“To study the way is to study the self. To study the self is to forget the self. To forget the self is to be elightened by ten thousand things of the Universe.”- Dogen
I see myself as an intuitive, organic, and simple Dhamma Teacher Practitioner without any formal path, practice, ritual or teacher. My birth name is Susmita Barua. You may just call me Mita which means ‘friend’. I was born in Jalpaiguri, south of Darjeeling and raised in the early 1960’s and 1970’s in a suburb of Calcutta, India in a very tiny minority immigrant community of Bengali Buddhists. These Buddhists somehow survived in the coastal Chittagong area of Bangladesh, as Buddhism declined, decayed and eclipsed in mainland India (see Barua Buddhists). My mother Manjushree gave me the secret nickname ‘Muni’ (meaning sage), which is a rather awkward name for a female child. Only my mother and late eldest brother (who named me ‘Susmita’) called me by that name. My father often affectionately addressed me as ‘Ma’ (meaning mother, a common tradition in Bengal). I am the third one in our family in between two older brothers and my younger sister Kalpita. I still have the somewhat jolting memory of my earliest dream of waking up on this plane, like a leaf falling through a spiral. This and other early dreams made me feel that this world is a continuation of the dream world. Even as a little child I used to wonder about being a lone Buddhist among all my friends who were not! When I was about seven years old, I had a vivid luminous dream where I was peeping from inside the earth and witnessing celestial Buddha in a standing position giving what appeared to be his first sermon to his five disciples under a tree in a realm of light. All of them had glowing light bodies and robes of white light surrounded by golden halo! This luminous dream made me feel very safe and blessed. I also recall often falling asleep silently repeating the three refuges and the Buddhist blessing, “May all beings be happy to feel secure. As a little child I was quite fascinated with colors and contact (vedana) especially with the colors orange and yellow (although an aura picture in 2005 shows a blue cloud around me). Most of my early childhood drawings revolved around the Sun and the Lotus and certain Alpana motifs.
Success is not a place at which one arrives, but rather the spirit with which one undertakes and continues the journey. – Alex Noble
My father late Netra Ranjan (means ‘red eye’, something my mother and I used to make fun of at his back) Barua, IRS lost his mom at young age and came from a poor and humble background in a village (Uninepura) of Chittagong. He was an active Founding Life Member of Bengal Buddhist Association and despite his failing health did his best to preserve the legacy (of many pioneering Buddhism revival work in modern Bengal and India) of my great grandfather Bhikkhu Chandrajyoti, better known by his birth name as Karmayogi Kripasaran. My father’s untimely demise in 8-17-1981 after a prolonged battle with sickness (emphysema) of at least seven years exposed our family to the suffering of sickness, old age and death and realization of the preciousness of human life (ease of breath) at least for me.
From very early on I have always been an observer of life and I noticed the many inequalities in terms of gender, age, caste, religion, wealth, social status, skin color and such – that existed in Indian society and still does in various degrees in all cultures around the world. Two of the most awe inspiring childhood memories I recall now were hearing the sound of the Ocean from a distance and encountering the vastness of it for the first time when I was about seven years old; and getting a very heavy “Children’s Book of Knowledge” as a gift from my uncle when I was about twelve. Like most children I asked many “why” questions, most of them stayed with me till now. My early fascination with fables, jataka stories and fairy tales gave way to mysteries and adventures when I got exposed to some foreign classics in the middle school library and I got hooked into reading things beyond my age and curriculum. I remember shedding lot of tears while reading “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”, David Copperfield, Lincoln’s Biography and such, wondering how one human being could be so cruel to another? One basic question for me was, “how do human children born with basic goodness and sanity grow up to be in this sorry situation?” I still have fond memories of childhood visit with Dipama and Dipa and my father’s great love and concern for their well-being.
We moved to Kentucky with my husband’s job and our newborn child. When my daughter turned almost two, I took a full-time job with the city as socio-economic planner. This job matched closely with my skills, but I felt limited. I had to quit the job for my own peace and sanity. After a year I took another job with the city, but here too I found myself very restricted amid very unmotivated (yet decent) people. My only safe heaven was the downtown Library, where I spent many lunch hours looking out the large windows, watching the workers in their best work suits pass by and wondering, why most of them look so glum and dispirited?
My job experience made me ask many things! Should we live for life’s sake or for a living? What sort of society we have created that requires us to sacrifice our lives to make a living, when the pursuit of life ( = liberty and happiness) is our basic goal? Why making a living and its methods (including education and jobs)are so disconnected from life? Why freedom by itself (political and economic) does not promote happiness? What kind of freedom should we seek that promotes happiness? What is real freedom? What is real happiness? What is Real? What should I do with my life?
I got very quickly disillusioned with conventional social life. I went deep into my ‘dukkha’, its origin, its cessation and a way for its cessation kept unfolding organically. I kept following my own spiritual instinct and paying attention to any attachment and aversion that disturbs my wholesome state and natural awareness. I renounced all worldly aspirations and embarked on an inner journey with the intention to benefit all beings and serve the world’s deepest needs. This is the only way I could restore my inner peace, sanity and joy. There is an inner voice that I always had, sometimes distant, sometimes very near and clear that actually guided me though this inner process of progressive meditative absorption in the unbounded realms of formless, through a spontaneous practice of brahmaviharas.
