I probably had more fun writing this book than anything else I’ve ever worked on. Three stories, all intertwined and dovetailing at the end: the narrator’s real life as he sits in an ashram in India and gradually finds himself caught up in the spiritual quest; the dream life that he records in his dream journal, where he is a priest in a Hindu temple in some past century; and the novel that he is writing, following the adventures of his characters and discovering as he goes along that they are far more than mere inventions. I storyboarded this novel before I began, scene by scene—it was too complex a story to attempt writing without a detailed plan — but even so it was full of surprises. The scenes remained the same but the hidden logic behind them only became apparent to me as I watched the story unfold, month by month, draft by draft. At times I felt like an amanuensis, transcribing scenes that were floating untended in the Cosmic Imagination. It ended up being a very long book — 272,000 words — but that was how long it took to complete the journey. I remember feeling both gratified and grateful when I reached the end of the final draft — this one really felt like it landed in my lap. I was also writing the biography of my spiritual master, Anandamurti: The Jamalpur Years, at the same time that I was writing Devi — working on one book until the current draft was finished and then laying it aside and moving to the other, coming back fresh some months later to begin the next draft — and I’m sure that the inspiration I gained from being immersed in my guru’s life had a great effect on the writing of Devi. It still brings a smile to my face whenever I think back on the four years it took me to write those two books.
Fresh from a painful divorce, Rodrigo Arroyo boards a plane for India where he plans to spend his one-year sabbatical writing his long-dreamed-of first novel, a work of historical fiction set in India that he hopes will finally launch his quest for artistic immortality. He finds the perfect place to write: a clean, quiet ashram in the foothills of the Himalayas where no one will bother him as he sends his thoughts into the clear mountain air. He soon finds out, however, that the goddess has other plans for him. A chance encounter with an Indian holy woman and the unsought-for company of seekers and yogis soon transform his artistic quest into a journey of spiritual awakening, and his search for personal redemption into a tryst with the laughing eyes of the goddess.
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