power

•May 18, 2018 • Leave a Comment

every time you glance at me
i crack
what i was sure of
gives way
to what i never knew

i crack
and i hold together my cracks
hoping they would mend

but every glance
is a piercing light
that opens up my darkness
that inaugurates
a fullness of being

every glance destroys
every glance brings alive
this stunning play of the universe

as stars explode before they die
and new ones form from their ruins
i too explode
and am re-born

my ashes scatter in the world
waiting to catch fire again
from new flames
in new worlds

Advertisements

The moon

•April 7, 2018 • Leave a Comment

We came out of our houses to watch the moon. The moon, which had blessed the earth for five billion years. For millions of years, human beings had watched the moon. It had been there before them, and they knew that. At times they had looked at it in wonder, at other times they had recited poems about it. Some had found it to be unreachably distant. Some had been completely disinterested in it. The moon looked on.

In the last few hundred years of this long story, human beings had come to believe that the moon is not alive, that it is a mere rock, an accidental formation, the result of an explosion that happened equally accidentally, long ago. That a lifeless power of gravity keeps it close to the earth, and that meaningless reasons give it the colour it has.

As we stood there watching the moon, we felt that in reality, nothing was not alive. Nothing was not alive. Nothing was accident.

The moon was the sphere that spoke of tranquility. It had witnessed the time when human beings were part of nature, when they loved nature as much as a man loves a woman and a woman loves a man. When they held fire in sacred reverence, when they looked at the sky in awe and respect, when they felt invigorated by the life-giving majesty of the sun.

And the moon had seen all that turn into mere ritual. It had seen the magic disappear from man’s heart, and mechanical worship replace the spark of universal belongingness that lit his soul in earlier times. The moon had also seen all this then whither away, not even remain mechanical ritual. It had seen how man and woman went about their lives, so entangled in their tasks, as if the universe was not their lover, as if they were not like children in the womb of the mother, placed their to be nourished and grow into who they are meant to be. They were completely disconnected from the larger reality around them.

That night we felt that the distant star, distant even from the moon, the star that was faintly glowing in the corner of the sky, had a relationship to us. It was made of the same stuff that we were made of. Life. Life flowed in it as it did in us. In us it became feelings, and it became a body and its sensations. In it, life became light, darkness, fire, air. It became heat and movement of an intensity barely imaginable to us.

But were not our own feelings also light, and dark? To truly relate to another human being, seeing his hopes, his struggles, his fears – did this not bring the light of love. Did this not reveal the darkness that we continually battle away. The light of genuineness and real relationship was in us, as was the darkness of suffering.

Was there not the fire of passion in us, for art, for a cause, for justice, for truly knowing who we are and what we are here for?

Did we not know the shattering intensity of life, when it struck us in ways we did not want, when it seemed to crash into our lives and bring down to dust and ashes what we thought had been ‘our’ life?

The star would take us a million years to reach, if we travelled at the speed of light. But the star, a million light years away, was in our hearts, and we were in it. The whole universe was only an embodiment of the qualities of the heart.

The moon, the closest embodiment of the vast universe, was a reminder of that vastness, of its existence in us. It was a reminder of the meaning of our lives. It was a revelation of life itself, still, intense, fully present. Blessed by it, we returned to our daily lives, our loves, our work, our sorrows.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The face

•February 28, 2018 • Leave a Comment

The face is where we meet the world, where all the intensity of our inner life meets outer life.

The faces of the children in the homeless shelter revealed life fully, in its most explicit ways. The little boy whose parents beg at a large temple in the city had been brought here last year, to have a roof over his head, a school to go to, food to eat, and some sense of safety. The little boy still looked sad and afraid. He said that one of his his roommates beats him, and he is afraid to complain. As if in the fact of the roommate beating him were revealed all the beatings he had taken when living on the streets for the first 8 years of his life, before coming here a year ago.

His best friend now was another roommate, who tried to protect him when the other boy beat him. But he was still afraid. The loneliness and solitude on his face, and the energies that emerged from it, were fully apparent, and not masked away, like in adults. The mask was beginning to form, but was not quite there, like a building still in the early stages of its construction. There was the desire to truly associate, to truly meet another human being, and also the fear of doing just that. There was the intensity that seeks a passion, a commitment. There was frustration at the life he has had, frustration that did not yet take the form of physical violence.

When he grows up, his face will become more opaque. It will draw into itself. It will develop a veneer of sociability that hides its own reality behind a well adjusted smile, a tired set of eyes, muscles of the cheeks held together alert and tense, ready to respond to the outer world, and not relaxing, dropping, just being who they are. The cult of adjustment will finally have inducted him.

