The early fall still had the rose hedge blooming; as the weather, started to turn cold today. The wind has picked up; and although not the biting cold of winter, it still causes a chill when you walk to get the mail. The house is all a bustle, for the Diwali celebrations planned for this week end. Extracted the decorations from the garage and hung them up; on an inspection by more discerning eye, and then had to re do them all as the placement was not really appreciated. Vicious rumors are being started of deliberate attempts to demean the homes aesthetics, and there is even lose talk of of dangerous men trying to decorate; when they have no sense of decorum or taste. The crisis was averted on following the redirection, and now the home looks more festive and ready for the annual celebration.
In the meantime our dear star has flared up again and solar activity has suddenly intensified; with two recent flares leaving to corridors of fire, across our sun’s surface. The sheer power of these eruptions is shown clearly, in the new photographs that have been taken. The energy and heat waves travel thousands of miles; in bursts and flares rising to the turbulent surface, and exploding out into space. These waves will disrupt our radio and other telecommunications and can cause havoc in the airwaves. Luckily we are protected from the fiercest eruptions by distance; and the unique atmosphere of the mother earth, which dispels most harmful rays. The Northern lights may become brighter but we will be safe.
The Diwali celebrations go well, with the family gathered around the Havan, and the Aarti and Lakshmi Pooja afterwards. It is a pleasant evening for children and now grandchildren to be playing around; in the cleared up Den to allow Casper, and the kids to frolic. Good vegetarian food followed in waves; till the final cake and other Punjabi desserts assortment to satisfy, even the least inclined in the Tsunami of food. We are human at an elemental knowledge; yet enshrined in tradition of our ancestors, on this festive day. Even the food followed age old recipes; passed down generations, of our families. A good time was had by all, and let the good times roll in the years to come
Monthly Archives: October 2013
Cultivating our inner garden
The U S National parks were closed; and visitors were being turned away from the gates and had to return disappointed, that they could not view the wonderful vistas of these natural wonders. From Yosemite to the Grand Canyon to Liberty State Park all across the nation, some of the prized treasures that are being preserved for posterity, were suddenly out of bounds and many a planned family trip had to be cancelled or people had to return disappointed. These are all part of our Earth’s wonders; and the amazing sights are awe inspiring and on such a grand scale, that it leaves the people wondering about the true power of nature. From ‘Old Faithful’s’ regular geyser gushing out; to the gigantic scale of the Grand Canyon, a testimony of water’s powers as the land is cut by the Rio Grande for hundreds of miles at a stretch.
We have been searching space for forms of life for decades now; and have yet to find another planet with life, such as we have on Earth. Nature’s forces have shown an abundance of flora and fauna, and we keep discovering new species of plants and birds and animals even today. Prakriti or Shakti or primordial power of nature; is not something that we can understand easily, and even the creator is at awe in what it can achieve as it evolves. Once creation started, the forces of nature took over and evolved with their own determined principals, creating diversity unimaginable in its scale. The creator having unleashed his creation; now left it to evolve on its own merits, but basic laws of science were the weave and weft for all things to come. Natural laws of Physics, Chemistry, Botany and Biology are enforced; on a second by second basis, and over eons of time. Billions of Galaxies exist; with each having billions of suns, and which in turn have planets and their moons, and all of them follow the same laws. The elements of life were forged in the great furnaces of the Super Nova’s and pulsars, white dwarfs, black holes and creative destruction is a natural part of these laws.
So when humanoids reached a stage in civilization they realized that the conquest of nature; and the creation of a man made order, was a natural desire. From the fabled hanging gardens of Babylon to the formal gardens of Versailles under the sun king Louis, to the geometrical lawns of the Taj Mahal with their flowing fountains, we created our own gardens. There is a desire amongst those who have more than enough; to then go out and make something, which will be their lasting legacy for others to follow. We have selectively worked with nature; and just like the tulip mania that almost destroyed the economy of Netherlands so many years ago, we continue to tinker with species of flowers and plants to create new varieties. The Inca and the Aztec selectively took wild grasses; and evolved them into many varieties of modern corn that we eat today, over the centuries. Similarly the green revolution that put Malthus theory to shame; was the creation of the dwarf wheat and rice grains like IR8, that revolutionized food production and brought beggars, into the land of plenty. We will continue to grow our gardens and now giant tractors, harvesters and combines roam the prairies to provide the man created gardens that feed our billions.
