Spirituality

The Samurai Walker

Reverberating grand mountain range… here I come!
[Source – Pixabay]

Recently ordained as a samurai or was she a veteran, no one knows for what is the difference between new and old journeys… Experience! Experience? Experience is always limited, tied to the past, a guide it maybe, yes, just that, but not a compass, for the working compass points towards the present, always.

And grannie, the samurai never called herself a samurai… she said, and I have heard too grannie, she called herself a walker.

Hmm… yes, yes, that’s right too, but listen what happened next. She crossed the ocean of the golden grass that swayed with the silken wind, her hands stroking the golden waves past her, dancing a little to the left, then to the right, dancing to dodge the crickets, grasshoppers and in some seasons the dragonflies. Some seasons? Some seasons, yes, for she has crossed this ocean of the golden grass many a times.

You mean the meadow, right grannie? Golden grass ocean is where we play? Because I have seen her passing by.

Yes kiddo! So, listen now, she crosses this ocean to climb the reverberating grand mountain range… mountains that speak and its white peaks touch the sky, its high peaks that speak that us chaps fail to see for we bend to sow seeds, our backs ache and speak a different language that doesn’t reaches the peaks that speak.

But the samurai’s footprints, when in the mood, talk and share anecdotes and so we know somethings like that she stands still to sleep and drinks fresh water for breakfast and dinner, skipping lunch altogether, that she takes different routes to reach the top in search of an answer.

Grannie, she bought flour from the market one day, I saw her. She knows how to cook too.

The footprints are complete, not weak, she is never in a hurry, walking ahead, different routes but one direction. Where to? What chasing question she chases? What can be seen that is hidden in these glorious mountains? An answer? Why again? Yes, again… isn’t the old answer relevant anymore? Or is the question too old, dimming the revelation in-turn? Or there’s no question, no answer to be known?

Kiddo? You asleep, good. Rest now, for you too have to go on a long walk soon.


The samurai, standing on the mountain peak, her hundredth journey, maybe, she mutters, for she stopped counting long time back, for it didn’t answer, it dated the time passed and that is all. Why hundredth then? For impact, she whispers.

Biting cold wind reminded nothing of its silken version that swayed the golden grass, the meadows that looked like a shiny river from there. The samurai looked in one direction for hours, concentrating madly, couldn’t see clearly when suddenly a brisk energy filled her fully, and she stopped looking in one direction, and looked at the panorama fully, the whole of it and not just a part.

The question, the answer busted in joy then, concentration took a dive into complete attention, a clarity dawned that stopped the samurai from checking time, for the whole movement moved in her wholly.


This one movement played like a melodious orchestra around her, that from that day, the samurai walker didn’t imagine her goal, but saw the radiant whole.

The job was done, yet the samurai walked, fought and caught the fallen and rose every time, looking, from a certain angle, as tall and strong as the mountains.


And those who have heard the peaks, mostly the oldies like our grannie, even once – the echoes of the purple caves – they have spent the days and nights in glorifying it as a legend, speaking in riddles, confusing all and never…

Hey, where’s my stick? Wait, you!!


Climbing like the rainbow.
[Source – Pixabay]

She walks without counting, checking time

Or imagining a direction, she walks

Matter-of-factly, fearlessly, lightly

Like the rainbow after a storm

-Samurai’s footprints

Weekly Newsletter

A weekly dose of stories! Get the posts from the Chiming Stories in your inbox and read it when you can. Subscribe now, it is free!


Recent Posts


An Ancient Temple

Living and dying daily.
[Source – Pixabay]

Stranger, think long before you enter,

For these corridors amuse not passing travellers.

But if you enter, keep your voice to yourself.

Nor should you tinkle and toll your tongue.

These columns rose not, for such as you.

But for those urgent pilgrim feet that wander

On lonely ways, seeking the roots of rootless trees.

The earth has many flowery roads; choose one

That pleases your whim, and the gods be with you.

But now leave! Leave me to my dark green solitude

Which like the deep dream world of the sea

Has its moving shapes; corals; ancient coins;

Carved urns and ruins of ancient ships and gods;

And mermaids, with flowing golden hair

That charm a patch of silent darkness

Into singing sunlight.

-Inscription on an ancient temple, Pingalavel, G.A Kulkarni

An ancient forgotten temple that luckily doesn’t asks for donation, mutters a handful of such words that falls on some lucky ears, but usually ricochets off the nearby rocks.

