Life

Enlightenment Pocketed

Lotus Koan.
Image by Marek Studzinski from Pixabay.

“The enjoyment of art is an act of recreation, or rather of creation in the reverse direction, towards the source of intuition, i.e., an act of absorption, in which we lose our small self in the creative experience of a greater universe.”

Anagarika B. Govinda

I happen to have a small sweet book titled Art & Meditation (actually a few years back I took it from my brother), written by Lama Anagarika B. Govinda – an artist, a Buddhist monk, traveller and writer.

Sharing his paintings, poems and thoughts with us, he talks about the ineffaceable, elusive yet real, sublimely beautiful link between art and meditation; how true art merges with true religion and vice-versa.

It is not digressive or sluggishly cumbersome, this thought, rather it is stimulating for the one who is not in a hurry.

The author wishes his essays and artwork to serve as koans i.e. ‘meditative problems’ for his readers that churn our thoughts and act as an impetus for continuing the search.

I have gone through this insightful book twice now. What struck me this time was its size, how come Lama Anagarika Govinda’s lectures on art and meditation along with his artwork were capsuled in such a tiny book?

Of course, there must be other collections of his essays and pictures, surely in not-so-tiny a book.

But here I would intentionally turn this coincidence into a grand undertaking and happily say something ambitious.

This beautiful book holds, yes-yes it does, the secret to enlightenment and simply because of its humble, calm and forgiving nature, affordable price, elucidations of the artwork and colour schemes given and the profound ideas shared.

With these balmy thoughts, I will read this book again in the near future for then it will reveal a new secret to me.

Leaving you with an edifying thought –

“Art in itself is a sort of a paradox, a Koan in the deepest sense of the word, and that is why the followers of Zen prefer it to all other mediums of expression. For only the paradox escapes the dilemma of logical limitation, of partiality and one-sidedness. It cannot be bound down to principles or conceptual definitions, because it exaggerates or abstracts intentionally in such a way that it is impossible to take it literally: its meaning is beyond the incongruity of the words.”

Anagarika B. Govinda

Enlightenment, Pocketed-

Calm mind beams

Together with the heart.

Haiku – Jagriti Rumi

Also read other posts on art and meditation –

Buddhahood

I wish to SEE Tibet

Thunderous Applause… And the Warli Drama Unfolds

कलाकार/ Artist

Transient Permanence


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Paper-Light-Lemon-Fresh Stories

Laymun – Short Film Analysis

Paper – light, white, bright,

Wrinkled, crumpled and creased,

Torn into pieces without a thought,

A kid’s fighter jet airborne, that

In raining season turns into a boat.

*

Paper – how different are we from it?

Shape-shifters, cerebral fools,

Taking two crude steps

Forward, backward, learning, unlearning.

Our ephemeral paper-life folds

To build a castle with battlements

That burns on its own.

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Paper-life – light, white, bright,

Wrinkled, crumpled and creased.

*

The film’s official poster.
[Source – CatherineProwse.com]

Wars fought for peace have nothing to do with peace as in the very end the avaricious intentions and deceits also win and not only the powerful/ just one. All this after crushing many innocent souls.

Yes, life is a cycle of chaos and calm, and we do evolve. We evolve because of the unsung kind-hearted simple folks continue to work no matter what.

Just like the protagonist in the short animation film titled Laymun (directed by Catherine Prowse and Hannah Quinn; original compositions and sound design by Kalle Jurvanen) who continues to revive the spirits of the Syrian public traumatized by the unending war; she gifts the residents in that area with lemon plants, trying to refresh and enliven their war-sick eyes.

The lemon’s yellowness and its leaves spunky greenness transforms the cracked walls into a brave embroidered piece and beautifies the broken windowsill.

Soon the war frenzy returns without any shame, aerial bombing the city, shattering the gardener’s nursery; she manages to escape.

Bowed but not defeated, she boards the bus that will take her maybe to a better place.

Seeing a little girl, who is sitting next to her, crying and clinging to her mother for comfort, the gardener takes out the only lemon that she had, scrapes off its skin and gives it to the little girl.

The sweet fresh smell of the lemon makes the little girl smile.

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Laymun” zest is vital for living.
Image by Yousz from Pixabay.