As humans evolved they came to question nature and its laws, that they saw around them. What is it that made the sun rise each day and the moon wane and wither and then become full again? What makes the caged bird to sing; and why does the eagle soar above the storms, that make all other birds seek shelter. These questions all lead us to the lotus of the heart; or the garden within, that we need to cultivate and grow. The laws of the spirit are even more obscure; than the laws of the physical world and even harder to understand, than the physical laws that can be observed and captured in formulas and methodologies of modern scientific thinking. The mighty oak grows from a tiny acorn and the heart of the acorn is empty; except for the spirit that resides there, that will cause it to flourish and grow, given the right environment. The life force that resides in these tiny seeds is powerful; and can cause the growth of mighty forests that live on for centuries, yet we do not know what causes this life force to exist and flourish.
When we look inwards and seek to grow this garden within; we often flounder and are easily distracted, by forces around us. The laws of nature reign supreme whether it is in the tiniest of electrons; or even the sub atomic particles that follow random patterns, to the spiral patterns of gigantic galaxies that span light years, and follow strict laws that sustain them. We are born and we must die; and existence is a stream in the time space continuum, which seems to have no beginning or end. What makes some people good and others evil; and what is it that causes old age and death, are just questions, that many have attempted to answer, but we cannot have a definitive theorem that answers these quest. So my answer is that we must cultivate this garden within. Within the void that is the innermost life force, is the solution to this great mystery of creation. Endless cycles of creation and destruction will continue to infinity; but what is it that we need to do now, to attain knowledge that transcends all of this natural phenomena. The laws of the spirit reign even over the physical laws; and they can only be found in the heart of the lotus, within each one of us. I have traveled this earth and seen its wonders; but what continues to amaze me is this wonder within, which we continue to neglect at our great peril.
Cultivating the spirit and the garden within us, becomes our main purpose in life. This gift of life can be squandered on the world of sensual perception; or it can be used to grapple with the timeless and beyond space reality, of oneness. We are seekers in a land of no answers; and what we find is only another perception, of myriad reality. Each of us is so unique that to even try and explain oneself to another who may be our lifetime companion, becomes an effort in futility. They will never see the world from our reality; as ours is a unique perspective, based on our Karma and experience. Just like you can take the horse to the water but you can’t make it drink similarly we can explore the universe but we can’t know what makes up its core. The core is not without; and after roaming the world in search of it, we must return to what is within. In our own void we must find that which is real; as everything else falls in the Upanishads answer of ‘Neti’, or not this alone. I am; so the universe exists, and without me, my universe ceases to exist. This Atman or life force was always here, and always will be; but our vision is clouded by the world of Maya and we see only the here and now. So be aware in this here and now; and all eternity will be at your beck and command. Cultivate this garden within, and it will become your fulfilling life work; as compassion and love are not external, but must first start in our own heart. Be happy; and happiness will flow and be joyful, and the world will revel with you in all its wonders. Offer everything to Brahman and the Atman will not want for abundance, for after all there is no duality here, and everything is still one with our creator. Sat Chit Anand.
When man first invented hand looms; cloth and carpets appeared into our consciousness, and eventually became a part of our existence. Master weavers and the labor of many people; that they worked with for years, produced some outstanding weaves. As the centuries passed more vibrant and subtle colors; came to be incorporated into the tapestries and carpets, and the designs became more elaborate. The master craftsman who delivers an exquisitely beautiful wool carpet alive with color and imagination, is to be revered. He has brought down the knowledge learnt by generations of other master weavers; and wool yarn producers and dyers, have come together to produce some of the best carpets in the world today. These products become cherished family heirlooms and I have enjoyed in my life the comfort and durability, which the traditional wool carpets provide. From the husbanding and raising of sheep; to the elaborate dyes and processes, to come up with the right thread, for the waft and woof that will become the web, that forms the final product, is an art in itself. Then the slow monotonous pounding of the loom as legs and hands toil ceaselessly; as adept fingers replicate the age old pattern by hand and eye, as colors are matched and each row is carefully tapped in place. It takes a long time to build a large carpet; and the labor is intense as the pattern is slowly built, square inch upon square inch, till the final master piece is done in all its glory. We owe their beauty to the back breaking labor that takes a toll on eyes, bodies and hearts of young lives, and the dyers and sheep, who all gave all their best, in its creation.
