After completing her graduate studies in England, Yeukai returns home to rural Zimbabwe to a jubilant celebration rich in the cultural traditions of the Shona-speaking people. There, she receives life lessons from her beloved grandmother—a wise elder holding sacred knowledge passed down through generations.
Though impressed by her grandmother's lessons, Yeukai sets them aside to pursue a corporate career in the biotech industry in California. For years, Yeukai embraces a consumer lifestyle, pretending to live the American dream. However, the busy activities of her life—focused on chasing material delusions—hide the emotional turmoil within, until things come to a head.
In search for meaning in her life, Yeukai returns home to Zimbabwe only to be heartbroken by the devastation inflicted by AIDS, rampant corruption, and a near-collapsed economy. In despair, Yeukai turns within in search for answers in her life. And the answers start to be revealed—in the deep meaning of her grandmother's teachings and the rediscovering of her own true nature. And she begins to redefine her relationship with the world.
With poems interspersed throughout, this novel poignantly captures Yeukai's triumphant journey to the realization that a life of purpose is truly possible if we allow ourselves to be guided by mystic powers.
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About the Author
Read an Excerpt
The buzz from my phone's alarm clock woke me at five a.m., same as every day. I reached over the bedside table and grabbed my phone, silencing the alarm. I peeled the bed covers away and climbed out of bed. Lazily, I stretched my body, arms extended outward, back slightly arched. Then I shuffled into the bathroom. After a quick shower, I dressed and came down the stairs to my living room. I walked to the big bay window opposite the staircase and opened the blinds, letting in the gentle morning light. I then sat in my favorite chair for my morning meditation. Meditation has become a daily practice for me. I meditate once in the morning and again toward the end of the day. This morning, my mbuya (grandmother) appeared to me in a vision that came toward the end of my meditation session.
I began this morning's meditation by setting an intention to sit in communion with Source and to rest in its love. I didn't sit to ask for anything or to surrender any challenges in my life to Source. I sat to give myself time to appreciate Source and to receive appreciation from it. For I have come to know that this short time I spend in Source nourishes and sustains me as I go about my day.
I closed my eyes and focused my attention on my breath, to quiet my mind, calm my emotions, and relax my body. I followed the breath as it gently came into my body and gently left my body. After several breaths, I focused my attention on my heart space in the middle of my chest. Within a few moments, I experienced a familiar perceptible shift. The experience felt like slowly diving into a deep bottomless hole in my heart space and simultaneously expanding outward beyond my body, beyond my mind, beyond the room, beyond the house, beyond the sky, beyond the earth, into a vast empty space. I felt myself floating in a void with no objects or life forms in sight, enveloped in complete silence, utter stillness, and deep peace.
I felt like I was cradled in the warm embrace of an invisible being. I felt protected, safe, and secure. I surrendered into the warm embrace, relinquishing the feeling of a personal existence for a while.
As my awareness started coming back into my mind, I caught a glimpse of an image that started as a blur in the distance and then slowly moved closer into focus. I saw myself in the image. I was sitting beside a gently flowing stream. The gurgling sound of water tumbling over pebbles combined with the sweet chirping of birds in the distance added to the tranquility of the surroundings. When I looked across the stream, I saw nothing at first. As I peered closer, something began to emerge, first a stirring and then a blurry image that eventually materialized into an old woman. I instantly recognized the old woman; it was my grandmother, my father's mother. She was gesturing with her arm, asking me to join her on the other side of the stream. I immediately rose and floated across the stream. My grandmother offered me her hand, and when I took it, she led me into a deep forest.
This is the point where the vision ended and I slowly became aware of my body sitting on the chair in my living room. I said a short prayer of gratitude and appreciation for what had transpired and for what was to come during the day, and then I slowly opened my eyes. Glancing at the clock on the wall, I realized that time had passed. I rose from the chair and walked across my living room, past the kitchen, and through the French doors leading to a stone patio and my backyard. Then I settled on this wooden bench by the edge of the patio, where I am sitting right now as I recount my story to you this Saturday morning.
It is a gorgeous Southern California spring day. The breeze is light and crisp, and I can smell citrus blossoms from the orange trees that form a privacy wall on the north side of my yard. Clusters of brilliant white blossoms peek through the lush green foliage on the trees.
I live in a small town about forty-five minutes from downtown San Diego going north on Interstate 15. Being inland, the weather is perfect for growing fruit trees and vegetables. I have many fruit trees in my backyard, and I have a garden where I grow most of the vegetables I need for my kitchen year-round.
This is the third time that my grandmother has appeared to me in a vision at the end of a meditation session. The first time I had this vision, it ended as I recognized the old woman who appeared across the stream as my grandmother. The second time, I recognized my grandmother and saw that she was beckoning for me to cross the stream. I tried to get up and cross the stream, but for some reason I wasn't able to rise from where I was sitting. In today's vision, I finally rose and floated across the stream to join my grandmother on the other side. Together, we walked into the forest.
