Is this a dream?

A topsy turvy world is where I come from.

The land is above the sky.

The birds swim and the fishes fly.

A new born talked about jewels.

A dying man promised a life.

I lived a thousand lives.

And yet,

None I can call mine.

Is this a dream or is that?

Haiku #6

The change

Illustration:

Change is the only constant in our lives. Without change there is no growth. If we become stagnant, we won’t explore much of the world and all our strength to cope up in life will become atrophied. However, change is painful.

Change needs patience. Transition from something we are habituated to something uncertain is not so easy. To be honest, I am scared of changes unlike most people who love change. But I also know that life begins outside the comfort zone. Despite no love for change, I am in a constant process of changing. Change is difficult only in the transition phase. I am trying my best to embrace the change.

Changing ourselves is not so easy. But witnessing the change in nature is pleasant. Whenever the season is about to change, the atmosphere smells of something ethereal. That feeling is so wonderful.

Wonderful O Wonderful!

“The Lying Life Of Adults” by Elena Ferrante

  A spoiler free review!

BookThe Lying Life Of Adults

GenreFiction (A Neapolitan Novel)

AuthorElena Ferrante (Pseudonym)

“How wonderful to travel, how wonderful to know someone who knows everything, whose intelligence and looks and kindness are extraordinary, and who explains to you the value of what by yourself you wouldn’t be able to appreciate.”

The Lying Life Of Adults

It must be really challenging to get inside the head of a teenage girl. As we grow up, we tend to erase what kind of mess we lived in while we were adolescent. We mould into mature and responsible beings with age but being an adolescent is not easy with all the physical, emotional and mental changes.

Author with pseudonym, Elena Ferrante has written the normal aspects of life from the vantage point of a teenager. It is a beautifully written story reflecting the psychology and vexation of a teenage girl with her family falling apart.

It is a story where a child tries to decipher the activities of adults and finds out the anomalies. The central character of the story, Giovanna, oscillates between the perfect and hypocritic life of her parents to her relatives whose life is vulgar and filled with obscenities.

It also reflects the danger of a single story. I loved this element of the story – the same event narrated by two different people can be so drastically different.

However, I didn’t find the depth of emotions and philosophy of life in the book. It is a superficial read. I would love to explore more of Ferrante’s work.

“The Ministry Of Utmost Happiness” by Arundhati Roy

   A spoiler free review!

The Ministry Of Utmost Happiness” is an esoteric novel written by Booker prize winning Indian author Arundhati Roy.

I would like to call it “Voice-Of-The-Voiceless“. From transgender to the untouchables, Roy has sung the song of the unheard.

Flavor of the novel:

POLITICS and Religion
REVOLUTION and War
LIFE and Death
Friendship and enmity
LOVE and Hatred
RICH and Poor
REVENGE and forgiveness

The major events this novel incorporates:

INDIA-PAKISTAN-BANGLADESH partition
OPERATION BLUE STAr
Assassination of Indira Gandhi
The skirmish at Kashmir

Even though the novel tries to incorporate major political events of India through various analogy and metaphors, the broken chronology makes you lose interest at times. The mosaic pattern and the dull narration seems more like news and less like a story.

I would like to recommend this book to those who have a good grasp of Indian politics. If you pick this book so as to get familiar with the Indian politics, you might get to nowhere because there are a lot of underlying symbols used in the novel.

Even though the story starts as a puzzle, the puzzle pieces fall into place at the end. However, the prose that Roy has formulated might not be very easy to grasp.

I am very much looking forward to reading “The God of Small Things“.

Who can know from the word “Goodbye” what kind of parting is in store for us.

The Ministry Of Utmost Happiness

“Snow” by Orhan Pamuk

Book – SNOW

Author – Orhan Pamuk (Noble prize winner)

Genre – Fiction

Setting – Kars (Turkey)

My Expectations

Expectation #1 – To get acquainted with the political scenario of Turkey

Expectation #2 – To find glimpse of the history of Turkey

Expectation #3 – To be familiar with the Turkish Culture

What Is “SNOW” all about?

    Spoilers Alert !!!
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A poet named “Ka” who had been living in Germany in a political exile comes to Kars, a Turkish border city due to one of the following reasons:

  • Interest in municipal election
  • To report the suicide of headscarf girls
  • Knowing his beautiful classmate, Ïpek is divorced

Timid and self conscious Ka goes around Kars reminiscing his childhood days and encountering violence of political unrest.

