Tuesday, March 5, 2019

My first Shivaratri with Swami Purnachaitanya

Last nights event was really special.  When Swamiji addressed the crowd after the Rudra Abhishekam he was talking to us about Guru and how fortunate we are all to have Guru in our lives.  Someone to watch, draw near to and learn from.  He repeats Guruji's words and says: "God, Guru and Self are one."

Then he spoke about all the people in the world and he said that some people are truly and honestly seeking and are giving their 100% in search for a Guru.....they will try all things to find this. They don't know what they are looking for.......but they are searching so desperately.....and then tears welled up in his eyes and he had to pause for some time because of the intensity of the moment.......and then i could feel tears welling up in my own eyes because i could identify with that searching and that feeling of being so lost before meeting my Master.  And then he says that we don't even realise how fortunate we are that we have Guru in our lives.  And while we are here we should take every opportunity to make 100% use of him......chase after him, rather than all these other things that appeal to the senses.

Then i heard that he was going to be in Midrand temple, afterwards, to do midnight Abhishekam with the Punditji there.  So i left the hall at about 10.30pm and reached Midrand at about 11pm and Swamiji came just in time at 5 to 12 to do the Abhishekam with the Punditji.  Punditji had a soft spot for Swamiji, you could see, and gave him a lot of licence in the temple.  Swamiji chanted the relevant mantras to each of the devatas/murtis in the temple in sync with the pundit.  Punditji was very happy......it was nice to see an old man smile like that.  He was so happy he made Swamiji sing a few bhajans and share knowledge with us after.  That's what the below picture is about.  There were only about 5 people from art of living there, the other 80 or so were from the local community.   The air was electric after Swamiji sang.  The whole atmosphere livened up.  He talked about the meaning of Shivratri......how Shiva is not a person sitting on a mountain with a six pack......and the real significance of the marriage of Shiva and Parvati (which is what this day was all about)

He gave everyone personal blessings in Wits hall......i never got to take blessings from him or say hi to him at all because i had a Seva to do......but in the Midrand temple at about 01.00 am I remember closing my eyes and meditation just happened............it seemed like seconds....but after a long time when I opened my eyes I, I realized my body was shaking..........i saw Swamiji looking at me and smiling......then he smiled a more light-hearted smile and did a "Hows it" gesture with his head, winked at me and we shared a moment of spontaneous laughter together. Priceless. It was really a blessed experience. I never got to say hi or talk with him....but in moments like these, when the eyes are closed, the love feels deeper.........and the feeling of belonginess with people and closeness with the divine feels too big for human emotions......you cant exchange these priceless moments of connection.....these are really precious times.

Rudra Abhishekam at Shiv Alayam in Midrand

I ended up leaving the temple at about 02.00am.  I was the last Aol person to leave.  But Swamiji stayed on with the Midrand Sanga until much later and stayed over at one of the temple devotees houses.

As an aside:  This is what i learned about the Marriage of Shiva and Parvati:

Shiva is the untouched, the formless, the nameless, the substratum of all existence, the cause of existence but not contained within it.  This is known also as the Purusha, the non-dual reality, the Great Love or the potential energy of all of creation.  This is Shiva Tatva (essence) 

Then there is the play, the dance, the manifest existence, the duality, the creation itself.  Filled with the love of Shiva, she plays and wherever she moves she creates.  This is shakti.  In its purest form its the manifest expression of Shiva.  The tatva(essence) that is now manifest in form is known as the Prakriti (nature/matter) or Parvati. 

In this world the Purusha, non-dual reality, or subtle energy is said to be about 10 inches above the manifest or gross reality(Prakriti).  Shivratri happens almost every month on the new moon....where the two realities come close enough just to touch.  but on this particular month of MAHA shivratri, because of planetary positions and alignment of moon and earth......the two realities dont simply touch but converge and intermingle.  This means that Shiva (supreme consciousness) and Parvati (matter) mix and collide.  This is the marriage of Shiva and Parvati.....this is Shivaratri.

So what does this mean for us?  It means that when we meditate on this night.....we return to the source (Shiv Tatva) we can realise that this reality or experience is just a play.....a dance and that our true identity is Shiva.......and that Shiva wants to dance..................and so we are dancing......every dance has dips and pirouettes but we are not confined by these.......we are Shiva.  So Shivratri is a night where we all have a chance to sit with eyes closed and return to the source and then have great peace about this play we may find ourselves in thereafter.

