Saturday, March 29, 2008

This modern life

Our world is filled with ego-fuelled relics. Our world is full of ugly, grey/brown buildings. Our world is filled with traffic and smoke and people. Our world is polluted. Our world is toxic. Where are the birds and the animals?? I don´t see any anymore...Where have they all gone? I´m no longer entertained by this modern life. I am no longer entertained by glass covered architecture. I no longer see stability in our social structures. Everything is questionable. I am no longer entertained by television or movies. I am no longer entertained by discos or drinking. I am no longer entertained by populistic politics. I am no longer entertained by romance, the modern movie version of it. I am no longer entertained by fiction or reality. I am no longer entertained by the symbols that keep our society together..or apart.
I seek freedom. I thirst for flight. I seek nature and the sounds of birds and animals in the morning. I seek the fulfillment of dreams. I wish for energy from nature. I wish to build my own home with my own blood and sweat. I wish to till my own farm and reap the fruits of my harvest. I wish to be exposed to the vagaries of nature, and learn some true lessons of life. I wish to live like the red indian or the shaman, who only takes his lessons from the stillness he experiences within and outside. I am sick of our institutions, I am sick of the people and the games they play to win little favours. I wish to end this game to survive. Nature, my guru, my master. I wish to be united with thee.

Monday, February 18, 2008

The face of Pradeep is everywhere

When I was interning at Auroville, the Mitra guest house where I stayed at had a guy named Raj* who would rent cycles, bikes and mopeds to the guests staying there, and his assistant/mechanic named Pradeep*. Pradeep is probably not more than 18 years old - dark, extremely thin, and always in a pair of dirty trousers and a hand-me-down t-shirt. Uneducated and innocent, he was always extremely faithful and dedicated to Raj as well as Mitra's warden, Sita* - doing little chores around the guest house whenever he was asked. He was quite polite to all the guests at Mitra, and even grew attached to anyone who showed a little affection towards him.
When you are in India, you become used to a host of people looking after you - servants, cooks, drivers, watchmen, and the odd kid who runs to the grocery store for you at the drop of a hat. We take this "servant" culture for granted. It was a hand-me down from the Brits who began the `aaya' system in India. Why haven't we learnt to let go of it and take care of our own chores? Labour is extremely cheap in India, and there are people who are willing to take little pay for such physically demanding work.
I wasn't able to be as friendly to Pradeep initially - even being a little wary of this boy - having been unconsciously conditioned to be wary of people from "lower classes". Then a German friend of mine asked - "why don't you teach him English in your spare time? the poor thing has probably never been to school, and it might do him some good?!". That suddenly changed everything for me. Bhaskar always called me `akka' (older sister) - may be I could be a real akka for him and take him under my wing to teach him a thing or two? I was actually capable of changing this boy's world, even if it only temporarily?
How many such Pradeeps exist in India?! Their backs toiling at an age when they should be playing with children of their own age and studying in school. Illiterate, abandoned, bastard children to call no one their own?! Why can't these children be considered our own children and taken care of in the right way? Why are they allowed to rot on the streets?! They could be subject to the worst treatment - verbal, physical, sexual abuse, child labour - this unfair life is something they were unwittingly born into for no faults of their own. They are in need of a word beginning with j and ending with an e: JUSTICE.
* Names changed to protect identity

