The Indian Blockbuster of the Summer:

"Arranged, actually."

:)

(credit for this one goes to Matthew Mayer).

The World of Tomorrow - Lessons From the Life of a Visionary

"The fact is there is nothing that you can trust; and that is a terrible fact, whether you like it or not. Psychologically there is nothing in the world, that you can put your faith, your trust, or your belief in. Neither your gods, nor your science can save you, can bring you psychological certainty; and you have to accept that you can trust in absolutely nothing. That is a scientific fact, as well as a psychological fact. Because, your leaders – religious and political – and your books – sacred and profane – have all failed, and you are still confused, in misery, in conflict. So, that is an absolute, undeniable fact."

Jiddu Krishnamurti

"Do not think about yourself, but be aware of the thought, emotion, or action that makes you think of yourself."

Jiddu Krishnamurti


Violence is part of our humanity. Where there is "me" and "mine" there is inevitably violence. We have a funny way of celebrating this. Watch a movie from Hollywood or Bollywood or Kollywood and there are often guns blasting bloody holes in human beings. There is a long tradition of celebrating violence in the movies. From the old Westerns to "Seven" to "Fight Club." We seem to like gangsters and blood and gore. The battle between good and evil is one thing. But violence for its own sake is something twisted and peculiarly human. Animals never kill for pleasure and they certainly don't make killing into a form of entertainment. Humans do. The Romans were perhaps the original perpetuators of such inhuman "sport." Rarely, do we question the role of violence in our lives... As long as it is distant and part of a filmic story it's ok. But is it?

If you fill a room with rats to bursting point - biological nature in the form of the survival instinct will decree that a pregnant female rat that gives birth to rat babies will immediately eat the babies. A lack of biological space breeds a peculiar form of violence.

Congestion breeds violence. Greed and selfishness breed violence. Vanity is a form of violence. Violence has many shades.... just as silence does. There is psychological violence and there is the violence/indignity of sheer survival as in the case of the overcrowded rats. What can it teach us?

Gandhi believed in a life based on the principle of "ahimsa" - non-violence. It is a nice belief; but to live up to it is very challenging. Human beings are conflicted inwardly in so many ways and this has manifested a world of divisions and fear. How can there be real change? It is a very profound and difficult question to approach.

If we approach this question with any seriousness it becomes clear that understanding anger and violence is critical to the evolution of a society. Religion offers forgiveness and there is great wisdom in real forgiveness...but is it enough for society as a whole?

When Mandela came to power he set up court hearings where no verdict was given. Rather, accused and victim were brought together to air the grievances of the past, with the ultimate aim of securing some level of healing – this was an absolutely critical process for a country that had lived in the shadow of racial divisions for decades. The alternative was the rule of hatred and the bloody self-destruction of a nation. It was a unique exercise in humanism. Such deep-seated hatred is hard to change. The Chinese and Koreans to this day are angry with the Japanese. The Japanese may have left their shores...but they have never apologized for the atrocities they committed in their colonial period.

A few months ago I moved to India. One morning, miraculously, I woke up with a name in my head. The name was not one I knew anything about. “John Ruskin.” I mentioned the name to my mother in a telephone conversation. She knew quite a bit about Ruskin and admired him a great deal. Before we ended our conversation, she said that there was somewhere she had to take me when I came home. When I visited England a couple of months later, we drove me up to the Lake District. It was early spring.

The lambs were playing in the meadows and the daffodils were coming into bloom as we drove through that immortal countryside where Wordsworth had once often strolled. We came upon the shores of Lake Coniston and there, perched on a hillside overlooking the perfect rustic beauty of a million post cards, was Brantwood - Ruskin’s home for some 27 years. Ruskin was one of the foremost thinkers and writers of Victorian times, a Professor of Art at Oxford University, and a noted art critic. He retired to Brantwood in Coniston in 1872.

The house is filled with Ruskin's drawings, paintings and watercolors. It is a still, quiet place. And to me, it had something unique to share: the perfume of an inspired life – a life that lives on today – a life rich in passion and conviction…undaunted by death or time.

In 1878, Ruskin wrote of the view of Coniston from his study:

"I raise my eyes to these Coniston Fells (hills), and see them, at this moment imaged in their lake, in quietly reversed and perfect similitude, the sky cloudless above them, cloudless beneath, and two level lines of blue vapour drawn across their sunlighted and russet moorlands, like an azure fesse across a golden shield."

As I walked around the house…taking in the old wooden stair case, the exquisite art and the view from his study…I began to glimpse something of the refined beauty of its hidden occupant and his glorious mind….I wondered why his name had been given to me…and why in India…

This essay is the beginning of an answer to those questions. Questions which came to my mind on that wild, windswept hillside - a place as far removed from where I have recently come to call home as I can possibly imagine. Somehow, those questions have woven these two disparate corners of the earth together and the resulting tapestry demands answers; it demands action.

John Ruskin was a remarkable human being who was born at a time of great transition in the history of Britain and the world. He was born into the first generation of an industrialized world. Britain, more than any country, was the progenitor of the industrialized society and although, technologically speaking, Brunel was its greatest hero...perhaps the greatest social champion of the age was Ruskin.

The Industrial Revolution was the major technological, socioeconomic and cultural change in the late 18th and early 19th century. It replaced an economy based on manual labor with one dominated by industry and machine manufacture. Ruskin's thinking on art and architecture became the thinking of the Victorian and Edwardian eras. Upon the death of his father (a wealthy wine merchant), Ruskin declared that it was impossible to be a rich socialist and he promptly gave away most of his inheritance.

His later works influenced many Trade Union leaders of the Victorian era. He was the inspiration for the Arts and Crafts Movement, the founding of the National Trust, the National Art Collections Fund and the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings. In fact, he did so much that, at one point, he went mad. He plain overdid it and, consequently his mind and body got sick.

Socrates was brought to trial by the powerful intelligentsia of his day. Socrates represented the pinnacle of the Greek civilization. He never settled for what someone else reported. He had to find out for himself. He lived by divine laws.

At his trial, he listened as the arguments were stacked against him. You know what he said in response? He consented that the cleverness of his prosecutors’ words was undoubted - hell, even he almost fell for what they were saying - but, in the end, not one word they said was true. The intellect is very cunning and most of us fall for its meaningless justifications in one way or another.

In every age, beings like Socrates and Ruskin are born. But to say that their work in this world is simple is grossly unfair. The phenomenal world of manifest consciousness is complex and the mind that navigates through it is prone to all kinds of pitfalls. The external world persecuted Socrates. He rose above it. In Ruskin's case, he came face to face with madness on the inside. History is full of mad geniuses. One moment they are the embodiment of sanity and light - the next moment...well it is never really sure.

The mind is a powerful instrument, but, like any instrument, it can be exhausted and abused. The challenge, for each one of us, is to go into the depths of ourselves, amidst all the sorrow and pressures, amidst all the temptations and beauty... and find sanity. Sometimes the world nails us to a cross or we find ourselves fighting so hard for a better world or a clearer view of what could be that we come to the edges of the known. Then we must go within to find our strength. No matter how noble and earnest we are, there are so many factors that must be rightly appreciated for balance to prevail. Ruskin, in many ways, exemplifies just how perilous this inner journey is.

He was a true renaissance man. He was perhaps extra remarkable in that he left no school and no followers to perpetuate or corrupt what he had propounded. In many ways, this was a wonderful blessing.

Somehow the really great men stand alone. Jiddu Krishnamurti was an unparalleled religious teacher (who was ‘discovered’ in Madras at the turn of last century by the Theosophical society) who knew, more than any other, the danger of followers. He made sure he died outside of India (so India's claim on him as a son of their soil was even less tenable) and he forcibly spoke against followers of any kind, with regard to the search for truth.

‘No one can give you truth’ he famously chastised all would-be disciples. No church or temple or book can bring you intimacy with yourself. Rare teachers might meet you as real mirrors of the human condition. But the only real teacher is he or she who comes to another without motivation or self-interest interfering with the natural life course of the seeds of beauty that are hidden within us. How right he was! How rare such individuals are! Ruskin was one such teacher. And, as with all great teachers, the example of his life is a great lesson for all who have the eyes and ears to perceive its unique value.

The values that Ruskin brought inspired many. Amongst them, there was Gandhi. He read Ruskin's essay "Unto the Last" and was deeply moved. Who could not be inspired by words such as these?:

"There is no wealth but life. Life, including all its powers of love, of joy, and of admiration. That country is richest which nourishes the greatest number of noble and happy human beings; that man is richest who, having perfected the functions of his own life to the utmost, has also the widest helpful influence, both personal, and by means of his possessions, over the lives of others."

John Ruskin

But, for all the amazing things that Gandhi did, he was perhaps deluded in some ways. On the issue of how a modern post-industrial society might function I feel that Ruskin was far less deluded than Gandhi. Certainly, I feel that this is the case in terms of the application of sociological principles to the modern era. Perhaps the awesome challenges of the size of India makes that statement unfair. Bringing the welfare state to a newly mechanized Britain, in many ways, is a hugely easier task than bringing it to a society of a billion people that has taken much, much longer to industrialize.

