Tuesday, January 31, 2012

That's where the light enters you

Trust your wound to a teacher's surgery.
Flies collect on a wound. They cover it,
those flies of your self-protecting feelings,
your love for what you think is yours.
Let a teacher wave away the flies
and put a plaster on the wound.
Don't turn your head. Keep looking
at the bandaged wound. That's where
the light enters you.
And don't believe for a moment
that you're healing yourself.


Photo: Ibrahim Rauza, Bijapur

Free Will

"For the human journey is ultimately about forgetting in order to remember again, this time voluntarily relinquishing that burden called free will. Free will is the defining characteristic of human incarnation. Free will is that which one eventually begins to experience as a self-inflicted limitation at the very root of much human suffering.

Free will is the belief that we, as mortal individuals, are the designers of our destiny. Free will is the belief that, under ideal circumstances, we can, may and will do exactly as we please. In this view, nature becomes our servant, our resource to transform as we desire. And so off we go, armed with the conviction that we alone are responsible for the way in which our life unfolds."

Page 106, Faith. From 'Interleaves, Ruminations on Illness and Spiritual Life' by Lata Mani

An amazing woman, historian, poet, and researcher, whose wisdom comes across with lucidity that blows you away. Still recovering from a closed-head-injury following a horrific accident in California 8 years ago, she has learned to accept her situation and therefore learned to be open to the gifts it brings. A friend who met her recently lent me two of her books, and I am still reeling under them.

A great introduction to her: http://hindu.com/2001/06/24/stories/1324017d.htm

Her books are available on http://www.flipkart.com/ and http://www.amazon.com/.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Open. Close.

Spending most of your time at the concert watching the conductor's hands, as always.

*          *          *          *          *          *          *
'Lost' composer Michael Giacchino rehearses with the Lost Live orchestra: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OILYuJQd0Lk 

Oh. His hands.

*          *          *          *          *          *          *
"Your soft hand is a woman of itself,
And mine the man's bared breast she curls inside."

'Andrea Del Sarto', Robert Browning

*          *          *          *          *          *          *
At the physiotherapist's, overheard. "Yes, it will hurt like crazy, but you have to keep opening, closing that hand, the blood clots have to dissolve, it has to heal. Otherwise you will soon lose the usage of that hand, you understand?

Open. Close. Open. Close.

Don't cry."


"I am thinking of George Willard, how he left
Winesburg, Ohio. I am wondering how many
Scars he took with him and wonder if Salinger
Wasn't right, after all, when one of the heroes
In one of his books said that he had scars
On his hands from touching the people
He loved."

Page 23, 'Knowledge: The Hand of Another'
'The Book of What Remains' by Benjamin Alire Saenz

From Albors, a new piece:  http://soundcloud.com/dreimalbla/persuit-of-happiness

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Richard Cory

Whenever Richard Cory went down town,
We people on the pavement looked at him:
He was a gentleman from sole to crown,
Clean-favoured and imperially slim.

And he was always quietly arrayed,
And he was always human when he talked;
But still he fluttered pulses when he said,
"Good Morning!" and he glittered when he walked.

And he was rich, yes, richer than a king,
And admirably schooled in every grace:
In fine -- we thought that he was everything
To make us wish that we were in his place.

So on we worked and waited for the light,
And went without the meat and cursed the bread,
And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,
Went home and put a bullet in his head.

Edwin Arlington Robinson

Richard Cory, by Simon & Garfunkel: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dwqwAy85CgY


"You see, madness is like gravity. All you need is a little push."

The Joker, in 'The Dark Knight'

I have somewhere surely lived a life of joy with you...

To a Stranger
Walt Whitman

Passing stranger! you do not know
How longingly I look upon you,
You must be he I was seeking,
Or she I was seeking
(It comes to me as a dream)

I have somewhere surely
Lived a life of joy with you,
All is recall'd as we flit by each other,
Fluid, affectionate, chaste, matured,

You grew up with me,
Were a boy with me or a girl with me,
I ate with you and slept with you, your body has become
not yours only nor left my body mine only,

You give me the pleasure of your eyes,
face, flesh as we pass,
You take of my beard, breast, hands,
in return,

I am not to speak to you, I am to think of you
when I sit alone or wake at night, alone
I am to wait, I do not doubt I am to meet you again
I am to see to it that I do not lose you.


A friend loved this description in one of my mails, so storing it here.

