In a time when people across the world are struggling hard to manage work-related stress and balance professional and personal lives, Mirabai Bush has helped thousands to harmonize their lives and optimize their outputs through contemplation and mindfulness practices.
She is the co-founder of The Center for Contemplative Mind and Society and teaches contemplative practices and develops programs that apply contemplative principles to organizational life. She had also helped Google create its ‘Search inside Yourself Program’, and was one among those who introduced Buddhist practices in the West in the 1970’s.
She traces her spiritual practices to her root-teacher, Neem Karoli Baba and other masters in India from whom she learned various Hindu and Buddhist meditation practices. In an exclusive interview with NewsGram she spoke about her life, her work, and her stay in India way back in 1970’s.
Interview with Mirabai Bush- Part 2
Mirabai Bush and the Seva Foundation’s Guatemala Project
Mirabai Bush was involved with the Seva Foundation’s Guatemala Project for 10 years. When asked to share about the work done in Guatemala, she said that when she and her group were in India, her guru Neem Karoli Baba had sent Larry Brilliant to WHO to work for the eradication of smallpox that eventually became a success. After they returned to the West, when Neem Karoli Baba died, many in her group felt that they should do something to give back to the people of the Indian sub-continent.
The medical people in her group decided to work on treating cataract using non-conventional methods in Nepal and till date, Seva has managed to help more than 3 million people in Nepal, Cambodia, India, etc. Meanwhile, said Bush, in 1980’s there was a terrible violence in Guatemala and some people had come across the border to Mexico as their villages had been burned down.
When they met the widows who had crossed the border into Mexico, they felt that they should do something about it. She said: “When we heard what was happening, we just thought- ‘this is so bad.’ We thought ‘look what we were able to do in India and Nepal, so of course we could do something here as well.’ We then did not know anything about the kind of community development that was required in Guatemala. But, the next year or so, Guatemala had their first democratically elected president and the country became more open….
We went down there into the villages and sat there on the ground listening to people, mostly women as most of their men had been killed. We listened to them and tried to figure out how to help them build their villages. They had no money, no animals, no seeds or tools.
“We wanted to help them by empowering them and not by disempowering them by saying ‘Ok. We have come from the north and will provide you with everything.’ We created amazing partnerships with the villagers there (and helped them to rebuild). One of the villages El Triunfo in which we had worked was also awarded by UN for being a model village. So, we worked there for 10 years until the peace accord was signed and then we turned over the work we did to the Guatemalan agencies.”
Mirabai Bush, her Catholic background and her first visit to India
Mirabai Bush had visited India for the first time in 1970’s. When asked about her stay in India, Bush said that she had originally thought of staying in India for only two weeks. She had come to India overland through Europe, Middle East, Afghanistan and Pakistan. She stayed in different places to try and understand how other people were living. She said that at the time, the US was at war with Vietnam, and she was trying to discover a different way of seeing the world.
The very first day after she had reached India, she heard about a meditation course being taught at Bodhgaya by a Burmese meditation teacher. When she went there, she says: “It was very powerful. I had never done anything like that before. It really showed me things that I had never glimpsed before. Then, I stayed there for a couple of months doing meditation. Shortly after that, I met Neem Karoli Baba; that further changed my life and I continued to stay in India for another 2 years.”
Regarding her Catholic background and her first impressions when she had visited India, she said that she was raised up as a Catholic and studied in a catholic school right up to Georgetown graduate school. She continued: “I loved God and used to attend every mass. But, after I divorced my then husband, I was excommunicated from the Catholic Church. So, I was very disappointed. I had not been practicing as a Catholic for some years before I visited India. I was just disenchanted with that.
“I was not looking for another religion, but I was looking for a way to understand the world that made sense to me. Many people in America identify themselves as religious, but it is a very secular society. What I loved about India is that, when I had got to India, I felt like the spirit was everywhere. I found that people were devotional and non-judgmental, and they were very welcoming.
“And then, I met Neem Karoli Baba and he was so amazing. He was of course a Hindu and was devoted to Hanuman. But, most of the time, he seemed to exist in this realm that seemed completely beyond us. He just seemed present for all of us. We would sit for hours and hours with him and it just became a part of who I was. I was always a kind of person who was drawn to service. So, Maharaj-ji’s (Neem Karoli Baba’s) dedication to Hanuman was totally right to me.
“I did not feel like I no longer had this Christian upbringing as it would always be there. Maharaj-ji used to talk a lot about Jesus. He used to say ‘you should meditate like Christ. He lost himself in love.’ Then, we all used to kind of melt. Maharaj-ji was really an embodiment of unconditional love. I was sitting there and I could feel myself changing without a word being exchanged.”
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