Gandhi championed the poorest of the poor as the "Children of God." This is a nice idea, and perhaps as true as any other title in the absolute sense. But in actuality the poorest of the poor are the children of misery and their children, in turn, are the children of further misery… and so on and so on. Nehru came along and said that the new temples of India were the hydroelectric dams and elite "MIT"-styled training colleges that he founded across the new nation. Gandhi with his spinning wheel and his philosophical conjectures somehow looked outdated by comparison. To be fair - both had their place in a society with such disparity of extremes. Yet, in many ways, the loom that Gandhi so fervently championed has come to represent something nostalgic and outdated.

A young documentary filmmaker of Indian descent came from America to India a few years ago. He made a short film that has a powerful beginning statement. In the film he hired a helicopter in the city of Hydrabad. He films the city from the air and then zeros in on the statue of Gandhi in the central square. Then we see a bomb fall and the statue of Gandhi is obliterated into a fog of ash and smoke.

He was trying to point out that Gandhi does not really live on in India today. And sadly, as a direct consequence perhaps - nor does Ruskin. But Ruskin's vision is needed more than ever. Gandhi's vision is perhaps, by comparison, a little isolated and behind the times. But the needs of the people that Ruskin saw emerge as a consequence of industrialized society - needs that were met with the founding of the National Trust and the beginnings of the welfare society - are very much the needs of the Indian people today. Leo Tolstoy described Ruskin as "one of those rare men who think with their heart."

But where is the heart in modern India? Sadly, you won't find it in politics. Most politicians in India are individuals who can be bought. Their differences lie not in substance but in the price that it takes to buy them. So politics has failed to bring what India most needs to the fore. Ruskin remains the symbol of all that is most needed.

Jesus of Nazareth stormed into the temple and threw the moneychangers stalls to the ground. Lord Acton's warning that "power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts
absolutely"
was alive as much then as it is today. Jesus went to the temple perhaps a handful of times in his life. He went either to debate and question or - as in the case of his confrontation with the moneychangers - to deal a terrible blow to the unquestioned and corrupted authority of the priesthood.

Krishnamurti echoed the wisdom of Jesus’ actions with the wonderful line: "Love is the most dangerous thing, because when we love somebody, we are vulnerable." When you really love, your actions are inspired by conviction in another plane of reality. Most people that call themselves religious have no relationship with that plane. All they really have is faith in some "sacred" images… that and a lot of attachments to material things, to people and to shallow doctrines.

In the early 1960s President Kennedy gave America the challenge to put a man on the moon. 50, 000 scientists, civil servants and technicians rallied behind the challenge, as well as millions of dollars of tax payer’s money. Ten years later Neil Armstrong was taking his "giant leap for mankind." The impossible was made possible...because there was the collective heart to bring it about.

Come to India today and you see the poorest of the poor living in over congested cities. You have a bureaucratic and overburdened, corrupt government and a police force and a judiciary that is in the pockets of whoever bribes them the most. In many parts of the country there is an ugly class war going on between the lower classes and the Brahmins (and believe it or not - such issues have become the mainstay of political lobbying during elections). Infighting is everywhere you go in this world - but it is always petty and pitiful. How we waste our lives getting all puffed up over prejudices! How ridiculous agreeing and disagreeing is! When will we learn to really cooperate and look sternly at the facts?! When will we be human - rather than some demeaning label that inevitably divides and separates us?

The architecture in modern India, by and large, has no beauty. The streets are dirty and poorly maintained. Overcrowded housing block slums, with inadequate water and electricity supplies, live side by side the opulent houses of the rich - many of whom live in such decadence that, if one is at all sensitive, one is sickened by the contrasts. The majority live for what they can scrape from the tough realities of today and the vision of a redeemed tomorrow is lost in powerless, empty political slogans. The poor piss and defecate in the street.

If you are the father of a girl child in India... on her wedding day you have to spend ridiculous amounts of money to fund a wedding that is all about show and the upholding of an ugly and unfair tradition. Rather than having a small, humble wedding ceremony and inviting both families to contribute money to a fund for the education and upbringing of the children that will follow, society prefers to go on with the outdated practice of these lavish, ostentatious events. The cost of such heartless weddings - weddings that, often, last for days and which cost thousands and thousands of dollars – cripples many poor families here.

I was reflecting the other day on how, in many ways, prisoners in the First World have it good by comparison to some "free" Indians. Even the cows often have a better life here than many humans!

Where is Ruskin's hope for humanity? Not here. The man who championed the arts and architecture and the virtues of the civil society is buried under rubble and tears. When will the phoenix rise up and bring sanity to all this pollution and fallacy?

Of course, there are government bodies that are doing good work and NGOs who have come and settled and who do wonderful things. But where is the synthesis - where is a people mobilized and dedicated to the eradication of poverty? America can put its man on the moon. But India cannot put itself to rights. Please do not interpret that to mean that I am championing America. I am not. The public health system in America is no less a tragedy of our modern world's inhumane political "solutions". But that is what happens when a society makes "money" its god.

Of course, a culture is a complicated thing. Generally, one cannot separate religion from politics. But one must separate party politics from political progress, if there is to be clarity and insight. For me, Ruskin will always be the greatest champion of such wisdom. The American constitution has such wisdom written into it too, in the form of the Electoral College system (though, in recent years, sadly even it has been corrupted). Then there was Lincoln. He warned that prosperity breed tyrants. Individuals like Ruskin and Lincoln stand out as beacons of light in a world weighed down and made sluggish by the violence of vested interests.

A good friend of mine said recently that Ruskin cannot be brought to India. He might be right. But one thing I know is that Ruskin MUST be brought here - for the sake of dignity and a world of tomorrow worth living in. An Indian engineer recently tried to explain an aspect of Indian culture and economics to me. He started by saying "You see labor is very cheap here. So that is not an issue for us." This is true. But it is, sadly, also false. It is very much an issue; an issue, in the sense that it comes at a terrible price.

Spindly women (from the lowest class – the dalits or untouchables) with hods loaded with sand and grit populate all road and building work efforts in India. People are cheaper than machines and if they break down they are more easily replaceable. As an employer you need not provide insurance plans and if laws are brought in that say you must - there is always a way round it. When you are desperate to work to feed yourself and your family...how can you fight for a pension? The simple answer is - you can't.

What is the cost of all this? The cost is a cycle of a misery that just won't go away. Pensions exist for government workers here. There are payment plans that banks and insurance companies offer. But to the poor man in the street, the only substitute for a pension is to have children; children that are born into misery and pain... raised without the space for love to flower...and who, by blind allegiance to a sick and ailing tradition, are destined to take care of you in your dying days. And woe besides you if you are an orphan or a poor woman whose husband dies young! Things can be very tough indeed.

I am not saying that the West has it good. I am not saying that at all. But at least, there is a system in many western countries, which is somewhat of a safety net for those individuals in society who need help. It may be imperfect, and it may be far behind what Ruskin himself envisaged for the world of tomorrow. But that which is in place is an important difference between the vast divide of what the West offers its citizens and what the miserable masses in India struggles to deal with day-to-day. Such a system is essential for the evolution of a country, and it needs to be a system that cannot be overthrown by the power of governments; a system outside of the double-edged sword of the charity that missionaries offer. I consent that such a task in a country like India is a formidable one. But I also contend that in the industrialized global society that is now emerging, if one man's vision is up to that task - then it is Ruskin's.

I am not offering solutions – certainly not fully fleshed out ones anyway. I AM raising questions and pointing to necessary changes. How those changes might be brought about, is the subject of a vital debate. Affluence without wisdom is self-destructive. Equally, poverty is permanent and equally destructive to a society devoid of compassionate and intelligent action.

Edmund Burke said a whole lot in the following line, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” The question it raises, in the context of this essay...is what is the right action for humanity to take on the issue of poverty that one witnesses in India?

Corrupt and sluggish governments are not equal to the task. Nor are the NGOs. The educational system is under funded and grossly limited. So where do you begin to plant the seeds of meaningful change? And how can the socio-economic saving graces of the visionary actions of men like Ruskin be implemented with any force and thunder in a country as vast and as complicated as India?

Many people have voiced their opinions on how to move India out of poverty. Forced sterilizations are perhaps the most mechanical and shallow solution. Clearly, it is not a solution with any love behind it. Equally, leaving it up to the intellectuals or the uneducated masses is not going to bring forth any long-term meaningful transformations. Fear and desperation have brought us to where we are today. Nationalism won't solve the problem. Governmental policies will only scratch the surface.

India's future lies in the hands of architects. If it is to be a bright future...those architects must be architects of economic policies that empower the poor (and the rich must be the driving force of such change); there must be architects of education that bring an end to bribery and corruption… and architects of the halls of justice that somehow prevent criminals in positions of power from slipping through the cracks. There must be architects that build cities that are no longer based on lack and the desperation of short-term self-centered solutions.

It is said in the Vedic writings of Vaastu - India's ancient science of placement and architecture - that when you bring four walls together to form an indoor space...you create a kind of living entity. It can either be a living hell or a living heaven...It all depends on how you shape and populate those inner walls.

Nehru said that India's problems with poverty were not an Indian issue, but rather, they were a concern for all humanity. With India representing a significant percentage of the population of the planet, clearly he had a point. The people of the world need to recognize this. At the same time the people of India need to be humble enough to welcome all who would join forces with them in facing the challenge it brings us. And we all, as responsible individuals, need to reconcile our inner conflicts and the terrible violence of our present world. The alternative is more entertainment and misery. Distraction, distraction, distraction.

