Monday, December 8, 2008

Farewell

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...



SEE YOU ALL BACK IN LATE JANUARY!

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: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com:

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: www.index.hu, http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com, and AFP

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Raju's Story


So, here I am. In one of the oldest living city in our globe; Kashi, Varanasi, or Benares. Its name is mentioned in Mahabharata epos, which dating goes back as much as about 4000 years. Mark Twain said: "Benares is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend, and looks twice as old as all of them put together." It is morning, now. The sky is quite hazy, so much that the sunlight seems fully scattered. I am off Banares by about 15 miles; There was a small deer park here roughly 2500 years ago. And there, here started the Buddha, the Enlightened One his teaching career. I was going to explore those ancient ruins, but life has something else to show...

I am somehow hesitant to enter to the ruins; so many tourists, and the whole scene combined with my present mood actually destroys all the illusions. So, I just buy some grilled hazelnuts and casually settle under a big tree. I eat it, then go -I tell myself, but even after a while I still prefer just lay by that tree watching people. And then:

-
Ah, hello!

a voice comes, from an over sized wheelchair. And there is a young man in it; a handsome face, and a severely crippled body. His legs are underdeveloped, they cannot be moved. The spine is severely deformed, so is his left hand that has been frozen into a grotesque gesture. His right hand is deformed, too, but he can use it to some extend, though it's keep shaking. He has a nice smile, and a bright, albeit extremely sorrow look.

After a while we call each other friend, and he tells me his story. He was born seventeen years ago, in Dharamsala, Himalaya, on a cold winter day, in January. Nothing is certain, though, because he has never known his parents.

-
I have no mom, no pappa, you know. You are a lucky man to have family.

Some days after the birth, he was left on the street on God's mercy. Probably because his crippled nature. The life is rough there, the food is a treasure. Someone, who cannot possibly work as a healthy man, does not deserve it...

However, that day God was merciful. There was a rich French man, leading a restaurant, who found him. Since he had quite some leftover food, he took the baby, who is known as Raju ever since. He fed him, taught him about far countries in a strange place called Europe, taught him French, English, some Hindi and Tibetan. He somehow managed to get him to the local school, when he reached that age.

But God's mercy is never for granted. The French man -father, as Raju calls him- had regularly been visiting his native place, France. One day, however, when Raju reached fifteen, his father did not return. Not even the next day. He was eagerly waiting his only 'relative' coming back -who, however, did not appear. Then, one day, he got a phone call. A call from France. It was his father. That time he was seventy five. He said to Raju that he had become seriously ill, and could not possibly come back in near future. God's mercy has left him on that very day.

He had to drop from school, because by himself he could not possibly manage his way through the mountain to the school. He settled at the government bus station near Dharamsala, in McLeod Ganji, as a beggar. But he did not like just begging. So, he learned all useful information about bus schedules, places to see, available accommodations, etc., and 'sold' those information as a kind of exchange for food and money.

-
So, you can say, that was kind of my job, you know.

He liked the tourists, because they talked to him as to a human. Although, the winter is tough there. He still remembers the bone-braking cold of his first winter on the bus station. He barely managed it. So, at age of seventeen, when the next winter approached, he decided to go to a warmer place - and, since there is a Tibetan community in Sarnat, he planned there.

He came through Delhi. The train station was not a nice place... Not for weak persons. Not for a handicapped one. He was robbed. Some gang took his savings, and wanted his mobile, too. He was not giving it. They pulled knife.

-
I give the mobile, but DO NOT the sim card.YOU MAY STAB ME, BUT I DO NOT GIVE THE CARD!

-he shouted. On his card there is the phone number of the only one, who had ever cared him; his distant father's. His courage saved his card, but nothing else. Nevertheless, somehow he reached here, Sarnat.
...
He sleeps under the naked sky, and has managed to collect malaria. From time to time the cold-hot shiver of fever runs through his body. Through his crippled body.

-
I am tired, you know. I am tired of life. No one talks to me, so, I am thinking. And I am thinking too much. I am thinking how bad life I've got. No hope. One day I have some food, on the other nothing. It would be better me to die; I'd have a better place up there. But today, my heart is happy! Because I found you, and we talk. When we talk, I am not thinking.