The mossy temple, absorbed in and absorbing the greenery around, is purposeless, meaningless, free from limited definitions.

It shoots comet-fireball-meteor-like sparkling rays randomly into the bright dark sky… or catches the comet-fireball-meteor-like sparkling rays… it shoots or catches… if you see after tilting your head a little.

And so, it meets and greets only the earnest pilgrim, who is roaming aimlessly, ‘seeking the roots of rootless trees.’ Admonishing a half-hearted, tied-to-a-string, fearful attempt, a fearful approach that has drawn conclusions. ‘… the gods be with you. But now leave!’

Sitting still, sinking into the deep sea, a silent celebration that never began and will never end.

The ancient forgotten temple disappears into singing sunlight.

Sing along the sunlight!
[Source – Pixabay]

Weekly Newsletter

A weekly dose of stories! Get the posts from the Chiming Stories in your inbox and read it when you can. Subscribe now, it is free!


Recent Posts


The Source

Short Commentary
The diya flickers gently.
[Image from Pixabay]

*

Listen to this wonderful track by Pandit Jasraj and read along.

*

*

Transported to the past, a pinch of time plucked, rubbed, glided from vilambit (slow), madhya (medium), to drut (fast) tempo, casting a spell to unite.

The golden light smeared the pillars, the roof, escaping through the hall, smudging the dusk too… or was it dawn?

A small earthen diya (lamp) lit the space wholly, for so long, and though the last one to enter the hall, standing near the pillar, you feel the warmth.

No one moves, as if they are painted and fixed, but you do to see the diya from nearby, you ask it something, it flickers gently, and you realise it is the music that is its source.

The beats slowly embrace you.

Suddenly, in the end, before transporting back, you find yourself dancing, joyfully.

*


Weekly Newsletter

A weekly dose of stories! Get the posts from the Chiming Stories in your inbox and read it when you can. Subscribe now, it is free!


Recent Posts


Temple Food

Short Coverage
From the temple, with love.
[Source – Pixabay]

*

The monastery hidden up in the mountains, the waltzing foggy air, breathes and greets in delight, offering love and care and sometimes offering it through food, what people happily call the temple food. And the one who excels in doing so is a Buddhist nun, Jeong Kwan.

Her simple, soupy, soulful dishes – vegetarian and vegan – lightens and calms both the body and mind. Grown in the monastery’s garden, the vegetables live boisterously.

*

After planting the seeds, I just watch them grow. They grow in snow, rain, wind and sunlight. When it’s hot they grow in heat. When it’s cold they grow in cold. I make food with these vegetables with a blissful mind. And I eat the vegetables with joy.

– Jeong Kwan

Ascetic yet communicating with everyone, delightfully going with the flow and living, simply, Jeong Kwan remembers her mother.

*

When I felt the love of my mother, I wanted to become like her. I learned the mother’s way from my mother. Preparing a lot of food to share. As a monk, I try to practice such a mind, a mother’s mind. A monk is everyone’s mother, not just to a family, but to the whole community…

My mother granted me the opportunity to enter this temple. Even today, I thank her for her mercifulness and compassion for allowing my pursuit of the freedom.

– Jeong Kwan

*

Her late parents, their memories don’t cripple or sadden her, it’s the endless pond of oneness through which she touches upon these few old glimpses. For she is one with all, one with her actions, her surroundings.

Walking, choosing the Buddha’s way, far away from the rush, close to nature, one feels transported. Jeong Kwan transports at will and doesn’t mind the bustling busy crowd at all.

I want to communicate with everyone through food, so I lecture at the Department of Culinary Arts at Jeonju University … I don’t consider my activities to be teaching. It’s communication.

– Jeong Kwan

*

Soy sauce fermentation.
[Source – Pixabay]

*

Here is what she has to say about soy sauce, excitedly she shares –

Every food is recreated by soy sauce. Soy beans, salt and water, in harmony, through time. It is the basis of seasonings, the foundation. There are sauces aged five years, ten years, aged for 100 years. These kind of soy sauces are passed down for generations, they are heirlooms. If you look into yourself, you see past, present and future. You see that time revolves endlessly….

By looking into myself I see my grandmother, my mother, the elders in the temple and me. As a result, by making soy sauce, I am reliving the wisdom of my ancestors, I am reliving them. It’s not important who or when. What is important is that I am doing it in the present.

