Tuesday, December 29, 2009
At birth, we have the potential to discern all the speech sounds used around the globe: the throaty Polish dz, like a slipped j to Americans, the high-ba and low-ba pitch phonemes of Mandarin. Phonologically, in infancy “we’re citizens of the world,”……….At birth, our brains are already tuned to the prosody, the characteristic lilt, of whatever our mother’s tongue is…….For a brief period early in life, we can easily register anything anyone from anywhere says, then we cant. By six months, our ability to detect other cultures’ vowels is waning, though other cultures’ consonants remain clear for a while.
………Chinese writing fires the brain differently……..in scans, it activates both brain hemispheres, whereas English engages mostly just the left, the half where language functions generally reside
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
The less you understand the more ready you are to give reverence
- Wilhelm Reich
At the heart of this phenomenal world,
within all its changing forms
dwells the unchanging Lord,
So, go beyond the changing,
and enjoying the inner,
cease to take for your self what to others
- First stanza of Isha Upanishad
We’re all Indians first; we are all secular Indians by any definition. Irrespective of what anyone might say, we operate on a very high level of integrity – personal integrity. I’m not talking only about money, for after all, money is only one aspect of personal integrity. Lets say we have a fairly high moral standard and I think these are assets
- Arun Singh
Before you say anything censorious about anyone ask yourself three questions. Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? If the answer to any one of these is even a qualified no, you’d best be quiet
- Helen Epstein in ‘Music Talks’
Say what today wants to say and then tomorrow say what tomorrow wants to say and don’t be bothered about consistency
Truth is that whose contradictory is also true
- Zen saying
A woman, occasionally is quite a serviceable substitution for masturbation
- Karl Kraus
People with a psychological need to believe in marvels are no more prejudiced and gullible than people with a psychological need not to believe in marvels.
- Charles Fort
Friday, November 20, 2009
- Clint Eastwood
Each soul is potentially divine. The goal is to manifest this divinity within by controlling nature, external and internal. Do this by work, or worship, or psychic control, or philosophy – by one or more or all of them. This is the whole of religion. Doctrines or dogmas or rituals or books or temples are but secondary details.
- Swami Vivekananda as quoted by Paul Theroux in ‘Ghost Train to the Eastern Star’
Defeat has a dignity which noisy victory does not deserve
- Borges as quoted by Paul Theroux in ‘Ghost Train to the Eastern Star’
A great writer is, so to speak, a second government. That’s why no regime anywhere has even loved its great writers, only its minor ones
- Solzhenitsyn, in The First Circle, as quoted by Paul Theroux in ‘Ghost Train to the Eastern Star’
Next to the right to create, the right to criticize is the richest gift that liberty of thought can offer
- Nabokov as quoted by Paul Theroux in ‘Ghost Train to the Eastern Star’
When buffaloes fight, the grass gets trampled
- Burmese proverb
……’Nessun maggior dolore
che ricordarsi lempo felice
ne la miseria….’
……’There is no greater sorrow
than to recall our times off joy
- Dante’s Francesca da Rimini
A word said is a shot fired
- Uzbek saying
Ten dervishes can sleep under one blanket,
but two kings cannot find room in one clime
He was a very kind man and very sincere, with a strict devotion to his religious calling, although, like many Chinese, he had a very bad temper
- Dalai Lama
……he was over polite, which is invariably a sign of someone not to be trusted
- Dalai Lama
From ‘Never a Dull Moment. With Men of Honour and dishonour’ by R D Pradhan
A conversation between Lt. General Thorat and Jawaharlal Nehru
“You know, Thorat? You Maharashtrians are like mules. Normally you are good and docile, but when you dig your toes in, it is impossible to dislodge you.”
“Is it a bad trait when you know that you are in the right, sir?” I ventured to remark.
“Well-no,” he said, “but it’s most irritating.”
Monday, November 16, 2009
……..A state in which mind does no work, no thought arises, nothing is seen or heard, or interpreted, functions of the senses do not stir or create any activity in the mind. When the mind is so still, then the subject gets an experience, which is neither translated nor understood with reference to anything. That is an experience which gives immense joy and creates unparalleled state of pleasure which cannot be expressed in words. This state is not an attainment but an experience which is followed by understanding. This is not an outcome of any process…………….
Sunday, November 8, 2009
…..In Zen thought, even attachment to the Buddha’s “golden words” may get in the way of ultimate perception; hence the Zen expression “Kill the Buddha!” The universe itself is the scripture of Zen, for which religion is no more and no less than the apprehension of the infinite in every moment
How wondrous, how mysterious!
I carry fuel, I draw water
“All the way to Heaven is Heaven”, Saint Catherine said, and that is the very breath of Zen, which does not elevate divinity above the common miracles of every day.
O, how incomprehensible everything was, and actually sad, although it was so beautiful. One knew nothing. One lived and ran about the earth and rode through forests, and certain things looked so challenging and promising and nostalgic: a star in the evening, a blue harebell, a reed-green pond, the eye of a person or a cow. And sometimes it seemed that something never seen yet long desired was about to happen, that a veil would drop from it all; but then it passed, nothing happened, the riddle remained unsolved, the secret spell unbroken, and in the end one grew old and looking cunning……or wise…..and still one knew nothing perhaps, was still waiting and listening
- Herman Hesse ‘Narcissus and Goldmund’
Monk: What happens when the leaves are falling, and the trees are bare?
Unmon: The golden wind, revealed!
- Hegikan Roku (The Blue Cliff Records)
With the first sun rays we come down into still forest of gnarled birch and dark stiff firs. Through light filtered by the straying lichens, a silver bird flies to a cedar, fanning crimsoned wings on the sunny bark. Then it is gone, leaving behind a vague longing, a sad emptiness.
…….Tibet’s great poet-saint the Lama Milarepa……..his teaching as he prepared for death………..
All wordly pursuits have but one unavoidable and inevitable end, which is sorrow: acquisitions end in dispersion; buildings in destruction; meetings, in separation; births, in death. Knowing this, one should from the very first renounce acquisition and heaping-up, and building and meeting, and …set about realizing the Truth……Life is short, and the time of death is uncertain; so apply yourselves to meditation.
Meditation has nothing to do with contemplation of eternal questions, or of one’s own folly, or even of one’s navel, although a clearer view on all of these enigmas may result. It has nothing to do with thought of any kind – with anything at all, in fact, but intuiting the true nature of existence, which is why it has appeared, in one form or another, in almost every culture known to man. The entranced Bushman staring into the fire, the Eskimo using a sharp rock to draw an ever-deepening circle into the flat surface of a stone achievevs the same obliteration of the ego (and the same power) as the dervish or the Pueblo sacred dancer. Among Hindus and Buddhists, realization is attained through inner stillness, usually achieved through the samadhi state of sitting yoga. In Tantric practice, the student may displace the ego by filling his whole being with the real or imagined objective of his concentration; in Zen, one seeks to empty out the mind, to return it to the clear, pure stillness of a seashell or a flower petal. When body and mind are one, then the whole thing, scoured clean of intellect, emotions, and the senses, may be laid open to the experience that individual existence, ego, the “reality” of matter and phenomena are no more than fleeting and illusory arrangements of molecules. The weary self of masks and screens, defences, preconceptions, and opinions that, propped up by ideas and words, imagines itself to be some sort of entity (in a society of like entities) may suddenly fall away, dissolve into formless flux where concepts such as “death” and “life”, “time” and “space”, “past” and “future” have no meaning. There is only a pearly radiance of Emptiness, the Uncreated, without beginning, therefore without end.
……..the great sins, so the Sherpas say, are to pick wild flowers and to threaten children……..
As the hand held before the eye conceals the greatest mountain, so the little earthly life hides from the glance the enormous lights and mysteries of which the world is full, and he who can draw it away from before his eyes, as one draws away a hand, beholds the great shining of the inner worlds
- Rabbi Nachmann of Bratzlav
……….Tantric teaching: Take care, O Pilgrim, lest you discriminate against the so-called lower functions, for these, too, contain the inherent miracle of being. Did not one of the great masters attain enlightenment upon hearing the splash of his own turd into the water?
……….I remembered D’s beloved Zen expression: “No snowflake ever falls in the wrong place.”
The flower fulfils its immanence, intelligence implicit in its unfolding
There is a discipline.
The flower grows without mistakes.
A man must grow himself, until he understands the intelligence of the flower.
………..”When you are ready,” Buddhists say, “the teacher will appear.”
Friday, November 6, 2009
Lata-didi, you did it again. When work threatened to drown me in its drudgery, out of nowhere that vocal miracle swooped upon me, took me by the scruff of my neck and injected a fresh dose of life and energy into me.
Of you, Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan Saheb said ‘Kambakht kabhi besura hee nahi hotee’ (Drat it, she never goes out of tune). And that from a giant of Hindustani classical music. Addressed to a mere ‘film playback singer’.
Hundreds, thousands have offered their silent and vocal tributes to you. I can offer you nothing more precious than my tears.
Here I sit up at midnight, offering a humble IT coolie’s tribute to the eternal Lata, for whatever it is worth. Two of your songs in recent times have derailed me from my rut. And given me fresh hope……….. I attempt to provide a very flawed and puerile translation of the original lyrics for both the songs……..in the sincere hope that somebody provide me with better versions of it.
Non-desis have remarked on the fact that Indian female voices sing in a very high pitch (they screech). Doubtless they would have the same opinion of the below songs, but I don’t see any flaw in it, is it culture or cultural familiarity, I don’t know, but it touches my heart in a way very few other things, gross and subtle, do
1. Sawan Ke Jhoole Pade from ‘Jurmama’
a great blend of lyrics, tune and playback.