What a beautiful film this is! The gardener in her gentle manner wins over the war, albeit, she continues to struggle. She thus becomes the unsung kind-hearted hero who contributes in bringing change.

“We didn’t want to oversimplify the issues we were depicting in the film and offer a neat, unrealistic ending, but we wanted to offer a note of hope. We found the idea of a lemon seed being taken with the protagonist at the end offered the perfect balance of a possible new start for this character but also a sense of precariousness: would the one lemon left in her city have a chance to grow into something better, or would it perish?”

Catherine Prowse and Hannah Quinn.

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Paper boat, paper world, paper life.
[Source – Pixabay.]

Surely nothing could have highlighted the ephemeral human life better than the usage of paper animation/ cutout animation, quietly mocking the idea of wars, the profitable victory of one over the other… as if they are immortals.

The light-spirited-jumpy smell of any citrus fruit, its taste cheers up a sick one, especially one who has motion-sickness, this age-old remedy is known to all, it has travelled via the “oral culture” routes.

And so has the stories of bloody battles, clashes and bloodshed… we have learned from our mistakes, we have!

Let the paper-light-lemon-fresh stories carry the tales freely.


A Must Watch Short Film –

Laymun – A powerful example of the magic of storytelling.

Read Chelsea Lupkin’s review of Laymun here. Complement it with the true story of the last gardener of Aleppo that inspired the makers of Laymun here.


Check out another write-up on a short film titled One, Two, TREE here.


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Meeting a Fool in a Lovely Quaint Place

Raga-rich village scene.
Image by siam naulak from Pixabay.

Every language brings a distinctive flavour in the story, making its world unique and familiar at the same time. The world of Hindi stories always comes across as very honest and subtly profound to me.

Just like visiting a beautiful village, coloured green with flora, blue with water-wells and brown with earthen-wares, the Hindi language stories that I have read till now have become this lovely quaint place in my head.

And the people that inhabit this place, interesting characters from all over India, each one has struggled, battled, lived and loved this life truly.

Malkauns, Yaman, Basant bahar, Darbari, Khayal and other such ragas intricately design the wind here.

The latest addition to this place of mine is a compilation of short stories of some of the most famous Hindi writers of the early 20th century. Munshi Premchand, Jaishankar Prasad, Subhadra Kumari Chauhan, Upendranath ‘Ashk’ and Bhisham Sahani are the greats whom I have met before via their other stories and poems.

The others – Vishambharnath Sharma ‘Koshik’, Sudarshan, Vishnu Prabhakar, Kamla Chaudhary, Jainendra Kumar Jain, Chandragupt Vidyaalankar, Acharya Chatursen Shastri, Yashpal, ‘Agyaya’ and Siyaramsharan Gupt are the ones whom I had the opportunity to meet for the first time.

What a world they have all created – sensitive, soulful, revolutionary and inspiring.

Here, the writer whose short story I would like to share with you is Pandya Bechan Sharma ‘Ugra’.

The title of his short story is मूर्खा Murkha (A Fool).

अम्माँ का नाम गुलाबो, मुँह देखो तो छुहारा, आकृति धनुष की तरह।  गुलाबो अम्माँ की अवस्था अस्सी और पाँच पचासी वर्ष।

[Translation – “Amma (Granny) is called Gulabo (Rosy), face, a dried date, shape, bent like a bow. Gulabo Amma is eighty and five, eighty-five years old.”]

Bang!! That is how the story begins, gripping instantly, visually powerful; it reminds you of an old lady, one who is waiting on the roadside to cross the road or sell vegetables or beg.

The author’s famous penname ‘Ugra’ describes his writing aptly. Ugra means fiery, radical, hot-blooded.

He writes economically, hitting the right chord without any delay, not shying away from the truth, not allowing the eyes to escape, making a satirist out of you before you can realise it and run.


The Story Gist

Amma is old and so is the cow that had for past ten years served the family without a complaint; she gave six-litre milk every day, six of her bull calves and four heifer calves were sold for a good amount.

But now old, she is of no good and thus, Amma’s three darling sons want to get rid of the cow.

Though politically inversely aligned – eldest one a congressman, other a communist and the youngest follows a Hindu party – they have unanimously made up their mind to either sell the cow to the butcher or send it to a cow-shelter or simply abandon her.