“HEADSCARF” As a political statement
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I try to put on the shoes of both the party – those who are against the headscarf and those who support headscarf. And I just can’t figure out why should a “headscarf” be political statement! Why is it not an individual’s choice?

~ I think wearing headscarf signifies my modesty and privacy, I wear a headscarf. ~

~ I think I would rather expose instead, I don’t wear a headscarf. ~

~ Well, I have a strong faith in my religion and I believe that covering my head makes me religious, I put on headscarf. ~

~ I have a strong faith in my religion but I think headscarves are man made and they violate my right to freedom, I don’t put on headscarf. ~

How can this be so hard? Clearly, this is my perception and I don’t know how the society of people wearing headscarf think. However, I believe that every individual has the right to live with dignity.

Revolution
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We, human beings, like chaos. We grow through chaos. Revolution is not a pathway to freedom. It is just insinuation of yet another chaos. We revolutionize to throw the aristocrat just to replace it with another dictator. The history is the evidence.

Happiness vs. principles
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Pamuk has so beautifully articulated how insecure Ka who feared something might go wrong when he was so close to finding his happiness (that he had been dreaming for a long time) threw away his happiness due to his insecurity. Pamuk’s narration is poignant. Right after I finished reading the book, I was wondering – Which is more important: Happiness or Principle?

With a void mind, I might say – It is happiness that matters more than the principles. But what if someone questions my principles? It is obvious – I jump into the conversation to defend my principle.

So, I still wonder – Which is more important: Happiness or Principle?

The Augury
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This is one of the most interesting elements of “Snow”. The newspaper editor of Kars, Sardar Bey, predicts certain events and incorporates them in the newspaper for the following day. Surprisingly, what Sardar Bey predicts usually comes true. Is it because he is adept at predicting? Or has he experienced enough of Kars that he knows the turn of events?

Final Thoughts

“Snow” is my first book by Orhan Pamuk and also my first of Middle Eastern literature. How curious I was before I started reading it! At the end, my hidden curiosities are kindled even more. Ever since I finished the book, I have been doing some research on my own. From politics to history, this book has led me to Ottoman empire and Byzantine empire. I would highly recommend this book to those who are interested in Middle Eastern literature and politics.

Vipassana Tales; 5 Lessons To Learn

Namaste !!!

The god inside of me greets the god inside of you.

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Self-exploration is the journey within yourself and one of the most difficult expeditions.

It is difficult even when;

  • you have painted your life with every color available,
  • you have not left a single stone unturned to make your life as happy as possible,
  • you are certain that Vipassana meditation would do nothing but bring peace and comfort in your life.

After all that certainty, being confronted with your own inner demons and insecurities and trauma is not so agreeable.

That is what Vipassana does to you. It instigates storm inside you and tortures you and torments you. You never know what kind of story is hidden inside your body unless you go exploring. Every inch of your body has bundle of stories to narrate only if you are willing to listen to them. While meditating, you get acquainted with them. Some might make you blush, some make you wanna cry and some make you furious.

But you are not left at that. Vipassana teaches you how to deal with it too.

Dormant feelings are dangerous than the active one.

You activate your dormant feelings and face it with grace and equanimity with the help of myriad techniques.

Vipassana teaches us –

  • to become more emotionally responsible for ourselves
  • to experience the reality as it is
  • to realize the power of this moment

Don’t expect anything magical to happen after meditating for a while. The outcome depends on how you approach your inner self. In this process, only your true nature will be enhanced, but in a better way.

The process of meditation is a constant state of enui. Sometimes it feels like you are mourning; not for a dead person but maybe for a dead part of yourself. It is even like corporal mortification (corporal mortification is a practice of causing pain to your body for spiritual growth, self-exploration and atonement of sin; especially practiced among Christians).

Basically, Vipassana is a liberation technique.

Moreover, it is a lifestyle.

We all have our own self exploration journey. To know exactly how it feels like, you need to experience it for yourself.