Friday, February 15, 2008

Become The Sun

The self contains the all illuminating brilliance of The Sun. We have but to look within to find all the glory, all the bliss that we seek every second of our being. This is our search. Our search for completion, for the feeling of ultimate fulfillment; ultimate happiness and salvation. And our answer lies closer than the breath we take.
Human beings constantly seek this fulfillment outside of themselves. In television, in a career, in a relationship, in the ultimate makeover, in husbands and mistresses, in Oprah, in Islam, in the Orthodox Christian Church, in Barrack Obama, in government, in misery, in children, in friends...the list is endless. Here is a quote of Aldous Huxley's:
"One of the many reasons for the bewildering and tragic character of human existence is the fact that social organization is at once necessary and fatal. Men are forever creating such organizations for their own convenience and forever finding themselves the victims of their home-made monsters."
I don't intend to offend anyone's sincere quest for the truth here, but would merely like to quote once again a saying in Buddhism for those of you who still didn't get it: "if you see the Buddha, kill him!!!". What this merely means is that we cannot grow attached to anything in particular, however noble the path may be, because at a certain point we begin to identify more with this attachment than with the actual truth which resides within our being. As long as we use the tools of the outside world only as just that -
tools to make us more aware of our inner truth - we are not in danger of losing our selves to them.
Desirelessness does not necessarily mean less sensitivity to the outside world, but rather, more of it. The truth unites every being in the universe, and it is impossible to remain unaffected by the miseries of the world we live in. Once we have discovered the inner truth, we begin to see it every where around us (even if it lies hidden beneath several layers!). And the more we begin to see it every where, the more we begin to be the drivers of positive change in the world we reside in. Now, quoting from Huxley's "Doors of Perception" essay:
Istigkeit - wasn't that the word Meister Eckhart liked to use? "Is-ness." The Being of Platonic philosophy - except that Plato seems to have made the enormous, the grotesque mistake of separating Being from becoming and identifying it with the mathematical abstraction of the Idea. He could never, poor fellow, have seen a bunch of flowers shining with their own inner light and all but quivering under the pressure of the significance with which they were charged; could never have perceived that what rose and iris and carnation so intensely signified was nothing more, and nothing less, than what they were - a transience that was yet eternal life, a perpetual perishing that was at the same time pure Being, a bundle of minute, unique particulars in which, by some unspeakable and yet self-evident paradox, was to be seen the divine source of all existence.
The cultivation of truth - for our soul is like a farm that needs to be tended to regularly - can begin with living a more authentic life. The soul always flows in the right direction - see where it takes you - often the best plans are the higher Divine plans that our conditioned brains can sometimes never even conceive of. In Buddhism, sitting meditation is often said to be the most effective way to discover the inner truth - Vipassana is an excellent technique recommended by the wise. In Hinduism, a treasure trove of techniques are said to exist - anything from Sanskrit texts/mantras to yoga, or even the Bhakti (devotional) or Jnana margas (path of wisdom). Reading the Zohar (Kabbalah) or following the Sufi way (by expressing love for the Divine), are all said to be (tried and tested) paths to the great Truth which often lay hidden from undeserving eyes.
My friend, seek not to collect moons, which are mere reflectors of light - Seek to become the one and only Sun which radiates luminosity in every direction. The path may not be completely facile, but the reward is eternal light, and with it, eternal fulfillment.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

A poem (V Day special)

How can I express the depth
I find in our eyes

How can I express the meaning

in our distance
How can I express the bliss

in our convergence
How can I express

everything I know
about every moment
when a circle comes into being

Image courtesy:

Friday, February 08, 2008

A confused Country and a conditioned Soul; the state of affairs in India today

India has been at the helm of spiritual discovery for over five thousand years, long before many civilisations were yet to be born. And yet, today, the average Indian is not aware of even a single verse of The Upanisads. He/She is so occupied with the daily toil and trouble, and is blissfully unaware of the diamonds that lie beneath the physical surface of this great country. Our economists and policy makers are the most confused lot - unaware as to how they would be able to transform this heaving giant - leaking at her sides from unfixed sewers and the beads of sweat from the brows of labouring children. What kind of a curse is this, you may ask, that has put an entire country under a spell of ignorance?

All we are left with is the legacy of the old, the symbols of a glorious past - `Om's freely adorn our houses and tikas adorn our foreheads (said to be the doors of illumination), beautiful sacred geometric patterns decorate our courtyards, and Krsna is found to make his appearance more popularly on saris and as home furnishings than in the Bhagavad Gita. Daily existence is fueled by the need to survive, based on systems that barely coordinate. A typical life looks like this: baby -> gruelling school -> wasted college -> pointless I.T. job -> marriage and kids -> diabetes or high cholesterol related disease -> pointless death -> cycle continues through progeny. What makes the average Indian so bloody ignorant??!

