Author Interview || Serene Rishi

Who is Serene Rishi..!!

Serene Rishi is a pen name for a tech professional based in Silicon Valley. She has worked in the San Francisco Bay Area for nearly 25 years at major companies like Google and Cisco and a few early-stage start-ups, where she honed her analytical rigor and structured thinking. She was born into a Muslim home, studied at a Catholic school, and married into a Hindu family.

Outside the corporate demands, the author maintains an avid interest in positive psychology, scientific theories of consciousness, and Western and Eastern philosophies. Her existential dilemmas as a modern-day professional seeking tranquility are reflected in her debut novel. She illuminates important connections between science and spiritual teachings for analytical minds seeking practical tools for enduring peace.

Serene Rishi’s Notable Work along publishing timelines:


My guest on the blog today is Serene Rishi, a tech professional based in Silicon Valley. Join her on soul-stirring adventures along California’s misty Pacific Coast, Copenhagen’s cafes, and Tanzania’s spice markets. Through her debut gripping spiritual fiction, Serene Rishi interweaves psychology, neuroscience, physics, and teachings from Stoic and Vedantic texts to ignite an awakening.

Be ready to savor the soulful discussion and other details, plus many more interesting exchanges of conversation that “Serene Rishi” answers for her readers. To explore more of my author interview series visit the “Meet The Authors” Section of my blog.

Let’s dive into an ingenious tête-à-tête with Serene Rishi..!!

Serene Rishi: For much of my life, I lived with a persistent sense of unease, as if something terrible was unfolding just beyond my awareness or that if I didn’t keep running, I’d miss out on something crucial or just get left behind as the world passed me by. To me, ‘Serenity‘ represents the absence of that panicked, rushed feeling. It’s the ceaseless assurance that everything is alright, that what’s meant to happen will unfold naturally, and that I will always be okay, no matter what.

I used a pen name as I felt like an impostor, putting my name on the book constructed with words that seemed to come to me, perhaps guided by the force of nature (Prakruti). While I had plenty of dry days staring at the screen and not coming up with anything, on most days the words were just pouring out of me. As for this particular pen name, “Serene Rishi,” it embodies the tranquility and wisdom I aspire to. ‘Serene’ represents the calm, untroubled state of being I strive for, while ‘Rishi’ is a nod to the ancient Indian sages renowned for their profound spiritual insights and their ability to transmit them to others.

Serene Rishi: I ultimately settled on “To Unshakable Bliss” because it most accurately encapsulates my quest for peace that remains unperturbed by external circumstances. The word ‘unshakable’suggests a deeply rooted, stable, and unwavering state of being. Bliss is a substitute for the terms “Santushti” or “Trupti.” Together, they point to a state of happiness that is not contingent upon fleeting pleasures or temporary successes but rather emerges from a profound understanding of oneself and one’s place in the world.

Throughout my journey, I sought a joy that could withstand life’s inevitable ups and downs, a contentment that could not be easily disrupted by the challenges and changes we all face. ‘Unshakable’ perfectly captures that ideal – a bliss that remains steadfast and resilient, even in the face of adversity.

Moreover, the title “To Unshakable Bliss” serves as both an invitation and a roadmap for readers. It suggests that this enduring happiness is not only possible but also attainable through the insights, practices, and perspectives shared within the book’s pages. By choosing this title, I hope to inspire readers to embark on their own journeys of self-discovery, equipped with the tools and wisdom to cultivate an unshakable sense of peace and fulfillment in their lives.

Serene Rishi: I often listen to audio recordings of mantras, and with some practice, I can recite several of them myself. You can hear me reciting them in the audiobook on Audible. I can sense the energy they create, and I feel a similar energy emerge from the Bhagavad Gita shlokas and my father’s recitation of the Quran during my childhood. The power of these beautifully constructed vibrations can calm and rejuvenate the mind and spirit. What fascinates me is how the simple explanations found in these ancient mantras, written thousands of years ago, align with many concepts that quantum mechanics is just now uncovering. The timeless wisdom contained within these texts offers an objective reality that serves as a source of solace for me, and I hope it will do the same for others who read this book.

By incorporating citations, mantras, and Upanishad references throughout the book, I aim to provide readers with direct access to these powerful sources of insight and inspiration. These references serve as a bridge between the book’s narrative and the vast body of spiritual knowledge that has guided seekers for millennia, inviting readers to explore and experience the transformative potential of these ancient scriptures for themselves.

Serene Rishi: Transitioning out from the fast-paced, high-pressure environment of Silicon Valley was not something I had planned. However, since the opportunity presented itself, I made the most of it. I decided to take a purposeful pause to examine life more closely and realign my priorities. I had thought about this book for nearly a decade, and life gave me this time to finish it.

In the short term, I have a couple more personal and family-focused projects keeping me occupied. Beyond that, the future is open and filled with possibilities. I may find myself drawn back into the technology industry or discover a different path that resonates with my evolving values and aspirations. By staying grounded in the present moment and remaining receptive to chance encounters, I believe I’ll be better equipped to navigate whatever challenges and opportunities lie ahead, whether in the tech world or beyond.