Saawan Ke Jhoole Pade, Tum Chale Aao
tum Chale Aao, Tum Chale Aao
aanchal Naa Chhode Meraa, Paagal Huyee Hain Pawan
ab Kyaa Karu Main Jatan Dhadake Jiyaa Jaise Panchhee Ude
dil Ne Pukaaraa Tumhe, Yaadon Ke Parades Se
aatee Hain Jo Desh Sen, Hum Us Dagar Pe Hain Kab Se Khade
jab Hum Mile The Piyaa, Tum Kitane Naadaan The
hum Kitane Anajaan The, Baalee Umareeyaan Mein Nainaa Laden
The swinging breezes of Spring and the ardent wish that you come over
…the ardent wish that you come over.
This crazed wind doesn’t let go of my anchal (the end of a sari tossed over the shoulder?)
What do I hold onto? The heart’s astir like the fluttering birds taking to the sky
The heart called for you, from the foreign land of memories
And here on the road that comes from my land, I have been waiting for you since long
When we had met my beloved, you were so naïve
and we were so ignorant, t’was adolescence when our eyes crossed paths
2. Sunya Sunya maifilit majhya
from a Marathi ‘art’ film starring another treasure of India, the late Smita Patil, the song is made more memorable by the lyrics, by Smita, by the music and by Lata…..
Sunya, Sunya, Maifilit majhya, tujhech mi geet gaat aahe
ajoonhi vatate mala, ajoonhi chand raat aahe
Kale na mi pahate kunala, kale na ha chehra kunacha
Punha punha bhaas hot aahe, tujhe hasoo aarshyat aahe
Sakhya tula bhet-til sare, tujhya ghari sur olakhiche
Ubha tujhya angani swarancha abol ha parijat aahe
In this solemn, lonely gathering of mine, I am singing your song
Again, Yet again the haunting feeling that its that moonlit night
(The state I am in) Puzzled by, whom I stare at, whose face it is
Again, yet again that ‘bhaas’ (hallucination) it’s your smile / laughter in the mirror
In This solemn, lonely gathering of mine,
Dear beloved, you will meet in your house, those familiar tunes of mine
Present in your garden, a mute jasmine of musical notes
I keep singing your song
Again, Yet again the haunting feeling that its that moonlit night
Friday, October 23, 2009
Blame it on the mucked-up Indian IT Corporate life. Does anybody have a vision on work-life balance here?...........................
Long live France!!!!!!!!!! Why???????
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Brahmacharya is a word that has been treated with utter cruelty, distortion, twisting………..God only knows what made the human beings identify it and equate it with physical celibacy. Brahma – the ultimate Reality, Brahmane – charaiveti-charaiveti-iti-brahmachari – one who lives in that ultimate reality, one who lives in the awareness of that non duality of live, one who lives in the awareness of the unity of life is a Brahmacharin…….The meaning of the word got limited to celibacy, countenance, refraining from sex life………Dedication to the awareness of Divinity, dedication to the understanding of Divinity can be possible even in a married life. Married life or sexual relationship, if it is not distorted, if it is not compulsive sex, obsessive sexuality, if it is a normal, sane, healthy part of human life, then marriage is not an obstacle, it cannot be an obstacle to the dedication to the truth of life. This is how Vimala sees it.
Let the enquiry ripen, let fearlessness prevail, let there be the willingness to offer psycho-physical life at the altar of exploration, and then the Meeting with a master is bound to happen. It is the field of happening and not doing. It is the field of humility or surrender of the ego, the sacred effortlessness of meditation.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Goans enthusiasm for their church is perhaps surprising because it was fear not faith which originally converted them. Father Alexander Valignano, a 16th century Jesuit who served as Visitor of the Province of the East Indies admitted, ‘Conversions were not commonly done by preaching and doctrine but by right methods as for example preventing idolatry or punishing by merciful rigour those who practiced it, denying them such favours as could rightly be denied and conferring such favours on the new converts, honouring, helping and protecting them so that the others might be converted with this.’
It was only when threatened by the independence movement across the border in India that the Portugese government sought allies among the Hindu community by giving them opportunities which had been almost entirely restricted to Christians.
……….Basilica of Bom Jesus, the shrine of St. Francis Xavier, revered by the Roman Catholic Church as the Apostle of the Indies and Japan and the Patron of Foreign Missions…….He regarded the Portugese government as the secular arm of the church, invited the king to establish the inquisition in Goa, and was renowned for having no interest in Indian religions or indeed any religion except his own. But attendance at the mass confirmed that he is still Goa’s most popular saint.
The Portugese did their best to dig up those Indian roots. An edict of the Inquisition published in 1736 more than 200 years after the Portugese established Christianity in Goa, prohibited specific Hindu practices creeping into Catholicism. Anointing brides and bridegrooms with a mixture of milk and coconut oil, or touching their foreheads with grains of raw rice were banned from marriage rites. After a death the walls of a house were not to be plastered with cow dung and the clothes of the dead person were not to be thrown into the river or the sea which are sacred to the Hindus……..The living were strictly prohibited from wearing ‘Hindu clothes’.
Even when the Portugese left it took the Vatican a long time to accept that the Goan church must be Indian.
……………..In Portugese Goa the church lived with caste. The higher castes were members of the confrarias, or committees which controlled the village churches. They sat in the front pews at mass and they organized and played the prominent roles in annual festivals. Upper caste families had a tradition of sending one son into the church so that they dominated the diocesan clergy too.
From ‘Empire of the Soul. Some Journeys in India’ by Paul William Roberts
In a small island near this, called Divari, the Portugese, in order to build the city, have destroyed an ancient temple…which was built with marvelous art and with ancient figures wrought to the greatest perfection, in a certain black stone, some of which remain standing, ruined and shattered, because these Portugese care nothing about them. If I can come by one of these shattered images, I will send it to your Lordship, that you may perceive how much in old times sculpture was esteemed in every part of the world.
- Andre Corsalli to Giuliano de Medici. January 6, 1516
Just like the mullahs who had marched into Goa two hundred years before with the Bahamani sultans, these Catholic clergy were prepared to go to any lengths to spread their faith. Initially they pestered the Portugese king for special powers, and then they pestered the pope to pester the king on their behalf
The first of these special powers arrived in 1540 when the viceroy received authority to “destroy all Hindu temples, not leaving a single one in any of the islands, and to confiscate the estates of these temples for the maintenance of the churches which are to be erected in their places”. Five years later, the Italian cleric Father Nicolau Lancilotto reported that “there was not a single temple to be seen on the island.” The island in question was Teeswadi………
………This Olympiad of Christianization scared the hell out of the locals, and thousands of families – particularly high-caste Hindus – fled across the river………a saying still exists in Konkani, the language of Goa: Hanv polthandi vaitam (I’m leaving for the other bank), one half of its double meaning implying to this day that a person is rejecting Christianity.
The Hindus who remained………….they continued to practice their religion in secret. More extreme methods were therefore instituted………Hindu festivities were forbidden; Hindu priests were prevented from entering Goa; makers of idols were severely punished; public jobs were given only to Christians.
…it was announced that it had become a crime for Hindus to practice their religion at all, even in the privacy of their own homes. The penalty was decreed to be the confiscation of all property. Those who informed on such crimes were to receive half the property confiscated………..Finally, in 1560, all the Brahmins who were left were simply kicked out.
………..there had been once more than two hundred temples on the islands, and although every single one had been demolished, some of the idols had been saved. These were hauled out to the dense jungles of Bicholim and Ponda, beyond the borders of Goa, and installed in new temples.
……….Since houses were frequently searched without warning, Hindus started making paper cutouts of their gods, which could be speedily destroyed if the need arose. To this day, during the great Ganesh festival…..instead of the terra-cotta idols……..the Manai Kamats of Panjim use paper silhouttes
Even those Goans who had converted still clung to aspects of their old religion. According to Richard Lannoy, Goa’s cultural historian, the chapels that can be found in most Goanese Christian homes “are direct derivations from the culture of family shrines in Hindu homes.” And the old Hindu caste system continued on, Christians who had once been from high-caste families rarely socializing with those who had belonged to lower castes. To this day, members of low and high castes almost never intermarry. Many descendants of those lofty Brahmin families who had converted even continued the traditional practice of giving annual donations to those temples that necessity had forced the Hindus to establish beyond Portugese territory…..the Miranda family of Loutulim dispatching a sack of rice and a heap of coconuts each year to the Kavalem Shanta-Durga temple. The Gomes Pereiras, pillars of Panjim society, do much the same for the Fatorpa Mahamayi temple.
………the Dominicans, who were keener about the Inquisition than the other orders were – and the other orders were hardly apathetic – took a special interest in the revertidos, the backsliders with their cutout idols and the furtive cremations. The culprits would be tracked down and burned alive. Auto-da-fe – act of faith – was the lofty title given to this inhuman practice. Far from disapproving of the burnings, the viceroy, the man who had outlawed sati, attended them in pomp and ceremony with his entire retinue
……..Far from being interested in learning the Konkani spoken by their subjects, the conquistadores swiftly set about burning everything written in the language on the off chance it might contain “precepts and doctrines of idolatry.”
……to start a reign of terror to frighten the savages into submission……..the Inquisition was headed by a judge dispatched from Portugal……..he interpreted rules he himself made up………………..Children were flogged and slowly dismembered in front of their parents, whose eyelids had been sliced off to make sure they missed nothing. Extremities were amputated carefully, so that a person could remain conscious even when all that remained was a torso and head. Male genitals were removed and burned in front of wives, breasts hacked off and vaginas penetrated by swords while husbands were forced to watch.