A Video by Swamiji on Shiva

Really a blessed Shivratri....my first of its kind.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Mantra Muulam Gurur Vaakyam

When i used to volunteer at the Art of Living ashram, Gurudev used to always tell us in the satsang: "You take care of my work and i will take care of your work."

Given my doubting mind, I honestly thought, at first, that it was probably a cliched saying meant to foster trouble free seva.  But i kept wondering if this actually works. (And very much in my heart i was hoping it would.) My pressing need at the time was that both my parents (my dad and mum being very involved in church work) both my sisters, as well as two of my best friends would do the happiness program (basic course back then).

Within 2 years all of them had done the course.  My parents did it together.  My sisters independently.  And my two best friends did it independently as well.  All of them with no prompting from me at all.....mainly because i was really busy with sadhana(ones spiritual practice), seva(service) and satsang(being in the presence of the wise) in ashram at the time and didnt have time to have those conversations.

I felt so grateful i thought: "wow this actually works."  So i continued giving 100% in my seva.

But when i left ashram after few years to start working in South Africa.  I thought okay its a different setting now, maybe i should give 100% in my job instead; quickly realising that when working with the amount of energy and efficiency as gained via aol practices ....even 20% of my effort in the workplace seemed to match 100% of my colleagues. Non the less i gave 100% and got 3 promotions in 2 years until i received a senior post in the company i worked for at the time.

Then this thought came to me: "why don't you become your own boss and go into consulting." That way i could free up time for Ayurveda  (which i love and was a big part of my seva in ashram as a therapist for about 3 and half years)

As soon as i made that decision and left the company in May 2018, Ansuya (an aol teacher and close friend of mine) calls and tells me there is a teacher coming from India named Sunil Jain, Gurudev has sent him.  Why don't you host him in your home?  Immediately the first thought in my head was WOW.....teacher from India. ....blessed by Guruji......it will be like having Guruji staying in my very own house.  So at Ansuyas request, i contacted the South African teacher coordinator (Morgie, whom i didn't know at the time) and she immediately said: "okay. ... but I'm also going to put you down for seva opportunities."   Now i had just recently done the VTP (Volunteer Training Program) with Anand(an Art of Living teacher and former ashramite), it was a very powerful experience so my whole being was saying seva seva seva.....So i said yes without a second thought.

Immediately after. ... second thought came: but Vishalin you just started a business.  How are you going to get clients? How are you going to pay your expenses and rent etc? How are you going to build the business?  There are so many things you are required to do. You won't have enough time to manage everything alone......now in addition you want to accommodate somebody and organise courses!!!!????  Nevertheless in spite of these thoughts, i chose to keep my commitment to the teacher coordinator.

Having Sunil in my home and serving him and the course participants was like serving Gurudev himself. When he spoke it was like Gurudev was speaking.  It was really a divine experience for me.  I used every experience to learn something and in that way there was no really good or really bad experience. ....it was just all a happening.  When i had to say goodbye to Sunil at airport it felt like my own dear brother was leaving. .....he miraculously said something very special to me that was a secret prayer between me and Gurudev only so i will never forget that.

Fast forward 6 months down the line: i have been spending about 40% of my time doing seva (i love it) 20% of my time to Ayurveda and family and about 40% of my time focused on business. I have been receiving twice what i used to earn previously. I've lost good friends and found better ones.  I have more time in my day to appreciate nature and cooking and art. I am becoming more joyful and relaxed.  And life is becoming seemingly effortless.

Last story: There was an aos course with swami Purnachaitanya this last week.  I was supposed to only attend Thursday morning for registration seva as per tc request and then leave for work. (As i felt i needed to catch up because my contract with my only client had ended and i made no concerted efforts to renew due to seva and other commitments.) When i got to the course venue, I was told there was a place on the course available. It was paid for and that nobody else was going to take the spot.  I was challenged by Dev (one of the vtp volunteers) to take the spot and be on course with Swamiji. Immediately i thought about my meeting with my client which i was supposed to have that day.  As soon as i thought about him he called me at that moment and asked if we could meet on Monday instead.  So i said yes.  Although it felt like a small miracle, i still felt it necessary to present myself at the office that Thursday and Friday to take care of peripheral work in order to secure my argument for an extension of contract. (I had felt like i hardly gave much attention to this project and that the chances of my contract being renewed was slim without intervention) This was the only work bringing in income at the time.