I have heard it said, many times, that India is behind China in so many ways. China has plenty of problems too (e.g. poverty, a centralized government that sanctions what is allowed and what isn't, and a brainwashed populace) - but, industrially speaking, it is much more reliable than India (they have roughly the same population and though China is a bigger country...they are both giants). There is a bureaucratic government there too...but in China what you pay for you usually get and you get it on time. India lags woefully behind in comparison. Together, they represent a third of the population of the planet.

China must somehow come to democracy before it can mature into the powerhouse of possibility that it will inevitably be. India has "democracy"...but it needs to eradicate corruption, establish a welfare system and diversify the educational and training base that it offers the poorer members of its society. Otherwise, the women laborers will go on digging up roads and 12-year-old bus boys will remain a common feature of restaurants. And when technology finally replaces them, as it must...their offspring will still be sweeping the streets and serving the fat and the rich. They will still be living in squalor without any hope and, perhaps worst of all, without the feeling that anyone cares. If that happens who will take responsibility?

We prosecute men like Milosovec and Saddam Hussein for crimes against humanity – but who will stand in the dock if we allow this heartless madness to continue? Surely, it should be every one of us who stands mutely by.

Some say that a welfare society in India is impossible. But they who say this are the metaphorical offspring of the temple priests and money exchangers of Jesus’ day. For them life has nothing truly sacred to offer. They don't know what passion or conviction is. They don't see the realities of industrial change. Their only "wealth" is founded on things that will never nourish. Things such as implacable doctrines and metal coins that, in the final analysis, don't amount to anything...except more suffering and the blood money necessary to uphold a blind tradition that has lost its heart; a deadly tradition...a tradition without vital questions.

Perhaps it this which we all, as individuals, must fight above all. After all, is that not what Krishna and Jesus and Buddha and Ramanuja and Ruskin - and anyone else worth his salt - stood for - i.e. standing up to traditions devoid of vital questions? Reaction to the old corrupt regime only breeds a new corrupt regime. That is a cold, hard fact. There is never any dignity in reaction.

Sensitive attention to the root of our inhumanity is the only thing that promises meaningful change. Someone asked me what made me write this essay. Without thinking, the answer came. It was a scream. A primal, silent scream that came from a heart that is really alive to what it witnesses. The time for half truths is over.

"There is no wealth but life"
and "without vision, the people perish." Things to contemplate...


"You never look without a reaction. You look at a sunset and merely say how lovely it is or that it is not as beautiful as it was yesterday. So you have never looked at it. Your memory of yesterday destroys the perception of what is, today. How extraordinarily difficult it is for us to look at something clearly, openly, simply!"


Jiddu Krishnamurti


See also these posts (they are related to what is discussed herein):

Friday, August 05, 2005
- Further reflections on Ruskin....and Lord Siva
- Doubts....doubts, they will come...

A love not of this world

I want to be here for you.
In the quiet shade.
Do you see how the world brings you tears and laughter?

I am not of this world.
You cannot be betrothed to me
in some symbolic ceremony.
Yet, I stand by you.
by you.

Who am I?

The man behind the mask.
The Self that you are.

Impeccability

Ever ask what impeccability is?

One of those questions you cannot ask lightly.
One of those questions that destroys the past.
Ah such a beautiful question.

Do you know a really impeccable being?

Not impeccable in the sense of the officially correct. But impeccable in the sense of true to their word, true to life. Such an individual bowls you over with the love that flows through them. They bring you to tears...because they live like they have nothing to lose. The difference between them and an addicted gambler...is that they really KNOW that they can only gain through giving.

Togetherness

Together, we are undefeatable. Alone, we are frightened, insecure, suspicious, distrusting.

No matter how angry you are with another...there IS love between you. The holiest spot on this earth is where an ancient hatred has become a present love.

When you see that - not as some intellectual idea - but as the actuality that it is - you are truly blessed. You are grateful for that immense love which is not your own, which is not personal - without that love...You are absent; you are just a shallow shell, an ego rusting in the harsh, dry winds of a lifeless deserts...with it You are related to everything. Then You have substance, then You stand for something meaningful.

Put your projections aways and learn to love. It will destroy all you thought yourself to be. But boy will you have a reason to smile! And what is more, you'll learn what a real friend is too. He dwells within you.

Ah beautiful!

At the time of waking up from sleep and before becoming aware of the world, there is that pure "I-I." Hold onto it without sleeping, and without allowing thoughts to possess you. If That is held firm, it does not matter even if the world is seen; the seer will remain unaffected by the phenomena.

Ramana

The heart is a lonely hunter

The heart is a lonely hunter.
It goes out alone or not at all.
It shies away from the crowd...
Yet, is connected to all.

It seeks a home in the smile of another.
When the smile turns to anger...
It retreats into the silence of itself.
It ever hears the sweet song of hidden promise.
Forgiveness is its greatest treasure.
Its greatest gift?
Joy beyond measure.

Synthesis

The etymology of the word synthesis is as follows:

1611, from L. synthesis "collection, set, composition (of a medication)," from Gk. synthesis "composition," from syntithenai "put together, combine," from syn- "together" + tithenai "put, place," from PIE base *dhe- "to put, to do" (see factitious). Synthetic in the sense of "made artificially by chemical synthesis" is first recorded 1874. Synthesizer "electronic musical instrument" is attested from 1909.

from: http://www.etymonline.com/

Chanting

There are so many benefits to chanting. Each vocal sound - of which, in sanskrit, there are a great many - has a beneficial effect on a corresponding chakra. This has profound implications on the health of the human being.

To what degree can another human being affect us

Patanjali - the great sage who wrote the Yoga Sutras - shares that a real teacher - a man of wisdom, who truly knows the ways of the mind, is capable of affecting us deeply. In sanskrit Siddhi is the word used to describe mental powers. There are many Siddhis or psychic powers availabe to the serious yogi. They are not the goal of yoga, indeed attachment to them can create obstacles on the path. However, it is rather beautiful and wondrous to consider the healing power of one mind upon another....even a mind that is distant and with which we have little or not physical contact. Never underestimate the power of an honest, earnest human being to affect you - both emotionally and spiritually. One must be open and honest oneself - otherwise such blessings remain purely an intellectual idea.

Condoleeza Rice and the future of the World

According to Condoleezza Rice, the U.S. has "de-hyphenated the India-Pakistan relationship". So that would be the IndiaPakistan relationship?

Illogical India

This is borrowed from: http://www.roadjunky.com/india/nologic_india.shtml

"We can only give you a few images to illustrate the everyday illogic of India and maybe you can make some kind of collage from them. They have the same word for 'yesterday' as 'tomorrow'.

They have nuclear weapons but still can't make boxes of matches that don't explode in your hands.

Even now, in the 21st century they have no long-handled broom. Indians still bend at the hip to sweep up with a brush.

Indian cows are holy but they're left to eat plastic and die of clogged intestines.

The 50 rupee notes come fro the bank with a huge staple through them. So when you separate them they begin life with a huge hole in the middle. From there it's only a few months before they head to the torn-note wallah who'll change them for 60% of their value.

Nothing is pure. The petrol is adulterated and comes out of exhaust pipes in opaque, black fumes. The honey is mixed with sugar and the saffron is blended with cotton. Everyone clings onto the caste system and traditional prejudices but all the guys want to be as Western as the Bollywood actors.

Well, I still don't feel like I'm any closer. But if i had been writing with an Indian pen it would have stopped working by now, spilling ink onto my shirt. As i turned around to wash the ink off my hands there would have a cow would have some along to eat my manuscript... you get the picture."

A plumber in India

A friend of mine called me this morning. He had a blocked drain. He called the plumber. Apparently plumbers don't unblock drains here. I asked him who does. He is in the dark about that. But one thing is for sure plumbers don't do it. Not in India anyway! :)

The Indian trains website

The Indian trains website

You have to fill in a form to book trains online.
One of the questions asked is country of origin.
There is a list of countries to choose from.
The list includes Antartica!

All Penguins hop on - the 9.15 to Kolkutta is soon departing!

Gandhi the Mahatma

Gandhi once raised the question - Why the hell you call me a Mahatma?

Well, I doubt he used the word hell - but he had a damn fine point.

Mahatma means "perfected being."

Gandhi did not think of himself as a perfected being.

He said (paraphrasing) - Look people wake up! I am no mahatma. My only strength lies in being conscious of my shortcomings.

How nice to hear that. I think it's one of the most beautiful things I have heard in a long, long while.

So you think you are perfect do you?

What about your left foot - it's slightly bigger than your right foot! Your nose leans a little to the left and your taste in shirts is terrible! You need to sack your fashion designer or get rid of your "bad taste" gene. I mean what's with that haircut?!

Perfection is a snoozing elephant dreaming of being washed in a nice hot tub - whilst being washed in nice hot tub whilst sleeping - and then waking up to realise that his dream is actually happening! Could you scrub behind my left ear please?
Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh....
...bliss!

Don't waste anything.

I remember when I was a child not finishing my food. Perhaps, I only ate a small amount. My parents would say something like: "Think of the children in Africa who are starving. Finish your food. Do not waste it." There are people out there who would decry my parents for saying that. They would say such things create a guilt ridden mind in an innocent child.

This morning I woke up at 3.45am. I practiced yoga and did some work. I took a nap and by 9am I went out to buy a drink of juice. As I neared the corner store three street children swarmed around me hunting for change. They were relentless. I ignored them, as one has to...otherwise you'd go mad. The only white guy around - descended upon by poor Indians because white people are renowned for their charity... or perhaps it is just because white people round here are sitting targets. The shopkeeper shooed them away.