My appearance in this country is not any less of a mystery, and makes for a fascinating story. A country liberated from a western army is now in the throngs of hollywood films and is draped in denim fabric rather than khadi - our education has gone beyond `Convent' to the all exclusive `English-medium', as long as it delivers the necessary results. I myself was educated in an all English-speaking school. I would have to thank the stars that at least in my school we did not have a rule against speaking in our native language of Tamil (as some other schools did). Tamil is one of the oldest languages in the world, and is beginning to die in the hands of the present young generation, in the very state/province it first originated in. Middle and upper class Tamilians these days cannot talk Tamil without sprinkling a few English words in between!!
I grew up on a steady diet of classical English literature and American poetry at school, and Archie comics, Nancy Drews, Enid Blytons, and (later) Hollywood movies and music from the Backstreet Boys, at home. Here was a girl, who had heard of the bravery of our `freedom fighters' more like a fantasy tale...patriotism was put into our heads more like an obligation, than as an understanding, waiting for the time when a generation grows older and does not find the need for it any longer (today Gandhi makes his appearance in Indian pop culture). My idealism stems more from literature I read written by American poets with liberal tendencies, than by the Indian freedom movement!
We now are moved by Bollywood films and cricket more than by Bhakti movement poetry. This is the same land that was once home to Sufi saints and Hindu mystics alike. So many thousands embarked on the journey of their inner soul. So many awakened on the banks of the great Ganges that is now so polluted and choked with the toxic wastes of the present civilisation.
Our solutions lie closer to the heart than we can ever imagine. Spirituality has to be brought into the Parliaments, and talked about with an ever increasing urgency and as the need of the hour. The solution for India does not lie in the western concepts of economic development. We have to seek higher solutions. Solutions that originate from a Divine mind, a Divine soul that is this country. We cannot expect to lay more roads and extinguish poverty. We need smaller communities, education within these communities, and an education that finds its foundations in spirituality and self-enquiry rather than on useless historical facts that are forgotten right after the students exit the exam halls. Solutions lay sprinkled in our past. The gurukula system, the smaller townships that were governed on a basis of Dharma, these are the symbols we need to adopt for today.

As for the individual...we cannot stop the influx of western materialism and idealogies, but we can instil in our young minds, the greater spiritual secrets that have been opened up and laid bare in the recent centuries. When a solid foundation is in place, it is difficult to shake it, in spite of any kind of external disturbances. We have to teach our children to follow their hearts and Divine guidance, rather than listen to people who talk from their selfish egos. We have to cultivate in them an independent attitude and the thirst for truth, rather than a conformist attitude and dependency on conventional thinking. This is the solution for the `modern' Indian society and today's `modern' Indian individual. Old is indeed Gold, but can be flexed to be adapted to provide solutions for the New.

Me, my path

I feel so far away from unity consciousness. One of the marks of an enlightened being is to feel one with the Universe, and feel love and compassion for every one and every thing. I think I've only covered about 10 steps on this ladder.

However, altruism no longer feels like an alien concept to me. I really have begun to feel real responsibility for a lot of issues in this world - poverty and ignorance being a huge one, beginning with my own country.

Money still seems to pose a bit of a challenge for me - me being afraid as to how I would survive in this world, if I do not have the proper devices to earn money.

I find much comfort in anonymity, often afraid to approach people and to ask them even for small favours. I do not know why I am this way. I have to admit that I am more introverted than extroverted, although when the situation calls for it, I can be very extroverted. So I swing between extremes sometimes. I can be extremely melancholic - but people can make me very happy. I wonder why am I this way?

In any case, I at least have a 1 year plan as to what I want to do with my life, beginning with travelling and then teaching - clearly not money-making ventures...but let us see what surprises this Universe could bring us!