But due to Devs convincing and Morgis approval i joined only to find that the weekend course with Swamiji wasn't an opportunity for me to relax and be in silence but instead an opportunity to do more seva. (Wasn't really what i had in mind but was excited when Morgi put the challenge forward to be the course angel instead)

I have to say that although i wasn't in 100% silence during the course, it was a giant leap for me since my first course in 2009.  By the third day i felt as light as a feather.  Swamiji was so transparent. ...it was as if nobody was home. ....no one personality or a single ego or idea. ....just the boundless sky.   Every time he was in the room i felt like i was in the presence of Gurudev.  Every time i closed my eyes i felt so full and grateful that tears would well up.

Today i went to the meeting with my client not knowing what to expect but still feeling positive and light like i was wrapped in some grace.  The client opened the conversation by telling me 3 things:

1.  How happy he was with the work i have been doing (6 other consultants who i feel have been putting in 3 times the effort as me where layed off in the last month)
2. That he wished to renew my contract at 6 month intervals indefinitely until the project life cycle ended.
3. That he wished for me to write my own scope of work, terms of reference and draft schedule and he will approve based on concensus.

Now how crazy is that!!?? Who gets a blank cheque when other peers are being asked to leave?  Logically,  I was supposed to be working tirelessly in order to get this appraisal not spend half my time in Seva and get it!?

"You take care of my work and i will take care of yours."  I think i am now increasingly convinced that this applies not only to people in certain circumstances (like teachers, swamis or ashramites) but to all of us in all circumstances.  Sometimes i think all of this happens so that we can just learn to trust him more. .... to drop a little and let go a little each day so that one day we may be able to fall completely in his arms and say yes. ....you are my master and i am your disciple, yes i am your yesterday and you are my tomorrow..... my meditation is on your form, my worship is at your feet,  your very words are becoming my mantra, my salvation is only by your grace.   You have ceaselessly worked at restoring my trust, my faith, my health, my devotion, my surrender, my joy,  my childlike smile, my well-being, my salvation.  You have done all of this because of your selfless nature and unfailing love for me.

Jai Gurudev

Saturday, December 7, 2013

A life of learning and my fractional part in the bigger story

A few weeks ago, on the 7th of November my parents, my little sister and i celebrated my 34th birthday.  They decided to take me out of the house for a drive.  I have been ill for the last few months now. I had become depressed and withdrawn and was not in the mood for any extroverted activity.  But with persuasion i relented.  We had a picnic at the midmar dam for breakfast and we then drove through to the Nelson Mandela capture site just outside of howick falls.  This place was the highlight of my birthday.

Entrance to the memorial

I remember the anticipation on our faces as we drove up that dusty path from the R103 in the Natal Midlands.  Something somber overtook us as a family when we got off my dads car and approached the newly erected memorial site.  As we walked into the building, heard the stories, studied the pictures, read the quotes, watched and recalled some of the events of our history as a nation, i became increasingly aware of the reason for us as a family to get into that car and drive for 3 hours to this place.

Walking to the columns with my father

As we walked to the 50 steel column structure, i was thankful that together as a family we were here to reflect, to remember the sacrifice, share in our collective history and to be grateful that we are now standing humbly on the shoulders of great men.  On that day we joined in the common narrative of all South Africans.....that we are a fortunate people, blessed with unmerited favour and compassion. Because of the sacrifice of others and their belief in our good, we have a huge debt to pay back to our society.

The seemingly disconnected come together at the end of the long walk. :)

Today when i woke up at 5:00am, I noticed a text message on my phone sent by my sister during the late hours of last night.  She said: "Madiba passed away. :( :("  I was sad and a bit heavy.  And the heaviness continued to grow throughout the day as i turned on the television, read the news, spoke and prayed with some of my friends.  It has now come to the point where i feel indebted and at the same time grateful.  I don't have the right words today.  And to be honest i feel like a swabbing clothe full of emotions.  I have not posted here in a long time, and i don't really know what i want to say but just that i need to express something deep inside.

mum and dad on my 2nd bday

I remember the segregation as a child.  I remember the wooden signs that separated the people.  As a family we grew up in Durban which is a coastal city, but our visits to the beloved ocean was limited to a spot on the beach reserved only for indian people. We made the most of our times there although it was also a spot where the waste waters of the city, and the canals would flow freely into the ocean.  I remember how happy my father used to be when his boss would comment on the tasty "indian food" my mum used to make.  Some of the comments were not so welcomed though.....like the "drie-hook-coolie-koek" an Indian samoosa that used to take up most of my grandmothers past time in the making. She used to make these and sell them in order to keep her house afloat in financially trying times.

