Saturday, January 24, 2009

Smell of Rose

What are the most memorable moments of your life? When you felt peace, when you felt that in that very moment the world was exactly as it should be, when you felt that you are at the right place at the right moment, when you almost felt that you understand existence, when everything was just all right. If you seriously count them there are not so many, are there..? You have lived twenty, forty, sixty years, and there have been only a handful really
 penetrating moments, have been not..? Perhaps, when you watched 
a colorful sunset, and the beautiful play of lights on deep orange clouds left you speechless; Or perhaps, on a mild
afternoon, when you smelled a rose, sitting on a soft garden grass. The gentle wind touched your skin, and the sweetness of the rose was unspeakable; Or perhaps, when you watched your lover sleeping in your arms. You sensed her/his unmistakable smell, that meant you the pure love that moment. The warmness of her/his body, the soft rising and falling of her/his chest, and the small movements of her/his eyelids told you: the world is perfect, after all; Or perhaps, when you sat that afternoon at the dining table, and around the table you saw your children, maybe the grandchildren as well. You looked that special spark in their eyes that only children have. Listened the warm tinkling of their joyful laugh. Then you knew that life worth it. You knew it for sure.

Was this experience really bound to that special subject -t
he sunset, the rose, the lover, the child- you contemplated? Or your amazement of sunset, your pure love to your lover and to your child opened up some deep blockage, and let you experience the life in its eternity and entirety; and beyond even that, maybe for a split second the pure existence itself. Think about it 
for some time. In that very moment were you aware that you are watching the sunset; In that culminating point when you held your lover and felt the perfect happiness and tranquility, were 
you really conscious about the pleasure of owning and being owned? I am not asking one second before, or after - I am asking exactly that fleeting moment, when you were content. All your worries and hopes, your image of self, were all these present in that very moment, or there was no subject and no object, s/he and me, before and after, only the experience that melt all separation into the sensation of very existence here and now. When the sunset were you and you were the sunset; when that very spark in the eyes of your beloved one was you and you were the spark. Then you were utterly tranquil and content as your self opened up and united with that incontrollable flow of Universe, without a second thought.

That very moment is the beginning of meditation. Here in the dhamma-hall we all are practicing that very moment. We force our mind to detach from its created realm, by focusing our awareness to the subject of meditation. This links us back to what is 
real and true. In everyday life it happens when something really spectacular happens, because we are so deeply buried into our age-old habitual patterns, that we need so
mething extraordinary to grab our consciousness out from the cage of that world it has been 
creating to itself. Here
 in dhamma-hall the breathing makes it. In and out - no thought - in and out - no worries - in and out - just peace - in and out - and clarity.

There is this spark in every one of us. But we bury it, and, after a decade or two, it becomes barely perceivable. We bury it under unbearable weights of heavy
 thoughts, fears, unimportant dreams. We become so attached to them, that
 we forget the spark that actually lights everything, yet, lays out of anything. We start to live on the very surface of our minds, where all the trash is accumulated. We jump from one fear to the next, then to the next hope. Endlessly. All in our lives after a certain age we are in keep running. From one to another, another, then another again. Then we become frightened; we do not see the spark anymore, we do not find meaning anymore. But we do not stop, instead we double the force with which we gather more this and more that. Then we die.

Here we do not want that endless circle. Therefore we unite with the Universe trough our breathing. Just as you united trough the sunset, through the rose, through your lover, through your child, through what and whoever that opened a window for that moment to the truth. When the mind calms down, when there is no distraction anymore, when there is no hope and fear, when the subject and the object melt into one, then even the breathing, the final aid fades away. What is left behind, where there is no thought, no emotion, where no object and no 'I' and no sensation is present? That is for you to find out - That is who you really are...

Monday, January 19, 2009

Lift Your Arm

...Presence. Full awareness of here and now, and nothing else; that is in those eyes. Depth and simplicity. Life is deep and simple. The truth is simple. The truth is what exists in this very moment. Those things are simple; a touch on your skin, a fleeting warmness in the body, the sound of a bird, a vanishing memory of a long dead friend. From this point we have a choice to make: to penetrate further in depth into this reality, or creating a new world using these sensations as building blocks. Until we know what we are doing, both ways are beautiful; Until we are not bound to our creation, this ability of mind to abstraction is magical.