Then we come upon other blends besides wool like the silk on wool mixture and here even more rapturous patterns can be woven. The contrast of color from the shine of the lustful silky threads; on the more compliant and sober wool colors, produces strange contrasts that mystify not only the eyes of the viewer, but also his heart and mind. It is easy to escape into the patterns and design; and try to find deeper meaning in these age old pieces of art. They have attracted such lust for possession over the centuries; and the master weaver must have learnt what the human wish is, and how to fulfill it through his works of magic. When one desires such a thing and then lies on i;t feeling its myriad patterns with your finger tips as the soft silk, and the warm wool make the perfect blend. The floor suddenly becomes a museum of the art; of this dark and light weaving, as the colors change, depending on what angle the light falls on them. When you look from certain perspectives certain colors become pronounced; like bright crimson reds on silk and almost neon greens and gold, appear strewn across your feet with an abandon, that the eyes get lost in. It is wonderful to lie down on; or to sit on and meditate on these wonderful creations; as there is a peace, that is in the weave. This is woven in by the master craftsman and despite all the bitter and painstaking efforts of his young artists; they have still produced a thing of beauty, which will live on, even when they will be long gone and forgotten.
When I look at the play of dark and light in the silk carpets; it is as if I was seeing a marble and inlaid stonework, of rubies and emerald and other precious stones. It is as good as the pietra dura work on the Taj Mahal; or any other wonder of the world where marble is chiseled precisely, into intricate patterns. . It no longer looked like woven patterns with shiny silken threads in the light of the camera; but gave the appearance of polished and cut precious and semi-precious stones had been strewn across the oak floor. The light and dark patterns also show shadows and ghosts of the past; in ancient heroes who walked, or made love on similar rugs. One has to get down to the awe of a child; as it crawls on the carpet; exploring with her tiny fingers, the threads in the patterns. To appreciate the beauty one has to look on them anew, as in this moment of time; as they have been created, just for your pleasure. They do not sing about the magic carpet ride for nothing; as they are truly magic sailing ships, that can transport you to where you need to be and with whom you are destined to be, if you unchain your heart and just let it soar! We are all carpet weavers now’ weaving and improving our own reality’s weft and woof, on our personal magic carpet ride, to be; in this vast and great wonder of consciousness and love.
In the beginning there is just the amazing awe of the astral mysteries that seem to surround this blue planet; on which we find ourselves hurtling through space, in our solar system, within the milky way galaxy. Nature puts up astonishing displays, and if we do not look up to the heavens; and instead become absorbed in some details of our lives, we miss the whole trip. The more we detach ourselves from this daily desires and longings, the more we can take in, from all that surrounds us and provided by the creator for us to experience. The world as they say is at your feet; but you are too busy buying the perfect pair of black pumps, from Jimmy Choo, to walk all over it in style. It is better to stay in a state of perpetual awareness; at this universe and explore its mysteries; than to accept our fate, and keep our shoulder to the grindstone, and our back and legs providing the locomotion, to a meaningless death.
The next stage is often euphoric and people are often known to see celestial wonders and all is revealed to them in a shining Astral light. Their shoulders are no longer stooped; and they have a new spring in their step, of hope in the everlasting. They spread happiness bringing it from where they came, spreading it amongst the present, and then moving on to the future recipients, of their wisdom and good sense. Celestial wonders are just that (they are only celestial wonders and not the true path). Sooner or later the traveler breaks out from his bhakti or devotion, and moves to another area more promising school of realization; for deliverance. Still many of his companions stay in the state of devotion and this path also reach the same goal, so a large amount of travelers remain behind doing their ritual ablutions, praying and making love and merging with their eternal spirit.
The next stage arises when the rose colored glasses of bhakti and devotion come off and you can now see reality. Everything takes on the stark beauty of nature and everything appears crystal clear again. Gone are the celestial dances and the astral visions (rather they are still there but have been put aside like left luggage to continue the journey) and instead an understanding of unity in all of nature’s bounty; every single moment, and is felt like prana (life force) in every single living cell in the body. The mind becomes pure and doubt and sorrow vanish. Pain and pleasure are still there but you have gone beyond them to a new reality, where you do not react to them, or cling to them like you used to. You attain a freedom of choice; inexperienced before, so you do not know how to react to the whole time space continuum; as every day is new, and lets you shape and carve it like a potter and his clay. Today you may make your clay oil lamps (karma) for the nights of darkness to come when they will come in handy when you complete your dharma. There is equanimity about the external world; as the inner soul is shining through, so compassionately and lovingly. The light brightens and everything is crystal clear and your choices are easier to make.