But Amma has become a heavy hurdle for them; she is horrified to even hear of such a suggestion about her beloved cow.

She argues with them, starts eating one meal a day so that they still buy the cow’s feed and saves her one wintry night when the youngest son tries to drag the cow away.

Amma lovingly apologises to her; seeing the cow shivering in the cold weather, she runs to her room, calling herself a fool.

Out of the two blankets that she owned, she picks her own warmer one, goes to the cowshed and happily covers the cow with it.

*

Gulabo Amma’s dear cow.
Image by Prawny from Pixabay.

A two page long short story, dramatically strong, dipped in sweet sarcasm, this piece raises questions unabashedly. What path have you chosen dear one? What rules do you abide by?

You weigh matters miserly, falsely, egotistically and complain of the imbalance. Why do you refuse to learn and almost always forget?

Ugra’s मूर्खा Murkha (A Fool) boldly strengthens the storyteller’s voice; still pertinent to the present times, one looks around to see what all has changed and what has not.

The lovely quaint place is kaleidoscopic in nature; I often see through its lens to pick up the different shades and rhythms of life.


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Journeying Backwards and Forwards and Sideways

 “The time scheme of the epic is somewhat puzzling to us who are habituated to a mere horizontal sequence of events. Valmiki composed (Ramayana) as if he had a past tale to tell, and yet it was broadcast to the world by Kusa and Lava, the sons of Rama, who heard it directly from the author.

One has to set aside all one’s habitual notions of movement and get used to a narrative going backwards and forwards and sideways.

When we take into consideration the fact that a king ruled for sixty thousand or more years, enjoying an appropriate longevity, it seems quite feasible that the character whose past or middle period is being written about continues to live and turns up to have a word with the historian.”

An excerpt from R.K Narayan’s book ‘Gods, Demons and Others’, Chapter 3, Valmiki

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The myths, the legends, the folktales, the epic victories and defeats, the deaths and rebirths simplify the reality of the extraordinary spirit – confounded and weakened often by tribulations or lulled by indolence – that resides within us all.

These stories take myriad routes, journeying from the world of Gods to the world of Demons, concluding on a high and happy note, introducing one to the game of life, entrusting then the secrets to win.

Every emotion makes an appearance here; ego clashes until it shatters to accept change; Gods create obstacles almost breaking one’s spirit, but blesses the resilient one in the end with immortality and splendour.

These unfathomable, and at times a bit ridiculous, tales are the means to measure the unfathomable, ridiculous reality we live in; these tales, the bases of our culture, our rituals and an amalgamation of past societies, lead us.

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Journeying through the circle of life.
[Image from Pixabay.]

Splendidly well-adjusted to change, it accepts deletions, additions, revisions without much hullaballoo. It revels in various versions and shades read throughout the country. Same gods-goddesses, demons, sages, avatars… often playing different roles, but embarking on similar journeys.

Written in a playful and ambitious tone these valued legends, retold by storytellers in every generation, are our inheritance; it holds a secret for every tenacious individual.

It is not a particular theme that is the moral of the story here but the journey, the journey with its endless possibilities and absurdities, twists crafted by the capricious fate and the supremacy of time that gives us insight into our understanding of life.

And such has been the role of the myths, legends and epics and of course, the storytellers and it continues.


The renowned author R. K Narayan’s Gods, Demons and Others is an interesting and engaging read, one that opens the gates to Indian mythology for one and all.


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God is a Belief

Satchitananda – Existence Consciousness Bliss.
Image by Bessi from Pixabay.

Eyes that can see the divine,

Ears that hear the bliss,

Voices that utter a name –

Allah, Vishnu, Shiva, Jesus

Waheguru, Parvardigar, Eloah, HaShem –

Witness the power that is the same.

*

God is one, present everywhere

Like an atom unseen in the air;

Passion for the one supreme,

Searching the pious dream

That every holy book reveals,

Takes us to the ultimate truth and peace.

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Fine belief this is that we all

Have nurtured since antiquity,

For it unifies, it gives us courage;

Its cursed crusades aren’t a lie

And yet the belief only multiplies;

A believer sees the God inside.

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Omnipotent, Omnipresent, Omniscient

This glorious idea assures the devotee

Of support, of comfort, of being home;

In this grand scheme you’re not alone,

A guide walks by your side – this belief

Shows the seeker an end they hope.