My teacher, U Nandasiddhi said: The most important thing that you should take with you from here is t
hat your mind always should know what it does. If you eat, you should know that you eat. If you walk you should know that you walk. If you breathe fast you should know: I am breathing fast. If You breathe shallow, you should know: I am breathing now shallow. If you move your hand you should know it.

You might say it is not mystical enough, it is too simple, it is easy. Really so? All right. Through an experiment I can show what he really meant. For that I will need your cooperation, though; let us play a half interactive game. You must sit now in front of the monitor, your hand laying on the mouse. Lift your arm, please! Just lift it up in air, then put it down.


Then, tell me, how did you do it?! Perhaps you have absolutely no idea; maybe do not even get first what I mean. Perhaps my lines set you more aware, and then you say that this muscle in the shoulder contracted, that other fixed, another again relaxed, etc. But I did not asked that either! How your mental decision of raising your arm become translated into a physical action?! You have no idea; it happened just like that... Even more, where, and how your self made the exact decision in which exact moment you start to lift your arm? You can keep thinking "I lift my arm, lift my arm" and nothing happens; Until a real decision is made, when without even t
hinking it trough "I lift my arm" it lifts. Try it! ... When and where exactly that particular decision was made. How? No idea, have you..? Any?! It just popped up, and happened just like that??? But if you have no idea how you decide, who really raises the arm, who hugs your lover, who lives your life?!?

Should I distract you even more? :) Before you are reading this line, were you aware of the push of the chair on your butt-whether there was more push on the left or right side, whether it was soft, in a small or large area? Were you aware how the shirt touched your skin, causing very gentle sensations? Were you aware of the dryness of your lips, the tension of eyelids, the warmness inside the abdomen, the ...

Then is it really you, who participate in this world? Even the grossest and most simple actions, and the grossest manners slip away from your awareness. So, are you really there on the other side of the screen, in this very moment? Or, rather, that is a semi-robot, and you are sitting in the cage of your mind, among your fears, powerful desires, and in wired habits that you have been carrying for God knows how long - sometimes, even you yourself laugh at yourself... Don't you? :)

Do you grasp the importance of this? We live so deeply in that world we created on our own that we barely perceive reality. It was a very simple question: How? not about the God, about the meanin
g of life, not about deep philosophy; nothing like that. Isn't that -ironic, hm? That we desire transcendental truths without being able to penetrate the truth of lifting arm; That we live our lives being a total alien even to our own body, but having so firm ideas about what the world is, how it should be, how it should not be, and how other people should or should not behave, what is good and what is bad. Does it sound sane? What truth such dulled minds can possibly gather?

And, soon or later, the truth, the true nature of the real world hits us; inevitably. When I say 'true', when I say 'real', I mean something absolutely down to earth, nothing misty. All phenomenon that exist out of mental interpretation, that exist here and now. Every now and then -when a person is not as we think s/he should be, when we do not get what we think we deserve, and ultimately when we are -or a beloved one is about to be ripped away from this existence by death- the corners of the illusory world, we have been keep creating, collide with reality. Like two spinning rectangular metal frames one within the other. Unless they exactly fit in one and other and have the same spin, that is when we live fully in reality, a collision is bound to come. Then we are forced to face reality. Then our fragile world is smashed by the powerful presence of the only entity that exists for real. Then our concepts we starve to hang on are shaken; or broken. Then we face that love goes, that good not at all always wins, that I am crying by my dieing sweetheart being totally powerless, that reality is a powerful flow which sometimes lifts up supporting our illusio
ns, and sometimes squeezes people into bloody mess. That reality couldn't care less.

Is that the real nature of this world? All of us felt it sometimes, I am sure. But if one does not understand how s/he lifts the arm, why on earth we have the arrogance to think that we know what love is or should be, what good is and how this or that person should follow that, what death and pain is? These are way more subtle phenomenon than a lifting arm. Yet, about these we have a rigid opinion, and if the world dears to be different we feel sorrow, annihilation, loneliness, we feel betrayed. Is that sane? Isn't that ironic?

