Sunday, 31 August 2014

Hello, It's a Miracle!

Top post on IndiBlogger.in, the community of Indian Bloggers

"Hello Miracle, my old friend. So good to see you! Long time, where had you been hiding?"

"Hello there! I suppose I could say I was just hibernating, taking it easy, you know! How have you been? I see you look quite hale and hearty, nicely blossoming."

"Yes, it has been a good year so far. I have enjoyed the nice rains we got and also plenty of Sun helped me regain some of my vigour. But you have had a difficult time in the last couple of years, no? We missed you around here."

"It's nice to hear that you have been well. And I missed myself too, if I may say so! Yes, it has been a difficult time for me lately. But that's mostly because of that not-so-smart fellow who kept overfeeding me despite my ill-health, and didn't even bother to check what I actually needed. And those people who hired him, I mean the couple who own this property, sometimes I think they are also not very smart despite all their education and stuff. They got me to their home, parked me here in this corner and probably just forgot about me. What kind of people do that, hun? I wasn't getting proper attention, and as you know I am not really that demanding. I was barely managing to survive, but that was thanks to my inner strength and hardiness. I tell you, when times get tough, that's when you realize your own will to survive and keep going. I managed to do that, and look now, I am finally recovering after all this time and even beginning to blossom a little."

"That's great! I am very happy for you. And I am so proud of you. You know, I was missing your company. I used to look longingly toward your corner and really hoped that one day the 'Miracle' will happen! Isn't that a nice turn of the phrase, eh? And look now, it has. You have opened up and we all can enjoy this beautiful vision of the blue-purple blooms in our corner."




"Thank you so much, dear! It means a lot to hear this from my fellow beings, my neighbours and friends."

"And I must tell you this. It is not for no reason that you have been given this name 'Miracle'. Just by the way you have shared your experience right now, you have helped me learn an important lesson in life, and work further towards my Perfection: to rely on one's inner willpower, to be able to dig into that hidden reservoir of inner strength and pull oneself up and renew oneself. But tell me frankly, was it easy to do?"

"Oh no! It wasn't easy, but then what choice did I have? It would have been much easier to give up. But something in me resisted and wasn't ready to give up. And I thank all the gods for that! This part kept going somehow, kept the flame of life burning within, kept digging for greater strength, greater willpower and eventually created an opening of some sort which was enough to receive that Higher Light or Force or whatever one may call it. And voila! It worked. I could slowly heal my wounds, and eventually as you say, renew myself. I suppose it is a Miracle, in a way. Otherwise if it were up to these fellows, I would have probably been dead by now!"

"Now come on...they aren't all that bad. The rest of us have been doing okay, no? They do take care of us and also of things around here, for the most part. I agree, sometimes they get lazy or neglectful and things go a bit out of control or somewhat unruly, here and there. But they do come around and do what is necessary."

"You are right, they do. I was being a bit judgmental, I think. Maybe this new-found beauty of mine is going to my head! I must watch out for it. It is true that when I look around and see you all doing well and hale and hearty, I feel happy and content to be in your company. And I suppose I shouldn't hold on to these silly grudges, especially when I am standing near something that is so much more Psychologically Perfect than me. I salute you, my friend, for your aspiration for that inner perfection. Perhaps it was also because of this sense of wellness around me that made me survive all along and keep at it...there is much to be said about the environment in which one lives."

"You really have become very wise, maybe it is your experience that has made you so."

"Wise? Who, me? O no, I am just sharing what little I have learned  from my experience. My two cents' worth, as they say."

"Your two paisas' worth, my friend! Remember, these people now live in India, so let us get our currency right!"

"Right you are!"

(Laughter).

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The above conversation happened between two plants in a corner of my garden. The Ironwood (also known as Delek Air tree, Anjan; botanical name: Memecylon umbellatum) and Frangipani (also known as Plumeria, Temple tree, Champa) were chatting and enjoying each other's company one late afternoon when I happened to pass by. Hiding behind some over-grown bamboo trees I overheard this conversation and found it so enlightening. I hope my readers will also find it so.

Ironwood or Anjan is given the spiritual significance of Miracle by the Mother of Sri Aurobindo Ashram. 

Frangipani is given the spiritual significance of Psychological Perfection.

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This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.

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Linking this post with Write Tribe, Wednesday Prompt: My two cents' worth

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Linking this post with ABC Wednesday H: H is for Hello, Healing 




Sunday, 24 August 2014

12 Most...



So the folks over at Write Tribe have asked us to write something about "12 most...." These 12 could be anything. Anything, they said.

So, of course my immediate thought was about sharing 12 most favourite old Hindi film songs. But I have so many more than 12. Selecting 12 would have been a difficult thing. And it also occurred to me that occasionally I do keep sharing some of them here on this blog. But the moment I started thinking of this "blog" my mind went to those early days of my blog-writing when all I was doing was writing for myself. This was when not many people knew this blog even existed.

