Saturday, June 23, 2012

From ‘Chinese Love Lyrics’ by The Peter Pauper Press

Watching the Moon
My beloved knows
That I watch thee, O moon,
And when they beams caress her,
Our separation is less cruel.


Thinking of a Friend
It is going to rain …
The wind bruises the flowers of my jasmine
And whirls away the petals of the peonies,
Scattering them over the ground.
It lifts the blinds at the windows.
It ruffles the young girls’ hair.

I am sad. I think of my friend.
The blue sky, the green sea, and the
White mountains separate us.
Ah, if those birds could carry to my friend
The letters which I write to her!
If this little stream could carry to her
The petals from my peonies!

The magnolias gleam in the shadows …
But I cannot touch my lute.
I watch the moon, which is like a
Great magnolia blossom.

I will not sing. I will not play.
I want to give myself entirely to my sadness.


Tip-Toeing to Her Lover
The flowers bright, the moon dim,
And a light mist eddying about …
Tonight is meant for me to go to my love.
Off with my stockings;
I walk down the fragrant steps …
With my gold-lined slippers in hand.

At the south side of the Painted Hall
We meet; I fall trembling in his arms and say:
“Because it was so hard to come to you,
Let me have your very best caress.”


For Her Birthday

A feast being spread in spring-time,
With a cup of green wine and a
Joyous song, I repeat my salutation and
Offer my three wishes:
First, may you have a long life; second,
May I have good health; third, may we live
As the swallows on the beam,
Happily together all the year round


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

From ‘turtle feet. A memoir. The making and unmaking of a Buddhist monk’ by Nikolai Grozni

“It’s about freedom,” I replied. “There’s a certain pleasure in knowing that you are done with this world, and now you can focus on finding out what you’re made of.”

….. he lacked the stuffiness and the ubiquitous geeky expression of those who replace their own thoughts with the building blocks of a particular dogma.

My father’s no-nonsense approach to parenting never failed to inspire in me a deep sense of suspicion and contempt for the world of grown-ups.

Rooms are like people – they transform space with their personalities. Some rooms are loud and happy, others are sinister and gloomy. Ani Dawa’s room felt quiet and slow, almost suspended in time, yet restless, like the reverberation of an unresolved seventh chord. Everything in Ani Dawa’s room was in a state of suspended anticipation. The open door was waiting for a visitor; the door curtain was waiting to be lifted; the two cups of cold milk tea on the table were waiting for the flies to drown; the rats, peeking down from the wooden roof beams, were waiting for an opportunity to ransack the bag of vegetables hung high up on the walls across the room; the moths were waiting for the sun to go down. Ama-la was waiting for her six children who died in Tibet to miraculously appear at her front steps.

“I know the definition of direct perception: a nonconceptual, unmistaken perception.”
Geshe-la seemed very amused by the fact that I had volunteered this information ………..
“Do you have direct perception?”
“I do,” I said.
“And what do you see?”
I pointed vaguely at the table. “Apples.”
“I don’t see apples,” Geshe-la announced belligerently.
I looked at the bag of apples and then at Geshe-la, trying to understand what he was getting at. “They look like applies to me.”
“If a cloud looks like a rabbit, is it a rabbit?”
“Then how do you know you’re seeing apples?”

I walk into the first decent-looking hotel in Paharganj and tell the guy at the reception desk exactly what I want: a bed and a shower …….. I go to my room, turn on the shower, and wait. Nothing. The water is ice cold and forms giant rainbow-colored bubbles, the kind that you see floating on top of the Yamuna river when you enter New Delhi. I wait for half an hour and go downstairs. ‘Where the fuck is the hot water?’ I ask the receptionist. ‘Hot voter coming, sir,’ the guy says to me. ‘Don’t vorry!’ Fine, I know this is India – trains are three days behind schedule and letters travel for six months, presumably strapped to the back of a blind donkey in the final stage of Alzheimer’s – so I go back to my room, turn on the water, and wait: nothing. Half an hour later I’m still standing in my underwear, and the whole bathroom is covered with pink bubbles, like I’m running a chemical laboratory. I go downstairs and the receptionist again says, ‘Don’t vorry, hot voter comingh!’ Unbelievable. I wait another half an hour, and this time the receptionist starts wobbling his head as soon as he sees me on the top of the stairs. ‘Hot voter on second vloor!’ he says to me, like that solves everything. ‘After van minute, dirt vloor!’ At this point I’m pretty angry, but I return to my room on the third floor and turn on the water one more time. Five minutes later I hear a knock on the door. I open it and see an old Indian man carrying a bucket of steaming water: ‘Hot voter, sir!’ and he’s got a big grin on his face ……….

He ……. walked with the manner of someone who was afraid to occupy more space than he’d been granted by the karmic forces.