The most suffering, the most pain is actually caused not by a cruel reality, but the tension that evolves when our play-world is matched against the incontrollable flow that we call Universe. So, then who causes and can end these sufferings: the Universe that rips our world apart, or we, who build it? After all what real control we've ever had? What control we had over coming to this existence? And instead of identifying our selves with that ultimate impulse, to enjoy and understand what we were given, we all got trapped in some dreamworld where we do not know a thing for real, not even the secret of a lifting arm, but cling for a control over fleeting illusions created by our minds. Insane. Control over concepts that melt away in the moment one truly starts to investigate them... Have you ever dared to face reality with clarity, instead of through the blurring shields of your rigid interpretations? Have you ever dared to see what love really is, what pain really is, what death really is? For that matter, what does life, and to be alive really mean? Have you ever dared to let it go, and just observe? Have you ever stopped and dared to see what it really means to lift your arm..?

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Stolen Umbrella

It's been three days I am here. The nights are cool, but the days are hot. The sun is even 
more unforgiving. It shines with amazing power, especially considering that it is winter now. Its rays almost push me back when I step outside. There is a basket of umbrellas in front of the dhamma-hall (meditation hall). The monks every day when we go to have our lunch take one from there against the sun. Today I too pick up one. It is from Japan, and has a very good quality. It has double layers, and blocks the heat very effectively. Under it the hot summer day turns into a warm spring one.

So, after lunch I arrive back to the afternoon session almost refreshed. I'm just continuing my walking meditation, when one of the y
oung Vietnamese monks comes and touches me, and calls with gesture. I am surprised. The meditation rules in Theravada tradition are very strict. We are not supposed to touch, to talk to each other; not even to hold an eye contact. Until this very moment all of them were strictly following these regulations, so I am wondering more and more what could have happened with him. We go to the basket of umbrellas. Then he unmistakably points to the umbrella I took for lunch, then to himself, then he repeats once more without a word. My God! Now I get it! Those umbrellas were not for share, they were owned. To understand this more, you must know that a Theravada monk cannot own only a very few things as his robes, a razor, a water filter, an alm bowl, and... and an umbrella. That is all. Imagine that you have nothing else in this whole world but these, and I take one of them... :) I do not know should I laugh, or stay serious. Anyway, I join my palms in front of my chest and bow, meaning: sorry man, I had no idea! He understands me and smiles.

Nevertheless, something has changed after this incident. There are about eight Vietnamese monks, who are 

studying this meditation technique with me. After my stealing the strict rule is somehow broken, and I realize that often some of them gives a smile, a friendly look. For several days this dumb pantomime goes on. Until the day of my personal interview with the chief abbot (Venerable U Pandita) arrives. From now on, every day he interviews two of us about our experiences, and I am the first one. They are already having the afternoon break when I return from the interview. I sit among them in front of the dhamma-hall, but my mind is still analyzing the chief abbot's words; He gave quite a many, for that matter. The planned time of our meeting was fifteen minutes, but he released me not until forty minutes had passed.

Suddenly I am aware that someone is sitting by me. I have become rather sensitive in the past nearly two weeks, and can sense an urge from the side. An urge for contact. I give a glance, and it is one of the young Vietnamese monks, the one with whom we played the most the pantomime in the past days. What should I do? He clearly waits me to start; and I really would like to, because I am very much interested in him. But there are all the senior monks around us; he could have more trouble than me, and...

Then I feel a gentle, shy touch on my arm, and he says: - Did you visit Sayagyi (the chief abbot)?- Yes. -I am still deep within me. I am interested in him, but nothing more comes out.
- And how was it?

