Tuesday, November 17, 2015

From ‘Through Brown Eyes’ by Prafulla Mohanti

[went to England in 1960]

I was disappointed by Buckingham Palace. I was expecting something spectacular. The kings, queens, and emperors of ancient India lived in magnificent palaces and I could not imagine how the Queen of the British Empire could live in such an insignificant building.

When I saw Tom and his mother entering the kitchen with their shoes on I thought it was unhygienic.
Later I saw dogs sleeping in kitchens. In my village the kitchen is the most sacred place in the house; it is where the ancestors live. Nobody is allowed to enter it without having a bath and putting clean clothes on. Dogs are not kept as pets and when a stray dog came into our kitchen my mother said all the food, including the clay pots, was polluted and had to be thrown away.

His secretary brought us coffee. While drinking it he said, ‘We have employed Indian architects before, but never black architects. We don’t want to offend our South African clients.’ Later on, when I moved around London, I saw notices in estate agents windows: ‘No blacks, no Irish, no children, no dogs.’
I was amazed that educated professional people could have such views and express them openly. The architect was honored by the Government for his contribution to religious architecture.

I never saw the famous architect. He was guarded by his secretary who was in her fifties and unmarried. She was extremely bossy and ordered everybody about. ‘That’s the trouble with old spinsters’. Tony used to say. Indian women were always kind and affectionate, particularly to men and those younger than themselves. …….This office was also managed by a middle-aged spinster who was bossy. I thought all the architects’ offices in London had secretaries who were bossy spinsters.

I knew I was being paid less than English architects doing the same work. Other Indian architects working in London told me of their experiences, which were similar to mine.

When I was a boy I was told that Muslims ate beef; so a villager would never knowingly sell a cow to a Muslim.

It was a strange experience to live in a block of flats and not know the neighbours….. Sometimes I met people in the lift and wished them ‘Good morning’ ….but that was all. Tom told me it was the English custom to respect another person’s privacy. In my village, life was intimate and everybody knew each other. The doors were never closed. Neighbours came in and out without warning and were always welcomed.

….it was difficult for me to understand the British mind. Travelling….by train I watched people hiding their faces behind newspapers. They rarely talked to each other….

I found that many did not even look after their own parents who were old and helpless. In India it is the duty of the children to look after their parents and old relatives. While serving a meal my mother always gave food to the old relatives and children first and ate whatever was left over. The old never felt isolated. They lived with their families and contributed to the happiness of the house.

I had come to England to study modern architecture but I had found nothing but apathy. People were more interested in antiquities and old buildings. Architects lacked vision and new ideas and the public showed little interest in their environment….ugly buildings went up everywhere.

…….Amsterdam …..I wished him ‘Good morning’ and smiled back. It was a refreshing change from England where I seldom saw people smiling. When I looked at somebody in England and smiled I usually received a frown back.

Had he really meant to invite me? I thought of my experience in England where people often said things they did not mean.

I soon discovered that the Germans liked England and the English language. I did not hear any adverse comment about England. I could not understand why there was a kind of campaign against Germany in England.

There were long conversations in German. I noticed an air of formality mixed with the friendship, which I had not seen in England.

When I reached Florence I understood why the officer had given me special attention. In Italy architects were highly respected.

….train to Rome. It was like being in India again. The compartments were crowded with friendly passengers, talking, laughing, gesticulating, and sharing food with each other.

….Italian. I soon learned a few useful phrases and I found it came more naturally to me than German.

Rome …..a fundamental difference between temples and churches. The inside of a temple is simple, without carvings and paintings. The deity is the sole attraction. The external walls are carved with figures depicting all aspects of life, and crowds of pilgrims go round looking at them after worshipping the deity. In contrast, the interior of St Peter’s was like a museum, richly decorated with stone carvings and paintings of religious scenes. In India the pilgrims are all worshippers. In St Peter’s the constant stream of sightseers who had not come to worship disturbed the atmosphere of peace. ……I noticed office workers waving at me from the balconies….my friend …..said, ‘Italians think it is lucky to see an Indian; it is such a rare sight for them.’ In England people hid their curiosity. It was not considered polite to ask questions, I was told.

While looking at museums and churches I saw many English tourists. They looked clumsy beside the graceful Italians.

…..a room of my own in Leeds. ….I felt alone and lonely…..suspended in a space where I thought people were hostile to strangers. I missed my village and my parents and their love. For the first time I realized what love really meant. I received so much of it in my village that I had taken it for granted. The expression of love is natural in India.

