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After almost 17 years of partnership, I realised that there have been umpteen moments when I decided to leave but didn’t go.

One of the key factors that make for a long relationship is lots of ups and downs. Smooth-running relationships spell disaster.

I have had a turbulent childhood and teenage years, a pattern I carried to my adult life as well. At first, I thought it was easier to up and go than waste time in negotiating a difficult relationship. Yet, over time, I realised that it takes much more to build a home, than it takes to break a house. I took up the challenge to remain, no matter what.

Key factors that helped me were my ability to see the brighter side of the darkest night. And realizing that the saying, ‘this also will pass’ is wrong. Many times, the same problems arise again and again, and the same words are exchanged till the voice can no longer hold those terrible screeching words any more nor the mind come up with reasons to explain and dialogue on the same old things, again.

“We have done that number before, ” I’d say. But, into deaf ears.

Spouse deafness can be awful especially if you are given to weak lungs and subsequent cough, due to over exercising the larynx. I am like that, only! What’s worse is, no, you don’t need the virus in the air to cause your sore throat and there are no broad-spectrum antibiotics that can cure your throat, please to note.

So there, you learn your lesson: Silence, is golden, when the other cannot hear. Lengthy discourses may also be done via email and guess what, you may write the stuff, but the other may read or choose not to, but the fact is, you’ve said what you needed to say and the eyes may hear or not hear at all, but you are free of a huge burden and hey, you have saved yourself from the terrible sore-throat, guilt feeling  for having vomited out angry words and what not.

Second, fall in love with someone else, for the time being. All in your head, of course! It helps, since you have psyched yourself into fooling your endocrine glands into producing in large quantities, the much needed adrenaline on which you are now high. Pity the poor gland has no concept of real from the imagined. You can at least be safe for a while, because you have sufficient stress relieving hormones to take you forth for the next ten months or so, during which time, your present problem with partner may end, but a new set of problems may crop up, for which you need new strategies.

Third, take a break from each other. Do different things. Pretend to be present when together, but ‘take leave of your mind‘ and visit far places which the other is talking to you. I can swear on this method! Be meditative and laugh at the right moment though or make exclamations whenever needed. In case, the other catches your absent mindedness, then repeat the last words she said to you.

“Are you listening?” There! It’s that easy. Just say, ‘Yes, I am listening; you just said, are you listening?’ ”

Life’s battles can be won in many ways. The critical issue is: strategy, which is a well-thought out plan devoid of all emotions. So you can keep a home, even if the house is breaking!

And this is how, I have stayed on, holding the fort of a relationship, that is forever bouncing like a ball. And have gained in insight and patience and forbearance.

I learnt a lesson from Snoopy, my pet dog. She was not like a cat, whose loyalty depended on where she gets her food and safe stay. She was loyal to me and no matter what I said to her, all she did was rolled her eyes this way and that, but she never left.

I’ve done the same throughout all these years myself. It really is all about  strategy!

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Picture from the net

 

 

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I would like to give my life
Away
I would like to die
To this moment
To hold in my ears
The sound of the Eternal
Nee…

I would like to take to ochre
And dress with nothing on
Save the name written
In my soul
Nee…

Of love they say
It is an infliction
Of the mind
But
They never say the same
About
Nee…

I would like to throw
The burden of waiting
For the Name
Written across my destiny
Nee…

Nee…You!

With your coming
the pain sleeping in my eyelids
have subsided.
The little plant hiding in the seed
has sprung up to meet the sky.
My heart has come alive
with our relationship.

My eyes have opened
with ecstasy
Surprise, shock
laughter, goose bumps
admiration sparkle
in these eyelids.

In the screaming mind
loneliness persisted
but emerging from behind the curtain today
the frozen, cold moments sped away
the heavy burden days disappeared.

Half comfort
half happiness
thus, surprise
laughing
smiling
Goosebumps
admiring
In these eyelids

(is)You!