I am not sure why my grandmother has been appearing in my visions recently, but I suspect it may have something to do with the landmark date of December 21, 2012, that has just passed. According to the ancient Mayan people, a catastrophic event was supposed to end our physical world as we know it on this particular date. For months prior, news about the end of the world was everywhere — on TV, the radio, and the Internet. However, December 21 came and went with no incident, and life continued as usual. The only changes I have noticed in my own life are these recurring visions of my grandmother, which started on the morning of December 21 — the very day that disaster was supposed to strike. The second vision came in mid-February, and here we are in mid-March of 2013.
My grandmother died nearly twenty years ago. She was known to most people as Mbuya Debwe, but in the family we simply called her Mbuya (Grandma).
Grandma was the deep and silent type. She only spoke when spoken to, and she only gave her opinion when asked. But the words that came from her in those rare moments she chose to speak revealed profound wisdom. Sadly, not many of us were ready for what she had to say in her time.
Now gone with her is the sacred knowledge she had carried in silence — the wisdom I had glimpsed on a rare occasion that turned out to be the last time I spent with her. I clearly remember those particular few days I spent in her company. I remember her soft, wistful gaze as she stared at the distant horizon. I remember her gentle, knowing smile that revealed the lone tooth in her mouth. I remember her wise, loving eyes that twinkled when she had something important to say. I remember her lyrical voice. And most of all, I remember the life lessons she shared with me — the lessons about the origin of human beings and everything in creation.
Grandma said human beings and all that is in creation originate from a source that is like a bubbling spring with innumerable spouts that simultaneously spew life into the world. She called this origin Mavambo (Source).
I will now tell you about Source, because this is the one thing I would love for you to walk away with from the story I am about to share. I consider the lessons about Source to be the most valuable piece of wisdom that my grandmother passed on to me — really, the most valuable piece of wisdom that anyone has ever passed on to me. In my opinion, this wisdom holds the secret of life here on earth.
That is a very bold claim, you might say. Yes, it is. But please allow me a few moments to explain why I make this claim.
You see, at the level of Source, all of creation — all that is seen and unseen — is one large interconnected being. As human beings in our physical bodies, we originate from Source and disappear back into Source. Each of us arises from and is permanently connected to Source.
A unique feature of our lives as human beings is our ability to deliberately access Source and allow the life force from it to flow through us and manifest — that is, appear in a form that can be perceived — in the physical world. But not many of us are aware of our existence as a part of Source, let alone know how to deliberately access it and allow it to fuel our lives.
Most of us go through life only aware of the physical or material world. This is the world of the human body — as flesh, blood, and bone — and the physical forms and material objects that we as human beings interact with on a daily basis during our lifetimes. We limit ourselves to what we experience with our five physical senses — what we see with our eyes, hear with our ears, smell with our noses, taste with our tongues, and feel with our skins. However, a large part of our lives exists in a realm that is not detectable by these physical senses. A large part of our lives exists in Source, in the deeper dimension called the spiritual realm. This spiritual realm is also sometimes called the nonphysical or the formlessness — to distinguish it from the world of physical forms and material objects that we discern with our physical senses.
At any given moment that we are expressing in this physical world, we arise from this nonphysical, formless Source as spirit, as a flow, as a radiant light that is our individualized soul. This light, the formless spirit that we are, is a flow of unconditional love and creative energy that is first discernible in our hearts and then flows into our human forms — our minds, our emotional energy systems, and our physical bodies.
As we move through our daily lives, we can deliberately access Source through our own hearts and allow our spirits, our souls, to flow from Source and express in the world. To do this, we first have to quiet our minds, calm our emotions, and relax our bodies, and then focus on our hearts and become aware of our souls inside our hearts. We have to become aware that we are radiant light. We have to become aware that we are spirits housed in physical bodies. Once we gain this awareness with our minds, our spirits rooted in Source flow through our hearts as the unconditional love and creative energy — the life force — into our human forms, to guide and fuel our lives. And it is this life force that holds the power and potential to manifest our hopes, our desires, and our dreams, so that we can witness them come into reality in our physical lives.
On the other hand, when we go through our lives oblivious to our spiritual nature — only aware of our physical bodies and the material objects around us — we are blind to the existence of the realm of spirit and Source. And we live our lives stumbling in darkness. We live our lives not knowing that we have the creative power to manifest our hopes, desires, and dreams. And, for the most part, our hopes, desires, and dreams go unfulfilled.
Human beings who are aware of their eternal connection to Source are said to have awakened or to have attained a state of consciousness or to have come to a realization of their fundamental nature. Those who have not yet gained an awareness of their true nature as spiritual beings are said to be unawake or to be living in a state of unconsciousness or to be unrealized.
Various practices can be used to cultivate an awareness of our spiritual nature and access Source in any given moment, under any given circumstance. Meditation is one such practice, which is why I make meditation a part of my daily routine.