Girmit - the North Karnataka version of the bhelpuri.

It tastes like it sounds (roll that sexy r!) - crunchy-soft, an unabashed flaunting of chilly and raw onion and lemon and still-crisp bhel, functional food served without any flourishes on a piece of torn newspaper on a rough wooden table. The food of real men (!), the weather-beaten men of the the land who have no time for frills and fancies, the men of the highway who can but stop briefly and eat light, in silence, still and contemplative, the sound of the engine still reverberating somewhere inside them, possessively holding them in its grasp.

Washing it down with a cup of strong over-boiled potent tea made in a dilapidated samovar, they are ready to stride out, back to their purpose, the journey. The girmit a mere pause, a tangy punctuation that briefly breaks the flow, the headiness of the road unfurling into the distance once again taking over all sensation, their eyes once again glazing over into the trance of moving ahead at great speed, with the wind for company...

Okay, this just means that I have cheap plebeian tastes, am just trying to pass off as an epicurean :) :)

From joy to joy to joy, from wing to wing...

From Blossoms
Li-Young Lee

From blossoms comes
this brown paper bag of peaches
we bought from the boy
at the bend of the road where we turned toward
signs painted 'Peaches.'

From laden boughs, from hands,
from sweet fellowship in the bins,
comes nectar at the roadside, succulent
peaches we devour, dusty skin and all.
comes the familiar dust of summer, dust we eat.

O, to take what we love inside,
to carry within us an orchard, to eat
not only the skin, but the shade,
not only the sugar, but the days, to hold
the fruit in our hands, adore it, then bite into
the round jubilance of peach.

There are days we live
as if death were nowhere
in the background; from joy
to joy to joy, from wing to wing,
from blossom to blossom, to
impossible blossom, to sweet impossible blossom.

We're wonderful one times one

now i love you and you love me
(and books are shuter
than books
can be)
and deep in the high that does nothing but fall
(with a shout
around we go all)
there's somebody calling who's we.

we're anything brighter than even the sun
(we're everything greater
thann books
might mean)
we're everything more than believe
(with a spin
alive we're alive)
we're wonderful one times one


Friday, January 27, 2012

As if he were an idea instead of the grass...

What a beautiful surprise this poem was!

Straight Talk From Fox

Listen says fox it is music to run
over the hills to lick
dew from the leaves to nose along
the edges of the ponds to smell the fat
ducks in their bright feathers but
far out, safe in their rafts of
sleep. It is like
music to visit the orchard, to find
the vole sucking the sweet of the apple, or the
rabbit with his fast-beating heart. Death itself
is a music. Nobody has ever come close to
writing it down, awake or in a dream. It cannot
be told. It is flesh and bones
changing shape and with good cause, mercy
is a little child beside such an invention. It is
music to wander the black back roads
outside of town no one awake or wondering
if anything miraculous is ever going to
happen, totally dumb to the fact of every
moment's miracle. Don't think I haven't
peeked into windows. I see you in all your seasons
making love, arguing, talking about God
as if he were an idea instead of the grass,
instead of the stars, the rabbit caught
in one good teeth-whacking hit and brought
home to the den. What I am, and I know it, is
responsible, joyful, thankful. I would not
give my life for a thousand of yours.

Mary Oliver

Thursday, January 26, 2012


When you look up through your helmet visor at the traffic signal, you see kites floating peacefully against the blue blue evening sky. And amidst the new green leaves on the rain tree, the babiest of baby squirrels scampering around from branch to branch.

Is it even legal to be this happy?

Will they lock you up for this? Didn’t they do that to the ecstatics?

*              *              *              *              *              *              *
Young girl, meeting you after years. After you say goodbye, she comes back to where you are getting ready to put on your helmet, and says, “Hey, I don’t remember, but did I hug you?”  She did. But you laugh and open your arms again, and say, there is no such thing as too many hugs, is there?

You who had built a wall around you that nothing, no one, could scale. 

A time to contract. To close. And a time to expand. To open.

*              *              *              *              *              *              *
But always, always, a time to watch squirrel-babies and fill up with joy.



I would love to live
Like a river flows,
Carried by the surprise
Of its own unfolding.

John O'Donohue

Notes to Self

You are deeply religious - you worship the sun. Taking off in an airplane on a dark rainy gloomy day, rising above the clouds suddenly into bright impossibly clear sparkling sunlight that makes you  catch your breath, has been the closest you’ve come to a profoundly spiritual experience.