Buddhist teachers and monks alike are passing by. We are sitting by the big tree, with our backs against its massive trunk. They give a glance on him. A glance of distant, cold judgement: oh, a handicapped one. And with the same momentum they withdraw their interest. They focus back on the path of Buddha. On the meditation practice of compassion, perhaps? I grow angry. I do not want to see anything about the Buddhist ruins. I feel I learn far more; right here, right now, right with Raju-from Raju.

The sun sets, I've got to leave. I give him some money.

-
Oh, God, you see, if we were in my home I could welcome you, I could give you some information for exchange...
and starts to tell which hotel is cheap and good at McLeod Ganji. He wants a pay back.

-
But hey, are you hungry? I have money, now, at least I can invite you for dinner. I am not hungry; today I had a lucky day, and in the afternoon I could eat two (!) chapattis. But what would you like to eat?

I do not accept a dinner, but only a chai. We drink it - then I search for rikshaw. Both of our hearts grow heavy, feeling the depart to approach us. I give him a big hug, and a big smile, and wish him all the best.

But that smile is gone in the moment I am in the rikshaw. I am crying all the way back. The driver often gives a glance of wonder in the mirror. By the time reaching Benares, I am more or less in control of my emotion. Then I go to a restaurant. I order some mushroom masala, and they bring also two chapattis. In the moment when I see them I start my cry anew. God bless you, Raju!

Many persons were whining me about the difficulties in their lives; I was whining, too. But in my personal life probably Raju is the single one, who really has basis for that, and who does not creates his problems, but endures it. And endures it with bright acceptance, a certain grace, and a sad, but pure heart. Please, please! If you ever happen to see a handicapped beggar, do not judge him an unpleasant subject, but remember Raju. And if you ever happen to be around McLeud Ganji, find the handicapped Raju at the bus station, and give him something in behalf of me! He will pay that back with information and warmness. God bless you, Raju!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Hope in Setting Sun



Ganga aarti - the worship of Mother Ganga. In one of the holiest cities of Hinduism, and one of the oldest still inhabited cities of the whole world, in The City of Life: Kashi (Benares/Varanasi); Every evening after sunset young Brahmins gather on the river bank to perform their ancient rituals. Rituals that link us back to the spirit of Nature, that personify the eternal flow of the river, and transform it into the hope for the past, the present, and the future generations. The archetypal ritual elements of fire, holy water, flowers, smoke, movements, mesmerising chanting, all serve but one reason: to unveil our common root with the embracing universe, and lead us beyond reasoning. And, in spite all the commercialisation of modern age, in the grace of the Brahmins' movements there it lays indeed the hidden wisdom of those distant times shading into myths. Sense it. Feel it. And through the rituals go back to the past, and through the past reach the full awareness of the present moment. The awareness of your very existence.

Hope in Rising Sun

Chhat Puja - a worship dedicated to one of the most ancient Gods of Hinduism, Lord Surya, the Sun-God. People, like this lady, might travel across the continent-size country to reach at least once the holy bank of river Ganga. To bath in the water that eradicates all past sins, and perform the ritual to fulfill secret wishes. Is it silly..? She has been preparing for the great ceremony; she has been fasting for three days. No food, and no water. Then, she came to here, way before sunrise, to lit a candle, sit, and pray. Only God knows what is in her mind right now; what memories,-painful and happy alike- might have arisen. Clearly, she is withdrawn. She is in her own world now, in the world of her sins that she wants to undress today, or of wishes she wants to accomplish. ...

...and in the moment when the sun, Lord Surya Himself, appears above the dawn mist of the river, people jump up, hands straight towards Him, and welcome Surya with a shout that rises in one single moment from thousands of tongues. Then, those participating the ceremony marsh towards the cold water of Ganga. The long await is over. The last torture of coldness, and the hope of a new day gives a hope of a new life. Maybe without the old sins... I hope she made it; a restart.



Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Ganapati Bappa Morya

Lord Ganesh is the God of wisdom. Ganesh is the elephant headed son of Shiva and Parvathi. Ganesh is believed to be the harbinger of good luck who removes all obstacles to success. He brings prosperity and keeps natural calamities at bay in the lives of those who worship him. This ten-day festival begins with the installation of the deity, who is then worshipped daily till the immersion on the final day. Idols can tower 10m high and weigh several tones. On the tenth day, serpentine processions fill the streets and with the accompaniment of drumbeats and music the image of Ganesh is immersed in the water. Devotees chant 'Ganapati Bappa Morya' which means Ganesh, Daddy, please come back soon next year.