I have traveled and seen a lot. I am sure that there is something very sacred in life. But I wonder if it is to be found in the temples. Why is man so suspicious? Why do we have children that won't be loved? What is justice? Has a judge ever known what it is? I doubt it. The animals never bear the kind of indignity that man allows himself to get into - unless they are forced to by man.

I know where I live is relatively affluent to other parts of the world - certainly other parts of India - but go a stones throw from where I sleep and you will find people living in dire poverty. Krishnamurti once said "there is no love in this country" speaking of India - and how right he was. Why is love so tremendously elusive? Why do silly traditions go unquestioned? Why must the parents of the female child pay a stupid dowry - why not be fair and let each parent pay half? And instead of pouring money into heartless weddings that do nothing but showcase our ugly insecurities - why not put that money into a fund to contribute to the upbringing of the children that will naturally follow the consumation of the marriage?

Why does the swarming crowd move forward blindly without questioning things deeply? Why was Joan of Arc totally without fear, whereas and you and I - we can't even take a small risk without screaming with fear? What we call risk taking - betting on horses or getting stupidly drunk - has nothing to do with courage. Only the pure heart knows what courage is. Only the responsible mind knows what courage is. We are slaves to expectations and the comfortable life. How afraid we are to make mistakes! And what fools we are because of that! Ha!

Wherever there is affluence without wisdom one sees the twisted waste of a self-destructive mind. And wherever there is poverty there is more misery. Somehow we become immune to the terrible sights we see on the television. Somehow we turn a blind eye to what is unjust - because hey, we got to survive! That may be true on one level - but so are our endless excuses and our endless justifications.

What is it that can tranform all of this? What great heart can bring about change? The artist can write a poem that somehow really touches us. The filmmaker can make a masterpiece that brings people to tears. How vital art is to lift us to other dimensions! How vital is the forest to keep us wedded and grateful for this earthly dimension we briefly call home.

The doctor can clean and dress a wound. The waiter can deliver a meal with affection. The rich man can start a foundation that really does things intelligently, that helps people in structured, meaningful ways. In different ways we can all make a difference. But we will fail in all our efforts, if we do not take the time and the space to have a long hard look at ourselves in the mirror of our relationships. How else can we know ourselves?

I guess what my parents said is not all that bad. You know, I never drop anything in the street - I always throw things away in trash cans - even if I have to carry junk for miles. I never waste food.

I knew a saint once. A woman came to him. She had very little time to visit with him. "Please Sir, tell me what can I do?" - she felt small and insignificant when she asked the question - but her whole impoverished heart was behind it. You could see that very clearly - if you knew how to look. You know what he said? He said, "Don't waste anything!" If you knew how to look - you could see her grow in strength and empowerment as the love behind his message unfolded inside her.

The ostentatious are never truly happy. Those in touch with their heart have a simplicity about them. Be on the look out for the signs of complexity and "show" in yourself. We are so complex. We have so many excuses. So many justifications. Don't waste time. Don't waste words. Don't waste money. Don't waste energy. Don't waste anything. Learn to be true to your word. Learn to keep your word. Learn to forgive and to have fun. If you can trust yourself, if you can forgive - you have taken the first step to being a real friend. And boy does this world need friends! Let that be your gift to humanity. The gift of your own honesty, the gift of not wasting anything. Love starts with being honest with yourself. It does not end.

If you really lived true to those words: "don't waste anything" - you too would be a saint.

Death comes quickly

Death comes quickly
And very seldom does one live.
Someone says: "open your eyes."
And very seldom does one listen.
Standing on the edge...
On our left a desert.
On our right...
A field of eternal flowers.

The mind is the only distance.
The diameter of an identity.
How it blinds the crowd.
And very seldom does one see.

Dreams and Good luck a la Beethoven

"Everything - every sinew of our being - is going to go on fighting with the resilient backbone of our hardest days."
"In the words of my captain."
- I dreamt the lines above as if they had been said by Thoreau of his Captain - Abraham Lincoln.

Also dreamt of being at home watching a movie of Beethoven's life - someone wishing him Good Luck. The look upon his face!

"Good luck is never a factor for great men" he said.

Can you place a value on the best of yourself?

"There, in the corner of the room. In the quiet, still night. There it is. There what you are most frightened to face. It gnaws into you. Why?"

Loneliness.

If you want to know what love is...never lose sight of where and how you are giving the best of yourself.

Ramana

The Three States

M: As soon as one knows that a mirage is a mirage, one gives it up as useless and does not run after it to get water.

Q: It is not so with the appearance of the world. Even after it is repeatedly declared to be false a person cannot avoid satisfying their wants from the world. How can the world be false?

M: It is like a person satisfying their dream wants by dream creations. There are objects, there are wants, and there are mutual satisfactions. The dream creations are as purposeful as the waking world and yet are not considered real. Thus we see that all these illustrations serve a purpose in establishing the stages of unreality. The realized sage finally declares that in the regenerate state, the Jagrat state is also real. Each illustration should be understood in its proper context; it should not be studied as an isolated statement. It is a link in a chain. The purpose of all these illustrations is to direct the seeker's mind towards the one Reality underlying them all.



From the book, "Conscious Immortality" by Paul Brunton and Munagala Venkataramiah, published by Sri Ramanasramam, Tiruvannamalai, South India. This book is now out of print and is not scheduled to be reprinted. For other books by or about Sri Ramana Maharshi and his teaching, please visit our web site bookstore: http://www.aham.com/bookstore/index.html

On Nikos Kazantzakis

The figure of Jesus is ever present in his thoughts, from his youth to his last years. But as presented in The Last Temptation of Christ it is a Christ tortured by the same metaphysical and existential concerns, seeking answers to haunting questions and often torn between his sense of duty and cause on one side and his own human needs to enjoy life, to love and to be loved, to have a family. A tragic figure who at the end sacrifices his own human hopes for a wider cause, Kazantzakis' Christ is not an infallible, passionless deity but rather a passionate and emotional human being who has been assigned a mission, with a meaning that he is struggling to understand and that often requires him to face his conscience and his emotions and ultimately to sacrifice his own life for its fulfilment. He is subject to doubts, fears and even guilt. In the end he is the Son of Man, a man whose internal struggle represents that of humanity.

From Wikipedia

Keep the bowl empty of the yesterday.

I have contemplated this question often. What need in us surfaces, that seeks a teacher? What is it we wish to be taught? What is it we are lacking? Is it lack? Or wrong perception?

I myself am very cautious about teachers. Think about your parents. Perhaps they erred terribly. Perhaps they did their best. Whichever way were they faultless? Did they give you the security and love you needed? What does a spiritual teacher give us that parents don't? What job does the teacher serve?

If we look at this very simply I think it comes down to this. Where there is pain there arises the intelligent and inevitable questions: "Why?" - Why must we suffer? What is it that suffers? Is it the mind or the body? Are we the mind or the body?

If a baby finds a pair of scissors on the floor, chances are that it will play with them. Mom or Dad would hopefully come to the rescue or - even better - the scissors would never come within the child's reach. But if they did and the parent took them away - there is a very good chance that the baby would cry at the loss of their toy.

Life is like this. We cry over things that we become attached to - often things that cause us harm. And sadly we lack the awareness - all too often - to question what it is that causes our tears. If we could somehow look with the eyes of maturity, would there be such a need for tears or would right action be automatic?

There are profound lessons to learn in life. But it takes great discrimination to even come face to face with them - never mind master them. A teacher is needed when there is a cry for help. Most often that cry does not get answered - at least not fully.

Love is beyond what can be taught. Perhaps its example can inspire us to live differently - but it cannot be taught. So what purpose does a real teacher serve?
And by what standard are we to measure a real teacher? - when we ourselves are in the dark as to what enlightened action would be. These are mystical and yet imperative questions.

Imagine for a moment that you lost everything that you held to be valuable. Imagine you lost your daughter or your husband or your father or your house or your car or your job - all of a sudden - everything that was familiar and comforting in your life was gone. Naturally you would enter a period of grief and depression. There might be physical struggle as well as emotional struggle. In the end you would be left with yourself and the raw inevitability of your emotions.

You might find yourself resenting their passing - as if life was cruel and you were its victim. Or perhaps you were abused in some way as a child and you have come to consider yourself to be a victim of life. Or perhaps you take a vacation in a country in the third world and you get to see terrible poverty every which way you turn. And it makes you numb with horror and despair...because you wonder how desperate and ugly human existence can be.

There are so many causes of pain potential in life. Pain is unavoidable. But how do we heal and what is it that happens in healing? Clearly, whether the pain is physical or emotional or mental - the mind is that instrument which correlates our experiences. It is the mind which is in charge of how we interpret perception. Indeed the mind is what is in charge of perception. It is the organising factor behind perception.

How the mind thinks determines our state of mind. The content of the mind is what we draw from when we seek explanations and meaning for existence. But what if the meanings we give events and phenomena are invalid - what if they are plain wrong? How do we find out what is true - if there is such a thing as truth? Put another way - where does truth begin and illusions end.

Einstein pointed out that if you are young man - time is far likely to speed along when you are in the company of a beautiful young woman than it is in the company of a boring lecturer. Perception is relative to our point of view.