In my village people turn up at any time of the day or night and are always welcomed. Problems are discussed openly with each other and there is always someone to listen and sympathize. This helps to reduce tension and mental anxiety.

The babies in my village are massaged every day with a mixture of turmeric paste and castor oil and bathed in a bowl of water, warmed in the sun. The turmeric paste keeps the skin soft and protects it from heat and infection. Men and women used it regularly but now it is considered old-fashioned.

The non-British staff worked hard but were made to feel like beggars, with no right to expect justice. I found the incidents disturbing because in India it is taken for granted that the British are just, honest and fair.

When he was interviewed for a trainee course in financial management the interviewing officer explained to him that white workers would not like to work under a coloured officer…. ….he saw white officers of his rank, who came after him, promoted to positions of responsibility while he was passed over. ….It became apparent to him that he could not expect justice and fair play in the civil service. There were two nations and he belonged to the wrong one.

There is a saying in my village, ‘If the protector becomes the oppressor, even God cannot help.’

From ‘Short Takes, Long Memories’ by Sharmila Kamat and Prabhakar Kamat

Three o’clock is always too late or too early for anything you want to do.

Keeping the front door of your home closed and bolted during the day was a no-no, bordering on impropriety. To do so signaled that you did not trust your neighbours and lacked faith in your community.

Being the preferred setting for social meet ‘n’ greets, the cafeterias adhered to the rules of engagement as decreed by Goan society. A customer was not just a client, he (and it was usually he, women rarely went to the eating-houses) was a Hindu, Christian or Muslim as well. The food served was the same. The service provided uniformly solicitous. The cutlery, however, changed as per the religious persuasion.
The man entering the teahouse…..The owner and his little army of servers were adept at figuring out their customer’s religious affiliation with a mere glance….
Even before the client was seated, the waiter stationed at the entrance would call out, ‘Ek safed’ if he was a Hindu, ‘Ek fancy’ if Christian or ‘Ek fulawar’ if Muslim ….In all the years that I ate at the cafeterias, the waiters rarely, if ever, got the appellations wrong.
At the back of these establishments ……would be three separate piles of cups, saucers and dishes, for use by the three different communities….
In the event that they ran out of ‘fancy’, the next Christian walking in had to wait awhile, till one of the co-religionists finished his meal. The proprietor would not dream of fobbing off a ‘fancy’ with savouries from a ‘fulawar’ plate …….

Some things never change – like the Goan’s love for fish. In Goa, no meal is complete without the mandatory hooman and rice. ….Besides fish, we ate a variety of meats – goat, rabbit and birds – all of which were classified under that all-encompassing name – mutton. Most Hindus avoided pork or chicken. Beef, of course, was taboo.

K is for Kenghis Khan. He was a very nice person. History has no record of him. There is a moral in that, somewhere.

History teaches us that men and nations behave wisely once they have exhausted all other alternatives.
-          ABBA EBAN

The first condition of understanding a foreign country is to smell it.

Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.

If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn’t. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn’t be. And what it wouldn’t be, it would. You see?
-          LEWIS CARROLL

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Thoughts … … …

….as Martina Navratilova once remarked, ‘What matters,’ she said, ‘isn’t how well you play when you’re playing well. What matters is how well you play when you’re playing badly.’

It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change
-          - Charles Darwin

We should call every truth false which was not accompanied by at least one laugh
-          - Nietzsche’s Zarathustra

Forget the past and lose an eye; dwell on the past and lose both eyes
-         -  Russian proverb

There is nothing other than thought inside of you. And when that comes to an end, all this search will be over.
-          - U G Krishnamurti

Nothing becomes God as much as stillness
-         - Meister Eckhardt

If the sun and moon should doubt, they’d immediately go out
-         - Blake

Wont you let me know
that life is eternal
and love immortal
and death is only a horizon…
And a horizon is nothing
save the limit of our sight.

The path to wisdom is not in seeing new vistas, but in having new eyes
-          - Proust

Earth has no sorrow
That heaven cannot heal

-          THOMAS MOORE

From ‘Pilgrim of Love. The Life and Teachings of Swami Kripalu’ Edited by Atma Jo Ann Levitt

…..I have not paid close attention to astrology, although I have great respect for its workings.

In the yoga tradition there are certain guidelines to help you. If you want to keep up your health, fast on water at least one day a week. If you cant do that, then take only juice. If that’s not possible, then drink milk. And if that’s difficult, take one fruit with the milk. If you cant do that, then eat one moderate meal during the day………

…I’ve come to the conclusion that the best thing to do is to eat only one meal a day.