So notorious was the Inquisition in Portugese India that word of its horrors even reached home.
………the abominations continued until a brief respite in 1774…….the marquis of pombal…..ordered the Inquisition abolished. Four years later, he….was driven out from his office and the evil immediately resumed, continuing, almost incredibly, until June 16, 1812. At that point, British pressure put an end to the terror……
India has always been a bighearted, forgiving land……………With the death of Salazar……..and the reinstatement of parliamentary democracy in Portugal, the two nations soon became friends and equals.
Perhaps it is its brutal past that has made Goa a far more lenient and understanding place than anywhere else in India.
And though I have discarded much of past tradition and custom, and am anxious that India should rid herself of all shackles that bind and constrain her and divide her people, and suppress vast numbers of them, and prevent free development of the body and the spirit, though I seek all this, yet I do not wish to cut myself off from the past completely. I am proud of that great inheritance that has been, and is, ours, and I am conscious that I too, like all of us, am a link in that unbroken chain which goes back to the dawn of history in the immemorial past of India. That chain I would not break, for I treasure it and seek inspiration from it. And as a witness of this desire of mine and my last homage to India’s cultural inheritance, I am making this request that a handful of my ashes be thrown into the Ganges at Allahabad to be carried to the great ocean that washes India’s shore
- Jawaharlal Nehru, last will and testament
How can the mind take hold of such a country? Generations of invaders have tried, but they remain in exile
- E.M.Forster, A Passage to India
Saints explain that the soul is a drop of the Divine Ocean. Separate from her source, she has become caught in the net of illusion and has taken the mind as her companion. The mind, however, is in the grip of the senses and dances to their tune. Whatever it does under their influence, the soul has also to reap the consequences
- Maharaj Charan Singh, Spiritual Discourses
No culture on earth ascribes such power to female sexuality as the Indian. Countless myths and fables revolve around men fighting over a woman; and that greatest of all Indian epics, the Ramayana itself, unfolds from and around this theme.
In many tales the gods find themselves threatened by a mortal who has seemingly mastered his desires and now progresses up toward their immortal realm by a kind of point system of selfless achievements. Usually, the gods’ solution for this cosmic social climber is to beam down a heavenly nymph, he cannot resist. Like Olympic judges, the gods gleefully look on as some poor ascetic who’s spent his life in a lonely cave eating weeds and meditating suddenly has the equivalent of Uma Thurman in a gossamer sari draping herself over his bony old body. Even the emission of a single drop of semen is deemed a catastrophic failure, banishing him back into the communal cesspit of carnal humanity.
So long as the mind remains away from the philosopher’s stone, it remains lost and absorbed in family and friends, it is continually tossed about by the waves of lust and anger; remains engulfed in the lure of wealth and possessions, and misses the golden opportunity of cleansing and transmuting itself. The instinct of love which God granted us for devotion to Him, we dissipate in sensuous pleasures. The mind keeps us away from the goal and never uncovers the Reality which it keeps hidden. The mind is the great slayer of the Real, and a true devotee must slay the slayer.
- Maharaj Charan Singh, Spiritual Discourses
Indians are punctual and fussy eaters, incapable of missing a proper meal. They are also deeply suspicious of food cooked by others.
I saw no light save that which came from within my heart. Much as I battered my head in the mosque and looked for it in the temple
- Bahadur Shah Zafar
From the extravagant enigma of Sathya Sai Baba to the perverse and baffling actions of many Zen masters, spiritual teachers tend to defy our expectations for them. they may act in ways that can be deliberately offputting (the alcoholism of Chogyam Trungpa) or repugnantly antisocial (the cruel humor of George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff). But our own expectations for such teachers are yet more conditioned mental baggage from which their teachings are designed to liberate us. The Hindus view the playfulness of Krishna or the bloodthirsty violence of Kali as lila – a divine game.
The supreme bliss is found only by the tranquil yogi, whose passions have been stilled. His desires washed away, the yogi easily achieves union with the Eternal. He sees his Self in all beings, and all beings in his Self, for his heart is steady in Yoga.
Who sees me in all things, and all things in me, he is never far from me, and I am never far from him
- The Bhagavad Gita
India has two aspects – in one she is the householder, in the other a wandering ascetic. The former refuses to budge from the cozy nook, the latter has no home at all. I find both of these within me. I want to roam about and see all the wide world, yet I also yearn for a sheltered little nook, like a bird with its tiny nest for a dwelling and the vast sky for flight.
- Rabindranath Tagore
When a clod of earth, a stone, and gold become alike, serenity is achieved
- The Bhagavad Gita
The One God manifests Himself in two aspects so that the world may be sustained and fostered, improved and cleansed. These two – the terrible and the tender – are the characteristics found together in every single thing on earth, for are they not all parts of the selfsame God
- Sathya Sai Baba
……the point of ritual is that it is action and inaction at once – action outside time, thus timeless or meaningless, depending on how you view it. According to Hindu scriptures, its very lack of meaning is what gives it meaning – it is freed from motivations of ego, and thus is pure, selfless devotion. God likes that sort of thing.
Everywhere you looked in India, there was evidence of a past that had attained mythical heights. From philosophy to architecture, few civilizations have left such an awesome record. It was reputed to have made even the gods jealous of humanity
Great teachers, whether the Buddha or the Christ, have come, they have accepted faith, making themselves, perhaps, free from confusion and sorrow. But they have never prevented sorrow, they have never stopped confusion. Confusion goes on, sorrow goes on. If you, seeing this misery, withdraw into what is called the religious life and abandon the world, you may feel that you are joining these great teachers, but the world goes on with its chaos, its misery and destruction, the everlasting suffering of its rich and poor. So our problem, yours and mine, is whether we can step out of this misery instantaneously.
- J. Krishnamurti, The First and Last Freedom
There is no stable principle of evil in Vedic philosophy. There is no infernal realm for sinners. Its nondualism is really beyond monotheism – which creates a fundamental duality of God and man. Evil is not envisaged as a quality opposed to good. It is the absence of good, just as darkness is the absence of light, not its opposite quality.
There is no real sadness about death in Hinduism………It is part of an endless cycle. The Vedic idea that life implies death – is life’s only absolute certainty – also implies that there is no cause for grief. For death also implies life.
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Why does it take a foreigner to point out to us how uncivilized we are in our working habits. The article reproduced below is from Naomi Canton's blog
Why is India still on a six-day working week?
I was working in the office on Sunday when a journalist telephoned a contact and said in a loud voice: “I don’t want to call him on a Sunday, as I know he has a life and a family, unlike us journalists, who don’t….so….”
And it struck a chord. Why should a journalist not ‘have a life?’ In fact why should any employee not have a life? After all, we work to live, not the other way round. Don’t we? Then as I went onto my email that night, an advert flashed up on Rediffmail saying: ‘Heart attack cases in India to double by 2015. (PTI Rediffmail).’
Then I thought about the people I know in Mumbai, in a variety of professions, and everyone seems to be working weekdays, weekends, 24/7. Since when was that normal?
And it got me thinking. India, or at least, Mumbai does not understand the concept of a work-life balance.
The only people that seem to ‘have a life’ in Mumbai are the struggling actors and models who sit in Café Coffee Day all day, alongside the college students.
Where is the understanding of hobbies for employed professionals? By that I mean taking up an interest, that has nothing to do with your work, and pursuing it passionately outside work? It could be learning a foreign language, amateur theatre, gardening, script-writing, creative writing, learning about the stock market, whatever. Evening classes in the UK are packed with people doing such things. When I meet someone I want to know what else they do beyond their job.
What about married couples? How often do they see each other? It is no wonder some married people in Mumbai are having affairs.
Now, statutory maternity leave in India is three months. In the UK it is one year (nine months paid).
How can a mother possibly return to work after three months (and that is assuming she worked right up to the day she gave birth) – since she would still be breast-feeding then? Why do white-collar mothers in India have to be punished and forced to leave their careers when many have put so much into them and are very talented?
In Sweden and Norway you get 16 months paid maternity leave and in Germany, Estonia and Bulgaria, Spain you get three years unpaid leave as well.
Another problem working mums face in India is there are no qualified childminders or nannies, and crèches are not state regulated, leaving working mums with no option other than to leave their children with an unqualified maid or their in-laws.
Many countries offer paid paternity leave or the right of parents to share maternity leave.
There is also a worrying culture here of not using privileged leave and accumulating it as cash. It’s madness. Why would you not want to use your leave and go off and see the world, or at least visit your relatives and friends in other parts of India? I have been travelling since I was two and been to most countries in the world because I always avail of my leave.
Is the reason to impress the boss – that wow, you are such a loyal employee you don’t take leave? Is there a social pressure on employees not to take vacations? What an odd boss to be impressed by that? How can someone be good at their job if they never relax and never take leave…? What knowledge of the world would they have? How would they be able to “connect” with say, a foreign client? Incidentally connecting with a whole range of people, from all walks of life, is especially important for a journalist. The worst journalists, in my opinion, are those who never meet anyone, never go anywhere, just sit at their desk all day – on google.
A journalist out and about is far more likely to get stories and be able to network successfully. Who knows they might find a story on the beach in Barabados – and even if they don’t, that holiday will somehow help them grow as a person, and probably as a writer. The same applies to people in every profession. Maybe next week a businessman who went to Barbados on vacation will do business with someone from Barbados and that holiday will help create common ground.
If your job involves entertaining clients, you need knowledge of films, books, countries – otherwise how can you have interesting conversations with your clients? Who knows what business contacts you might make in the amateur drama group? Business is all about building relation ships.