How can there be transformation of perspective? Somehow with the right attention we can graduate from silence to mumbling "ma" and then from that to a few words and so on until we have a full command of a language. Knowledge is a business of aquisition. Is spiritual understanding the same as academic understanding? Is it a process of acquisition? If so, what is acquired? Does a spiritual teacher give us something? Or do they seek to refine something that is already there?

Perhaps this piece will raise more questions than it yields answers. I read somewhere that human beings at the start of a learning curve or a creative project tend to overestimate their capabilities.

There is that famous story of Michelangelo. In Michelangelo's day if one wanted to be a craftsmen one would have to find a patron and teacher. The custom was that one made up some kind of portfolio and one took it to whichever artist or sculptor one wished to study under. Michelangelo turned up with nothing. No paintings. No sketches. Zilch.

Somewhat surprised the master artist asked him how he could demonstrate his talents without a portfolio. Michelangelo asked for a piece of paper. He took the paper and drew a perfect circle. Try and draw a perfect circle. You can't. He could.

Simplicity is the essence of genius. Somewhere inside you there is a frightened child. Somewhere inside of you there is a being who craves to love and be loved. That wpunded child within has built up barriers to protect itself from what it percieves to be a cruel world. And those barriers are anything but simple. They are based on a thousand ineffable conditions the riddle of which is perhaps our most treasured possession. No matter what you do or say to me - I have that inner child to take refuge in - to hate you in silence, to sulk away the injustices of existence in cherished privacy.

Perhaps you have become a so called expert: a psychologist or a politician or a priest. You have studied the great minds of the age and you regurgitate what they say. Authenticity would demand us to question that child. It would demand us to look again. It would question very carefully whether the theories of mind concur with our experience of actuality.

It takes some courage to face up to that inner child. It takes some pretty defiant questioning in the face of loss and pain to confront ourselves. We are a set of conditions....a dictionary of conclusions; a manual of prejudices. How do we face them? And how does the Real teacher face us and themselves in the mirror of experiences. Are there any hard and fast rules? Probably not.

I think faith in a sense is needed. Faith in what is. I mean, if one is sensitive, one can sense that there is an ordering principle at large in life. Some greater intelligence that seems to be behind affairs. Can we listen to that?

What if nothing you see means anything? At least, what if nothing you see means anything in the context of your value system? What if your value system - the thing which informs your thinking process - is a rotten and destructive thing? How would one come to see that? Perhaps the analogy of the child and the scissors is helpful. Perhaps there is not a single answer - no testimony - no dividing line. Perhaps there are hints along the way we must take into account...

I remember I met a man with fire in his eyes. He was giving a lecture on the theme of determination. He asked "What is determination?" He asked that question with such passion, with such vigor....I was virtually knocked out of my seat with the force of his words. He talked at a normal volume but there was a vast force behind his question. There was an awareness there that seemed to have destroyed all conclusions that that question might bring forth - an awareness that had transcended thought.

Something touches you. Something hits you. It is not intellectual. It is very mysterious. But if you have the ears to hear you are brought to crisis. Every thing in this world has a quality about it. The quality that crisis leads us to is stillness that comes when we are no longer formulating answers to the unknown. In that stillness learning takes place. That stillness has always been and always will be the only hope for mankind. It is the extinguisher of all side issues and the prelude to everything worthwhile.

I think we all have a hungering for it - somewhere deep down. I think that is why we are here; to discover it. But I think - because of our colossal ignorance - it is the last thing we are interested in. How ironic this is, because it is usually the thing we most need to discover.

Perhaps a real teacher has some insight into this dilemma because he has grappled with it within himself and gone beyond the monotonous dullness of theoretical answers. Perhaps he smiles a little more often. Perhaps he has some relationship with joy. Yes, joy is the only sure sign. Pure, unadulterated joy in the face of all woeful conclusions; joy in the face of all tired, lamentable reflections. Joy that comes with the realization of something other....something within that surfaces when we are at one with that remarkable stillness - some kind of realization which says "ah how mistaken I have been all along!" How tremendously humble we must be - to really know what a smile is!

True happiness, ultimately, is inevitable to only one class of people: the deeply dissatisfied. For it is only they that can tear down the walls of their illusions that keep them boxed in and afriad. When you lose that which is precious - when you lose all meaning and hope in your life - however that happens - whether it be the loss of a loved one or the gaining of something which you have longed for for a long, long time - which in the end leaves you with nothing but regret - then, it just might be that you are being presented with the opportunity to find out what is keeping you bound to the lies about yourself which you have so completely and tragically come to believe. Then the child that is crying for help within might finally have something to meaningful within its reach to heal its desperate heart.
The wise are never desperate - not because they have mastered apathy - but rather because they have treasured their dissatisfaction above everything else. In truth only they have the right to ask what determination is - because only in the hands of such individuals does that question have real value. I pray you discover determination one day. I know very little - but one thing I do know for sure - that which discovers determination is not what you think yourself to be.

What is comedy?

“Comedy is an escape, not from truth but from despair”.


Christopher Fry

Beyond Separation

“There are no problems aside from the mind.”
Jiddu Krishnamurti


If we could discover the truth in these words we would be transformed. If you really heard these words it would silence your mind for hours.

We have become the masters of separation when our real work and identity lies in mastering union. We think that the noise of our thoughts and the noise of the bird outside the window or the sound of the car beyond on the road are separate. Yet are they not as one before the mind that sees beyond deceptions, before the mind that appreciates the true measure of consciousness, that sees the implicate order which enfolds all and which is forever in flux -- in which there is no death, just the pulse of life's ubiquitous and unanimous movement -- a movement which, once seen for what it is, reveals the secret of changelessness.

The field of consciousness is vast , but in essence it is undivided and uniform in nature. It is we who come to ourselves in fragments; and so what we see is fragmentary. But if we were to really listen to the movements of our thoughts and the movement of the world, we would see that they are born of one source. And the opposites which make our world are really only as illusionary as our erroneous perceptions; for the source of opposites lies, not in the world outside, but in our perceptions of reality.

Pleasure and pain are one in truth. But we are blind to this, and for such reasons, our lives have lost their innate meaning; and we live out our days in the shadow of fear, with its endless escapes, its violence and its tremendous stupidity. Our thoughts are frenzied and confused. And on this surface scum of riddled perception, we skate through our lives, oblivious to the real depths within us, deliriously blinded by our horizontal and deluded thought-forms. But those very thoughts and words that we cling to as sacred and meaningful lack insight -- words like love which we have invested with hundreds of false meanings, words like God, spirituality, intelligence, democracy and vision. In truth most of us do not know the actual state that belies these words, and so they are dust before our real genius, before our reality that ever lies hidden beneath the surface view of things. Yet, by our loyalty to that dust, it has become a force of great power in the world, and it is the source of all our problems: a sad, separated, lonely and forever busy mind is the source of all our problems.

Health and disease are of the same fluid core. They are not, as we are led to believe, irreconcilable opposites. They are moving principles of one another. Life and death exist in our minds and no where else. In truth,they are two separate and meaningless ideas that, before the light of reality, have no meaning. We put life in one corner and death in another, but they are the same. To separate them is to deny the actuality of organic existence.

In organic life, the building blocks of living organisms are other living organisms or matter -- matter being perhaps of less highly evolved structure which we label as inert because that is what our ill-informed present classification has termed it, but it is nonetheless alive. It is not the black and white, life and death, vision of reality we perceive. White is really black, and black is as much white as it is black. Life infuses everything, but illusions are not truth. Contrary to belief, and true to the eye of the discerning observer, everything is alive. The air we breathe is alive, the rocks are alive, the sea is alive... Life is energy; and decay is a life process. Death is part of the flux of existence at this level; and death does not mean that life ceases. Death is merely transformation of the physical organism. Yet in our minds we have so identified with the body - or escaped its inevitable demise by inventing some superstition about a soul that keeps us intact that goes on from life to life - that we have lost our intelligence in the process. Self-illusion is the same whether it takes the form of identity with a meaningless piece of clay or with a fearful thought that constructs an idea like the soul to give one refuge in the form of immortality. Truth begins when one sees through the apparently obvious and the ideal (a realm of fantasy that we have constructed), and one faces the subtle actuality of things with discerning and unwavering attention.

If we are free from attachment, whether to a person or to our bodies or to ideas about existence, then we can begin to observe what is actually true, what is actually happening. Then by freeing ourselves of all of our preconceptions and coming about to being truly psychologically self-reliant adult human beings, we might be lucky enough to begin to see through the eyes of love which is our natural inheritance.

What if I told you that tomorrow only exists in your minds -- that it is really an invention of your mind, that there is really only now. And what if I told you that there is no separate self , no thought of a body to get attached to -- that there there is only the infinite, and everything else is born of a misplaced sense of identity, everything else is the product of our own delusions, that within us all there is a state of mind (in most, lying dormant) that is totally aware of this, and that everything else your mind makes up is projectionary and ultimately the product of a fearful thought that you at some forgotten point have taken to be sacred, but in reality is meaningless. And if we seriously want to live, we must die every day to the yesterday - to our hectic thoughts and to our endless judgments that keep us bonded to the past (not, of course, the practical thoughts we need for our jobs/communication etc), to psychological time and to the endless preoccupation we have with it, and to the anxiety and perplexity that rules our lives.

You are part of creation. You are part of the implicate order of reality and your wholeness, your holiness (that word etymologically means "completeness") embraces and blesses everything. And the body which you take to be the center of all your activities is an idea only, with no substance in truth. But somehow nevertheless you are tied to this view of things - by your rigidity of mind and by your blind acceptance of some fearful and groundless thoughts.