I smile; no difference on this whole globe - this question reminds me to my MSc time, when we eagerly asked one and another about the professor's mood before an exam.
...And then we start to talk. After the break we go together to our accommodations, and talk all the way. About my past, about his, about my aims, about his, about my experiences, about his. He is Shin Santa Maggo, and has been a monk for eight years now. He was born in the Vietnamese countryside and one day, at the age of 13, he visited a Buddhist pagoda with his mother. He felt home immediately, and right there he said to his mom that he wanted to live this life and would be a monk.
- And how did your mother take it? Did she not fear to loose you?
- No, because I had an uncle, already serving in a distant monastery for decades. So, this life style was well known and respected in my family.
A few years passed, when in that particular monastery they were seeking new novices of his age, and then his uncle took him.
- ...And how often do you see your family?
- I do not miss them. I've never missed my home; only now I am missing Viatnam, since this is my first time to be so far away...
Maybe he misunderstood my question, anyway, I shall not force it... Until now, he was mainly focusing on theoretical studies. Now his teacher finds the time ripe to shift the balance to more practical studies. So, he has sent him here, to study the vipassana meditation. He is a very good meditator having very stable concentration. After at most two hours I have to have a walk. During these breaks I quite often see him doing his meditation perfectly unperturbed for three hours in a raw. Wow! After seven more years he will be a Dhammacharia, 'the one who knows the Dhamma (Dhamma-Buddha's teaching in this respect)'.
- Parhaps one day I will visit your monastery. :)
- Yes! You should come to my country! -he says with a smile.
We arrived to our apartments. He is found of languages:
- How do you say good bye in your language? ... Then,
- Viszlàt, he says in Hungarian.
- Xin chào bà, I say in Vietnamese, laughing - at least we've already learnt something! Although he always laughs even more: his Hungarian pronunciation is generally better than my Vietnamese...

Almost every day after this, we walk together, and both of us are excited to explore a way new world in the other. And at Last I feel I've got a friend, who understands my quest, with whom I can share such experiences that are ungraspable for the vast majority of people. At last someone, who is self-consistent; a rear gift that I could find only in a handful persons during my life. Someone, who needs no support, who needs no a way to show, but the same alignment of our individual paths bears the fruit of friendship. Who is mild, yet strong -another rear gift that I've never found... And at last I find such eyes. For that matter many monks here own such look. Look Bhikkhu Ashin Sangharakkhita on the left, or Sayadaw U Nandasiddhi on the right. Both of them are my teachers. At last when I look deep into these eyes I do not see misery, I do not see that they want anything from me, I do not see unfulfilled dreams, I do not see fears. At last there are no gripping hands, which want to fulfill with my existence out here some unbearable emptiness inside there. At last I can look into those eyes without feeling the sorrow I usually do; there is no total chaos and self torture as in most of the eyes I have ever encountered. But there I can see clarity, will, understanding, tranquility, and proud humbleness. I can see presence. That is what I have been looking for for so many years. And here it is; here they are... Thank You, God! Here I am...

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Golden Land - on my 1st and last days in Yangon

The arrival

The plane has been approaching the flat plain of Burma (Myanmar) for some minutes, now. The air is hazy, and the branches of river Ayeyarwady's delta reflect the light in an ever changing pattern, braking the the massive greenery of the vegetation. I am keep wondering about what the next few minutes will bring... It is a very poor country, ruled by military junta. Deliberately I am carrying as much money (no banks or ATMs in Burma, so, I ought to carry all my cash), that if anything turns bad I can pay for an outbound flight to Kolkata or Bangkok.

The first surprise hits me just before landing. Well organized buildings everywhere; in the close victinity of the airport, the apartments are simply luxurious, even to my western eye. The next surprise is the airport itself. It is not too big (though bigger than the Hungarian Ferihegy), nevertheless, one of the most modern airports I've ever visited -and I have been in many places! Wow - am I in the right country, or took the wrong plane?!

Customs - there they must show their true colors! My ultimate source, the Lonely Planet guide says that earlier everybody was forced to change 200 USD to local currency, kyat, to feed the government's hunger for foreign currency; that they might take away mobiles (well, I do not have), and if one carries, one has to register his camera (what it exactly means that is not quite clear to me). So, when approaching them, I am indeed a bit nervous. Hang on! I am shocked once more! The officers are smiling young ladies. Beautiful young girls, for that matter! OK, now I am even more nervous! :) Before I arrived to India I was expecting the Indian girls would be tempting - well, they are not (sorry India); However the Burmese... Smooth, creamy skin, lean, yet muscled body, nicely angled dark eyes, jet black hair, and some cool happy-shy smile... Well, let me get back to the customs; They are very polite, the procedure is very smooth; actually I am just over the smoothest enter to a country-I face more hassle when entering home! Amazing...

Anyway, I am outside now, and the air is hot, for that matter it is even more hot than in India. The Sun is fierce. God, and they call this winter! Some locals are hanging around, males are wearing the traditional longi, kind of skirt; some look quite impressive in their skirts with long black hair and lean bodies. Among them I recognize the guy sent by the monastery; we leave the airport.