*              *              *              *              *              *              *
“Would you like you if you met you?” A standard clich├ęd question someone poses, one of those forwards. You skip it, and then you come back. Hey, what the hell. You would love it if you met you! You would be intrigued, you would want to know more, you would want to return to sit across the table to meet you again, and soak in the slow release of an abundant affection that surely knows no bounds?

Not an answer you ever expected to give, you are startled. You, who never spared any kindness for your own self, while you dispensed off it to the whole world so easily, you who always treated yourself with a firmness bordering on cruelty. When did all this happen? Who/what taught you to like yourself, finally? And ah, will it last?

*              *              *              *              *              *              *
Early morning walk. The old man wrapped up in mufflers, who walks very slowly, every tiny step a huge effort, holding on to the young man who accompanies him everyday. There will be no young one to help you walk when/if you reach that age. How much will you suffer, or will it cease to matter by then?

Contracting, and expanding

Your grief for what you’ve lost lifts a mirror
up to where you’re bravely working.
Expecting the worst, you look, and instead
here’s the joyful face you’ve been wanting to see.

Your hand opens and closes and opens and closes.
If it were always a fist or always stretched open,
you’d be paralyzed.
Your deepest presence is in every small contracting
and expanding,
the two as beautifully balanced and coordinated
as bird wings.



Those who don’t like it say it’s
just a mutant violin
that’s been kicked out of the chorus.
Not so.
The cello has many secrets,
but it never sobs,
just sings in its low voice.
Not everything turns into song
though. Sometimes you catch
a murmur or a whisper:
I’m lonely,
I can’t sleep.

Adam Zagajewski

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


You were always a mountain-and-sea-and-forest person. You could never understand people who loved the plains, flat featureless landscapes. But standing at the train door one morning and later another day, at sunset, you are suddenly seized by the beauty of it all, you are taken aback by your reaction to it. A flat plain leaves you with so much more sky.  The most prominent feature here is the sky, it dominates the landscape, and you can see it all, the entire inverted bowl, right to its very edges, a perfect half-circle shape, unbroken by mountains.  You feel you’ve never noticed the sky this way before, you passionate sky-watcher, you feel you’re really seeing it in its entire majesty for the first time.

On the return journey, you watch the sun set right at the horizon, leaving different layers of color above it, unbroken striations, from end to end, each one merging into the other, seamlessly, orange, yellow, deep blue, darkness. You go to the other door and watch the moon rise from the other horizon, right from its moment of birth at the thin line between earth and sky, when it is at is fullest.  To think that the people who live here, see all this, every single day!

A huge sense of space. Your chest expands. You feel freer. You breathe deep, you feel lighter. You have finally understood the love of the plains. Another day, on a long drive, you climb up into the mountains and pass through thick forests – and you feel suffocated, surrounded. When you return to the plains the next day, you breathe easy again.

This is all so startlingly strange, you feel unsettled. Who is this new person in you whom you don't know? Why this transformation? What else is coming your way? Who are you becoming?

Or is it just that you have reached a stage in life where you need more space?

Sunday, January 22, 2012


"In 1953, twenty-four-year-old Nicolas Bouvier and his artist friend Thierry Vernet set out to make their way overland from their native Geneva to the Khyber Pass."....Bouvier so beautifully reiterates your belief that happiness is never a long stretch, but just a collection of brief extraordinary moments - moments that  you need to notice, underline, open up to and soak in with all your being, otherwise they fade away unnoticed.

The Road to Anatolia

....East of Erzurum the road is very lonely. Vast distances separate the villages. For one reason or another we occassionally stopped the car, and spent the rest of the night outdoors. Warm in big felt jackets and fur hats with ear-flaps, we listened to the water as it boiled on a primus in the lee of a wheel. Leaning against a mound, we gazed at the stars, the ground undulating towards the Caucasus, the phosphorescent eyes of foxes.

Time passed in brewing tea, the odd remark, cigarettes, then dawn came up. The widening light caught the plumage of quails and partridges...and quickly I dropped this wonderful moment to the bottom of my memory, like a sheet-anchor that one day I could draw up again. You stretch, pace to and fro feeling weightless, and the word 'happiness' seems too thin and limited to describe what has happened.

