May the light and magic show continue!

A lot of things have happened in the past couple of months. A lot of confusion prevailed. We met a lot of positive and inspiring people. We realized the importance of protecting our own internal (and infinite) energies and not allowing it to be contaminated by the noise and fears of the external society. We went through a spell of bad health, partly fueled by needless stress. In the process of recovery, we killed some bad habits. Life is becoming better now. While there was always excitement and happiness in ‘the future’, I, especially, have made a shift and am bringing that excitement and happiness into my today. I don’t want to wait and depend on tomorrow for being in my best spirits – It has to happen today.

I have quit my job as an engineer and will be joining a school, working as a teacher in the coming months. While the insecurity of leaving a high paying job scared me for almost two years, I have been chipping away at it and now I am finally comfortable to take the plunge to lower salaries. It is ironic and sad, how a teacher is poorly paid, considering the importance of the role. However, we’re looking forward to revisiting some of our textbooks from about two decades back, and are really excited to re-learn everything, with several new mindsets that these two decades have helped grow. Along with the now available and fantastic online exposure (articles, videos, blog posts, info-graphics, etc) I really can’t wait to make some notes!

Recently I stumbled on this photograph, taken against the backdrop of a dark sea at night. It reminds me that it is time for the light and magic show to continue, and become stronger.

Let there be Light, and Magic.

Let there be Light, and Magic.

 

પાણા અને પાણી

ચમકતી ધારા ની ચળકતી ધાર
ધીમે થી અંદર ઉત્રી જાય,
મારી સાથે એક બનીને
મને ઘમી જાય..

ક્યારેક શાંત સર્કી મારી બની જાય
પૂર બની ને વહી ને મારી જાય..
ક્યારેક હસ્તી નાચ્તી કૂદતી જાય
સાંપ ની જેમ ડસી જાય,
થીજી ને જામી જાય
પ્રકાશ માં ફરી જીવિત થાય..

એના અતૂટ અખૂટ ચક્ર મને કહે
મારામાં પલળી ને અસીમ વહે

ઘણાં પાણા, ઘણું પાણી
મારામાં રેહવાના, ઓગળવાના..

And below, a quick, basic and rough translation (Realized how difficult it is to translate even something that is your own work. I can imagine the effort needed, the struggle required, the depth one would have to go to to understand someone else’s work to translate, and finally the reward of having done it satisfactorily.

Title: Water and Rocks

The glistening edge of a glittering stream

slowly slides into me,

becomes one with me.

I feel good about it.

Sometimes, it slides past me silently, becoming mine,

Sometimes, it becomes a flood and kills me,

sometimes it playfully dances and jumps around,

while sometimes, serpentine, it bites me.

It freezes, and stays frozen,

In the light it becomes alive again

Its unbroken, unending cycles tell me

Come, get drenched in me and flow, flow limitless.

A lot of stones, a lot of water,

Will stay in me, and melt away.

 

Boundarylessness

I did not think that I would be writing a book review anytime. But some books are special, and deserve to be ‘shared’. I recently finished  reading Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse and loved it. Sharing a few thoughts!

img_20170112_122739

“A heron flew over the bamboo forest—and Siddhartha accepted the heron into his soul, flew over forest and mountains, was a heron, ate fish, felt the pangs of a heron’s hunger, spoke the heron’s croak, died a heron’s death. A dead jackal was lying on the sandy bank, and Siddhartha’s soul slipped inside the body, was the dead jackal, lay on the banks, got bloated, stank, decayed, was dismembered by hyenas, was skinned by vultures, turned into a skeleton, turned to dust, was blown across the fields. And Siddhartha’s soul returned, had died, had decayed, was scattered as dust, had tasted the gloomy intoxication of the cycle, awaited in new thirst like a hunter in the gap, where he could escape from the cycle, where the end of the causes, where an eternity without suffering began. He killed his senses, he killed his memory, he slipped out of his self into thousands of other forms, was an animal, was carrion, was stone, was wood, was water, and awoke every time to find his old self again, sun shone or moon, was his self again, turned round in the cycle, felt thirst, overcame the thirst, felt new thirst.”

The first time I read these words, I could not connect with them at all. I thought it was exaggerated. I thought Siddhartha was mad. At times, I thought I was foolish in not being able to comprehend what was being said through these words.

But, a few years later, a few months ago, I had an experience. After two months of a hot, intense, unrelenting Indian summer, I went to the forest, and saw the burnt, dried grass. I saw the droopy leaves. I saw the lake drying up. At night, I saw elephants drinking water, herds of deer drinking water. The next morning, I touched the soil – hard, hot, dry. Imagine a day in this weather, outdoors. Imagine an entire season filled with days like this.

I became the elephant, I felt thirsty, I showered dust and mud on my back, I twirled my trunk around clumps of grass and uprooted them searching for moisture below the top layer, I dug my tusks and turned the soil over, I looked upwards towards the blinding sun, I waited, I waited for night to arrive, I waited, I saw clouds roll in, I smelt the rain, saw the lightning, felt the fat raindrops. I experienced and imagined the relief elephants may be experiencing.

It was time to re-read the book.

I loved the book this time.