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Call to build a new world

We are on the brink of change. Our old ways, our old habits, the old controlling forces, have to make way for new ways, new habits and the Divine Force. It is time for us to leave behind the rat race, and build a world which is based not on money or individual gain, but on love and the Divine Will.
Look around you; observe the life you live. What do we see? It is a vicious cycle of production and consumption. The whole life seems to have been spent standing in one long queue. After you are born, you are placed in a sterile, plastic environment, given all the shots you require, given your social security number and then dropped onto the conveyer belt of hell - you will then be processed in the education machine to become a good worker, a good father, a good so-and-so. You pay all your taxes, you pay the interest on your credit card (laying down, without a word of protest), you allow your hard-earned salary to be dropped into a bank account, and all the necessary deductions are made automatically. You then proceed to walk into a huge "H & M" to pay for garbage boring clothes just to fit into the already conformist society. There is not even a pigeon hole of space for creativity. You follow store policy, you follow bank policy, you follow the government policy. H&M then pays your salary. You earn money for them (these corporate fat cats), and then forced to pay money for their own garbage. Everything is sub-standard and boring, and you accept it. Where is the room for individual creativity?! Even the government supports this kind of sub-standard living - as long as you pay the taxes, you are fine. Why don't you ever hear any interesting government policies?! Why doesn't your government support disabled children or old age homes?! Why are they more interested in supporting the industrialists?! They give you the standard excuse - the industrialists are the ones giving the jobs - but it is also the industrialists who set the rules and steal your freedom. It is the same industrialists who gobble up the small businesses and do not allow for creativity.
99.98% of the society is composed of conformists. 0.01% are the controllers, and the remaining 0.01% are the rebels. The rebels of course are the so-called "greenies" and "activists" who are really just ranting and raving about nothing really. As long as the rest of society is conformist and is happy to have their sub-standard lives, then the rebels will continue to lose, and all that they are fighting for will just sound like noise. Once you wake up, once you decide to live life by different rules, that is the day that the corporate fat cats and the government will give you the hardest time ever. You will have to come face to face with an ugly system that is based on all the old laws - they will not want the change because they want to continue to survive - and you will have to fight them to make way for the change. It will be a hard and tough struggle, but in the end, you will have at least made the way for the new world. The old powers will realise that people no longer want to just merely survive - they want to live and breathe good air, they want creative products and generous sharing of knowledge and resources. No one wants to hold onto their things any more and are willing to live for a united world, and not for their individual selfish egos.
The greenies and rebels will not be alone. Join them in their fight. Choose decisively - what is most important to you?! What is most important to this world, not just for your stomach, but for the whole world? Fight on this side. Don't be a conformist any longer. It is time to wake up and smell the polluted air, and time to make a change.
There is a solution to disarm the existing economy. It is a guerrilla strategy. Do not try to grab their dirty money. Instead, don't have any utility for that money. Create a parallel economy. Support green businesses, support smaller, more creative businesses, support systems which are based on sharing and not surviving. Take away the control and power from the large powers that be, and give it to the smaller, more angelic forces. By doing this, you will be shifting the power to more Divine hands. Slowly, we can disarm our `enemies', and transform this world from the bottom up. Every drop in the ocean counts, and no effort is a futile effort. What is more important is that you realise it is time for a change, and live life differently from henceforth. Here is a good way to begin: click on the website below and calculate your personal ecological footprint; then look at the Take Action calculator, and see how you can make green lifestyle changes -
Next. Join a sustainable community. I truly do believe that sustainable communities can pave the way to a new world. When you keep things smaller, you tend not to destroy and deplete more of the planet's resources. You will not be relying on ugly large industries for unsustainable things such as plastics, and unsustainable sources of energy. You will be supporting your own local farm produce, and the local economy (small and medium sized enterprises). Take a look at the following communities (there are more, but these are the only ones I am aware of):
If you haven't noticed already, but many of these sustainable communities and "eco-villages" have a spiritual foundation. This is part of the new universe that we have to build - the spiritual is not some how alienated from the real. Spiritual life and real life are intertwined and cannot exist without one another. It is only when one does not have a spiritual existence, that one feels depressed and devoid of any life. All of the health problems - both physical and psychological, can be traced back to the old industrial way of living - which does not have any roots in the spiritual at all. When you lead a more conscious existence, aware of the Divine Energy which every single cell and atom is vibrating with, it is then that you begin to lead a healthier life as well. Changing our old habits is the hardest thing. I find this true even with myself. I am seriously contemplating vegetarianism, and making lifestyle changes - even I possess a poverty consciousness which I have to change if I have to live in an economy that is based on sharing and generosity and working for what we enjoy. But, we have to begin now. 2012 is not far off.
Come, let us build a new world.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Unleash the God Within

The human being is condensed matter. It’s source is light, and to light it must return.

Light -> Matter (physical body) -> Light

Vallalaar got the formula right (“jyothi ul jyothi ul jyothi”) – but his means to achieve the transformation to pure light was not successful.

The number 6 is very significant. While most people consider the number 7 to be important, what is important is that there are 3 above, 3 below, and the one in the middle which helps to anchor the 6. Thus, we can form the vajra within us. The central portion is the heart chakra, the 3 above are represented by the upper part, and the 3 below are represented by the lower part. While most people give great significance to the higher chakras, believing that it is our (slow) rise to the highest chakra from the lowest chakra which is important – I am completely against this theory.

I believe the heart chakra to be the most important chakra. We can compare this to the Bhakti chapters of the Bhagavad Gita which anchor the 2 other margas (paths) which occur at the beginning and the end of the Gita.

The seven "heavens" are within the human. Thus we have three gradatory heavens that lie above us, and three gradatory hells that lie below us, transformational/transitional heavens that lie to the right, and transformational/transitional heavens to the left. This is how we form the four pronged vajra, with us at the centre…

Once you understand that the four pronged vajra is a dynamic figure, and not a static one, you find that you form a circuit – it is a wheel which spins.

