Of Guns and Gurus

Of Guns and Gurus

1972 or so, I’m studying music in

Juhu, a suburb of Bombay - I have no experience
of Buddhism, except for a brief meeting w. Suzuki Roshi
& the beat poets in SF – (I have made a collage of Allen Ginsberg & Peter Orlovsky as Han Shan & Shi’te/ So early, says Peter when I later mention it to him. I have some experience of Hinduism, via Swami Muktananda,
 whose ashram is not far away, in Thana – I have NO experience of warfare, at least in this life

all this is about to change


don’t know it but
the USA is allowing the CIA to
launch (covertly) its first military
offensive/ the target is India/ the target is
the house I’m living in, ostensibly to
study music, the target is the
nearby airport. WE
are the target.


digest this scenario & take
note of  small circles of light which
are manifesting in front of my field of
vision. I realize I am in ‘psychic’ danger & after
years of studying Indian music am not prepared
for ‘open warfare’. I go to the American Embassy, 
sari clad as I remember & beg to be repatriated. 
I am told there is NO war, despite obvious 
preparations, on the beach, on the roads,
  & in the Indian news. On the news stand,
the USA newspapers declare, in bold font
The Indian newspapers show photos of
 the nukes in the Bay of Bengal.


small village,
home to the elite of the Indian Cinema world,

Sumati Maoragi, of steamship fame in India, the local
fisherman, dhobis, our few hippy music students,
at least in the eyes of the surrounding
community, turns into a 
war zone. I don’t

the hatred that is being generated, I
can’t understand how it is possible to hate
those one does not know, worse, to want to injure, maim
or destroy them. The night of the black out, I undertake the
protective role or messenger. All must be inside, in blacked
out areas. I am alone in an outdoor music garage turned
music room for my over zealous & very
dedicated partner. When I hear the
night bombers, my body goes
into a kind of cardiac arrest
on the level of my nervous system.
I am unable to move, at all, for at least 15
minutes, the duration of these sounds. All
others, in our small compound, return to
relative normality after this interlude, but I stand
by the window, through out the night, anxiously awaiting 
the ‘Pakistani’ soldiers who will, in my vision,
land on the shore & then come to rape or
otherwise maim me. The next
day, except for the sound

of the air raid sirens, nothing
much is happening. But again, my companions
take the air round sirens as a kind of
 back ground drone, while sipping chai,
I am, instead, newly terrorized or
anguished w. each fresh
 alarm. This is

not mere paranoia, however
as we are near the principle target, The
Santa Cruz Airport. Friends arrive fr. Delhi,
equally traumatized, our solution is to pack
small bags & take the train  to the hillside station
of Lonewala, not far fr. Pune, which will later
be the headquarters of Rajneesh & company,
It is already near Kandala, the headquarters
of the great Meher BABA, protector of
the masts, w. whom I will later
identify. Fr. the hillside,
shelter, we observe intense
conflict in the sky, but
we are not the target. Nevertheless
we, my partner, our friends & I decide to
travel to South India, I guess to get away fr. it all.
We arrive to the village of

Mahabalipuram. A curious incident
has taken place here, A whirlpool was engulfing
a European woman, her husband dives in the water to
save her & is soon engulfed in the same whirlpool. 
The two drown & enter into the myth
of the village. These two will later enter my
life unexpectedly.  My boyfriend & I
are having difficulties in deciding
Indian protocol
& enter into various
discussions on this topic. His
near indifference – I am totally unaware
of the dynamics of his musical family in Holland –
is very disturbing to me. I know very little about
ego & obsession. He is the first person I have ever
lived with. At one point, gazing at him, I have the (to
me devastating) thought ‘you know this same hand that
has caressed you cld. injure you’ - this thought, once it surfaces becomes my nemesis, I am terrified of my old violence, my own capacity, even if imagined, to maim, hurt,
kill or otherwise destroy. But I am not
behaving irregularly, it is my thought
process which is disturbed.

visit the village of

Kanchipuram, my psyche is so over extended
that the rupa, on the mysterious offering trays
appear to be dancing, I have very deep feelings in this
village & later discover – I am translating a medieval poet – at
this time, that the transmission of the lineage of this poet,
began in that same village. My condition is
worsening, without my being able to
say anything to my partner.
He attempts to regulate the
situation through sensation, as we
travel to Khajurajo. In Khajurajo,
I am honestly more interested in the vivid life of the
village than in the erotic sculpture – at a certain
point however, in a hotel room, my hair catches fire.
 I am terrified, by now, of what my boyfriend’s parents
who I do not know will think of me – of the terrible
danger he is in – the zen ‘if you want to meditate
put fire to your hair,’ comes to mind, not to me,
I’ve never heard of this but to the person, 
on a bus, going to Woodstock to whom
 I am recited this tale. She is
making a documentary film on the damage
to those in combat, what about,
I say, to those who are simply
THERE & I tell my story.


This point, I decide to flee,
I leave my partner & go to Delhi where
students of Khamtruil Rimpoche, great photographers
of the North India of the late 60s & early 70s, have their
residence. They have previously lived in Bombay.




Louise Landes Levi

Louise Landes Levi is a poet/translator and musician. Recent works: The Book L (Cool Grove Press 2010), Love Cantos 1-5 (Jack in Your Box Press 2011), Crazy Louise or La Converdazione Sacra (Station Hill 2016), Where I Stand in Angel (Il Bagatto, 2018). Recent recordings: From the Ming Oracle (Sloow Tapes, 2014), Ikiru or the Wanderer (Oaken Palace, 2018) & Colloidal LOVE (Audio.Mer, 2018). Photo by Ira Cohen.


Edited for Unlikely by Jonathan Penton, Editor-in-Chief
Last revised on Thursday, June 18, 2020 - 21:03