Mind


spiderweb-888466_640

 

Caught in the

Silken threads of

Life’s cobweb

Wishing, wanting;

Grieving, worrying;

Clinging and clutching.

Mind, Oh! Mind,

Are you ever satisfied?

When in company

You pine for lone time;

When alone

You crave for company.

Mind, Oh! Mind,

Are you ever content?

churning

Do you not know

That these silk threads are

Meandering waters

Dark and muddy

Churning on themselves

Etching deep

Into the being,

Racing towards

shimmering1

A shimmering falsity –

A shifting mirage?

vastness

Mind, Oh! Mind,

When will you realise that

In stopping and not churning

can you reflect

the vastness

that lights you and the mirage?

Posted in Practical spirituality | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How Aware Are You of Your Breathing?


Breathing

Deep, Shallow

In & Out

Expand, Contract

Gentle or Harsh

As it goes in giving life, breath is one common thing that all living creatures have regardless of species, gender, color, caste and creed.

Breath is in-discriminatory in nature although it manifests differently in each,  given their circumstance, situation and feelings in any given moment.

Breath – the fundamental necessity that distinguishes between life and death, an involuntary but completely taken granted for, until no more – A vital component which determines if you can move or not, if your existence is guaranteed or not – that vital component that absolutely determines and makes my mark on this planet – is so taken for granted.

You assure myself that because you can breathe now, you can in the next minute as well.  You act as if it is seamless and yet between each breath lies your life’s guarantee, your story can be finished between exhale and inhale.  Flared out lungs may not necessarily contract in and yet you act as though they have come with a promissory note.  Well they did.

The day you were born, your lungs had a time stamped on them, a ‘best before’, or a ‘use by’ date that only the hands that printed on them can see, a shelf life that is predetermined and yet can go off any minute.

Do you need to know the exact date to determine how to live today or is it enough for you to know that there is an expiry date that could be as soon as between next inhale and exhale or as late as a billion or trillion or countless exhales later?

Countless breaths in your mind yet a count has begun with your first exhale the day you were born.

So how are you to live with this awareness?

Every breath in writes a memory only to be etched deeper with every breath out.  A whole of eternity will pass halfway between exhaling at the last breath.

The tiny space between the in and out is where the world is held as memories. There is no good or bad, no right or wrong, just life coming in and going out,  bringing with it stories that create memories.

When you penetrate into the space between the two breaths, you accept that pain and pleasure are inseparable, you cannot have one without the other.  In that acceptance life flows.  That is the truth about your need to tell our story unfolding today in its struggles and triumphs.

In Out, Expand, Contract – you need to focus only on expansion.  An expansion painted on the waves of life only guaranteed until the next gushing in tide which may or may not arrive.

So how do you treat your breath? Do you take it for granted or are you consciously aware of each in and out?

It is difficult to be in that constant awareness, but a few minutes spent in silence every couple of hours during the waking time, just becoming aware of the breath and being thankful for it, brings things back into perspective.

What practice can you establish to become aware of your breath and give thanks to its presence?

Do tell me……….

Until next time

With Love and Respect

Padma Ayyagari

Posted in Practical spirituality | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What Are You Desiring?


Desire

A beautiful poem by 13th century poet Matchild of Magdeburg inspired me to question myself. I will post the poem in here as well.

What am I desiring? What are you desiring?

Are you desiring comfort, security, safety, guarantee of existence through material, impermanent stuff?

Are you desiring comfort, security, safety, guarantee of existence through your relationships with others who are desiring the same?

Are you desiring pain free, suffering less life through these impermanent and materialistic relationships to things and people?

We all desire the same but with different intensity and focus. I know I do.

spider-web-1185949_1920

Somewhere in that web of desires, there is a pocket that is craving for happiness and peace for self and family.

No matter how trapped we think we are in the big web of relationships to things and people, ultimately we are all desiring to be in that tiny pocket of the massive web – the pocket that quivers wildly every now and then as the breeze of the Divine touches it asking to break free from the rest of web and join with it so our love can be perfected free from the web of pain and suffering.

Isn’t that the journey we are actually on? A desire to create and enjoy lasting happiness and peace for us?

But that desire is buried under the layers of our immediate desires.  What is your immediate desire that masquerades the real desire?

I know my immediate desire is to break free from the intense egoistic attachments that make me feel indispensable.

If I stop thinking I am indispensable to my family and not anticipate every need of its members and provide in advance, while reeling in the need for recognition, resenting that feeling at the same time, then, perhaps, I can understand the real desire behind the desire – a desire to be happy, to be free, to be peaceful, to be – just TO BE.

What is stopping me from doing that? The egotistic me that thinks I am needed/wanted/required by others to lead their lives.  Really?

Truth is – They do and they don’t – need me, want me and require me.

I certainly don’t need that  for my existence.  Oh what a blow to my ego? What would I be if I am not a wife, mother, sister, daughter to someone? Who would I be if don’t have those roles to define myself and identify with? How am I to derive happiness and feel the love without playing a role?

Do I desire to be in these roles in order to perfect my love?  Is that the only way I can experience love – in relationship to something?  A love that can easily turn into a dislike or even hatred – is that real love? or is it a desire to protect my identity that is changing constantly? Can I detach from that clingy desire that makes me forget who I truly am…

Divine love

Metchild of Magdeburg (1207> – 1282> or 1297?) in her poem “God Speaks to the Soul” says

“And God said to the Soul:
I desired you before the world began.
I desire you now
As you desire me.
And where desire of two come together
There love is perfected”

So what am I desiring then?  Do I really desire to come together with Divine to perfect my love? Not consciously.  My desire and I am sure yours too is to live in this day to day life with that perfect partner, lover, child, sibling etc., who will exactly reciprocate our love the way we give.