The secret is to realise this; that the entire Cosmos lies within us (when you multiply to infinity, you realise the cosmos within). We create the universe we live in – and everything that lies within it. If you had all the gods within you – the creative aspect of Brahma, the preserving aspect of Vishnu, the destructive aspect of Shiva, and so on, then you have all the power of the gods bestowed upon you. The fragile human being is now converted to the power of the very Brahman himself. The realization of this truth, the realization of the power of the gods within us, is our climb towards ultimate spiritual realization. We must build all these aspects of our consciousness within us, step by step.

We also have the power of demons within us. However, the avatar of the human being, is the central avatar – the avatar of the heart. He has to make great realizations on the level of the heart chakra. His ascent to the heavens, is his preparation to make his next avatar as a god. Thus, we have to rise above us, as we have already realized the demons within us. However, when the final ascent is made, our transformation becomes complete to include all aspects within us. If we are indeed all of the creative manifestation, we also include the demonic powers – we realise the whole of creation within us, and we calmly accept it all. We are the eternal Purusha in all his splendour – the vishwa-roopam.

As Buddha is usually depicted – with eyes neither wide open, nor completely closed – neither completely closed to the creative manifestation, nor completely embroiled and caught up in the manifestation – he is the calm seer, not taking part in it, but not outside of it – he views all with wisdom and acceptance.

Sources (images and some content):

Saturday, January 19, 2008

The Frail Human

I have reached the point, at the very abyss, the point where all points meet and collide, when I can finally draw up my sleeves and declare my conclusions.

The human being is the most confused being I have known in my 23 years of existence on this planet (if the assumption is that I indeed exist on a terrestrial plane and within the framework of a linear time scale). “It” is never consistent – and is slave to everything and nothing at the same time (I have used the neuter gender here in order to avoid all references to any sort of superficial aspects that differentiate one from another). It is slave to its mental, physical, psychological, spiritual being; and is master of them all, for it is never consistent to any one facet of itself. It is this very fact that drives one another crazy – the lack in consistency in behaviour, thought, action and being. It is this very nature that also occupies the majority of space in their lives and gives it its unique colours.

It is these multi factors which each choose to rear their heads at the most unexpected of times, and which contribute to the often unpredictable circumstances which human beings find themselves in. I must also state, here, that it is this reason why it is said that human beings choose their own destiny. The majority of the circumstances in their lives were of their own choosing – their joys and worries, their hopes and tragedies, almost all of them have been derived from their own nature – and from the collision course that they inevitably subject themselves to, when they decide to take up this journey. How brave this creature is – to take up this arduous journey? In spite of every type of circumstance, it continues to exist and continues to be. I admire the courage of the human being.

Like artists, we all pick up our brushes at the beginning of each life time, and use different colours to paint different hues. The canvas cannot be created unless there are hues to play with. Some may paint in mono colour, rather unusual, but most choose to paint anyway. Some choose to live a rather passive life, while others are filled with deranged emotions, and others choose to be so involved in one activity that they are happy to pursue it for the rest of their lives and believe it to be their sole redemption.

In truth, every thing is completely useless. Whatever actions are undertaken in this lifetime are more of a time pass than anything else. Karma seems more like a threat than truth. In all eventuality, every being will die; and even if it is reborn, it will die again! Death is the goal of life, and life is the goal of death.

This is why I find such great utility in laughter. When you laugh, you are not doing anything useful. It keeps you happy and light. It does not help you assume such grand conclusions that you are the sole saviour of this world. When you laugh, you have no responsibility, no worry, no anxiety, no unhappiness. When you laugh, you forget your ego, your existence, and all you are aware of is the pleasant feeling running through you.

Keeping in mind the nature of the human being – perhaps it is with this knowledge that we can also forgive. Every one is inconsistent in their behaviour, and every one is in the learning process. Even after much learning, it is still possible that they commit mistakes. So, we learn to be compassionate. Like a child who makes mistakes in its homework, similarly, were we God, were we the creator of this frail being, we can forgive, for it is our own creation – our own peculiar creation – like the puppy that falls about and breaks everything while it is young – and we forgive easily. Here I quote Bob Marley – “every man was a baby once”. And so forgive, forget, laugh it off, and accept your own inconsistencies, as you would others’ and live life with a song in your heart.