Interesting thoughts from Castaneda

A key aspect of the teachings of don Juan, as recounted by Carlos Castaneda, was the necessity of the "self" to die. "It is imperative to leave aside what [don Juan] called 'personal history'," Castaneda told the Chilean magazine Uno Mismo in 1997. "To get away from 'me' is something extremely annoying and difficult. What the shamans like don Juan seek is a state of fluidity where the personal 'me' does not count." For Castaneda, "the personal me" was a subject of constant fluctuation and revision.

I Did Not Die


They read this at my Grandmother's funeral recently...beautiful...

Do not stand at my grave and forever weep.
I am not there; I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn’s rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and forever cry.
I am not there. I did not die.

Author Unknown

You cannot stay on the summit forever


You cannot stay on the summit forever; you have to come down again... So why bother in the first place? Just this: what is above knows what is below, but what is below does not know what is above. One climbs, one sees. One descends, one sees no longer, but one has seen. There is an art to conducting oneself in the lower regions by the memory of what one saw higher up. When one can no longer see, one can at least still know.
– Rene Daumal

Born to serve

Death comes softly.
Like a welcome friend.
You have waited long for this moment.
The death of something stubborn.

Attached and grasping.
It falls into the abyss.
Down. Down. Down.
Out with the cold wind of night.
Gone.

The Bodhi tree welcomes the dawn.
The clatter of a heron's wings rising from
the marshes...
The silent bubble of a brooding brook.
The song of morning; the last sound you hear.
Then tears and the end of memory.
Hope and doubt are gone
Certainty; the remains of the day.

Fear will not hold you in her grip.
Money can't seduce you.
Vice will disown you.

You will die to the last of yourself.
The flames from the cinders of your funeral pyre
shall lick at the sky,
Dance and swirl over foreign waters.
Until the phoenix remembers to wake from its restless
sleep...

The end is behind us;
The end of puzzles, the end of time.
Dreams scattered far and wide.

After the sacrifice...
The blessing....
Will be revealed to he who is born to see

The Books that Changed my Life

There are so many wonderful books out there. But I suppose, like people in our lives, only a few deeply touch us. There have been many books that have influenced me profoundly. One book that deeply affected me was called “The Power of Myth with Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers”. It was actually a PBS television series. I think what moved me so much about the book and the series of interviews on video was that it helped me see how important the literature of the spirit is to young people trying to find meaning in a world which is at once chaotic and materialistic. It helped me see that all of us, who are interested in finding meaning and value in our lives, must go on a hero quest; a journey into the mythic realm. Transformation of consciousness is not a simple matter but that is what the myths of different cultures are all about and it is what we must examine if we wish to get to the core of what it means to be alive.


To find a meaningful purpose we have to find ourselves…and for that we need to decipher our
make-up. We need to access the literature of spirit ; the language of myths and dreams. Joseph Campbell said that: “Myths are public dreams, dreams are private myths.” When I discovered Campbell, I began to see the importance of comparative mythology in a world that has - economically and politically - become a global village. A new myth needs to arise out of the new world order to unite us as one family - the family of man. But such a myth can only come from an understanding of the deep challenges that lie embedded in the stories of the rich cultural traditions of the world. Campbell points out that: “One of our problems today is that we are not acquainted well acquainted with the literature of the spirit…What's moving people's lives is the stock market and the baseball scores. What are people excited about? It's a totally materialistic level that has taken over the world. There isn't even an ideal that anybody's fighting for.”

So we must have goals, focus, interest. All of that is essential. But it's not something that we can impose on ourselves from outside. Those things have to come from within. Finding out what it is that inspires and moves us takes careful listening and observation of ourselves. When young Native American men were initiated into the ways of manhood they were guided with this advice: "As you go the way of life, you will see a great chasm. Jump. It's not as wide as you think."

Campbell believed passionately that we must follow that thing which gives we love. He called it "following your bliss." He said, "The heroic life is living the individual adventure. There is no security in following the call to adventure. Nothing is exciting if you know what the outcome is going to be...You enter the forest at the darkest point, where there is no path. Where there is a way or path, it is someone else's path. You are not on your own path. If you follow someone else's way, you are not going to realize your potential." He warns us that what we don't experience positively we will experience negatively, that when challenges come getting a comedic view of our situation gives us spiritual distance...having a sense of humor saves us.

I think I was most moved by Campbell because he helped me see that society is not particularly interested in the individual finding himself. Society is interested in profits and jobs. That's necessary of course and perfectly fine. However, life is much deeper than that and we forget it at our peril. The mind has enormous potential but it can be easily stifled by routine, temptation and half-hearted efforts to discover what is important within us. Campbell points out that "the goal of the hero trip down to the jewel point is to find those levels in the psyche that open, open, open and finally open to the mystery of your Self being Buddha Consciousness or the Christ." That's the journey which all of us have to take. It is all about finding that state of grace, the still point in your mind where commitment drops away.