The six-day working week needs to be abolished in India. Perhaps you would argue that this will lead to a slowdown and the reason the west is in decline is because they have a five day working week. But there was a time when the west boomed on a five day working week and I don’t think it is the reason for the current downturn – that can be blamed on the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the scale of credit taken in the US.
Why is a six-day working week the norm in India? I don’t know any other country where this is the case. In the rest of the world it is five days.
In India the average person works an 11 hour day six days a week = 66 hours a week !! Compare that to France where a 35 hour week is mandatory.
The Japanese are renowned workaholics and have been working themselves into the ground for decades hence the word ‘karoshi’ or death by overwork. Maybe Indian companies should look at Japan and take lessons of what not to do from them.
As for people that employ drivers, nannies and cooks for seven days, they should be ashamed of themselves. How can anyone be expected to work seven days, week in , week out? This should be made illegal.
“It is not enough to have a colourful office with balloons hanging around to ensure the work environment is stress-free,” says Sharit Bhowmick, sociologist with Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), who writes about workplace pressures.
He has a point.
The solution is that the Indian Government brings the whole nation down on to a five-day working week, as France has done, and also makes a seven day working week illegal.
Then Indian private companies should start implementing work life balance policies such as:-
- Offering childcare financial assistance and/or on-site crèches
- Giving staff free membership of a company health club
- Compelling people to take a holiday
- Flexitime – offering flexible start and finish times provided the employee works the core hours - Job share/part -time working
- Paid paternity leave
- Relocation – allowing employees to relocate to any branch in India or overseas to suit their personal circumstances e.g. if they get married
- Self managed working – employees manage their own working pattern and time to deliver outputs
- Allowing staff to work from home
- Term-time contracts – offering contractual working hours during school terms only and allowing parents not to work during school holidays
How long can we go on deluding ourselves about our 'progress'?????
Are the Murthys', Premjis', Mahindras', Ambanis', Godrejs' listening or is our 'vision' only in one direction? A giant social movement needs to stamp out this shortsightedness and barbarism in the Indian corporate environment
Saturday, August 1, 2009
……….Thinking Indians were attracted to Gandhi, but not to all sides of him. They rejected his idiosyncratic views on sex and diet. They respected his religious tolerance but wondered why he made such a show of his own personal Hindu faith. And they sensed that his economics was largely irrelevant to the contemporary world. These limitations made them turn away from Gandhi – back, perhaps, to Marx.
The writing of sketches and portraits, long or short, does not come easily to Indians. Does this, I wonder, have something to do with our dominant religion? The historian David Cannadine has written that biography is ‘the only certain form of life after death’. Perhaps in Britain, but hardly so in a land where minutes after the heart stops beating the soul transmigrates to another life form. Why pay tribute to a dead man if he has already been reborn?
……..Samar Sen recently described a Bengali intellectual to me as one who ‘At fifteen has written his first poem. At seventeen has burnt his first tram. At nineteen has joined the [Communist] Party. At twenty-one has left the Party. At twenty-three has written his last poem. At twenty-five has joined the World Bank – and at thirty has left it to rejoin the Party’
…….the affinity of the Bengali intellectual with Marxism.
The first is the consistent denigration by the British of the lack of physical prowess among the bhadralok. The Bengali, a high colonial official once remarked, ‘has the intellect of a Greek and the grit of a rabbit’. This prejudice led to Bengalis being designated a ‘non-martial race’, a characterization keenly felt by its victims. A number of historians have shown that the Bengali response to this slight took the form, on the one hand, of extolling physical exercise – as in the famous gymnasium movement of the late nineteenth century – and more strikingly so, by an adherence to political radicalism. From the nationalist terrorists of the early years of this century to the Maoist revolutionaries of the present day, the cult of violence has had a pervasive political influence in Bengal.
………….The second factor is the sense of political marginality among the Bengali elite. This dates at least to the year 1911, when the capital of British India shifted from Calcutta to New Delhi. Thereafter, the locus of the Indian freedom struggle shifted from west to east, especially with the advent of Mahatma Gandhi, a man who has not yet been forgiven in Bengal for thwarting the late challenge to his leadership of the Congress party by the Calcutta firebrand Subhas Chandra Bose. The Bengali middle class cannot reconcile itself to this loss of political power; and the rise to power of the CPI(M) must be interpreted at least in part, as an assertion of regional feeling against the political centre.
Swaminathan remarks………….’that sensation-monger and wizard of the box office’ – Richard Attenborough. For ‘Attenborough’s Ben Kingsley disguised as Gandhi is a stuffed dummy set up for floral offerings, which could equally serve and has actually been used, for target practice by the opponents of non-violence who abound in America, Iran and elsewhere. There is no Rama without Sita, Lakshmana, Hanuman and so on. [But] Attenborough’s Gandhi is a Titan among dwarfs, an eagle among sparrows, a mere caricature unrelated to reality’
‘Charismatic leaders’, he writes, ‘momentary meteors like Hitler, Mussolini and Khomeini, gain followers and lead movements by making others feel week, helpless and dependant on those towering tyrants. But as V.S.Srinivasa Sastri, Gandhi’s life-long friend and frequent opponent, used to say, “Gandhi does not want blind or timid followers; he wants clear-eyed, courageous fellow travellers”
………………’Gandhi’s literary style’, he remarks,
is a natural expression of his democratic temper. There is no conscious ornamentation, no obtrusive trick of style calling attention to itself. The style is a blend of the modern manner of an individual sharing his ideas and experiences with his readers, and the impersonal manner of the Indian tradition in which the thought is more important than the person expounding it. The sense of equality with the common man is at the mark of Gandhi’s style and the burden of his teaching. To feel and appreciate this essence of Gandhi the man, in his writings and speeches, is the best education for true democracy.
In some ways the most intense, interesting and long-running of these debates was between Gandhi and Ambedkar. Gandhi wished to save Hinduism by abolishing untouchability, whereas Ambedkar saw a solution for his people outside the fold of the dominant religion of the Indian people. Gandhi was a rural romantic, who wished to make the self-governing village the bedrock of free India; Ambedkar an admirer of city life and modern technology who dismissed the Indian village as a den of social inequity. Gandhi was a crypto-anarchist who favoured non-violent protest while being suspicious of the state; Ambedkar a steadfast constitutionalist, who worked within the state and sought solutions to social problems with the aid of the state
………….Ambedkar came to represent a dangerously subversive threat to the authoritative, and sometimes authoritarian, equation: Gandhi = Congress = Nation.
Here then is the stuff of epic drama………Recent accounts represent it as a fight between a hero and a villain, the writer’s caste position generally determining who gets cast as hero, who as villain. In truth, both figures should be seen as heroes, albeit tragic ones.
The tragedy from Gandhi’s point of view, was that his colleagues in the national movement either did not understand his concern with untouchability or even actively deplored it…………Congressmen in general thought Harijan work came in the way of an all-out effort for national freedom………… meant that Gandhi had perforce to move slowly, and in stages.
The remarkable thing is that fifty years after independence, the only politician, dead or alive, who has a truly pan-Indian appeal is B.R.Ambedkar. Where Gandhi is forgotten in his native Gujarat, and Nehru vilified in his native Kashmir, Ambedkar is worshipped in hamlets all across the land. For Dalits everywhere he is the symbol of their struggle, the scholar, theoretician and activist whose own life represented a stirring triumph over the barriers of caste.
Mrs Gandhi’s singular contribution to Indian political discourse was the idea of the ‘foreign hand.’ The nationality of this hand is difficult to establish, although one presumes it was coloured white.
……….Thompson wrote with feeling of how, despite spending years in British jails, Nehru could still befriend Englishmen: ‘One would have to go rather far back in British history to find an article of that quality: to find persons willing to undergo years of imprisonment, and to emerge with unflagging intellectual vitality and with so little bitterness.’ This was a civilized human being and, as his years in office showed, a democrat.
The Mumbai columnist C.P.Surendran has written evocatively of what Tendulkar means to this nation of losers. Every time he walks to the wicket, ‘a whole nation, tatters and all, marches with him to the battle arena. A pauper people pleading for relief, remission from the lifelong anxiety of being Indian……..seeking a moment’s liberation from their India-bondage through the exhilarating grace of one accidental bat.’
…………..there is no socialism in the US because there is no soccer in the US.
Simply put, the game of soccer is too collective, too participatory, and too democratic for the achievement and profit-oriented Americans. They like golf and tennis because these individual sports are governed by the capitalist ethic of ‘winner takes all’. They like basketball because the numbers satisfy their immodest appetites – if the Chicago Bulls win a match, it is because Michael Jordan has scored no less than 38 points.
They like baseball because in this team game the result is decided by a home run hit by a single batter or a series of no strikes thrown, again, by an individual pitcher; whereas in soccer the goal that decides the game can never be attributed solely to the striker.
………………It might be claimed that the love of American football invalidates this argument. True, this is a team sport, but with a level of physical contact and intimidation that more readily satisfies a warlike people, preparing them for real combat in the sands of Iraq or the fortress of Vietnam……….Moreover in this version of football there is a clear hierarchy. The quarterback is the boss with the brains, the running forwards the followers with brawn or speed of foot. Only one man gives the orders. We can recognize (and respect) the managing director of this firm. That the quarterback is almost always a white male only binds the game more firmly to American ideals of the successful and all-conquering society.
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
……….he [Gandhi] replied with a warm appreciation of Jesus’s religion. “But I do not mix up Christianity with many missionaries I have known,” he added, amplifying his comment with an uncompromising disparagement of the mission system.