In the end, the bedrock of existence is not made up of family, or work, or what others or think of you, but of moments like this when you are exalted by a transcendent power that is more serene than love. Life dispenses them parsimoniously; our feeble hearts cannot stand more.

Page 94, 'The Way of the World' Nicolas Bouvier

Photo: Google Images

But where do you belong?

Love Don McLean. What a voice. And what poetry.

The Pride Parade:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ZolrgptRJA&feature=share

It started out quite simply, as complex things can do;
A set of sad transparencies till no one could see through,
But least of all the one inside, behind the iron glass;
A prisoner of all your dreams that never come to pass.

Alone you stand, corrupted by the vision that you sought,
And blinded by your hunger, all your appetites are bought,
But in spite of what becomes of you, your image will remain;
A reminder of your constant loss, a symbol of your gain.

And your friends are together,
Where the people are all gathered,
All along the road you traveled all your days.

And soon, you have succumbed to what the others all believe,
And though the lie affects them still it's you that they deceive,
And all at once you're lost within the emptiness of you,
And there's no one left who's near enough to tell you what to do.

You're left with nothing but your self-potential in the dark,
Like tinder resting on a rock, protected from the spark,
But your fire just consumes you, you alone can feel the pain,
And you stand in all your glory and you know you can't complain.

But your friends are together,
Where the people are all gathered,
All along the road you traveled all your days.

But you are surely just as evil as the worst my tongue can tell,
For you'll never face my heaven and I'll not endure your hell.
You have lost the chance to mingle by your constant, quiet lies;
Deceptions hidden with your lips, but spoken with your eyes.

For I know you for what you are, not for that's really all you are.
And your talents of a minor order seem to stretch too far.
And we both know that this masquerade can't carry on too long.
You're deep inside the Pride Parade, but where do you belong?

And your friends are together,
Where the people are all gathered,
All along the road you traveled all your days.

YouTube Mix for Don McLean, here.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

And seven trees of seven wounds...

I Made a House of Houselessness

I made a house of houselessness,
A garden of your going;
And seven trees of seven wounds
You gave me, all unknowing:
I made a feast of golden grief
That you so lordly left me,
I made a bed of all the smiles
Whereof your lip bereft me:
I made a sun of your delay,
Your daily loss, his setting:
I made a wall of all your words
And a lock of your forgetting

Rose O' Neill (Late 19th/early 20th century) 

Friday, January 20, 2012

A purpose higher than the individual

"My belief is that the key ideological struggle of the 21st century will be to bring a conscience to capitalism. ... To imbue a sense of meaning, and a purpose higher than the individual that both close-minded, mainstream religions, and the shallow, self-centered ideology of consumerism have failed to address."

Everybody knows that we're trapped, but nobody knows what the cages look like:


Abeer, who keeps his flame alive, slogging it out in a remote village against many odds, and reading Murakami in his small room, while elephants go rampaging outside :)


If you place a fern
under a stone
the next day it will be
nearly invisible
as if the stone has
swallowed it.

If you tuck the name of a loved one
under your tongue too long
without speaking it
it becomes blood
the little sucked-in breath of air
hiding everywhere
beneath your words.

No one sees
the fuel that feeds you.

'Hidden' by Naomi Shihab Nye

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Waiting Room

In the now-familiar hospital waiting room, you pretend to read, and listen to the conversations around you, of people who do not go to hospitals alone, unlike you. A multitude of languages, dialects, you cannot even figure out what some of them are. You still like to listen to the sounds, the tones, the emotions, the repetitions, the indignant recounting.

Those sounds we make just to prove to ourselves we are not alone, we have someone to talk to, someone to listen to us. Even though none of that is going to make any difference,  those few cells bent on quiet destruction are way bigger than anything you have, they seep through your fortress quietly, like it never existed.

The terror of waiting for the test report filled in with stories of a life outside, a life that means absolutely nothing at all in this windowless tubelight-lit world, that little piece of paper could wipe away all your plans in a jiffy, you know? That arm around your shoulders is not going to shield you from anything, you know?

You remember the young man breaking down on the chair opposite you one morning, while his friend tries to tell him that cancer is now curable. His sudden tears, his surprise that this could happen to him.  

You remember wishing you could tell him that you will exchange places with him if that was possible, that you always collect your reports alone, that you are always ready to leave, that you always believed you were living on borrowed time. 

You wonder what became of him.