I opened my eyes and saw two strangers – a man and a woman, both wearing shalwar kameez outfits – sitting on my bed (the man was actually sitting on my foot) and speaking animatedly in Hindi as if they were in their own home ……. I retracted my feet and sat up. What was going on? Who were these people? I could tell …… that they were locals ….. Maybe I was missing something, some essential piece of information that could explain why there were local villagers sitting on my bed and having a chat at eight o’clock in the morning. …….

Tsar opened his eyes and sat up.

“Who are they?” he asked ……

“I don’t know,” I replied.

“Did you bolt the door last night?”

“I did.” ………..

Exasperated, Tsar lit a biddie and shook his head. “I’m giving up. India is like this giant octopus that attaches its tentacles onto your brain and doesn’t let go until every aspect of reality crumbles and you start speaking to pink elephants in foreign tongues. I can’t fight it anymore. I don’t understand it. I can’t figure it out. Would this ever happen anywhere else? ……….”

“But this is India,” I reminded him. “Things happen again and again for absolutely no reason.”

……. Who are you? …………

“I am the same as a rabbit with horns,” I said confidently. I’d found that this was a relatively safe answer. The self, just like the notion of a rabbit with horns, was a pure fabrication – a fantasy of a permanent center from which the spokes of duality shot out to form the grand, subject-oriented wheel of existence, which had little to do with the way the self actually existed: as a mere thought projection arisen from the confluence of time, space, and the flickering of ephemeral mental images.

Geshe Yama Tseten, of course, was right: Westerners are fickle. He had predicted that I would disrobe, fall in love, write silly books, and live like a fool (drinking wine, playing chess for hours on end), and I had acted accordingly. But he and I always disagreed on one very important point. He believed that there was only one way – his way. I, on the other hand, believe that in order to understand something clearly, one must first give it up.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

From ‘Ananda Yoga. Conversations on Happiness’ by Mandakini Trivedi - 2

Disciple: So how will ‘aumkara sadhana’ help?

Babaji: The three syllable, ‘A’, ‘U’ and ‘M’ have to be individually recited and awakened in different centres of the spine.
Visualising the form of ‘aum’ in his body, the sadhaka has to, while reciting and elongating the syllable ‘A’ trace this first matra or digit of aum by taking his Consciousness from the navel center (manipur chakra) to the lower most center (muladhara chakra) at the perineum.
Then climbing up along the spine, at the heart center, the syllable ‘U’ has to be recited. Again, elongating the sound of this syllable ‘U’, Consciousness has to be raised along the spine tracing the second matra of this mantra.
Finally, the ‘M’ sound has to be recited at the center of the head and brought down to the top of the nose while reciting at the center of the head and brought down to the tip of the nose while reciting this final matra of the mantra. The entire recitation has to be completed in one single exhalation. When the sacred syllable ‘AUM’ is recited this way, electro-magnetic energy fields will be created within the sadhaka that will unleash his hidden energies and potentials.

……… when you sit for meditation, wash your face, hands (upto the elbows) and feet.

Meditating at the same time, activates the inner clock. The sandhi kalas (sunrise and sunset) the brahma muhurata (3 a.m.) and the time around midnight are good for meditation. ……..

Ideally, you should sit in padmasana, but if you cannot, then take a pillow and sit on it in such a way, that the knee points touch the floor. Put the right palm over the left one and let the thumbs touch each other. This is to close the body circuit or else energies are dissipated. The spine must be erect to allow the energies to rise. Then sit still with eyes closed. First, visualize the guru in between the eyebrow center ………

While meditating, if the mouth is filled with saliva, drink that. It is amrita, the life giving nectar. If there is any perspiration while meditating, rub it into the body.

………. One hour or meditation is superior to puja and archana done for a whole year.

Sadhana should be done naturally and should deepen gradually.

…… even reciting the Lalitasahasranama just once, can enlighten you. Recite it single-mindedly, with total awareness and identification with the meaning of each name, taking care that no fugitive thoughts impinge on this ekagrata.

Once in a way try to get up in the middle of the night and practice meditation. At such times, the sense organs are not restless due to fewer distractions and gross sensory stimulations.

ॐ सर्वे भवन्तु सुखिनः सर्वे सन्तु निरामयः।
सर्वे भद्रणिपश्यन्तु मा कश्चिद्दुःख भाग भवेत्॥

Let all beings be happy, let all beings be in a disease free state.
Let all have the auspicious vision of Life,
Let there be no sorrow anywhere.
Let there be peace, peace, and peace.

The body looks handsome, the wife attractive, fame spreads far and wide, wealth enormous and stable like mount Meru; but of what consequence are all these, if the mind is not riveted in devotion to the lotus feet of the Guru, teacher? Really of what use is all this, what use, what use?