And in your arena of cognition and experience, in your present domain of free will, the consciousness of which you are a part may be informed by one of two views of existence. One is based on fear and thought -- and so on the past and the projected future (for thought is the engine of comparison, and so it is old, and never new), and this view/experience of existence identifies with sensation, limitation and the body. And the other way of seeing is boundless, and attuned to infinity - to the realm that is your real home beyond illusions, to a realm that is untouched by the past, untouched by thought, unlimited by the time-space continuum of relative perception and existence. The first view is comparable to a dream. The second is awaiting you now -- or perhaps, better put, it is awaiting you whenever the Now is that You happens to wake up. Before the eyes of truth, it is the same now. But in the realm of relative perception, it might be perceived as a difference of a thousand agonizing and confusing years.

The world you have made by your first view of things is this world that you find yourself in: a world of cause and affect, a world of time, a world of pleasure and pain, a world of illusionary opposites, a world regulated by the laws of gravity and limited to the body, a universe that you perceive to flow from a past to a present to a future. That is the relative world of the body, of matter, of sorrow, of beginnings and endings. It may be very beautiful here and there: the sun coming up in the morning, the comets darting across the heavens, the woman's body young and naked in your arms, the soft touch of a baby, the story of a thousand yesterdays written on an old man's face, the taste of an orange on a hot day. It can indeed be very warm and inviting and rich in variety and things to share. Then again it can be very tragic. Dealing with loss and pain and disease, living with the uncertainty and fear that dogs your days, seeking security in your endless toil, dealing with this strange and pressured world that we all inhabit. Facing the horror of war, the tiresome arguments, the unhappiness and the hatred - facing it in the world “outside” and facing it within yourself.

But behind all of this drama, behind the highs and lows, the ebb and flow of the relative world and the confines of thought, there is the spiritual impertability of love - the implicate order of creation itself , to which we are all inextricably linked. This is not an idea, not something I am trying to persuade you to believe in. It is there, but it has no meaning unless you discover it for yourself ; otherwise it is just an idea - an idea to find refuge in - and there is never wisdom in ideas. The wise are really only interested in facts, never abstraction, never philosophical speculation or blind faith. That does not mean they lack faith, indeed despair is alien to the truly wise. They have a faith that is born of sincere investigation of phenomena. If you are sick and you go to see a doctor he is liable to give you some medicine, and though you may not know what precisely the medicine does to you, you are willing to give it a try. All science is founded on hypothesis and one investigates these to see if they are in harmony with the truth of things. It takes a certain scientific faith to follow through with such experimentation - based on insight or intuition or rational deduction - nonetheless the product of our travail would not be wrought without a certain faith in one's own capacities to figure out what is actually going on in any given situation. This is totally different from blind faith. Blind faith accepts things without substantiation. So then one does not found ones life course on conviction based on one' s own discovery, but rather on accepting things blindly. This is fear based and has nothing to do with real faith in the forces of light and life.

At some point it must be realized that this world of changing appearances that is before you - whether you like this fact or not - it remains a fact (though it might be difficult for many of us to discern) - has come about through your belief in a false idea that you have created and given your allegiance to in your mind....and another fact is that you are the arbitrator of how long you will let this fact go unnoticed and unseen. If you see it you will be transformed. But first you must learn to look - and most of us do not have the first notion of what it means to really look. To look in on yourself and your relationships - your relationships to nature, to others and to whole world outside. For all of life is relationship and to look in at yourself is to take in/be attentive to everything - within and without - and by so doing one steps out of separation. To look - to really look is an action that has no end. You can dispute the fact that the world you see is the one you made in your mind - you can dispute it for all of time...but that will not make the fact any less of a fact! But if you started to but question innocently the possibility that your perceptions, your view of things have made this world what it is...and so you then begin to observe without being regulated by any past conclusions then you would begin to be privy to another intelligence - an intelligence based on vision and not thought - an intelligence related to certainty and not guessing.

The fact is: you are the world you see. There is no separation. The only separation is in your mind. See through this extraordinarily subtle and intricate illusionary separation, and you come to liberation. You hold the keys to your own salvation - and no one else: no holy book, no teacher, no form of outside dependence. But if you are lucky enough and honest enough to really hear something wise that is written, or to gravitate to some wise words that you hear someone sharing, and if you have awakened to the intelligence to actually take heed of them within yourself, then more power to you. A seed of truth can only grow in the receptive mind; but still, acting on such words lies in your hands and no one else's.

Remember that Socrates took no one else's word for truth and even doubted his own. Remember that Gandhi said "I start with myself". Remember that if all the masters of mathematics were to disappear overnight, and if all the books of mathematics were burned, that would make the laws of mathematics not one iota less true. So it is with the eternal laws of your own being. Like the incredible beauty of mathematics, they can be discovered by any mind that is seriously intent on exploring the subtle inner workings of his own infinite self. True science does not make the laws of the universe, it merely discovers them and learns to apply them. And through the process of trial and error, through doubt, through questioning,.it comes reverently and seriously to intelligently understand them. So it is with any absolute science. And so it is with you.

And if you identify with the world of insanity that man has made, and if you never question it, but simply accept it as your lot - accepting it blithely as an inevitable consequence of the human condition, then you have closed the doors to original inquiry into the depths of yourself. And if you start with yourself and drop all your idols -- drop your heroes and your Gods and your organized philosophies and religions. If you start with yourself and rely on no authority, neither the authority of another nor the authority of your so-called answers, then life begins to reveal itself to you - as it actually is and not as you think it is, or as you think it should be. Leonardo Da Vinci's words put it beautifully: "Science comes by observation, not by authority."

Now we must live in the body. We must live at the relative level to some degree. We must wash it, feed it, etc. We must follow time's compass to catch the train; and we can use 'thought' to fathom the laws of mathematics or to learn a language or to paint a picture or to express our feelings or our view of the world. Self-reflection on canvas or in life (on the canvas of your mind) is nothing less than art; and the degree to which you give your attention to it - and your whole heart to it - to that degree will you reap the insights of a true artist of reality. None of this can the sane mind deny. However, whereas self-reflection on canvas is at best metaphorical, it does not embody the truly limitless potential/potency/poetry inherent in your own mind. There lies the greatest of poetry - a poetry that transcends words.

So, by observing ourselves we can come patiently and lovingly to appreciate what our gifts are, and perhaps fashion a livelihood that uses them, and therein is the foundation for a rich and meaningful life. But, at the absolute level, there must be, in our day-to-day lives, some appreciation of silence: the silence that belies our thoughts, the silence that pervades all things, in which our true and eternal and incorruptible nature is to be found - in the quietude of the now, everlastingly beyond the prison of limitation and thought. For in reality, behind our concepts, now is the only time there is. In eternity there is only now and eternity is now.

We must see that our thoughts of death are abstract things and out of this abstraction fear has evolved. Fear of the yesterday, fear of the tomorrow, fear of finality. Fear born of wrong identification - identification with the things of the world, with the dictates of the body, which in itself is a misperception. And from these fears, there arises this undeniable feeling (which is the cause of possessiveness and of so much violence and disappointment) that we want to hold on to things - to some rigid view, to some theory, to some idea, to some religion; we want to hold on to people and things, because we are so desperately insecure. And we are insecure because our lives are dictated to us by thoughts that we have imposed upon ourselves without having the wisdom to question. Most of us do not seem to have the presence of mind to observe the subtlety of thought and the nature of relativity, and to go into it all with intelligence. We are so stuck in the echoes of a past - a past that is dominated by a way of perceiving the world and ourselves that keeps us bonded in chains, attached to uncertainty and under the control of our time-conditioned fears. In this there is no intelligence.

We are looking for answers; but the answers lie not in searching outside endlessly, but rather in adjusting our appreciation of ourselves and what it means to perceive without the shadow of the past - and so without thought intruding on our quietude, without fear dictating our every move. If one sees through fear, one sees it for what it actually is. Fear is the product of thought and thought is superficial and limited. Because it is limited, it cannot make contact with the forces of life. It cannot come upon your own holiness, as it is incapable of making contact with the fathomless nature of eternity. Life is deep and beyond measure. Meditation gives one real appreciation of life. For meditation is timeless and eternal. All of life is meditation, but it is only the truly wise (those who listen: the self aware) who can fathom the depth of these words. Only those who have discovered the space in themselves - to step out of the pressures of the dictates of modern life so as to manifest the right atmosphere in one's approach to living - to make contact with the still waters of one's reality. Meditation is a state of mind wholly present, untouched by fear in the eternal now. It is our one true link with the real.

The universe is not inanimate. The inanimate is not inanimate. There is no inanimate. Death, the 'inanimate' ... these shallow and meaningless ideas exist only in our minds. Heal ourselves of these tired illusions and we have awakened to sanity. Yet our concepts, our misplaced perceptions and our obsequious and ignorant adherence to authority blinds us to questioning, with any seriousness, our misconceptions.

Love has its own order, its own intelligence. It is all encompassing. It has no opposite. Hate, fear, envy, malice, war are indeed terrible things, but they are all things born out of an awful lie, a lie that we have persuaded ourselves to believe. Love is the one and only law of the universe. It governs all things. We can rebel against it, try foolishly to cover our eyes to its all pervading presence, but we will only come to the same delusions - the same delusions that blind all men who put their faith in illusions; and it is sure, that therein, we will never find sustenance.