– Jeong Kwan

*

The Buddha’s way, the temple food, all mixed with a little bit of soy sauce, whether in throbbing loud city or a challenging quiet corner in the forest, is the recipe to make a humble, fulfilling meal that lets the vital life force within and without work peacefully.

*

With food we can share and communicate our emotions. It’s the mindset of sharing that is really what you’re eating. There is no difference between cooking and pursuing Buddha’s way. It’s been almost half a century since I entered this way. I did it in pursuit of enlightenment. I am not a chef, I am a monk.

– Jeong Kwan

The blogger was inspired by the documentary series ‘Chef’s Table’ that is available on Netflix.

*

*

Here’s the trailer –

*

Meet Jeong Kwan –

*

Eric Ripert, a renowned chef, visits the temple –

Weekly Newspaper

A weekly dose of stories! Get the posts from the Chiming Stories in your inbox and read it when you can. Subscribe now, it is free!


Recent Posts


Bhikshuni

Review
‘The mother of liberation’, green Tara; Sumtsek hall at Alci monastery, Ladakh, ca. 11th century.
[Source – Wikimedia Commons]

*

वह दूसरी ओर पीठ किए खड़ी थी। हमारी टैक्सी एकदम उसके पास ही आकर रुकी। वह हड़बड़ाकर मुड़ी और मेरा कलेजा मुँह को आ गया। उसके चारों ओर छोटी-मोटी भगवा पोटलियाँ बिखरी थी, पीठ पर मोटे रस्से में दो-तीन भारी कम्बल लदे थे। अपने खुरदुरे, तिब्बती लबादे को सम्हालती, वह एक कोने में सिमट गई।          

भिक्षुणी – शिवानी

English Translation –

She was standing with her back to the other side. Our taxi stopped right next to her. She turned around in a huff and my heart came to my mouth. Some small bundles were scattered around her, two or three heavy blankets were laden with thick ropes on her back. Holding on to her rough, Tibetan cloak, she huddled in a corner.

Bhikshuni, a short story by Shivani


A known face, however time-wrought, when seen, catches the eyes and attention almost at once that you cannot resist thinking about it. She saw Kiki, her heart smiled and a surge of memories filled the world, stopping time effortlessly.

Kiki, a spirited girl, enamoured with every new idea, had the courage to not to conform, not too easily, blindly. As a maiden, when in love, then a married woman, a mother and again in love, she moulded her life and everyone she knew anew. Some cheered for her, others washed away her colours.

When her livid father cremated her without uncovering the shroud, once just to see Kiki’s face, she instantly got a new lease of life.

A new lease of life where she chose to become a bhikshuni; crestfallen, she took a turn to continue with this journey called life. How difficult it would have been?

To let go of the collection closely locked in the heart – the hurts, laughs, blessings, all of it. To begin afresh when old tidings try to tie one down, to let the old self know its place.

The bhikshuni was carrying a potali… what was in it, we know now.

*

*

*Bhikshuni – a Hindu or Buddhist nun.

*Potali – a small packet or cloth bag.


Weekly Newsletter

A weekly dose of stories! Get the posts from the Chiming Stories in your inbox and read it when you can. Subscribe now, it is free!


Recent Posts


The Child, The Feminine, The God

Poems

Phases: A Collection of Poetry

A phase is defined as any stage in a series of events or a process of development; while we all go through different phases in life, at times we either forget to notice or simply become fearful of transitions, inadvertently being ignorant about the fact that this phenomenon is universal. In this short poetry collection, the blogger has attempted to capture this subtle yet powerful phenomenon – phases that are observable in every journey undertaken.

Here are three more poems from this collection –

*

La-laa-la li-la!
[Source- Pixabay]

*

The Child

Running to catch her friends,

Spirited till the day ends,

Happy seeing things just as they are,

Yay, the tuck shop’s not that far;

Folded paper boats and paper planes

Resting in the bag after ruling the lanes;

Little joys and big victories,

Defeats, bad score and sad faces,

The child knows life only too well,

The child lives life only too well.

*

Alas! Childhood is but a phase, golden,

Precious, sublime, magical and fun,

Closer to the truth, the reality,

A sweetened blissful individuality.


Here and beyond…
[Source – Pixabay]

*

The Feminine

Femininity and infinity, two soul sisters,

One departed to build the worlds,

The other, to build the universe,

Through waves in the space

They saw the birth and death of their creations,

Jostling joyfully the drama to expand further,

One becomes the seed of sentient life,

The other, creator of spinning galaxies.