And I started going through some of my old posts. Memories of what was going on in my outer and inner life during the particular time which inspired me to write those posts came flooding. It was a good walk down that lane, with mixed feelings about the various moments and memories.

But this post is not about those memories or moments.

This post is about those old posts. Yes, you guessed it: 12 most un-read posts on this blog. Each of these posts remind me of a special moment, a special thought or feeling or a piece of music that was dominating my mind and/or heart at that time.

Why am I inclined to do a post today about the 12 most un-read posts on this blog? Yes, you guessed it again: because after all those writings about Education and Dharma and Reason and Depression that I have been doing all this month, I wanted to do something simple. Not really simplistic, but simple and easy and fun. That's it! And of course, a few more 'hits' on these old posts wouldn't hurt either.

See if any of these catch your attention. Here we go:

A Thing of Beauty

Charles Eisentstein on "Who Will Collect the Garbage?"

We Pray that it will be Done in Beauty

Simplicity, Sincerity, and Spontaneity

Love Immortalized, in Stone and Song

Inner Truth of a Flower

Of Pots and Religions...with a bit of Santoor and Piano Thrown on the Wheel

Giving Up...Letting Go...How?

A Story of an Inner Dawn

"Song is Divine, but More Divine is Love"

"No Construction without Destruction"

The Whole Seed Within


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Linking this post with Write Tribe Wednesday Prompt: 12 Most...

Friday, 22 August 2014

Dharma and Reason

First published on Social Potpourri

This is in continuation to the previous piece -  Of Right, Duty, Dharma and That Inner Voice. It would be helpful if you have read the earlier article.




Dharma is not an easy concept to understand and describe. It has to be actually ‘lived’ as per our level of consciousness and its ascending journey. However, in order to at least mentally comprehend it, we must first develop an intellectual practice and habit that accepts multiple truths co-existing simultaneously.

For example, while Ahimsa (non-violence) may be the supreme Dharma on a very high spiritual plane, it cannot and should not be applied universally as a moral principle on each plane of existence and action. When a soldier kills in a battlefield, he too is following his dharma. Failure to do so will mean abandoning his dharma. When a colonized people start an armed revolution against their colonial masters their action is not adharmic. Passively accepting oppression and unjust foreign rule may actually be against the spirit of the group-dharma which enjoins the group members to live and discover their individual dharma in freedom.

As we begin to see, Dharma is universal and individual at the same time. It is eternal and ever-changing at the same time.

A tiger kills and devours others as per its dharma; a flower gives fragrance and beauty to all as per its dharma. It is only human being, however, who perhaps is often not sure of his or her dharma and feels a sort of evolutionary crisis within. There are times when one must abandon the dharma that seemed right and true at an earlier time or stage in life, and go toward a higher dharma, a higher law of being. And this creates an inner tension of sorts, an inner battleground where dharma alone can help resolve the crisis.

But how?

To read more, go to Social Potpourri

(Dear reader, I would love to hear any thoughts, comments or responses you may have to this article. You may drop me a few words here or at the SP site, as per your convenience and preference.)


Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Found. Faded Flowers, Fading Memories.

Top post on IndiBlogger.in, the community of Indian Bloggers


Ever wondered what those books behind the glass doors of the cupboard might be thinking or feeling? Ever wondered if they are saying something to you? Yes, to you. And to me too, as we are busy clicking fingers on our laptops, ipads whatever.

Ever wondered if those pages, with that fresh-printed or that old-musty smell, are missing the touch of your fingers from the times you gently turned them over? Ever wondered if there is a look of longing in the stillness with which those old books continue to gaze in your direction as your eyes glaze over the screen of your gadget?

Ever wondered what all has been lost in this transition from books to e-books?

He did. That Hindi/Urdu poet, film-maker, writer, and storyteller. Gulzar, who celebrated his 80th birthday yesterday.

Read what he has to say about those books behind the glass doors.

About those evenings spent in their company, and those nights slept with them. About those dried, faded flowers found in their pages, and the fading memories of the old letters and notes hidden between some others. About the relationships birthed in the game of borrowing and lending books.

About the romance of the books, and where it has gone in today's age.