Finally you get to the stage where the light begins to fade. All your life this light of reason, and this light of truth held you together; but now, even they start to fade. All the reality that you have grasped to yourself, itself starts to desert you. The senses start to fade and you hear less, see less, taste known things, feel the touch but cannot make out the object etc., names disappear and relationships of lifetimes become placed into neat cupboards and promptly forgotten. All the colors and flavors of life are still all around you but they do not attract you in the same way as before. The shape of a ripe mango no longer reminds of ones lover’s young breast, but instead looks interesting enough to eat. It is at this time that you are finally freeing yourself from all the chains around your heart. As the body’s light fades another grows stronger, as you know that the time for leaving this vessel is coming. Everything will return to Brahman; and as such you are only going back home; and while others may mourn at the passing of your light; but for you their sorrow is of no avail, as all you had will be left behind, and the parting is also fading as you get ready to move on.. The journey of course continues, as a new dawn destroys the darkness… .
The pathway to reality is often very faint; or it may appear blocked to us, when we strive to find it. Oftentimes the pathway is actually blocked; as we are not at the awareness point in our life, to be able to see it or to follow it. We are so busy in our social obligations; to family, clan, employer, club, religion, wealth; that we do not take time out, for ourselves. We are so busy living the dream that others demand of us through our relationships; that life just slips through our fingers, into the sands of time. We have to still the intellect; so that it can direct the mind to rein in the senses, and allow the ego to rise, to a higher level. Desires that have become our deepest habits, need to be crushed with great force, like glass by the force of a diamond. They will never go away; but we need to rise beyond them, and offer them as our personal sacrifice to the fires of renunciation. The king may slaughter an Ox at the ceremony tp sa[[ease the gods; but the man seeking the path, sacrifices himself and his desires, and offers all his deeds as the karma for the supreme’ s glory.
Sometimes a good teacher or a deep faith or a quite mind leads one to start on the path and as one goes one may face stoppages and diversions but the journey has at least begun. All are on the same journey; at their own chosen same speed, and they all have an Atman that is immortal and causeless in this universe, created from Brahma’s mind. As there are multiple paths; the beggar may get their before the king, and the pauper before the billionaire, and no signs are posted to their success. If you walk along the righteous path; you will find other righteous beings, heading in the same direction. In the oceans of humanity you will find the solitary stream; that runs down the mountain, to its North, South, East and West and eventually merges with the sea. A solitary path and a lonesome road, as while others can walk with you on the journey; in the end you have to cross the threshold of belief, yourself. Do not lose heart at all the obstacles that arise in the way; as they are there for you to cross and proceed, along the anointed way.
When you have become adept at controlling the mind; you find that a number of obstructions along the path, are removed. You may still reach a precipice and almost fall back into despair; but if you have fortitude, you must step back and continue along another harder way, till the path opens up again. Then moments arise where the brambles and the fallen trees and the thorny bushes clinging to you are removed, and a large green passageway opens. The path opens and with it comes a new realization; that abundance had never left you, it was you who have left abundance behind. Now all is provided for as you climb up the green dale to the welcoming light; coming from the top of the hill, shining at you through the trees and asking “Who are you knower? Welcome!”
Then you find that despite all your travels along the path you have still only arrived, back at the starting point. You look at your personal view of the universe, and know that all else is only part of this reality. Now you include the Brahman into your consciousness; and home is where everything, resides in your heart. All you have to do is open your own heart, and the universe is yours as you breathe in and out; as this is who you are. Dwell in your heart and follow the path that it shows; as it will always stay with you, and you will never be lost. Break the path of illusions that only yields superficial journeys, as only then will the true journey begin and we will become the path-breakers.
1. Lakeview at night -Midnight ramblings led to the picture of the Lake at night where the small bass were ever eager for a meal no matter what time it was. Far above Galaxies floated in the heavens, and luckily the street lamppost was out; so the skies showed more than before, in a lifting of a veil.
2. Usha-The early morning dawn captured the half dark and half-light of human awareness on the lakeside shore. This vista is your timeless existence, and your actions are your path to shanti. Consciousness is the only reality we have of this moment; and if we use it well, we can meet Usha the loveliest of celestial goddesses in her natural form; as the early morning is described by the sages, in our ancient literature.
3. Summer Flowers – The summer flowers smelt so sweet from the marigolds in the morning air; sipping coffee and taking a breather, on the back patio overlooking my personal view of the lake, in all its summer glory slowly turning into fall. The beauty of what a few seedlings and a good clean potting soil can produce is truly amazing in this beautiful climate and the begonias and the geraniums take on a life all their own. The overripe sweet smell of the fecundity of our mother earth is on full display and overpowers the sights and smells of all the creatures around it. Life has a way of going on and evolving into the next generations. Summer in NJ is over and Fall brings its own walks over fallen leaves and broken branches through mountain walks through local hills. I set off on my rambles into the woods and bid the lonely summer farewell and welcome a more hopeful autumn.