……..[from a letter written in 1941]……on many sides in India today one hears that Gandhi is through, finished. That his era is past……..his old magic wont work anymore………..True it is that in many ways he seems old-fashioned. A surprising number of his ideas………….can be traced to reading he did in early youth. His judgements of people and institutions are highly colored by his prewar experiences in South Africa……..many youthful nationalists have gnashed their teeth at the moderation he has forced upon them……Plenty of people say they would like other leadership. But there is no individual who can command the loyalty and following of so many of the 400 million people of India as Gandhi, and everyone recognizes the fact.
……..[from a letter written in 1941]……To understand the position of Muslims in India, one must remember that their upper crust is the smashed former Mughal aristocracy of the country, and the great bulk of them are descendants of converts from the lower castes of Hinduism. The ex-rulers did not take kindly to the new order. They refused to learn the English language and the non-Persian sciences, they avoided participation in the new government long after Hindus recognized from where the cake was going to come, they held back from the modernization of their life, mental equipment, and outlook. The low-caste converts, like many Indian Christians drawn from the same levels, had no education and were not fitted to take places of leadership. The result has naturally been an academically-backward community. Because they couldn’t get their share of government posts in open competition, Muslims have had to have special places reserved for them. Whenever any new benefit was desired, they have had to ask it as a favour.
This position has bound Muslims together in a common defensive spirit of inferiority, the same feeling on a larger scale unites the whole Indian nation in respect to the British.
……..[from a letter written in March, 1947]……it is clear that the war finally took the profit out of imperialism. The re-establishment of British authority in India would have taken prodigious effort, especially as the “steel framework” of administration was badly rusted out. The weary, nearly bankrupt British victors found no taste for such a task. On the Indian side, the two-generation-old nationalist movement had risen to a new pitch as a result of the economic, social and political influences that grew out of the war. Great changes were inevitable.
…………..the first 100 days of partition would see 10 million citizens uprooted, and close to half a million killed or murdered
……..Even in political matters members of the Congress high command, his [Gandhi’s] closest allies for 30 years, sometimes disagree with the old man……………..But still they go to him……….to obtain guidance in their major problems…………Gandhi remains their guru – their teacher and counseller.
The reason is not far to seek. Wrapped in a loincloth with, perhaps, a wet cloth over his head when the weather is hot, the little man can still sense India’s pulse more keenly than most of his fellows. “The heart of India is in her villages,” he repeats constantly. And there he is most at home.
……………For Gandhi this should be a time of great rejoicing. After a lifetime’s struggle, he has seen the end of British rule. Yet he emerges as a tragic figure. He fought for freedom, and got partition. He taught nonviolence, and lived to see the bloodiest, grossest human slaughter in India’s recent history.
“This much I certainly believe,” he said……………”that August 15 should be no day for rejoicing, whilst the minorities contemplate the day with a heavy heart.”
……..[from a letter written in December, 1947]……Pakistan may be subject to bad administration and many other ills, but probably any ministry can popularize itself, at least for some years, by standing up to India. Indeed, one of the greatest dangers to Pakistan is that excited Muslim citizens may drive the country to suicide by too much aggressiveness against Indians
When about 12 million people fled from their homes during the 1947 post-partition massacres, Pakistan claims to have had to provide for more than a million beyond what it lost. But a heavy proportion of the incoming Muslims were peasants and artisans who had owned little wealth in India, while many of the Hindus and Sikhs who left Pakistan were merchants, bankers, landlords and professional men. The Indian government estimates that its nationals left behind property worth almost 10 times what Muslims forsook in India………If accepted by Pakistan, I suppose that this would stand as the largest international debt in the world.
Northern India received perhaps a million fewer refugees than Pakistan had to cope with, but it had less evacuee land on which to settle them. This was because Sikhs and Hindus fleeing from Pakistan were generally more prosperous and therefore owned more land, than the Muslim artisans and peasants who left India.
……..[from a letter written in February, 1950]……A number of Indians approve of adult franchise. Whatever it may mean in bringing illiterates into parliament and in debasing the level of political life, they argue, it is almost certain to intensify the pressures against caste and creed distinctions. If you have to depend on a hundred outcastes or Muslims for votes, you cannot indefinitely depress them between elections. Also it is felt that a broader political base, no matter how rustic, will put new vitality and challenge into politics and be the means by competition of bringing forward a new crop of vigorous men.
We crossed a river with a tragic name. One day in July ninety years ago, where the soft rain fell on the lovely meadows and low hills, in sight of the distant spires of Amiens on one side of the train and the small town of Peronne on the other, the valley of this river, the Somme, had been an amphitheatre of pure horror. On that first day of battle, 60,000 British soldiers were killed, plodding slowly because of the 60 pound packs on their backs. They advanced into German machine gun fire, the largest number of soldiers killed on one day in British history. In the four months of this bloodbath, the first battle of the Somme, which ended in November 1916, more than one million soldiers were killed – British 420,000: French 194,000; German 440,000. And to no purpose. Nothing was gained, neither land nor any military advantage, nor even a lesson in the futility of war
……..luxury is the enemy of observation, a costly indulgence that induces such a good feeling that you notice nothing. Luxury spoils and infantilizes you and prevents you from knowing the world. That is its purpose, the reason why luxury cruises and great hotels are full of fatheads who, when they express an opinion, seem as though they are from another planet. It was also my experience that one of the worst aspects of travelling with wealthy people, apart from the fact that the rich never listen, is that they constantly groused about the high cost of living – indeed, the rich usually complained of being poor.
Welcome to India and the proof that Borges once wrote, ‘India is larger than the world.’…………the country was no different from what I had seen three decades before. This prospect delighted me. It was a relief, the mildly orchestrated free-for-all of India – something of a madhouse with a touch of anarchy, yes, but an asylum in which strangers are welcome, even inquisitorial ones like me; where anything is possible, the weather is often pleasant, and the spicy food clears your sinuses. Most of India embodies Blake’s dictum that ‘Energy is eternal delight.’ All you need is a strong stomach, a little money and a tolerance for crowds. And a way of lifting your gaze upward and moving on, so that you don’t see the foreground – in India the foreground is generally horrific.
Acceptance is not an Indian trait. In India no one takes no for an answer: policemen are jeered at, authority exists to be defied, walls are erected to be defaced, and everyone is talking, often in English
Yet the country still ran, in its clunky fashion, all its mends and patches showing, and what looked like chaos in India was actually a kind of order, like furious atoms spinning
‘My aim is good service,’ he said.
It could have sounded like a cliché, but it didn’t. It was serious and sincere, and it touched me coming from this old driver who had a book and a newspaper on the front seat of his car, and who lived at the periphery of journalism, who kept up with the news. This was part of the pleasure I felt being back in India again, where everyone seemed overqualified for whatever job they were doing. Though their talk could be maddening and their demands exasperating, I loved the fluency of Indians. The crowds of people seemed worse than ever, but I was pleased to be back in the Indian stew.
The clutter and dusty pillars and uncomfortable chairs in an Indian office are no indication of its effectiveness. Out of the chaos of receipt books, carbon paper, flickering computers and fat files tied with faded ribbon arise decisiveness and clear results, even if you cant read the writing and your fingers are smudged with ink from handling them.
‘It is capacious,’ Vicky said. Another of the pleasures of India is hearing such words in casual conversation.
That evening, as if on cue, an American woman entered the lobby of my hotel with her husband, and I stepped aside to let them pass. They had just returned from a sightseeing tour of Delhi…….and the sight of many Indians who had not shared in the country’s economic miracle. Another reminder that travelling in India is not for the faint of heart, the woman’s eyes were red from weeping, and she was sniffling, dabbing at her puffy eyes. She glanced tearfully at me, then looked away, muttering, ‘I don’t care. I’m not going out tomorrow.’ Then, half actress, half sincere, but certainly upset: ‘Walter, it breaks my heart to see those people living like that.’
……….the placid and procrastinating Sinhalese were a reminder of how frenzied and loquacious the Indians had been, forever vexed and talkative
No one was fat. No one was poor. No one was badly dressed. But many Singaporeans had (so it seemed to me) the half-devil, half-child look of having been infantilized and overprotected by their unstoppably manipulative government. The entirety of Singapore’s leadership was personified by the grouchy, hard-to-please Lee Kwan Yew.
………..Singaporeans personalities reflect that of the only leader most of them have ever known, and as a result are notably abrasive, abrupt, thin-skinned, unsmiling, rude, puritanical, bossy, selfish and unspiritual. Because they cant criticize the government, they criticize each other or pick on foreigners. And in this hanging and flogging society, they openly spank their children.
………….Singaporeans are intensely aware of their living like lab rats in this huge social experiment. It seems to make them melancholic and self-conscious and defensive.
Travelling in Vietnam for an American was a lesson in humility. They had lost two million civilians and a million soldiers, and we had lost more than 58,000 men and women. They did not talk about it on a personal level, at least not in a blaming way. It was not you, they said, it was your government
The grey sprawl of Tokyo was an intimidating version of the future………….Glittering concrete slabs dwarfed crowds of purposeful people beetling back and forth, arms close to their sides, as though they’d received the same memo: Walk fast and look worried……….Bright lights but no warmth, very tidy, more a machine than a city…….
………When city-slicker utopians praise their cities I want to laugh. They whoop about museums and dinner parties, the manic diversions, the zoos, the energy of the streets, and how they can buy a pizza at three in the morning. I love to hear them competing: my big city is better than your big city! They never mention the awful crowds, the foul air, the rackety noise, the marks of weakness, marks of woe, or how a big city is never dark and never silent. And they roost like tiny featherless birds in the confinement of their high apartments, always peering down at the pavement, able to get around only by riding in the smelling back seat of a slow taxi driven by a cranky cabbie.