Little Boxes

Little boxes on the hillside,
Little boxes made of ticky tacky
Little boxes on the hillside,
Little boxes all the same,
There's a green one and a pink one
And a blue one and a yellow one
And they're all made out of ticky tacky
And they all look just the same.

And the people in the houses
All went to the university
Where they were put in boxes
And they came out all the same
And there's doctors and lawyers
And business executives
And they're all made out of ticky tacky
And they all look just the same.

And they all play on the golf course
And drink their martinis dry
And they all have pretty children
And the children go to school,
And the children go to summer camp
And then to the university
Where they are put in boxes
And they come out all the same.

And the boys go into business
And marry and raise a family
In boxes made of ticky tacky
And they all look just the same,
There's a green one and a pink one
And a blue one and a yellow one
And they're all made out of ticky tacky
And they all look just the same.

Words and music by Malvina Reynolds

Song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4poWiKfg1MU

Only this moment is life

Drink Your Tea

Drink your tea slowly and reverently,
as if it is the axis
on which the world earth revolves
- slowly, evenly, without
rushing toward the future;
Live the actual moment.
Only this moment is life.

Thich Nhat Hahn, Vietnamese poet

Monday, January 16, 2012


"Be an overwhelming bounty of impressions, ideas, conflicting theories, and let the propellant behind all this be generosity. A giving."

John Patrick Shanley

Revisiting Doubt: A Parable. Yet again.

Maybe sometimes

"These are your poems.
Don’t ask how I discovered your thoughts.
Maybe sometimes I was you.
Maybe sometimes you were also me a bit.
Maybe together we were the world "

Miroslav Mika Antic, Yugoslavian poet, film director, journalist and painter

Saturday, January 14, 2012


Walking past a lone cart full of fresh yellow lemons, this cloudy early morning of empty streets, the strong citron-y fragrance hits you like a sudden wave. You stop and turn around in wonder, dizzy.

When you resume your walk, smiling, slightly inebriated, you wonder, “How does the lemon seller ever get through his day sober?”, and you remember this luscious poem by Michael Ondaatje, about the cinnamon-peeler’s wife….

You can never make up your mind which of your senses brings you the most joy...

Thursday, January 12, 2012


As the night settles in the train, he climbs up to the top berth, and performs namaz, his prayers. Simple gestures, a pattern to follow five times a day, known, familiar. A ritual, a repetition, a returning to the centre, a remembering.

Nothing prepares you for the sudden stab of envy you feel. 

The amazement of it. Where is this bend in the road you have reached, what do you see now?

And then this morning, while waiting for a friend, you come upon this passage in the Joseph Campbell book you have been reading, and you again feel the same catch in your throat.

“For it is the rite, the ritual and its imagery, that counts in religion, and where that is missing the words are mere carriers of concepts that may or may not make contemporary sense. A ritual is an organization of mythological symbols; and by participating in the drama of the rite one is brought directly in touch with these, not as verbal reports of historic events, either past, present, or to be, but as revelations, here and now, of what is always and forever.

Where the synagogues and churches go wrong is by telling what their symbols “mean”.  The value of an effective rite is that it leaves everyone to his own thoughts, which dogma and definitions only confuse. Dogma and definitions rationally insisted upon are inevitably hindrances, not aids, to religious meditation, since no one’s sense of the presence of God can be anything more than a function of his own spiritual capacity.

Having your image of God – the most intimate, hidden mystery of your life – defined for you in terms contrived by some council of bishops back, say, in the fifth century or so: what good is that? But a contemplation of the crucifix works; the odor of incense works; so do, also, hieratic attires, the tones of well-sung Gregorian chants, intoned and mumbled Introits, Kyries, heard and unheard consecrations.

What has the “affect value” of wonders of this kind to do with the definitions of councils, or whether we quite catch the precise meaning of such words as Oramus te, Domine, per merita Sanctorum tuorum? If we are curious for meanings, they are there, translated in the other column of the prayerbook. But if the magic of the rite is gone….

Page 97, ‘Myths to Live By’, Joseph Campbell

Photo: Jamia Masjid, Bijapur

Is it snow or light?

To Marina (excerpt)
by Kenneth Koch

Let's take a walk
Into the world
Where if our shoes get white
With snow, is it snow, Marina,
Is it snow or light?
Let's take a walk...

The Shape of that Darkness

To those of you who have wandered the dark passages of Murakami-land, and have wanted to "hide yourselves in dry wells" to shut the world out at times...


