Happy new year and health and happiness to you and your family!
Fall arrives in silence and there were no storms from the North East, to proclaim its bustling arrival, this year. The red berries announced the change in the seasons, by blooming in the green bushes annually. We are tied to our homes, on account of the Pandemic; and spend our time, on social media. The TV has become too political, as if no new babies are being born, or weddings being held. To differentiate themselves, our candidates are instead, distancing us from each other.
Divide and rule, oh how people has suffered, under its yoke; over the centuries, of human history. Race, religion, caste, color, sex can each be used, to divide us, from each other. ‘Oh a woman can’t do that’ is not something a civilized society proclaims for most civic duties, as humanity is equal. In some places of course we have matriarchal families, or in others the Mother is a Goddess. Civilizations have truly prospered in Egypt, Greece, Rome when the people were united. Prosperous and ordered cities and empires lasted for millennia. In India we have centuries of foreign rule, and now again, a free nation rises.
China has been the great success story of the past few decades. They have educated, housed, and fed a billion people successfully, and continue to grow into an urban society. Great strides have been made by the politburo in engineering marvel’s build outs, of infrastructure in high speed rails and highways. Top class new cities have sprung up, and the facilities available, in their national institutions have become world class. China has some of the best Universities, largest banks, and manufacturing capabilities. Under Xi, the dragon is on the rise everywhere, as its belt and road initiative flounders, but is not lost. Great influence comes with major projects for the Chinese companies, who are often the best in their class now.
Coming back to the crack in the cliff face, as I take my evening walk. The red berries caught my eye first, and then I followed them to the deep crack, that ran up the cliff face. Nature is so strange in so many myriad ways. The green is so deep of the evergreens, and the red is so bright of the berries, against the brown cliff face. Autumn creeps in, and the season of our winter, will arrive soon as the leaves change. Then the icy winds will blow, and the pandemic will claim, more victims, as humanity seeks shelter indoors. The virus will spread, like the the crack in the cliff face, and death will be amongst us.
The exercise of free will, is a common human desire,
Without discipline though, it is often only a satire.
Come join the seekers and planters, of the spiritual seeds,
Ensure we are carrying the water, for our daily needs.
The path is tortuous for some, who expect toil and trouble,
Endless days that stretch out, in purgatory’s bubble.
We fear for the worst, and lose sight of what is best,
The only way is to adopt stillness, to allow free thinking,
Dwell inwards, and walk the lonely path, of eternal seeking.
We constantly strive, for external happiness and joy,
Ignoring that happiness is internal, for each girl and boy.
We must go and find, the fuel for our fire,
It is this fuel of our thoughts, which raises our desire.
Still this mind, as with our breath, we must control,
Daily attempt to be here and now, avoid the endless troll,
We do not rise in anger, to defeat desire,
Instead desire dies, when we lower the fire.
Remember in the end, this is just our daily grind,
It is up to us to be happy, to stop and hear the wind.
The path is still there for us to follow,
Change our thoughts and become shallow.
The Oceans will churn, and the storms will rise,
We are the drop, which will become the surprise.
Mother and child bonding have been depicted in stories, sculpture, art, and this special bond is studied and even glorified. While the father remains an elusive figure, as protector and provider, it is the mother who signifies, eternal love and compassion. Human children are dependent on their mother for survival, for far longer, than other species. This bond is eternal as without it, we would not survive, in this universe. Please treasure your mother above all else, as she is the one who made you, in more ways than you can imagine. History speaks of great male leaders and their magnificent achievements. Our ambitions and conquests are nothing, when compared to the sacrifices of our mothers, who helped us survive all the bloodshed and ruin. Our hearts should be ever grateful and not try to understand, the reason for our mother’s love. It’s depth is unknowable, and it is the single most powerful reason, that we are alive today.
Old memories from FB:
The heart has its reasons that reason knows nothing of. -Blaise Pascal, philosopher and mathematician (1623-1662) Each mother and daughter has a relationship that reason does not define, only the heart knows; when skin touches skin that a special bond exists. The eyes communicate fathoms of depth and just an inflection in the voice strikes a cord, that no one else can play. Madonna and the child are age old ties, that define our very existence and defy the age of reason… Form Aug 2 2012 posting.
When I was young, I remember my mother playing,
A game of fun and companionship, for my entertaining.