...and you can see me celebrating it in a village-like small town, Panvel, near to Mumbai. I was a bit lost, since had no idea how to dance at the beginning; But we enjoyed ourselves, nevertheless:

video

Friday, October 10, 2008

Eddie Wedder: Guaranteed - Into the Wild Soundtrack

As it was coming from within..:

On bended knee is no way to be free

lifting up an empty cup I ask silently

that all my destination will accept the one that's me

so I can breath


Circles they grow and they swallow people whole

half their lives they say goodnight to wive's they'll never know

got a mind full of questions and a teacher in my soul

so it goes...


Don't come closer or I'll have to go

Holding me like gravity are places that pull

If ever there was someone to keep me at home

It would be you...


Everyone I come across in cages they bought

they think of me and my wondering

but I'm never what they thought

got my indignation but I'm pure in all my thoughts

I'm alive...


Wind in my hair, I feel part of everywhere

underneath my being is a road that disappeared

late at night I hear the trees

they're singing with the dead

overhead...


Leave it to me as I find a way to be

consider me a satellite for ever orbiting

I knew all the rules but the rules did not know me

guaranteed...


LISTEN IT IN THE LEFT-SIDE YOUTUBE-BOX OR HERE


Friday, October 3, 2008

Push the Trigger

Thank You! Thank You, God...

I have come into existence; I was given the power to live. From the Nothingness, the fragmented power of life force - the dreams and fears aroused into existence, and were united into a small, fragile container. That I call me. And this whole world was ready for me, it was awaiting me. Supported me by love and care, pain and suffering. It has been giving the air I breath; the food to build my form up; experiences, coming into contact with my innermost core of being through my senses, and nourish my inner tendencies; and the space that let me grow.

And I grow. The dreams I was given embrace the external world -in a realm deep within me, lying way beyond the sphere of my conscious knowledge- and form something new. Shape and reshape the various energies of the universe, to create something unique. Nobody ever was able to give exactly the same response, and nobody ever will, after I merge back into the Dumb Nothing. In the next moment. Then, I, too, will already be someone else. But in this very moment I still am that I am. And the innermost tendencies push me; An inevitable reverse flow starts and rush into existence trough me. They come through my eyes, through my hands, and I push the trigger.


Something miracle has just happened... The formless has taken a form. God has just come to this very world. He, the formless, trough the vast complexity of hidden tendencies revealed Himself, and has become a play of light and shadow. On a photograph. And He puts his palms together and looks back to me. Smiles, and says: "Bless You; God bless You, Son!"




With this thought I give a thank for winning my first award (for this photo):







Saturday, August 16, 2008

'It's the Journey'

These thoughts are inspired by discussions in this blog. I suggest you to go there and read those chilling thoughts by yourself, but, in brief the main conclusion is that it is the journey what counts, not the final destination.

Is it really so..? You know, recently I have been thinking a lot about these questions (just read the citation by my photo icon on the left:). For long, I, too, thought that 'it's the journey'. Though not anymore; not quite. If it was JUST the journey -irrespective of its result and direction- why do you start it at all? After all, life as such is a journey itself. Within and without you. Just sit down and do not move for a hundred years, that is a journey, too. Life goes by you, just like the fields pass by while sitting in a train. Life goes through you in the throbbing of each and every cells.

But how many of us was really born to meditate still on the top of a mountain peak for the entirety of his life? No, most of us need to move. No, simply experiencing the flow of life, that is the journey itself, is not suitable for each and every one of us. No, I think, it is something more than a random journey itself...

Why do you feel the urge to move ahead? Why to create something, whether it is a material good, a family, an art performance, or a photo? Because we are pregnant of dreams. The quality, the 'direction' of the journey has to match the root, the forces hidden deep down in our unconscious, in the realm of dreams. In all of us there is a creative force, which wants to achieve something; on a certain, unique way. Something, which usually hidden from us. A force, which urges us, which does not let us rest, which wants to create a specific journey for us. The determination to create, the effort to move ahead are all rooted there. If your way is aligned to this momentum, then you live as you should be. Only then it is the journey. 'Coz, you let this motive to blossom. What blossom, it does not matter; whether it is worth for others, whether it is a great or tiny accomplishment for mankind, it does not matter. But the journey only is THE journey, if it fulfills the deepest dream of the Soul.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Cup of Coffee

It has been raining heavily for days. I was told that a country cannot be more different from Finland than India. Well, they were wrong. During monsoon it just has the same feeling, it generates just the same mood as the ever gray Finland, albeit in a bit warmer edition. I sit in a lodge under palm trees, slowly sipping my cup of coffee.