 

Rough translation/transcreation JD  & KN

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Sunshine cloud

Sunshine_at_Dunstanburgh

Shadow lies

I may not have told you yet
My heart skipped a number of times
when we met, briefly

My mind said
No, this is again one more mirage
your mind has created to divert
your attention from yourself

Perhaps, I said
maybe! But please I need

To look at other things

Some love, some feelings and sensations

to know that I am alive and kicking
I might have been alone

Very alone
In fact the aloneness only a bad relationship can bring me to
But was it not her desire too

I saw in her eyes behind her specs
that light of anxiety mixed with desire

May I not rest in those longing eyes
which reflect my desire too?

For too long I have slept on a pillow which harboured bad dreams

Is it not time to open a little window and look out at the sunshine?

 

Picture credit: upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/80/Sunshine_at_Dunstanburgh.JPG

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smriti62It is said that a king once came across a sage and was so deeply affected by him, that he gave up his huge kingdom, his wealth and his women to follow the sage in the search of The Truth.

This sage was not any ordinary man. For years he had been practicing a silent meditation. Thus, when the king, often questioned him and pleaded for spiritual guidance and direction, the sage answered nothing. However, when the queries got deeper and more persistent, the sage snapped – Be Silent!

That was it. For years the king sat at the feet of his Master, in total silence, from sunrise to sunset, day in, day out. Until one day, a little dog found his home and came to live with him.The king tried to shoo him away, but it would not go. Hence, despite his efforts, the king was forced to look after the dog – feed him and watch on him.

It so happened that a few months from then, a man wandered along and seeing the sage went up to him and fell at his feet.

“ Guru”, he pleaded, “give me something to eat. I am so hungry…”

The sage looked at him and said –

“ There is no food here, as you can see. But you can go to that sansari who live below and he will give you the food you want.”

Hearing this, the king felt a terrible sense of disdain. He loathed to be addressed as a sansari. Was it not he, who many years ago left everything to follow this sage? His kingdom, wealth and women, all renounces for a search? So why was he being called a sansari? However, his thoughts took him to his habits in the recent years and he knew why the sage had called him a sansari.

It was the dog and his attachment to the dog that made him a sansari. Having left everything in his world as a king, he still had not left his attachment to things, be it a dog even. Suddenly, it hit him like a bolt from the blue – it is not what you leave behind materially outside, what you need to leave behind is attachment itself. If one is not free of the bandhans inside, no matter what one leaves outside, new things will only replace it again. So if one has to be really free, then, one has to cut off the very threads that bind us to the things outside.

A great realization struck him and in that moment, he left, now even knowing where he was going to. He left the dog, the house and the sage, all in one stroke.

When the moment is ripe, all things fall into place themselves. The rest of the time is spent, only preparing for that moment.

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If your thought are deeply entrenched in the contemplation of someone you love, you become the person you love.

 

Therefore I will only speak of myself, for in me now you have merged. Not of your volition but of mine. Not of your need but of mine.

 

And you think I have forgotten you.

Yes and no!

How can I remember you, when all that I am is you in me? How can I see myself as separate from you, when you and I have merged like two different coloured inks on one blotting paper?

 

We were different. Separated by time and space, over lifetimes. Two bodies. Two minds, searching one another over lifetimes. Now the search is complete. Not because I have found you, but because my love has acted as the blotting paper into which our two separate lives have merged into one.

 

It was the best thing that happened to us. Now there will be no hide and seek. No need to go anywhere to look for the other. Not even to avoid the other, if we wish to.

Now we are – me.

 

In fact, it was all an illusion – two separate beings, traveling over lifetimes to find each other.There was no time and space in which our souls traveled in search of each other. It was only how we thought we did. But, now even that is over.

I have thought of you so much and imitated your ways so often, in wakefulness and in sleep, I have devotedly contemplated upon you, like Radha upon Krishna and now I find the difference between us has disappeared.

I can say we are one, if there still were two of us. But, when that is naught, there is only a lack of words to describe what Is.