*

The mystical power, that is the universe, listens, call it life force, dark matter or god, it depends on what you believe…
Image by Leonardo Valente from Pixabay.

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The Multitasking Voice Within Learns on the Go

A machine mind never stops thinking.
[Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay]

The multitasking voice within learns on the go

It hisses, swishes, cheers, jeers and almost always forgets the flow

Running slowly when you are fast and rushing when you are slow

A confidant and conspirator, the voice knows

Nothing that you do not know

*

Castles, ruins, castles, ruins

Building, hiding, building, hiding

Honest and unashamed of it all

When needed, clever as a Jackal

The voice, so ambitious, hates to stall

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But it obstructs, this friend and foe of ours

Especially if one is not aware of the day or the hour

When quiet, it forgives and forgets

The voice then patiently sits and looks

At us and smiles, waiting for us to calmly turn and smile

*

The multitasking voice within learns on the go

One life, one journey, one flow!

*

“To gain your own voice, forget about having it heard. Become a saint of your own province and your own consciousness.”

Allen Ginsberg

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The Circle Game, Joni Mitchell, You and Me

The Circle Game

Yesterday a child came out to wonder

Caught a dragonfly inside a jar

Fearful when the sky was full of thunder

And tearful at the falling of a star

And the seasons they go round and round

And the painted ponies go up and down

We’re captive on the carousel of time

We can’t return we can only look behind

From where we came

And go round and round and round

In the circle game

– by Joni Mitchell

*

The everlasting, all-embracing, ebullient circle game is manoeuvring it all so well. The cycle of life, the movement of planets and the galaxies, the journey of every individual swivel beautifully.

Joni Mitchel’s beautiful song The Circle Game from the album Ladies of the Canyon is a reminder, I feel, to remember the rules of the circle game.

A game in which we all are participating no matter how forgetful we may be.

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The Circle Game, play well dear me. Image from Pixabay.

Stories have been working from the very beginning to prove the presence of the circle game; every story that was ever written or will be written becomes complete when it forms a neat circle in the end.

It could be a linear circle with a clear structure like Macbeth or it could be a non-linear circle that nicely and freely waits for its completion in the viewers’ mind just like this song.

“So the years spin by and now the boy is twenty/ Though his dreams have lost some grandeur coming true/ There’ll be new dreams, maybe better dreams and plenty/ Before the last revolving year is through…”

The Boy is twenty and life has happened; he has fallen but is hopeful, and there is still time for him to give it another try. And life goes on.

The circling theory of Karma – what goes around comes around, the circling nature of the first law of the thermodynamics – energy can neither be created nor destroyed, it only changes its form, the ancient Ouroboros symbol, for instance, all voice the same truth.

“We’re captive on the carousel of time/ We can’t return, we can only look behind/ From where we came/ And go round and round and round/ In the circle game.”

“Captive on the carousel of time”, curtly this hits the mind and the realisation disturbs languidly.

Like a plaything, like “the painted ponies”, we are tied to the carousel of time. And the only way forward is to continue.

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Time to carousel! [Image from Pixabay]

Moving forward not painted-pony-like, limited and not captive every individual in this life holds the power to swivel in her fashion.

Destined and yet free, that is how life is, by nature paradoxical.

We are not separate, we are one with the circle game, we add to its beauty as we go round and round and together we are moving towards its never-ending end.

*

Listen to this track now –

(Read the lyrics here.)


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Thunderous Applause… And the Warli Drama Unfolds

 

And the Warli drama unfolds… thunderous applause… come and watch the puppets dancing, dancing to the tunes of folktales… look at, but beware, the bewitching dance movements will make you happy and take you to the wonderland. And you will dream the original dream. Ohhs and aahs and wows and wahs!
 
Hey puppeteer, where are the strings and where are you hiding? “I am over here”, said the puppeteer and added, “the strings are invisible and so am I, my dear.”
 
But the puppets were ready, the performance had started. Shush! Shush! The tale of a King heard never before by some.
 
“Where is my horse, commander?”, asked the portly King. “Sir, you’re riding it”, gasped the tired commander. The horse neighed and snorted.
 
Meanwhile his subjects went through their daily chores of dancing little more…
 

 

Let us work and dance and dance and work!
 