Oh, that smell... It brings the smoothness of the milk, and richness of the air of a summer afternoon enclosed in the coffee. And the warm cup warms me up, too, carries the essence of life, and brings back memories, via the desert of time and space, when I took similar sniffs among friends.

And that taste..! I drink it almost black, but with just a little bit of sugar and milk. That taste is also the life itself. It is bitter. But the little sugar gives a sweet aftertaste. It is an inseparable mixture of sweetness and bitterness, which play with one and other, and force me to take another small sip. And I come into play, too, to finally decide, whether it is sweet or bitter. Just as life... And that small milk gives such a pleasant creamy smoothness that the sips one by one follow each other. I am very much aware of the whole process, as well as my tiniest reactions to it.

Coffee is an excuse. Excuse to stop the fast stream of everyday habits, to sit down, just for sitting. If there is a cup of coffee by you on the table, people don't start to ask silly questions, like why are you sitting there? Is anything wrong with you? Why do you do nothing? No, with coffee, they are convinced that I am doing something. After all, that is healthy if we always do something. Otherwise hidden disturbing contents of the unconscious might arise.

Oh, friend, how wrong you are... I am not drinking coffee. I am meditating. The rituals of coffee-making are just like the deepest religious rituals. To find the perfect balance of the three ingredients is difficult. It requires attention. Awareness of the present moment. It links me back to the basics. Liquid and powder; measuring them, keeping in mind as definable variables the needed amount of coffee, water, with various thickness of milk and amount of sugar, for a proper mix. And I have created something. What? That it is worthless? Oh, friend... Not the end product what counts, but the process of creation!

Meanwhile I have prepared myself. Prepared to detach from the everlasting ripples of my thoughts, from fears in past, from hopes in future. I am finally right here, right now, with my cup of coffee. My heart beats a little bit faster. Oh, its effect started. Just like psychedelic drugs, it alters the consciousness. But it does it so smoothly that most people don't sense it. For them it is already a habit. But it does bring clarity. It is very polite, though. This clarity is not overwhelming, just above the threshold of sensation. But it is there. And you can let it expand. If you allow it, it comes. As I said, it is a polite alteration. :)

People are passing by, and they think I fit perfectly in their habitual pattern. But I am out of that. I am with the now, here, with my cup of coffee. Memories sometimes pop up. No worries. I observe them freely, and let them go, if and when they want. No need of anything. I do not want to get rid of anything, to achieve anything, just to taste the next sip, sense my heartbeat, and be this clarity. Hehe :) During my meditation retreat the best meditations consistently were following the afternoon tea-break. Maybe I am the yogi of coffee-yoga! :D


Still, on other days, coffee is a social excuse. Again a pause. When there is an excuse to stop every day's hassling, come together and just enjoy each other's company. Enjoy the breath of the summer afternoon, the voice of our friend. What he says? It may or may not matters. After all, we all are small human beings. We may or may not be right. The truth is not in what we say. But in the fact that we say it...

(Image is illustration from web: http://www.coffeelab.com/coffee/coffee_roaster.jpg)

Play on Stage

Finally it is over... This tiring pointless mud-wrestling at her stage. She was standing there surrounded by the aura of misery like a heavy fog.

I had faced it many times in various persons. Why is it SO difficult people to understand that if they really want a change, they have to change themselves; and if they plan to start the change tomorrow that tomorrow never comes. One has to start it right here, right now. Why is it SO hopeless to get that if they are applying the same habitual problem-solving-pattern they used for decades and the same heaviness (tamas) that brought sorrow results countless times, they ought to get the very same end again and again: multiplying the very same problem. Because they are not an innocent victim of circumstances, it is not a bad luck, not a curse; but built in the very fabric of what they are. Unless changing the relevant part of personality and approach itself, they struggle is just like that is of the man who is about to drawn and try to pull himself out by grabbing his own hair. He ought to sink deeper and deeper into the muddy bottom…

But no, they don’t get it… As some pervert masochistic ritual they love to taste it by discussing it over and over again like that alone would bring any change. Of course, without coloring its detail, like some tasty gossip, the theater would close… They should stop whining, come out of the labyrinth of misery built brick by brick by their very selves, face the reason, and start to work on the root-cause. Oh, that is not so nice. Instead they draw you into their stage, let play the drama with them. After all, acting alone is rather boring. Working alone is even worse…

So, they set up the scene, spicing with a pinch of hurt, just a little bit of clever dispute and false dignity, and you are right there in the mud. They are quoting some real or imaginary hurt, committed by you days before (that is still the better case…), when you were not bowed before their ego.