On the way we pass by a huge golden statue arcing over the road saying: Welcome to Myanmar; Then another: Welcome to the Golden Land; Then at least two more - well, maybe less would be more, but thank you, anyway! The roads, parks are perfectly clean, well taken care of; What a relief after India (sorry India)! I get the clear impression that someone -guess who- wants me to get the impression that this is a nice country where everything is all right. That is not quite the case, though. I do not intend to raise any political issues here, but one should not forget that in this country there are still forced work camps, that there are miraculous disappearances among the opposing party members, that the organized view of Yangon was achieved by forced relocation some decades back, and that there is a heavy army presence everywhere on the streets - soldiers are well equipped, carrying modern machine guns and wearing bulletproof jackets.

In Yangon, and elsewhere. We now are already heading to the monastery that is located about 60miles from Yangon in the jungle. Soldiers are present everywhere, with discretion, though, generally in the background, but often holding checkpoints. Yet, sensing the reactions of the locals I do not feel threatened, and soon forget about them. I am sitting in the back of a pick-up, sharing the place with three nuns, who are also going to the forest monastery today (monks and nuns are separated in the monastery). I was told that we are on a highway -well... The road is very bumpy, I have been hitting my head into the roof already countless times. The situation gets even worse when we leave the road, and take the so called forest 'road'. Probably during monsoon it becomes muddy, so someone solved the problem laying rocks on the road; and not small ones. They are at least the size of my fist, and the Toyota jeep keep jumping like a crazy goat, and what is even more unfortunate that I am doing the same, trying not to hit the roof, and not to fall off.

-the story in the jungle TO BE CONTINUED...

Last day - Swedagon Paya

...One month is gone. On the same road back among gum trees. The villagers are harvesting them, and the parallel V-cravings make surreal patterns in the early morning light through the mist. The highway, that seemed calm one month ago after the Indian and western speed of life, now seems to be filled with busy people, running up-and-down like disturbed ants. I feel calm and detached.

I will have one full day in Yangon, before flying back to Kolkata tomorrow. I am considering just to sit in my room continuing the meditation. However, that very kind nun who welcomed and hosted me a month ago, encourages to visit the world famous Swedagon Paya, the most sacred Buddhist pilgrimage in Burma. I am hesitant; I have never been keen to see buildings, they just leave me cold. Nevertheless, it is only about a mile away, and the nun offers a letter from the monastery stating that I am a yogi (heh?), thus providing free enter to the stupa (otherwise there is 5$ entrance fee, plus 5$ for camera).

All right, I think, if the flow takes me there no problem. I can meditate on the way, and there as well. I have to cross a big park, and climb a hill. On top of the hill I am stunned. The huge Paya (stupa) is already in sight, hiding among the trees. This is huge, blindly shining gold in the sunshine. I am getting suspicious that this building is gonna be different. I enter through the northern gate to the raised stage of thetemple, and... I am just speechless! I do not like buildings, and especially do not like overdecorated ones. But this is just amazing, mind-blowing. Every single direction I look, there is something plain beautiful. Monks and pilgrims alike fill the main square around the stupa, and after some distance the countless smaller stupas and temples are standing in wild cacophony, yet, radiating some kind of contemplative atmosphere. People are praying, meditating, chanting there, or sleep, hoping for prophetic dreams. I do something that I've never done before; After the first two shots I leave, go back to the monastery, and change my film in the camera. I decide that if anything, this should be captured in color. I wait a few hours for the mild light of sunset, then I return. I deliberately wait until the Sun goes very low. The space between the buildings is already in shadow, and the white marble reflects the deep blue of the sky. Meanwhile, the golden peaks of the various temples are lit by the dark orange setting Sun. The mixture of the original color of gold and the red-orange light produces unbelievable glittering - almost unearthly.

According to tradition, after Buddha's death two merchant brothers brought Buddha's three hear to Burma, and built a stupa above the chamber where the hair was enshrined. Accordingly, the original stupa (which is about 50-100m aside from the main stupa recently; you can see it just in the right photo, and in the 1st BW pic, the smaller one) was built nearly 2500 years ago! Then, for about two centuries the stupa was forgotten, it almost disappeared into the re-growing jungle. When the great Buddhist empire of India, Asoka came to Burma, he barely could find the stupa in the wild vegetation. He restored the building, and the stupa has been taken care of ever since. The present form of Swedagon Paya is roughly 1500 years old. My God! Tell me, where we Hungarians were 1500 years ago..?