I am listing 5 major lessons that we learn during Vipassana meditation:

  1. Anapana Meditation
  2. Heightened Awareness
  3. Equanimity
  4. Metta Bhavana
  5. Death

Anapana Meditation

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Anapana is the technique in which we observe our natural respiration as it is. It is the mindfulness of breathing. We focus all our awareness in breathing and think nothing else. Our mind is funny. Our mind is mischievous. Our mind is evil. Whenever we try to focus on inhale-and-exhale, our brain tries to tempt us : first with memories, then with events, after that imagination and everything possible.

Once you sit to focus on your breathing, you will realize how fast your neurons fire. Just sit for a minute, close your eyes and try to focus on your breathing. You will know for yourself.

All the while, we will be trying not to get tempted. Our mind drifts away and we flex it back to breathing. We won’t resist the thoughts. They go as they come.

We should be able to answer the following questions –

  • Who controls our mind?
  • What controls our mind?
  • Does our mind listen to us?

This is a technique of mastering the mind. In vipassana meditation, where we are avoiding all the external stimuli, we will be able to master our mind within few days after perfect practice.

Narrower the area of awareness, sharper the mind becomes.

Heightened Awareness

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After we have maintained unbroken awareness for considerable amount of time, we then proceed to feel the sensations all over our body which we are not aware of in general. During this process, all the stories that are hidden inside our body is revealed gradually. We don’t resist. We let the story unfold one by one. We just watch it and label it. We try to understand the phenomenon without reacting.

Once we understand the phenomenon from beginning to the end, it becomes empty.

BUDDHA

We are the sea. The storms of feelings and emotions are within us. The storm cannot harm the sea. So, the emotions, no matter how harsh and traumatic they are, can’t harm us. We observe every sensation as it is without manipulating any of them. We try to reach to the depth of sensations.

Equanimity

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Equanimity is the mental calmness and evenness of temper during the difficult situation. As the story starts to unfold, sometimes it may get unbearable, but we need to persist. This technique of equanimity teaches us – How to be aware of all the sensations and how to deal with them?

The only answer to it is – Feel everything and react to nothing.

All the sensations that we feel now and we label them as our past are not actually our past. They are our present sensations because we are feeding those ideas to our brain in the present moment.

Experiencing self and remembering self are different.

THINKING FAST AND SLOW

All the sensations are our remembering self. What we feel right now depends on how we choose to remember them. Through Vipassana, we try to transform trauma into power just like an alchemist. Henceforth, no matter what kind of sensation we come across, we won’t be thrown off balance.

We have a habit of accusing others for making us feel this and that. Actually, all we ever feel is the internal registration of the sensations. Everything is within us. All the external sensations from the outer world only trigger the internal sensations already present within us.

What we usually do is –

  • either we ignore and block the reality and keep forgiving people or circumstances which has made us suffer and we continue suffering
  • or we keep lamenting and complaining

What we should have been doing is –

  • Acknowledge the wrongdoings in reality as it is.

Then,

  • Let it pass with equanimity (calmness)

It is very important to know the reality as it is. But it is more important to remain calm.

Metta Bhavana

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Metta Bhavana is the stable loving awareness we establish towards all the living beings. It is the cultivation of Benevolence.

  • 1st stageFeel the love within us

  • 2nd stage Extend the love to the people we love the most

  • 3rd stageKeeping that loving awareness intact, extend that love to all the other living beings

Love should be act and not the consequence. Love should be unconditional. This technique liberates us from the suffering. When we are released from the cycle of love and hate which is replaced by the constant love for all the beings, we experience the extreme sense of freedom.

When you change the way you think, the world around you changes.

death

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Memento Mori Remember you must die.

Life is the time period between birth and death. Every moment is slipping away from our hands. So, before it is too late, we need to learn to live in this moment. Our existence is very light. We try to hold ourselves down and thwart our happiness. We sabotage our freedom.

Let go of everything that is holding you back.

Let everyday be an adventure.

There is one stream of truth. Everything else are the interferences. We should not get carried away by the earthly delusions. We must absorb the truth and the truth will set us free.

Death is the ultimate truth. Death is inevitable. As long as we are alive, we don’t consider this fact. We do everything except live. We should unfreeze ourselves and start living in this moment.

final thought

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While I was meditating, I felt like – We take the act of breathing for granted. We never pay any heed to the respiration. However, when in meditation, we can feel even the most subtle breath and I kept asking myself – I am alive; isn’t it enough?

It should be enough that we are alive.

All we need to do is LIVE.