- I will start a new life tomorrow. But after all -she says- what you think is not entirely true. It is superficial. It is unfair. It is…

My goodness! This act always shocks me. WHY are you here then?! If it was totally irrelevant, you would not been here, would you? My words were just as much flown on air as thousands of others did. But you are here… The words (or they interpretation...) got stoppage by you; in you. You re-played that insult many times on the canvas of your mental cinema, colored it like a situation-game. You carried it for hours, for days. But it was untrue – oh, yes…


There is a nice story:

Two Buddhist monks, who vowed total celibacy not to even touch a woman, walk on the countryside. The weather is pleasant, the birds are singing, the sun is shining brilliantly after a refreshing rain. They reach to a small river, where they see a lady, who is rather frustrated.

- What disturbs you on this beautiful day? -ask the older monk.

- My old mother is sick and she called for me. But this small river is flooding and I cannot cross it; I fear it takes me.

The monks are thinking for quite some time, when the older one suddenly goes to the lady, takes her into his arms and carries her over to the other bank. The two monks continue their path, but the younger one becomes very silent and disturbed. They are walking for several hours, while at night they stop and set up a campfire. The younger one did not say a word during whole afternoon, but here it bursts out of him:

- We had made a vow. But today you touched a woman!

- Oh, brother! I left that woman at the riverbank long ago. Why are you still carrying her?!


Was it superficial? All right, then it tells something about my level, why are you still carrying it? Because it had something very true to tell you, my friend – about your very self. It did touch a sensitive point. May well be, my interpretation was false, but YOU found some truth in it that bothers you ever since. And instead of extracting it by taking this great chance to face with and understand something deep within you, you are standing here projecting your misery on me; continuing your old play.

That is perfectly all right, however, but I got bored of it. I tried to smile until now, but it is over. If anyone comes to me for help, I shall try my best. But it is enough to be a guest actor on other’s stage. So, one is really ready to work on himself when shares his problem, or we say a friendly farewell at the riverbank. Just as I leave all this stuff behind, now. And enjoy the soft touch of sunshine after the refreshing drencher, and try to accept and understand that we all are just humans. :)

Monday, August 4, 2008

Yoga - Here and There

There is something unique here. It is hard to grasp what I exactly feel, but I shall try now. Frankly, at home I did not really like yoga classes. For those, who are just a little bit sensitive, a class was a gathering of miseries, disturbed energies, unfounded hopes, desires, baseless expectations and prides. And only sometimes a little bit of real tapas (one of the ten yogic principles; meaning more-or-less: burning zeal in practice). More often than not it was just boring how the good teachers struggled to channel the distracted energies of the pupils – not to mention the bad ones... Classes were compromised; Compromised for the sake of ego.

First time in my life I have been feeling something different here… Have I changed, or the place is magical..? I felt this difference during my Buddhist meditation retreat, at the Iyengar Institute, and in my personal discussions with sadhus, who have devoted their entire lives to have access into the divine. In every bit of their teachings I feel some wisdom beyond expression, rooted in experiences of thousands of years of thousands of extraordinary minds; Rooted in age-old traditions of this land that are not partial imports but are at home here. And one can sense these living roots to the past. To the past where the irrational part of our consciousness was much more encouraged, when it was simply acknowledged as a valuable equal part of our existence. We had it, too, in the west. But we lost our connection to it to gain something else. 

Meanwhile, however, we remained the same human beings as we used to be, still having this ancient part of ours, deep within. And we leave it to be starved. We try not to accept its existence, but suppress it. Instead of real integration, when we ‘let our-selves’ to see the world from a vastly different point of view, and simultaneously express this hidden part through its own language; the language of conscious rituals, of powerful symbols/archetypes, such as, for instance, the fire, water, sacred animals, flowers, wonderful and terrifying visions, etc. Rituals, which clearly express our link to this organic world. Rituals, which after all for nothing else, but expressing that we all are part of the whole.