I suppose the other books that have influenced me are the wonderful “Yoga Sutras” by Patanjali. They seem to be the the most comprehensive biography of mankind's catalog of shortcomings and potentials that it is possible to find. Jiddu Krishnamurti has also had a profound impact on me. His conversations in "The Awakening of Intelligence" - particularly the closing chapters with David Bohm are so clear , insightful and sane. Biographies of Abraham Lincoln as well as his own writings have inpsired me too. Lincoln was a man of tremendous vision and wisdom. I love reading about his challenges on my dark days. It helps me to put things into a bigger perspective. The poetry of Walt Whitman and the wandering observations of Henry David Thoreau give me hope for the future of man. For me, they are two of the most important voices of the new world. "The Ecology of Commerce" by Paul Hawken is the kind of book which should be taught in business schools. If we could only follow Hawken's visionary approach to business.

In the world of fiction I have been moved by many books. I think "The Kite Runner" stands out though. It's a chronicle of life in Afghanistan in modern times. When I think of all the terrible things that are happening in our world this book seems go to the heart of problem. It doesn't offer solutions. It just paints the problems in a very brilliant way. Man's inhumanity to man, the clash of cultures, racism, exploitation...the old and the new. When I read it I was deeply moved. It told such a touching and human story. It left me wondering how Afghanistan will ever heal, how man's intolerance of difference will ever be overcome...and in the contemporary situation thinking along those lines is very important. I also immensely enjoyed "The Count of Monte Cristo". It's a work of genius.It makes us confront the meaning of human destiny and forgiveness in a very original way. Finally, one of the books I most treasure is "West with the Night" by Beryl Markham. She only wrote one book yet Hemmingway said she wrote better than he did. And I agree. It's a beautiful story about the early days of the airplane in Africa. But it's more than that.

"You can live a lifetime and, at the end of it, know more about other people than you know about yourself. You learn to watch other people, but you never watch yourself because you strive against loneliness. If you read a book,... you are avoiding yourself. The abhorrence of loneliness is as natural as wanting to live at all. If it were otherwise, men would never have bothered to make an alphabet, nor to have fashioned words out of what were only animal sounds."

The book describes the thrills and dangers of hunting on the African plains, then shifts to explore the different qualities of silence or what it is like to fly alone over water for forty hours:

"Being alone in an aeroplane for even so short a time as a night and a day, irrevocably alone, with nothing to observe but your instruments and your own hands in the semi-darkness, nothing to contemplate but your own small courage....such an experience can be as startling as the first awareness of a stranger walking by your side at night. You are the stranger."

Discovering the stranger within, for me at least, is what life is really about. This is because I am of the conviction that if we know ourselves we can be a light to others. It is neither easy or difficult. We have to learn to go beyond the pairs of opposites to find out what is important.The challenge is to find our way (not imitate someone else's way). It’s not something which can be fomulated. It takes a lot of honesty, reflection and hard work. It takes guts and a lot of determination.

5 Chapters



Birthday poem - I was 33 last Friday




That pale gray face of a seasoned sailor.

Shaped by a thousand moonless conflicted dawns.

The dinner on the table for the children outside playing football.

The football field.



* * *



Aging and death spawn philosophy.

The philosopher who sees there are no answers to his questions...is a mystic.



All men work.

Only the mystic knows the purpose of living; it is not work.



Only the mystic knows how to work.





* * *



He lived centuries in a year.

Left the imprint of example.

enough.



* * *



I outgrew the sea when I was 8.

Yes, I sailed again a handful of times...

Even a long voyage through the eye of a hurricane.

But the sea was behind me by then.



The dislocated scenery of many places made me want to settle down.

I became a farmer.

Ploughing the land of mind to find a stable harvest.

Dedicated to becoming an expert in irrigation.



* * *



The days are dying now.

Ebbing, flowing.

Passing out of fashion.

Gleaming with the only Promise worth keeping...





POSTSCRIPT:



"Whatsoever is rightly done, however humble is noble".



"Small things make perfection, but perfection is no small thing."



Henry Royce (Mechanic)



"There was an artist in the city of Kouroo who was disposed to strive after perfection. One day it came into his mind to make a staff. Having considered that in an imperfect work time is an ingredient, but into a perfect work time does not enter, he said to himself, It shall be perfect in all respects, though I should do nothing else in my life. He proceeded instantly to the forest for wood, being resolved that it should not be made of unsuitable material; and as he searched for and rejected stick after stick, his friends gradually deserted him, for they grew old in their works and died, but he grew not older by a moment. His singleness of purpose and resolution, and his elevated piety, endowed him, without his knowledge, with perennial youth. As he made no compromise with Time, Time kept out of his way, and only sighed at a distance because he could not overcome him. Before he had found a stock in all respects suitable the city of Kouroo was a hoary ruin, and he sat on one of its mounds to peel the stick. Before he had given it the proper shape the dynasty of the Candahars was at an end, and with the point of the stick he wrote the name of the last of that race in the sand, and then resumed his work. By the time he had smoothed and polished the staff Kalpa was no longer the pole-star; and ere he had put on the ferule and the head adorned with precious stones, Brahma had awoke and slumbered many times. But why do I stay to mention these things? When the finishing stroke was put to his work, it suddenly expanded before the eyes of the astonished artist into the fairest of all the creations of Brahma. He had made a new system in making a staff, a world with full and fair proportions; in which, though the old cities and dynasties had passed away, fairer and more glorious ones had taken their places. And now he saw by the heap of shavings still fresh at his feet, that, for him and his work, the former lapse of time had been an illusion, and that no more time had elapsed than is required for a single scintillation from the brain of Brahma to fall on and inflame the tinder of a mortal brain. The material was pure, and his art was pure; how could the result be other than wonderful?"