Serene Rishi: Evidence and experimentation are critical learning tools. In today’s world, spirituality has often become synonymous with religion, which typically requires faith. What if you do not have faith? How do you pursue spirituality? Without the ability to question, reason, and apply logic, it would be difficult for me to understand and internalize spiritual concepts. Without understanding, these ideas cannot be fully accepted or applied to one’s life. Most skeptical people can only make a small leap of faith; reason needs to pave the remaining path.

This is where scientific research, which is based on evidence that can be examined and verified, comes into play. By connecting spirituality with science, we create a more sustainable foundation for what we decide to believe in. When the storms of life threaten to blow out the candles of faith, what do you hold on to? No matter how shaken our faith may become, we can always hold on to empirical evidence and the principles we have derived from a systematic examination of that evidence. Would you agree?

Q. You spoke about Prakruti/Nature in your book. How do you pull out your daily motivation from nature?

Serene Rishi: I am sure most people look at the wonders of nature and feel a sense of awe, both on a global scale and in their immediate surroundings. For me, the concept of Prakruti from the book provides a framework for recognizing that I am not the sole doer of any actions, which helps keep my ego and pride at bay. The other side of this coin is the loss of any sense of incompetency or inadequacy within oneself.

By admiring Prakruti, I have developed a greater sense of self-respect. My self-talk, which was once filled with criticism, has given way to more self-discipline and appreciation for the wonders that every mind, body, and intellect is capable of achieving. This shift in perspective allows me to see my actions as a part of a larger, interconnected web of natural forces. I feel liberated from the burden of self-judgment and more inspired to embrace my full potential. By aligning myself with the wisdom and beauty of nature, I find the courage to face challenges with greater resilience and compassion, both for myself and others.

Serene Rishi: One day, taken in by the profoundness of the Upanishads, I fantasized about what it would have been like to sit in front of a guru and gain knowledge from them. Most Upanishads (Mandukya is an exception) that I have encountered are written in a Q&A style, starting with a question from the seeker, followed by inspiring responses from the Guru. I wondered what it would be like to be among these enlightened poets. Then it occurred to me that I would probably never have had the chance to read these scriptures if I were born in those times.

In the past, one would most likely have to be “qualified,” male, and willing to give up family responsibilities to have access to a Guru’s teachings. I am so grateful for these modern times, where scriptures, translations, Sanskrit dictionaries, and countless other resources are readily available for anyone who has questions.

My definition of a Guru is anyone who has answers to my many questions, with all the necessary content that can withstand scrutiny and deeper investigation. In that sense, I have several Gurus who have enabled my journey, providing me with the knowledge and guidance I seek. Additionally, there are everyday life Gurus – the ones who present us with challenges, criticism, or other disruptions that lead to personal growth and self-discovery. These Gurus may not always be pleasant, but they play an essential role in our spiritual development by pushing us out of our comfort zones and forcing us to confront our limitations.

Serene Rishi: My target readers are anyone who seeks an unshakable state of contentment. The spiritual journey is a personal one, and there are different takeaways based on the stage a reader is in. For those just beginning to become seekers, the book offers evidence of why the material world often fails to satisfy us. The evidence is meant to make the known fact more sticky for the times in our lives when we need to remember.

As readers progress, they may take away a set of tools and techniques to cultivate detachment and gain a deeper understanding of the self. Throughout the book, several analogies and explanations offer ways to shift one’s perspective from the material world to the awareness within. These insights can help readers develop a more expansive view of reality and their place in it.

I hope that “To Unshakable Bliss” is a book that readers will keep coming back to as they evolve in their spiritual journey. The takeaways will continue to deepen and expand as the reader grows. Whether one is just starting to question the nature of happiness or is well along the road to inner peace, I believe there is something valuable to be found within these pages for everyone.

Serene Rishi: The book cover was drawn by me in my diary several years ago, next to my translation of “Nirvana Shatakam” Initially, I was planning to use one of my paint pours for the book cover, but then something reminded me of this picture I had created, and it seemed fitting. I think there is a story in Mundaka Upanishad which features two birds. The lower bird eats the fruits of the tree, sometimes happy with a sweet fruit and sometimes thrown back by a bitter one. It sees another bird on the top branch that seems content. As the story unfolds, the lower bird eventually reaches the top, only to realize that there were never two birds – there was only one all along.

In the book cover artwork, the woman at the bottom left is spreading her arms to embrace the goddess resembling Lord Shiva. The picture depicts the journey of the jiva (individual soul) as it comes to recognize its true nature as Shiva (the divine). The artwork signifies the divinity within each of us and the path to realizing our inherent oneness with the ultimate reality.

Serene Rishi: I hope to write other books if I get the opportunity. There are so many more aspects of what I have discussed briefly in “To Unshakable Bliss” that it may require several more books to examine these topics fully.

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Kiran K Adharapuram

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