….head of the Dvarka Temple …..said: “Once I wondered why the twelve shrines were called jyotirlingas and what was so unusual about them. On investigating, I found that only those lingas made from meteors are called jyotirlingas”

….the word upvas, or fasting, means ‘to sit near or dwell close to the Lord.’

The meaning of the word sat is God. The word sanga means “having an attachment to, or a liking for.”

After many years of sadhana, energy patterns change in the yogi, and there’s no longer great disturbance through sexual urges. Those who reach that state of consciousness are considered to be great masters and are called urdvaretas. Dadaji, my Guru, was urdvaretas and reached the highest.
When one becomes urdvaretas, the semen or body fluids are transformed. That’s the beginning of a complex process of attaining whats called the divine body. Just as in the child’s body, the production of sexual energy mixes directly with the blood, in that state the yogi becomes childlike and his semen so superfine that it immediately mixes with his blood. So the downward passage of sexual energies is closed off, and the sex center itself becomes transformed. When that happens there is so much power in a person’s eyes that his eyes alone can remove the lust of others.
This process works in the same way for women as it does for men.

Also fast one day a week on fruit juice, whey, or green mung bean broth.

If a person practices true moderation in diet, there is no need for fasting.

The texts mention that a sadhak should continuously practice sahit kumbhaka until he’s able to master keval kumbhaka….. sahit kumbhaka means “interrupted holding” such as in anuloma vilom. One practices sahit kumbhaka until keval or kevalam kumbhaka is achieved. Kevalam means “only retention,” in which there’s as much as three hours between one inhalation and the next exhalation.

In every branch of sanatana dharma, kundalini shaktipat initiation can be given to the disciple by sight, by word, by touch, or by the guru’s will. ….. If someone considers a great yogi to be his guru and cannot reach him physically, with his faith, he can still receive initiation and his kundalini will be awakened.

If a sadhak cannot recognize and understand the meaning of awakened kundalini experiences, they may frighten him. Shocked by the unruly nature of kundalini, most people give up. However, those fortunate to have the guru’s guidance will be able to persevere. They will understand that whats happening to them is part of a deep purification and initiatory process and will have enough faith and steadfastness to move through the difficulties. ….Kundalini works in the most unusual ways. It can be violent or unpredictable as it carries out its work of purification.

My guru once said. “Your boat should be in the water, but without water in your boat.” In other words, be in the world, but drop worldly impressions.

From ‘The Happening of a Guru. A biography of Ramesh S. Balsekar’ by Yogi Impressions

Swadeshe Pujyatey Rajan
Vidwaan Sarvatra Pujyatey
-          Arthashastra, Ch. VI

(“The King is worshipped
in his own land,
but the man of wisdom
is worshipped everywhere.”)

    1. I sometimes look out on the road and see something happening – a car being parked, and there is a realization that a spontaneous reaction happens: A job well done or badly done. There is a very clear realization that the reaction is a purely spontaneous one in the body-mind organism according to the programming and not ‘my’ reaction.

    3. While I go through the motions of daily routine in life, there is a very distinct feeling deeper down of an eternal Presence against the background of which life flows in the daily routine, including the natural, biological, spontaneous reactions in the body-mind organism

….4. I have found myself gradually avoiding unnecessary journeys and even unnecessary action – both physical and mental – and preferring to stay put. Also, gradually, small talk and social gossip ceased to interest me: I read less and less of fiction, and finally ceased reading it altogether. Winning an argument no longer seems relevant or important. And, most interestingly, day dreaming and conceptualizing about odd matters just never seems to happen. If daily living offers something to witness, witnessing happens; otherwise I seem to sit or lie down or walk about in a state of what I would call non-witnessing, when the mind is all but totally silent, and there is nothing to witness.

….9. The total, unqualified acceptance of non-doership has resulted in the total cessation of all conceptualizing about terms like attachment and detachment, renunciation and acceptance.

….10. The occasional, sudden realization that the absence of conceptualizing and objectivizing is itself the natural state of the eternal Presence, brings about an emotion of utter humility and deepest gratitude in that moment.

….14. With the experience of life being lived by itself, it seems amazing how easily each problem seems to resolve itself, allowing each dilemma to arrive spontaneously at its natural solution. ‘Me’ and ‘other’ actually turn out to be just different perceptions.

….16. With the total acceptance of non-doership – everything is a happening, and not the doing by anybody – it has actually been my experience that I no longer look at the other person as a potential danger and, if I am hurt, it can only be because it was my destiny – according to the Cosmic Law – to be hurt, and that the ‘other’ (whoever it is) was merely the instrument through which it had to happen.

