Philosophy

Shubhasya Shighram – A Pocket Sized Mantra

Philosophy

Nature too believes in this mantra.
[Source – Pixabay]

शुभस्य शीघ्रम अशुभस्य कालहरणम।

Shubhasya shighram, ashubhasya kaalharnam.

Translation – Do not delay when planning to do something good, but when inclining towards the opposite, think twice.


Contemplation is good and needed. Action is better and a must.

Plans in a potli-mind take time to come out, yes, for they are grand ones, created meticulously, weaved with love.

Inspired thoughts build this glass minar with intricate designs, colours of hope and success and appreciation and a little bit of all that is magical in this universe. We fly high when planning in a potli-mind.

Now how to fabricate such a tall glass minar in reality? Where to start from? How do we know if the time is right?

And what about all the ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’? Oh, and our dominating ‘know-it-all self’ that loves to put a stamp on every new thought, issuing summons, calling the poor thought a fraud, out-of-our-league or an impossibility, come what may?

Or worse, comparing it with the giant called the OTHERS?

Maybe this is the moment to tell yourself, shubhasya shighram, why wait to do something good.

Maybe this is the time to take the first step towards that glass minar, an overwhelming act it may feel at the beginning, but by the end, whatever the result is, we get enriched, we understand the rotating world and our bumbling selves a little better.

What a brilliant mantra then, a pocket sized mantra!

So, my friend, go ahead with that plan… because shubhasya shighram, shighram shighram.


Potli – bag, bundle, parcel, packet.

Minar – a tower or turret.


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Avicenna and the Turning Wheel

Spinning starry time wheel. [Image from Pixabay]

Thinking… the activity of using our mind to consider something; the process of using our mind to understand matters, make judgments and solve problems… that is what the dictionary says and says more and then sites many lovely examples:

“I had to do some quick thinking.”

“She explained the thinking behind the campaign.”

“Thinking, for me, is hard work!”

Our mind, coloured by a plethora of this and that, happy and sad, a sea of information, thinks in isolation, yet always a part of the collective unconscious. And how wonderful is it that this tinted mind, nevertheless, is fully capable to create something novel.

The thinking mind turns the wheel, knitting the society tighter. The juggernaut of sociocultural norms, in turn, fabricates the yarn for such a mind.


Avicenna or Ibn Sina (980 AD – 1037) was a physician, philosopher, astronomer, theologian, poet – a polymath – who greatly contributed to the Islamic Golden age. His book Al Qanun fi al Tibb or The Canon of Medicine, a medical encyclopedia, was studied as a textbook for medical education in many universities, also in Europe, up till the 17th Century.

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1950 “Avicenna” stamp of Iran. [Source – Wikimedia Commons]

Philosophical encyclopedias like Kitab al Shifa or The Book Healing and Kitab al-Isharat wa al Tanbihat or The Book of Directive and Remarks presented Avicenna’s take on the Aristotelian and Platonian philosophy through the lens of an Islamic theologian.

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Avicenna’s The Canon of Medicine, Latin translation, dated 1484 CE. [Source – Wikimedia Commons]

A well-known physician, Avicenna got support from most of the rulers of his time – some made him a vizir or an advisor in their court – and the opportunity to access the royal library. Highly influenced by Aristotle, Avicenna also disagreed with the Greek polymath on many points.

That the soul is not just ‘body’s form’ (Aristotle says that a soul is the actuality of a body that has life) but it has an existence, he came up with a thought experiment, famously known as the floating/ flying man thought experiment. He argues –

One of us must suppose that he was just created at a stroke, fully developed and perfectly formed but with his vision shrouded from perceiving all external objects – created floating in the air or in the space, not buffeted by any perceptible current of the air that supports him, his limbs separated and kept out of contact with one another, so that they do not feel each other. Then let the subject consider whether he would affirm the existence of his self. There is no doubt that he would affirm his own existence, although not affirming the reality of any of his limbs or inner organs, his bowels, or heart or brain or any external thing. Indeed he would affirm the existence of this self of his while not affirming that it had any length, breadth or depth. And if it were possible for him in such a state to imagine a hand or any other organ, he would not imagine it to be a part of himself or a condition of his existence.

Avicenna

While this blogger will definitely take a lot of time to grasp these theories in entirety, she would like to appreciate the art of thinking that moulds the world in such a steady and grandiose manner.

The art of thinking, in which we participate daily and, most importantly, in the times of despair, is running the show as we then stand face to face our true being and raise questions, refute the botched theory and create a new one.

Avicenna wrote the floating/ flying man argument when imprisoned for around four months as a result of a political debacle – an argument that was later termed weak by the other thinkers.

