The Departure

It’s that dream that we carry with us
that something wonderful will happen,
that it has to happen,
that time will open,
that the heart will open,
that doors will open,
that the mountains will open,
that wells will leap up,
that the dream will open,
that one morning we’ll slip in
to a harbor that we’ve never known
.”
~ Olav Hauge (translated by Robert Bly)

 

His two bags were lying at his feet in the bedroom, wonderfully clean, square, tied up. Slowly, he had dressed with the clothes he had carefully chosen for the trip, had slipped his black leather belt on, in which slept a few bundles of neat traveler’s cheques, had put on his brand new, too new sneakers. Already, he imagined them, old and wrinkled, worn out, tanned, alive with six months of wandering in the land of gods and poverty. He was afraid of this journey, afraid of having to face, one by one, patiently, the thousand problems, the thousand worries, but also the joys, the discoveries, the surprises that would inevitably mark his path. He had prepared as thoroughly as his character allowed him and, at the time of departure, he looked like a bourgeois and shy little son who was about to fight the battle of his life. Nothing will ever be the same now, the die was cast, he would tread the foothills of the Himalayas, the Ganges plain, the Rajasthan desert, he would get drunk on wondrous visions, he would taste the smell of spices, he would marvel at beautiful faces. …

Continue reading about Pierre’s departure to India (READ MORE…)

 

Duet of One

We sat quietly and watched an osprey circle and swoop over the river. This is what I loved about being in India — the vibrancy, the unexpected, the chance encounters, the conversations that quickly moved from small talk into the question of life and death.”
~ (Excerpted from ‘The Shadow that Seeks the Sun’ – by Ray Brooks)

 

This quote is the essence of Ray Brook’s book ‘The Shadow that Seeks the Sun’. Ray wrote the book that I would have loved to write, mixing the many small happenings, encounters, and dramas of Indian life, to the delving into the self, the contemplation of a new possibility of being. Intertwined with the description of everyday life in Rishikesh are nine conversations between Ray and Rudra, a newly met Anglo-Indian man. These chapters form the backbone of the book, where we delve deeper and deeper into the recognition of our inescapable reality, Rudra leading us into the patient recognition of our true being, relentlessly pointing: “See that what you are is not dependent on anything. See that this indescribable presence is shining as its own light.”

Ray Brook is my newly invited guest on ‘The Dawn Within’. Born and raised in England, Ray discovered at an early age the Japanese art of shakuhachi flute playing and became an accomplished musician. Ray and his wife Dianne, co-writer of the book, now live on Vancouver Island in Canada, and continue to spend most of their winters in the foothills of the Indian Himalaya.

I have chosen here the excerpt where Ray recalls his one to one meeting with Krishnamurti in Ojai, California. I was touched by the simple, humble, yet probing nature of the inquiry that is described. I hope you will enjoy…

 

~

So, Ray, here we are again. You can only find awareness. Tell me. What are you?”

A large brown and turquoise kingfisher landed on a rock in the water. Its huge beak looked too big for its body, its feathers impossibly vibrant in the morning sun. We watched the bird silently, waiting for it to dive. 

“What I am — is all of this.”

~

 

The Ojai Valley runs along an east-west mountain range, twenty miles inland from the Pacific coastline. The area where Krishnamurti was staying was located at the east-end of the valley surrounded by lush green mountains, oak and pine forests, and acres of orange and avocado groves. The locals call Ojai ‘Shangri-la’, and I could see why. It was the most beautiful place I had ever been. 