If we learnt all the rules, and played by the book,
We would have thrills and delights and may even find a crook.
On such occasions I would rejoice, and join her,
With her delight would arise my own, and we would be together.
Then one day an old bearded man came, and we all went to hear him,
She listened and something changed, as she abandoned our plaything.
Mother said that the man spoke about, opening the cave in our hearts,
Me I also tried at a tender age, to find this cave inside me and all its parts.
The times passed and I moved on with my life, and grew distant, from my mother,
My wife and children took up my time, and I worked for my living, for another.
Life had its sweet moments and its sorrows, and we would visit on celebrations,
My father passed away and my mother was aging, and we talked of separations.
One day she reminded me of the old man, and how she had filled the cave in her heart,
She felt she had done all her life needed, and the time was coming soon for us to part.
Now when I walk in the woods, and come upon a cave,
Oftentimes I feel my mother’s heart beating there, bidding me to be brave.
Rajiv July 2020
When humanoids first walked the earth, they must have looked up at spectacular sunrises and sunsets. Our universe will go in all its glory, long after; all of us humanoids, are gone. As we looked up into the heavens through the millennia, what did our minds seek? We must have wondered at the stars and the Milky Way and the celestial sightings. At the same time, we must have sought the understanding of our life, on Mother Earth. Our ancestors must have sought to grasp the meaning of this existence and what it means for our future. There is no single purpose, that a God bestows on our foreheads, when we are born. We are left to our own devices; we have free choice, withing our limited circumstances. It remains up to us to choose wisely, now that we have accumulated the knowledge, of a million years of evolution. Knowledge is just the sum of our past experiences, stored in our Human brain. Here we must dwell, now we must create, to make our life meaningful. I look up at my heavens and see this celestial sight, created just for me at this moment. My purpose is to remain fully conscious of this moment, and stay focused on this event. My mind stops its chatter, and I live as the part of the universe all around me. Life and I walk hand in hand, with no conflict, at peace with each other, till death Our universe will go on, so what is there to fear?
Came upon this old memory in my FB page from many years ago:
Its chilling breath sent shudders down to my bones, and its dark shadow seemed to cover all the horizons and stifle my very soul. Yet he is an old companion and I no longer fear him, or am swayed by his power. He has made many attempts before to tempt me to accept his embrace; from my piddling birth, to a great fall as a child, horrific auto accidents, burning towers, and now the descent into a darkness, that only he can induce.
I turn around and laugh in his harrowing face; and bid him to be gone, and pick on some other purposeless soul. I wave him away with a dismissal thought; as I have no time for his histrionics, and a life of wonder to live. My purpose is greater than his; and he gazes long into my eyes trying to drag me into his darkness. Then he sees my smile, for as old friends we can read each other’s minds. “Death be gone,” I order for I have things to do, and deeds yet to accomplish. My happiness; dissipates his darkness, and light reemerges. I still have the power of the life force, that needs to bring the message of enlightenment to those around me. We are not thrown here or leave by chance; and each one of us has a greater purpose, which we must strive to achieve. Let my life sing and show the path to the glory of this creation, and bring joy to all around me. I have to walk bravely into the night; bearing this beacon of hope, and not be cowed down into submission by fear or despair. Live true to our vision of compassion for all beings; and that alone will be our eternal achievement. I truly believe that even my old friend death, will welcome me with open arms, when I am done with this idealistic life.
A lovely spring evening, and today’s work is done. It is the end of the week in fact, and I get up from my desk and stretch. I venture out hopefully, to take a walk, and refresh myself, from being tied to a computer, all day. Not many people are about, as I start to get into my stride. I adjust the volume on my headphones, to the music playing from my iPhone. It is the Beatles, playing ‘Elanor Rigby,’ and I pick up pace, while reminiscing about my school days. The printed paper, the Jesuit Father passed to me, with the words of John Lennon and Paul McCartney, for us to study for Moral Science Class. It was one of the 3 songs we studied, over 3 weeks. I knew the words well and the music brought pleasant memories, of old friends, and companions. What an education it was, and what great bonds we formed.
The walkways lead me past some of the other people, who are up and about, taking their evening walk. I pass some couples with their dogs. We all kept a safe social distance from each other. I would often step on to the road, to let a couple pass on the walkway, as there is little traffic these days. Silently etiquette is maintained between us as we pass, avoiding coughing or coming close. By now the Rolling Stones are playing ‘Brown Sugar,’ and I am bent down, slowly climbing the slight incline. The nearby wooded path beckoned me, and I crossed the road from the walkway, to head into the trees.