This ritualistic path of understanding is missing, even from the good yoga classes in the west (at least from those I used to visit). But it is all present here. The rituals, which are still organic parts of the present Indian society, shine in their bests when they are joined with deep intellectual understanding, uncorruptedly aiming the ultimate; that is, in the best yoga practices here. I feel some vast, pure force in all these classes, which is so powerful that it does not struggle with the individual distractions but aligns them with wonderful ease; or destroys…

Both the Theravada traditions and Iyengar’s yoga techniques are enormously powerful, pure, and divine. I feel my smallness very clearly when facing them. My most personal reactions, aversions, excuses, are all taken into account in the know-how of these techniques. For thousands of years they knew them… How unique I am? How unique a man is? Countless men and women went into the depth of their existence, in vastly different times and spaces, and yet, we all have been finding the same… Same weaknesses and strengths. What I think to be my most personal fears, progresses and fails are all explained in those holy texts in great detail, with no mistakes. This firmness of knowledge, this vast wisdom is just overwhelming. These ancient techniques know far more of me than I do of myself. This is embarrassing for my ego. It thought to be unique. Precious. But thousands of such tiny egos thought the very same, and thousands will, too, until they realize the truth: it is not like that.

Can the I (with capital letter, heh? :) bear it? It must. It must if it wants to carry on these paths. And they know it. Teaching is fundamentally different here. Masters know that those who remain in the class, they are serious students. They know that we all have taken a bath in the vision of our own hells and we all decided to go forward; That we are kind of over of a certain threshold. The very reason we all gathered here is to practice. Just to practice. For as long as it takes; For hours, for years, tens of years, tens of lives... So, they handle us accordingly as an adult; A matured adult.


These teachers are inhuman; Impersonal. Something immeasurably vast compare to any animated wisdom; A channel; Channel to the purity of existence itself. Both Theravada meditation and Iyengar yoga are hubs of this Light. And through them one can link to this eternal Light, the very same that was present thousands of years ago and shined for the ancient saints.

Monday, July 14, 2008

As It Is

I am sitting in my room and just over there is the garden bathing in the silver light of almost full-moon. A month after the monsoon started this country starts to look like a 'real land'. I mean the burned fields and pure hot rocks give place to life: the green color of life everywhere. Harsh sprawling green colors in various tones, calm the soul and says: We live again!

For days there is an impression growing in me; one serious difference between 'our' attitude and 'theirs' here. A fundamentally different approach to life. Certainly, this is generalization, and as such, it is oversimplification. Still...

Here they are opened up. Extremely social. We are more, much-much more individualist. We try to separate ourselves. In every level of our existence. Look at the cars, for example. Fancy design, luxurious interior which place of our body in full comfort. Perfect noise insulation. Soft music from the high quality sound system, and the car senses and judge by itself more and more situations (from the rain sensor to BLIPS) just to give us the illusion of separated perfect existence, the heaven. Everything goes as we would like to, and at last we believe for a moment that there is something eternal in this world. That this world is after all not a dark and cold vacuum, but a soft, warm home covered by beige leather on the seats and expensive wood on the dashboard. Or have a look to the shopping malls. Everything is carefully kept dust-free. They look pretty, harsh, and ever-new. Natural decay excluded... Brilliant lights, soft music, tons of goods to buy and finally you believe that you are happy. What do you really buy? Some stuff you need or satisfaction? To fill up something. Something that cannot be filled by this way...

Here the life and its tools are more rough. There is not enough resources to build up the illusion of everlasting goods. You feel the elements everywhere around: in cars, in homes. You are bound to encounter with masses of people everywhere again: at homes, while travelling, while working. The smells attacking you everywhere, too; smells of people, the heavy steam of trash water, and your own sweat. There is no illusion created. This is rough as life itself.

A sharp mirror. This roughness pushes you to face with reality. You are not separated, not alienated from the world, but deeply engaged with it. It is around and within you. In Europe you are bound to soften the environment otherwise you die. It led us to the creation of the illusion of security. What we are so stucked to. Here you can stay alive without altering the environment too much. For the price that within the natural tolerance of human body one has to deal with and accept much wider extremes. The roughness of life. No fancy car, no goretex cloth, no well insulated walls. You feel the cold of the winds, the wet of the rain, the burn of the sun, the ups-and-downs of existence. Hundreds of millions live like that.