But this is how the thinking mind works, it continues to question, argue and turn the wheel.


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The Multitasking Voice Within Learns on the Go

Poem

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

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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

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The multitasking voice within learns on the go

One life, one journey, one flow!

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“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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Bach’s Seagull meets Shelley’s Skylark

Jonathan Livingston Seagull and his students.
Image from Pixabay.

Jonathan Livingston Seagull wanted to master the art of flying. Soaring up in the sky, above the white ocean of clouds, he felt truly free.

Though very unlikely of a seagull, Jonathan flew high ever so high, he practised and failed umpteenth times, but he never gave up.

An outcast, he lived alone and happily spent his time in his quest to achieve perfection.

On reaching a higher level of existence, he meets gulls like him who wanted to enhance their flying skills. It was not heaven for everyone there were learners.

Chiang, the guru of them all, teaches Jonathan how to let go of the concept of time and space so as to travel freely in the Universe.

“Begin by knowing that you have already arrived”, said Chiang.

Wondering if someone else, one who dares to question and take risks, needs guidance on Earth, he returns.

“Devil” for some and “angel” for others, Jonathan teaches a few eager ones. Practising, failing, practising again, Jonathan’s students rise above the Flock, the mundane.

Jonathan Livingston Seagull then continues his journey to guide other gulls who must have been waiting for him somewhere else in the Universe.

The fable. [Source – Wikipedia]

Richard Bach’s fable is soothingly clear, and thus, appears too simplistic to many. Just like flying looks simple only until we give it a try.

He equates perfection with freedom, emphasising on practising and a thirst for knowledge as the golden path to it; a path where you walk ahead passionately and not cumbersomely.

Every little bud in nature rises high, soaking in sun rays, moving towards it. Rising high, shedding the old self, stepping forward to explore the unknown, dwindling before making a firm stand is what life’s journey is all about.

Jonathan Livingston Seagull, “a one-in-a-million bird”, if appears to be too perfect and his ideas if sound too far-fetching then you should look at your on-going journey and answer these questions – what are you looking for in life – perfection in some form or maybe a balance?

And what is balance if not a proportion of perfect this and perfect that?

Even better, you should meet Shelley’s Skylark.

Hail to thee, blithe Spirit!

Bird thou never wert,

That from Heaven, or near it,

Pourest thy full heart

In profuse strains of unpremeditated art.

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Higher still and higher

From the earth thou springest

Like a cloud of fire;

The blue deep thou wingest,

And singing still dost soar, and soaring ever singest.

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The invisible bird.
Image from Unsplash.

‘Blithe Spirit’ calls Percy Bysshe Shelley a Skylark that is soaring up in the sky (or Heaven, or near it), singing beautifully and gloriously that to him it is nothing but unprecedented ‘unpremeditated art’.

The Skylark, invisible to his eyes, has such power in its voice that the poet likens it to ‘a cloud of fire’.

Shelley beseeches the Skylark to teach him what it knows; a divine secret it must be for nothing on earth could outshine it. Joy so true, Shelley calls it ‘a star of Heaven’.

Nature’s bounty, the golden glow worms, the rainbows, the playful wind, a young maiden’s love and a poet’s grand verses, Shelley says the Skylark’s song, that flows in a ‘crystal stream’, is above them all.

What thou art we know not;

What is most like thee?

From rainbow clouds there flow not

Drops so bright to see

As from thy presence showers a rain of melody.

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Like a Poet hidden

In the light of thought,

Singing hymns unbidden,

Till the world is wrought

To sympathy with hopes and fears it heeded not:

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Like a high-born maiden

In a palace-tower,

Soothing her love-laden

Soul in secret hour

With music sweet as love, which overflows her bower:

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Like a glow-worm golden

In a dell of dew,

Scattering unbeholden

Its aëreal hue

Among the flowers and grass, which screen it from the view:

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Like a rose embower’d

In its own green leaves,

By warm winds deflower’d,

Till the scent it gives

Makes faint with too much sweet those heavy-winged thieves:

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Sound of vernal showers

On the twinkling grass,

Rain-awaken’d flowers,

All that ever was

Joyous, and clear, and fresh, thy music doth surpass.

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Rain-awaken’d flowers.
Image from Pixabay.

The Skylark, above these mortal dilemmas, sings with pure love and delight. And in contrast we, humans, are locked in the past or the future.

We look before and after,

And pine for what is not:

Our sincerest laughter

With some pain is fraught;

Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thought.

Shelley urges the Skylark to teach him just half of what it knows, this ‘harmonious madness’ so that he could capture it within and share it with the world.