Tokyo was like that, a twinkling wonderland of dignified vulgarity that defeated my imagination.
………..a woman on a stool leaned at the window and beckoned to me – a prostitute, still alert and willing in the early morning. She represented a new Russian tendency: having been relieved of the burden of unsmiling dogma, they seemed restlessly preoccupied with the worst excesses of the West, not just the flesh, but money and crime, the joyless greed and promiscuity I had seen in the new China too.
Sunday, June 28, 2009
Leisure by W. H. Davies
What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare?
No time to stand beneath the boughs,
And stare as long as sheep and cows:
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass:
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night:
No time to turn at Beauty's glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance:
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began?
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
Saturday, June 27, 2009
- Nezami, an Azerbaijani poet
And once again after years I traverse your roads,
And once again I find you, the same, unchanged!
Your deadness, immobility, and senselessness.
Your fallow lands
And thatchless cottages and rotten walls.
Your squalor, foul air, boredom, the same dirt as
And the same servile gaze, now impudent, now
And although you were freed from slavery,
You do not know what to do with freedom –
you, the people…
And everything is as it once was
- Ivan Turgenev, “The Dream”
Even after all this time, the sun never says to the earth – “you owe me.”
Look what happens with a love like that. It lights the whole sky.
“The shot will only go smoothly when it takes the archer himself by surprise…….U mustn’t open the right hand on purpose”
- Eugen Herrigel on learning Zen archery
We were afraid even to take a deep breath, lest we set off an explosion
“Hows life?” I ask the most banal and idiotic question, just to keep the conversation going somehow.
The granny straightens up, leans her hands on the broom handle, looks at me, smiles even, “Kak zyviom?” she repeats thoughtfully, and then in a voice full of pride and determination and suffering and joy she offers in reply what is the crux of the Russian philosophy of life – “Dyshym!” (We breathe!)
Stalin ordered a road built between Yakutsk and Magadan [[ in Siberia ]]. Two thousand kilometers across the taiga and the permafrost. They started building it simultaneously from both ends. Summer came, thaws, the permafrost melted, water underran the soil, turned the road into a quagmire, it drowned. Together will the road drowned the prisnors who worked on it. Stalin ordered the work to start anew. But it ended the same way. Once again, he commanded. The two ends of the road never met, but their builders perhaps met in heaven.
From ‘Extraordinary knowing. Science, skepticism and the inexplicable powers of the human mind’ by Elisabeth Lloyd Mayer, Ph.D
Maybe 75 percent of the process lies in getting empty enough to watch the different inputs of my mind. I follow my abdominal breath until thoughts and feelings recede. The emptiness feels very nourishing, very soft and intimate. You lose awareness of the room, your body, your face. That all goes, but there’s a separate awareness that stays. I need time to get empty, so I’m not anticipating, not resisting anything that wants to appear, before I focus on anything. Otherwise I get confused about where I am inside and can’t tell the difference between an accurate impression and my own fantasy projections.
Once you’re internalized, you establish a focal object, not trying for anything. The focal object is an imagined representation of whatever you need to contact. It could be a meditation symbol that you want to unite with, or an inner picture of some real-world event. You focus, then wait. You doubt and you stay there anyway. You just keep shifting attention back to the focal object, until it starts to capture your attention. Then you’re ready………it takes very precise concentration for spiritual knowing.
…………you just keep allowing the object to enhance in your imagination until it stops fluctuating. First the emptying phase, then the focusing phase. You clear the inner space, then target the object. I maintain concentration by imagining the object as beautiful until the picture in my mind becomes so vivid and believable that it starts to play itself out………I just lose a sense of separation from the impression and take in whatever it shows…………
Meanwhile, you are so far removed from the room and yourself and the passage of time that you become whatever that focus is, so you know it from the inside………You read another person accurately because you are them……you’ve stopped being separate………You have to make sure your placements of attention are precise so you’re not projecting. That’s why my teaching is so focused on knowing yourself and what you’re likely to project into a reading; that’s the only way to get reliable with intuition.
Intuition operates from a different state than ordinary consciousness; quite decisively different from ordinary consciousness. If you don’t know that, if you don’t know how to shift back and forth between states, then you can start to feel very crazy, especially when you can’t immediately verify what you know.
…….One finding in particular grabbed me. I expected that they would discover which regions of the brain “lit up” as a consequence of increased blood flow during moments of deep meditation or prayer, suggesting that those areas were particularly active. Instead, Newberg and D’Aquili found that certain areas of the brain went essentially dark, meaning that they were less active than usual during a deep meditative state………Those bundles of neurons located in the posterior superior parietal lobe, the region of the brain that’s critical to orienting us in the physical world……..During the subjects’ moments of deepest meditation and prayer, what stopped firing were all the signals that tell us where to locate the boundaries that separate us from everything that isn’t us.
………..anybody whose posterior superior parietal lobe quieted down……..would probably experience a subjective sense of oneness or connectedness with everything around them………..The essence of that experience, which many have described as “being one with the universe” or “united with god”, seems to be the literal evaporation of any sense of separation from others or the surrounding world……….all mystical experience as fundamentally “the art of union with reality”
……….there may be a neurobiological basis for achieving that art of union with reality, not by achieving access to new sources of sensory information but rather by learning how to tune down the flow of incoming sensory information………And that is absolutely consistent with what meditators and mystics have told us over centuries about how they gain access to the states they engage
Maybe faith gives us a way we can stop our brains from stopping all the rest of us from knowing
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Ladies and Gentlemen: the ‘queen of the nautch girls’, the Bollywood sensation, the H-bomb – Helen Richardson, now Helen Khan, but always, Helen.
Piya tu, ab to aaja/ Shola-sa man deheke/ Aake bujha-ja/ Tan ki jwala thandi ho jaaye/ Aise gale laga ja/ Aa-aa-aa-aha (Come to me now, my love. Come, put out these fires. Come hold me, cool this volcano within me)
Although technically of Franco-Burmese descent, she was perceived as a white woman………….As a dancer she should have had a short shelf life. Younger women with firmer flesh and deeper cleavages should have usurped her position……….But from ‘Shabistan’ (1951) to Bulundi (1981), Helen was dancing. She was there while the studio mastodons were shivering in the Ice Age; she was there when the triumvirate of Raj Kapoor-Dev Anand-Dilip Kumar dominated the box office; she sashayed through much of the Bachchan era………..She vamped three generations of men………..when it should have been curtains………She resurfaced as a star mother and grandmother.
……….She added that her passion for dancing came out of the French and Spanish blood in her. ‘I have quite a mixed pedigree! Father was French and mother half Burmese and half Spanish. My great grandfather was a Spanish pirate!’
She had the mix of innocence and sensuality that separates the girls from the women.
The imitators were exciting too – Padma Khanna’s ‘Husn ke laakh rang’ (the myriad aspects of beauty) in ‘Johnny Mera Naam’ (1970)…….is still spoken of in hushed whispers among thirty and forty-somethings. But there was always something of the bazaar in them.
….the most important element was her joyousness, the exhilaration of her dancing……..the woman for whom dancing was as much about her enjoyment of her own body as it was about your enjoyment op it.
Helen Richardson was born on 14 July 1938 or 1939 (All these dates are uncertain………). Her mother was Marlene, a half-Spanish, half-Burmese woman and her father a Frenchman
……..as late as ‘Mayurpankh’ (1954), Helen was still not a featured dancer………It is here that Helen, playing a busker, sings ‘Mohabbat ki dastan aaj suno’ (Listen to a tale of love). Even before she has got to the ‘antara’, she has faded out of the scene………..
Helen’s real breakthrough cam in ‘Howrah Bridge’ (1958)……………’Mera Naam Chin-Chin-Choo/ Chin-Chin-Choo baba Chin-Chin-Choo/ Raat Chandni main mein aur tu/ Hullo Mister, how do you do?’ (My name is Chin-Chin-Choo/ Chin-Chin-Choo, sir, Chin-Chin-Choo/ On a moonlit night, just me and you - / Hullo Mister, how do you do?)
………….There are at least 15 films in which she was the female lead……………..None of these were hits………..’Hum Hindustani’ (1960), a film that brought her very close to playing the female lead, and not in B-grade trash……Joy Mukherjee…….is …..engaged to…….Helen………..the song they sing together – ‘Neeli Neeli ghata/ Bheegi bheegi hawaa/ Hai nashaa hi nashaa/ Kahin kho jaayen na’ (These blue clouds, these wet breezes, we might lose our senses to their intoxication) – is a romantic duet that takes them across South Bombay, almost as much a Mumbai darshan as it is a love song…………Helen seems out of her element………These are Romantic tropes and she was, it seems, at this remove, already a product of dim interiors.
It is true there were other dancers before Helen; Azoor……….Cuckoo. But in the Roman costume drama ‘Yahudi’ (1958) where Helen and Cuckoo share the song ‘Bechain dil, khoyi si nazar/ Tanhaaiyon mein sham-seher/ Tum yaad aate ho’ (My heart is restless, my gaze distracted; through the lonely nights and days, memories of you come back to haunt me), there is a fragility about Cuckoo. Helen was twenty or thereabouts while Cuckoo had been dancing for fourteen years. Against Helen’s puppy fat, Cuckoo’s face has a certain battered, gamine knowingness.
