Sunday, June 29, 2014

From ‘Satyadev Dubey. A Fifty-year Journey Through Theatre’ Edited by Shanta Gokhale

Read your lines aloud. Listen to your own voice carefully. This increases your concentration and gives your personality balance and grace.

….I stress the importance of practice, practice, practice. When practicing your dialogue, you must say the first seven or eight lines absolutely flat 100-200 times.
Repetition takes us to a heightened condition. It is like a tanpura. When it is well tuned, it starts singing the moment your fingers touch it. The actor should be as finely tuned at all times as a tanpura. Speaking the same lines over and over sharpens your sensitivity. The actor begins to sense all the associations of words and begins to fall in love with them. Exercises can be done alone without anybody’s help. It is through practice that the actor finds his/her own sensibility. The actor who gains this experience is always able to be fresh. It is therefore important to love words and language.

…So it is useful to read and listen to yourself. We will discover our voice then and the search for its true key will become easier. Listening constantly sensitizes the ear, which in turn helps the imagination.

There is only one way to improve your voice-to keep speaking. Make sure that the ends of lines remain strong.

…Speak while inhaling and exhaling breath
Improves the quality and projection of the voice
…Laugh lower and lower starting from a base voice
Clears the voice and increases length of breath
…Speak with a pencil in the mouth or marbles in the cheeks
Makes communication clearer
…Make the sound hunh hunh hunh in a base voice, increasing the volume gradually
This creates the effect of sobbing and clears the throat

From ‘Vedanta: Swami Chinmayananda. His words his legacy’ by Chinmaya Publications

The term dharma is one of the most difficult terms in Hindu philosophy. It is derived from the root dhar (dhr), which means to uphold, sustain, support. Dharma denotes “that which holds together the different aspects and qualities of an object into a whole.” …….. “that which makes a thing or being what it is.” For example, it is the dharma of the fire to burn, of the sun to shine, and so on. ….Dharma means, therefore, not merely righteousness or goodness, but it indicates the essential nature of anything

A traditional wisdom story ….
Some drunken men got into a boat one moonlight night and started rowing. They rowed the entire night. Early in the morning, now sober, they found that they had not moved an inch. What was wrong they asked? They had forgotten to raise the anchor. Just as the anchored boat could not move, the mind that is attached to worldly things cannot move into the deeper depth of itself.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

From ‘Stringer. A Reporter's journey in the Congo’ by Anjan Sundaram

Congo’s history is particularly repressive. And dictators’ can be hard to shake off. I gre up in a dictatorship – in Dubai – and I recognized in the Congolese elements from my own society: a certain acquiescence, a cloistering within small ambitions, of business and family hierarchy; a paucity of confidence in oneself, and an utter belief in the power of one man.
It startles me how steadfastly I believed, growing up, that our dictator was just, good and wise. I was never told anything to the contrary. The media only carried good news.

………….in Kinshasa one could die poor but one had still to be buried like a rich man…… Nana told me about a boy who died of typhoid because his mother lacked two hundred dollars. Immediately relatives piled her with money – more than two thousand dollars – so the boy could have an elaborate funeral.

….. Congolese society ……among the foreign employers the Indian had a special place: known as the most exploitative, rarely paying more than the ‘market wage’ – meaning the minimum acceptable to the poor labourers, who were not in a position to negotiate.
The Congolese would complain and complain about the Indian, but they would accept that only one race treated them worse: the Congolese (the African, more generally)……..
…..the difference between the two kinds of Indians one met in Africa: there were those who had been brought generations ago by the British; and there were the new immigrants. The two bore little connection. While the former had built an India within Africa, with strict rules of marriage and gastronomy (it was they who had given Africa the samosa and chapatti, now the poor man’s staples), the latter lived as a hedonist, producing the metis, the half-caste.
This aspect of the Indians was considered a benediction by women, who knew that their metis children would have a status above the Congolese. Metisse girls, with paler skin, were considered most desirable. And though the Indian metis fell below that of the European, he was still more likely to avoid the life of a labourer. He was most likely to survive.

From ‘Annamalai Swami. Final Talks’, Edited by David Godman

Years before, I was walking on the hill with Bhagavan when he remarked, ‘I don’t feel the weight of the body at all. I feel as if I am walking weightlessly through the sky.’

Annamalai Swami:  A jnani’s vibrations stay even after he leaves the body. All people leave vibrations in the places they have been and lived. Jnanis leave a good vibration and bad people leave a bad vibration. I am not talking about a gross physical phenomenon that everyone can feel ……is subtle. ….. You tune into a jnani’s vibrations by having a quiet, still mind. ….If you have not tuned yourself to receive this frequency, you cannot expect to experience or benefit from the vibrations that a jnani may have left in a place.
Question: Is the intensity of the vibration more if we stay close to a living jnani?
Annamalai Swami:  Yes.
Question: Is it the same with Arunachala?
Annamalai Swami:  Yes. No doubt about it. Bhagavan himself said that if one lives at the foot of Arunachala, one does not need any kind of initiation. If one’s intentions are pure and holy, merely living here can be a good sadhana.