 

Seeing us dance, look the sun is smiling.
 

 

Look, how the tree dances!

 

 

 And the cattle dances. 
 My horse dances! He is happy (unlike the king’s).

 

 

Peeeepeeee-pepe! Dhumdhum-dhum-dhum! Jhunjhun-jhun-jhun!
 

 

The swing’s swinging.

 

 

Now the joyous peacock’s here.

 

 
It is a wedding and everyone’s dancing!

 

Uu-uu-uuuuuu! Dancing to the beat of life!

 

And the King in his kingdom, tired of the moody horse returns to his palace to attend a meeting.
Uu-uu-uuuuuu! The end!
The end? What type of story is this? It is the tale of a King heard never before by some.
 
Thunderous applause!


 

Read more about the Warli art here.
 
Photo courtesy – Google
 
Happy Earth Day everyone!
 

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Raga Pranayama

When the Music is Good by Dr. Kirell Benzi.

Playing the Raga Pranayama in my heart and soul I am sitting inside this quiet room for so many days now and slowly this world has stopped reeling.

The shrivelled old self shed off its glories and achievements and regrets all at once, it was painful and I did die a little. Then all I did was to look up and breathe, close my eyes and breathe again.  

Now brighter, with no desire to compete with light or a sharper mind or the maestro musician, I sit simply playing the Raga Pranayama.

Yes, often my memory makes me feel overwhelmed, and yet something allows me to accept it all that too with a smile.  

And softly the wind brings a message from the meadows that the dandelions are gushing with joy and beaming for one and all; that the butterflies are coming carrying colours for you and me; that the stream is singing, sparkling sibilantly, shy at first, vibrant then. Oh it is lovely!

*

It is a new beginning, I am sitting in my room and everything has changed as I play the Raga Pranayama.

Dispelling the emaciated fears that had spread and frolicked in my mind, dispelling with the truth of this life force running lightly within and without… the fears just succumbed in the end and this I will remember, always, so that I too can share and struck a happy peaceful note.  

Voices together, singing this happy note, playing the Raga Pranayama will eventually rise above the gloomy cry of this malady.

Together we will rise and break that wall which was once built greedily by us. Hold on, hold on for it will pass.  

Play with me the Raga Pranayama in your heart and soul and let the life energy guide you.

That hazy glow you see when you close your eyes and breathe, that dot, it is the one that surmounts, it has and it will, sometimes with and sometimes without the shell.    


Raga (Sanskrit for “colour” or “passion”) is a melodic framework for improvisation and composition in Indian classical music. Read more here.

Pranayama (prana, Sanskrit for “life force” or “vital energy” and yama, Sanskrit for “restraint” or “control”), is a set of meditative practices designed to control pranawithin the human body by means of various breathing techniques. Read more here.


Also, listen to the magnificent Ragas that inspired me to write this post –  Raga Rasia by Pandit Ravi Shankar

Raga Brindabani Sarang by Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia


Learn more about Data Art by the fantastic Dr. Kirell Benzi, click here.

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The Second Track

Rebecca!
Image by design. meliora from Pixabay

Like a record player Rebecca’s mind plays umpteenth tunes, ceaselessly, shifting and slowing as per her mood. A second track plays all the time in her head.

Ha ha now is the time to laugh and sway in joy, oh no it is the moment to exclaim in surprise, my love let us dance hand in hand, shush stay focused life is in a rush.

The second track requires a different set of shoes feels Rebecca very strongly. A pair that can match the track’s rhythm, can dance, tip toe, jump and even fly.

Yes fly! For walking on the second track is dull and usual, but dreaming high, high, high requires tools. Tools like the right pair of shoes, a chirpy, gritty soul that eats butter-jam dreams, a soul that drinks milky-milky creams.

Also, being little absurd guides.

Rebecca always acts absurdly, but at times just a little bit because she does not want to lose the touch of reality. If she loses it, how will she attempt the paper?

Oh no! It is the moment to exclaim in surprise, Rebecca is in the examination room and the fresh ink on her question paper is making her dizzy.

Captain, captain mayday! Switch off the second track for three hours and be in the present moment, I repeat, be in the present moment. Over and out!

Attempt the question paper, start with the ones you know, and relax, and calm down and breathe.


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