Within a few steps on the by now familiar path, it went into a steep incline. I knew the path well, and stepped on familiar flat rocks, avoiding the slippery slope. It was a zig zag pattern I followed of my own choosing, and anyone watching; would have been baffled, at my approach. It was to make the climb easier, and gave me better views of my surroundings, instead of just gazing down and concentrating, on the soil and the roots. This wood and I had become old friends, and we knew each other well. Now in the spring evening except for the occasional blossoms, most of the lofty Oaks and Maples, were still bare. The wind did not whisper, as it did in the summer, through the thick leaf cover. Now it was more the sighing sound, of the open sky, as the wind swept freely about.
There along the way were fallen trees, whicht I had to cross, as I followed the path higher. Then it started to level off and I saw, the Arch of the Spring Blossoms, strung across the path. It was like a gate, made specially for me to enter, as if I imagined it to be a gateway, to a different land. I stopped to take a photograph of the path which beckoned, my very soul. What was so special, that it drew me back again and again, to walk only this path, and no other? I have the whole universe to explore, and still I stand here and admire the blossoms, and love this sight.
As I walked on and passed under the Arch of the Spring Blossoms, I passed into a different realm. The old laws did not hold, for now. I found myself in a strange land, of quite and beauty. Life was reduced to its elemental form, of man and nature, as one. There was no me walking on the path anymore. In fact, it was not a path distinct and different, or an extension, outside me. We are one, and so is the forest around us. The birds that fly across the branches above, and the deer who stand below and stare up at me, with their white tails raised, ready for flight. We are all one in this moment, and time becomes a wave, and space is flowing. I look up to see and an eagle flies high above, in the clear blue sky, with white puffy clouds, floating in space.
The setting sun sends its rays, at angles, through the bare branches, to my foot steps. I walk on and the light and shadows, play with my eyes, in delight. What is inside, is outside, and what is outside, is inside; in a strange feeling, as the boundaries of my body blur. The unity of everything into one moment, can only be experienced, or so this path, led me to believe. I am no longer a walker, who walks his solitary path. Now there is only one universe, and the path itself is gone. There is no longer a goal for the future, or a fear of the past. There is only this one forgotten raindrop, sheltered on a fallen leaf, glistening in the rays of the dying sun, as if alive with joy. I meditate on the light, and here is no goal to strive for; as desire falls on the path, left behind.
The weight of existence is lifted; from my shoulders, and I walk erect. Each step is now an effortless move; as nothing binds it down, anymore. The Earth Mother, on this Earth Day; binds me to her bosom, and I am content. The vines hang down from the tall Oaks and I can almost feel; the budding leaves, about to sprout. Nature is no longer a mystery, as I have become nature. A Robin calls and a sparrow answers, and now I listen only to the music, of my fellow creatures. A feeling arises, from the soil; beneath my feet, that now I have become the path. Who was the walker, and who watched him in the woods?
Bergen County now stands at 15,830 positive test results for coronavirus
Hudson County now stands at 15,148 positive test results for coronavirus
Essex County now stands at 13,994 positive test results for coronavirus
Passaic County now stands at 12,814 positive test results for coronavirus
May Day 2020, NJ – ‘ Ah, look at all the lonely people ‘
In this time, some of us are reevaluating our values, and our pursuits, in our life. It has taken a Pandemic to cloister people into their homes, to isolate, and hopefully become human again. As we examine our actions and our lifestyle, I wonder what have our possessions given us, in our time of need? As time passes, those of us who are wise, simplify our needs and aspirations. We realize how little we need to survive, on a day to day basis. We start to question the continued accumulation of more material objects. We realize a lot of humanity, has none of our comforts, or our security, of home and food. We also realize that a virus attacks anyone, and no religion, or class, is immune from its effects. We are all in this together, as simple, plain, human beings. A universal income is within our reach; as no person should starve, in our modern world. Instead we will see million’s livelihood ruined and will see them struggling for food and survival, if this pandemic spreads further.
