Friday, March 11, 2016

From ‘Rain in the Mountains. Notes from the Himalayas’ by Ruskin Bond

‘I liked Gandhi,’ says Sir E [Edmund Gibson]. ‘He had a sense of humour. No politician today has a sense of humour. ….But not Gandhi. He took his work seriously, but not himself. When I went to see him in prison, I asked him if he was comfortable, and he smiled and said, “Even if I was, I wouldn’t admit it!”’

I reserve the afternoons for doing nothing. ‘Silence and non-action are the root of all things,’ says Tao. Especially on a drowsy afternoon.

‘I don’t mind being dead, but I shall miss being alive.’

Looking up old books, I was surprised to learn that the potato wasn’t known in India before the nineteenth century, and now its an essential part of our diet in most parts of the country.

‘Will it last?’ asks Kailash. ‘This feeling of love between us?’
This wont last. Not in this way. But if something like it lasts, we should be happy.’

In the evening, I find Prem teaching his wife the alphabet, using the kitchen door as a blackboard. It is covered with chalk marks. Love is teaching your wife to read and write!

There is a protective atmosphere about an English public school; an atmosphere which, although it protects one from the outside world, often exposes one to the hazards within the system.

A Quiet Mind

Lord, give me a quiet mind,
That I might listen;
A gentle tone of voice,
That I might comfort others;
A sound and healthy body,
That I might share
In the joy of walking
And leaping and running;
And a good sense of direction
So I might know just where I’m going!

They cut down last spring
With swift efficient tools,
The sap was rising still.
The trees bled,
To make furniture for fools.

….deodar ….from the Sanskrit deva-daru (divine tree). It is a sacred tree in the Himalayas; not worshipped, nor protected in the way that a peepul is in the plains, but sacred in that its timber has always been used in temples, for doors, windows, walls and even tools. Quite frankly, I would just as soon worship the deodar as worship anything, for in the beauty and majesty it represents Creation in its most noble aspect.
No one who has lived amongst deodar would deny that it is the most godlike of Himalayan trees. It stands erect, dignified …..Where one deodar grows, there will be others. Isolate a young tree and it will often pine away.

‘We are all worms.’ Declared Winston Churchill in 1906. ‘But I do believe that I am a glow-warm.’

‘We shall not spoil what we have by desiring what we have not, but remember that what we have too was the gift of fortune’

‘Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards.’
(Soren Kierkegaard)

…..I passed beneath a canopy of oak leaves. I felt that I was a part of the forest. I put out my hand and touched the bark of an old tree, and as I turned away, its leaves brushed against my face, as if to acknowledge me.
One day, I thought, if we trouble these great creatures too much, and hack away at them and destroy their young they will simply uproot themselves and march away – whole forests on the move – over the next range and the next, far from the haunts of man. I have seen many forests and green places dwindle and disappear.

‘Who goes to the Hills, goes to his Mother.’ So wrote Kipling, and he seldom wrote truer words. For, living in the hills was like living in the bosom of a strong, sometimes proud, but always comforting mother.

When you have received love from people, and the freedom that only the mountains can give, then you have come very near the borders of heaven.

The Fern

The slender maidenhair fern grows firm on a rock
While all around her the water swirls and chatters
And then disappears in a rush
Down to the bottom of the hill.
When I’m surrounded by troubled waters, Lord,
Let me find within a rock to cling to,
And give me the quiet patience of the maidenhair
Who has learned to live with the rock.

At a rough calculation, I must have read over 15,000 books in my lifetime

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