Beginning at a young age, Siddhartha seems to realise that the sum of his knowledge, the teachings of the holy books and the debates and daily rituals do not add up to something that satisfies him. The whole seems to be something different than the sum of several individual things (nirvana or moksha or enlightenment seems not to be a formulaic combination of operations), but something other than that. The whole is something other than the sum of the individual parts – something that only he can seek, only he can find and experience for himself. No other definition will do. I had recently read about Gestalt Psychology and this connection rang true in my head. I was also reminded of this quote by Jiddu Krishnamurti – “The description is not the described; I can describe the mountain, but the description is not the mountain, and if you are caught up in the description, as most people are, then you will never see the mountain”. Having been in the mountains, and having experienced the magic, the power, the energy in them, I could empathise. The same went for what Siddhartha says in the book.

Emotions and events are captured beautifully in the book, even in the translation; for example, just before setting off on his path, after his father has not agreed with his view, there is a line which says – “Then the father realised that Siddhartha could no longer remain with him – that he had already left him.” This happens at day break, when “the first light of day entered the room”. Beautiful. I could visualise the entire scene and could feel the tension, the resolve and the emotions in that room. I am waiting to read the original German text now, just to see how it reads out.

His subsequent journey into ‘Sansara’ was tumultuous, with both ups and downs, and yet necessary. It was his nature, I think, to immerse himself completely in whatever he did, and see the connection and the separation it had from his previous life. Seeing the illusions of life firsthand, he nevertheless learns some very important lessons about love – how you cannot completely isolate loving someone and hating someone. He went into the opposite extreme of his Samana state and went deep into the lifestyle of the town-dwellers. Ultimately tired of it, he cycles out of it, after almost being driven to the point of killing himself, but realises that having experienced it first hand, he has an understanding about the life of greed, power, the pleasures of the world and the riches, and that with this understanding he has the clarity to continue again on his path..Siddhartha ”the pleasure-monger” and Siddhartha ”the man of property” had to die if he wanted to kill the old Self in him and start anew.

A critical difference between seeking and finding is highlighted, with seeking shown as being limiting, since it is a conscious thing. You have a goal, you get obsessed with achieving it, and you see nothing but the goal. On the other hand, finding is ”to be free, to be receptive, to have no goal”. I find it very difficult to untwine my understanding from that of the book’s philosophy – you can’t have just goals, and you can’t just be seekers. There seems to be the need for a balance between the two. Sometimes, things have to be seeked and found, including your own self.

At the end of the book, it is mentioned that the Buddha is there everywhere, inside the sinner, just like there exists a robber who is present inside the Brahmin. The world is not black and white, atleast not always, it is also cyclical, and connected – “The stone is just a stone, but perhaps because within the cycle of change, it can also become man and spirit, it is also of importance”.

This book has many more layers to it, many of which will take a long time to be reached. Till the next reading…

અજાણ્યા અને ઓળખીતાં

વર્ષો ના ગાળા પછી મળેલા વર્ષો થી
જાણીતાં દોસ્તારો અજાણ્યા લાગે છે;
ઈ હિસાબે ડુંગર દરિયા જંગલ આકાશ માં
કાંઈક તો ખાસ હશેજ..

Fractals of Life

A rose bud awaited bloom
in excitement of Life itself,
To stretch her petals
and play with the wind,
to exchange scents with her fellows
and kisses with the rain.

A tumbler of water
was all that stood
between spring and winter,
between Life and Death.

They came and spilt it.
She gasped in shock

They laughed.

Their joyful laughter
numbed her pain
And she waited, silent.
Awaiting not her death,
But her Life.

You see ,
the thing about Seasons is ,
like Karma,
they work in cycles.
And the thing about evil is,
it’s Foolish
Foolish to think Silence is weak.

She knew her Seasons
She knew her Freedom
They were her Friends.
And so her roots she kept working,
stretching and holding,
till they reached all the water
they’d so joyously spilt.

Her source of life
SHE has become,
Be it drought , flood or malice,
She will never succumb.

SHE BLOOMS.

Acrylic color on paper – Thread art

A new beginning

There has been a nice and satisfying ‘development’ in the past couple of months.

After several months of planning, discussions, occasional doubts and several beautiful inspirations, we have finally managed to actually get into ‘teaching’, and are feeling good about it! There is so much to learn, so much to get inspired and humbled by, and so much to appreciate in the grand design of things, that this has been one of the stronger highlights in the recent past. It gives us enough reason to change something about ourselves, and a lot of new exposure to the way kids live their life, and while we set out to ‘teach’, we’ve realized that you cannot separate it from what teaching teaches you.

Here’s where we are updating everything related to the classes : https://thesummerblossoms.wordpress.com/. Please do go through it and let us know your thoughts / suggestions.

The Summer Blossoms

The Summer Blossoms

”We are essentially a network of connections. And nature has used its brush strokes to create stunning patterns which are always there to remind us of these connections – connections waiting to be discovered by each of us. 

The first three months of the workshop have been designed for the children to explore the vast network that they are a part of. The workshop aims to strengthen the human to human connections as well , and in the process blur artificial borders and patterns that have been created over the years, patterns which disconnect and isolate instead of aiding oneness .

Coming back to connections. So the activities revolve around nature . We study and observe nature through various forms – art, craft, poetry, stories, Fleischer cartoons, nature documentaries and movies, games, reading patterns on leaves, books, analogies with the human body and social structure, studying geography, animals etc. Since we live in an extremely populated city with next to negligible access to nature, I feel a little limited. It would be so much easier if cities were designed keeping this aspect in mind – we need to be close to nature in our daily lives, not through monthly or yearly vacations.” – The Summer Blossoms