A more equitable society with law and order, is a must, for human development. Hopefully we will all come out of our introspection, stronger, and more willing to make the sacrifices needed; for all of us, to prosper together. Great economic and social change is coming, and may it be for the better for everyone, after this health crisis has passed. We should not allow this to develop into a mass killing of innocents, due to lack of food and other essential commodities. We must learn from past famines and other natural disasters in human history. For the strongest to survive, we must also provide for the weakest; as in a chain the weakest link, causes the whole chain to break. We must do better and learn to take care of ourselves, and not get distracted, by fake news, or poor political and social actions. Humanity is about loving and caring for all creatures, in the worst of times. May we all rise to this challenge together to raise our thinking, and do the right actions within reason!
Thankful am I, for the beauty, of our future,
It started, in the beauty of the Himalayas,
At an early age, the magical folk tales, conjured,
A realm of icy mountains shrouded in Monsoon clouds.
To be passed on, to posterity, untouched.
Let me fill my heart, with the soulful music, of our ancestors,
Of our centuries old generations, articulating and composing,
A spoken language, of wisdom, and karmic consequences,
The drum, the melody, the freeing of the voice, and the rhythm,
All combine to fill our hearts, with compassion and universal love.
Hear the song of the wind in the hill’s pines, and the patter of rain,
The sun will rise in the East again, and the mountains will shine,
Will our children catch this eastern glow, and dance our joy of existence?
Hear the songbird, just when our music has died,
Look up and seek the stars, and wonder about this life, and our passing?
“It is horrifying that we have to fight our own government to save the environment.” -Ansel Adams, photographer (20 Feb 1902-1984)
Sam looked at me, with those large innocent eyes of hers, blinked her larger eye lashes twice, smiled, and said to me, “You have always had a way with words, Ashok. I can never imagine, what you will think of, next. I wouldn’t even last five minutes, in that crazy head of yours?” She became lost in her own thoughts as we waited, I squeezed Sam’s hand and she looked at me and I smiled back, as these moments were rare. I looked at my watch as I had to leave. The Producer came into the recording studio, and gave us a thumbs up sign, and Sam yelled with delight. He was followed by the sound engineer, and our agent Suresh.
“I am tired, and have an early train, to catch,” I said.
“Ashok, that last track you laid today, is just amazing, how do you come up with these rhythms, and beats.” Suresh gushed, giving me a hasty hug. Suresh is my agent and childhood friend. “Why do you have to go on this discovery trip, I cannot understand?”
“Like I told you Suresh, something is calling out to me, from out there. I am going to the rock, where Swami Vivekananda sat, where Lord Ram sat, and prayed to Lord Shiva. Something is telling me to go there, and find the truth, of what is India? I can’t explain it.”
“You can’t do this to me,” Suresh, “to us”, he continued
I replied. “I have given all I have, for this album, for over a year, now I need some time for myself. Suresh my dear friend, this is not about you or us, this is a strange hollow feeling, inside of me. All my mathematical rigor and training is lost, within this, self-doubt. I do not even know myself or what is my purpose. I have made up my mind, to just go out there, and travel our land. I hope to find what is missing, in my current life?”
Sam went off with the sound engineer, to listen to the last tracks, we had played. She had a better ear for music, I just knew instinctively, when my drum notes flowed in rhythms, like mathematical equations. I just followed my instincts, and strict composition steps, and made my notes, follow my mathematical patterns, which only I could see. We had realized early in our partnership, that it is Sam, who just made the melody flow, with her singing. She played the guitar and harmonica and had an amazingly versatile voice. Somehow mine and Sam’s singing, worked well together, and this was tour second album together. We co wrote the lyrics of most of our songs.
“My work is done here.” and I handed my drum sticks to our producer, and walked out.
The next day I had started my journey, just like Mahatma Gandhi had started his journey, on his arrival from South Africa. I had my sleeping bag and my laptop, and phone and books for the way. I wanted to see India, from the ground, and hear the names, of the familiar stations. I wanted to hear the languages, and the dialects, of the people, from the millions, who had passed before us. They too must have traveled on these same rails, on their way south. I wondered how many of them had sought the meaning of their lives, in the clackity-clack of these trains wheels, rolling down these rails.
