Love and compassion win

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Back in Australia, the day before the Sydney Siege I was on the train to Brisbane. I was dressed in a white kurta as I was meeting Indian friends that evening. For four years I have enjoyed Hindu and Muslim hospitality and feel more comfortable in Indian rather than western clothes.

I am not – nor ever will be – a Muslim. Still, my coloured kurtas from India were in the wash so I chose the last one available: White silk. With Australia’s upgraded terrorist alert it has raised some, but rare, comment. Am I a Muslim? Or gay and wearing a dress?
Most people don’t look twice.

A woman, newly arrived to Australia soon sat opposite me with her two excited boys. She was from Pakistan happy about the order and peace of Australia, and also very concerned that people would label her a terrorist. Her husband was working in Western Queensland soon to take a new position in Tasmania.  We talked about India and Pakistan and she assured me most Pakistani’s wanted peace to simply get on with life. I spoke of Pakistani’s who I knew had lived happily in australia for twenty years.

gandhiromastreetAs it was the first time she had taken an Australian train, I helped her find the Roma Street Parklands were she would meet friends, I wanted to find the newly install statue of Mahatma Gandhi.

I wished her “Salaam alaikum” as I departed. “Wa Alaikum Salaam” she replied surprised.

Then of course there was the tragic siege of next day.

I am not a “bleeding heart liberal” but four years in India taught me that the narrow – at times 3 word slogan  – politics of fear rarely shows the other side of the world correctly. No society – or media – seems able to keep its audience long enough to  tell the whole truth.

So when I was told of the siege it came from a man convinced terrorism will turn governments on religion and bring on Armageddon.

“Jihadi’s have taken over a Sydney shop.  They’ ll slit some throats.“

I was not sure whether he said “they had “ or “they will”. Nor had I heard the news: I didn’t know anything. But he was smiling, abroad smile as if he were waiting for divine approval.

I felt sick: this is a tragedy.

“Did the news say they had cut people’s throats?” I asked surprising myself by my calm reaction. This well meaning man, who has extended generosity to me in hardship,  is prone to repeating the exaggeration of fellow industrial labourers.

“Well, they hung a jihadi flag  in a window”  He began to walk away a little chastened. One thing I have learned from India is stick to facts and don’t believe stories.  I have asked him only to tell me news that is backed up by evidence. I don’t listen to gossip.

“It’s nothing to be happy about” I said.

“I’m not. it’s just the news” he retorted.

“Your smiling! It’s a tragedy.” He immediately stopped. I think a little shocked at himself. We have had a few very quiet balanced discussions since.

What is it that allows us to assume the worst of a whole group of people. The majority of the worlds billion Muslims would never think of murdering for religion, why do so many immediately assume a person in a white kurta with a beard is a terrorist? Do we label all Christians Klu Klux Clan? Have we forgotten that more people died in war last century in Christian lands than anywhere else?

I think that even if a media article is balanced, most people only look at the lead photo, headline and maybe the first sentence. Sensational headlines and photos sell papers.

We had debated this theme many times before using my neighbours Christian heritage as a starting point.  He called watching news events “staying awake”. But I keep coming back to Psalm 15 and the Sermon on the Mount. “Pray for your enemies and pray for those persecuting you”. Hating someone is the same as murder. Staying awake  seems to me to be a spiritual condition of being the person who God would want in his tent (as Psalm 15 describes it) who is blameless, righteous, “    who speaks the truth from their heart” does not slander, doesn’t wrong others, “casts no slur on others” who sticks to his vows even at a loss to himself.

While I will not describe myself in Christian terms, I recognise much of his Sermon paraphrases Rabbi  Hillel’s compassionate Judaism  The Sermon on the Mount inspired Gandhian non violence. Also, many Indians of the Advaita tradition describe Jesus as a bhakti yogi: a teacher of love propounding the essence of Sanatana dharma (divine occupation)  that precedes and is above religious form.

The religion of love: the religion of no religion.

“Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reaction. Do not fear” is how Hindi friends quote from the Gita. Christianity also says there is no fear in love.

Sadly, the Sydney siege had a tragic end that witnessed an act of heroism.  Dealing with fanaticism will require hard choices. history reminds us as economies crumble the politics of fear thrives.

Iwillridewithyou

However, I was heartened by wonderful news: “Inspired by the Twitter hashtag “I’ll ride with you“, some commuters heading into the city for work on Tuesday gave their support to Muslims who might feel vulnerable amid concerns about a blowback after the hostage drama.”

My faith in Australia is restored.

As my Indian born Brisbane based friend Vikas Rana wrote on Facebook:

I am so impressed by the amazing spirit of Australians.

After the Lindt Cafe event, Australians are coming together to show their support to the Muslim Australians via ‪#‎illRidewithYou‬ that means No such events can shake us and we will NOT make hatred part of our culture !!

And that’s how it should be.

It is only the minority of Australians, (like the minority of Muslims) who give the community a bad name. Even if one radical conservative  claimed hashtag was a leftwing conspiracy to label Australians racist, the power of compassion proved the exact opposite.

That people of all faiths are basically good is the mantra the Dalai Lama has repeated for years.

Even my fundamentalist friend was impressed.

Ina few days, instead of Christmas carol’s, perhaps people should remember Jesus sermon: “Happy are the peace makers, for they will be called Son’s of God.”

The Abominable Delusion of Himalayan Maya?

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yeti

Have you ever been fascinated by the yeti? Or perhaps, like me, you fell in love with the movie Lost Horizon and the story of Shangri La.

Shangri-la from James Hilton’s 1933 novel Lost Horizon evokes Tibetan legend, perhaps Nghe-Beyul Khembalung or Shambala.

But did you know that the word yeti has another Sanskrit root?

The word yeti is misused for “snowman.” It is a Sanskrit word which means a renunciate, an austere person, and is the name of a group of renunciate sadhus who belong to one of the orders of Shankaracharya.
– Swami Rama

From childhood. Swami Rama lived and studied in the Himalayas for decades explains that the Sherpa’s who know the mountains well take the willing and paying westerners to find their Lost Horizon,  “but they have no knowledge of the spiritual tradition of any part of the Himalayas.”

From Darjeeling and Sikkim expeditions have chased the yeti with no result.

The Swami never aw a yeti either, but heard many elders tell of the snowman to eager grandchildren.

“ Shangrila does not exist in reality. The myth of Shangrila is based on the existence of two ancient cave monasteries hidden in the Himalayas. These caves are described in our traditional scriptures and have a long heritage of meditation and spiritual practices. One is situated on the Mount of Kinchinjunga at the height of 14,000 feet and the other, where I lived, is in the deep Himalayas on the borders of Tibet and Garhwal. This cave monastery accommodates many practitioners comfortably. It is situated at a height between 11,500 and 12,000 feet above sea level. Very few people have been to this place. This monastery still exists, and there are many Sanskrit, Tibetan, and Sandhya Bhasha manuscripts preserved there.”

So what is the yeti?

Maya and perhaps the rare white bears: Swami Rama had a pet bear and saw how the footprint could look ‘human.’

“The story of the snowmen is as ancient as the human mind’s ability to fantasize. In the deep snows, one’s vision becomes blurred and white bears, which are rarely seen in the mountains, are mistaken for snowmen from the distance. These bears live high in the mountains and steal the food of expeditioners.

They leave long footprints which are similar to those of human beings.”

US TV host Josh Gates displays 'Yeti' footprints in Kathmandu November 30, 2007.

US TV host Josh Gates displays ‘Yeti’ footprints in Kathmandu November 30, 2007.

The human mind remains under the influence of delusion until ignorance is completely dispelled. If there is no clarity of mind, the data that is gathered together from the external world is not perceived in a coordinated manner, and the clouded mind conceives a false vision. This is one of the modifications of the mind, like fancy, fantasy, symbol, and ideas. Maya is cosmic illusion, and avidya is individual ignorance which comes from a lack of knowledge about objects and their nature; it is also an illusion.

The story of Bigfoot is based on the belief of a fantasy and discoordinated perception. When a bear runs fast in the snow, climbs upwards or runs downwards, the size of the foot of the bear looks very large.

When I had a pet bear, I myself was surprised to see the big footprint it created. It is usually large and similar to a human foot.
– Swami Rama

Intriguingly, American television channel host Josh Gates displayed what is believed to be ‘Yeti’ footprints to the media in Kathmandu November 30, 2007. The U.S.-based television channel investigating the existence of the legendary Yeti in Nepal has found footprints similar to those said to be that of the abominable snowman. The team of nine producers from Destination Truth, armed with infrared cameras, spent a week in the icy Khumbu region where Mount Everest is located and found the footprints on the bank of Manju river at a height of 2,850 meters (9,350 feet).

Other British scientists tested the DNA of hairs from two unidentified animals claimed to be yeti. One shot 40 years o, from Ladakh, west of the Himalayas in north India and from a bamboo forest in Bhutan. The tests revealed that the unidentified animal, was in fact a subspecies of the brown bear.

OK – not Swami Rama’s pet white bear, but close.

Maybe I’m biased, but I prefer Swami Rama’s answer”

Alas! the world, under the influence of illusion, is still searching for the shadows and the large foot. I call it “Himalayan maya.”  I was born and lived in these mountains and I have nothing to say to those who are delighted to believe in these myths and who are still searching for something which never existed. God help those misguided souls. These are not the footprints of snowmen or yetis, but of delusion.
– Swami Rama

Greed or forced conversion? Mahmud and Aurengzeb are not the future

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Prime Minister Nehru described India as a palimpsest, a manuscript page, either from a scroll or book, its text scraped or washed clean to be reused. Arcehoeollogists find the text is never quiet removed, the past remains to be examined. India, a land of four main racial types, and innumerable migrant cultures has allowed the ‘prajas’ or the common people more or less remained peaceful. Meanwhile Raja’s and Nawabs periodically fought against each other in the military sport of kings.