To wrap up, I would like to express my hearty gratitude towards Buddha and all those who have been spreading his knowledge, most importantly, yogilab for making this technique available to thousands and millions of people living across the world. We really appreciate every effort made by Yogi Lab. Also, I am thankful towards my family for their constant support and cooperation.

Namu Amida Butsu

With Metta,

May everyone find their peace !!!

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The Confession

As I walk down the crowded city street,

I look into the crowd –

The old face-The ageless face-The baby face.

Trust me – Unobtrusively.

I was asking them, loud in my mind –

“WHAT’S YOUR STORY, HONEY?”

They didn’t hear me though.

Among all the people walking,

I felt tiny.

~Just a speck of dust~

Cliché??

Cliché, it is.

But, frightening.

I felt invisible.

A wonderful place to make a confession –

So,

I took a fistful of breath.

To wishper your name.

In the wind.

A thousand times, Darling.

A thousand times!!!

Like I am lending –

A beautiful fragrance to the wind.

Puff!!!

Goes your name.

Like I am smoking the life out of me.

Haiku #5

Nature Lover

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Illustration:

I am a nature lover since forever.

No matter how many times I see a mountain, I surely will exclaim – “Wow Mountain!!!“.

When you are out in the nature, no wonder, you become a child.

Because,

You won’t be judged.

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Know Thyself; A Self-Reflection

Know Thyself” is an old maxim carved into the stone at the entrance to the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, Greece.

Know Thyself” is also a motto to which the esteemed Greek philosopher Socrates was profoundly adhered to. He believed – “The unexamined life is not worth living.”

Which implies that, you should know –

Why do you believe what you believe?

Why do you do what you do?

What do others have to say about a particular issue?

~ Question oneself and question others ~

Socrates’ unpaid job was to make others “think“. It is not at all hilarious !!! It is a pretty serious job (at least better than staying at home and making fifty paper butterflies a day; I wonder which one is a more serious unpaid job).

Trust me! Making fifty paper butterflies is also like meditation. But, let’s get back to Socrates. He has something more valuable to say.

“Once we know ourselves, we may learn how to care for ourselves, but otherwise we never shall.”

SOCRATES

Okay!!!

Then,

Let’s know ourselves.

Let’s find ourselves.

And, Let’s take care of ourselves.

KNOW THYSELF

LET’S GO !!!!!

But, wait!!!

What is our “true self“? What does it mean when we say “know ourselves” and “find ourselves“? Is it exploring our body? Is it deliberation of our education? Or, our social status? Or, even our possession? All the tangible and fathomable aspects of life?

No ???? Of course, not. [Philosophy tends to complicate everything.]

Voila!!! Socrates comes to our rescue – “Our true self is our soul.”

ERGHHH…

This is more of a philosophical conundrum rather than a solution.

Because…. What is soul?

Most importantly, where is the soul? There is no solid evidence of existence of “The Soul“.

Socrates describes the soul as “thinking and willing subject“.

So, is soul also “the brain”?

Oppppssss…… Descartes will hunt me down.

The French philosopher, René Descartes has made a whole lot of fuss out of “body vs. soul” concept in the Cartesian Dualism. There are a bunch of ideas joggled solely by the Cartesian Dualism; some supporting the idea of dualism while the others against it. Our intention is not to delve too deeply into the Dualism. We were trying to “know ourselves” and “find ourselves“.

Therefore, soul is not the brain. Let’s accept it for now even though you don’t accept dualism (it’s totally fine if you accept it; it’s cool if you don’t even care about it). Who cares? The notion of soul is not yet resolved anyway.

Here’s the idea from Socrates himself:

State of one’s soul determines the quality of our life. So, we should invest our time, energy, resources and attention to make our soul as good and beautiful as possible.

Soul, here, refers to our core-self.

So, here is to making our soul gorgeous… CHEERS!!!

GRACE

“No one who loves the way of grace ever comes to a bad end.”

THE TREE OF LIFE

The philosophy of grace stems from unconditional love and compassion. That unconditional love and compassion should at first be for ourselves. When we are imbued with the sense of unconditional love and compassion for ourselves, then we can extend it to others. The way of grace, in a sense, enhances the soul. Offering love and mercy to even those who don’t deserve it, is the style of grace.

Let’s adorn our soul with the tint of grace.

You are hurt.