Lotus of the heart
It is 3:30 AM again on the next night; and I look up at the night sky and see that Venus shines in the same position in the sky, that Aries the hunter is on his tireless march across the heavens but in the same place as yesterday, I look up high and see the seven sisters in the same place and then I look down and the same pulsing galaxy far far away continues to pulse and send its energy down to me from its same position, just above the neighbor’s roof. It is Déjà vu and nothing seems to have changed; but I know it is a different night, and yet everything remains the same. I am the same reality; and I walk the same steps and relive the night before, and have the same questions and get the same answers, and smoke the same cigarette and sip the same green tea, and yet everything is different. Life has gone through another day; so why do I still appear to be stuck in the same rut, and the wheels of existence churn away at the same rate.
I am reading the Shvetshvatra Upanishad toady; which talks about the face of God and how it is found in the heart of everything, while we live in the duality of conscious spirit and unconscious matter and the veil of Maya that separates it. It states that when all the three Gunas are seen as one; the Self reveals its universal form, and serves us as an instrument of divine will. In its verses the devotion for the Lord of Love is supreme; it shows the path from the changing world of the senses, to the fulfilling presence of a causeless and changeless reality. Deep in my heart; tinier than the width of a hair, this Self is the knower and the bestower of life and consciousness; and it flows from Brahman and returns to him. I am ignorant of its presence and veiled by Maya, cannot feel its presence. So I must mediate using a mantra like Om to still the mind; and seek teachings from the teacher who will aid me, to help pierce this veil of ignorance and find the Lord of Love and the supreme reality.
I come back inside and the sense of Déjà vu remains; as I flip the same switch and the same light illuminates the same room, of my home. I sit down to write this and it is the same ego; and the same intellect, which is controlling the mind, which in turn holds the reins on the senses, which are focused on the same sense objects. I am like the bird on the tree of life; who is partaking the fruits of pain and pleasure and suffer and rejoice in my activities, and my desires lead me to seek birth again and again, to go through this unending cycle that separates me and gives me identity. I do not see that other bird sitting on the same branch; who just looks at me eating the fruits of pain and pleasure, and does not partake in them, and has awakened his Self, and is rooted in the ageless and timeless Lord of Love who is the seer, knower, creator and destroyer of everything.
So another night is passing and I am no closer to the answer of my quest as this life seems to move in circles; and I have lost my way in the labyrinth, of my own senses and desires. The Lord of evolution has lit this spark, and I am free to evolve along my chosen path where the GPS has a temporary glitch it seems. I want to recreate that magic of that first love so tender and sweet, the pleasure of the first sip of that water from the mountain spring to quench my parched body, find again that green valley rising into the evergreen mountain forest, which haunts my visions of and I know that once I dwell in it, I will have peace. I cling to the same dreams and aspirations; caught in this web of Maya, and all paths lead to the same results. Even these Upanishads mocks me by repetition as if reborn; for the Shvetshvatra Upanishad’s beginning invocation is the same, as the one I read in the earlier opening to the Isha and the Brihadranyaka Upanishads:
All this is full. All that is full.
From fullness, fullness comes
When fullness is taken from fullness,
Fullness still remains
Om shanti shanti shanti
I guess that the knowledge that is to be sought from these scriptures, is not an instant cure; but has to be absorbed slowly, and realized over time. Everything is already full and already exists as per his laws; and the interchanges of energy and mass, as time and space move into each other, remain ever changing, but what is created is complete. One has to purify one’s body, still one’s mind and then take the time to dwell deep into the lotus of our heart. It is only another passing night I realize; and I still have many lifetimes to go, before the light that leads to the state where there is no night will be mine. Then I can be one with Brahman in every waking moment; and this dream state and dreamless state will all pass into that all knowing state of consciousness, where I will be one and not dual. I flip back and read again the opening invocation from the Chandogya Upanishad; and decide to try and understand its haunting words, as perhaps therein may lie the clue to this mystery’s solution, that the seers have shown. Here I may find the start of that faint path; that is a subtle path, that is subtler than time and space and reality, and I will be freed at last from this ego and this perishable body, that I cling to so lovingly. The Self (Atman) they say is hidden in the lotus of the heart; and those who see themselves in all creatures go day by day into the world of Brahman, hidden in all our hearts. I resolve to take the first step on this journey and follow in the steps of the ancient ones, who first revealed these words:
Lead me from the unreal to the Real
Lead me from darkness to light
Lead me from death to immortality
Om shanti shanti shanti