….21. Quite some time ago, a sudden thought hit me with great impact: it is downright stupid for anyone to try to appear wiser than he is, or more handsome than he is, or better in any sense than he really is. No one is perfect in this world; acceptance is so much easier than hypocrisy, being natural so much easier than pretension.

….Chuang-Tzu: “Where can I find a man who has forgotten words? I’d like to have a word with him.”

…..what one finally wants is harmonious stillness.

…the constant feeling in me is that I am Consciousness functioning through the object as a separate entity. Therefore, I cannot commit a sin, I cannot commit a mistake. Everything is precisely what is supposed to be, the way it is.

From ‘Mother of All’ by Richard Schiffman

Since I had come all the way from a distant country, he allowed, perhaps an exception could be made in my case. It was the same gratuitous hospitality to foreigners which I had come across so many times before in India

The words of the Hindu Bible, the Bhagavad Gita, came to mind: “Beyond hope, beyond fear … the steadfast sage.” Just sitting and watching, something of Amma’s settled pace worked on the mind like a balm. It was easy to understand why the Hindu scriptures say that at the feet of the sage the devotee finds a true haven. Here I felt sheltered, secure.

….Ramana Maharshi, has explained: “Non-action is unceasing activity. The sage is characterized by eternal and intense activity. His stillness is like the apparent stillness of a rapidly rotating top. Its speed is too quick to be followed by the eye and so it appears to be still.”

Sri Sai Baba of Shirdi ….said, “I give you what you want, so that you might come to want what I have come to give.”

…Sri Aurobindo once put it succinctly, “Great saints performed miracles; greater saints have railed at them; the greatest saints have both railed at them and performed them.”

Mother’s sayings about herself

No thought has ever troubled me. I have never tried to avoid thoughts. They come, but they never disturb me.

…..I experience pain and pleasure, attachment and bereavement just as you do. The only difference is that I don’t try to shun pain and sorrow. I abandon myself to them without the least inhibition.

It has never occurred to me that human life is higher and other forms of life are lower. Neither do I feel that all things have been created for man’s sake. Every form of life has the intelligence which is appropriate to it, not only humans. And no thing in creation is greater than any other thing. That is the glory of creation.

Divinity manifests itself in us so long as we perceive the divinity in others.

The mind that is free from all weighing and judging is itself God.

Nobody utters as many lies as I do. I speak differently to different people. I never reveal the whole truth to anybody, though I seem to. I have not given myself over to anyone. My life is unlimited; my history is limited.

Scriptures don’t create experience in us; spiritual experience, however, creates scripture. There is no necessity that I should teach only what is in scripture. There is no need for me to verify whether what I say accords with scripture. For me, experience is primary. Experience is the only true authority.

I do not teach. Morality is not acquired through hearing lectures. We cannot do as we are told. Time alone discloses what must be done. We must do whatever He causes to be done.

Anything that you do in your daily routine with attention and care is a spiritual discipline.

Brahmacharya (being a monk) is not escape from marriage. It means transcending the distinctions of sex, form and touch.
Brahmacharya means “living in Brahman.” A real Brahmachari is one who lives in Brahman and finds bliss in Brahman, which is the Self. Why should such a one look outside for external sources of happiness? Celibacy is certainly one aid among so many other aids on the spiritual path.

…….by “no mind” is meant that the feeling, “I am doing,” or “I am perceiving,” has vanished.

Who knows whether earth and stones have the capacity to think? You don’t even know my thoughts, though I am sitting next to you – so how can we speak of rocks? … In my view, nothing is lifeless.

It is not by dwelling on the ego that you can get rid of the ego. But put your mind on God, and the ego will take care of itself (that is, it will dissolve)

When your faith is not contingent upon the state of the one in whom you have faith, then the strength of your faith is what grants you protection and happiness.

All of the myriad rites, observances, sacrifices, practices, and forms of worship are but training exercises so that we may ultimately come to see god everywhere.

From ‘Being a Goan Christian. The Politics of Identity, Rift and Synthesis’ by Victor Ferrao

Raimundo Panikkar speaks of four levels of tolerance: the pragmatic, the intellectual, the ethical and the mystical. The pragmatic level could be portrayed by the statement: ‘I don’t kill you and you don’t kill me’. The intellectual level ….by the statement: ‘I don’t know something and you also do not know something so we need each other.’ The ethical level …..by the statement: ‘I am responsible for you and you are responsible for me.’ The mystical level …..by the statement: ‘you are my fulfillment and I am your fulfillment’