But we humans do need some secureness, don't we? Where do they find it? Maybe inside? Inside... Beyond the complaining layer of personality in the layer of dreams and believes. And some special souls even deeper, beyond needs, beyond believes can face with what is there. The tranquil space of existence. Where everything is just as it is...

Friday, July 11, 2008

Friday, April 11, 2008

Brahmagiri

I am just walking towards a Shiva Temple by a lake. It would be nice-if it would not be so amazingly dirty... The bank of lake is full of trash, very distracting... People just come and through all kinds of trash over. This is one big minus: it seems to me that they do not even care at all about the close vicinity: if it is out of flat does not matter if there is fecal, rats, spoiled food, whatever. If it is under the window and you smell it all day, no problem-one can get used to it. :)

Suddenly I see an old couple just by the Temple. There is a huge park (not that dirty...) and roots of a big, old tree. Probably they were hired to dig it out. I sit down and watch them for about an hour, now. They are thin but determined. It is a melting hot day and they are full sweat. They are tired; it seems this tiredness has its roots in depth of decades... The man is angry with the wood, like he wanted to rip his all past out with it. They take a moment of brake-this is my chance: I jump and ask him for a photo. He tiredly agrees. His life-long fatigue burns into the film...

I thank him and give some bakshish, which I usually don't... As I turn back suddenly a Sadhu stands just in front of me by a holy tree. He has penetrating, deep eyes... Just out of instinct without thinking I show him the camera and 'asking' his permission for a photo. He nods. I watch into the viewfinder and I am almost blown away: his eyes are mesmerizing!

Then he calls me inside the deep garden of the Temple. We sit down by a huge tree giving deep refreshing shadow. I am a bit disturbed by the previous scene and do not look at him immediately. But I feel his gaze my side. I turn there and my suspicion was right: he has been watching me. His look is intense, deep, compassionate, caring. I calm down and the world opens; I feel the wind blowing the leaves of the tree, the rays of the Sun as fingers pointing the ground, and the beating flow of life.

He is Brahmagiri, a holy person since his age of 8yrs. Now he is just as old as myself. He studied English when he was a young child. He says that he will go to visit some Temple and he invites me. I ask him:
-Do you often go to distant temples?
He is silent for a while.
-No;
He looks around pointing the Temple, the tree, and his own body and says:
-Temple, Temple, Temple. Why travel?
...

-You know, I have come to India to learn yoga.
He keeps, staring at me, with not a single word.
-Would you teach me yoga? Asanas, you know...
-Yes, yes I do. Come with me tonight.
-Do you keep some class? -I am wondering.
-No. I have to go to Mumbai. I travel. Travel yoga.
He loughs full heartily. He stands up and mimics how one travels on bus, grasping the handles and fighting to keep balance on the moving bus.
-Keeping balance; yoga. You see? Everything is yoga! Bus yoga.
And smiles again.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Meditation Retreat

I attended the 10 days Vipassana meditation retreat in Igatpuri, India, and these were probably the most difficult and, yet, fruitful days of my life. The morning bell woke us up at 4am and we were meditating until 9pm, with one longer (2h) and two shorter brakes. There was a total restriction of anything unrelated to practical meditation (such as talking, reading, writing, etc.). There were even 5 Buddhist monks studying with us and, to be honest, after the first day’s ten hours sitting meditation I was seriously thinking whether I was up to this, but eventually –thank God- I decided to stay at the end.

There were more than three days preparing for the main meditation; during this period we concentrated to the sensations caused by the breathing in and around the nose area, step by step each day decreasing the focus of the concentration until it became to a small spot. During this time my mind stilled down considerably and became very sensitive. In the afternoon of the fourth day the main meditation started, where we supposed to extend our awareness from that tiny spot to the whole body maintaining the clarity of bodily sensations. In the second hour in meditation something started; until that I felt vibrating sensations separately, but then these separated sensations united and my whole body became mere vibration, fluctuation. Its solidity totally dissolved into this flow; and the pain caused by the long sitting too become mere vibration and ceased to be pain anymore.

Here we started to study the body/matter-mind interaction; how certain sensations draws the attention of the mind which reacts by aversion or attachment, then how the mind hangs on this particular sensation multiplying its strength and resulting irresistible aversion (e.g. pain), or craving – then observing how whole these processes are endlessly flowing ahead. I believe now, that what I see sometimes, that white, foggy, vibrating light is actually this vibration. I saw it this time as well, and the sensation and the sight were vibrating exactly for the same rhythm.