If your thought are deeply entrenched in the contemplation of someone you love, you become the person you love.

 

 

 

Art by Smriti Vohra

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The Free Soul

“There is but one Infinite Being in the universe, and that Being appears as you and as I; but this appearance of divisions is after all a delusion. He has not been divided, but only appears to be divided. This apparent division is caused by looking at Him through the network of time, space and causation.” .”- Sw Vivekananda in The Complete Works Of Vivekananda, Volume 3, chapter 6, page 9-10

 

A lifetime spent in contemplation of the non-existent, the false and delusions. Like a sage sitting and cogitating on the beginning and the end and the in-between, not knowing that the clay from which he is made is the same clay that holds the secret of Existence –Shunya. Not zero but Whole.

Everything, that ever was, ever will be. The complete reality. Not a black hole but Shunya, the heart and Being of the Universe.

Yet, I have sat through the dark night to see the light of day. I have suffered great pains and struggles just to arrive at the Truth, not knowing that the object I seek is of what I am made. I have sat outside the clay pitcher, day in day out contemplating Who Am I, not once looking inside to see the blazing Light, nor the complete Stillness, of which I am. Looking outward, only one after another delusions eluded me.

I am the Shunya, never born, never to die, I am. I know but then again I forget, the same Truth, for I have got used to believing in a mirage in the desert of my life. I spend the whole life looking for that which cannot be found, because, there is nothing to find except only delusions, mirages in the canvas of my life.

“I was once traveling in the dessert in India. I traveled for over a month and always found the most beautiful landscapes before me, beautiful lakes and all that. One day I was very thirsty and I wanted to have a drink at one of the lakes; but when I approached that lake, it vanished. Immediately with a blow came into my brain, the idea that this was a mirage about which I had read all my life and then I remembered and smiled at my folly…..the next morning I again began my march and there was the lake and landscape, but with it immediately came the idea, this is a mirage.”- Sw Vivekananda in The Complete Works Of Vivekananda, Volume 3, chapter 6


I am in the habit of forgetting I am
The Free Soul, The Absolute. Like the Shunya that exists inside the pitcher, outside the pither and in all parts of the pitcher, I am that Whole, The Absolute.

 

Still, a lifetime spent in idle thinking to arrive at the Silence of the Lamps.

 

 

 

 

NB: Art By Smriti Vohra

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Kolkata is fiery red all over. Conches are sounding all over. Hindi filmy music mixes with Bengali new Poojo sangeet Radio Mirchi is buzzing with new excitement. There is jubilation in the air. – She is coming. Only for four days. She is coming home. The rains continue to lash the streets. The little ponds laugh. The greens cannot be hidden by the growing grey of the city. The idols of Durga are in their finishing touches period. From where I am, I am floating on the Ganga….

 

It has begun with a hair message. Warm hair oil is poured over my head and I feel the circular movement of gentle hands as they rub the oil into my scalp…slowly…round and round…turning my head this way and that…. a soft Rabindra sangeet playing in the background…..I breathe deeply…..and let go…floating inward….still conscious of the hands working around my head…behind my ears…and at the nape of my neck. Slowly I am fading out…..my breathing has become heavy …and slow…….soundless…..with gaps in between…..and moments I am not breathing at all…….yet I am alive……I know it despite my deeply relaxed state of being. Fresh mud from the banks of the Ganga river flowing through Hoogly, touching Kolkata, has been brought, to be laid on a new terrain, my body. I have asked for a mud bath..the grey-brown, ever so soft silt from Ganga’s river bed. Handfuls of it are being laid out on my ………face to be follow by my body. It is cool..smoothe..creamy. I guess my face, leaving my eyes, and lip are laden with soil. To enhance the breezy coolness, I can feel two slices of cucumber being laid out over my eyes. Now I cannot open them …my ears have become sharper. I can hear the sizzling sound from the kitchen as seasoning is being done to daal. The haunting aroma of paanch phoran fills the air and my olfactory glands take a deep doze of the fragrance of Bengal’s unique but simple five-spice seasoning. I can also hear the poojo songs on radio…the hands that are today’s guide to the celestrial are on my neck and my shoulders are now being turned to the banks of the river Ganga……slowly the silt spreads through my torso..the overwhelming feeling is that of a cold paste. How easy it is to feel cool in the middle of summer! My intestines are freezing as the mud spreads over my stomach.