Renounce all worldly goals and you shall reach the highest goal.”- Milarepa
The dynasty of female Pharaohs (powerful masters) existed before the recorded history. – Ramtha
I realize now that the desire to be free, free from all tyrannies of inequality and binding social customs, traditions, and beliefs is a basic human desire. Yet this universal desire has not been enough to set man free! Why? What supports or resists the manifestation of pure desire? What is my true need? What is my true and essential nature? What happens to life after Nirvana? Do we really create our reality? How far individuation goes?
I sensed it is not necessarily the poor and the repressed who often live in quiet misery! I went deep within myself and turned the spotlight inward to myself. I contemplated continuously in order to connect with my authentic “self”, my own needs, my true nature and to my great surprise I began to understand the world I live in a clear manner! It also rekindled my lost passion for universal knowledge, wisdom and truth. My inner transformation was quite rapid and always guided by self-inquiry and a process of stripping down my usual social psychological self. An indescribable luminous self-awakening experience accompanied by illumination, a quickened euphoric out-of-body ejection of primary essence (a very subtle wispy force), self projection of my illumined image in my bedroom oval mirror, feeling of unearthly ecstasy, unimaginable freedom, bursting of all bubbles (akin to opening of a bottle of champagne) and a deep presence profoundly and permanently shifted my perception of the world and the people forever! The very ground was pulled away beneath my feet from this sudden awakening, as if whole reality turned upside down! I was not only out of body; I was completely blown out of my mind in a state of naked and empty awareness (Dharmakaya). All dualities and mental conflicts ceased into profound silence, sublime awe and simple yet supra-wakefulness! My ecstatic contact with the Infinite was spontaneous, immediate and unmediated. Yet it did come after walking a self-guided path of deep inquiry and contemplation that unfolded spontaneously in the form of noble 8 fold path. I wanted the delusion to end, before I can serve the world or truly surrender my life to my calling.
Looking back now, this singular experience, inexpressible and beyond words answered all my questions in a multidimensional way! This experience was followed by other unusual experiences in next few years, including strange physical sensations, ailments, lucid dreams, simultaneous life review, conscious flying, and the most unusual experience of being pulled by an incredibly powerful vortex of electrical field (3 days after the awakening)! I felt every atom and cell of my body vibrating at such a high frequency that I would be blown off the planet. It took quite a bit of willful strength to pull myself out of it, as I felt I am needed here and my personality’s learning is not complete. Following my own intuition, inspiration and synchronicities over the years landed me now to a spiritually engaged path. Buddha and Buddha Dhamma remains my core inspiration. Although for many years after my awakening I could not relate to labels like ‘Buddhist’. Since Reality is not one kind for Buddhist and another for non-Buddhists.
Now, looking back to my earliest childhood question, “does the world have to be this way (more hellish than heaven)?”, I can truly say, “No, not anymore!” Things are thawing and shapeshifting behind the scene in all areas, and our human consciousness is now steadily waking up from a long period of hibernation! A great urge to connect with the world and a planetary vision that arose some years after my awakening led me to create this site. My time, attention, intention and energy have been directed towards realization of that vision. I had no reference point, context, language or label for the bodhi realization at the time, just a burning desire to be free and realize the ultimate Truth (Reality).
In the years following my awakening I experienced many vivid and lucid Shamanic Dreams. First such dream – a big white wolf grabbing a baby (myself) was quite jolting and came out of nowhere. I feel a mind connection with Dzogchen, Shambhala, Theravada, aspects of Zen and natural Tantra, Jnana Yoga, Gnosticism, Sufiism, and many other mystical traditions. Yet I did not formally study any of these traditions, except some basic and fundamental pali teachings of Buddha. Only now in 2008, with the questions posed to me about my path, practice and lineage at the Lexington Shambhala (my first Buddhist Sangha contact), I feel the time has come for me to openly share my unconventional path and life experience with other spiritual seekers. I am completely devoted to knowledge, wisdom and truth that transcends all divisions and barriers to knowing and realizing our true self, our primordial nature. Mita has no intrinsic reality yet as a student of Life she keeps exploring the infinite depth of awareness, growing in her understanding of life – its rich interplay of emptiness and fullness. So I cannot put a name or label on my path or practice and it may not fit any Buddhist Yana or Tradition. The path is organic, contemplative, intuitive, pragmatic, natural, energetic, intelligent, experiential, inquiring, and primordial. Many blessings for your sojourn here and your sacred path. May this awaken the energy of enlightenment within You.