Well! Where are my manners? Here I am already going on and on, and I haven't even introduced myself yet.
Forgive me. I have such a strong passion to share with others what I have come to know and understand about our true nature as human beings, and sometimes I lose myself and forget my manners.
My name is Yeukai. Yeukai Mandizvidza.
Yeukai is a common girl's name in my native Shona language, spoken by a large proportion of the population of Zimbabwe. Yeukai means "remember" in English. This name is usually given in the context of a family that is being urged to remember something of specific importance to their situation or history. Perhaps they are urged to remember to be thankful for the joys of past good times or to remember to connect to the spirits of deceased ancestors (vadzimu) who protect the living every single day. As is often the case with Shona names, one usually has to inquire about the family's situation and history to understand the contextual meaning of Yeukai. I didn't even know the real reason why I was given the name Yeukai until I was in my late twenties. That piece of information came to me as part of the life journey I want to share with you.
In retrospect, I realize that the journey I have traveled was motivated by my desire to end the suffering I was experiencing in my life. I now realize it was the chaos and confusion born out of a lack of understanding of my true nature and purpose in this physical world that caused the suffering. Because of that suffering, I started seeking answers to the most basic questions of life: Who am I? Where do I come from? Why am I here? On some intuitive level, I knew that finding the answers to these questions would bring an end to the suffering I was experiencing.
Through my journey in search of the answers to the questions of my life, I began to understand that mysticism, in the context of our human lives, is nothing more than the simple moment-to-moment awareness of our spiritual nature and the recognition that we are individualized expressions of Source flowing as spirits — as unconditional love and creative energy — into our human forms to guide the choices we make and fuel the actions we take. And in this awareness, we focus our actions on sharing our gifts with other human beings and with the world. The gifts we share can be anything that we love to do: taking care of families, teaching, singing, writing, running businesses, inventing new forms, and many such endeavors.
When we deliberately allow the life force from Source to flow through us as we share our gifts and serve others, we are fulfilling our purpose for passing through this physical dimension that we call the world. Then we are doing what we came to do here on earth.
It is that simple!
Yet it seems to be the most difficult thing to grasp, because not many among us understand this very simple tenet of life here on earth. As such, many people continue to live in the dark as it were.
I came to know about Source and my true nature as a human being through the life lessons I received from my grandmother, and my knowledge continues to deepen as I journey through my life. My life has gone through several transitions, all of which, I believe, have been catalysts for my spiritual growth.
Born in the mid-sixties, I grew up in a small rural area in what was then British-colonized Rhodesia, which is now Zimbabwe. I was a budding teenager at the height of the so called Bush War. This was the liberation struggle that eventually ended colonialism and white supremacy in my country, and in 1980 ushered in an independent Zimbabwe that has been ruled by a black-majority government ever since.
I was brought up a Catholic and received all my early formal education at Catholic mission schools, where I completed my primary and secondary education. I then obtained a bachelor's degree in a science discipline at the local university in Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe. After that, I left my country to study for a doctorate degree at a university in England. I finally came to California where I have lived for nearly twenty years. Initially, I came to the United States to work as an academic research scientist at a university, but I soon joined the workforce of the biotechnology industry as it was booming in the mid-nineties.
My early Catholic upbringing within the missionary system offered me an opportunity to receive a wonderful education that opened numerous doors in my life, and for that I am grateful. Yet the religious lessons taught to me within the missionary system at that time left me believing in a God who dwelled in the sky somewhere, judging, passing out sentences, and punishing us human beings — the sinners. The punishment, as my young and impressionable mind understood it then, was living a life of strife and struggle on this earth, followed by a life of eternal burning in hell when we die. Not much of a life to look forward to, I often thought.
It was in my late twenties, just after I completed graduate studies, that I was first exposed to the true nature of our lives. This is when I spent time with my grandmother and when she, in her kind and humble way, had introduced me to Source — the well from which all creation arises.
Through her lessons, I came to know that the entity my grandmother called Source was the same entity the missionaries had introduced to me as God. But there was a difference between the teachings. The missionaries had taught me about a God I had to fear, and who was waiting to punish me for my sins. On the other hand, my grandmother introduced me to the entity of Source as a loving, caring, nurturing, forgiving, healing, and harmonizing life force behind all of creation. She taught me about Source as the architect of all creation, the Presence found in all forms seen and unseen.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Lessons from My Grandmother"
Copyright © 2018 MARTHA MUTOMBA.
Excerpted by permission of Morgan James Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Our Connection to Source,
Every Life is a Guided Journey,
We Are Here to Co-Create with Source,
Returning to Love,
Forgiveness is the Key to a Life of Peace and Abundance,
Living the American Dream,
Gone Are the Wise,
Remembering the Heart,
Facing and Releasing the False Self,
Rebuilding Character to Be a Vessel for Source,
Finding Your Passion and Making It Your Gift to the World,
Practices for Positive Change,
About the Author,
Glossary of Shona Words,