……. Breathing. You take 21,600 breaths per day. Each of these is a glorious opportunity to awaken. Between each inhalation and exhalation, there is a subtle gap. In the small gap wherein you breathe neither in nor out, the mind becomes vacant. Through this gap the Self peeps. By practice you have to learn to become more alert so that you can observe this cessation of breath and hence of thought. As you practice, this gap will go on expanding and you will dissolve in that emptiness and void.

Kabir has said, ‘prem gali ati sakari, tin mei dau na samay’ – The lane of Love is narrow – two cannot walk on it.

Tur dal, he would say, is very heavy and tamasika. A sadhaka should restrict its consumption to the minimum. It is advisable for a sadhaka to consume mung dal
• The kernel of a cauliflower has great nutritional value, never throw it away.
• Peas are tasty but do not have much in terms of nutrition. Always use them only for taste and decoration.
• Raw onions are good for the eyes and roasted onions are good for the brain.
• Green chillies are not harmful; it is their seeds that cause damage. Always remember to deseed them before using.
• The skin of an apple constipates; always peel an apple and eat it.
• A single almond, if rubbed and made into a paste, has far more nutritional value than a handful of almonds. Always soak and peel an almond before eating it.

Bitter honey, he would say is a rarity and has the greatest medicinal value.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Thoughts … … …

No matter how poor the education may be, in any Indian school he children are almost always immaculately turned out …..
- Mark Tully (Non Stop India)

ना खुदा मिला ना विसाले सनम ना इधारके रहे ना उधरके रहे
Neither god have I found, nor the joys of the arms of my beloved!
Oh, I am neither here nor there!

manushyanam sahasresu
kascid yatati siddhaye
yatatam api siddhanam
kascin mam vetti tattvatah
"Out of many thousands among men, one may endeavor for perfection, and of those who have achieved perfection, hardly one knows Me in truth."

- Bhagavad Gita

Stone walls do not a prison make,
Nor iron bars a cage;
Minds innocent and quiet take
That for an hermitage;
If I have freedom in my love
And in my soul am free,
Angels alone, that soar above,
Enjoy such liberty.

- Richard Lovelace

The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.

- Michaelangelo

The hundred is there – by Loris Malaguzzi

The child
is made of one hundred.
The child has
a hundred languages
a hundred hands
a hundred thoughts
a hundred ways of thinking
of playing, of speaking.
A hundred always a hundred
ways of listening
of marveling of loving
a hundred joys
for singing and understanding
a hundred worlds
to discover
a hundred worlds
to invent
a hundred worlds
to dream.
The child has
a hundred languages
(and a hundred hundred hundred more)
but they steal ninety-nine.
The school and the culture
separate the head from the body.
They tell the child:
to think without hands
to do without head
to listen and not to speak
to understand without joy
to love and to marvel
only at Easter and at Christmas.
They tell the child:
to discover the world already there
and of the hundred
they steal ninety-nine.
They tell the child:
that work and play
reality and fantasy
science and imagination
sky and earth
reason and dream
are things
that do not belong together.
And thus they tell the child
that the hundred is not there.
The child says:
No way. The hundred is there.

- Loris Malaguzzi (translated by Lella Gandini)

From ‘Know Thy-self’ by G K Pradhan

….we must know how to remain with the problem, to look at it without translating it according to our wishes, beliefs or traditions. If we wish to understand the problem, we must be free from all these things and look at it directly. ……..if we can look at it, only look at it and not try to dissolve it or find a solution for it, then we shall discover that the mind itself is a creator of the problem; but that requires a great deal of understanding, penetration, insight and awareness without any choice or object or an ideal.

The mind that can look at a fact without opinion, without judgement, without a conclusion, prejudice or projections, is free and a free mind brings it own authority.

The only way to meet sorrow is to be without any resistance, to be without any movement of thought, outwardly or inwardly, to remain totally with sorrow, without wanting to go beyond it.

Our problem is how to be free from all conditioning: …….begin to experiment, to inquire, to discover and find for yourself ……..There is no use of analysis of your dreams or of introspection. You must put all authority aside. …….. To discover God, truth, enlightenment or self-realisation, the mind must also be aware of the interval between thoughts or feelings. The interval is spontaneous, it is not brought about by the thought through any compulsion. …….there are gaps, intervals between two thoughts. There is a period of silence; note that. ……..that is not of time; that is not of the past……..