"It's the birthday of Haruki Murakami, born in Kyoto, Japan (1949). Murakami's earliest memory is from when he was three years old. He escaped his house, fell into a nearby creek, and was saved by his mother just before he was swept into a tunnel. "I remember it very clearly, the coldness of the water and the darkness of the tunnel — the shape of that darkness. It's scary. I think that's why I'm attracted to darkness."

It's a memory he transmitted to a character in his novel The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle (1997) and a motif — the metaphor of a dark and dangerous underground — he relies on in so many of his books that he forbid himself from writing about wells after his eighth one. Still, in his latest book, 1Q84 (2011), the plot pivots when a woman sitting in a traffic jam takes her cabbie's advice to take one of the secret, steep escape staircases hidden on the bridge they're sitting on. But, the driver warns her, once she goes through this portal, nothing will ever be the same again — and he's right.

As a teenager, Murakami read writers Kurt Vonnegut, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Truman Capote, Raymond Chandler, and Raymond Carver obsessively and to the exclusion of Japanese literature, so that when he wrote own novel in his late 20s, he struggled so much that he wrote the beginning in English, then translated it back into Japanese. He has since translated the complete works of Raymond Carver into Japanese.
Murakami's books have many references to American pop culture like McDonald's and jazz. A huge baseball fan, Murakami was at a game when he had the sudden epiphany that he could write a novel after all, and he began that very night.

His books are known for a quality of magical realism where strange, unexpected, and unexplainable things happen — like the secret staircase that changes everything in 1Q84. But Murakami himself lives an extremely disciplined day-to-day life. He wakes early — sometimes as early as 2 a.m.; enters the "black box" of his creativity in an almost trance-like state, writing for several hours; eats healthful food; trains for marathons and swims; shies away from publicity; and goes to bed by 9 p.m"

The Writer's Almanac

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


Wept on reading this one. This is exactly the kind of thing you keep storing away in your head all the time, precious wordless moments of communion and ease, amidst the utterly ordinary....

(in memoriam M.K.H, 1911-1984)

When all the others were away at Mass
I was all hers as we peeled potatoes.
They broke the silence, let fall one by one
Like solder weeping off the soldering iron:
Cold comforts set between us, things to share
Gleaming in a bucket of clean water,
And again let fall. Little pleasant splashes
From each others work would bring us to our senses.

So while the parish priest at her bedside
Went hammer and tongs at the prayers for the dying
And some were responding and some crying
I remembered her head bent towards my head,
Her breath in mine, our fluent dipping knives -
Never closer the whole rest of our lives.

Seamus Heaney

Shared by Jean, who has heard Seamus Heaney reciting this himself.


There is a gap between the old and the new - that gap gives you the fear. You are afraid. You want to be transformed but simultaneously you want to remain the old. This is the deception.

You want to grow, but you want to remain you. Then growth is impossible; then you can only deceive; then you can go on thinking and dreaming that something is happening, but nothing will happen because the basic point has been missed.


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Your face, an open book

Tonight of Yesterday

The evening slips you into it, has kept a place for you
and those wildwood limbs that have already settled on
the morning. The words you have for it are flyblown now
as the dandelion you'll whistle tomorrow into a lighter air.

But tonight, your sleep will be as round as your mouth,
berried with the story of sunlight finally run to ground.
You are all about tomorrow. The moon has your name
memorised: the curl of your back, your face, an open book.

Vona Groarke


"Therefore, now, Ananda, be lamps to yourselves. Be a refuge to yourselves. Seek no other refuge. Take the truth as a lamp. Take the truth as a refuge. Seek no other refuge."

21. Mahaparinibbana Sutta, (Pali, 5th Century BC)
Page 78, The Traveller, 'The Rivered Earth', Vikram Seth

Monday, January 9, 2012

That you may hear me

...That you may hear me
My words narrow occasionally
Like gull-tracks in the sand

Or I let them become
Tuneful beads
Mixed with the sound

Of a drunk hawk’s bell
Flick me your wrists…..
Soft as grape skin – yes

Softer than grapeskin I make them
Which is a kind of treachery against the world

You who clamber
Over all the desolations of mine
Gentle as ivy....

Christopher Logue, Red Bird

Winter Syntax

A sentence starts out like a lone traveler
heading into a blizzard at midnight,
tilting into the wind, one arm shielding his face,
the tails of his thin coat flapping behind him.