The Skylark if not a gleaming reflection of perfection, then what is it? If its song is not a song of freedom, then why is the melody ‘a flood of rapture so divine’?

It must be that just like Jonathan Livingston Seagull, the Skylark returned to Earth, to guide and share its knowledge, to remind the poet that ‘freedom is the very nature of his being’.

Unlike a miracle, both took time to convey what little they knew of the truth. The Seagull stays to make his students practice and the Skylark sings till the chosen one – the poet in this case – hears its joyous voice.  

Showing what doors can perseverance open and how patience leads to strength, the Seagull and the Skylark leave it up to the individual to unfold the story further.

Birth and death are timed then and a fully lived life, with all its imperfections, aims for a balance, for perfection that guides it to fly high and well.

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Fly high and well.
Image from Pixabay.

Read P. B Shelley’s full poem To a Skylark here.

Listen to the Jonathan Livingston Seagull’s audio book version here.


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The Journey

Amongst the clouds… yes, this is how the journey began. Mushy clouds, mushy dreamy clouds all around her. Whether she walked or the white dreams floated around her isn’t something the music ever revealed.

The music was busy playing and she was busy colouring. The sky and earth colours participated and turned rich.

Meanwhile, in a parallel universe, someone took a flight, landed, took a cab, halted for a coffee break, laughed with her friend and continued the road trip.

Warm waves of velvety starry blanket covered the existence and hushed those who listened into happy silence. She stayed awake for a while just to witness it all. A simple melodious note filled her ears and she swam to sleep.

That someone talked to her friend, they ate pastries and called it a day. That someone, with ‘oh’ look, got up to brush her teeth and then went to bed. Phew!

She opened her eyes, awakened the self and stepped out to see the end of a long search. Birds and buds, earth’s aroma and touch, giant trees’ humble smiles, the sun’s vocals and the wind’s compositions, other human beings, all dancing, and of course, the bicycles… everything she laid her eyes on glanced back at her, welcomed and sang to her.

At bliss, at Auroville. [Images by Jagriti Rumi]

Tring, tring… tring, tring, she replied to them. Crossed leg sitting inside an apple she relished it, sweet, sour, juicy and fresh. When she jumped outside, she gave the left-over bit to a dog. Questioning her about nothing the dog finished the apple.

Tring, tring… she went ahead and met a mathematician’s spirit, who gave her the map that took her to the grand golden lotus with twelve petals. Its beauty struck her hard and she kept standing there for ages in admiration.

Primary and secondary colours, in circles, pyramids and cylindrical shapes all passed by her. She blinked and found herself inside the grand golden lotus.

The grand golden lotus!
Matrimandir, Auroville. [Image by Peter Anta from Pixabay]

Earth, Fire, Wind and Water were there, she saw it, just a glimpse, but they were there in absoluteness. She blinked and she was back outside. Oh! The joy!

She danced all her way, lal-lal-lal-laaa, rotated and laughed, climbed the musical rainbow and listened to what the colours were playing and then surprised herself with her quiet self, quiet but not low, because her eyes were beaming and her soul still dancing.

By the hourglass the journey continued for that someone and her friend, click-click-click, pictures taken, tring-tring-tring on the cycle path, resting, eating and laughing.

That someone’s friend like a darling blue bird sang and danced… unable to resist she also joined her friend. Together they collected memories and both filled their hourglass with it.

Smart! Now time reminds them of those memories all the time.

Auroville… the journey, the destination. [Source – eco-villages.eu]

O journey, when did you start and when will you end?

O journey, can I stop and meet my friend?

The beginning is hazy, but true and the end will be a new beginning for you.

Don’t stop if you want to meet your friend, for she is on a journey too.


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These Red, Blue Jeeps Are The Same Or Are They Not?

Absurd Prose
In Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India.
Image by Aditya Thakur

The Red Jeep said to the Blue Jeep that it was late. What is the point of hurrying if you don’t know where you are going, replied the Blue Jeep.

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Sure the circle is round and the track is wide, beautiful vistas stretched within and beyond me, prints are taken, but the journey is not free. 

What is the price you ask? It is different for everybody. Though ultimately all agree to pay, and thus the journey begins. 

But someone must know where I have reached. This guy in blue safety helmet might reveal. 

Hey! Hey! Hey-hey! The man replied not, real the man was not, it was all plastic, just an image. It bounced off voices and that was enough for many. Still is.  

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The Red Jeep asked the Blue Jeep that if it followed the echoes or not. What is the point of following an echo when you can’t hear your own voice, replied the Blue Jeep.  