I arrived early — two hours early — and entered a large, well-kept garden behind an old nineteenth-century redwood house. The lovely property, named Arya Vihara or Noble Abode, was Krishnamurti’s former home and where our meeting would take place. He had lived in this house for a number of years but now, during his visits to Ojai, stayed in Pine Cottage, which was behind Arya Vihara. An inviting bench at the far end of the garden was perfectly placed in the shade. It had a good view of the property and the sun-dappled lawns surrounding it. As I sat down, I wondered whether Krishnamurti and other eminent scientists, philosophers, psychologists, and scholars had sat here. I read somewhere that Aldous Huxley had been to Arya Vihara. Huxley, who had been a good friend of Krishnamurti’s, claimed that listening to him speak was “like listening to a discourse of the Buddha — such authority, such intrinsic power.” …

Continue with Ray Brook’s one to one meeting with Krishnamurti (READ MORE…)

~

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Photo by Ray Brooks

Bibliography:
– ‘The Shadow that Seeks the Sun: Finding Joy, Love and Answers on the Sacred River Ganges’ – by Ray Brooks – (Watkins Publishing)
– ‘Blowing Zen: Finding an Authentic Life’ – by Ray Brooks – (Sentient Publications)

Websites:
The Shadow that Seeks the Sun
Ray Brooks’ Facebook Page

 

The Heart of Tagore

Rabindranath Tagore is certainly one of the fathers of modern Indian literature. His work is immense and fascinating. He is the author of more than a thousand poems, two thousand songs of which he also wrote the music, novels, short stories, plays. He has also written essays on all subjects that were dear to him, from philosophy to politics, from education to the arts, and left many sketches, drawings and paintings. But Tagore was first and foremost a poet, ‘The Poet’, as he is affectionately known in India, and it was through his poetry that he became known throughout the world.

He was born the last child of a Brahmin family from Calcutta, in 1861, and grew up in the shadow of a learned father and religious reformer. He took part in the intense intellectual and social emulation that Bengal experienced in the 19th century, when it struggled with modern Western influences. Educated in the three languages ​​- Sanskrit, Bengali and English, he wrote poems very early, and translated some of his collections into English himself. The publication of ‘Gitanjali’ in Europe and North America made Tagore famous, and he received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913. His sudden renown allowed him to make numerous trips to various continents for conferences or visits of friendship, in which he tirelessly preached peace, non-violence and unity among men. A friend of Gandhi, Tagore participated in his own way to the emergence of India as a nation. He is the author of many poems and patriotic songs, two of which have become the national anthems of India and Bangladesh.

 

Thou hast made me endless, such is thy pleasure. 
This frail vessel thou emptiest again and again, 
and fillest it ever with fresh life
.”
~ Gitanjali

 

‘Gitanjali’ (1912) is a succession of dialogues, praises to God, filled with some accents of the most profound spirituality. Face to face with the Master, with the Friend, with the Lord, the poet is alternately filled with aspirations, confusions, caught in lamentations, or in luminous resolutions. These poems combine the finesse of language with philosophical reflection or contemplation, and they do so so harmoniously that we are invited to a double and indissociable meditation.

 

And it shall be my endeavour to reveal thee in my actions, 
knowing it is thy power gives me strength to act
.”
~ Gitanjali

Let’s delve into the spiritual heart of Tagore’s poetry and essays (READ MORE…)

 

 

Swami Bharatananda

~~~

Maurice Frydman is one of most extraordinary people I’ve ever come across and virtually nothing is known about him.” said David Godman, one of the foremost and infatigable exponents of Ramana Maharshi’s life and teachings. Maurice Frydman was born a polish jew in 1894, in Warsaw. Exceptionally bright at school, he was a prolific inventor, spoke many European and Indian languages, and was an earnest and passionate seeker of truth. He has explored many traditions, including Judaism, Orthodox Christianity, and the Theosophical movement of Annie Besant. He devoured books from all possible traditions, particularly interested in all the great writings of Hinduism. Over the years, he met and was close to numerous spiritual teachers like J. krishnamurti, Ramana Maharshi, swami Ramdas, and Nisargadatta Maharaj. He wrote a book on Ramana Maharshi, ‘Maharshi’s Gospel’, and was responsible for recording and publishing the now classic ‘I Am That’ by Nisargadatta Maharaj. He lived in India during the later part of his life, becoming an Indian citizen, and was associated with Mahatma Gandhi, inventing a new implement on the famous Indian spinning wheel, the Charkha. He was given the Indian name Swami Bharatananda when he was initiated as a Hindu monk or sannyasi by Swami Ramdas. Ramana Maharshi refused him this initiation, saying that “Sannyas is taken from within; not from without”. Maurice also greatly helped to organise the Dalaï Lama’s escape to India and to find places for the Tibetan refugees, like Dharamsala. But, “there is no mention of Maurice in any of the books related to either Dalai Lama‘s escape or the smuggling in of the Buddhist manuscripts from Tibet. I have never seen a person as Self-effacing as Maurice”, wrote V. Ganesan. Maurice Frydman died in Bombay in 1976, after an accident. Nisargadatta Maharaj, who held Maurice in high esteem, and considered him as a true jnani, was by his side. Of the days spent in Ramana Maharshi’s presence, Maurice wrote: “We took a cupful when the ocean was at our feet.”

