Evaporation, condensation, precipitation: Life cycle.
Some of us bubbles are smiling. 🙂
Evaporation, condensation, precipitation: Life cycle.
Some of us bubbles are smiling. 🙂
Ever since we joined in our new roles as teachers last month, I’ve been getting a bit more time to read and ponder about the utterly magnificent dohas of Kabir. It helps to have a colleague who has been listening, reading and pondering on these beautiful and deep lines written hundreds of years ago, and recently I came across these two lines, which have made an imprint on my muddy mind’s surface.
What these lines say, translated as best as I can, is:
The clay tells the sculptor “what! You will beat and pat and trample me? There will be a time when I will do the same to you”.
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.
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!
“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…
A bird flapped its wings and they moved,
the air moved to become the breeze,
the breeze shook the leaves,
which flapped and flew away, like birds,
and there I was, rooted in self.
After the long entry on the Har Ki Dun trek (https://gabbartrip.wordpress.com/2016/03/28/valley-of-god/), my thoughts were still in the mountains, and I was transported back to Berchtesgadener Land in Germany. We were lucky that we could visit the area twice and could spend some time hiking, seeing, experiencing the local culture and practices.
The first time we’d visited the area, we were on a longer trip which had a lot of places thrown in – reason being this was our first big vacation in Europe and we didn’t know if we would be there again the following year. As a result, there was lesser time per place, but nevertheless we loved the place so much that we returned six months later to South Germany and spent a full week there.
Here are some memories from both the trips:
Arriving in Munich in the morning, we had a few hours which we used to hop over to the Oktoberfest.
Just before the train pulled into Freilassing, there was an announcement saying that one of the staff was celebrating 30+ years of service with Deutsche Bahn and this was going to be his last day. I think he was from this part of Germany, which is why the staff seemed to have arranged a quick celebration for him at this station. There were friends, family and well-wishers cheering on and a lot of patting on the back, hugging and clapping. Such a nice gesture!
Heading on towards Berchtesgaden Hbf now, we saw glimpses of peaks from the train itself. Being our first year at such a northerly latitude, we were extra keen in checking out if autumn had yet graced us with its colours or not.
We reached in the late afternoon / evening, and called it a day at the campsite.
The following morning had started off cloudy, but the sun was rising somewhere behind the peaks and would soon clear matters.
We rushed to the stream nearby, the Königsseer Ache, which was flowing fast and steady. Beautiful companion to have..
We wanted to see the lakes and go on a hike, so grabbing a tiny bit of breakfast we started off. The lake was reflecting a bit too much light for our liking, especially after us having seen some photographs of how incredibly beautiful it could be – we were a bit disappointed and decided to come back later when the sun had moved in the sky.
We headed off, no particular place in mind, and saw a trail board pointing and leading to “Grünstein Klettersteig” and headed off. At that point, we didn’t really know that much German, and we thought it would be an easy trail. We were right, it was easy, but only because there was a trail all the way as an option. Klettersteig basically means a ‘Via Ferrata’ (Iron road) and we had neither the experience nor the equipment in that bit. Having said that, I’m really looking forward to climbing it that way now, sometime!
The ‘non-Klettersteig’ trail was level and broad, and easy, but where it lacked in making us really work out, it awarded beautiful views – dense forests, views of the lakes, trees in different shades, views of higher peaks across the valley and so on..
This was also one of our first hikes together, as in where both of us were not only hiking together physically, but we were much closer mentally and emotionally as well.
Along the way, we saw several elderly people hiking and found that very impressive. It was a recurring theme, how sport and fitness was such a lifestyle there, and how even the elderly are in such good physical condition! It also led to the sightings of a white mop of hair hurrying down the trail, catching the sunlight and reflecting it, a quick smile exchanged. Loved it!
Scenes from a memory..
As we came out of the thicker woods, we saw the Watzmann massif, and it looked daunting even from far off. We didn’t have the time on this trip to try and hike there, and in our next visit to this area, we couldn’t climb it since it was ‘nicht Schneefrei’ (not snow-free). However, it still left a mark and we still think about it a lot.