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The Same

“What I meant was that if we are talking about the universe and how it works, then shouldn’t we first at least be aware of the micro-universes… the micro-universe of every living being which may throw some light on the macro-universe?”

“Hm-hm, I said the same.”  

“How life evolves… its route from birth to death… simple cycles, complex cycles… such details can reveal a map of which we are also a part.”

“My words mean the same.”

“And finally, where are we headed to… is there any sense in this flow of energy that we see everywhere… waves that have risen will soon fall and merge with the rest, will it be the end or a new beginning…? Maybe these questions if answered can change the meaning, the essence of our lives.”

“Same… same.”

“Hey, what is with you? Same… same? Don’t you know anything else? Being quiet doesn’t make you a good listener, being honest about your response makes you. I don’t know why I began talking to you… who are you anyway?”

SILENCE RULES A LONG MINUTE

“I am you and you are me… we are both the same.”

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Understanding the life, the mind, the duality within we walk ahead, questioning & asking for an answer from the same being… our inner self. [Source – Pixabay]

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I Can See Mountains from the Window, I’ll take this Window Along

The mountains are so grand; I realised it that day when I climbed one. The green velvety zigzag stretch left me overwhelmed.

A thought caught my attention and told me how beautiful and majestic the mountains were, how incredibly small I was, how peacefully colourful the surroundings were and how sublime the music played by the wind was.

Portable Window! [Image by AnnaliseArt from Pixabay]

I saw the clouds and they saw me; I blushed quietly. With my feet in the wet green grass, I stood there enjoying the drizzle. I sat on a calm rock calmly and opened the notebook. I couldn’t write for some reason, so I drew the scene instead.    

Have you ever felt the same? Like when you feel something you cannot describe in words or otherwise? When the smell of an old book takes you back in a different century?

As if the leaf that fell near you was meant to fall there so that you could pick it up and feel it? And that the glamorous city lights were talking to each other and the moon was talking to you?

What about the smiley face drawn by a passer-by on a dusty car that reminds you of the one you had drawn? Have you ever felt the still mind?

The drawing that I made took the shape of yin-yang without my knowledge. Opposites complement each other. I sat near the window and thought about it; the sun passed by and the moon came with white light very quickly and in the shadow, I saw light and immediately, I agreed.

I again looked at that drawing, in gratitude but the drawing was no longer the same…there were dark green mountains and blue sky, white clouds and green grass and me, sitting on the calm rock calmly. And I looked through the window…

I can see mountains from the window, I’ll take this window along.


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Hum Along

That feeling of sadness when you realise that you could have done something else, something better but you cannot because time has defeated you, leaving you alone with the mighty Fate.

That moment when your heart is full of love and your mind full of confusion and you hesitate to take a step forward; sometimes you console yourself and sometimes you scold yourself…all you are left with is pain.  

Pain is known to everyone who knows love, hope, desire and ego.

Why don’t we get rid of this pain and live happily ever after?

Maybe because we need pain…just to understand the importance of everything around us, to learn to value every little thing.

Maybe because pain teaches us to move forward, it gives us only one choice which is to change with time.

If seen in this light, pain helps us to realise our transient nature but not to lament over it, rather cherish every second of it and to make the best of it.

Yes, this will mean to be ALIVE always but this is just how we should live, shouldn’t we?

Why be in grief when neither the reason for the grief nor you, the sufferer, will stay forever? What stays is the wish to live life to the fullest.  

Keep walking, keep humming.
Image from Pixabay.

I am walking on a mysterious road… what passes me enters me and then it vanishes, leaving a feeling within me, giving me pain and hope… I walk ahead in the search of love… I cannot see the path, just one step after the other… it is thrilling… the silky air around me is what I can feel and the music of the cosmos that whispers in my ears, telling me to hum along.

So be it! Hum…. 


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IF

Let us all think of sunshine!
Image from Pixabay.

If we believe that life reflects what is in our mind, let us all think of sunshine. We should then imagine a colourful picture.

Red-red flowers, blue-blue sky and calm green grass and happy air all around us, with a touch of music in it.

We can all be dancers, dancing nonstop. Our body will be caught in action and rhythm and our soul in peace.  

We can also think of meditating; every one of us on Earth meditating; sending sublime vibrations in the universe and connecting with this marvel.

Our planet will then glow. We’ll be like the sun. A passing alien might confuse our planet for the Sun. Nevertheless, we’ll welcome others to join.  

The best thing is, we all can think of holding hands, the whole humanity, a never-ending long chain. And then we’ll move round and round. We’ll sing and dance and move round and round.  

Why don’t we think so? Why don’t we think? It’ll be fun if we think, I promise that it’ll be.


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