dad (middle) during school sports

My dad used to go door to door selling these on her behalf during his schooling years.  I remember him telling me the stories of his over used school uniform and how he used to cover up the holes in his pants with his handkerchief.  I remember being called a coolie(derogatory word used for indians by white people) and was accustomed to the word kafer (derogatory word used for black people by white, indian and colored people) Please do not mistake my candidness as me being trivial.  These were serious matters, but the greater injustice than name callings was the system of inequality that served to benefit so few but harmed and refused so many people their basic human dignities.  Dignities like sanitation and proper education, a pittance as a less than minimum wage for hard labour, no land to build a decent home in and insufficient recognition as a fellow human being.

Amidst the turmoil there was a lot of good times in my side of the race spectrum:  I remember how happy we used to be when my father would bring us home "rounders" from KFC at the end of each month, which we would share as a family.  Restaurants were never an option for us growing up as "indian" children of apartheid.  And we were never properly exposed to the white or black communities.  I grew up in Merebank, a communal mishap, a health hazard which was a result of the land areas act.  I say it was a health hazard because they put us in the middle of a factory zone, shared between three giants: Engen, Sapref and Mondi.  Factory fumes would be our common problem. I ended up with a chronic respiratory disease as a child.  The sad news was that i shared the same condition as most of my class mates.  The factory's gas emissions were too high then and were not properly controlled, governed and regulated.  But the industrial mishaps almost always affected the social underclasses.  My mothers father was very hard working and was orphaned as a little boy.  He never completed his matric but grew up to be a successful entrepreneur and purchased many lands throughout Natal, including the Pavillion land that the famous Durban shopping mall is now built upon.  His investments were taken away from him when the land areas act was enforced and this left my mother and her siblings without inheritance when he died.

Mum and dad - Gorgeous Couple
I never considered my family as being poor when i was a child, but children never look at money and possessions the same way that adults do.  Although my parents never received University education, they worked hard for their small earnings, and, because i was in a communal family with grandparents, aunts and uncles, i was always provided for with everything as a child growing up.  When i compare my life to the life of other South Africans who lived in such abject poverty (and who still do to this day), i feel guilty for the circumstances that have attributed to my gains and their losses.  As a child, my only encounters with black people would be when the maid would come looking for a job or the gardener would come to assist in our planting of crop in our backyard.

I grew up in a society that was inculcated with a fear of cross cultural interaction and this was passed on to me so i helplessly watched how separate eating and drinking utensils were kept aside for the black workers and couldn't help but think in my little brain that this was not the best way of service to them.  In spite of my best efforts as a child, in my early schooling years, this built a passive indifference in me towards South Africans of other race. This indifference was further enforced by the community i grew up in at large and by the regulations and governing laws that kept us divided.  I have been unlearning and realizing how costly this indifference was.  I have been learning how this was a fear-based concept used to further estrange the ignorant in an already unjust society.  We feared what we did not know.  We feared and hated the black man because we did not know him. We did not know his plight.  We did not care to fully understand the abject poverty enforced upon him by governing laws that served to undermine him and limit his every way forward.  We envied and despised the white man because we were not allowed to know him.  We feared the coloured man because we did not know him.  Better than us were those outstanding few: white, black, colored and indian freedom fighters, who saw through these divides and perceived a united South Africa at a time of intense social conditioning, when all we could see was the color of our skins

picture from the museum on my 34th bday - words of an enlightened master
I am 34 years now and although many things may have changed inside me, i am still learning.  There is a lot more to be learned.  There is still a gap that needs to be bridged.  There is still injustice that needs to be met with love, compassion and understanding.  I wonder if we are a rainbow nation yet?  Unless we can reach across any divide and feel the other person as our very own, we are not a rainbow nation.  I hope we will not meet each other on fear based pretense.  If you come to my home to visit me, wherever you may come from, let me share it with you, let me receive you with humility and gratitude.  Let me show you my home, my art.  Let me share with you my music and the things that make me laugh and smile. Let me make you my own, a very part of me, essential to my existence.  Let us, together, honour the great man who brought us to this table.  To this meeting place of hearts. To this common narrative.  Let us share in his humanity, let us take comfort and hope in his flaws and mistakes and let us aspire to his greatness.  Madiba, you were not just "one of" the great South Africans.  You were the greatest of us all.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Nataraja

