I loved India.
The kindness, the vitality and the enthusiasm of Indians delighted me. It is a dirty, disorganized and chaotic country, over-populated with noisy and invasive people, but most of them are smiling and courteous. They expectorate with conviction, shout when talking, call out to each other from one end of roads and buildings to the other and private life overflows into public spaces, but their friendship is immediate and their sincerity spontaneous.
In the narrow lanes shared with pedestrians, careless of their nuisance, motorcycles insist on the horn largely beyond decency and necessity. Whirrs of generators, bells and amplified rituals from temples, the backfiring of autorickshaws, political propaganda blasting out of cars, the latest songs booming from CD shops’ loudspeakers, cawing crows: all this composes a continuum of cacophony, punctuated in rhythm by resounding percussions of all kinds of work; and then suddenly lit up by a muezzin who proclaims the hour of glory or the childish flat voice of a sadhu singing Ram-Sita Sita-Ram ad infinitum.
Holy Varanasi has discovered neon, plastic, posters and concrete. The visual realm is a mess. Electric cables weave a worrying net between the heavens and the earth. Nothing ever seems to be finished. Harmony and beauty, or simply order, do no seem to be worth even a shadow of concern. The general indifference makes a huge dustbin of the collective space. People drop anything they don’t want here, there and everywhere, without remorse or complex and without making even the slightest superfluous movement. India Ma is a garbage dump. But these people can see beauty where others do not even have an inkling of finding it.
The air is unimaginably filled with levitating dust and the dioxin fumes of burning plastic bags and garbage. The acidic smell of spontaneous urinals pervades the alleyways. Sensory faculties are stimulated to their painful extreme. The food is like self induced arson that no amount of water can extinguish. Meals are torture. Each mouthful is a blazing inferno in which up to thirty-six types of chillies compete with flames roaring for fiery supremacy, imposing an exploration of the nuances of fire and burning upon the taste buds followed by the digestive tracts. At concerts, instruments and voices are amplified to the Larsen limit. ‘If God gave heaven to the Indians, twenty-four hours later it would be no different from hell,’ an Indian man once told me.
Half of the people cannot read or write and illiteracy is on the increase. Ignorance is deepened by prejudices, simplistic principles learnt by heart and by persistent superstitions. And certain traditions just prolong and amplify the misfortune…
………And I raged against filth and chaos, criticized conservatism, condemned its resignations, cursed the excesses, and thought that one must have carried out extremely nasty things in a previous life and produced terrible karma to end up being reborn in the land of karma. But with my heart of a benevolent anarchist, I was delighted there.
I loved India.
If we were to calculate the average time per day different populations of the world spend smiling, Indians would rank top of the list.
Wild and domestic animals live in cities. Not to mention wandering dogs, rats, tarantulas, lizards and cockroaches, one meets the monkeys of his local neighbourhood and offers them bananas, pats the passing buffalo on the street, gives a comforting smile to the neighbour’s goat, strokes the washer-man’s donkey, receives the blessing from the temple’s elephant and greets vultures, perched outside slaughter-houses, that seem to ogle our future corpse. The crows come up close, blackbirds are not shy, eagles perch on street lamps and wild peacocks bow endlessly before each other on the highest balustrades. One feels less isolated in his species, sharing the city with other beings.
The muffled dampness of the tortuous lanes seems familiar, as did their shadows. I savoured the coal fumes, frying spices and the omnipresent smells of cow pats. The whiffs of incense that came and lightened my steps afforded an exquisite charm. Expressing respect by bowing came naturally to me. Remaining squatted was second nature. I felt close to my remotest instincts, greeting the sun and honouring Mother Earth and her creations – the rivers, trees, mountains and fire. My genes had been doing this five thousand years ago, I was sure. I felt I knew the rituals and had sung in Sanskrit many times before.
I glorified India as that civilization, which bestows the title of saint on renunciants, where contemplation is a divine attitude, non-action a goal and idleness a vision. She recognizes rapture in humility and the superiority of equanimity over the passions. Although eager for consumption, she glorifies simplicity. Despite her addiction to cell phones and social ambitions, she finds legitimacy in those who let go of everything.
I admired her culture, praised her philosophical works, and acclaimed her barefooted vagrant philosophers. I loved her huge temples. I was moved by the unostentatious fervor of her crowds.
And I also considered her broad-minded in spite of and because of her castes. For one can live there within the margins of common rules and more or less as one wishes, because she has created a space of emancipation in the very heart of her social rigidity, an outside that is not pariah, dalit or outcaste, but which is beyond the supposed scale of purity, which includes lunatics, lazy bums, wandering philosophers, ascetics and all the peaceful and wise men who voluntarily give her up, and that she honours and incenses.
And I would conclude that if one has to be insane to live there voluntarily, one cannot be less mad living anywhere else if one has the chance of settling there.
When there is nothing to seek,
And nothing to desire, nothing,
Where neither thought nor speech can happen,
Brahman, the homogenous, shines.
“Nothing is enough for the man to whom enough is too little,” a saying of Epicurus.
Do you believe you purify yourself in holy water?
And washing wood before lighting it?
If one found salvation by plunging in water,
The frogs are saved taking plunges all day long!
There is neither day, nor night, neither Koran nor Veda,
Where the Formless dwells!
Do not let yourself be disturbed by the madness of the world,
Says Kabir, and worship nothing but him.
Prescriptions and prohibitions are transcended,
Purity and impurity no longer exist,
Mind freed from differentiation,
What is prohibited is permissible to him,
He is beyond rules.
All is accomplished.
When one perceives the universe as One with nature and
Consciousness, One should not praise or blame the personality
and the acts of others
[Uddhava Gita XXIII, 1]
……….The Rubaiyat of Sarmad, a Sufi saint of the XVIIth century who lived naked in the king’s court and ended up decapitated because he refused to recite the entire kalma. He was content simply saying La Ilaha – no God. “I cannot say that there is no other God than God without lying,” he explained during his trial, “because I do not know God.” One should not mess around with these things, even out of modesty. Condemned to death, he declared on the scaffold: “A noise occurred, and from the sleep of non-existence we opened our eyes and on seeing that the tumultuous night remained motionless, we fell back to sleep.” A scrupulous, foolhardy, delicate man. As a Hindu he would have been venerated.
……..Suddenly, a kind of liberation in the feeling to belong to whatever was around, to belong to the object of my vision, as Merleau-Ponty said.
Renounce the world anyway.
Renounce renunciation as well.
The poison of eternity is renunciation and attachment.
What nothing affects is our immutable nature.
Consider everything on the razor’s edge of uncertainty. It brings you back to what is really happening to consciousness in this very moment. And finally that’s what wisdom is. If you realize this, you are wise.
In the beginning was the logos, the word, but before the beginning, was silence. The monotheists seek the creator of logos. Hindus seek the silence that precedes this creator. In other words you could say: they seek the one who speaks.
If God wants to prevent evil and never can, he is powerless;
If he can and does not want to, he is perverse;
If he neither can nor wants to, he is powerless and perverse;
If he wants to and can, why doesn’t he do it?
‘Whole days doing nothing… Satisfaction, confidence and nonclalance are the three qualities of a sadhu. Agreeing with whatever turns up is the key to well-being; learning to keep quiet is the secret of bliss. Vairagya, the Sanskrit word for renunciation, means “absence of passion”. Its not the contrary of happiness; it is the opposite of desiring, acquiring and keeping. Nowhere close to the idea of refusing something. We just don’t seek anything. We don’t choose. Possessing, which is both oppressive and delicious, no longer exists. And that’s also delightful.’
‘But if one approaches renunciation with a fundamentalist attitude, it would then still be an attachment to something: principles, regulations and obligations. I say to those who are too strict: “If you still follow rules, you are not liberated, Babaji.” But some have also renounced so much that they also renounced renunciation… The illusion is everywhere. To rise above it requires a kind of derision towards everything, including the principles which are supposed to result in denouncing it…’
He prescribed him to repeat the Om mantra. ‘Mental modifications will gradually be fewer, then will stop,’ his guru promised him.
‘What power do you get repeating a mantra?’
‘The power to think of nothing else. Om is the closest sound to Brahman’
‘How do you recognize a realized man?’
'He lives in multiplicity like the others and yet he remains in Oneness where the stream of events acts without him having to act,’ Ananda Baba answered him.
‘Mind has split the world into two parts: me and everything else. This separation between me and what I perceive is also seen to be illusory, false. There is no outside. I and you do not exist. There is only a he who is talking to himself, as if in a dream. That which makes it possible to observe the transient nature of things has to be relatively stable, non-determined. That is the state of consciousness we’re talking about.’
‘The Kena Upanishad says:
That which cannot be thought by the mind, but by which, the mind is able to think,
That which is not seen by the eye, but by which the eye is able to see,
That which cannot be heard by the ear, but by which the ear is able to hear;
Know that alone to be Brahman, not this which people worship here.’
……… ‘And is there God in all this?’
‘Babaji is not interested in God. Not with me in any case. But he is open-minded and ready to swear that all the Gods exist and are happy, because he thinks that, in these matters, no point of view is closer to truth than another.’
‘Can you become invisible, Sadhuji?’ asked Connor.
‘Of course,’ he replied.
And he got up and walked away
Done, nothing can be. When one understands this deeply,
one is in peace to do whatever presents itself to be done
[Astavakra Samhita 13 3]
‘Haste robs things of their taste. Enjoy!’
‘Four kinds of human beings are naked, that is to say true,’ Ananda Baba later explained, ‘a newborn, who has not yet acquired a mind; the dying man who concentrates on what is happening to him; the man who found the child in himself, and finally, renunciants and sadhus because they ignore desires.’
‘We owe modesty to the simplicity of Oneness.’
‘What is Samadhi actually?’ asked Connor.
‘The eternal transcendence of subject and object. Indifference. The realm of bliss.’
The Self (the Atman) is in God’s image. The five senses take one into maya. Senses draw their strength from food. If one wants to control his senses, he must reduce the quantity of food he takes. Then stop eating. Then the senses are under control. Then in the soul, the five elements are quiet, subdued and remain unconscious. If the senses are unconscious, food is not necessary. The individual soul merges in Oneness. He who knows himself and controls his wandering thoughts does not need a guru. The Self becomes his guru. If the Self is pure, the Self reveals everything.
When it is quiet, the mind returns to its cause.
Brahman: The oldest; the ultimate Self, the supreme being, One, indefinable, unlimited, unchanging, without qualities, the Whole, the universal, the One in diversity. Brahman is the central topic of the philosophy of non-dualism: the impersonal absolute, unchanging, non-born, eternal; also synonymous with impersonal consciousness (not bound by identity or identifications). Should not be confused with Brahmin (caste), and Brahma, the creator of humanity………..Jiva, designates the impersonal consciousness taken in the illusion of being a separate being, distinct from the universal.
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