Grace comes in handy. Show some love and mercy to yourself. Pamper yourself. Forgive yourself. The first step to embracing grace comes through accepting and forgiving yourself for whatever you have put yourself into. You get healed gracefully.

You have not accomplished what you were meant to accomplish.

Give time. Take small steps everyday. Tend your soul with grace. Take every step gracefully. You will reach there.

Whatever you do or say to yourself, answering the question – “Why are we doing what we are doing?” is of paramount importance.

TRUTH

“What you see is all there is.”

THINKING FAST AND SLOW

Is anything really true? How does the truth come into existence? Isn’t the truth, really true, because we label them as the truth. More specifically, the truth comes into existence because a bunch of people believe it to be true. But, can the idea be really true just because we consider them to be true? How to determine the veracity of an idea?

There are a plethora of theories explaining or at least trying to explain the “Theory of Truth“. I am, by no means, qualified to discuss the theory of truth. So, I am just throwing this bundle of queries your way.

At this point of time, what I really believe is –

Nothing is true as long as we don’t accept it as true. Even if we accept it, it might not be universally true but it is true, at least for us, at least at this point of time.

Sounds pretty skeptical, eh?

I have come to accept this idea because everything I once believed to be true now don’t even exist. May be same will happen to the concept I believe to be true at this point of time. So, where is the truth? May be I should continue truth-seeking vigil for some more time.

I can’t speak for you.

STRENGTH

“If you were born with the weakness to fall, you were born with the strength to rise.”

MILK AND HONEY

Strength and resilience comes from the soul. Let’s take a step back and scrutinize our soul. Let’s replenish the soul.

We should nourish our soul with positive thoughts so as to replenish it. The first step to nourishing the soul is to express gratitude. Be grateful for everything that you are and for everything that you have. Think about all the hurdles you have crossed so far to reach where you have reached.

Soul searching is about connecting with yourself.

Take a step back.

Scrutinize the soul.

Replenish the soul.

There are always things you try so hard to hold on to, even those things which are out of your control. Let go of everything that is not within your control.

What consumes your mind, controls your life.

So, liberate your soul. That is where the resilience comes from – from the liberated soul.

WISDOM

“Knowledge is inherent.

Wisdom is learning to recollect that inherited knowledge.”

SOCRATES

The literal translation of “philosophy” is “the love of wisdom“. What is wisdom? Who is wise?

Here is a very interesting piece of story of Socrates and his wisdom mentioned in Plato’s “The Apology“. Plato’s “The Apology” is an epitome of humility theory of wisdom. The story goes as follows –

Once, Socrates and his friend Chaerephon visited the oracle at Delphi. Chaerephon asked the oracle “Is anyone wiser than Socrates?” to which the oracle replied – “Socrates is the wisest.” Socrates, not being able to believe that he was the wisest, went to inquire after all the people (politician, poets, craftsmen, etc.) who he thought were wise. After a series of inquiry, he realized that all the people who claimed themselves to be wise and expert had no idea what they were doing or at least knew less than what they claim to have known. Socrates, on the other hand, does not consider himself to be wise and does not claim to know anything more than he really knows.

“The only true wisdom is to know that you know nothing.”

SOCRATES

PEACE

“When we are mindful, deeply in touch with the present moment, our understanding of what is going on deepens,and we begin to be filled with acceptance, joy, peace and love.”

THICH NHAT HANH

The ultimate path to attain the peace of mind is by being mindful. Past is gone and there is no way we can resurrect the moment which has ceased to exist. Future is uncertain. Who knows the tomorrow we talk so much about will ever materialize or not! Whatever there is, it is here, in this moment. If we are not at peace and if we are not happy about what we have at hand, we won’t be at peace and we won’t be happy even after we achieve what we strive to achieve. Happiness is momentary. Mindfulness is for eternity.

Happiness is within us. We just need to cultivate the goodness in us and expurgate the evilness.

So, let’s breathe in and breathe out.

Breathe in all the goodness in you.

Breathe out all the evilness.

Thank you for reading this piece.

If you have come here in search of some answer, I would like to apologize because I don’t think I am capable to answer these abstruse queries. I am a wonderer, trying to make sense out of subtleties in life. Here, I have discussed the ideas that I make myself believe at this point of my life. My belief might change with time.

Well, Socrates’ unpaid job is coming handy in making us think and wonder once in a while. The thinking continues………………..