 

My legs and thighs are in a let go….perhaps I will never walk again as they cannot be willed to move any more…I will only float like a plank of wood, without direction, on the body of Ganga……just float aimlessly…. The hands are rolling over my thighs and legs. Together with the coolness, I can simultaneously feel Ganga slowly but surely taking a firm grip of me, first my face and then the rest of the body as the mud dries over my body, slowly embracing my skin in its pores. No! It is not pissible to be away from Her too long….She has caught me today and will not let me go…..These hands are driving me closer to Her bosom…I don’t have to make any effort to come close to Her – She grips me to her bosom. I am in a let go…I cannot resist. My feet and toes are now covered by  Her soil. There is a hand that is transporting me, transforming me……..the hands that now message my arms in a downward motion… …and before my fingers move into the soil, spreading themselves in the cool water of the earth of Bengal, I feel her lips touching the tips of my fingers….I feel the kiss of death….the kiss which will make me die to myself. In my head I hear my English School Headmistress, Miss Thomson read in her clear and British accent, “ The Touch Of The Masters’ Hand” The story of the man who driven by poverty puts his guitar out to auction. But nobody buys it till he comes and tunes it. At the touch of the Master’s hand, the guitar fills the room with such melodious music that it is auctioned at a very high price.

 

The music in the room has changed and I can hear Beethovan as I am dying to myself….the Lady takes over what belongs to Her………I am powerless. I am Hers. She has gripped me now firmly. My fingers are firm and even the web between them are now cast in her soil. Gently, the cucumber slices are lifted and I open my eyes…….my vision is filled with Kolkata. My jaws have fallen slightly and the song on her lips is the song we sang together at midnight, that night of poems and song lyrics –

 

Mamma, when I look at the clear waters of my soul

I see your face

Mamma, when I hear the voices in my head

A thousand voices speak like you

Tell me mamma,

Is loving another woman, like loving myself

 

When Kolkata plays on her guitar, your ears can feel like they have got so finely tuned, like as if you’d smoked some pot……gently strumming on her guitar, the strong embrace of the earth over me and around me….I drift off into a deep slumber……..Daughters of the soil, I see my mother merging into the beautiful idol of Durga, floating over the large breast of the Ganga.

 

I am Her.

 

 

 

 

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With a flair of charm and with the air of apprehension she says the first three words ….

Utkarsh : For Her…


Lingering in my mind, these words I longed to hear, did not find the air inside the mouth to form the words and give it shape nor found the air outside to set the words sailing so they could reach my ears, vibrate and ripple and reach my brain and caress the wells, long dried in the heat of arguments….three words would have filled the gaps forever.

But!

The mind wanders again, far away in distant lands, the smell and taste of the earth of which I have forgotten. So many years ago and yet, fresh in the storehouse of things I desired but did not receive.

The breath at my nostrils have cooled. Like gentle breeze, they come and go. I am supposed to move with the breath, just be aware of the incoming and the outgoing breath, cool as it enters, warm as it leave.

Just like us. Could we not have kept the flow going. No! You were too different from me. Culturally. Did you not say, I would have to change? How can you change anything, without distroying it first. I am who I am.

And again the mind has travelled away to things past long ago….

Patient. Blame not the mind. Rome was not built in a day. Don’t be judgemental. Just return to the breath.

True, I have been holding up my breath in the last few moments which to me seemed eternity. Maybe only a fraction of a second turned to eternity….I was away much longer so let me get back to my breath….that incoming cool breath, flowing gently in and then leaving my body too, softly. The solar plexus have relaxed and my lower back is no more aching with the tightness of air held between its columns….relax. Let go!

