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:

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.