Seeing is believing. To see the truth of things as they actually are - free of interpretation - is to transcend relative values and to come upon wisdom. What transcends ideas, beliefs, dogmas and opposites is an awareness that our perception (at this level, the bodily level that we have chosen to identify with - the realm of physically incarnate forms) makes the world we see. This world that surrounds us is relative because our perception is relative. One cannot separate perception from the world we see. But beyond perception, there is a universe untouched by thought, untouched by time. And if you follow the nature of relativity to its end, you will see that divisions and separations end, and they end in your own mind where they started in the first place. You are then related to everything. For you are everything.

See things as they are. See yourself as intrinsic to the whole and you transcend separation. You then see, in a moment, that you have been all along the source of the separation that your misperceptions dictate to you. Modern physics and the ancient rishis of India are essentially talking the same language. They paint the same glorious picture, just in different ways. Still, the overall affect is the same. The affect is no different for one who probes his own mind with any quality of seriousness. For one begins to see that relativity and its many divisions in our minds tends towards union. Time and space are one. Magnitude and microcosm exist in all things. And a mind that is free of the dictates of relativity has opened its doors to the miraculous, to the infinite. It has shifted its perception. To such a mind, there is no order of difficulty in the realm of miracles. Such a mind knows that all expressions of love are maximal, as it is free of ego limitations.

Let us consider thought itself for a moment and see how it affects our view of life. Thought is inextricably related to perception. Thought is a tool of comparative referencing, and it has evolved out of existence in a relative world. Thought by its very nature is limited, i.e., with a beginning and an end. And we allow its limitations to regulate us to inordinately stupid degrees. We are slaves to complexity. The world is indeed complex; but make no mistake, it is only a fool (the mind that is busy) that tries to appreciate its intricacy without the greatest simplicity in his approach.

Obviously we need thought to do a job, to perform a skill, to learn a language and so forth; and we store these 'know-hows' in our memory banks. But we have unfortunately come to worship our intellect at the cost of a really well-rounded and elastic intelligence; and we have become rigid and lost in our intellect. We are washed up in ourselves, in our own deluded minds.

To observe ourselves, to observe the mind, there must inwardly be quiet and a quality of patience that is not time-bound. This is essential. If there is no space in our life, if the atmosphere of our lives is not simple and refined, and if our approach to ourselves lacks a reverence and an intelligence that is capable of seeing through the lures and distractions of an insane world, our lives will be off; and our investigation into the purpose and meaning of human existence will lack thoroughness and consistency of intensity. We must really want to find out who we are and how we function and what depths bely surface appearances. I do not see how anyone who is really interested in wisdom, in self-knowledge, in peace can go forth otherwise. So one has to come to life with a sort of childlike innocence. And to find out what is true, to see through the false, one has to question things very deeply and with humility - by simply observing what is actually going on, free of vested interests, free of wanting results, free of motives.

When we are still, life reveals itself to us. It is like hiding in a forest, perched in tree at sunset, waiting to see what wild animals come out. If we are busy and loud, they will not show themselves. However, if we are patient and very, very still, we pass undetected and nature willingly shares her secrets. So it is with the mind that is not preoccupied with the unessentials. When we are busy we cannot learn. Learning is not just about acquisition of facts and figures, of skills and various subjects. That has its place, but it really for the most part is quite superficial. To learn is to be quiet. To learn is to be attentive to the movement of life, to the pulse of the heart, to the way others speak, to the diligence and attention you give to situations and to everything that you do. So one might say that honesty and awareness are perhaps the only teachers.

In life, there are many forces at work. The arrogant, the authoritative, the self-centered may like to think that they know how things work, but really it is only those who come to the reflective lake of existence (in their own mind), calmly and without pretense, who are capable of seeing clearly what the waters of the lake are sharing in reflection. Those who come with busy minds are ripple bearers, and they do not appreciate the subtleties of their own selves in the lake before them; they only decipher the consequences of their own inattention, and all they have to share are the sorry echoes of their own vanity. Their lives are then hollow testaments to what might have been if there had been the humility and tenacity to explore their own potentials fully. Their very noise deprives them of discovering the silence and insight that the lake of life, before their very eyes, has to share.

If you observe very carefully you will see how most human beings, often even those who regard themselves as enlightened or spiritual or kind, are often blind to true sensitivity and in stark contrast to how they like to think of themselves. One discovers, if one really observes, that they are actually brutal and indeed anything but humble. They are slaves to their own images and not free to look beyond those images. They are motivated by satisfaction - the satisfaction of position, of pleasure, of helping other people, or of ideals; or they hide themselves away in busyness and endless justifications, or angry (often well disguised or transmuted to be more palatable to those who surround them) and hypocritical tones about how selfish the world is. But the really sensitive do not live by satisfaction, nor are they controlled by the mischief of authority in all its many disguises. The really sensitive, the really serious have a quality of lightness about them - a simplicity and an earnestness and an affection about them which represents true productivity. They have nothing to defend, they are realists and free of cynicism because they have embraced an honesty that it seems few have the intelligence (not intellect) and the purity of heart to fathom. When they speak, their words resonate with truth for they have something to say that is in harmony with their own being and not merely reverberation of the echoes of a collective consciousness. They are often, in this crooked world, seen as troublemakers, or as a source of embarrassment to the indignant and confidently established members of the society. It is a pattern that one can observe throughout history, as old as time itself -- the man of self-realization speaking compassionately, plainly, fearlessly and honestly about things, and being seen as a danger to the established order (which in truth is the chaos/corruption brought about by an ego-based view of reality) by those who have given their lives to bolstering its corrupt nature with their own hypocracy and ignorance (ignorance fundamentally of their own divine nature).

Real learning is about being receptive and open to what life has to share. But our surface fears blind us to this, and so we are driven by preoccupation, conformity, and an escapist tendency that is ever uncertain, and so has gotten into the frightened and violent habit of wanting to control everything. This desire (often sublimated or so-called "sub-conscious") to control others breeds a closed-mindedness, and kills the natural elasticity of the brain. To discipline life, ourselves and others, and the universe in general in a very rigid way is the death of real learning. And the source of this desire lies in our minds, in the concepts that we are chained to about the nature of time, about life's purpose ( whatever purpose we have attached to it), and therein is yet another instance of how a myopic perception and its inevitable twin, fear, dominate our lives. We have plumped for ideas, propagandas and beliefs; or we wash our brains of beliefs in a feeble effort to be objective, and in so doing, we lack all conviction. It is rare that you find a human being who has really something of his own to say. We are all so comfortable, so utterly dull and comfortable with our meaningless thoughts; and we spend our days searching for answers and pronouncing judgment on others without ever having the intelligence or wisdom to really observe or question the source of all this nonsense - our own minds.

Most of us spend our lives chained to all of this. And so, lacking intelligence, and with a seriousness that is at best half-hearted, we spend our lives speculating, busy and forever conceited; and the observation/insight which goes really deep into the core of ourselves is virtually unheard of. In this approach to living, one can detect a common thread in its many manifestations: a rasping that breeds an arrogant or desperate standpoint. And no matter how subtle or succinctly we try to hide it, that is what it actually is. Hardly ever is there real honesty, hardly ever do you see humility. At best you see people who would like to see themselves as humble, but secretly they are torn apart inside with judgments and condemnations and unhappiness. The world is a world of masks. Only the honest man, only he who is awakened to a very serious, well-humored, intelligently-balanced inquiring and holistic mind, knows his own face when he looks in the mirror of his own being.


It has been said that the greatest artists are scientists and the greatest scientists are artists. Science at its best is a very skillful art (the word art comes from a Latin word meaning skill) and art at it's best is scientific (not escapist abstraction, that is, not art that is the rantings of a self-obsessed mind). True science and true art bring together apparently disparate elements to represent the reality of life's unity through practical and insightful metaphor.

Living in actuality to the mind that is awake to its significance, is not a mundane affair. It is profoundly rich, beautiful, subtle, mysterious, and mystical. A scientist can give a name to a plant, describe the color of its flowers; observe its tissue under a microscope, classify its reproductive methods etc, but he can never give a name to it's dignity, to its miraculous nature. But if the intelligent artist is alive in him, he well knows such things are beyond the domain of words; such things lie in the infinite quiet of his awareness. To live, to really live, is to live artfully. And that takes a science of mind (a state of mind) that is not governed by authority, but rather related to an observation of what is actually going on. If you give your whole being in such a way, the relative is seen for what it is. Time is no more anything but kind; and death is left to those who wallow in mechanistic perceptions of reality, and to those whose minds are attached to rigidity and who are incapable of seeing beyond the self-generated noise of their own insecurity -- an insecurity born of an illusionary perception.

Where there is the fear and defensiveness and attack, the illusions of death, hate, scarcity and separateness prevail. But it is a scarcity that is of one's own making, just as this corrupt world is of our own making. Yet where fear is seen precisely for what it is, it evaporates. For before the light of a mind that is awakened to the actual nature of reality, fear has no meaning. In its place, there flowers compassion, intelligence and an unswerving conviction in a relative world that is ever changing, and also an appreciation for another intelligence belying all that which is constant, never old, but forever renewed, an intelligence governed by love and one that is our only real inheritance.