Here’s a popular and lovely imagination of the Watzmann family.
“”Watz” means rough, hard, stony and “Mann” means Man. An old legend explains the unusual formation of the Watzmann massif. Long, long ago, the area was ruled over by a cruel king called Watzmann, along with his queen and their seven children. The whole family was merciless and unfair, trampling down the crops on their wild hunting trips and taxing the people to starvation. Every Sunday the inhabitants prayed that they would be rid of these tyrannical rulers. One day, their prayers were heard at last. While in the hills on a hunting expedition, the entire family perished in a great storm and was turned to stone. And there they still sit today: the main peak is the king towering over the land, his queen sits to the left and the seven royal brats huddle between them.” – from ‘Your complete guide to Berchtesgaden” by David Harper.
By this time we were really hungry, having had a tiny breakfast and a light dinner the previous night. A Bavarian Weißwurst helped push us on.
The views were pretty, the trees seemed to be framing a landscape photograph!
Soon we were at the summit.
There was a board or two which shared details of the trail.
Back home, or rather back at the camping place, we saw the sun set on the peaks, a beautiful sight.
It was getting chilly, and we zipped ourselves in the tent once dinner was done and slept off, content.
The next day was foggy again, and an early rise and visit to the lake was rewarding.
The sun soon shooed the mist away, although both got trapped in a spider’s web
We went back to the lake later on and did a short hike till the Malerwinkel Aussichtspunkt (literal translation – Painter’s corner viewpoint), which as the name suggests is a view point from where a lot of painters painted the beautiful landscape. Personal note: I’m thoroughly enjoying pronouncing all the German words right now, after a gap of a year . People say the language sounds angry / harsh / unfriendly, but I really like the sound of it.
The next time we came to Berchtesgaden was in Spring, around the middle of April, and it poured for 5 days out of the 8 days that we were there!
However ,there were some delightful scenes to be seen right outside the tent, as overnight rain had left a carpet of water on the ground. Wildflowers had just started to bloom and along with the cool water, the whole place looked so fresh green, and fertile.
It was not breakfast time for us alone.
The lake was mysterious and intriguing green – different from what we had seen a few months back. Time and the seasons had woven a completely different shade into the surroundings.
We went off towards Obersee and saw some incredible reflections and shapes
Here’s the ‘normal’ view and the rotated photograph of the same view
There was another hike of about an hour and a half, which we took basically the entire day to complete(!) since the views were just too pretty. The clouds and the light kept changing, the sun went westwards as the day progressed and somehow the lake started getting stiller and seemingly clearer, and this is what we were offered a vision of:
Farther on, the views just got even more stunning.
After 4 days of non-stop rain, gray skies and hardly any color, these views were a reward.
At a certain point of time in life, the mind / heart wants more and more, never satisfied with what it already has.
Thy infinite gifts come to me only on these very small hands of mine.
Ages pass, and still thou pourest, and still there is room to fill.
– Rabindranath Tagore
But that day was not one such day. We didn’t want any more / less of sunlight or clouds or wind or still waters or anything else. It was the most comfortable place to be in, the most ideal condition of everything in the Universe, and those five hours flew by in a second, and yet lasted for almost at eternity.
As I sit here typing this a little more than two years later, I feel the same state of mind returning.
Reluctant to leave, and yet leaving without regret, almost as if designed to rub it in, we stumbled onto this board near one of the villages.
”Die Welt hat genug für jedermanns Bedürfnisse, aber nicht für jedermanns Gier” – Mahatma Gandhi, meaning that the World has enough for everyone’s needs, but not for everyone’s Greed.
Powerful. Appropriate. Urgent.
We again went off to Hintersee, now that it was sunny. The magic of this place and the incredible profound powerful beauty of nature just kept surprising us. If this is not wealth, what is?