“To laugh often and much; To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.” – Bessie Stanley
Current Path Way of Shambhala and Intention In every moment allow love instead of fear to guide your choices . Let go and allow love to flow through life’s difficulties. To be or not to be? That is the choice between denial and despair. Weave Your World with Web of LOVE ImagiaUniverse
Knowing Is Not Enough; We Must Apply. Being Willing Is Not Enough; We Must Do. – Leonardo Da Vinci
Professionally I was trained as a geographer, social scientist, research analyst, regional and urban planner. As I came to know more about world history, geography, cultures, economic and political systems, the nature of my questions changed. I found that many things we study in sciences and arts do not ask the basic question ‘Why’? Why do we have so many wonders unexplained in our pre-recorded history? How come we humans create systems (our own creation) that we do not understand? Why communism with its great ideals of equality for all fails miserably? Why capitalism with its ideals of free speech and free market is also failing in closing inequalities in access and income? Why India, a great nation with its highest spiritual insights and wisdom could not translate it in the everyday living of average Indians?
Every day, for seven years during my hour long bus commute to my college, I passed through the indescribable poverty, and daily indignities of human living in the squalid slums of Calcutta! I wondered, may be the wealthy nations like the U.S must be following some right principle! Yet I was aware of the disillusionment of wealth from the hippies I saw during my many visits to Bodh-Gaya. I wanted to come in the States to see and experience things for myself.
So I came to University of Arizona, Tucson, as a graduate student in 1985 and got married the same year. First year was rough because it was the first time in my life that I moved so far away from my family home and friends! I had to deal with the stresses of living all alone, new marriage, in-laws, new school, new society and new desert land. I was somewhat forced to go within because I was losing my emotional balance at times. For the first time it seemed that I was catapulted from a state of grace to a state of great inner turmoil, the kind previously unknown to me! Why are human relationships so difficult? What is the goal in any relationship? What is it we do not understand about us?
As a child I used to look at the night sky especially at the Big Dipper question mark for a long time! First time I learned of gravity and planetary motion, I got quite fascinated with the thought that somehow we are not falling off the planet! It surprised me that the grown-ups are not the least bit excited about that! I wondered what is holding all things in the space/void together? For some reason, I always wanted to know and understand things from Universal perspective (not just human perspective) which bridges the physical and non-physical. This led me to a grand voyage of exploration in this lifetime! I was always curious about the unseen and unknown than the known. My spiritual path was one of self-inquiry, inner reflection and deep contemplation and answers came from many sources including my own remembering or inner knowing, deep introspection and intuition. I followed a secular kind of Buddha Dharma without attachment to any beliefs, including the belief in any teacher or practice. Life itself is ‘the guru’. I had some basic understanding and exposure to Theravada, Five Precepts, Nobel Eightfold Path, Pali Chants, life of Buddha, and meditation. The process of self-observation through mindful breath (vipassana) was natural to me from a very young age. My many visits to holy places somehow shaped my later aspirations. I was clear about my core values (freedom, truth) and passion (knowledge) in my youth.
Coming here to the States from the nourishing monsoon environment of Kolkata to the barren hot desert land of Tucson was literally like going away from the comfort of home acute of homelessness.
Being a heart centered person I felt things deeply almost unbearably at times. Alone in a foreign land with no family or friends to turn to I simply trusted basic goodness and discriminating awareness to guide myself.
At some point, “What happens is that either physically or psychologically, the guru becomes distant and you are forced to work things out for yourself. Then you begin to relate with your life situation as guru. Everything that comes up in your life is part of the guru. The guru is everywhere. At that point the inner guru begins to wake up.” – Chogyam Trungpa, The Collected Works, Vol III p528
“Joyous is the appearence of the Buddhas. Joyous is the instruction in the true teaching (dharma). Joyous is the gathering of the Sangha. Joyous is the austerity of those who have gathered.” – Dhamma-Pada (14.16)
“Those who, either now or after I am dead, shall be lamps unto themselves, relying upon themselves only and not relying upon any external help, but holding fast to the truth as their lamp, and seeking their salvation in the truth alone, and shall not look for assistance to any one besides themselves, it is they, Ananda, among my bhikkhus, who shall reach the very topmost height! But they must be anxious to learn.” – Buddha’s farewell message to Ananda
“Having realized and comprehended all by myself, who shall I call my teacher?” – Buddha
- Founding Board Member, Sakyadhita USA Branch ofSakyadhita InternationalAssociation of Buddhist Women
- Member, National Coalition of Independent Scholars (NCIS)
- Advisory Director, Foundation for Women’s Education in Rural world, An Educational Non-profit Oraganization (see reference)
- Former President Of Treenaneel, A cultural non-profit organization and Chair of seminar and movie committee forBangamela 2006
- Friend of Phoenix Institute, Lexington Shambhala,Buddhist Peace fellowship, Friends of the Art Schools, Friends of the Library, Bluegrass Hospice, Sustainable Communities Network, Lexington Friendship International, CitizensCreate, peace2day, wikipedia, Sourcewatch,Wanttoknow, P2P Foundation, Zaadz, Noetic shift,icommons, unMoney Convergence
- Member in many online Proactive Social Change and Creative Solution/Idea Forums (some quoted inGuestbookand Explore)
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- Family of Ven. Kripasaran Mahathero