There are four big stupas around the main one, marking the main cardinal directions (and the four gates). Four middle-sized ones mark the four corners of the raised, square shaped platform. Beside these, there are sixty small ('small', well, you can see on the pictures...) stupas. These are shrines for the various Buddhas (the previous ones, and the coming Maitreya); for the planetary posts, where you can find good resonance according to your ruling planet in astrology; posts for the days; for zillions of laying, sitting, standing huge and small Buddha statues; for prayer and meditation halls. Just at sunset, however, pilgrims sit on one of the main squares, and meditate-or pray-or chant there, while watching the brilliant plays of the last strongly colored sun rays on the surfaces of tons of gold, rubies, and diamonds. Good Night, Buddha!

Monday, December 8, 2008


In the next, bit more than one month I will travel to a Buddhist monastery for an intensive meditation retreat in Burma. I will not be able to inform you during the retreat - since it is a retreat :D

Therefore right now I wish all of you a very Merry Christmas, and a Happy, Peaceful New Year! Enjoy the presence of your beloved ones, and if you can, give a flash of thought of me on Xmas eve, since I will be far from my family, far from the habit of Xmas...


Sunday, November 30, 2008

Were We Pure...

This terrorist attack on Mumbai made me wondering certain tings. I wrote in my previous blog that the eyes of one of those terrorists made me wonder the most. And the fact how precious, yet fragile the life is. My wondering can end instantaneously literally in each and every moment. And I should be thankful for every new day I get -and every old one I've got, for that matter. :)

Watching into the eyes of that young murderer, I think I realised something that might sounds provoking. Please do not take me wrong, that is not my intention! We are humans. The greatest among us, like Krishna, Zarathustra, Lao Ce, Buddha, Jesus, Muhammad, did not (want to? could not?) change the world, but kept the spark alive. We are an inevitable mixture of 'good' and 'bad'. Look the thousands of years of human history -it seems like the very same movie is being played in different costumes; look at the billions of years of history of animal kingdom; and last but not least look at the realm of the physical universe. There are and will always be forces against other forces in every level; there are always some who kill, and some being killed, in both symbolic and actual means. The dance of these forces writes the story of our world. Think of the ancient Chinese symbol of Yin and Yang. Without the dance of 'good' and 'bad', of the opposing forces, the story stops being told. In the physical world, as well as in the human realm - after all, the reality is one, even though it takes various forms. Every day, when you just spend a homey family dinner with the ones whom you love, you kill - to sustain your body. Our immune system kills millions of other living creatures just to keep us alive; to participate in the existence of this universe, we ought to kill, we ought to suppress other forces to give way to those we label as ours.

Of course, most of us do not shoot harmless people when walking on the streets, and one certainly feels some distinction here. We have a certain barrier, beyond which we stop hurting others. But - Until what..? Frankly, how many times in your personal life have you hurt someone gravely? Maybe someone whom you claimed to love... How many times you felt so deep anger that you would have liked to hit the opponent, or even did hit him for that matter; or felt to clear him out of your way at once. Surely, you did not do it in the end. There was that barrier.

But where that barrier comes from? From education, from fear of consequences. For how many of us it comes from inside, out of true love; true acceptance of the other being, of the other opinion in that certain moment..? No, if it arisen out of love not conditioning, the anger would not even be born. Because then you, we would realize how unimportant all such arguments are. That we have come to this world together naked, and one day, soon or later, we all leave alike. Until that we are bound. We create the external reality of one and other. And, after all, nothing has any importance what so ever, except what world we create to others, who and what (!) share this existence, at this time with us.

Be honest: what reality do you offer to your fellow beings? To your beloved ones, to the ones whom you dislike, and to that poor animal whose skin was used to make your shoes or belt, or your medicine was experimented on. Is your attitude, the way you look others, is it really utterly pure, compassionate, selfless, uplifting, filled with unconditional love -as you think the world should be? At least mine is not. Neither of those young terrorists.

Clearly, they did not have that barrier we others do, or put it to an other perspective: their barriers lied much further out than that of the mass of people. The barrier, until they are ready to hurt. They might have had different conditioning (surely); They might have had more rough experiences that taught them something different; They might have been taught, trained to overcome their fear, compassion and let those negative forces to burst out of them into the physical world, and eradicate other human beings from existence.