Here’s something that I had felt when we were here –> https://gabbartrip.wordpress.com/2014/06/29/the-third-eye/
The next day started off bright, but cloudy, and we immediately headed off for another hike (easy to identify the pattern, isn’t it? 🙂 )
We decided to take some photos of the lovely flowers local to this region – we’d picked up a book which mentioned their names and we were trying to absorb the local plants as well.
Driveways were lined like this:
You go left, I’ll go right.
That’s how we go underwater!
This is how the entire hillside looked like:
This tree in its convoluted shape and multiple shades looked like an abstract piece of art.
Little splashes of colors along the way, like tiny medals after completing a few sections of the trail.
Even though it was drizzling and was chilly, the water splashing down on us from the trees felt welcome and like a small prank played between us.
Fresh from a bath
That’s the summit, maybe there was a bit left to climb, but based on the time since the last milestone, we estimated that it wouldn’t be far from here. As such visibility was poor. That’s looking down into the valley, with the trail on the right of the photograph. We soaked in this view, and headed down.
The next day was bright and the river was pretty!!!! Check out the shade of the water!
We’re all close knit, aren’t we?
spot the evergreens vs the new leaves? 🙂 loved the shades, with the clouds lifting up and revealing higher slopes behind
Saw a giant squirrel going about it’s business, foraging for food, making a forest in the process.
Adjust the brightness, contrast and settings in your brain, then in your camera and you can spot butterflies in the canopy overhead!
Saw more than a few couples hand in hand – a warming sight.
Home for a week! 🙂 (the black tent, I mean!)
This style of housing where a small house was built just outside the bigger one, was where the parents stayed once they grew older. We found it to be an interesting, if slightly unusual, idea.
We met a very nice person on this trip, someone with whom we spent a good amount of time, some of it drinking a lot of wine in his caravan, and then going out for a couple of drives and walks. We spoke about a lot of things, and have some very good memories of him. He had taken us to Cafe Reber – home to the delicious Mozartkugeln and several cakes.
He also took us to the Gradierhaus which “is the world´s biggest open-air AlpsBrine Inhalatoriuman, located in Bad Reichenhall´s Kurpark. About 400,000 litres of AlpenSole (AlpsBrine) trickle down the 13 meter high walls, which are covered with hawthorn and blackthorn twigs. Take a walk around the Gradierhaus and breathe in the fresh air enriched with small salt water particles. This ‘sea-breeze’ air has proven to be highly beneficial to the respiratory passages.”
Walking around these walls is considered to be healthy, and we could not help but compare it mentally with how regions near a sea shore leave you relaxed and fresh.
If you didn’t like to walk inside, you could walk around the area, which, on a sunny day, would be radiating some wonderful colors thanks to the beautiful flowers.
A closer look at the ‘grid’ – the wall holds moisture as it trickles down, and gives a cooling effect as well.
Below is a stunning, thought provoking sculpture called ‘Die Pietà’ by Anna Chromy, situated outside the Salzburg Cathedral.
The plaque had the following words:
“Und aus der atmenden Brust.. fühl’ ich die Seele entfliehen
Die leere Hülle als Symbol dessen was uns überlebt:
die Liebe, die wir gaben.
die Werke, die wir schufen.
das Leid, das wir erduldeten.”
English translation to the best of my abilities:
“And from the breathing chest I feel the soul flee,
The hollow covering as a symbol of what survives us:
the love, we gave,
the works, we created,
the pain, we endured.”
Back at the campsite by night, and off to bed, having spent a wonderful day in very good company.
The next day was a sunny day after a lot of days of rain – quick, dry everything, breakfast can wait!
This is the little order book where we could place orders for fresh bread for the following day. Loved the system, and loved the breads, too – Mehrkorn, Kornspitz, Croissants, semmelbrot – most of them were very tasty, especially when we added some dips / jams and tea / soup into the equation!
Back to the routine of wandering outside 🙂
This would however be the last hike of the trip, and we would return back to ‘civilization’ the next day, with enough memories for many years to come.
I am reminded of what I read somewhere, about how ‘He whom God loves, is dropped into the Berchtesgadener Land’, a quote by Ludwig Ganghofer.