A Letter From Susan Carol Stone
Every self-respecting book needs a website. This one exists because of The Kosambi Intrigue, a story that burst into my life quite by surprise. Although I’d been writing for years, a historical novel had never been part of my plans, until this story tapped me on the shoulder, grabbed my heart and said, “Write!” I listened, but with resistance. What did I know about ancient Indian history and culture? What did I know about writing a novel? While I made considerable effort to overcome these deficiencies, it wasn’t effort, but love that carried me through. I fell in love with young Sati and with all the surging longings and schemes of those around him.
Although the events portrayed in The Kosambi Intrigue, both historical and imaginary, happened more than 2,500 years ago, the people enmeshed in them are so like people today. I realized I wasn’t writing about the remote past; I was writing a contemporary tale with, granted, some time-specific idiosyncrasies. Writing the story was all the more compelling because almost no one has published fiction about this era, not since Hermann Hesse wrote his beloved masterwork Siddhartha, that is.
In writing this tale, I felt I was taking up an age-old crusade against social discrimination. Sati gets a bad rap in Buddhist scriptures because he was the son of a fisherman, which means he was an outcast. I wanted to show that caste and class distinctions don’t make the person. The Buddha certainly agreed: He controversially opened his monastic order to people of all castes as well as the casteless. He even welcomed women, who in effect formed their own caste; this move was especially controversial. But rather than going into such details now, I’ll just say, I hope you read the story and it finds its way into your heart as it has in mine.
Since you have kindly read along with me this far, I want to share with you another love: teaching the Dharma. These days in the West, “Dharma” usually refers to the Buddha’s teachings, but the term can be used more broadly to refer to teachings about the opening of awareness irrespective of tradition. These I love and gravitated toward intuitively even before I knew enough to say so. This is why, after majoring in Western philosophy as an undergraduate, I rejected the whole of it—lock, stock and barrel— and returned my diploma to the chancellor of the university from which I’d just graduated, telling him that my education had been a waste of time. I had newly realized that I’d been taught a lot about fancy intellectual systems but little about the path of awareness.
And now, many years later, yes, with my undergraduate diploma back in my hands and a couple of others as well, I am blessed to be able to share my love for the path of awareness, a path that is in no way dependent upon diplomas. I teach at my meditation group, the Insight Mediation Community of Charlottesville, and in other settings in Virginia and elsewhere. I also teach Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction at the University of Virginia. The “About Susan” page of the website provides more information.
And now my wish, dear reader, is that, amid the glut of information that regularly assails us, you will detect in this website the voice of “kin,” a fellow spiritual pilgrim. May your moments here encourage and affirm you as you travel your own path.