Its 01:57am here in Bangalore.  I just drank a cup of tea two hours ago and the caffeine is keeping me awake.  I am currently listening to an audio track by Sri Sri Ravishankar called “Jesus the embodiment of love.”  We are in the middle of diwali here.  Yesterday was the opening of a new dance studio above the apartment where I am staying.  Hip-hop, salsa and a plethora of modern dance styles advertised on the big billboard outside.  I met the young dance instructor at the staircase, with his stylized hair, matching jewelry and trendy clothes and he invited me to come along for the opening party.  As a matter of convenience coupled with curiosity, I decided to go.

The balloons and fresh flowers lined the steps to the studio, from the ground floor, upward, past our apartment and treatment center and paved the way into the entrance of the studio above us, filling it with color and anticipation from those attending.  The dance hall was well decorated and filled with fluorescent lighting.  Unusually, In the middle of the studio sat a pandit(hindu priest) conducting a puja(prayer).  With calm ease, mantras were chanted; a coconut was broken on the dance floor in the middle of the unique display of flowers, fruits and incense.  It was an odd scene for me that defied my initial expectations, but somehow, it felt strangely warm and welcoming as I began to take my seat.  After the puja, blessed fruit and sweet and blessed water was given to all present and the show commenced with a brief introduction to dance and its spiritual origin.  This grabbed my interest and I listened intently, trying to map the spoken vernacular to my conceptual view. 

The young instructor took his place on the dance floor and the show began.  Lyrical hip-hop.  This is the dance style that he was announced to perform.  I watched him as he took to the floor; I watched his cool confidence and calm expression. I noticed his dressing and his body language prior to the dance.  My mind started building its concepts again:  Age, education, upbringing, culture, habits, views.  When he started dancing, though, my attention slowly began to shift.  It shifted from the unique peculiarities of this person to his offering: the dance, and slowly I began to drift from thinking and conceptualizing into feeling, as the rhythm of the music, the smell of the incense and flowers, the colors and the movement began to take over my senses.  The peculiar dancer was no longer there in front of me, there was just his offering: the dance. It seemed to absorb the entire environment into itself and express it more intensely.  I started feeling something move inside me.  A tremendous burst of energy started pouring out from within me as I began to feel the movement and music as it started coming from within.  No longer was the boy there.  As he began to pour himself more and more into his art form, giving his 100%, there was no more dancer, just the dance.   That dance became everything at that moment.  Nothing else existed.   

In India one of the thoughts about God is expressed in the sanscrit: “Nataraja” meaning the Lord of the dance or the cosmic dancer.  Shiva means “that bliss” that transcendental state beyond form, beyond labels and concepts, one that cannot be experienced in any attempt by the mind.  Shiva is also accompanied by other names: Mahakaala (beyond time) Mahakasha (beyond space).  Shiva is not a person or an entity.  It has never been so.  Shiva is an energy.  It is an origin. An essence.  Throughout the ages when people have attempted to express this cosmic dancer, Shiva is placed inside a ring of fire.  He is also standing on a body.  The body represents an inert and static view: the ego, the sense of “I”.  The fire symbolizes the trans-mutative part of Prakriti or manifest existence. The whole existence, everything we experience with the senses, comes from the five greater elements: the spaciousness, the vastness, the (akasha) gives a platform, an invitation to movement (vayu), this movement causes friction, fire (agni,) which in turn combusts, creating (jal), the liquid becomes more stable and concrete and solidifies itself into (prithvi) or earth.  Within the earth itself is a spaciousness (the physics is clear) and so this process continues indefinitely making up the manifest existence from single celled micro organisms to vast universes.    

We are all looking for God.  We decorate this search with color and theories but at its heart, it is an existential search.  It is subjective and also descriptive.  We are looking outside ourselves from within.  We are searching for some unique peculiarities based on some concept.  “God is good.  God is kind.  Generous.  Loving, benevolent, holy, powerful………the list goes on.”  But there are obstacles that we must overcome in order to find him.  Externalities.  And amidst all these apparent things that make up our external environment, these distractions and attractions, these objects, these “people”, these occupations and preoccupations, we hope to find this God, a separate entity.  We grew up in our various religious circles painting us some picture, giving us some expectation of who or what or how this God is.  And we live our lives hoping to have an experience of him/her/it based on our conceptual understanding and expectation.

