There are many wayside stops on the road to nirvana. Balamuralikrishna Durairaj, a disciple of Jamaica-born Anthony Paul Moo-Young aka ‘Mooji’, is seated at one such stop, waiting for the phone call from the new-age advaita guru’s management. It’s for a transport to, well, not quite a state of heavenly bliss, but to the summery seaside haven in Lisbon. The international silent retreat at the Portugal capital is going to be an all-expenses-paid one. Making it on board requires a distinguished record of good deeds that Durairaj reckons he has, and loads of luck: it’s a bit of a karmic lottery, after all.
Disciples of other such spiritual orders aren’t quite leaving things to chance. For Niharika Pradhan, her guru Richard Alpert, rechristened as Guru Ram Dass after a spiritual journey to India, makes her world come alive in vivid technicolour with his talk of magic mushrooms and other such psychedelic substances. Alpert himself is quite a chromatically rich character: thrown out of Harvard, where he was a psychologist and psychedelic research pioneer, he went to Mexico, where he gorged on some potent mushrooms. “Guru’s psychedelic work was a prelude to the source of consciousness,” says Pradhan, with the lofty luminousness of one who had fed on honeydew and drunk the milk of paradise.