Caravan of No Despair:
A Memoir of Loss and Transformation

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About the Book

Mirabai-back-of-pickup-truck-w105On the day her first book came out-a new translation of Dark Night of the Soul by Saint John of the Cross-Mirabai Starr's daughter, Jenny, was killed in a car accident. "My spiritual life began the day my daughter died," writes Mirabai. Even with decades of spiritual practice and a deep immersion in the greatest mystical texts, she found herself utterly unprepared for "my most powerful catalyst for transformation, my fiercest and most compassionate teacher."

young-Mirabai-with-siblingsWith Caravan of No Despair, Mirabai shares an irreverent, uplifting, and intimate memoir of her extraordinary life journey. Through the many twists and turns of her life-including a tangled relationship with a charlatan-guru, her unexpected connection with the great Christian mystics, and the loss of her daughter-Mirabai finds the courage to remain open and defenseless before the mystery of the divine. "Tragedy and trauma are not guarantees for a transformational spiritual experience," writes Mirabai Starr, "but they are opportunities. They are invitations to sit in the fire and allow it to transfigure us."

About the Author

Mirabai Starr writes, speaks and leads retreats on the inter-spiritual teach­ings of the mystics.

Known for her rev­o­lu­tion­ary trans­la­tions of John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila, and Julian of Nor­wich, Mirabai ren­ders mys­ti­cal mas­ter­pieces acces­si­ble, beau­ti­ful, and rel­e­vant to a con­tem­po­rary cir­cle of seek­ers. 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, between cul­ti­vat­ing an inner rela­tion­ship with the Beloved and express­ing that inti­macy in com­mu­nity, between the trans­for­ma­tional power of loss and long­ing for the sacred.


From the moment I began Mirabai’s personal story, I could not put it down. Though every word is the truth, her journey to becoming the brilliant mystic and writer she is today is as compelling and gritty as a great piece of fiction. I honor her for sharing her life so openly and so honestly. This is a magnificent mind-body-soul trek that really does lead to God.

~ Caroline Myss, author of Anatomy of the Spirit and Sacred Contracts

This is a wonderful and extremely moving book, by far the best memoir of loss and rebirth that I have read. Mirabai Starr has given us―in the plainest and most raw and pure form―the essence of what it means to transmute extreme suffering into new life.

~ Andrew Harvey, author of The Hope: A Guide to Sacred Activism

A life-giving story with strong narrative drive and humor thrown in at exquisite moments. Fine, detailed writing. A clear-eyed journey through the grief of loss and of youth snatched away too early. Starr has created a beautiful, inspirational telling of a life that speaks to us all.

~ Natalie Goldberg, author of The True Secret of Writing

An absorbing story of love and loss, Caravan of No Despair brings the depth of a mother’s grief and healing fully to life. Mirabai’s open heart and growing wisdom shine through the telling of her own story.

~ Sharon Salzberg, author of Real Happiness

Love is a fire. Grief is a bellows that fans it to white-hot intensity. When that fire burns out, what’s left may be ashes and desolation. Or it may be the distilled incandescence of a soul. Mirabai Starr lives that inferno of grief and emerges annealed to a new alloy of spirit. She draws water from a well of love and compassion to temper the blazing sword of wisdom. She brings that wisdom―from saints like Saint John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila and Neem Karoli Baba―into immediate experience. Through her we see how one may barely begin to bear the unbearable. Mirabai’s memoir is poetry of the spirit, of a mother’s loss, and of the renewal of a heart’s connection beyond the body. She doesn’t paper over despair; she comes to terms with it. Caravan of No Despair is a rainbow tapestry of spiritual teachings from Christian mystics, Sufi poets, Buddhist monks, and Hindu gurus. Such teachings don’t end; they just keep on beginning.

~ Rameshwar Das, coauthor of Be Love Now and Polishing the Mirror (with Ram Dass)

So deep and real. Thank you, Mirabai Starr, for letting us share your journey through the darkness of despair into the open sky of love.

~ Krishna Das, bestselling chant artist and author of Chants of a Lifetime