Thoreau (Walker)





"Life begins when you have something to give."

Tara Singh (Example)


"Guru Dronacharya once decided to test his students. He hung a wooden bird from the branch of a tree and then summoned his students. One by one, he asked his students to aim for the eye of the wooden bird and be ready to shoot; then, when they were ready, he would ask the student to describe all that he was able to see. The students generally described the garden, the tree, flowers, the branch from which the bird was suspended and the bird itself. Guru Dronacharya then asked them to step aside. When asked what he could see, Arjuna told his Guru that he could only see the bird's eye. Another story says that Arjuna once noticed brother Bheema, who was a voracious eater, eating in the dark as though it was daylight, and realized that if he could practice archery in the dark he would become vastly more proficient."

Anecdote from the life of Arjuna. A man dedicated to rising to his highest potential. He found his goal and let nothing distract him.

"We learn by practice. Whether it means to learn to dance by practicing dancing or to learn to live by practicing living, the principles are the same. One becomes in some area an athlete of God.”

Martha Graham

"Inner peace can be reached only when we practice forgiveness. Forgiveness is letting go of the past, and is therefore the means for correcting our misperceptions."

Gerald Jampolsky

If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.
Dalai Lama

Everything is practice.
Pele

Nothing can be more absurd than the practice that prevails in our country of men and women not following the same pursuits with all their strengths and with one mind, for thus, the state instead of being whole is reduced to half.
Plato

The practice of forgiveness is our most important contribution to the healing of the world.
Marianne Williamson


Apathy can be overcome by enthusiasm, and enthusiasm can only be aroused by two things: first, an ideal, with takes the imagination by storm, and second, a definite intelligible plan for carrying that ideal into practice.
Arnold J. Toynbee

A Teacher is a Window



A Teacher is a Window

There is a girl of about 5 or 6 and her younger brother playing now.
And long ago - in another age - a pair of sisters in their early 20s are worrying about one another...
Serious and academic.
The tunnels of their fondness go deep.
Yet the world aches with pain.
Those tunnels never reach yonder shore.
They could.
But they don't.

I know that now.

The closeness others have...
I don't have that.
Like a piece of clothing that looks uncomfortable or awkward on us..;
That is true for me
with closeness.
I don't know if I ever had it.
Perhaps.
In fleeting moments.
All I have ever really had is the fabric of my questions;

the call of nature.

Maybe that closeness that others have is a shawl they wear to avoid the darkness of their own silence.

Huddled up close...
Too close;
For knowledge.


I have ruggedness.
Ruggedness is my dependent "leather bag."
(I don't have a leather bag.)
I have ruggedness.

I have determination and independence.
But not closeness.
Closeness is hollow in comparison.
I am perennially out.
Out shopping for freedom.

There's nothing in the stores that is worth buying.
Freedom is the only priceless thing.
It's elusive though.
The slave traders drive a hard bargain.
That's the way of nature.
It's not unsurmountable though.

If I thought it were...I don't know where I would be.
Perhaps drinking beer in a roadside tavern.
"Ox-bow lake"- syndrome I call it.

The alternative is a very isolating goal.
It isn't meant to be.
I mean, there are thousands of other people on the road with you.
The same road.
But when you turn inward...all you have is the noise of the sea in your ears.

You have to go beyond that somehow.
Focus.
Find your North-West Passage.

The teacher is a window.
Look to him to penetrate the ice flows
of solitude.
He won't hold your hand.
He is not a crutch.
A teacher is a window.
He gives you a clearer view...of the terrain that awaits you.

There is no cafe on the corner...
And most people who appear are blips on the screen.
They pass quickly.

When my lunch and books are emptied out of whichever bag I might be carrying...
His smile is all that is left to carry.

My teacher warned me once that if you want what is worth having
you have to sacrifice everything to the journey.
The blips on my screen pass quickly.

Devotion

In the humdrum city, there is a temple.
A line of beggars outside,a priest within.
Everywhere, the noise of asking.

Quiet: the far away wood.
Unheard: the hungry bird.
Sublime: the sunset not witnessed.

The devoted see the tainted treasure no one knows is lost.
No needy prayers gather on their lips.
In the midst of noise
they are our silence.

Seeing is believing?

You will find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view

Obi Wan Kenobi

Be wary of the ships you build, the ships you choose to travel on...

Any institution gives truth a bad name, after a certain amount of time they exist just to keep themselves running.

Daniel Manning

About me

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