Apart this, I do not see much qualitative difference between them and me. And you? Were you be much different from them if you were trained by your parents, by your adult idols, by all whom you admired to kill for higher good since your childhood? Were you, really..? Do not you really have a dark side that could have been conditioned by people and circumstances to be more apparent -far more apparent? Are you really strong enough, and good enough that whatever circumstances you were put as a baby, the outcome certainly would be someone we call a good man? So, that is what I mean...

There might be purely evil man on this globe, but I have never seen or heard or red about any single one, whom I could say about: s/he is the evil in human form. On the contrary, what I saw, red and heard is that circumstances could turn quite ordinary people into evil (I could refer here from handful psychological experiments to the Holocaust, but I'd rather not to). This tells me, that all the troubles lay within us, ordinary, everyday people. Deep down, hidden. Hidden, suppressed in me, in you, and apparent in some others.

The other day some of us were discussing things with a Buddhist monk. One lady expressed her sorrow by the terror one can find in this world; the wars, diseases, sufferings, tears, the pains that one causes to another. The monk said:

-We belong to here. Were we pure, we would live in heaven. Something that is made of the qualities of a different realm, is bound to be present there, not here. But we are part of this realm. We have been growing into this universe, from these very conditions. The soil, the water, the sun ray that made our very beings to grow into existence, are made of anger, envy, hatred, compassion, love, joy, hopes and fears. This is the human challenge. 'Good' and 'bad' are both the building materials of each and every one of us and we have to accept that we are organic part of this universe, with every single cells of ours.

There is no a separated good and innocent self, and the bad world out there; The universe is manifested in our beings, therefore we inherently carry all of its gifts and burdens within our fabrics - our very existence in
this world is the prove that we belong to all of its sufferings, whether we cause or bear them.

* Photo from:

Friday, November 28, 2008

"War on Mumbai"

I borrowed the title from the news - but it feels kind of true. I have got many worrying emails; I thank all of those who wrote me, and yes, I am all right. I live further from south-Mumbai, where the actual attack took place. As a matter of fact, it is STILL going on, more than 51-hours after its start.

I do not know the situation now, but yesterday all day, and the night before that, the regular forces of police, army, navy, and anti-terrorist commandos seemed to work in total chaos. For about 46-hours in the news the head officers of the joint forces were keep saying that the final assault of the anti-terrorist forces is taking place, and it is matter of an hour or maybe two to exterminate those terrorists holed in two hotels and a Jewish building. With my own eyes I have seen at least four times it to be stated that all hostages are secured and safe. Yet, it turned out that even now there are hostages kept by terrorist. They do not know even the approximate number neither the hostages, nor the terrorists. Just an hour ago they said that there is only one -injured- terrorist left in Taj Hotel. A few minutes ago I got the news that commandos encountered unexpected heavy firing and blasts, and there must be more than one terrorist hidden; they number is unknown.

The whole story has started the night before last day. At 9.20PM young (around 20yrs old) men stranded on the shore of Arabian sea. They were extremely well equipped with machine guns, GPS, infra cameras, food, explosives, and loads of spare bullets and grenades. They divided into subgroups, and almost simultaneously they attacked the two most luxurious hotels of Mumbai, Taj and Trident, a popular cafe, hospital(s), metro, and the incredibly busy central railway station (CST).

My colleagues work in Colaba, i.e., where all these targets are. They called me there for this week, but I felt lazy, so, I postponed it. Choices... They had some work to do, so one of them wanted to continue it just for one more hour; but the other was tired and they left home. They went to CST and took their train to home. Just one hour after my colleagues left CST, one of the terrorist subgroups reached the station -choices...