At times invaders came to wipe the slate clean, or at least that is how many see India’s British and Muslim past.

Sadly the story that  Medieval India was peaceful before Muslims arrived “at the point of a sword” ignores that for centuries previous Muslims had made many diverse inroads into India settling as mostly peaceful traders.

Atrocities occurred, but India’s future success on taking responsibility for the present. India will not grow if it continues to blame former Mughal or British rulers.

Unfortunately, Nationalism is rewriting history to help promote Hindutva and Hindu Rashtra.A review of Muslim and Christian websites reveal other religions are equally able to fall in the same trap. However, the size of Hindu population could result in discouraging the essential questioning required by historians seeking to learn from history o make a better India.


Greed or conversion?

Souce: Urduseek.com

Souce: Urduseek.com

We cannot deny Mahmudh attacked the Somnath but it was with the help of Hindu generals who equally enjoyed looting. Mahmud, with the help of a Hindu king Anandapal, also  destroyed the Muslim town of Multan and every mosque within it.

The ruthless ferocity of the Somnath attack remains scarred in public memory:  50,000 Hindu troops died, it is said that the Shiva lingam was destroyed by Mahmud himself, and 6.5 tons of gold, and the famous, intricately carved, temple doors were looted.
“The communalist interpretation portrays Mahmud as someone who harbored a special hatred for Hindus, but there is nothing he did to Hindus that he did not also do to Muslims, especially Muslims he considered to be heretical.’

As Guru Golwalkar wrote[1] “it was the Hindu blood of our blood, flesh of our flesh, soul of our soul, who stood in the vanguard of Mahmud’s army. These are facts of history…”
Perhaps cleric at times pressure d some Muslim rulers, but I suggest temple destructions were driven by more  Machiavellian motives , to quote, Jayanti Alam , than forced conversions, balancing political and financial powers and plundering of gold and precious gems.

Then, as now, political decisions often involve many other pressures often forgotten to history. Temples were destroyed by Muslim and Hindu alike for for the wealth within them.

Period historians often want their rulers to appear saintly and evout, when greed was a bigger motive.

auragnzeb2 (1)Consider Aurangzeb: He razed the Vishwanath temple of Kashi, but  he also gave ‘jagir’ to the Jangambari temple in the same city.  Aurengzeb extensively destroyed many temple and yet built a Ram temple at Chitrakoot, paid for  ‘ghee’ ensuring the  earthen lamps at Ujjaini’s Mahakal temple remained lit perpetually, donated ‘Jagirs’  to the Allahabad’s Someshwarnath temple, the Umananda temple at Guwahati, Dattatreya Gurumandirat Mohanpur  in Maharashtra, the Dantadhavan mandir at Ayodhya, Nageshwara  and to temples at Junagadh, Gaya and Mount Abu. He had also donated to Shatrunjay Jain temple at Ahmedabad and to some gurdwaras[2].

Muslim legend claims he was gifted with being able to speak to dead Saints and destroyed as false the Muslim shrines of saints who did not answer his call.  He also executed Sufi Said Sarmad who supported Prince Dara Shikoh as heir to the throne. Perhaps then, Aurengzeb’’s motives mixed were greed and power with displays of religiosity, or even a genuine attempt to seek the divine.

Even today  Mafioso and war lords are extremely religious,  because they believe only god can understand why they are compelled to violence! But it is not faith that drives them.

The religion of power has been drawn Indian rulers of all religions to simultaneously exploit and at times support their peoples.

unity

Peace after Babri?

More recently, the agitation t rebuild Ayodhya’s Ram temple ‘further polarised India. The Ramayana, which has many versions, inspired many nationalist symbols during the Independence struggle. Sita was the model for Gandhi’s non violent struggle, and claimed “a devotee of Tulasidas from my childhood and have, therefore, always worshipped God as Rama[3].”

So the believed birthplace of Rama is very close to the heart of many Hindus.

More recently, swirls and  swastikas discovered beneath the ruined Babri mosque, suggest a Hindu, Jain or Buddhist structure preceded it. Contrary to media hype this does not prove  this is the birthplace of Rama, god or not. That question is beyond scientific ability to prove.

I remember that as a foreigner I was advised to stay indoors as Babri  Masjid court case was decided. There was less reaction than many feared. A few people pelted a bus nearby.   But as a  lover of archaeology I was bemused by claims that Rams birth place had been discovered.

When questioned by journalist Christopher Kremmer[4], archaeologist Dr Swarajya Prakash Gupta author of the ASI report Ayodhya 2002-03 clearly the researcher believed the 50 plus pillar bases discovered proved the Babri mosque was built directly on top of a pre existing Hindu temple placed behind a hall supported by 84 pillars.   Gupta exhibited a malencholic love of his work, but also a fiery love of his religious tradition. The professor, in a weaker moment, argued you cannot prove scientifically Muhummad visited heaven from Jerusalem, or Jesus was born of a virgin. True, it is beyond the realm of science, as it is to prove where Rama was born.

However, archaeologists of all persuasions can give into politics. In Israel skeletons at Masada were proclaimed remains of freedom fighters against Rome, but why were they buried with pig bones? Meanwhile archaeologists bemoan flushed out artefacts from cleaning activities in the temple mount, beneath the Dome of the Rock unable to be excavated.

I believe the Hindu tradition is strong and vibrant enough without needing to politicize the past by bending history into a narrative of us versus them.

During the Independence struggle, Indian versus Invader had a strong political pull. Will it help now? War with Pakistan perhaps fuels, is used to fuel, fear.  As world economies decline history predict s the rise of fear based politics.

babripeace

But why dismantle a centuries old mosque?

As journalist Praful Bidwari wrote “Can the vandalism of the past justify revenge driven-vandalism today?[5]”  ’The claim of peaceful Hindu coexistence would be better served by building a new temple beside the Babri mosque instead.

Sadly political euphoria took over.  Bidwari asks if destroying monuments to avenge the past is akin to the Taliban’s destroying the Bamiyan Buddhas.
We must remember that in Ayodhya over a hundred Buddhist Viharas and 10 Hindu mandirs remained un-destroyed. This suggests there was there more to the temple destruction than Muslim intolerance. It also reminds us that Ayodhya was not just the holy place of the Ram bhaktís[6].

While Hinduism has been remarkably tolerant, it is wrong to deny Brahmin antagonism against Buddhism at times.

Some  Buddhist temples were destroyed or converted to Hindu use. Vivekananda claimed the Jagannath temple of Puri was built on Buddhist ruins[7]. We can list other Hindu wrongs through out History: Jaina temples destroyed by the Shaivites in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra. Parmar king Su bhat Barman, Kashmir k ing Shriharsha, Chola king Rajendra and various o hers like Shashanka, Pushyamitra Shunga,  Mahendra Barman and Pula-keshi II, destroyed Jaina and Buddhist temples to prove their power1.

wearealindian

Source: Telegraph.co.uk

The greatness of past Hindu civilization, with its scientific discoveries, are reinforced in the concrete and marble slabs of Delhi’s very beautiful Akshardham monument in Delhi. Rather than agree with the “The Hindu’s did everything, but the Muslims stole the credit”’ view of history, I suggest Islam better used and spread earlier Hindu science, much as Rome built from, and added too, the sciences of Ancient Greece.

As India weakened from within many shrines were forgotten over time, to be rediscovered by the British, Sanchi, Ajunta, Ellora were all over grown and forgotten. Even the Taj Mahal gardens declined as Mughul wealth shrunk.

Nationalism is like erotic love: the moments of passion can quickly die into indifference. At times, those who proclaim their heritage can as quickly misuse money for temple maintenance, or corruptly neglect their shrines.

The great civilization of India does not need exaggeration or misinformation to prove its worth. Reformers like Gandhi or Vivekananda recognized that Brahmin Hindu’s need to be reformed and corruption removed. However, they had also preserved the tradition as the Hindu world declined.

Rulers throughout history have had only one religion, the religion of power and domination.

Sanatana Dharma is  timeless, even if some of the many differing details may disagree with archeology.  Let science discover cold hard facts because transcendent truths will still remain. People will always be seeking meaning that transcends the religious formalism.

To quote the Rama devotee, Mahatma Gandhi,

“ I myself have been a devotee of Tulasidas from my childhood and have, therefore, always worshipped God as Rama. But I know that if, beginning with Omkar, one goes through the entire gamut of God’s names current in all climes, all countries and languages, the result is the same. He and His aw are one. To observe His law is, therefore, the best form of worship2.

india calling-religious unity

[1]  The ‘Organiser’, January4 , 1950 quoted by Jayanti Alam see 2

[2]  ‘Bigots’ and ‘Fanatics’,  Jayanti Alam Source: Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. 39, No. 14/15 (Apr. 3-16, 2004), pp. 1463-1464 URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4414860 .Accessed: 26/11/2014 00:57

[3] “Mind of Mahatma Gandhi” 24-3-1946, p56

[4] Christopher Kremmer, Inhaling the Mahatma, pp. 287-295, Harper Perennial, 2010, Sydney.

[5] Praful Bidwari, ‘No Voodoo archaeology, please’, Rediff.com 26 March 2003, p.239.

[6] One counter view by Ambedkar scholar Balwant Singh Charvak, in his book Ayodhya Kiski?Na Ram Ki, Na Babar Ki (‘Whose Ayodhya? Neither Ram’s Nor Babar’s’ suggests the site was once a Buddhist temple.

[7]  Swami Vivekananda, ‘The Sages of India’ , The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, Vol 3, p264, Advaita Ashram, Calcutta

The love letter of creation: Turn on, tune in and take responsibility

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tagore

This post continues the theme Touching the earth: Himalayas and the first chakra.

Connected to the earth, we are reminded to look beyond our conditioned experience and to delve beneath the question “What are we afraid of?”

In Sardhana, Tagore reminds us that all creation is a love letter if only we would heed its message:

The Vaishnava religion has boldly declared that God has bound himself to man, and in that consists the greatest glory of human existence. In the spell of the wonderful rhythm of the finite he fetters himself at every step, and thus gives his love out in music in his most perfect lyrics of beauty. Beauty is his wooing of our heart; it can have no other purpose. It tells us everywhere that the display of power is not the ultimate meaning of creation; wherever there is a bit of colour, a note of song, a grace of form, there comes the call for our love. Hunger compels us to obey its behests, but hunger is not the last word for a man. There have been men who have deliberately defied its commands to show that the human soul is not to be led by the pressure of wants and threat of pain. In fact, to live the life of man we have to resist its demands every day, the least of us as well as the greatest.

But, on the other hand, there is a beauty in the world which never insults our freedom, never raises even its little finger to make us acknowledge its sovereignty. We can absolutely ignore it and suffer no penalty in consequence. It is a call to us, but not a command. It seeks for love in us, and love can never be had by compulsion.

Compulsion is not indeed the final appeal to man, but joy is. Any joy is everywhere; it is in the earth’s green covering of grass; in the blue serenity of the sky; in the reckless exuberance of spring; in the severe abstinence of grey winter; in the living flesh that animates our bodily frame; in the perfect poise of the human figure, noble and upright; in living; in the exercise of all our powers; in the acquisition of knowledge; in fighting evils; in dying for gains we never can share. Joy is there everywhere; it is superfluous, unnecessary; nay, it very often contradicts the most peremptory behests of necessity. It exists to show that the bonds of law can only be explained by love; they are like body and soul.

Joy is the realisation of the truth of oneness, the oneness of our soul with the world and of the world-soul with the supreme lover.

How we interpret that message reflects the waters of our soul. As the proverbs express it  ‘As in water face corresponds with face, so the heart of a man with [that of] a man.’ (Pr 27:19).

The message may be of love, but how do we face files challenges?

Do we see challenge as opportunity or do we blame?

The first chakra asks us to seek the groundedness of our being. We are questioned with survival and asked to question “What am I afraid of?” as if some past karma has obstructed a river and its flow pools around the challenge. Of course, we have different experiences depending on our level of realisation. We may be asked to consider our relationship to our roots, our family and how we survive, including our view of money.

The pressure of our modern world demands quick solutions, it is easy to blame others or circumstance. To blame is to stop searching.

When we blame we empower the condemned to control our life. We are no longer looking at our self as a mirror of existence.

Science has made great progress in understanding the world out there, but forgotten what is within. We face a tremendous loss of soul, and disillusionment with the dream that happiness is economic progress.

Modern life has made us wanderers outside of our gates, an ever recreated world, a landscape without memory, detached from the soil, rootless, away from the land, unable lay at rest in the soil of home, to find the smell of home  or to hear the ocean of our childhood in a conch shell.

We risk reinventing our life as if recasting ourselves in a videogame.

In our throw away society we are asked to never be content for long, but to want more. We are told ‘there is not enough and never going to be enough and I must grab my bit before anything runs out.’  The shamans of the past however, believed that ‘the earth provides, its resources renew each year and that produce must be shared amongst all or the people will die’.

We honour those who take the most. This does not mean a person of wealth does not contribute, in fact wealth can come as right reward for contribution.

The business world claims what you want build and to grow you measure.

herman DalyWe are so disconnected from the earth that pollution is accounted as economic gain. According to former World Bank economist Herman Daly the earth was accounted in the developed world as as a business in liquidation.

“Pollution shows up three times in the Gross Domestic Product account as a gain: once when the factory produces it as a by-product of some­thing useful, secondly when the nation spends billions cleaning up the mess and thirdly in the extra costs of health care and environ­mental recovery! (Source Resurgence magazine). So if you feel you are getting poorer even though the papers are telling you the gross wealth is going up every year, that is one explanation.” –Leo Rutherford, The Way of the Shaman

Srimad Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada

Srimad Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada

In India, I am constantly reminded to get out of my Westernised logical head and to live.

Sri Srimad Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada made a similar point in 1928[1]:

Do not try to discover the nature of truth by the exercise of your imagination. Do not endeavor to attain the truth through experience of this world. Do not manufacture truth in order to satisfy your erring inclinations, or hastily accept anything for the reason that it satisfies such inclinations. Do not regard as truth anything that has been “built up” or has the support of a majority of people like yourself, nor as untruth anything that is rejected by the overwhelming majority.

According to the scriptures there will be found hardly one in a crore of human beings who really worships the truth. What is proclaimed by the united voices of all the people of this world as truth may turn out to be false. Therefore, cease to confront the truth in a challenging mood.

The truth is not brought into existence by such arrogance. One has to approach the truth in the spirit of absolute submission. It is necessary to listen to truth. Truth is self-revealing, and only when it is pleased to reveal itself can its actual nature be known to us, and not otherwise.

osho

Are We listening?

Touching the earth remind us of the bigger picture. We are taken from our stories. For there is no fear in love.  Most people are afraid of themselves and so latch onto god.

Touch the earth and we remember that if we have love then we do not need to fear others because centre ourselves first in the divine universal circumference of reality.

Osho declared of many believers:

‘Out of fear people believe in god – they don’t search for him. People become superstitious. One can be a Christian, a Hindu, a Mohammedan, but these are not religious people at all. They are just afraid people, in a kind of paranoia; they cling to any belief, to any consolation.
But god is not a belief and god is not a consolation. God is neither Hindu nor Mohammedan nor Christian; god is not even a person. God is this whole existence: this-ness is god, such-ness is god.’

While many would deny Osho’s claim god is devoid of personality, (and I feel many believe without fear), few would narrow him to our finite experience.

God is not a label, for we must keep seeking. By touching the earth we are reminded of the tranquility of wholeness without fear.

‘How to know this totality that surrounds you, that is within you and without you? With fear it is not possible: in fear one starts shrinking. It is possible only when one starts expanding; then one can have contact with existence. That can happen only if you have found something immortal in yourself; then there is no fear. All meditations lead to it.

Meditation allows us to penetrate deeper and deeper into one’s own being. And one has to go on digging till one has arrived at the source of nectar.”

It is there. All that one needs to do is: one has to learn how to turn off the mind, how to stop the inner talk, the continuous talk, how to stop the inner chattering, how to get off the mind.

And the moment you get off the mind, great energy is released. Such tremendous energy is released that one is simply turned on. No psychedelic can do that, no intoxicant can do that. You are simply aflame with such vital force that it seems impossible that it can belong to you. It seems so huge, enormous, that you cannot believe that this is yours. It is yours. It is just as each atom carries infinite energy. Once it explodes then we will know what energy it has. If an atom of matter has so much energy, how much more has the atom of being, the atom of life, the atom of consciousness?

In contrast the mind dissipates and leaks our energy. It must be turned off to release this cosmic explosion of experiencing the greatness of our universe. Then we are no longer victims of its limiting delusions.

You are turned on to a new reality, absolutely unknown to you, of immense vitality, of tremendous power. It is a great explosion, and only in that explosion does one come to know who one is, being is revealed.
-Osho “Turn On, Tune In and Drop the Lot”

The title of Osho’s talk was reminiscent of Hippy slogan from the 60’s. ‘Turn on, tune in, drop out.’

Socially, the hippy ideal didn’t work then because it denied personal responsibility. Osho’s point though remains. There is great power when we escape the confines of our mind and experience the greatness of reality.

Let us us this power chanting a new mantra:

‘Turn on, tune in and take responsibility for yourself, your life and your home – Mother Earth.’

Let us work together for our brothers and sisters in our global community. Dropping out is no longer a responsible option. It is incumbent on each of us who awakens to work for the good of all and the healing of the Earth.

[1] Harmonist 25.230, March 1928.

Touching the earth: Himalayas and the first chakra

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Himalayas_landsat_7

US National Aeronautics and Space Administration Landsat-7 imagery of Himalayas Mountain Range

“Make sure that every day, you place your hands in the earth where you live and give thanks to it.”
– Patricia Damery

Imagine life as a tree. A seed is planted in the soil. It grows, rooted in the earth and seeking the sun. Seeds need to survive,

Seeds have adapted to grow in the wild, and not your fertilized soil and potting mix. Many survive the gut of animals before germinating, others wait years in the desert for water. The Hakea or Banksia serrata  of Australia need fire to germinate.

But they all need water to soften the husk and activate proteins, starch, hemicellulose and pectins absorbed by the process of imbibation and. eventually the germ within sprouts in search of light, called photomorphogenesis.

I see life, in its material and spiritual forms as a tree. Subject to the law of the farm, fruitage require patience. Rooted in the soil of the heart, we both draw sustenance from above and below, from above and below, from within and without.

Like growing a seed, the journey can be tough.

When I consider the Himalayas I am reminded of my rootedness both to this earth, by the first chakra, that can grow into more lofty goals.

It seems to me that the first step in a spiritual journey is to connect to the earth and to appreciate what is.

It is said the first chakra connect us to the earth. The animists may see God in all things, whereas the Buddha, found that everything was not God, characterized by impermanence, suffering and not-self, part of an endless cycle of dependent origination.

St Francis walked with the animals, Jesus fasted in the wilderness with wild beasts, which is why I considered

“Understanding impermanence is important not simply for our practice of the Dharma but also in our daily lives. How often do friendships deteriorate and end because one of the two persons involved fails to notice that his or her friend’s attitudes and interests have changed? How often do marriages fail because one or both parties fail to take into account the fact that the other partner has changed?

It is because we lock ourselves into fixed, artificial, unchanging ideas of the characters and personalities of our friends and relatives that we fail to develop our relations with them appropriately and hence often fail to understand one another.”

-Buddhist teacher Peter Della Santina.

When we “get out of our heads” and be open to experience.

All cultures speak of a golden age of Edenic beauty lost to us. In the Biblical story Adam, a word meaning man, hides after the primal sin.

He is asked “Where are you?” by God. The question is not geographic, but of existence. It asks an aswer to all our life. It is a question both natural and threatening. It places us at the nexus between where we have come from and where we are going.

Some of us avoid it in the distraction of achievement.   Or in Adams case, to seek to know what we need not know – at least not yet.

For at first we must connect and appreciate what is if we are to answer the question ‘Where a I? Where am I going? What I am doing?”

Swami-RamaForgive me if, for lack of ability, I allow my thoughts to be expressed by Swami Rama. For the Swami was touched by the earth. He saw sundhya, the twilight in between sacred in worship, as the kiss of the sun on the earth, the union of right or left energy channels, when ‘day weds night’.

For me, the Himalayas are my spiritual parents and living there was like living in the lap of a mother. She brought me up in her natural environment and inspired me to live a particular style of life. Once when I was fourteen years old, an unknown sage blessed me and gave me a leaf of bhoja patra, the paper made of bark on which the ancient scriptures were written. On it he inscribed, “Let the world be little with you. Let you be on the path of spirituality.”

The love I received from the sages is like the perennial snows which form the silvery glaciers of the Himalayas and then melt into thousands of streams. When love became the lord of my life, I became quite fearless and traveled from one cave to another, crossing streams and mountain passes surrounded by snow blanketed peaks. In all conditions I was cheerful, searching for the hidden sages who preferred to remain unknown. Every breath of my life was enriched with spiritual experiences which may be difficult for many others to comprehend.

That gentle and amiable sage of the Himalayas had only one entrancing theme: love—for nature, love—for creatures, and love—for the Whole. The Himalayan sages taught me the gospel of nature. Then I started listening to the music coming from the blooming flowers, from the songs of the birds, and even from the smallest blade of grass and thorn of the bush. In everything lives the evidence of the beautiful. If one does not learn to listen to the music of nature and appreciate her beauty, then that which impels man to seek love at its fountain may be lost in the remotest antiquity. Do you need psychological analysis to discover in nature the source of so much happiness, of so many songs, dreams, and beauties? This gospel of nature speaks its parables from the glacial streams, the valleys laden with lilies, the forests covered with flowers, and the light of stars. This gospel reveals that emphatic knowledge through which one learns truth and beholds the good in all its majesty and glory.

When one learns to hear the music of nature and appreciate her beauty, then his soul moves in harmony with its entire environment. His every movement and every sound will surely then find its due place in human society. The mind of man should be trained to love nature before he looks through the corridor of his life. Then a revelation comes peeping through with the dawn. The pain and miseries of life disappear with the darkness and the mist when the sun rises. Mortality finds its way in the awareness of immortality. Then a mortal being suffers no more from the pangs and sorrows which death seems to shower upon him. Death has for ages been a constant source of misery, but at death man learns to become one with the infinite and the eternal.

When one learns to appreciate fully the profundity of nature in its simplicity, then thoughts flow spontaneously in response to the appeals of his delicate senses when they come in contact with nature. This soul-vibrating experience, in its full harmony with the perfect orchestra of melodies and echos, reflects from the sound of the ripples of the Ganges, the gushing of the winds, the rustling of leaves, and the roar of thundering clouds. The light of the self is revealed and all the obstacles are removed. He ascends the top of the mountain, where he perceives the vast horizon. In the depth of silence is hidden the source of love. The eye of faith alone can unveil and see the illumination of that love. This music resounds in my ears and has become the song of my life.

This discovery of the sages binds the whole of humanity in the harmony of the cosmos. Sages are the sources from which mankind receives knowledge and wisdom to behold the light, truth, and beauty which show the path of freedom and happiness to all. They make humanity aware of the mere shadows and vain illusions of this world. With their eyes the unity of the entire universe is best seen.

“The truth is hidden by a golden disc. O Lord! Help us in unveiling so that we can see the truth.” The gospel of love as taught by the Himalayan sages makes the whole universe aware of the fountainhead of light, life, and beauty.

Who could not be impressed as the Himalayas blend red at the setting sun? Few of us will ever experience the serene calm of morning loved by those mountain mediators.

Source: everestbasecamptrekguide.com

Source: everestbasecamptrekguide.com

But the first chakra is more than just a connection to the dust of the earth, it connects us to the groundedness of our being.

What is there message for us? Do we see the clouds as water in a cloud or  ‘the calligraphy of god in the sky’(Pierre Chardin)? Or can we see both and enjoy the meaning we give life in this moment?

Is ours a dead universe that accidently gave birth to life or is it alive?

Our neurology forbids us from seeing life in neutral terms. In everything we give life personal meaning that colours our experience.

Touching the earth centres us. We are more able to disengage the stories of blame and justification of our pettiness. We step back and can experience the wholeness of our purpose including its shadows.

In the mountains Swami Rama heard the lyrics of mountain girls that have been immortalised in classical rhythms. He was the clouds as a divine message to the beloved.

Why don”t we hear it?

In the Eden story Adam becomes aware he is hiding from divinity. Similarly we must be aware that we are hiding from divinity within, even if we do not know we are hiding.

A yogi may find solace by facing his inner demons in a cave but for most of us the pursuit of the spirit is found wanting and illusory. We look without, perhaps seeking the centre of our being in the wholeness of existence.

But what is The love letter of creation? I offer a few hints ext article.

Walking Chitrakoot, home of divine exile

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ramghat3

The allure of Chitrakoot is both the beauty of the city and its ancient legacy. Called the a town of ‘holy wonders’ , Chitrakoot is edges the Vindhya ranges and the bank of the Mandakini river.

For me, the town is full of fascination. It is here Lord Rama, Sita and Lakshman spent eleven of their fourteen year exile. Inspired by the local serenity and holy legacy, Tulsidas wrote his epic poem of Ramas life, the Ramacharitramanas.

According to surveys Sita Devi is the most popular divine heroine, yet NGO’s paint her a model of the oppressed female. For me, she exemplifies the power of quiet female resistance. She was Gandhi’s symbol of passive resistance and non violent struggle.

I see Rama as the divine loving, but disempowered, husband under the absolute authority of a father king submissive until he can assume the throne.

Turn to Rajasthan or distant villagers, and women do not moan of oppression but sing of a quiet but protesting Sita, with lyrics at times directed to remind themselves of their own female strength within the home.

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At Ramghat devotees dip in the Mandakini at sunrise to invoke divine blessing, constantly Rama bhaktas meditaté on the Ramas life in Rama-lila. In the evening Each evening, sadhus line the ghats offering arotika, while devotees bathe.

Above the ghat steps leap to the Matha Gajendranath Shiva Temple where Brahma performed penance and offered a shivaling considered a kshetrapal or proector of the area.

Like Varnasi, long stretches of steps line the Mandakini River. South of the main bathing area at the Raghav-prayag ghat is a confluence of the Mandakini, Payaswini, and Gayatra (or Savitri) Rivers, not visible to the eye. This is why the Mandakini is sometimes called the Payaswini.

It is here that Rama performed pitra tarpan, or offerings to his father, King Dasarath, who departed after Rama went into exile.

Gorge from where the Mandakini flows

Gorge from where the Mandakini flows

The Mandakini River originates from an ancient gorge 50 kilometres to the south.

Beside the Raghava-prayag ghat, but to the north of the Ramghat, is Bharat Ghat, where Sri Bharat bathed.

Ramaghat is also famous for the poet Tulsidas who it is claimed kindly applied sandal paste to the foreheads of Rama and who had appeared as children. With Hunuman’s help he hen recognised Rama’s identity.

After bathing in the Mandakini, devotees perform parikrama around Chitrakoot dhama, which begins with darshan of Lord Kamtanath. Devotees perform parikrama around the complex of tirthas, collectively known as Puri.

Be sure to visit the Mattgajendreshwar Swami mandir, Parna Kuti, and Yagya Vedi. The King of Panna, Raja Aman Singh, built the Mattagajendreshwar Temple where, the Puranas claim, Brahma offered penance during the Satya yuga, and installed a Shiva-linga, known as Mattgajendreshwar Swami, as Kshetrapal, or the protector of this tirtha. Later, Rama performed Rudra abhisheka here.

But don’t just stay in Ramaghat, A boat ride upstream is the Janaki Kund where Sita bathed

Barat Milap Sthal where foot prints are engraved  inside

Janaki Kund where Sita bathed

A wooded hill five kilometres away is a white fortress shine approached by approximately 360 steps before seeing the five faced panchmukhi idol of Hunaman cooling water gushing from under a rock named Hanuman Dhara.

Kamadgiri, the hill that fulfils all desires is said to embody rama. Pilgrims circumambulate the hill , or perform parikrama. The path passes numerous shrines and temples including the Bharat Milap Temple where Rama’s younger brother met Rama to try and convince him to return to Ayodhya.

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A boat ride upstream from Ramghat leads to Janaki Kund where Sita is said to bathe during their exile, decorated by her footprints. Further on, a boulder called Shaatik Shila is a footprint impression claimed to be of Lord Rama.

Sixteen kilometres from Chitrakoo set in forest is Atri Anasuya Ashram dedicated to the sage Atri and his wife Anusuya.

Gupt-Godavari has two caves with two natural throne like rocks which locals believe were where Rama and Lzakshman held court. In one is a a shallow tank fed by a stream called Sita Kund.

sitas footprints

Sita’s footprints?

A Free Trade Deal In One Year? I dont think so

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Prime Minister Tony Abbott depart the House of  Representatives. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Prime Minister Tony Abbott depart the House of Representatives. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

In 2007, when Kevin Rudd and Barack Obama were elected they over promised an under delivered. The Euphoria for Australia and US change led to disappointment.

The most popular prime minister in Australian history was ousted by his own party.

As Australia and India now promise a Free Trade deal in a year I wonder if both Prime Ministers are making the same mistake.

I am sure they are well intentioned.

From Bhopal, I watched Indians display their inked fingers as they voted for change. The old order was worn out and is retired; at least for a while. I also read of the reviews and critiques of Mr Modi’s first 100 days in office.

I appreciate Mr Modi has achieved much in Gujarat as Chief Minister. Gujarati’s are known world over for their natural business acumen. But now, like Obama, the weight of expectation will weigh on the Prime Minister long after the euphoria has died.

After Independence, to get Princely States to join the Union, law makers ensured powers still rested in India’s states. With its complicated democracy even Prime Minister Nehru complained it was easier in centralist China than in India.

Yet, it took China and Australia nine years to reach a Fair Trade Agreement. Six of those were under a labour government that was for part of the time led by an Australian Prime Minister who spoke fluent Mandarin. I sincerely hope both governments will succeed, but It seems unrealistic to me that the complicated democracy of India can be so quickly tamed.

Mr Modi has great public support. He is a master of shaping his speeches to his audience. I saw this in listening to his speech in the Australian parliament compared to his words to the Indian Diaspora in Sydney. From Brisbane, I watched with interest the G20 Summit.

Both Prime Ministers have extensively travelled on the world stage but little reform has been achieved at home.

Indian politics is described as a game within a game. However, Prime Minister Abbott, swaggers into the diplomatic ring hoping to land a knockout punch. Its long term gain not short term promises that will be revealed in the detail over time.

I hope PM Modi’s popularity will allow him to power through his reforms, but I do not the signs of real change are good. For example, the Union Government has promised to cut corruption and red tape, yet India’s trade minister continues the same legislation leaving things as they were.

I think former PM Singh must be remembered for reforms that opened india’s to economic prosperity. With rapid social change came increased corruption that destroyed his governments legitimacy and unrealistic expectations of continued high growth during global financial decline.

Without active family connections[1] I hear hopes that PM Modi will push reforms unhindered by family demands for favours. But what favours will states demand as India modernises?

The hug made this Austro-Indian feel embarrassed

The hug made this Austro-Indian feel embarrassed

In India when a person is doing well his sins are ignored. But any sign of decline and you are quickly abandoned.

Both Prime Minister s have crafted a Pro business image. Mr Abbott lost credibility for breaking major promises and Mr Modi exaggerated Gujarat’s considerable growth. Undeniably, Gujarat is now more investor and Industry friendly. Investor Summits promoted Gujarat’s business readiness.

However, many state have surpassed Gujarat in growth and investment with far less publicity. In 2013 four states (Odisha, Maharashtra, Punjab and Andra Pradesh) received more investment. In 2013, Odisha received 27% of all India’s investment Rs.53,000 crore), Gujarat received only Rs.10,600 crore.

From 2006 to 2010 Chattisgarh and Odisha signed Memorandums of Understanding worth Rs. 3.61 lakh crore and Rs. 2.99 lakh crore more than Gujarat. Gujarat’s own Soco-Economic Review 2011-12 indicated that of 12,39,562 lakh crore proposed investment from the 2009 Vibrant Gujarat Summit only Rs. 1,04,490 materialised and Rs. 2,81,629 were in progress.

Gujarat has the seventh highest growth rate in India manufacturing, behind Uttarkhand, Odisha, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Jammu Kashmir. Gujarat ranks fifth in the services sector.

I intend no disrespect of Mr Modi and his considerable success, or to denigrate Mr Abbott. Both have achieved much. However, while Democracy requires part rule and part advertising, ultimately, results and not hype, will last.

Unless India’s ragged criminal justice system is repaired, its jaded institutions rejuvenated and made truly free and social stability ensured, tinkering with economic reforms and giving stentorian pep talks alone will not help.
-Soutik Biswas

I hope for both India and Australia both governments’ trade hopes are more delivered than over promised. I hope the results will match the advertising.

[1] Mr Modi was married as a child but at puberty refused the union. They are still legally married but have never lived as husband and wife.

Mount Meru: A Mandala of my mind

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Mount Kalaish

Time and space are more nebulous in the Hindu world. The Sanatana Dharma, “the eternal law”, preceded the religion that followed. The stories of Krishna and the Mahabharata are in the distant past because they are archetypes outside of time, but played out in our world to teach us the subtleties and complexities of dharma.

Dharma with its multiple implications of virtue, morality, religion, justice, eternal law, and cosmos described their religion. The term Hindu, was later imposed. Hindh” is Persianfor the river “Sindh“,the Indus river which has shaped the people for generations.

For the pattern of life along the Indus civilization was shaped by forces outside of oneself.  A mud house could be cooled by the sprinkling of water, or warmed by the sun to keep out the night chill.

History and economics have added their presence to nature. Fifty-five centuries of civilization -traditions and precedents moulded into concrete realities over a hundred and seventy generations – are sometimes an unmovable weight.

Now with satellite imagery, Science positivist masculinity – like modern media – simplifies life in terms of black and white. That which is not understood is all too easily dismissed as myth. Narratives don’t like complexity and conquerors usually recreate the past.

With its four facades facing north, east, south, and west, Mount Kailas looks like an enormous diamond. Seventy-five percent as high as Mount Everest, the mountain is one of the tallest peaks in the Himalayas. Nearby is the source of the Indus, Sutlej, and Brahmaputra Rivers. The source of the Ganges is not far away. On its southern face, a vertical gash crosses horizontal layers, creating the image of a swastika. The word comes from svastika, Sanskrit for well-being and good fortune. Buddhists regard the mountain as a mandala -— the sacred circle from which the sacred rivers flow like the spokes of the eternal wheel.”
– Colin Wilson[1]

 

At 6714 metres it is dwarfed when compared to Everest, but hidden behind a sea of Himalayan mountains, and seen from a distance, its isolated snow capped beauty, overlooks the blue-green emerald of lake Mansarovar and the Rakshas TaI, in the south, evokes a sense of the infinite cosmos that embraces our minute world. It   brings men to their knees as if before divinity in solid form.

Each face has its own moods: snowy splendor to the south, compassion and benevolence to the West, stark foreboding to the north, and distant, inaccessible mystery to the south.  Within 100 kilometres, flow Asias four largest rivers:  the Indus flows to the north, the Brahmaputra to the east, the Sutlej to the west, and the Karnali to the south, leading to the Ganges.

The Jains believe Rishabhanatha, the first of our ages twenty-four saviors, was enlightened on  Kailash,. Nearby, Shenrab, the legendary founder of Bon, taught and meditated. Sikhs revere Hemkund, a mountain lake near the source of the Ganges, as the place where Guru Gobind Singh, the last of their ten principal teachers,  meditated in a previous life. Here, the Tibetan yogi Milarepa, attained enlightenment.

Colonial politics of the Tibetan Plateau and the Himalayas have since shaped the public narrative. Now the Tibetan Plateau is world confused by ideology: West vs communism, when India was “non aligned” and the Dalai Lama had fled to India.

In the 17th century it’s mystery was whispered to in the West. Herodotus had written about  gold digging ants, others spoke of haunt of the yeti or the one footed Theurang, wind horse and snow line, magical saddhus, and the Dalai Lama. From the mystical north, the theosophist Madame Blavatsky claimed she encountered monks capable of telekinesis., Himmler tried to find proof of Aryan supremacy and James Hilton set his Shangrila.

Throughout this distant land  were rumors of lost Christians, that the Jesuits discovered were Tibetan Buddhists, the Dutch were ‘Red Hairs’ the Spanish ‘shape shifting foreigners’ t the Chinese who under a circular heaven that had corresponding place above for every place on earth.

Mount Lalaish

There are also universal themes:

Metaphysical Meru, or Tise, was believed manifest on earth as Kalais (the crystal), or Kang Rinpoche (Jewel of Snows).  Claimed the navel of the earth ( a term used by Jews of Jerusalem, and Olympus by the Greeks), axis of the universe, and source of Asia’s four great rivers, the hidden source of the Ganga, Sutler, Indus and Brahmaputra were revealed behind the ramparts of the Himalayas.

Four great rivers?  From Eden is said in the Hebrew texts to have had a river that broke into four heads, and historians like Josephus tried to maps the Ganges, Nile, Euphrates and Tigris to a central point.

 So as I look at this mandala of the world, I see Meru, not mapped with cartographic  precision, but by a code of meaning. It cannot be described as “wrong” because we have not figured out it’s code.

In that world, the myths of religion are outside of time and space, unable to be touched by science, and so should not criticise or be criticised by the different world views.

The Mandela of Meru offers a profound reflection on the possibilities and perils of pursuing cross cultural understanding.

From a top this world perhaps we can view the world of soul as did James Hillman:

Let us imagine the anima mundi [world soul] neither above the world encircling it as a divine and remote emanation of spirit, a world of powers, archetypes, and principles transcendent to things, nor within the material world as its unifying panpsychic life-principle. Rather let us imagine the anima mundi as that particular soul-spark, that seminal image, which offers itself through each thing in its visible form.

For myriad myths and fantasies shape the polytheism of our psychic lives, just the constellations astrologers have fantasized onto our maps of the heavens.

The conquest of science, a noble pursuit as it is, is fuelled by positivist masculinity, as well as creativity which too many seems feminine. Aren’t we both masculine and feminine, right and left brained?

mount_kailash_4Let us for a moment travel back in time before Industrialisation replaced natural rhythms of faith.

Kalais appears the Olympus of the East and seemed to improbable to believe in. So the Western world preferred Ptolemy’s cartography.

Tibetans claim a compassionate Bodhisattva cut an outlet through the Himalayan peaks to form the Tibetan plateau. Geologists claim the plateau preceded the mountain wall forced up from clashing continental plates and eroded down over eons.

The lofty peaks  can easily be imagined a home of the gods. The Aryans described the abode of snow, Himavant, Himachala, or Himalaya. In the cosmology of Meru, it is a mountain of blazing appearance. In the Mahabhrarata the ranges  are “kissing the heavens by its height” “shining like the morning sun and like a fire without smoke, immeasurable and unapproachable by men of manifold sins.”

A top Meru is Swarga,  the heavenly city of Indra, Vedic god rain and storm, “a paradise “furnished with heavenly flowers and fruit and covered everywhere with bright gold dwellings[2]

“According to ancient religious texts, the abode of creator Brahma is called Brahmaloka, the abode of Lord Vishnu is called Vaikunta ad the abode of Lord Shiva is called Kailash. Of the three, one can only go bodily and return in this life from Kailash having experienced divinity.[3]

Navel of the earth, and the axis of the universe, from where water flowed into a mountain lake, four rivers flow. The Himalayan was to south, and west  deserts of Takla Makan to and Gobi to north and east.

The world made of seven continents with seven oceans. From centre island rises Meru “like the pericap of a lotus’ that sits between three mountains to the north and three to the south, claims the Vishnu Purana.

Eighty- four thousand leagues high, with four faces like crystal, ruby, gold and lapis lazuli. From the big toe of Vishnu’s left foot comes ‘the  stream that washes away all sin, the river Ganga, embrowned with the unguents of the nymphs of heaven, who sported in its waters.’ After washing the inner orb, circling the mountain, it divides into for mighty rivers t each corner of the earth: Sita, Alaknanda, Chaksu and Badra.

The first, flowing upon the tops of the inferior mountains on the east side of Meru, flows upon their crests and passes through the country of Bhadrashva to the ocean: the Aleknanda flows south, to the country of Bharatha and, dividing into seven rivers on the way, falls into the sea: the Chaksu falls into the sea after traversing all the western mountains and passing through the country of Ketumala: and the Badra washes the country of the Uttara Karus and empties itself into the northern ocean.’

This image is mirrored in the Jain swastika mantra, the tantric mandela of Tibet, the Hindu yantra  and the  upturned bowl of Sanchi’s great stupa, crowned with its symbolic tree. The yogi mentally places himself within the image his spinal column at one with meru, deepened into an earth consciousness. He achieves union of opposing forces of earth water, male and female,, light and dark,what Taoists call , yin and yang; Tibetans call yab and yum, and the Shaivite Tantra calls Shiva-Shakti .[4]

Modern scholars suggest that as the Aryans pushed eastward the Ganges became the most vital and sacrosanct of rivers. As the form of mother goddess Ganga Mai , she provides for 1/3 of India’s population.  The Jaganmatri, or Divine Mother has so many forms: Parvati, with smooth and clear skin under her veil. Ouma is also called Parvati, daughter of the Himalaya, literally “abode of the snows”. She can also turn into Kali for victory.

Siva-and-Parvati

The dwelling place of God Siva, the Supreme Yogi, naked and smeared with ashes, sits on a tiger skin, matted hair coiled o his head in meditative bliss.  Though the supernatural power of his third eye he calmly surveys the illusion of life’s and is able to destroy the illusion binding us to the cycle of death and rebirth. j When He rises to dance, He takes on the functions of Brahma and Vishnu and creates and preserves the universe itself.

Here, the King of the mountains, Himalaya,  lives with his queen, the Goddess Mena, in a palace of gold, attended by divine guardians, maidens,  and  magical beings.

It is hard to imagine a more potent symbol of inspiration. he Himalayas stretch 1,500 miles rising from the monsoon- drenched jungles north of Burma to sweep its great arc along the borders of India and Tibet, through Bhutan, Sikkim and Nepal, up to the  glaciers of the Karakoram on the remote desert between Pakistan and China.

Millions of years ago the summit of Mount Everest lay beneath an ancient sea, called Tethys, separating Asia from India. Over eons the tectonic plates collided to fold and thrust up the peaks of the Himalayas and the Tibetan Plateau, The fractured crust filled magma, and glacial action, formed walls and peaks of granite and preexisting rivers have cut through the range  creating the deepest valleys in the world. The Kali Gandaki Valley between Annapurna and Dhaulagiri in central Nepal is nearly four miles deep.

 “The Earth’s most dramatic features, mountains are to Hindus the abode of Gods, the haunt of holy sages and the supreme pilgrimage destination.

Viewed through the eyes of a Buddhist or Hindu, mountains are mystical realms of Gods, heavens, spirits and spiritual masters.

- Edwin Bernbaum

 

The ancient poets and sages regarded the range as an earthly paradise sparkling with streams and forests set beneath snowy beautiful peaks. Above this earthly paradise lie the heights of heaven..

To die on her banks and be caste in her waters is to be delivered to heaven. Dip 3 times under the waters is to be cleansed of all sins.

As devotees bathe, change into a  a clean dhoti , they are for at least that moment changed into a new person , who has completed a turn in the wheel of life, death and rebirth.

High caste Hindus in 4th final stage of life begin their final pilgrimage from Ganga – Dwara. So inaccessible are holiest of places a pilgrim places their life in the lap of the gods and to free them self from the cycle of rebirth.

They  shave their head and beard,  conduct their own funeral and take on pale ochre robes symbolising their purification in a funeral pyre.

“One of the greatest and most austere pilgrimages, Mount Kailas, Himalayan abode of Lord Siva, is sacred to five religions. Pilgrims perform a three-day, 33-mile circumambulation of the peak. At the foot of Kailas lies Lake Manasarovara, symbolizing a quieted mind, free from all thought. Kailas is the Mount Meru of Hindu cosmology, center of the universe. Within 50 miles are the sources of four of India’s auspicious rivers.[5]

 

sa-jainmandala

Meru as a model of the unconscious mind and healing

Religion imbues meaning to space: think of Jerusalem, Mecca, Rome, Karbal, or Kailas. For place is an idea, consciously and deliberately constructed, then propagated in an ordered fashion an imposed on the physical landscape .

We also map these values onto our bodies and on time: certain body parts are purer, certain times more auspicious, so some places are charged more with energy.

Kalais is mapped for great meaning as a mandala for the souls pursuit of enlightenment.

The Buddhist mandala of Demchog on Kailas portrays the universe as a circle of mountains, oceans and continents arrayed around a  mountain Meru at its centre. Called Sumeru by Buddhists and Meru by Hindu’s.

As the divine access of the cosmos, it is important to both Hindu and Buddhist thought. Brahma is said to live on its summit with other deities surrounding him.

In the early texts, Kalais and Meru are separate peaks bt later traditions merged them into one idealized peak.

Some devotees say the Kailash is the Shivalinga; others that it is Mount Meru, the presence of eternal in time.

Bhutanese_thanka_of_Mt._Meru_and_the_Buddhist_Universe

 

Today both there are Tibetans and Indians view Kailas meeting of earth and divine, where the heavenly Meru  meets the earthly plane. A pilgrimage to Meru is a journey to the center of the universe, where all begins and ends.

 “As dew is dried up by the morning sun so are sins of men dried up by the sight of the Himalaya, where Shiva lived and whee the Ganga falls from the foot of Vishnulike the slender thread of a lotus flower. There are no mountains like the Himalaya, for in them are Kalais and Manasarovar.”

Astonished travelers, passing below that inaccessible peak, view afar a vast snow formation resembling a palace, with icy domes and turrets.

The Kailas peak full of dark black rocks with head adorned with glittering white snow stood like a leader amongst the long stretch of black mountains. “My body experienced horripilation and my mind immersed in the ocean of bliss was overcome with joy” – Sri Swami Tapovanam

The yantra to circle Kalaish can be performed in three days, a walk of around 50 kilometers, paying homage to  Siva or Demchog, makes contact with something deep within themselves to a vision of the  supreme reality that infuses our cosmos.  Every step is rich with prayers and praise of those who have walked the way for eons before them .

 Tibetans make three, five, or thirteen circumambulations of Mount Kailash, or even more. Sometimes they prostrate themselves, rising to walk the length of one prostration only, then once again falling to the ground. To circle the mountain in this way may take up to four weeks of patient and meditative movement. These pilgrims may then turn and return, rapt in their awareness of the eternal. The way has no beginning and no end.”
– Jennifer Westwood[6]

 

Hence, to many Hindus and Buddhists, the pilgrimage to Kailas is is the most ardous and sacred journey in the pursuit of enlightenment.

Many believe at Kalaish, the Ganges, holiest river of all, cascades from heaven to first touch the Earth and course invisibly through the locks of Siva’s hair before spewing forth from a glacier 140 miles to the west.

Lake pilgrims manasarovar

Source: Thetrellingworld.com

 

Nearby is Lake Mansarovar, Lake of the Mind .  Hindu myth claims the lake was first created in the mind of the Lord Brahma.  Myths claim it was the summer home of swans, considered sacred and wise. Buddhists link it to Anotatta Lake, where legend claims Queen Maya conceived the Buddha.

Annually during the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra the hardiest of Hindu pilgrims take the dangerous journey over high passes to bathe in Manasarovar’s icy waters and cleanse their minds of sins by ancient monasteries, like Chiu Gompa Monastery built into a hill as if carved from the rock.

Interestingly in South India, the Tamil Sangam  spoke  of a legendary continent Kumari Kandam, named after a gentle maiden, the Divine Feminine. So perhaps we imagine our collective  mind and its archetypes, not as an iceberg, but as the Himalayan plateau, eroded by Yugas of time.

Making Life A Sacred Experience

Mansarovar_lake

Source: Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia

 

India and the river mirror each other bubbling ever changing and like India the river is impossible to grasp entirely. India’s elusive deep eddies and currents  are like game within a game of her politics.

Surface shines clear but a river can also prove dangerous to strangers

To many the Indus and Ganges are the cradle of life. We could say India’s great gifts are her five great rivers that cradled life to civilizations.

From mountain abodes of eternal snow along the long Indus, carry mineral sediment and the rites of mourners from Tibet, to the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea. As environmentalists battle over what is sacred, I am struck in in grief for the earth

Is our environmental pain a blocked grieg denied by emotional block of disconnected logic? We need to recover the sacred masculine, the spiritual warrior, the father and beat the  drum in prayer lest our addictive grief turn to anger and violence.

If clouds be the calligraphy of god, then the earth is a Mandala that connects us through our first chakra. Meru asks us to connect earth to heaven, and we beneath are a caterpillar do we know deep inside us to become a butterfly.

Faced with a problem  African singers that sing back and forward dance imagine, evoke, strum and sing the issue and see what happens. They go into an inner state of being something they incarnate the essence of the challenge.

Similarly, a Mandala offers us a focal point for the power of ritual.

Making Ritual builds community. India and Tibet have their own rituals, as does the West, with festivals that bring art to the streets, psychoanalysis and politics. To often they are more show than transformational and  economics overpowers sensitivity.

Let us look at the ancient mandala, not as a map, but a cosmological, geographic, historical divination and psycho-spiritual puzzle.

Kalaish is said to be the naval of the world reminding me of the cosmic Purusha, the cosmic man.

The disciple leads the prana until Mooladhara.
The air thus inspired awakens the lower Fire which was asleep, meditating on Pranava that is nothing else than Brahman,
And concentrating his thought, he rises the breath until to the lower Fire, until the navel and beyond, within the subtle body.
On the top of the body, over the head there is the lotus with thousand petals, shining like the heavenly Light.
It’s that which gives the liberation. Its secret name is Kailash, the mountain where Shiva abides.
The one who knows this secret place is delivered from samsara.
– Amritananda Upanishad

In india, life was  accepted as it is, a child knew not to reach under a tablecloth, or into an unlit cupboard in case there  lay a coiled cobra. The Night guards thump stout lathes into ground warning would be thieves keeping innocents awake . Meanwhile, deep in the jungles and atop the Himalayas, yogis sit so still that in the forest jungle a predator ignore them as part of the fauna.

Most may still walk from the village to the field with a bullock or buffalo cart, but now the modern incarnation in the city has pneumatic tyres. Millions on cycles and a growing number of motor bikes

The world is changing and the problems in one culture can be solved with the solutions of another

Whatever choice India makes requires deep contemplation of opposing yet complementary forces.

The four rivers said to flow from meru, like the rivers from biblical Eden, remind me of four elements medieval metaphysics:, water, air, fire, and earth, match the four qualities of  warmth, dryness, wet, and cold[7]. The feminine the waxing, moist, and cold moon and the warm dry sun are balanced when coupled like a woman open to her husband. 

Even the very first alchemists said not to think that this was meant concretely, that it was just a way of introducing order into our ideas” wrote psychoanalyst Marie-Louise von Franz. “which means you see clearly an image of totality through the four qualities projected onto matter; even in those days it was simply a symbolic network which the human mind projected onto matter to bring order into it.

So what do I see in Meru?

Paramahansa Yogananda[8] reminds us “Mythological tales in the Purana say that the Himalayas are the abode of Shiva …” explaining “Parvati, Kali, Durga, Uma, and other goddesses are aspects of the Divine Mother of the World, variously names to signalize particular functions. God or Shiva in His para or transcendental aspect is inactive in creation. His shakti (energy, activating force) is relegated to His “consorts,” the productive “female” powers that make possible the infinite unfoldments in the cosmos.

The duality of sun and moon, ireinds me of the bridge between heaven and earth. A scientist knows particle, energy, time-space, and electro-magnetism are interwoven, they are useful as separate concepts. Similarly, a man sees in his lover the feminine in himself, as the moon reflects the sun and on earth the divine finds a reflection of our own personal experience of heaven at Meru.

Women emphasize process, inner world connectivity inner weaving are as important the fullness not just the outcome. Men seem outcome driven.

India, like her ancient rivers have a beautiful feminine quality, and how will it merge with the overpowering masculinity of economic demand?

The coniunctio as a harmonious balance between heaven and earth, like the moon and sun, and man and woman. What is unknown in our self is found in completeness of union of the other in love. Meister Ekhart called it the marriage of the sacred masculine and divine feminine.

Meru offers devotion and contemplation of divine love.

It allows us, in the words of poet Mary Oliver  “to love what is mortal; to hold it against your bones knowing your own life depends on it; and, when the time comes to let it go, to let it go.”

To look deep within and find what we know from somewhere deep within. To love, and to let go, in the cycle of life.

 

[1]Colin Wilson, The Atlas of Holy Places & Sacred Sites, Penguin Books Ltd., 1996 p. 119.

[2] Charles Allen, A Mountain in  Tibet: 18.

[3] Dr. Sethumadhava Mount Kailash, Where the Heaven meets the Earth

[4] Charles Allen, A Mountain in  Tibet: 21-23.

[5] Hinduism Today, May 1997

[6] Jennifer Westwood, Sacred Journeys , Henry Holt and Company, Inc., 1997 p.78.

[7] In the ancient scheme there were five, as there are in Ayurveda and TCM. Ayurveda and Western schemes list fire, earth, water, earth and more other worldly ether. The Chinese system replaces ether with metal.

[8] Paramahansa Yogananda, Autobiography of a Yogi, Self-Realization Fellowship, 1974, p. 194-95

 

 

Bhopal: Why build a toxic factory in a city?

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scienceaidsnewindia

“I offer up a thousand thanks to the all-powerful God who has granted that Bhopal enjoy the signal protection of Her Imperial Majesty so that the brilliance of Western science may shine forth upon our land …” proclaimed Bhopal’s Begum Shah Jahan had declared. It was November 18, 1884, when Bhopals railway station was inaugurated with fireworks.

When Begum praised the promise of science, it was inconceivable mismanaged science would causes its greatest shame.  Yet, 100 years and 16 days later, Bhopal’s KaIi grounds, close by a rail junction, would witness one of the world’s worst industrial accidents.

But why was a fertilizer plant built in the middle of Bhopal city?  The running commentary of Media often fails to analyze the decisions of distant memory that lead to disasters, amplifying trivial risks and obfuscating serious ones.

For many, the factory seemed to offer hope. The rush to industrialize India and the end of poverty promised by the Green Revolution, and a project at first touted for its safety and science were a potent mix.

_60575209_safety

A little economic history

With Independence, Nehru had promised complete self sufficiency, built on heavy Industry, steel production and large reservoirs.

However economic growth was slow, “the Hindu rate of growth” as it was nicknamed of 3.2% from 1952 to 1980 was slightly above the population growth. Apparently slow, it was still higher than the 1% experienced under Britain during the first half of the 20th century.

And a self sufficiency that seemed blessed by the British Labour government at Independence.  But Nehru’s plan performed poorly. Overwhelmingly rural , only 16% of Indias rural 320 million in 1952 could sign their name. The average life expectancy was only 32.

In ages past, perhaps India’s youth saluted the sun in prayer, their crops sprung from her new-formed soil, spreading freshness in a primal impulse of gratitude. India needed land reform, but local Congress Big wigs blocked his efforts.

In a land where 4/5th of the people were on the land, the rural budget declined from 1/3rd during the 1952 five year plan, to 1/5th in 1957.

The failures of Nehru’s socialist Swadeshi  was apparent when in 1967 Indira Gandhi, appointed Prime Minister the year before,  dependent on food aid to feed her people, was forced by the USA and IMF to devalue the rupee. It was hoped increased exports would bring India foreign exchange[1].

Indira had promised that the eradication of poverty should be India’s first priority. Criticism of  her failures  later  revealed her dictatorial streak to a legal challenge resulting in the Emergency, when Democracy was suspended and social reforms such as birth control  forced on the populous.

While we mourn the loss of Bhopal, let us remember that the Green Revolution has seen Indias average life expectancy rise to 66 years.

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The Rush of Industry

Carbide India Ltd. (UCIL) was founded in 1934, an produced batteries, carbon products, welding equipment, plastics, industrial chemicals, marine products  and chemicals. In 1966, Union submitted a proposal to the Indian government for “erection of facilities for the manufacture of up to 5000 tonnes of Sevin Carbaryl insecticide”.  Unacted on, in  1970 Union Carbide Corporation (UCC) revealed a new technology using Methyl Isocyanides (MIC) that halved the production cost of the pesticide Sevin.

30 years on I have talked with an ex Carbider, who with her husband continues noble charitable work in Bhopal, while recognizing the company’s responsibility, questions why the government should not take responsibility for allowing people to live near the plant.

It is a good question.

In 1975, M. N. Buch, a top bureaucrat respected throughout India for his efficiency and integrity, had asked Union Carbide to move the plant away from its present site because of the rapid growth of residential neighborhoods around it.

Mr. Buch was transferred from his post.

Had there been no disaster, corruption may have been seen as necessary to power India’s Green Revolution.  But it did, contrary to assurances of safety.

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Government Collusion?

When journalist journalist Rajkumar Keswani discovered irregularities in the allocation of industrial licenses and discovered collusion between Carbide and the local government. Since then, Wikileaks has confirmed the Government of India allowed Union Carbide, USA to bypass the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act, and obtain loans from American Exim Bank instead of an Indian financing agency. This was supported by the USA. Diluting the FERA allowed Union Carbide to retain majority ownership . In the 1970’s UCIL managers were in constant contact with the US embassy to lobby for exceptional terms favourable to the company.  Then US ambassador has since confirmed moneys been paid to Congress officials.

A fire in 1978 there had been a fire and in December 1981, Mohammed Ashraf died after inhaling phosgene. After collecting witness statements and was smuggled into the plant by a dismissed trade union leader Bashir Ullah, Keswani accused Carbide of violating its own safety standards. In May 1982, three American engineers from the USA had “uncovered over sixty breaches of operational and safety regulations” which were cited by Keswani.

Keswani wrote three articles of warning of the serious risk of disaster in 1982, and a fourth in June 1984. He also wrote a letter to Chief Minister Arjun Singh was ignored, and the minister assured the Assembly that he personally inspected the Carbide plant and nothing was wrong.

Meanwhile, plant manager Warren Woomer, left India believing all the problems revealed by the safety review would be resolved and Sevin would help India’s peasants. He also strongly recommended his successor keep a strict minimum of dangerous materials and MIC always be rigorously refrigerated.

Warren may have  “belonged to a breed of engineers for whom one single defective valve was a blight upon the ideal of discipline and morality[2]” but drought cut sales. Under the series of future mangers cut backs followed.

As the son of an employee said “Plant medicines are great when things are going well. But when there’s no water left to give the rice a drink, they’re useless.”

Carbide flooded the countryside with posters of a Sikh holding a packet of Sevin proclaiming “My role is to teach you how to make five rupees out of every rupee you spend on Sevin.” Only  2,308 tons, half the production capacity,  were sold in 1982, and 1983 looked worse.

Even as staff was halved, many still believed that Carbide would ride hard times and always remain for Bhopal and India.

Carbide wasn’t just a place to work. It was a culture, too

“Carbide wasn’t just a place to work. It was a culture, too. The theatrical evenings, the entertainment, the games, the family picnics beside the waters of the Narmada, were as important to the life of the company as the production of carbon monoxide or  phosgene” stated mechanical engineer Arvind Shrivastava.

“The management created cultural interest and recreational clubs. These initiatives, which were typically American in inspiration, soon permeated the city itself. The inhabitants of Bhopal may not have understood the function of the chimneys, tanks and pipework they saw under construction, but they all came rushing to the cricket and volleyball matches the new factory sponsored. Carbide had even set up a highly successful hockey team” wrote Lapierre in Five Minutes past Midnight in Bhopal.
“As a tribute to the particular family of pesticides to which Sevin belonged, it called its team “the Carbamates.” Nor did Carbide forget the most poverty stricken. On the eve of the Diwali festival, …an official delegation of Carbiders hand[ed]  out baskets full of sweets, bars of chocolate and cookies. While the children launched themselves at the sweets, other employees went around the huts, distributing what Carbide considered to be a most useful gift in overpopulated India: condoms.”

Sadly, the loyalty it inspired could not last.

As Keswani observed  “I have published a report in the state as to how many of the relatives of the politicians and bureaucrats were employed by Union Carbide. And apart from that, the guesthouse had a beautiful guesthouse which was being used by several people like Arjun Singh and Madhav Rao Scindia. At one instance, the Congress party held a convention in Bhopal and used it as a place of stay for several ministers. That only shows what kind of clout they had. Those were the times when a multinational company coming to India was greeted with open arms, they were given all kinds of concessions and treated like demigods. There was absolutely no question of anybody going against a powerful corporation like Union Carbide. The company was one of the biggest chemical companies in the world.”

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A lesson for the new India?

I often walk past the guest house gate, abandoned besides the Bharat Bhavan, just as I have walked through the Union Carbide site. As I read of the mismanagement of disaster funds, of the poor health management that followed and the incredible delay to undertake a study of the effected I wonder if the the then government has as much to be ashamed off as Union Carbide.

Perhaps, that is why justice is so long in coming.

As the 30th anniversary of the disaster approaches, I am reminded of the 1912 sinking of the Titanic. world hopes of technological progress were mortally wounded when the by an iceberg and along with confidence in Britain’s social class structure,  killed off by World War I.

The forces that held back Indias economy in Nehru’s time have changed by information technology. In contrast to China’s labour intensive economy, India’s economy is capital intensive, under utilizing hundreds of millions of unskilled labourers, many leaving the land.

Bhopals disaster is not loudly discussed in the City of Lakes, but its presence is always felt.

150 television channels now allow the poor to see a the glitter of good they are supposed to want but can never afford. Bhopal reminds me that long term India must involve the rural poor, or risk the discontent of the underclass left behind by the new India.

… and justice?

Wikileaks revealed that as late as 2007 the USA threatened to link investments in India to the country’s stand on Dow Chemicals, one of that nations largest corporations that bought out Union Carbide.

[1] Writer Edward Luce (In spite of the God’s, p. 32, Abacus, London 2011) the death knell to this dream followed the loss of India’s foreign currency reserves when Iraq torched Kuwait’s oil fields at the Gulf War.

[2] Dominique Lapierre and Javier Moro, Five Past Midnight in Bhopal: The Epic Story of the World’s Deadliest Industrial Disaster, Grand Central Publishing, 2009.

Traffic as Indias psychosocial mirror?

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buses-from-jhigatola
Today I was hit by a motor bike. Nothing serious, but I was knocked off my cycle and gifted a few grazes.

“I am so sorry. Listen to me. I’m so sorry from the bottom of my heart!”

I admit to few Australian adjectives, as I picked myself up adding “sorry isn’t good enough.”

He had just began passing me on my right then cut left across my path clipping my front wheel.My ankle was bleeding and the indent of my wallet into my leg left a painful bruise in my thigh.

“No listen to me. I’m so sorry. From the bottom of my heart.”

My unflattering thoughts included ‘why do people cut across the front of you, why not go round behind?”

“No harm done” says an old man in white Nehru jacket. Our eyes meet, and I nod in agreement. A young woman, (clearly anxious for future husband was smiling nervously), He had cut across the street to Bhopals Rainbow Treat to his future in-laws company.

Again: “Listen. I am sorry from the bottom of my heart. What can I do for you? I will do anything.”

“I don’t want you to do anything for me. I want you to be careful next time, so you don’t hurt anyone.”

I was about to cut into statistics: 1.5 lakh die on Indian roads, 20% are cyclists and pedestrians.

Its  worse if they're driving a car or motorbike

Its worse if they’re driving a car or motorbike

But why?

I chose silence and left. The day before I had another near miss, cut off this time by a man cell phone jammed into the crook of his neck in mid conversation as he swang round a round about nealy collecting me as I walked across it.

I ask again why?

People simply don’t look. They pull out then take a glance. They pull out and expect people to stop for them.

The constant cutting across paths means no one ever picks up much speed – that means plenty of scrapes but few seriously hurt.

I’m assured its because of traffic congestion. “Yes” I conceded, the madness of Bangkok and like cites any traffic space is fair game, so tailgating is a national port. If you don’t someone else pushes you back down the queue.

  • But this doesn’t explain the bus driver parking his bus in the middle of a round-about.
  • It does not explain the woman in who pulls up besides the line of parked cars infront of the subze wallah’s , stopping in the right lane that is bordered by a concrete , blocking all traffic behind her.
  • It does not explain the truck driver that, stops in the right lane to change a tyre, never considering it would be kind to pull over off the road to let other cars by.
    I have seen all three examples and more.

But does that say something of India’s psyche?

You can never really get ahead of the crowd. Those who do must break away and stay clear of the pack and the social norms that constrain others.

Indians are not oblivious to the world, but rather oblivious to what is of no direct interest to them says Pavan Varma in his book Being Indian. At first it made me angry. This single minded focus has helped Indians succeed against adversity.

However, every strenght has the potential to become a weakness. In excess, it may become Adadha, or disregard of others. Pushing the envelope of law unfortunately parallels variable law enforcement.

For every social action there is an equal and opposite reaction. India is very conscious  of molding community> Within each group indiviidial voices are screaming to be heard.

Then I discovered, there is beauty in the madness.

Yes, at times this outback loving Aussie, used to 1 person every 5 square kilometres, finds the noise over reaching and stressful.

But it is in this madness that I have had my greatest breakthroughs.

I know what I am about to say may upset some of my Indian friends, so I ask you to hear me out before you judge. Here goes:

India has had so many luminaries and spiritual giants because India is not spiritual.
Each Indian has a spiritual yearning, that collectively is destroyed by the samsara of the crowd.

1. There are two way to get ahead: switch off and run ahead of the herd. Some  corruptly ignore the rules and cheat.
2. Or those who look within so profoundly they are unaffected by the chaotic road kill of Indian life.
Life is balanced equally of good and bad, chaos an order. Where there is focused y public attention to a few masters, the equal but opposite disorder is scattered amongst the crowd.
Sometimes the power is focused on spiritual giants, sometime dictators of ill will.
These few can help give direction to the chaotic crowd.

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