From ‘Voluntary Simplicity’ by Duane Elgin

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication
- Leonardo da Vinci

…..choose to live simply so that others may simply live
- Gandhi

The little things? The little moments?
They aren’t little
- Jon Kabat-Zinn

The Kingdom of Heaven is within you
- Jesus

Look within; thou art the Buddha
- Gautama Buddha

Atman [the essence of the individual] and Brahman [the ultimate reality] are one
- words from the Hindu tradition

He who knows himself knows his Lord
- Muhammed

Simplicity is the final achievement …
the crowning reward of art.
- Frederic Chopin

…….Toynbee ………wrote that the progress of a civilization is not accurately measured by it's conquest of land and people. Instead, the true measure of growth lies in a civilization’s ability to transfer increasing amounts of energy and attention from the material side of life to the non-material side – areas such as personal growth; family relationships; music, theater, and other others; meditation; community life; personal expression; and democracy.

……the revered Indian sage Ramana Maharshi said that silence speaks with “unceasing eloquence.”

From ‘Ananda Yoga. Conversations on Happiness’ by Mandakini Trivedi - 1

‘Why not start living right now in That State in which you will eventually live after you have attained. Let the goal become the path, this very moment. There is nowhere to reach. Why waste time in future imaginings. Live the Truth here and now. That is the ultimate sadhana.’

….. his favourite shloka from the Avadhoota Gita. ……..
प्रमादेंन न संदेह: किं करिष्यामि वृत्तिमान
उत्पद्यन्ते विलीयन्ते बुद्बुदाश्य यथा जले

As bubbles arise and dissolve in water, psychological states come and go. What can sentimental souls who identify with these illusive states, ever hope to achieve?

When the vasana arises, calm it – wash your hands and feet and drink a couple of glasses of water. Kama is of the form of agni or fire and needs to be cooled down and water is a coolant. Even this simple little ritual, will help cope with kama vasanas and allow the reckless impulse to pass over.

Stay away from dukhka (negativity), arguments, mental stress, offensive thoughts and people, worldly talk and inane conversation. A sadhaka especially, must consciously and thoughtfully stay away from these.

Disciple: ……..what do you mean by my mind?

Babaji: I mean the sum total of your preferences, prejudices, likes, dislikes, stale memories of past experiences and concepts of morality, ideals and all the ideas that make you take a ‘stand’ on matters. When this mind dies, your world also dies. And then you will be able to see the world as it is, in God. You will then stop evaluating, judging and criticizing people, and in turn be unaffected by their evaluation and criticism.

Use all five fingers while eating. The fingers release digestive juices when they are used for eating. ……. Try to be whole and gathered, in whatever you do.

Our nature is shaped by whatever our senses hold or absorb.

Now, if you apply this truth to the food you eat, then it means that you become what you eat. Unlike plants, we cannot make our own food. We therefore need to get it from outside. Both plants and animals are living, but plants don’t have vasanas, lusts, or cravings. Their nature is to give. Therefore, if you eat plants, fruits etc. their non-violent and generous nature will be ingested by you. On the contrary, if you eat animals, who are always full of vasanas and aggression you will absorb these. ……… For a sadhaka especially, non-vegetarian food is positively harmful.

If you have dirty unkempt feet, your mind can never be clean and calm. Vital nerve centers are located in the feet, and are in turn, connected to vital centers in the brain. A yogi’s feet must be like a baby’s. That is why, all our gods and goddesses are known to have feet that are soft and pure like a lotus.

To a disciple who was sitting with his legs spread out.

Babaji: Never spread your legs like that. Always close the circuit of the body so as not to dissipate energies. Especially while meditating, you must close all the circuits of the body and seal energies, in order to redirect them upwards.

…… Shaking the legs and feet nervously is a very common problem. It seems insignificant, but tremendous vital energies are lost in such mindless activity.

Hate, doubt, shame, fear and disgust, these five, pride of your family and character and finally all concepts; these are the eight bondages. Bound by these you become a jiva (individual contracted consciousness), free of these you are sadashiva, always in a state of shivahood – joyful, free and all-encompassing.

From ‘the sage and the housewife’ by shanta kelkar

“Once you are relieved of the burden of culture, any potential will be exposed. What stands in the way is the culture, all the teachers and what they have taught.”

U.G.’s favourite line is, “There is no freedom in America, no communism in Russia, and no spirituality in India.”

U.G. casually remarked that before the “Calamity” he was rather surprised to read about the fact that an “enlightened” man’s faeces did not have the usual decomposed smell. He took this information rather skeptically. But after the “Calamity” he found that whenever he would be in the toilet the faeces smelt like mango or raspberry or strawberries. He wondered why. The doctors who examined him for his gullet complaint told him that his stomach lining had lost its sensitivity completely, the acids no longer secreted in his stomach, the food was not acted upon but went straight to the intestines. The stomach acted just like a vent or a pipe for the food to go to the intestines, and this retained its original odour even when it came out as waste. There was less decomposition in the system.