~~~

Here are two Extracts from Maurice Frydman’s poetry: 

I am at the end of the tether 
and can’t break the cord 

All my going ahead 
is a deceitful dream, 

All my thinking not true, 
all my feeling not pure, 

All my doing not right, 
all my living not clear. 

I am tied to myself 
by myself through myself, 

The knot out of reach, 
I am in your hands.

There is a Heart and a mind, 
and a body and soul 
Waiting for you. 

You will come when you choose, 
And whatever you like 
you are welcome to do. 

 

* * * 

 

Heavy with the mud of many lands 
I was flowing lazily, 

Making obstacles of myself 
out of my unholy accumulations. 

Suddenly I awakened 
to the freshness of endless beauty, 

And felt the eternal environment 
of endless peace. 

My beloved I have found you, 
and yet never were we separated, 

Every drop of my being is you 
and yours is the force of my flow, 

Never are we apart 
and yet I always strive after you. 

The flow of creation will go on 
with me or without me, 

Only do not make me forget 
that I am none 

and that you only exist and create 
in ever-changing mobility. 

 

~~~

Poetry by Maurice Frydman (1901-1977)

Painting by Edwin Lord Weeks (1849-1903)
‘Temples and bathing ghat at Benares’ – wikiart

~~~

 

– Maurice Frydman’s poetry is from the book:
Face to Face with Sri Ramana Maharshi’ – by Laxmi Narain – (Sri Ramana Kendram, Hyderabad)

– Read this more extensive biography of Maurice Frydman here.

Bibliography:
– ‘I Am That’ – by Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj – (Chetana Pvt.Ltd)
– ‘Maharshi’s Gospel’ – by Ramana Maharshi and Maurice Frydman – (Sri Ramanasramam)

Websites:
Maurice Frydman (Wikipedia)
Paula Marvelly, An Interview with Sri V. Ganesan
’The Human Gospel of Ramana Maharshi’, As Shared by V. Ganesan

 

Rendez-vous with Ramana, Part III

Paula Marvelly is my second invited guest here. She is the creator and Editor of the exquisite blog ‘The Culturium’, where she explores the interface between mystical spirituality and the cultural arts. I am happy she accepted to let me use her story extracted from her book ‘The Teachers of One’. This is the Part Three of her three part ‘Rendezvous with Ramana’: “Paula Marvelly ascends Mount Arunachala to sit in Virupaksha Cave and experience the oneness of the Self.”

~

Those who have sunk deeply into the ocean of silence and drowned
will live on the summit of the supreme mountain,
the expanse of Consciousness
.”
~ Ramana Maharshi

~

Dispelling illusion

THE LIFE OF Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi was immaculate humility and benevolence. He showed compassion to all beings — animals, thieves, people from all castes, religions and creeds. He refrained from getting involved in worldly activities; he never handled any of the ashram money nor did he answer letters addressed to him, though he would always welcome anyone into his presence.