Every time someone truly pays attention to that face, it will light up. It will invigorate, and the same hurts, the same intense desires will emerge that once had no mask to shield them. But only rarely would another human being truly give attention to that face, before falling into the rigmarole of everyday life and everyday relationships. He would have lovers, but after a while they will cease to truly look at his face, and will assume the mask to be the face.

As he grows older, the face will develop wrinkles and begin to droop with gravity. It will be hard to hold the mask anymore, and it will start to show more and more to all who care to see it. It will show most of all when he is alone, and nobody watches.

Eventually, he will breathe his last. And the face will be lifeless, no intensity and no mask, but just a reminder of what it was, the destiny it had, the calling it had, which was only partially realised in this life.

As he walked away from the children’s home, he wondered what his own face had come to convey. How the scars of life had occluded its radiance. Whether it was still the face he had as a child.

As a 10 year old, in the the old, boring history book from school that he was forced to read, he had discovered a gem. It was the story of Siddhartha. Of how one day, the young Siddhartha saw the suffering of others, and was reminded of his own life and its meaninglessness. Before the crack of dawn, Siddhartha went away from the life he had, the life he knew, in search of the unknown. The beauty, the passion, the tremendous radiance of that journey was marked on the 10-year old child’s soul forever. That day, something in the child arose and shone. That day, his face was fully alive.

Today, 23 years later, where was he? What had happened to that face? He asked if that light enkindled then was still alive, if that flame still burnt.

It was a story from 2500 years ago. But like the rising sun across the the river, it had an eternal quality to it. Siddhartha’s story was the story of us all, archetypally. It spoke of the soul’s journey from contraction to radiance, from entanglement to freedom. Most of all, it shone on the face of the radiant one, the Buddha himself.

This morning, before he began his work day, he sat and wondered where Siddhartha was in his own life.

Notes

•February 20, 2018 • 2 Comments

It had been an exhausting day of physical work. He was young, and his 60-year old friend had asked for his help to unpack her things in her new house. All day they had opened boxes, split through packaging paper, and arranged various objects at their right place in the new house. Their hands were covered in dust, their bodies were tired and aching. From morning to late afternoon, they had been working, except for a short break at lunch time to eat vegetables from yesterday and freshly cooked rice. The freshly painted new house, still very bare, despite the boxes over boxes of belongings waiting to be unpacked, looked at them like a stranger. The locality – far away from the heart of the city, in the outskirts, as if in another world altogether, was also a stranger.

She was exhausted and asked him if he could unpack the two cartons containing her books, and then they could call it a day. The books were to go into a beautiful wooden cupboard. “Please keep the dharma books on top,” she said. He opened the boxes and began to take out the books. Books on education, from her former career. Books on development work. Books on poetry – English, Hindi, Urdu. Premchand. Faiz. Books on sexuality. And then the dharma books. The beaming smile of the Dalai Lama, spiritual rock star, global teddy bear, shone on a few of them. Other lamas appeared on other covers. He read the titles curiously and arranged the books on the top shelf.

Bending forward to pick up the remaining few books, his hand landed on a large, hardcover book. “One Thousand Moons: Krishnamurti at Eighty-Five”. Of course, he knew the book. He had seen it many times earlier at retreat centres. He was pleasantly surprised to find it here among the dharma books. It was a book of photographs of the teacher, across the world – India, England, USA, elsewhere. The teacher as an elderly, wise man. He was not entirely surprised, for his friend had once worked in one of the schools set up by the man who this book was about.

He opened the book. The first page said, “For dearest uncle, with best wishes, Usha, Amit, Siddharth.” It was a gift to the friend’s late father. He turned the pages and saw the pictures. Rishi Valley, the dry, brown mountains around it. The little children. The large campus, with modest, traditional, simple Indian buildings. The teacher in Indian clothes – kurta pyjama and a waist coat. Rajghat, Varanasi – the sacred Ganga flowing past the campus. The lush greenery. The tall trees under which the teacher would sit. The large school that looked like a garden, lined everywhere with flowers – red, pink, orange, white. The children, again. Madras. A large house in the middle of the city. Gardens ahead of it. A quiet oasis in a mad city. The place where the teacher spoke to the public for the last time, five years after these pictures were taken.

He had been to all these places and been deeply touched by the atmosphere there. Like everywhere, there too there was noise and superficiality, but also a silent spirit of contemplation remained.