किताबें झाँकती है बंद अलमारी के शीशों से
बड़ी हसरत से तकती है
महीनों अब मुलाक़ातें नही होती
जो शामें उनकी सोहबत में कटा करती थी
अब अक्सर गुज़र जाती है कम्प्यूटर के परदे पर
बड़ी बैचेन रहती है किताबें
उन्हें अब नींद में चलने की आदत हो गई है

जो ग़ज़लें वो सुनाती थी कि जिनके शल कभी गिरते नही थे
जो रिश्तें वो सुनाती थी वो सारे उधड़े-उधड़े है
कोई सफ़्हा पलटता हूँ तो इक सिसकी निकलती है
कई लफ़्ज़ों के मानी गिर पड़े है
बिना पत्तों के सूखे टूँड लगते है वो सब अल्फ़ाज़
जिन पर अब कोई मानी उगते नही है

जबाँ पर ज़ायका आता था सफ़्हे पलटने का
अब उँगली क्लिक करने से बस एक झपकी गुज़रती है
बहोत कुछ तह-ब-तह खुलता चला जाता है परदे पर
क़िताबों से जो ज़ाती राब्ता था वो कट-सा गया है

कभी सीनें पर रखकर लेट जाते थे
कभी गोदी में लेते थे
कभी घुटनों को अपने रहल की सूरत बनाकर
नीम सज़दे में पढ़ा करते थे
छूते थे जंबीं से

वो सारा इल्म तो मिलता रहेगा आइन्दा भी
मगर वो जो उन क़िताबों में मिला करते थे
सूखे फूल और महके हुए रूक्के
क़िताबें माँगने, गिरने, उठाने के बहाने जो रिश्ते बनते थे
अब उनका क्या होगा...!!

"I often find sentences that seem to me beautiful in writing or in print, but once I utter them aloud, become harsh and unmusical; and sometimes the reverse happens...I have often at first sight condemned a sentence as harsh and ugly, which, when I read it aloud, I was surprised to find apt and harmonious. From this I infer that if a writer's works appear beautiful in print or manuscript, but not beautiful when read aloud, he may be set down as a good artist in calligraphy, but a bad artist in literature, since suggestion to the eye is the perfume of the written, but suggestion to the ear the perfume of the spoken word."
~ Sri Aurobindo, The Harmony of Virtue



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Linking this post with ABC Wednesday, F: F is for Found, Faded, Flowers.


photo credit: Moyan_Brenn via photopin cc

Friday, 15 August 2014

Know Thyself, Know Thy History

Continuing my series on Education at Newsinsight.net


Before I go on to the article, let me share with the readers a picture of Gangaikonda Cholapuram, the grand temple built by Rajendra Chola. This July marked the 1000-year anniversary of the coronation of this mighty ruler of Chola Empire.

Chances are that if you don't live in Tamil Nadu, you probably missed this piece of news. Why is that so? Just this question itself is worth pondering a lot, no? 

In a way, it speaks of the larger issue I try to bring out in my second article in the series on Education I am doing for the magazine, Newsinsight.net


(Photo by Suhas Mehra)



Preface:
UNESCO’s Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity, 2001 emphasizes dialogue of cultures and civilizations, and asserts that creativity draws on the roots of cultural tradition but it flourishes in contact with other cultures. If we want Indian youth to develop and draw upon their innate creativity, it is imperative that they must have a deep and critical knowledge of their rich heritage and cultural traditions.

Indian spiritual wisdom teaches us that one must consciously try to become aware of different parts that make oneself, and make continuous attempts to live, as much as possible, in accordance with the inner truth that guides and determines one’s path of life. When our self-expression — the line of work we do, our connections with others, our growth through life-experiences, our motivations and intentions, everything — begins to flow from our unique inner law of being, we are on the path to discover our swadharma (the true purpose of our existence in this life). This is certainly not an easy task. But it is the first necessity.

Same is true of the nation. Only when Indian children, youth and people know the inner history of India and its evolutionary march, can they truly be connected to the Indian spirit and work toward manifesting it through their works and actions.

To read my article "The Art of Questioning - 2", click here.

And do come back here and share some of your thoughts, reactions, responses!



Friday, 8 August 2014

Of Right, Duty, Dharma and that Inner Voice

Top post on IndiBlogger.in, the community of Indian Bloggers
This article was first published on Social Potpourri 

A new post in the series Satyam Shivam Sundaram

A series featuring inspiring words from various sources, words that speak of timeless truths, words that remind me of the deeper and hidden truth behind surface events and phenomena, words that shine light when all seems dark, words that are just what I need - for this moment and for all times to come.






"Do what feels right to you, to the real you inside."
"Listen to your inner voice, and act accordingly."
"Don't give in to the societal pressure, hear the voice of your soul."

We hear such advice so often these days. From practically anybody and everybody!

But think about it deeply for a minute. Is it that simple to access that inner voice? That voice of the real you which will inspire you to do the 'right' thing?

How many individuals are actually able to organize their lives according to the law of their truer/inner self? Only the rarest among rare are actually able to live in their true self that is beyond their emotional and mental selves and their demands. Rest of us, the vast majority are driven by impulses, preferences, biases, prejudices, instincts and perhaps a bit of rationality too in our saner moments.

The ancient Indian visionaries/Rishis knew very well about this problem of human nature. So they came up with the ideal of Dharma - which covered basically all natures, all aspects of life, all situations and stages of life, and even allowed for maximum freedom, continuity and greatest possibility of contextualization, adaptation and adjustment.

We find that there is an individual dharma (different for different roles, functions, and stages of life), group-dharma (dharma of an organization like a guild of craftsmen or a regiment of soldiers or a gurukulam/educational institution) kula-dharma (dharma of an extended family lineage), jati-dharma (dharma of a collective of lineages), yuga-dharma (dharma appropriate for a yuga or time – implying that dharma changes with time, what is appropriate today may not be relevant tomorrow). Dharma also varies by the varna (varna does not mean caste), and by the stage of one’s life (dharma of a householder is different from dharma of a social recluse/ascetic or from dharma of a student).

The point is that the society was meant to be organized around this ideal truth of Dharma and the idea was that if people truly acted and lived according to the truth of their dharma they would be able to live harmoniously with others and eventually work towards their own self-fulfillment gradually coming closer and closer to discovering their swabhava, true nature and swadharma, the deeper purpose of their life. This gradual progress in one's life and living by the dharma appropriate to age, station and place in life and society, helped one grow inwardly and spiritually.

Thus Dharma ensures stability and continuity of the society. But in the imperfect human hands/minds, it can also lead to society’s stagnation by restricting individual freedom and free expression and by pushing people back in their fixed 'place' if they tried to transcend their so-called dharma.

Dharma is a concept difficult to describe, much less comprehend. Given below is a clear and powerful description given by Nolini Kanta Gupta:

To read more, click here.

And after you have read the amazingly helpful description given by Nolini-da and contemplated a bit on the truth that Dharma has to be first and foremost lived, as per our level of consciousness and its ascending journey....  

....next time you hear the clichéd advice – listen to that inner voice – remember that it takes a whole lot of silencing of other voices of Right, Duty, Law, Religion, Rule, Standard etc. before the voice of the inmost consciousness can even have a chance to be heard.

But then the question arises - what to do till we are able to hear that voice?

Maybe we will take it up in a follow-up article on Social Potpourri. Stay tuned.

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For all posts in the Satyam Shivam Sundaram series, click here.
For previous post in the series, click here.

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Linking this post with ABC Wednesday, D: D is for Dharma




Friday, 1 August 2014

A Personal Kind of Post, and With Gratitude

Top post on IndiBlogger.in, the community of Indian Bloggers


So many observations. So many thoughts clouding the mind, so much churning in this thing we commonly speak of as heart.

About life and its pressures, aging and mortality, family, relationships and their impermanence. About expectations and frustrations, silences and unspoken words, words and why we need them, or not.

About love that is human - oh so human that it can even become almost unrecognizable as love. About pampering and way too much pampering. About caring, non-caring and not caring enough.

About appearances and only appearances. About what is behind appearances. About fake and the unreal.

About the big city life and the life I have come to prefer in a small city. About spaces and their vibes. About home and what feels like home. 

About the mind and its workings. 

About rains that bring so much joy and also so much suffering. About pain. And more pain.

About rich and poor – money wise. And otherwise – in sincerity, genuineness and authenticity.

About why sometimes you just want to escape from it all. About why you can’t. Or shouldn't.

And about that one long exhale that makes it all go. Let go. At least for a few moments.

Could have written many posts on these and a few other things. But I won’t. At least not now. At least not till I get an inner and objective distance from my initial reactions and reflections. Not till I sense the truth – however distorted – that may be hiding behind what has met the outer eye or the outer walls of the heart and mind. Not till I see the inner beauty that may be hidden in the outer experience.

Aah…that long exhale! Let it all go.

But what I will write about today is Gratitude. Gratitude for the experience. For all its mixed-up nature.

Gratitude for that moment when I decided I will only write when that ranting voice in the head has been hushed. Sufficiently.

Gratitude for this moment when the mind is not running unnecessarily over unnecessary observations and feelings and emotions. For this moment when I felt inspired to write about what I don’t want to write about!

Gratitude for remembering that someone had asked me if I can recall a few posts by fellow bloggers which had touched something in me. Gratitude for having read those writings, for experiencing the moment when the vibration and ‘feel’ of the words written by these wonderful writers made its impact. And strongly enough so I can still recall those writings easily. So I can still re-experience the joy of re-reading them.

Listed below are a few of those posts, in no particular order. Do take the time to read these. You too will be grateful. I am quite sure of that.

Passion Room by Dagny Sol of Serenely Rapt 



Desiderata by Vidya Sury of Going A-musing




I am of course grateful for the time you took to read this post. 

Can I really call it a post? O well.