If you sit in meditation for a long time, without moving the body, the mind gets dull and tamasic. Even moving the toes while sitting is a good way of getting rid of the tamas. Mirabai used to dance and sing. That’s a good way to meditate. Giri pradakshina [walking around Arunachala] is also good. Its walking meditation.

Question: What should be the right attitude when one sits in the presence of a jnani?
Annamalai Swami: Just keep quiet. Make contact with the silence of the Self within.

Annamalai Swami:  ………..Bhagavan said, ‘Do self-enquiry. Find out who you really are. When you are totally absorbed in this problem, this enquiry will lead you to the Self. Some people, though, said that they found this very hard, or they said that this method somehow didn’t appeal to them. Bhagavan would sometimes tell such people to watch the breath, to see where it arose. Bhagavan always maintained that mind and breath arose in the same place, so focusing attention on the source of the breath is really the same as focusing attention on the source of the mind through self-enquiry.’

Annamalai Swami:  ……Realising the truth is one thing, but guiding others towards it is something else. All jnanis are not equally capable when it comes to guiding others.

….the Self is everywhere. There is no place that is without it, but it is also true that there are certain places, certain people, around which and around whom the presence of the Self can be easily felt. In the proximity of this hill, the presence of the Self is more powerful and more self-evident than anywhere else…… Bhagavan himself said that Arunachala is greater than all other religious places. There are other holy, powerful places in the world, but none has the power of Arunachala……There is a huge amount of Shakti, spiritual energy here….Even before Bhagavan came here and lived here, there were innumerable sages who had discovered the power of Arunachala for themselves…… I also heard him say once, ‘If you go round this hill, it will give you its grace, even if you don’t want it.’

Annamalai Swami:  These jnanis who don’t have disciples don’t appear to be helping anyone, but their power, the power of their realization, is having a beneficial effect on all beings. It is true, though, that some jnanis pass away without teaching anyone directly. Lakshmi the cow and Bhagavan’s mother are examples of this.
Question: Bhagavan once said that one jnani living on this earth is a tremendous help to all people.
Annamalai Swami: Yes, yes.

Question: …….Is it advisable to get married? …..
Annamalai Swami: If the partner has progressed spiritually to the same extent that you have, it would be a great help. But if one partner is less interested in spiritual matters than the other, the one who has less interest will drag the other down, unless the more interested partner is spiritually very powerful. And in such a situation there would always be quarrels and tension. If both partners have the same spiritual yearnings to realize the Self, married life is OK. Otherwise it is a hindrance.

….Jnanis usually come to their last births with a mountain of punyas on account of what they have done in their previous lives. The jnani cannot experience all these punyas himself, but those who come into contact with him can receive them as blessings. The same thing can be said for all the papams that the jnani brings to his final life.
… Those who come to a jnani and do selfless service to him find themselves becoming spiritual millionaires when they receive the jnani’s unused punyas. And those who come to abuse and insult the jnani end up receiving all his unused papams. This is an automatic process. The jnani does not pick and choose the people who are going to be the recipients of these punyas. ….Devotees… reach heights that would be difficult or impossible to reach through their own efforts.

There were other Hindu dietary rules that Bhagavan sometimes ignored. When there is a solar or lunar eclipse, we are not supposed to cook or eat.
One one such occasion, Bhagavan said, ‘…lets take our food as usual….’

….Your thoughts….If you ignore them and keep your attention on the source, they will not develop….Bhagavan compared this process to laying siege to a fort. If you cut off, one by one, the heads of the thoughts as they come out of the fort of the mind, sooner or later there will be none left. The way to do this is by self-enquiry. As each thought rises, you ask yourself, ‘To whom does this thought appear? If you are vigilant in doing this, the forest of thoughts will lessen and lessen until there are none left. When the thoughts have gone, mind will sink into its source and experience that source.’

Remember, nothing that happens in the mind is ‘you’, and none of it is your business.

From ‘a comma in a sentence. Extraordinary change in an ordinary family over six generations’ by R Gopalkrishnan

….Grant happiness study which followed the developments in the lives of 268 men in the Harvard class of 1937. For seventy-three years the study tracked all areas of their life…..

The study identified six variables which contribute to human happiness:
i.                    education
ii.                  stable relationships
iii.                not smoking or alcohol abuse
iv.                warm cohorts: siblings, school friends and others
v.                  exercise and healthy weight
vi.                healthy adaptation