Inexplicable at times, they shone

In red, blue, yellow and its many tones.

*

Femininity –infinity’s one good phase – usurps

The Time, for the time being

As the secret mystical message lurks,

Invisible, for now, to the living.


“And that’s that”, said the god.
[Source – Pixabay]

*

The God

Placing the pyramids perfectly still,

Turning the holy text holy,

The will to power or power to will,

The rise of God could not be a folly.

Mythology – a social construct, a tool, a goal

To make this lonely planet a home,

But that this God could launch a missile

And break the back of the buried poor

And let the child die a brutal death

Who failed to understand the ties of wealth…

*

This God could be a phase that may disappear

Or grow bigger and bigger and bigger,

Finally engulfing stars, galaxies and all…

Letting some rise, letting some fall.

*


Weekly Newsletter

A weekly dose of stories! Get the posts from the Chiming Stories in your inbox and read it when you can. Subscribe now, it is free!


Recent Post


Stories

Poem

Phases: A Collection of Poetry

A phase is defined as any stage in a series of events or a process of development; while we all go through different phases in life, at times we either forget to notice or simply become fearful of transitions, inadvertently being ignorant about the fact that this phenomenon is universal. In this short poetry collection, the blogger has attempted to capture this subtle yet powerful phenomenon – phases that are observable in every journey undertaken.

Here’s the first poem –

*

The LIBRARY!
[Source – Pixabay]

Stories

Once upon a time began a story,

One that preceded the old granny’s,

Kind of majestic, kind of silly…

The story glanced at the human tale

And built the drama of our coming-of-age;

Cultural riches, potions, a legacy in storage

That led the imaginative heart’s dream

To fly high until detained by authority,

That questioned before listening

And answered before knowing.

*

Stories adorn with garlands these phases

Of mankind, the world and the universe’s,

Weaving powerful parallel universes

In stories after stories after stories.

*


Weekly Newsletter

A weekly dose of stories! Get the posts from the Chiming Stories in your inbox and read it when you can. Subscribe now, it is free!


Recent Posts


Jasmine-Rich Raga

Coverage

White Jasmines.
[Image from Pixabay]

Like flowers threaded to form a sheet, woven intricately, the free white petals settling in a designed pattern, accepting the arrangement with joy, like an endless beaded wave of fragrant flower-colours, the ragas also weave intricately musical framework that evokes fragrant feelings in a quiet listener’s mind.

Just like the perfection-loving flowers – the humble sepal, the vibrant petal, the ambitious anther – the ragas too know how to bloom to perfection. Capturing the exact mood that exudes the season’s essence perfectly, the ragas effortlessly scent time making it beautifully appreciable.

*

The scented time celebrates the raga – in Vilambit laya (slow tempo), Madhya laya (medium tempo), Drut laya (fast tempo) – accepting every melodic improvisation, evolving with each performance, never bothering with change, rather ushering it with consistent Riyaz (practice).

Overwhelming calculations keep the ragas free from vegetating and from the burden of the past that at times tries to confine its spirit, but almost always the spirit remembers to break free.

The many notations, the Swara, bring forth incessant improvisations, giving space to every emotional twist, forming an intricate, fragrant Mandala.

The ragas symbolise, like a flower threaded sheet, intricacies of life… and more.


Lat uljhi suljha ja balam

Piya more haath mein mehndi lagi hai

Lat uljhi suljha ja balam

Mathe ki bindiya bikhar rahi hai

Apne hi haath laga ja balam

Lat uljhi suljha ja balam

*

(Translation – Disentangle my hair, dear beloved/ I have applied henna on my hands/ So come and disentangle my hair, dear beloved/ The bindiya too is spreading on my forehead/ Correct it for me with your own hands, dear beloved/ Disentangle my hair, dear beloved)

This Bandish* in raga Bihag decorates time with a jasmine-rich fragrant emotion that vehemently values love and life.


*Bindiya – a colourful dot mark worn between the eyebrows, especially by married Hindu women.

*Bandish – a composition in Hindustani classical music.


Listen to a melodious version of this bandish now.

*

A shorter version.

Complement this with another melodious post – Amir Khusrau and the Mustard Flowers


Weekly Newsletter

A weekly dose of stories! Get the posts from the Chiming Stories in your inbox and read it when you can. Subscribe now, it is free!