They pulled AK47s and started shooting people indifferently. Some police officers tried to stop them: they did not stand a chance with their light hand pistols against the machine guns. Among others the head officer of the central railway police were shot dead; Among 50 others... The dispatcher's office is at a top place in the station, and he saw the entering terrorists when they started to throw some grenades and pull their machine guns. He immediately started to shout in the megaphone, that everybody standing around the side terminals should immediately leave the station, while those close by some train, must stay inside-, or rush into the carriages, and hide under the seats. Of course, the terrorists themselves heard the warning, too, so they put heavy fire on the office that was totally destroyed. Nevertheless, the dispatcher were keep repeating his warning in the microphone, hiding somewhere from the hitting bullets, until the firing ceased, because the encounter with the lightly armed but persistent policemen forced the terrorists to make their move to the metro. They did not have much time going after many hiding passengers and the alarming dispatcher. Then they took their way to the metro station (or to a hospital first - I am not sure). Already by that time the Mumbai anti-terrorist force was alarmed. They run after them down to the metro; but it seems they underestimated the terrorists. They might thought it was just some young unorganized gang. So, some of them were reluctant wearing even the bullet-proof jackets. Many were shot dead right there. Among others the head of the anti-terrorist group himself.

Similar scenes at all the other 9 points of the attack. The first wave of security forces could not damage them. However, the reply of those first inadequately armed police forces were so prompt, that the terrorists had to change their original plan. They did not have time to place their explosives under Taj, for instance, that alone saved God knows how many lives. Was it a bold or brave move from the police and the anti-terrorist group I cannot say. Certainly it caused large loss in police personnel, including several head officers, and, on the other hand, saved at least several hundred of civilian lives.

Ironic: about 20 days ago the CIA warned the Indian Intelligent Agency that some attack is under preparation against the Taj. They had strengthen the security around the hotel, but some days ago they have removed the personnel...

So, according their very accurate plan, the terrorists without any major loss took their positions at Taj, Trident, and Nariman, with hundreds of hostages. Each and every places the method were the very same: they entered the place (the halls of the hotels, the platform of the station, etc.) and started to spray bullets to the crowd. Tens of people were falling dead or injured at every places, others were running blindly, and if they could they locked themselves up into their rooms, or kitchen of the hotel, or wherever. And spent there several hours, or days as a matter of fact, and some of them still out there, without food, in terror...

Although, even by now the hotel personnel have saved also many lives by their brave, and I can say self-sacrificing action. Right when the strike started on the hall in Taj, for example, the janitor called many guests in the rooms, guiding them to immediately close their doors, turn off the lights, and block the airspace of the door with wet towels, to prevent entering the smoke from the burning hotel. This alone probably saved hundreds, as more than two days later hundreds of hostages were rescued from some of the closed rooms. Above this, however, many employees actively escorted the guest to escape from the hall and restaurant that turned into battlefield, and large number of them were acting as actual living human shield between the guests and the firing terrorists. That is why the large number of hotel personnel among the deadly wounded victims.

So the terrorists were in. They set up control-rooms at each places. With satellite phone connection, etc. They were highly equipped and organized, actually much better than their hunters. After the police failed arrived the commandos of the National Security Guard (NSG). Yesterday early afternoon I red in the news: "at Nariman NSG failed, the army takes over control". The joint elite forces of the Indian army and navy (Irony two: both held strong bases just in the victinity of the captured places), the commandos of NSG and the anti-terrorist group, armed police personnel rushed all over the streets. But do not imagine something you might have seen in some Hollywood movie. The battlefields are barricaded, but otherwise mass of onlookers are everywhere. Also, the commandos themselves seem to walk almost casually. Some of them with bullet-proof jacket, some of them just at the same place without that, chatting. They announced the final attack, then for several hours just nothing happened.

As I started: it seemed and seems like chaos, nobody really knows what should be done, things are evolving with their own momentum. Slowly. Terrorists are still holed in Taj, but in the other wing of the hotel they already started cleaning. Here in India everything co-exists at the same time; sweaty-salty, poverty-richness, death-life, terrorist-cleaner. Well, incredible India...

PS. I wonder what kind of personalities - motives, fears and hopes drove those young terrorists. Have you seen their photos? They are/were very young, maybe 20yrs, and at least some of them seemed to have intelligent, affable faces. Face of an other human being, not that of 'The Evil' that ones' mind immediately associates with the label: terrorist., and to the deeds they've done. Amazing... We have a proverb in Hungary, something like: "That is deep indeed, the well of a soul..."

Tonight I will make my silent pray for the victims. Victims of the innocents, and those NSG, police and other officers who gave their lives to save others'. And pray for those young boys, too, who terribly misunderstood something, and turned the white marble floor of Taj into slimy red.

* Photos from:,, and AFP