And off I go. There in front of me is a screen, white in colour. We are sitting on the stool facing each other. Uncomfortable with the weight of the words, unsaid. I am looking at you as you fidget around, looking at me and then away. I know the pregnancy of these moments, heavy with the onset of labour pains in the mind, desparete moments when the ache of unsaid words, sentences, paragraphs….I can see us both on my mental screen, even with my eyes shut tight, one struggling to give birth, the other waiting with longing palms turned upward and outward…..

Yet! No word said. Only the heaviness in the air, the weight in the heart so heavy that we both let out a sigh…

Bringing me back to my breath once again. The words die in the womb. They do not find the air inside the mouth to form the words and give it shape nor find the air outside to set the words sailing so that they could reach my ears, vibrate and ripple and reach my brain and caress the wells, long dried in the heat of arguments….three words which would have filled the gaps forever.

And so I breath, watching the inflow and outflow of life, prana, while my mind takes me back and forth, like a jhula, a cradle from this moment to the past or the future….

Another hour lost to the conniving devices of the mind. In futile basking, much blabbering without a voice. Many visuals behind closed eyes. Many diversions from the chosen Path.

I am sitting in the Buddha pose. Silence is around me. Stillness so unmoving, it is like death. My mouth is shut and there is no energy that is moving outward and feeding the mind further. Thus, the thoughts are slowly receding and I settle in Silence….. The Silence of the Lamps.

 

 

NB: Art by Smriti Vohra 

 

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Monkey

                                     

                                                                 

There is no light nor sound, which can reach this space, this 8 x 4 ft cell in which I have locked myself in. It is pitch dark and except for that one opening at the top of the cell, which allows air to enter, there are no windows or skylight.

 

I stretch my arms, but there is nothing I can see. I close my eyes and there is darkness. Even when I open them there is darkness. It is silent as a tomb inside, like the silence of the dead.


I am looking within, inside myself, my mind, my eyes closed. Volumes of sounds, conversations, pictures, flow out of my memory like reels of films I have put away somewhere, in the backburner. Ream upon ream of written matter, tapes of sounds and conversations….unending and on and on. If I open my eyes the thoughts cease only for a second. However, when I close my eyes, I am distanced from these flowing thoughts and can go on watching as each follows the other.

 

Until, the monkey takes hold of me.

 

The grey coat that covered your shoulders hung like a flowering shrub on a cliff, the colour perfectly matching your salt and pepper hair. Contrasting sharply with the hues of the soft pink shirt, the collar of which could just about be a little loose, but for your burgundy tie. I could feel my fingers tie a noose around your neck, so tight, that your lips pouted. Pearl-like teeth exposed between lustrous full lips like that of a woman’s.

 

My lips! You are wearing my lips.

 

We were at the conference of minds, great minds, great thoughts and great imagination. But I wanted a different diet.

 

The heat is on. It is summer, although, the air conditioning froze us.  My eyes have traveled to the cuff-links on your shirt. The diamond threw cutting glares at me.

 

I smiled.

 

Only a fool thinks that they can scare away the intent in a woman’s mind. A diamond’s sparkle, are no match to my ruby lips, my sapphire eyes, my garnet studded breasts.

 

With one dart of my eyes, the cuff-links can open to reveal the arm – the arm that will be around me in no more than a few seconds. And the buttons on the shirt will snap out, revealing a thick growth of darkness on your chest.

 

We are close together, just a few seats away. The tip of my shoe centimeters away from you. I can feel your growth of passion. I am wet too.

 

And then you rise, grabbing the coat around you, buttoning it, just a bit too late. I have seen the size and length of the whole summer.

It did rain heavily that night. There were puddles of water everywhere. We rained passion, we bathed in love. Not once, not twice, many times over.