Then, if one is quiet enough inwardly to be guided by the light of this other intelligence, one is aware that in the smallest thing, all of creation sits, and that you are no longer a fragmentary part of creation; for this is an idea that you have seen through. For you, parts no longer have meaning. You are at one with the unanimous and ubiquitous flow of life. You are life and there is only life. You have outgrown the illusion of opposites and come to a place beyond time's compass that you never really left. You can then begin to live a life free of consequences.

Your work is then - as it is with all men who come upon the tremendous and subtle beauty of life - with discrimination. And through your example - the example you share with the world of your intense interest to humbly, resolutely and effortlessly (is there effort when what you share is an extension of your being rather than the "doing"/"seeking of success and position" that the world at large associates with human endeavors?), you teach that the removal of the block's to love's presence is not only possible, it is natural and inevitable.

Your heart is open; and pride, separation and defensiveness are as alien to you as the fear that is the source of all suffering (in truth these things are one and the same). Your life is then an extension of reality, and you are not smothered/drowned out by the noise of illusions, for you have embraced compassion and meaning and have outgrown fear and justification. Then you have something of your own to give to mankind, and it is the one thing that is needed by all mankind. For you, there is only love, and your work is alive and real. You don't have a boss and you are not regulated by an agenda. Your life teaches you all you need to learn, as it has the order of love. And your work, to begin with, involves the correction of your misperceptions in your own mind [(Inverted commas because your own mind is really an illusion - individual means undivide-able)]. But to some degree, it sort of makes sense because you have a free will with which you can play your role in making these corrections. But you are the stuff of life; and as such, your free will is no different. Use it to undo your misperceptions about the world, and you dance a tune in step to the music of creation itself. Your actions are then united with your creator, and the separation has ended. For you there is just the dance. Fragments are illusions merely to be undone. And life guides you through the serenity of your own quiet mind.

Deny this oneness that sings to and through all, and you blind yourself to what real purpose is. Deny this, and you deny forgiveness. And in this world when you deny forgiveness, you deny the oneness of life, you deny your inheritance. Love is your only inheritance. Listen to life with all your heart, with all your being, and how could this go undiscovered? For the truth is there for all of us, waiting to guide all those who are serious to really live and so outgrow the illusions that limit us to body perceptions, to appetites, and to pride, and the crude noise of our cruel, meaningless and tyrannical thoughts. Give up your judgments, give up your grudges and your self-pity and your terribly silly vanity and listen. Listen to what life has to say to you. To hear its wisdom, you must relinquish all your conclusions and come joyfully upon the still waters of your unbounded self. Then your life has meaning, and your are never helpless, bored or needy. For you have something of your own to give, and love lights up all your days. Your own excellence, your perfect love is what is then implicit in everything that you do and in everything that you see.


A Footnote about Education:

“Educate” comes from a Latin word meaning “to pull out.” True education means to pull out your inner potential. Michelangelo was once asked how he created his statue “David”. He replied “I took away all that was not David.” He pulled out David from the stone block before him by shedding all that was not David. Education is a similar process. It involves artfully drawing out and identifying our inner skills and potentials from the block of creative potential within us - from our mind, heart and being. If we do this intelligently, it will be a process guided by love, never imitative and always original and true to the authenticity of oneself.

In this respect, education can be seen for what it is; and right education then is absolutely key to a society (we are society) interested in being true to its potentials. The present education is not interested in you or your potentials. It is superficial and blind to intelligence. The present education is based on the thinking of the world. And the thinking of the world is primitive and destructive. The thinking of the world is founded on condemnation and blame, on the seeking of success, on ambition and competitive values. It knows nothing of forgiveness and love. It is an education that never questions grievances, never knows real cooperation, that is never aware of what is really important, never clear about what is illusionary; it is never related to truth. It is founded on authority and it has bred a global civilization of human beings that, for the most part, are reliant not on themselves but on thought, experts, governments and externals. It never brings an end to sadness or anger. It has no wisdom. It is based on the limitations of thinking and it is ever fragmented, isolated, ruthless, bloodthirsty. It is a world full of job titles, and you hardly meet a human being who has his own work.

Jobs have no relationship to who you are. You are far vaster than all of that. When you put profit and power above sensitivity and generosity, you profit nothing except your own demise into selfishness and self-centered delusion. But an educational system that is founded on intelligence, on serious inquiry, cooperation and genuine affection is one that is compassionately interested in you and your happiness, not your success and satisfaction. That is what we have today, a world full of individuals blind to their inner potentials, craving success, who are all so very self-concerned and self-satisfied. And what a terrible world it is, a world almost devoid of love. All our problems end with the discovery of love. This is not an ideal, it is an actual and indisputable fact. It is not divine love or romantic love. There is only love. Our fragmented minds have created the separations and so we think that love is classifiable. Love is not reducible to terms. It is either sensitively alive in everything we see and do, or we live in our egos and our fragments and we have nothing of our own to say and we see nothing clearly.

We (most of us – if you doubt me, look at the world) do not look through the eyes of love. We look and do not see (the vast arena of life). We look through our petty insecurity, through prejudice, through preference and established patterns of thinking. We are tied to the yesterday, we are slaves to time and ideas and we are prevented from discovering the real.

Discovering our inner potentials takes research and it takes space and leisure. Plying the mind with facts and figures in classes of larger number is the norm today, and we suffer a tremendous cost for our shallowness. Intelligence questions. Most of us do not question. We act out our lives, we do not find out who we are. We stand on the peripheries of experience and appreciate very little of what it has to tell us. We worship the intellect and academics or authority, and think that this is the pinnacle of Man. How desperately childish and shortsighted it is for us to give Descartes such authority over our minds. His maxim: “I think therefore I am." Did you ever discern that this is the credo of the ego rather than that of wisdom? Wisdom sees that thinking is a faculty of our being. It says: “I am a human being and my being has vast potential, and thought is a tool in my repertoire; but to limit myself to a “human thinking” is a woeful and destructive underestimation of my capacities and a a terrible misperception of my reality.”

And how blind we are to accept Freud´s theory of mind over an earnest and serious inquiry into the actuality of our own mind. Our jobs are for the most part routine and have very little passion in them. We reserve passion for romantic love or for sex or the odd poet or scientist, but I really don´t see how anyone can live without passion - passion that infuses our whole life. Could you give Gandhi or Louis Armstrong or Fleming or Lao Tzu a job? Could you limit Helen Keller or Beethoven to a category? No absolutely not. No way could you give a being that is living and extending their inner potentials in harmony with life´s calling some limited title. We must take charge of ourselves and not settle for anything which does not imbue us with a sense of life´s full and radiant presence. We must give up our stupid and tired comparisons. Find out who you are. It is a journey of discovery without end, and it starts with you looking in on yourself, not looking up to others for answers. Do this, and you will have reverence for yourself and for other human beings.

Those who really love what they do are not anxious or self-concerned. They are concerned for all, and worry is alien to them. They are the guardians of all that is valuable, the purveyors of the sacred. There is something in them which is related to their inner potentials, something mighty, impassioned and joyous. They are not pleasure seekers, not limited to mere body sensations. They have found something that energizes them and relates them to the very energy of creation itself; and it charges them. We cannot all be great painters or scientists. We can though, appreciate the work of such beings and we can all be great lovers of life and discover who we are, and the unique qualities of life´s perfume that each one of us represents - the riches within us all that we have in bounty to share.

The truly happy are not the wealthy or the outwardly beautiful. Often they are the most neurotic and selfish, and such qualities have no relationship to love or joy. The truly happy are not pretentious or sanctimonious or hypocritical or judgmental or dependent (whether on others or on jobs or drugs, indeed anything external). Joy is a quality of inner life; pleasure is the sign of a life that is blind to the infinite and eternal storehouse of riches within. The truly happy are those who have discovered simplicity. They have come upon something intrinsic in themselves that empowers them to share their inner beauty with the other world. They have nothing to hold on to. They appreciate that life begins NOT when you are recognized or when external situations change, but rather when one has something of ones own to give.

Seeing through the falseness of our own minds, our conclusions and beliefs is the beginning of the flowering of truth. And a life founded on the natural order of truth – of honesty with oneself – is the solution to all the world´s problems. If we were really honest with ourselves, we would extend ourselves in tune with our inner potentials rather than be limited to hunting down worldly success. We would never take advantage of another; and our life would be founded on self-reliance, the intelligence of love, and real affection. Life would have meaning, not profit margins and enemies.

A Note on the role of the Educator:

Structure is important. Nature is order. An ordered (not a regimented authoritative discipline) life has the stamp of love.

[Does not the athlete who loves to run have the order of love in his approach to his craft? He gets up early to train, eats right etc. Without that kind of balance in our lives, we are reduced to following orders and regulations and taking exams, not the serious and fascinating business of learning about the profundities within ourselves and within existence/nature as a whole].

But:

The busier you are the less you see.
The less you see the less you learn of what life has to share with you.
A busy mind is the laziest mind and has no capacity to learn.
True productivity has a simplicity about it.
Life has great depth, but it is lost on the ambitious and the foolish.
Education has no beginning and no end.
There are no teachers.
Life is the only teacher.
We are all – in truth – learners.

Good educators are those whose minds are quiet, who know how to listen to life´s tuition. You can never reduce them to a formula. They are flexibility itself. Their minds are elastic and alive to the moment. They have the intelligence to observe.

February 2003
The Czech Republic

Blog Archive

About me

My photo
India
Mind is the closest thing to our Reality...Be careful how you use it. Businessman, yogi, teacher, addicted to laughing...