Delhi was left far behind and I heard the clackety-clack of the railroad tracks, as the electric trains did not huff and puff, anymore. The countryside passed, as I gazed out the window, and he went from State to State. I had a sleeper and slept in my sleeping bag, on the foam-covered bed. Late in the night, I heard the now familiar calls, of the tea hawkers, and the food vendors. The PM had helped his father, at a tea stall, I thought to himself, as another day passed, on the tracks. I loved the smell and color of the passing countryside. The sun broke out and the fields are green, and I am away from the dry cold land, of my air polluted city. The green Ghats beckoned my soul, and I thought I saw, a waterfall with a rainbow, flash by from my window, and then it was gone.
An year has passed, and I have become a Math teacher, in an all-girls school, in the town of Gangtok, in Sikkim. I had come there to study, in the Buddhist Monastery, almost nine months ago, with a companion I found, in Ma’s ashram, in Pondicherry. It had been a long journey by train and Bus, to cross into the mountains, of the Eastern Himalayas. We had then hired a jeep, to take us, across some very remote areas, to the monastery, at the top of a cliff face. We had to climb on foot up the narrow path, along the cliff face, to get to the Monastery. There we finally come to a rest. We were admitted by the Abbot, and we studied with the monks.
We meditated for three months, and then went herd gathering, in the mountains. I helped to bring the animals back, from their summer, alpine forage lands. The rhythms of the seasons, and the might of the towering mountains, moved me. We would begin by rising at early morning, before dawn and start our trek. We had to climb a thousand meters up, around the hills, to get to the grazing grounds. My mind and body were fully engaged in these long walks. away from civilization. They made me face the last of my inner demons. As I gathered the Goats and the cattle, I made a new life, for myself. The cows and the goats helped me gain the realization, of what I am.
My meditation is progressing well, with my guide, and I feel a healthy glow of joy, for all creatures, I am now comfortable with myself. I sat on the side of some running water, taking a break. I had my bare feet, in the cold, clear, water, of this mountain tributary, of the Teesta river. My mind is as clear, as the flowing water, and only time is still. As I watch, a fish nibbles, on my big toe, and then swims on, as if, uninterested. But at that time, I was fully present in this moment. I have peered into the eye of this fish, who peered back, and there was a deep connection. I felt a sudden belonging to this eye, this fish, this stream, this land, this India, this universe. I looked up, and the sun was rising, over the evergreens, its rays lit up the rushing water, and my being, and this creation, is complete. Tears of joy, ran down my cheeks, at the realization; that the sun’s eye, and the fish’s eye, and the light reflecting off the waters, are part of my being.
I bade farewell to the Abbott and on his assistant’s advice I started teaching Math’s again, at the High School for Girls. They were desperate for a good math’s teacher in Gangtok. The girls loved his no-nonsense style and fell into his fevered pace, of teaching math’s. Their minds were fresh as the mountain air, and they seemed to grasp everything Ashok taught, with the rapidity of sponges. Their marks began to show steady progress, and the laggards were helped, by his open teaching methods. Tough concepts and theorems, where explained by examples, they could understand and use. He had taught far advanced students before, but the girls of this new generation, had access to so much more information. He challenged them individually, and in small competitive groups, and his students grew.
The music teacher was the one, who encouraged Ashok to help (when he found out that Ashok was a drummer), with the group, who had won the State Championship, in group singing, last year. The area had some very bright musicians and the girls in the school, had especially great voices. It wasn’t every year but for the past few years, they had some outstanding talent. He loved this work and he threw himself into the music and the girls loved him for his strange rhythms and sounds. He tried to teach some of them the mathematical patterns behind them and some of the brighter ones understood. Their voices began to rise and fall with the rhythms he adopted from them, making a strangely uniquely sound of the mountains of Sikkim. You could almost feel, as if the music was carrying you there. The beat one was hearing is the beat of the hunters and gatherers, who had done this in these beautiful mountains, from time immemorial. Everyone is saying that this time, the group may win the National championship.
When he got home late, he checked his email and noticed a message from his old friend Sam. He had not heard from her for a few months, so was intrigued, and opened the message. She wrote, “Dear Ashok, Just had dinner with the producer in Mumbai. We have got ourselves, a multi crore deal, for two albums (including “Dunia” our new album). We open this Christmas at the Goa Christmas Festival, with Dunia, doing a National rollout. You are the drummer, and cocreator, singer, and the new corporate producer is dying, to finally meet you. He is a mathematician also, and was mumbling your kind of lingo, on algorithms and geometrical patters, in the music. More when we meet, your’s, Sam”
“We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” -E.M. Forster, novelist (1 Jan 1879-1970)