There are easier ways of making sense,
the connoisseurship of gesture, for example.
You hold a girl’s face in your hands like a vase.
You lift a gun from the glove compartment
and toss it out the window into the desert heat.
All of these moments are blazing with silence.

The full moon makes sense. When a cloud crosses it
it becomes as eloquent as a bicycle leaning
outside a drugstore or a dog who sleeps all afternoon
in a corner of the couch.

Bare branches in winter are a form of writing.
The unclothed body is autobiography.
Every lake is a vowel, every island a noun.

But the traveler persists in his misery,
struggling all night through the deepening snow,
leaving a faint alphabet of bootprints
on the white hills and the white floors of valleys,
a message for field mice and passing crows.

At dawn he will spot the vine of smoke
rising from your chimney, and when he stands
before you shivering, draped in sparkling frost,
a smile will appear in the beard of icicles,
and the man will express a complete thought.

Billy Collins

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Happiness that doesn’t depend on what happens

"Nothing makes me feel better — calmer, clearer and happier — than being in one place, absorbed in a book, a conversation, a piece of music. It’s actually something deeper than mere happiness: it’s joy, which the monk David Steindl-Rast describes as “that kind of happiness that doesn’t depend on what happens.”

 The Joy of Quiet, Pico Iyer. Article here.

A film on Bon

Mustang Jhong Cave

Bon is Tibet’s oldest spiritual tradition, before Buddhism. This film on Bon, which was shot in Nepal and the Menri monastery in Northern India, was the Offical Selection at the Montreal festival. Came upon one of the producers, Rose Gordon, on LinkedIn.


You can buy a DVD for $20 plus shipping, directly from Rose. They also need donations to support the work at Menri monastery, the Mustang project, pending film expenses, and for distributing the film. All collaborators worked for free. Contact Rose Gordon.

Page on Facebook, here.

Photo from Google Images.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Borrower Evaluations

Regular evaluations are done by Rang De (http://www.rangde.org/evaluations) to ensure that the loans we give are well-utilized and borrowers are happy. Click on image to enlarge and read text.

Knock out Poverty. Be a Social Investor. http://www.rangde.org/

Rang De was started by the young entrepreneur couple, Ram and Smita.

Wabi-sabi, or Beauty is a Dynamic Event

"In today's excerpt - wabi-sabi, the Japanese aesthetic whereby greatness exists in the inconspicuous and overlooked details, and beauty can be coaxed out of ugliness. Wabi-sabi is central to the idea  of Japanese beauty and has the same importance to Japanese aesthetic values as the Greek ideals of beauty and perfection do in Western thought:

"Truth comes from the observation of nature. The Japanese have tried to control nature where they could, as best they could, within the limits of available technology. But there was little they could do about the weather - hot and humid summers, cold and dry winters, and rain on the average of one out of every three days throughout the year, except during the rainy season in early summer when every¬thing is engulfed in a fine wet mist for six to eight weeks. And there was little they could do about the earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, typhoons, floods, fires, and tidal waves that periodically and unpredictably visited their land. The Japanese didn't particularly trust nature, but they learned from it. Three of the most obvious lessons gleaned from millennia of contact with nature (and leavened with Taoist thought) were incorporated into the wisdom of wabi-sabi.

A Few Short Notes on Tropical Butterflies

My gift of serendipity worked again. Picked up this book at a second-hand bookshop, an author I've never heard of. Brilliant stories, and spanning so many fields: bacteriology, mountaineering, anatomy, neurology, entomology. I love books that open up new worlds for me.


"As the sun went down this evening, I went for a walk along the dunes again. The sky was a raging pink in front of me. There are no monarchs to be seen yet. When I walk through the sand dunes, I think of Vladimir Nabokov, the most famous amateur lepidopterist of the century. He was obsessed with butterflies. One morning in 1941, he walked down a mule path in the Grand Canyon and found a species of Neonympha butterfly. Up at the top, his wife, Vera, wearing a black dress with a white lace collar, also came across two previously unidentified species. Butterflies have the capacity for infinite variation. They are changing continuously. Nabokov would have agreed with my grandfather. He didn't believe that such beauty and perfection were required by nature for survival.

The average span of an adult monarch butterfly is four weeks. Four weeks to be a momentary burst of color and to reproduce. There is a painful transience to it all. They are nothing but a drop of colour in the ocean. A fleeting moment that dazzles and blinds, and then is gone forever.