We were told not to react to any sensation, just observe it with as much clarity as possible; not to wish to have the sensation of dissolution/vibration, not to feel aversion if only gross sensation what we observe, because otherwise we just repeat our old patterns, instead of eradicating them.

On the last three days I was meditating in cell and I think this isolated environment helped; until I was continuously sweeping my consciousness over the body to sense the flow. But then I tried to open my concentration and instead of focusing to certain part just observe the vibration all over. And then I ‘sank’ further; I left behind the thoughts (which were still arising sometimes, but ‘above’ me); then that usually unconscious level where the mind reacts to those subtle sensations; then as I opened to the vibrations my I ceased to be a solid entity, too, and even the ever changing vibration become somehow distant and at the bottom of everything, as well as in between the two extremes of a vibration (whether in the body or mind, same) there was something like a totally tranquil ocean, with unmoving presence. What I had experienced before, but in a sense from ‘above’, watching it from a distance now became the only thing. It permeated everywhere, still I could not say that it was something, and maybe the tranquility the only attribute I really could attach to it. On all the last three days it happened and took for several tens of minutes. I felt in a sense blessed, though did not feel crying anymore.

(PS. photos are illustrations from web. I had decided not to take camera with me, as I had intended to go to an inward journey...)

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Eyes that tell a story...



They let me in their home, offer a chai and when I try to argue (thinking of my stomach and the millions of bacteria which might be in that water...) they say that they are the very poorest, so I should respect they invitation. And I do. We barely can talk but there is some deep contact nevertheless. Two world have met here, now...

Could I live here? With my European background probably not, unless I am forced to. But it is human, too. I had prejudices but now I feel we are equal; we all share the very same ups-and-downs of human existence. These prejudices... Just alienate us to fet our egos. Among different conditions, though... They are smiling, the children are happily playing in the dust, still, in many eyes I can see something when they forget about themselves; some wondering, some toughness, some resignation, some mixture of unconscious blame and envy. Blame not me, but destiny. Envy not my goods, but asking fate without words: why, why me?



Then the answer comes: karma. And they smile at me again full-heartedly. All right, it is karma-it had been written before they were born here and I was born there. That's it? So, should we continue to fight for a second car, for a bigger house, for a Hugo Boss shirt over there, and should they continue fighting for tomorrow food over here? Is that all right..?



Monday, February 11, 2008

Slums, slums, slums...


Wherever I go there are slums everywhere... Shocking? Thought awakening? Maybe both. I just pass by one, now. It is by a fairly big swamp. Although it is the dry season now, the swamp is still filled with water, and... with mosquitoes. The bank of it, however, is covered by stone-hard soil and dust. There where they are living. The floor is pure dust, the cover is whatever they have found: paper, plastic, for the luckier tin.

I was wondering around this camp for quite a while in the past weeks, but somehow I never had the a courage to enter... How would they greet me? Like a stupid foreigner who comes here to enjoy their poverty? But suddenly I see a man who draws my attention-and he looks back and smiles. The first contact has been made, and is positive! I already know how much it means in photojournalism; if there is some mutual interest arise before even taking the camera for shooting, then there is every chance for a good shot; Then already some unexplainable has happened: a link was built up between two human souls. Two souls are connected, who are often separated by wast distances from one and other all in space, hopes, fears, chances, talents, and so on.

I catch the moment and enter the slums. I take the camera and show it to the man asking him with my eyes whether I can take his picture. He nodes as a sign of acceptance. Soon I see old people playing cards, some 20m from me. They are not happy and start to shout. Damn...

One of them calls me with his hand. I go there and in a few moments many things run through my mind: this camera worth that much as about one year salary of these people; I am getting farther from the road deep into the slums... On the other hand without risk there is no success; there was no point coming to India if I fear to take my chances-so, I approach.

A younger guy speaks some English.
-What want?
-I'd just like to take some pictures -and I show the camera and smile
-Newspaper?
Should I say yes? Maybe they'd like to be there...
-No. I am an amateur photographer from Europe (I bet they don't know Hungary). I shoot interesting people. Whom I am interested in...
They start to talk in Marathi amoung them, then the young guy say:

-All right; You photo young people, not us. and people over there.

-Thank you! (big smile)

I'd start to leave when one of the card players calls me back: he would like to be photographed, but not the others.
-That OK, I say and I use shallow dof to blur the other players. Play honest-a voice tells in me...