My contention is that Helen’s face was almost as important in her dancing as her body. Take, for example, that beautiful song of yearning, ‘Tumko piya dil diya’ (‘Shikari’, 1963), which she dances with Ragini, one of the Travancore sisters, renowned for their classical training in dance. Ragini’s execution is perfect, her body supple. But when you watch the two of them, it is Helen who holds you. Her face echoes the words……..more attuned to the lyrics. In the last sequence, which is the usual crescendo, Helen’s face has the abandon of the born dancer, while Ragini still looks like someone who is smiling because she is supposed to smile
When she was given silly stuff to do, she did it with huge panache………..Take ‘Sachaai’ (1969)……where Helen features in a bizarre song sequence…………..’Kab se bhari hai saaqi/ Botal sharaab ki/ Aa pee le isme bandh hain/ Raatein shabaab ki’ (The cupbearer has long since filled the bottle with wine, come drink of it, for trapped within are nights of passion)
One of the most commonly held ‘truths’ about Helen is that she was never vulgar…………In a collaborative enterprise like cinema, the blame for vulgarity is difficult to apportion………Consider ‘Night in London’ (1967)……she sings the rousing ‘Aur mera naam hai Jameela’ (And my name is Jameela)…….In one shot she throws her arms around two of her plump studs and raising her hips, jerks her pelvis at the camera while throwing her legs apart.
But vulgarity is not merely a function of what is done……..but also of how it is received…….We did not see Helen as vulgar and so nothing she did on-screen was vulgar.
In ‘Sholay’ (1975), Helen……..gives it her heart-stopping all
……..’Don’ (1978)………Helen………begins to sing one of her sultriest numbers, ‘Yeh mera dil pyaar ka diwaana’ (My heart is mad about love)
In ‘Inkaar’ (1976)…….a high-cut choli in black-and-yellow checks and a bright yellow sari in the Koli fisher-folk style…….an erotically charged outfit because it brings back the figures of fantasy of middle-class Mumbai: tribal, or aboriginal, fisherwomen…….’Mungda, oh mungda, main gud ki dali/ Mangta hai to aaja rasiya na hi to main ye chali’ (I am the jiggery, you are the ant/ Come get me, you rake, or I’ll be on my way)
In ‘Gumnaam’ (1965), Helen plays Kitty Kelly, one of the seven suspects in a murder…….Helen’s work in the film was rewarded with a ‘Filmfare’ award for Best Supporting Actress……….’Is duniya mein jeena ho to/ Sun lo meri baat/ Gham chhod ke manaao rangreli/ Aur maan lo jo kahe Kitty Kelly’ (If you must live in this world/ Listen to Kitty Kelly/ Forget your worries and make merry)
One of Helen’s most famous songs is the slow, smoky cabaret (sung, unusually by Lata Mangeshkar), ‘Aaa jaan-e-jaan, mera ye husn jawaan, jawaan, jawaan/ Tere liye hai aas lagaaye, oh zaalim aajaa na’ (Come, love of my life, my beauty and my youth long for you) from ‘Inteqaam’ (1969)
……Anamika (1973)…….is one of Helen’s most famous numbers……..’Aaj ki raat koi aane ko hai’ (Tonight, someone will come to me.)
…….showcased in RD Burman’s brilliant composition – and one of Helen’s best songs – Ai Haseena Zulfonwaali jaan-e-jahaan – O beauty of the dark tresses, the love of all the world……….
……..Mere Jeevan Saathi (1972)………..’Aao na gale lagaalo na’ (Come hold me)
……..Kishor Kumar…….totally, upstaging Helen………in ‘Half Ticket’ (1962)…………..’Woh ik nigaah kya mili/ Tabeeyatein machal gayin’ (Just a glance from you/ And my heart is running wild)
………….the 1970s as the time when Helen’s career began to decline……she was an old lady in cinematic terms
In some ways 1981 was the turning point. Helen married Salim Khan and settled down to the life of a second wife.………the year 1982 was her last fully ‘active’ year………….we remember only that Helen was a great dancer. We do not choose to remember that she was surrounded by second-rate dance directors, colour-blind art directors, and dress designers with pretty wild notions about what a dancer should wear. We choose not to remember the bad and the ugly moments, of which there were plenty.
………..Mohabbatein (2000)………..Raj plays a riff from ‘Ai haseena zulfonwaali jaan-e-jahan’ on his violin, and Helen lets down her hair and dances for a few moments.
This is how iconization works
The item numbers of the 00s take themselves very seriously. In the moue that is the standard sexualized challenge on every female dancer’s face, I do not find the laughing invitation to naughtiness that I remember in Helen’s……….none of these women would be able to wield a raincoat or a slipper or a handkerchief with the right degree of coquettishness and sensuality. They’re never out of step but they’re not having fun.
I miss Helen.
The industry does too.
And there can be no greater tribute than that.
…Kaajal (1965)…….Yeh zulf agar khulke bikhar jaaye to achcha (Were your hair to be undone and spread out, how beautiful it would be)
…Gumnaam (1965)………’Hum kaale hai to kya hua dilwaale hai’ (What if I am black, I have a big heart)
……Sampoorna Ramayana…….’Baar Baar Bagiya Mein koyal na bole’ (the nightingale wont sing again and again in this garden)
Junglee (1961), Suku Suku
…..jaali note (1960)……………….’Nigaahon ne pheka hai/ Panje pe chakka/ Balam tera mera/ Pyaar hua pakka’ (My eyes have trumped you; my love, you and I are now an item)
…..Pagla Kahin Ka (1970)…………’Aashiq hoon ek mehjabeen ka/ Log kahen mujhe pagla kahin ka’ (I am in love with a beautiful woman/ So much in love that the world calls me mad).
Sunday, June 14, 2009
From ‘Inner War and Peace. Insights from the Bhagavad Gita’
Historical Background to the Mahabharata War and the Bhagavad Gita
The Mahabharata or Great Indian War, took place some five thousand years ago in India. It began as a dispute between two groups of first cousins, the Kauravas and the Pandavas, as to which side of the family were the rightful heirs to India’s biggest kingdom at the time.
……………It is within this epic, that the text…….Bhagavad Gita lies…….The Bhagavad Gita is the dialogue between Arjuna, and his friend and guide, Krishna, an enlightened being who is Arjuna’s charioteer in this war. Arjuna, a pivotal figure in the war, was the middle Pandava brother……The dialogue takes place on the battlefield and is being narrated to the blind king Dhritarashtra by his general factotum, Sanjay. On the threshold of war, and realizing the imminent massacre of his own family and kin assembled on both sides, Arjuna is torn apart and pleads to escape, but is eventually convinced by Krishna to fight the battle
“O Krishna, seeing my own kinsmen
standing before me, eager to fight,
My limbs give way, my mouth becomes dry,…………”
“…………..My mind appears confused
O Krishna, I see all the portents are opposing this,
and I do not foresee any virtue
in slaying my own people in this battle.”
“Teachers, uncles and sons;
also grandfathers, maternal uncles, fathers-in-law,
grandsons, brothers-in-law and all other kinsmen.”
“I do not want to kill them, O Krishna,
even if I am killed instead.
Not even for the kingdom of the three worlds,
let alone for this earth”
“O Arjuna, you grieve over what is not worth grieving over
………..But the wise grieve neither for the living nor for the dead.”
“It is not that there was once a time when I was not,
or you were not, or all these kings were not;
nor will there ever be a time when all of us will not exist.
This is absolute, ultimate.”
“Just as this being
passes through childhood, youth and old age in this body,”
so too it passes through the changing of bodies.
And the serene and tranquil ones do not grieve over this.
“Hence, that which is the whole
know it as subtle, indestructible;
no one is capable of destroying this –
the inexhaustible, the everlasting.”
“These physical bodies have an ending,
but the dweller within is said to be
indestructible, incomprehensible and eternal;
hence, O Arjuna, fight.”
“The one who thinks it is to be the slayer,
and the one who believes it to be the slain -
both do not know.
It neither slays nor is slain.”
“It is never born and never dies,
it has no past, no present, no future;
it is unborn, everlasting, eternal, and ageless -
the indestructible in the destructible body.”
“O Arjuna, he who knows it to be
indestructible, eternal, unborn and everlasting,
how and whom can such a person slay?
And how and by whom can he be slain”
“Just as a man discards his old and worn-out garments
and replaces them with new ones,
so the being discards the old and worn-out body
and moves on to the new.”
A doubt arises…….how can Sanjay see across such a long distance? Is he omniscient? No. And first of all, the power to see and hear from afar is not really such a great power……It is a very modest power and anyone can develop it with some effort. And sometimes it happens that as a result of some quirk in nature this power develops in someone on its own accord.
…….That is why, although there are marvelous truths in the Koran, in the Bible, in Zend Avesta, in the Tao Te Ching, and in many, many other scriptures of the world, the Gita remains special. And the sole reason is that it is less a religious scripture and more of a scripture on psychology. There are no empty statements in it such as: “There is God,” or “There is soul.” There are no philosophical statements and there is no philosophical syllogism in it. The Gita is mankind’s first text on psychology; hence its value is incomparable.
If I could have my way, I would like to call Krishna the father of psychology. He is the first person who tries to integrate the conflict-ridden mind, the anguished mind, and the scattered will………..He not only analyzes and investigates the mind to find out its fragmentations, he also investigates how it can attain to individuation – how Arjuna can become integrated.
Arjuna’s state of mind is the state of mind of us all, but perhaps we are never in such an acute moment of crisis as he is. Even our crises are so lukewarm that we go on enduring them. If our crises could be as intense as his, as dramatic as his, perhaps we too would become eager for integration.
There are two categories of religious people. The first contains those whose religion is borrowed, borrowed from the past. The other contains those whose religion comes out of their inner revolution.
…………the ultimate reach of any scripture is the mind. If it can take one as far as that point, it is a great scripture. And the jump that takes place beyond that will be the beginning of spirituality.
I call the Gita a scripture of psychology because it contains the threads that lead one to the point from where this jump takes place. But no scripture is a spiritual scripture.
Yes, there can be spiritual statements. For example, the Upanishads are spiritual statements. But they do not contain any system in them; hence they are not of much use to man. The Gita, however, is tremendously useful.
A statement such as “There is only Brahman,” is all very well, but we do not know this – it is a bald statement.
……………the Upanishads can only be useful when you have experienced spirituality…………the Upanishad can confirm your experience – but only after you have already experienced it for yourself.
The interesting thing is, however, that once you yourself have known, there is no longer any need for the Upanishads to confirm it.
……….the Upanishads, can at the most become an endorsement for a siddha – for one who has arrived home – but there again, a siddha has no need for any endorsement
Our problems, our troubles, are on some entirely different level, and they need to be addressed at that same level. Krishna is talking at exactly the level where Arjuna is……………that is why the Gita is a very dynamic psychological system………..If Krishna were to speak like an enlightened being, there would be no connection with Arjuna. Slowly, as Arjuna rises, Krishna also rises with him. And Krishna leaves the final sutras of the Gita at a point where the mind ends and spirituality begins……………Gita is a scripture of psychology.
And the future belongs to psychological scriptures. There is no future for metaphysical scriptures.
Spiritual experience is an experience of no thought. Thought does not exist in that moment; hence it is unable to bring forth any message about that experience. That is why the Upanishads keep relentlessly saying, “neti, neti.” They are saying, “neither this, nor that.”
Today, the Gita is not remembered because of the Mahabharata; the Mahabharata is remembered because of the Gita.
Duty has always been clear only to stupid people. To the intelligent, it has never been clear. Intelligent people have always been uncertain. The reason is that intelligent people think so deeply, and usually about both sides of the matter so much, that they have difficulty deciding which is right and which is wrong.
…………….For the ignorant man everything is so clear-cut: this is right, that is wrong: this is Hindu, that is Muslim…………….But the more contemplation grows, the more doubts arise: “Who is mine and who is a stranger? What is right and what is wrong?” And in this world, everything that is of value has always been born from those who have gone through the birth pangs of this contemplative process.
…..All the mystics of the world agree on this point. Whether they are Mahavira, Buddha, Lao Tzu, Jesus, Mohammed or anybody else, they all say that the moment of bliss, of self-realization, of the experience of the ultimate reality is a timeless moment, is beyond time.
Heaven and hell are not geographical places, but they are certainly psychological states………..it is not that you will go to heaven or to hell after you die. You visit hell and heaven many times in twenty-four hours!
………psychoanalysts talk of developing the ego and I talk of dispersing the ego……….Because western psychology understands the mind to be the highest truth, to talk of developing the ego is justified. I am saying “justified, ” not true.”………..Psychology is bound to want to make the ego more integrated, more crystallized and pure: it should become more clear and synthesized – and that is individuation, that is one’s personality. But Krishna would not agree with this. Krishna would say that there is one more step ahead: the integrated, concentrated ego should surrender some day. This is the final step from the ego’s end, but the first step from the eternal’s.
……………I will say the same thing in another way: integrate the ego, crystallize the ego, so that you can surrender it one day. Only the one who is crystallized can surrender. How can someone whose ego is split into dozens of parts, who is a schizophrenic, in whom even his “I” is not one but rather many surrender?..........According to all the psychological researches, we are poly-psychic…………we have several……….”I’s”
You go to sleep in the night and one “I” promises to wake up at five o’clock in the morning – it swears. In the morning, the other “I” says, “It’s too cold! Just forget it!......”………….you go back to sleep. And later………..the third “I” says, “You made a big mistake!............”
………….The same thing happens in the temple. One “I” prostrates itself at the foot of a statue and the another one is looking around to see if anyone is looking.
………………The ego should be integrated. Only then surrender is possible……….Freud is not the end but he is important and he is helpful in integrating the ego. Krishna is the end……
It has been asked why does one have to place one’s hand on the Gita while taking the oath in the courts of law? Why not on the Ramayana or on the Upanishads?
………..No matter how great Rama may be, the Indian mind does not perceive him as a perfect incarnation of the divine. He is a partial incarnation. No matter how great a sage the seers of the Upanishads may be, they are not incarnations. Krishna is the perfect incarnation…….That’s why Krishna could touch the hearts of the maximum number of people in this country………..the perfect incarnation has to be multidimensional; touching all aspects of the human personality. Rama is one-dimensional…….he has only one note…a man of one note may appeal to a one-track mind, but it cannot win every heart. Mahavira, Buddha, all of them were one-dimensional……and that is why ……cannot appeal to all human beings………….but Krishna is multi-dimensional………a thief can love Krishna, a dancer can love Krishna, a saint can love Krishna………and so can a sinner…….Krishna is an orchestra. There are many instruments, all playing. At least one is bound to fall in love with the music of his favourite instrument.
………….He won’t reject anybody. He is there for everyone. This fact is the possible reason.
Simon Weil has written somewhere that there are some people who want the truth to support them and there are some who want to support the truth.
In the gap between leaving one body and taking another one, is there some manifestation or only existence? There is some manifestation, but that manifestation is not the kind that we become familiar with while we are in the body…….it is the manifestation of the subtle body. It can also been seen through a special kind of tuning…………..but the usual body – the body that we know, that we have disposed of – exists no more.
This is not the only body we have. There are more bodies inside this body………In a usual death, only our first body is dropped; the second body hidden behind it travels on with us. Call it the subtle body or the astral body………it travels with us. It is in this body that all our memories, all our experiences, the imprints of all our actions, the impressions of all our conditionings, are accumulated – and these travel on with us.
This subtle body can be seen………but as the world has become more civilized, it has become slightly more difficult. It was not so difficult before. Certain things have been lost, have become difficult phenomena for us to see. It is just that we are no longer used to seeing them.
………..It is said that a great crowd used to gather in Mahavira’s meetings. But that crowd consisted of many kind of beings…….there were those who came from the sky.
Such beings are present everywhere, all the time. Sometimes from their side they try to get you to see them. Sometimes they can be seen when you try from your side. But to be seen through these efforts requires special talents. Such sightings are not common.
This subtle body exists during the journey from one body to the next, because without it, rebirth will not be possible. To put it in scientific language, the subtle body is a built-in program, a blueprint, a plan, for the birth of the new body………..All that you have accumulated in this lifetime……….all that you are, is in this subtle body.
…………….As soon as you take a new body, the subtle body will start manifesting all these things whenever the possibilities and opportunities to do so arise..
But there is also a kind of death in which even the subtle body doesn’t remain with you anymore. Such a death is called mukti, moksha – the ultimate liberation. After such a death only being remains, only existence remains, without any manifested body……….This other death…….happens only to an enlightened one. Attaining to enlightenment means a person has dissolved his subtle body while he is still alive, he has effaced his built-in program.
…………..What in traditional terminology we call liberation from avagamana, the cycle of birth and death, is nothing but freedom from manifestation. It is the search for pure existence. It is the search for that existence where there will be no more manifestation but only being, only is-ness.
Can the son or wife of someone do something to give peace to his departed subtle body that is still full of desires. The Gita talks about pindadan – the ritual of giving offerings to dead ancestors
Desire is absolutely personal. Another person can do nothing about it. The desire is yours, your wife cannot do anything about it.
………The husband is dead. The wife tries to make her husband free from his desires – she prays, she does fire rituals……….but this can make no difference whatsoever to her husband’s desires. Yes, it can make a difference to her desires – and that is the secret of the whole business.
This whole business of rituals is not to free her husband from desires – because if someone can liberate her husband from his desires, she can also induce desires in him, and then liberation will be impossible in this world!
…………But whatsoever the wife does for the sake of her husband, that prayer, that longing for his liberation from desires will help her to become free from her own desires…………….ultimately all doing is only for ourselves.
………I pull the branch of a tree towards me. Then I ask you: “………I want you to put this branch back in its original position. What should I do?”………You will simply say, “Please stop pulling it. Just let it go………it was just displaced because of your kind efforts!”
Man doesn’t need to make any effort to attain to godliness. If he can just stop the effort that he has already been making to lose it, then he will immediately reach the original space where he belongs – the space of godliness.
No one ever dies and no one ever kills……..Is one therefore to deduce from this that there is nothing wrong in committing violence? Does that mean that……….the genocide that took place in Auschwitz, Germany………..are not condemnable? Are they worthy of acceptance?
No. This is not what Krishna means, and this is worth understanding.
………when Hitler is killing people, he is not in the same state of mind as Krishna is. Hitler enjoys killing………..the passion to destroy, the desire to kill, is violence
……………….”O Arjuna, he who knows it to be
indestructible, eternal, unborn and everlasting,
how and whom can such a person slay?
And how and by whom can he be slain?”
He who knows…! Krishna is saying……….He is not saying, “He who believes this.”…………there is nothing easier than believing, because for believing one doesn’t have to do anything……On the other hand, there is nothing more difficult than knowing, because in order to know one has to go through a total self-transformation.
……….All the religions on this earth…….revolve around believing………..But Krishna is saying “A person who knows like this.”
………….But knowing from reading the scriptures is no knowing at all…….it is just information.
……….To know about swimming is not the same thing as to know swimming. Similarly, to know about truth is not the same as knowing the truth.
……….when an ordinary person dies, he immediately finds a new incarnation, because throughout the twenty-four hours, millions of wombs are available all over the earth. But when an extraordinary person dies, it takes time, because a suitable womb is not so easily available for him. Both an extraordinarily good person and an extraordinarily bad person have a long waiting period…………According to our timescale it might even take hundreds of years before men like Hitler and Gandhi can be reborn.