When I think about this boy who recently danced for us and when I consider every artist that gives completely in their art, I acknowledge that the true artist, when creating, leaves nothing of himself behind.  In that moment of pure expression, if one is truly authentic, sincere and devoted to his or her art then that act of giving, of pouring out, of pure expression leaves no peculiarity behind.  No one remembers the face of Vincent van Gough or Leonardo davinci or Michaelangelo, Beethoven, Vaalmiki, Veda Vyasa, Kabir Das, Meera Bhai.  Their unique peculiarities and features all fade in light of their art. 

The depth of love is when ego has completely dissolved.  There is no longer any “I” that is expressing.  There is only the expression.  There is no longer the dancer, just the dance.  The dancer is lost in the dance.  God is no longer in the unique peculiarities.  If you are looking for God you will not find him.  Because he is no personality or thing.  There is no comparison or contrast.  He is and is in everything.  God has lost himself in his expression and because of great love is continuously pouring himself outwardly.  Love is a law unto itself.  It exists without intention or expectation.  There is a rhythm to this existence.  Everything that manifests must also have its dissolution.  In this prakriti, in this nature there is entropy and atrophy.  The particles combine and dissolve.  The energy dissipates and takes some other form.  Everything is giving itself up, it sacrifices itself in order to take another form.  You are the expression, the very molecules and atoms and particles that comprise you is the divine manifesting itself and once again sacrificing itself.

I keep thinking about Jesus: An echo in the stillness.  A fire in the darkness.  A hush in the crowd.  I keep thinking about his message about life and its transience.  I keep thinking about his message to give up these notions about staticity and inertia, these preoccupations with accumulating and hoarding.  I keep thinking about his message to surrender, to give it up, and to celebrate in the experience of no-thing-ness.  In this is his challenge to discover our divine origin, our heavenly father, our cosmic dancer.  Jesus hanging on a cross, arms spread, saying “father forgive…..” has become a love symbol of the sacrificial nature of existence, a challenge to us all, a dance of the nature returning to the source.  Om Nama Shivaya.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Chocolatey Delights

I entered into another world the day i set foot in Big Bazaar.  Outside was the usual chaos of beloved Bangalore, the auto-rickshaws attempting death-defying maneuvers, the chaat-wallas with delicious treats, the cows and the everyday hustle of the crowd.  Inside was air-conditioned comfort and the looks of a mega supermarket like checkers or hyperama back home.  It was the first time i had been to one of these in India so i decided to check things out a little.  

My investigations took me to a home-made dark chocolate stand inside the store.  Now let me emphasize DARK chocolate because over the course of many a year (i wont say how many in case my fanaticism about chocolates happens to be older than you  :) I  have come to be a HUGE fan of dark chocolate.  (apart from the many health benefits, i have found that the serotonin and endorphin high is also a nice pick me up on those gloomy days.  Can i get a witness??  :) After 10 minutes of tasting i walked away with three selections (out of about 15) a) fig and honey (b) brandy and cherry (c) butterscotch and a BIG smile on my face.

Today though, i took a run down into the valley and up a few hills into my favorite place in ashram.  People here affectionately know it as Saraswathi tank.  A special friend here introduced me to the place and since then it has become my favorite retreat.   (i know its kinda weird - a retreat within a retreat (ashram) - its kinda like the chocolate shop in the supermarket.) lol.  We closed work at 5pm today and I ran from panchakarma as fast as my legs could carry, i wanted to be there before the sun would set.  A friend stopped to give me a lift on his bike for a few meters and then i was off again by foot.   After about 5 kilometers of running and the final stretch up the long hill, I made it to the highest point in Udayapura: Saraswathi Tank.  

To be geographically correct, Saraswathi tank is not within the ashram premises itself,  (okay so i take back most of what i said about a retreat within a retreat, an oasis within an oasis etc. i still like the imagery though :P ) Its outside and is a reservoir that supplies water to the school, college and householders nearby.  Above the water tank are 3 stories:  A meditation hall, a room where Sri Sri Ravishankar resides at times and a yoga space.  It is circular in structure and is adorned with a wonderful driveway and garden filled with seasonal and perennial flowers.  A nice thing about Saraswathi Tank is that its so far away from ashram that nobody goes there.  And the nicer thing is that i went there today with a few left over chocolates in my shoulder bag.  And the best thing is that i made it there before the sun could set. :) :) :)

View from Saraswathie Tank
How awesome it is when you meet me here in these moments, these moments of in between.
Neither day nor night, you are my lover undefined.
As free as the wind that blows past me in these silent hours.
As dark and mysterious as the night to come.