It is fitting that I find myself by the ocean. I have wanted to sail for years. Being out of touch with land, carried on currents and winds that we cannot control, must be liberating. How enticing it is to imagine being at the mercy of the elements. There are boats out at sea tonight, flashing mooring lights toward the shore. It is reassuring to see them out there. And in those distant glimmers, across the coal-dark water, I can see my own past, drifting just out of reach."

Page 112, A Few Short Notes on Tropical Butterflies, Stories by John Murray

"The people in John Murray's striking new collection of stories are control freaks: whether they are obsessive collectors of butterflies, dedicated trauma surgeons working in dangerous war zones or carpenters making sure that the joins and angles of a house are solid, these characters all see their vocations as a means of containing the chaos and uncertainty around them. They are believers in rules and devotees of order, people scared of the random dangers of the world and even more frightened of their own turbulent emotions."

Let us prepare!

Can one possibly go wrong listening to Douglas Adams? :) :)  My motto for 2012:

"Let us think the unthinkable, let us do the undoable, let us prepare to grapple with the ineffable itself, and see if we may not eff it after all."

Douglas Adams

This morning's theme music, read obsessive repeat: Diversity, in here: http://soundcloud.com/dreimalbla

Sunday, January 1, 2012

The Coming of Light

Even this late it happens:
the coming of love, the coming of light.
You wake and the candles are lit as if by themselves,
stars gather, dreams pour into your pillows,
sending up warm bouquets of air.
Even this late the bones of the body shine
and tomorrow's dust flares into breath.

Mark Strand

Waking at Night

The blue river is grey at morning
and evening. There is twilight
at dawn and dusk. I lie in the dark
wondering if this quiet in me now
is a beginning or an end.

Jack Gilbert


"Arriving at each new city, the traveler finds again a past of his that he did not know he had: the foreignness of what you no longer are, or no longer possess, lies in wait for you in foreign, unpossessed places."

From 'Invisible Cities' by Italo Calvino

Rediscovered this excerpt, here.

Photo: Luang Prabang, Laos

Myths, and the Powers of the Psyche

"An altogether different approach is represented by Carl G. Jung, in whose view the imageries of mythology and religion serves positive, life-furthering ends. According to his way of thinking, all the organs of our bodies - not only those of sex and aggression - have their purposes and motives, some being subject to conscious control, others, however, not.

Our outward-oriented consciousness, addressed to the demands of the day, may lose touch with these inwards forces; and the myths, states Jung, when correctly read, are the means to bring us back in touch. They are telling us in picture language of powers of  the psyche to be recognized and integrated in our lives, powers that have been common to the human spirit forever, and which represent that wisdom of the species by which man has weathered the millenniums.

Thus they have not been, and can never be, displaced by the findings of science, which relate rather to the outside world than to the depths that we enter in sleep. Through a dialogue conducted with these inward forces through our dreams and through a study of myths, we can learn to know and come to terms with the greater horizon of our own deeper and wiser, inward self. And analogously, the society that cherishes and keeps its myths alive will be nourished from the soundest, richest strata of the human spirit.

Page 4, The Impact of Science on Myth, in 'Myths to Live By', Jospeh Campbell

The Return of Odysseus

When Odysseus finally does get home
he is understandably upset about the suitors,
who have been mooching off his wife for twenty years,
drinking his wine, eating his mutton, etc.

In a similar situation today he would seek legal counsel.
But those were different times. With the help
of his son Telemachus he slaughters roughly
one hundred and ten suitors
and quite a number of young ladies,
although in view of their behavior
I use the term loosely. Rivers of blood
course across the palace floor.

I too have come home in a bad mood.
Yesterday, for instance, after the department meeting,
when I ended up losing my choice parking spot
behind the library to the new provost.

I slammed the door. I threw down my book bag
in this particular way I have perfected over the years
that lets my wife understand
the contempt I have for my enemies,
which is prodigious. And then with great skill
she built a gin and tonic
that would have pleased the very gods,
and with epic patience she listened
as I told her of my wrath, and of what I intended to do
to so-and-so, and also to what's-his-name.

And then there was another gin and tonic
and presently my wrath abated and was forgotten,
and peace came to reign once more
in the great halls and courtyards of my house.

by George Bilgere

Blog Archive