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

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.