But in these moments of in between, everything is changing.  
And who knows what you or i will be in the hereafter.
So i am here and i will sit by you my cryptic conqueror
And together we will discover the depths of the silence within.

I surrender to you.  I wait for you. I long for you. 
You are the end of all my journeys. The spirit that broods over the waters.
The silent space within.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Tamang Jatra

I woke up early this morning to the rising sun.  Its summer now in Boudha.  Along with the change in weather, comes many other changes too:  People are earlier at the stupa.  Its warmer in the mornings.  Alot less Thungba, (tibetan warm beer)  A greater sense of cheerfulness and color as a greater variety of fruits fill the stands of the vendors and as ice cream wallas traverse the narrow pathways.

I made my way to the Stupa at about 8:30am to find it filled with many people.  Today is the day for Timal Jatra.  Tamang people gather at Boudha stupa on this day to offer butter lamps to the deceased family members. They celebrate the whole night by singing around the stupa. Mostly young Tamang boys and girls are seen taking active part on singing competition. It is called dohori, question's are asked in song and replied in song accordingly.  If the boys and girls like each other they can also get married. Locals put up stalls for Tea, Momo, Chhyang, Aaludam etc. all around the stupa. Early in the morning the next day they go to Balaju to take a holy bath.

I met my friend Kunzang and we decided to go and have breakfast together at Cake Cha (A simple local tea room owned by an old man that people have grown to call Cake Cha.)  I like breakfast there.  Its nice.  Aloo, Roti and an omlette.  I then met my friend Nima Sherpa and we went to get some photos taken for my Indian Visa application.  (I will be leaving for India shortly to attend a 10 month course on Ayurveda at the art of living ashram in Bangalore)

We then hung out at a local cafe and i made my way back to my guest house.  On my way there i stopped over at a little tea room for some Aloo, Channa and Roti.  I had been there once before.  This time, the 11 year old daughter saw me and offered me two sweets saying it was her birthday today and i should have it.  I thanked her and she giggled.  It was a very girly giggle and it made me laugh.  Her little brother came into the tea room thereafter and another exchange took place.  Followed by another little girl and boy.  They were all local kids in the area, about 4 to 9 years of age.  They seemed amused by me and i delighted in their company.  Slowly by slowly more kids trickled in until there were about 7 of us in the tea room.  We hijacked the place.  haha.  We spent the rest of the afternoon teasing each other and playing around the table.  Until i decided to take the party outside.

Here are some pictures of my day.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Art of Living Nepal

In my time here in Nepal, I have been fortunate to meet and interact with some great friends from the Art of Living.  They have enriched my stay here.  They have just finished developing their local website.  Its a great site.  I thought i would clue you in on some of the activities happening here.

Friday, March 12, 2010


Oh Lover, hold on
'till i come back again
for these arms are growin' tired,
and my tales are wearing thin

if you're patient I will surprise,
when you wake up i'll have come
All the angerwill settle down
and we'll go do all the things we should have done

yes i remember what we said
as we lay down to bed
i'll be here if you will only come back home

oh lover, i'm lost
because the road i've chosen beckens me away
oh lover, don't you rome
now i'm fighting words i never thought i'd say

but i remember what we said
as we lay down to bed
i'll forgive you oh
if you just come back home

Oh lover, I'm old
you'll be out there and be thinking just of me
and i will find you down the road
and will return back home to where we're meant to be

'cause i remember what we said
as we lay down to bed
we'll be back soon as we make history.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Walk to Pashupatinath

Today a friend and i went to see a baba who lives in a Cave in Pashupatinath.  It was a pleasant encounter.  We spent most of our time in silence.  I left the cave and the baba's presence feeling very high on prana (life energy).  Here are some pictures of the temple and its surrounds.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Teachings at Benchen

I have started teachings at Benchen Monastery about a week ago.  Teachings are given by Tenga Rinpoche.  The Monastery is located in Swayambhunath, a truly magical place.