Recent Posts


Not Lithic

POEM

The universe’s engine runs on love.
[Image from Pixabay]

*

Its nature is not lithic,

Not etched,

You cannot run your fingers over it,

Malleable and foldable for some,

Yelling, “Come, come,

Buy a packet full of love…”

*

From the absolute beginning

Love, not lithic in nature,

Etched if anywhere, then in atoms;

Ride like the wind to feel it;

A malleable, foldable sweet memory

For all those who fall

In love, just like in the absolute beginning.

*


Weekly Newsletter

A weekly dose of stories! Get the posts from the Chiming Stories in your inbox and read it when you can. Subscribe now, it is free!


Recent Posts


Beauty in Perfection and Vice-Versa: The Japanese Take

Book Review

Seeing through a lens that sees things as it is, in its truest form, looking at a broken feather as a feather, not denying its reality, not giving it a quality, experiencing the moment quietly the Mother wrote about Japan. She wrote about its perfection/ beauty-loving people, the value given to nurturing kids, the dedicated women, the Japanese restrained-balanced-subtle art and the transient life.

The people, she observed, not via reactions, but by silent selfless actions showed how much they cared for someone; happy to persevere they worked to fulfil the task at hand, devoted harmoniously and absolutely in the present moment, aware about nothing else.

*

Taking long walks to a garden in spring or autumns and spending time there or climbing the steep stairs to reach the monastery at the top of the hilltop, the people (of every and any class), she noticed, believed in beauty and peace.

*

“…very simple people, men of working class or even peasants go for rest or enjoyment to a place where they can see a beautiful landscape. This gives them a much greater joy than going to play cards or indulging in all sorts of distractions as they do in the countries of Europe. They are seen in groups at times, going on the roads or sometimes taking a train or a tram up to a certain point, then walking to a place from where one gets a beautiful view.”

“For instance, in autumn leaves become red; they have large numbers of maple-trees (the leaves of the maple turn into all the shades of the most vivid red in autumn, it is absolutely marvellous), so they arrange a place near temple, for instance, on the top of a hill, and the entire hill is covered with maples.”

“Well, an artist who goes there will experience an emotion of absolutely exceptional, marvellous beauty. But one sees very small children, families even, with a baby on the shoulder, going there in groups. In autumn they will go there. In springtime they will go elsewhere.”

The Mother (Questions and Answers, The Mother on Japan 12 April 1951) 

Image of the Buddha, painting by the Mother.
(The Mother, Paintings and Drawings, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, 1992) [Photo by – Jagriti Rumi]

While reading about the 1919 flu and how the Mother fought back the negative, dark energy, one thinks about the present pandemic and hopes to win like the Mother in the end.

The glorious cherry-blossom trees in bloom – pink, white, vivid joyous pink – and the narrow paths that take one to wonderful places, with old Japanese houses on both sides, presented the Mother with a paradise puzzle…

*

“Then you go wandering around – always one wanders at random in that country – you go wandering and all of a sudden you turn the corner of a street and come to a kind of paradise: there are magnificent trees, a temple as beautiful as everything else, you see nothing of the city (Tokyo) any longer, no more traffic, no tramways; a corner, a corner of trees with magnificent colours, and it is beautiful, beautiful like everything else. You do not know how you have reached there, you seem to have come by luck. And then you turn, you seek your way, you wander off again and go elsewhere. And some days later you want to come back to this very place, but it is impossible, it is as though it had disappeared. And this is so frequent, this is so true that such stories are often told in Japan. Their literature is full of fairy-lore. They tell you a story in which the hero comes suddenly to an enchanted place: he sees fairies, he sees marvellous beings, he spends exquisite hours among flowers, music; all is splendid. The next day he is obliged to leave; it is the law of the place, he goes away. He tries to come back, but never does. He can no longer find the place: it was there, it has disappeared!… And everything in this city, in this country, from beginning to end, gives you the impression of impermanence, of the unexpected, the exceptional. You always come to things you did not expect; you want to find them again and they are lost – they have made something else which is equally charming. From the artistic point of view, the point of view of beauty, I don’t think there is a country as beautiful as that.”

 

The Mother (Questions and Answers, The Mother on Japan 12 April 1951) 

*


Complement this short spiritual post with similar posts – The Journey and Sri Aurobindo.

*


Weekly Newsletter

A weekly dose of stories! Get the posts from the Chiming Stories in your inbox and read it when you can. Subscribe now, it is free!


Recent Posts