Daughter of the counterculture, Mirabai Starr was born in New York in 1961 to secular Jewish parents who rejected the patriarchy of institutionalized religion. In 1972, Mirabai’s mother, father, and her younger brother and sister uprooted from their suburban life and embarked on an extended road trip that led them through the jungles of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, where they lived for many months on an isolated Caribbean beach, and ended in the mountains of Taos, New Mexico. There, the family embraced an alternative, “back-to-the-land” lifestyle, in a communal effort to live simply and sustainably, values that remain important to Mirabai to this day. As a teenager, Mirabai lived at the Lama Foundation, an intentional spiritual community that has honored all the world’s faith traditions since its inception in 1967. This ecumenical experience became formative in the universal quality that has infused Mirabai’s work ever since. Mirabai was an adjunct professor of Philosophy and World Religions at the University of New Mexico-Taos for 20 years. Her emphasis has always been on making connections between the perennial teachings found at the heart of all the world’s spiritual paths, in an effort to promote peace and justice. Her new book is Wild Mercy: Living the Fierce and Tender Wisdom of the Women Mystics. Her commentaries on the interconnected wisdom of all traditions are lyrical and evocative. Mirabai builds bridges not only between religious traditions, but also between contemplative life and compassionate service.
David Whetstone is one of the most active sitarists in the United States, a shagird (disciple) of the legendary Ustad Vilayat Khan. He has collaborated and toured extensively with poets Robert Bly and Coleman Barks since 1974, appearing with them in numerous recordings and films. In 1992 David co-founded Ragamala Music and Dance Theater and created the repertoire for this group until 1997, with original text, stories and music. An American Institute of Indian Studies Senior Research Fellow in 1988, David also has had training in Western classical music, having studied privately with Philip Meyers, solo hornist of the New York Philharmonic, for five years. David lives in Minneapolis, and teaches at Carleton College.