Ramana also wrote down very little of his teaching. The only verses which arose spontaneously were ‘Eleven Stanzas to Sri Arunachala’ and ‘Eight Stanzas to Sri Arunachala’; the rest of his poetry being produced specifically at the request of a disciple to elucidate a particular point — put altogether as a collection, it only forms a slim volume. And his most well known work, ‘Forty Verses on Reality’ or Ulladu Narpadu, together with its forty supplementary verses, constitutes just over ten pages of written text. “All this is only activity of the mind,” he remarked to a visiting poet. “The more you exercise the mind and the more success you have in composing verses, the less peace you have.” Nevertheless, he did meticulously edit the books published during his lifetime to ensure accuracy of meaning, leaving no room for misunderstanding or misinterpretation.

Embark on Paula Marvelly’s third Part journey to Arunachala (READ MORE…)

 

Speaking of Shiva

When I didn’t know myself, 
where were you? 
Like the colour in the gold,
you were in me.
I saw in you, 
lord white as jasmine,  
the paradox of your being
in me
without showing a limb
.”
~ Akka Mahadevi

 

If you have been to India, you are likely to have met a beggar who came to you imploring, asking you to relieve him from his suffering, but also being a little rough, with something in his voice sounding like a reproach. You probably froze for a second, feeling guilty, not knowing what to do. You felt caught between giving or not giving, between an easy way out or a shameful flight. None of them satisfactory. Torn by this conflict, you may have missed the giving, salvific part of it all. You may have missed that in the profuse tradition of India, one of Shiva’s many forms is the ‘Supreme Beggar’. You may have missed that, in Krishnamurti’s words, “Conflict is the measure of the ‘I’.” Shiva came along to give you a chance, a beautiful opportunity to see that there is in you a way out of yourself, of your little ‘I’, in which you could both give and receive. I’d like to call this freezing, this second of conflict and confusion, the ‘knot of Shiva’. I had this knot undone once, long ago, and was allowed to sneak a peek at Shiva’s face. Evidently, he had some secrets to tell. Let’s walk the road from the egoistic, immature thoughts and images of Shiva, to the more understanding, universal realisation of his true identity. Let’s unravel Shiva’s mysteries…

An essay to explore the many aspects of India’s most famous god (READ MORE)

 

Rendezvous with Ramana, Part II

Paula Marvelly is my second invited guest here. She is the creator and Editor of the exquisite blog ‘The Culturium’, where she explores the interface between mystical spirituality and the cultural arts. I am happy she accepted to let me use her story extracted from her book ‘The Teachers of One’. This is the Part Two of her three part ‘Rendezvous with Ramana’: “Paula Marvelly is now safely installed in the Ramanasramam and imbibing the sacred atmosphere of the home of India’s greatest sage.”

~

The mind is only a bundle of thoughts.
The thoughts have their root in the I-thought.
Whoever investigates the True ‘I’ enjoys the stillness of bliss
.”
~ Ramana Maharshi

~

In search of bliss

I WAKE UP and leap out of bed, panting and thrashing about like a mad woman. It takes a few moments to realize where I am. It was all just a dream, I tell myself. But it was so very real whilst it was all happening. And now, another dream surrounds me. When will I wake up from this one, I wonder?

The following day, I join other devotees in the Main Hall for the morning milk offering to Sri Bhagavan at his Samadhi Shrine. Opened by Indira Gandhi, it is a large, slightly austere auditorium, with a marble floor and cream and green painted walls. At the end is Bhagavan’s shrine — a life-sized statue of Sri Ramana sitting in the lotus position, carved in a black onyx-textured material, is centred on a raised stage, surrounded by a balustrade. Incense billows into the air from burners and multifarious-coloured flowers are scattered all over the shrine. There are also portraits of Bhagavan drenched in garlands and various gods and goddesses standing like sentinels, protecting their Lord, whose body is entombed under the altar. Rather than being cremated as is the usual tradition in India, Ramana’s body has been preserved so that people may still benefit from his presence. …

Embark on Paula Marvelly’s second Part journey to Arunachala (READ MORE…)