 

The overwhelming thought is but one – you, your passion for me. I can feel it now, my limbs are limp….you are all over me, inside me, outside me, the throbbing reality of a mind gone astray, uncontrolled in your arms I am experiencing the union of powerful energies, wild animal desires and I can feel the throbbing at the base while I rise to the occasion in my heart, my breasts thrust and plastered against your chest. I can see your face, contorted by the agony of  the last minute tension just before the release of peace…I can see the last straw before you let go.

 

Forbidden fruits of labour hammer in the last nail on the coffin, the death of Self and the birth of Cosmic Orgasm.

 

I am still sitting in the same pose, lost in the finale of the act, far away from the world I am here to discover. Monkeys. Demons of the past. Another hour lost to the conniving devices of the mind. Far, too far, from where I wish to be.

 

I am sitting in the Buddha pose. Silence is around me. Stillness so unmoving, it is like death. My mouth is shut and there is no energy that is moving outward and feeding the mind further. Thus, the thoughts are slowly receding and I settle in Silence….. The Silence of the Lamps.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NB: Art by Smriti Vohra 

 

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                                                        One-Handed Basket Weaving

 

There was a dervish who lived alone in the mountains,

who made a vow never to pick fruit from the trees,

or to shake them down,

or to ask anyone to pick fruit from him.

 

“Only what the wind makes fall.”

This was his way

of giving in to God’s will.

 

There is a traditional saying from the Prophet

that a human being is like a feather in the desert

being blown about wherever the wind takes it.

 

So for a while in the joy of this surrender

he woke each dawn with a new direction to follow.

 

But then came five days with no wind,

and no pears fell.

 

He patiently restrained himself,

until a breeze blew just strong enough

to lower a bough full of ripe pears

close to his hand, but not strong enough

to detach the pears.

 

He reached out and picked one.

 

Nearby, a band of thieves were dividing

what they had stolen.

 

The authorities surprised them and immediately

began the punishments: the severing

of right hands and left feet.

 

The hermit was seized by mistake

and his hand cut off,

But before his foot could be severed also,

he was recognised.

 

The prefect came. “Forgive these men.

They did not know. Forgive us all!”

 

The sheikh said, “This is not your fault.

I broke my vow, and the Beloved

has punished me.”

 

He became known as Sheikh Aqta,

which means, ‘the teacher

whose hand has been cut off’.

 

One day a visitor entered his hut without knocking

and saw him weaving palm-leaf baskets.

It takes two hands to weave!

 

“Why have you entered without warning?”

 

“Out of love for you.”

 

“Then keep this secret which you see

has been given to me.”

 

But others began to know about this,

and many came to the hut to watch.

 

The hand that helped

when he was weaving palm leaves

came because he no longer had any fear

of dismemberment or death.

 

When those anxious, self-protecting

imaginations leave, the real,

cooperative work begins.

 

        Jalaluddin Rumi, Mathnawi, III

 

 

At last, the walls that were full of stories written of you and me have left their hold on me. They have just dropped away. For years I held in the crevices of my mind, indeed all the empty spaces inside, words, thoughts, acts, memories…

 

Suddenly, the walls are no more. They have vanished. Not even whitewashed! They have no colour; not even the absence of colour. The stories have just vanished. There is no rubble to retrieve the stories from, even if I wanted to. Just nothing! All is gone!

Chor aaye hum, woh galiya…..said Gulzar. He was right. I too have left the gallis and the roads. Even, those rooms in my mind full of your fragrance. I know I held on to them as long as I needed them. These stories had their purpose. They took me on a journey to my Self. They broke my resistance and they brought the flood to my eyes. They seasoned me, molded me, twisted me like you turn an iron rod in the furnace to make it steel…and when that is done, neither the iron knows itself, nor is the furnace any more needed.

 

Suddenly the walls that were full of stories of you and me are no more. They have disappeared. As long as I was insecure without them, they were with me.

 

When those anxious, self-protecting

imaginations leave, the real,

cooperative work begins.

 

Goodbye Devashish! Our work together is over. I must be on my Way…..

 

 

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