He continued to turn the pages. A sadness came over him as he saw these pictures. He did not know where it was from. He did not know what to do with it. It was the teacher and his memories. They had never met, but as if, somewhere outside time, they had met and made a pact. The pictures asked him if he remembered that pact. Did he remember the intensity of consciousness, the raging fire that continually creates, the fullness of meaning in every moment, the outpouring of love, as quiet and affectionate as is sword of truth sharp and dispassionate?

He had forgotten. Like mists settling over a mirror, the encumbrances of everyday life had made the resplendent reality fade away.

The dust, the cardboard boxes, the disorder of today, like the traffic, the deadlines, the work pressures of yesterday, had clouded over the mirror that the teachings were. He had not become oblivious to them, but they were not his living reality either.

The sorrow was a message from the beyond. Like everything else. He remembered, he longed, he asked what he was alive for.

 

scorched

•February 20, 2018 • 2 Comments

yesterday
you poured your fire into me
scorched me
all this while i had been hiding from you
now there was no escape
only destruction

every pore explodes with your light
everything old dies
this is terror
as it is joy

alive or dead
what i am
i no longer know

 

 

Notes

•February 18, 2018 • 1 Comment

aakaash ka soonapan
mere tanha mann mein
paayal chhankaati tum
aa jaao jeevan mein
saansein de kar apni
sangeet amar kar do
ban jaao meet mere
meri jeet amar kar do

When he was a child, he was lonely. He was quite alone, even though he had parents and a brother. His parents would take him with them to their friends’ house. The friends loved to sing. It was this song that they sang the most. Even though he was a child, he understood what it meant.

He hoped someone would come into his life and affirm him, someone would love him for what he is. The deep sadness, and the desire for a real relationship that the song expresses made its place in his heart then.

Today, sitting in nature, 25 years later, he remembered those days, those times. The song came to his mind. He was still that child. He still wished for a real relationship in the rushed storm of life around him, a storm that had a lot of noise, a lot of fears, a lot of deadlines, a lot of people – so many people that he craved for silence and solitude. Yet, rarely was there a moment of real relatedness. He wished for someone who would really relate to him and who he really related to.

There had been people who had entered his life and shone like the sun, and exploded in their light the meaningless encrustations of life. There had been teachers, lovers, companions. They had all faded away while life went on.

That old, ancient desire remained. The flame that called for genuineness remained. Quietly, the child was still there, and he wished for, desired, love.

A simple life

•February 14, 2018 • Leave a Comment

Simplicity is a quality of unity. In our deepest hearts, there is a deep unity. A singularity of purpose, which is beyond the many tasks and the many relationships amidst which we find ourselves.

That singularity calls us to listen. It is the heart of creation. It calls on us to live creatively, by listening to and letting the multiplicity of our commitments in the world be transformed by that singularity.

This is the washing over of all the pebbles on the way of the stream with the pure waters of the origin. This is the glowing in the moonlight of all the leaves and barks of the trees in the forest, revealing their mysterious beauty.

If we live in communion with this singularity, we live a simple life. We live a life without scatter, without two commitments pulling us in different directions and tearing us apart. We live with suffering, as we always must, but with awareness that the voice calling from deep within is deeper than the anguish of our pain.

In a life lived in the awareness of our roots in the deeper reality, our suffering flowers, like a seed germinating, rising and dying, revealing its true nature. Suffering sends us back to the this singularity, to our origins, so that we can return afresh and more deeply rooted. We do not fight suffering because our communion is with the deepest voice within, and not with that part of us which cries that it does not wish to suffer.

Suffering is not a problem to be tackled, but a space to know our origins more deeply. It is the leaf on the surface of which moonlight reveals its quietness, its gentle illumination. It is the pebble which reveals the nimble, soft nature of water which can take any shape.

In this humility, we listen, we live, we experience joy and sorrow, strength and fear, tranquility and anger, and all passes, while the light of what is deepest within us persists.

That is the simple life, a life connected with a message so basic that all else seems superficial. A life so basic that it sees our connection with our earth as fundamental. It sees that we belong to our earth. It is the life of a simple human being working on the earth with his bare hands, the life of a parent quietly holding his child’s hand as they walk together, the life of a nurse tending to the wounds and needs of those broken in body and spirit.

The simple life is lived quietly, in commitment to what is most important. It holds little interest in the flashlights of the world, the superficialities of what attracts us outwards. The modern world is a world of flash lights and flash noises, all asking for our attention. The simple life sees beyond these, and does not forget its origins.

 

 
%d bloggers like this: