or an advanced
Master. I think that Gideon is our true potential reaching out
to show us our true selves.
Spirit: Do you teach, lecture or write from
a particular religious tradition? What is your personal spiritual
Harricharan: Naturally, one's upbringing and traditions play
a great part in one's life and so, yes, I am influenced by religious
traditions, but no particular one. Born to Hindu parents in a
small village of Christians, Hindus, Moslems and others, I quickly
learned the benefits of tolerance toward all religious philosophies
and beliefs. I later became a Christian and found that the Bible
was perhaps the greatest "Manual of Life" ever written.
Yet, I never forgot the beauty, truth and wisdom contained in
the ancient Vedic writings, the Upanishad, the Koran and others.
They all seemed to point the way to the mountaintop.
I spent time
with advanced yogis, swamis, and masters of the Far East as well
as with Western teachers and saints. From them, I learned much
and was able to blend their wisdom into an extremely practical
method for living. Then, too, I learned from the trees and the
sky, the oceans and the wind, the fisherman and the farmer, and
certainly from my experiences in various lands and cultures.
I was fortunate in this respect, but I discovered at an early
age that one does not need any special spiritual training, only
an open mind and the willingness to learn from all that surrounds
us. It is my firm belief that no institution, no government,
no anything is more important than the humane treatment of one
human being by another.
background also includes a summa cum laude degree in chemistry
and mathematics, an MBA, and Fortune 500 company experience.
You are entrepreneur, poet, teacher, author, parent, business
consultant, philosopher - do you find yourself in conflict sometimes
in trying to fill all of these roles?
Harricharan: Each is a part of what I am. My background and
training work together in harmony to produce the concert which
is me - a case of the whole being greater than the sum of its
parts. The conflicts I experience are actually the conflicts
of everyone else - how to deal with one's own fears and doubts,
how to stay centered and achieve balance in body, mind, and spirit.
It is an ongoing task.
Spirit: Speaking of tasks,
your books are very different from the happy-all-the-time New
Age-type of message in that you recount your own struggles very
openly. How do you respond to those who criticize the problems
you encounter as some kind of spiritual defect?
Harricharan: I am glad you asked this question. My life has
been a mixture of glorious successes and heartbreaking losses.
There were times of great affluence followed by extreme scarcity.
There was a fairy-tale marriage to the princess of my dreams
only to be followed by her brave battle and subsequent death
from cancer. I believe that we all choose our experiences at
a deep subconscious level for purposes even we may not fully
understand. And thus, there are adversities and triumphs, tears
and laughter in what can truly be called the human experience.
Some, looking from the sidelines of their own perspective, tend
to judge from the "physician, heal thyself" syndrome.
Still others ask, "If you are so spiritually advanced, how
come you have suffered so greatly? If you have lost so much,
how can you teach prosperity?" And then there were those
who, like Job's friends, thought of my situation as a "spiritual
defect." Yet, I always felt that there was a deeper meaning,
a far "diviner" plan than I was able to see as I was
experiencing it. And so, rather than reacting to criticisms,
I responded to the truth as I knew it. I developed a close relationship
with my God and an overwhelming compassion and love for my other,
less fortunate brothers and sisters of this world.
I studied the
lives of great leaders and teachers and I found that their gifts
to our world were not in spite of the hardships they suffered
but precisely because of their experiences. Perhaps I chose this
way so that, instead of just "talking the talk," I
could say I also "walked the walk," It has given me
the ability to help my fellow human beings by showing them that
if we keep on keeping on, and we do not let anyone steal our
dreams, we will be victorious, we will overcome, and the vale
of tears will finally lead through the darkness of fear and doubt
into the brilliance of the mountains of light.
do you deal with your own doubts and fears?
Harricharan: Our worst enemies are
the twin battalions of doubt and fear. Each one has his or her
special fears and doubts lurking within, ready to pounce at a
weak moment. How do I handle this pair? I face them. It was written,"Face
the thing you fear and it will flee from you." I realized
a long time ago that it isn't the thing we fear that causes us
the most problems, but our thoughts about the thing we fear.
seen you help a lot of people in ways that might seem miraculous,
yet to them often appear to be "lucky coincidence."
How would you define a miracle?
Harricharan: I think that what we refer to as miracles are
actually the result of Universal Law and Principles. Because
we do not understand the workings of the "Law," we
refer to the result as a miracle. To the natives of a lost tribe
in the remote reaches of the Amazon, a television or radio would
be a miracle. Today we have what we call "miracle"
drugs which seem ordinary to us. As we become more aware of spiritual
laws and as we understand how to use them, we will, as Emerson
said, "Live with the license of a higher order of being."
We will then create effects around us that might appear miraculous
to some. Know what the magician knows and it is no longer magic.
Spirit: Your intuitive insights
are remarkable in their precise grasp of a situation with little
more than a name for you to go by. Can you explain the process
Harricharan: It is no special gift
that I have. We are all heirs to limitless abilities. If we use
those abilities and we practice constantly we will become experts
at what we do. I have been called a "Pragmatic Mystic, and
I do feel that description comes closest to what I am. I simply
use my intuition and trust it. The more I trust and the more
I practice, the better I get. It's like anything else - the more
you do it the better you get.
number of people have commented to me on your charisma and the
enormous spiritual presence you project. What are your personal
spiritual practices or meditation techniques?
Harricharan: For me, prayer and
meditation are a way of life. Not the type, of course, where
one sits in a church and formally prays for hours, nor even the
kind where one sits in the lotus pose and "OMs" away
every day. Mine is more informal and spontaneous - like breathing.
I have a very private, personal relationship with my God and
I find that when I am aware of this relationship, I am happy,
fulfilled and peaceful. When I permit appearances in the outer
world to shake my confidence in myself and my God, I start losing
balance and must seek immediately to come back to center.
Spirit: Is that what you are essentially trying
to teach or do for others?
Harricharan: I am, above all else,
a "bearer of hope." I do not seek to teach anything
that has not been taught before. I prefer not to just "do
for others" but to help them and teach them to "do
for themselves." I try to do this by example, living what
I believe and expressing compassion, joy, peace and the other
fruits of love in a spontaneous manner. I feel that my mission
here on earth is to live life gloriously to the fullest. It is
my firm belief that all people are shipmates on the common voyage
of life and one cannot sink one's shipmates without sinking oneself.
last chapter of your new book, Morning Has Been All Night
Coming, is profoundly moving, I would even say
cathartic. What were you experiencing as you were writing it?
Harricharan:It was a case of the
message and the messenger becoming one. At some level, I suppose,
an aspect of myself was experiencing the events being chronicled
by my writing self. Writing the last chapter was certainly one
of the most exhilarating experiences I have had. For a moment
in time I was able to catch a glimpse of what may be called the
larger picture. Those feelings are still with me today. In moments
of great turmoil I close my eyes and go back to that time and
gather strength and courage to keep on keeping on. I trust it
has the same affect on my readers.
Spirit: Are you planning other
Harricharan: There are some things
which must be accomplished before other books are written. I
always intended a trilogy. Following When You Can Walk
on Water, Take the Boat, and Morning Has Been All
Night Coming, there will be a third and final volume.
And then, who knows? I hardly ever plan my writing. I start the
process and the books write themselves. I, too, am curious to
find out what will be in the next book or books!
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