In that desire arises the unrecognized competition that says – I have given, why can’t you give back in exact proportion and intensity?  Is that a sustainable desire that will help perfect love or find lasting happiness?

When the desire of two coming together is laced with expectations and attachments – it cannot last nor can that love be perfected.

Well the answer, at least, theoretically would be – I AM…

I AM

Every word I fill in after that I AM… is a role I created in this drama of attachment and entanglement of desires I play.  All I need really is to be aware of those roles i fill in whilst rooted in my being ‘I Am.’

If my prime desire to fill in the blank after I AM is LOVE – how would I behave? Worth trying?

When I AM LOVE, my desire would be to merge with that LOVE and that is the only desire I am born with to fulfill.  Every other desire in this journey is a stepping stone to recognize that true desire for which we are born.

As the poet Kabir said

My body is flooded
With the flame of Love.
My soul lives in
A furnace of bliss.

Love’s fragrance
Fills my mouth,
And fans through all things
With each outbreath.”
outbreath

Can we desire for that perfect LOVE only and break free from the trapped web of attachments and expectations?

What do you think? Is it easy, worth trying? Would love to hear your thoughts…

Until next time

With Love and Respect

Padma Ayyagari

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Practical spirituality | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Tribute to My Grandmas…


I bow humbly to my paternal and maternal grandmas who were and still are two of the most influential women in my life.  I am what I am today because of what I have learnt from their life journey and would like to share small snippets of the same here.  This is my tribute to the two most beautiful women who conquered life’s formidable challenges in their own sweet ways and left a lasting impression on me.

Mamma – My Dad’s Mum

26

“Are you a boy or a girl?” my eight year old curiosity blurted out. I was sitting at the bottom of the verandah step looking up at the face. Tightly curled, half black and half white chin hairs were quivering in the slight afternoon breeze and a dark shadow of a moustache curving the loop of her upper lip. That is the first time I am noticing my dad’s mum – Mamma, so closely.

“Don’t talk like that!” scolded my mum even before I finished my question.

“That’s alright.  She is young.” adjusting the rough edges of her off-white plain khadi cotton sari covering her bald head, Mamma looked at mum who was sitting at the door to our bedroom. My Aunty was sitting on the step opposite at the door to their bedroom.

“She doesn’t understand – yet.”

It was 3.30 PM, I just arrived from school, and the maid was doing the dishes under the tap outside. A crow was on the edge of the stair case wall of our neighbor’s and was looking down with its head turned to one side so it can grab the food scraps thrown.  Late afternoon sun was casting long shadows of the crow and the maid on the broken tile and cement yard under the verandah steps.

We were a joint family, 13 of us in that two large bedrooms, two kitchens, another smaller bedroom, a verandah, one bathroom and one toilet house of ours – six in my family and six in my uncle’s plus Mamma on the cot in the open bedroom of hers – a tiny corridor that separated the two bedrooms.  The bedrooms were also the lounge rooms during day time.  Her faded green iron trunk with two saris and a little tin with few coins and two rupee notes under her bed and a stool next to it with a jug of water and a stainless steel tumbler completed the furniture in her room – the corridor.

Her small frame was beginning to bend from the top of her back just below shoulders.  She brushed the hair off my face with a shaky pointy finger twisted and knobby, bent in the middle. Circling the outline of my face down my cheeks, she said “I am a woman, darling.”

I have seen her struggle and wince many a times trying to straighten those bent and locked left middle and ring fingers with her shaking right hand. I didn’t know what it was but she shook continuously from head to toe, the only time she stopped was when she was asleep. I used to try hard not to laugh when her shaking hand missed her mouth and water from the tumbler spilled down her flat chest and drenched her. But I always ran to hold her hand to steady it from shaking.  Mum and aunty used to take turns to spoon feed her meals, mostly rice and buttermilk as she couldn’t hold anything down.

“But, but, but…..” my voice trailed as I looked at her and then at my mum and aunty and back at Mamma.

Mum and aunty never covered their heads and often had jasmine flowers in their neat buns held by a black net.  I never saw if Mamma had long hair or if she wore it in a bun or plaited it. Grey hairs normally peeked from under her sari that always covered her head. Today that grey hair is not showing from under Mamma’s sari either, only a shiny oily forehead receding back into where the hairline was. Mamma’s hollow eyes and sunken cheeks made her straight nose look even straighter without the eye getting distracted by the grey at the top.  I bumped into a guy this morning as I was running out the front door.  He had a small grey box in his hand.  I often saw him sit under the tamarind tree around the corner on the street, shaving men’s beards and arm pits.  I was late to school so I didn’t stop to question what the barber was doing walking into our yard. There is a whole wide world outside of my school, homework and music.

“That’s enough, go change and I will get you something to eat” mum’s command made me get up.  I walked into our bedroom looking backwards at Mamma.

“She doesn’t know what to ask and what not…yet.” mum said to Mamma, her voice low and eyes downcast.  What is that tone?

I didn’t then, but I know now that there is no simple word or a phrase in our language for saying ‘Sorry’ or for saying ‘I Love You’.  These words and phrases are embedded in a very formal language structure and my mum only went up to grade three in primary school.

I still remember thinking why Mamma was like that if she was a woman, why wouldn’t she wear colorful saris like my mum or aunty, and have long hair plaited or up in a bun with flowers in them? Is she bald under that sari over her head?

Only years later did I realize that the man walking into our yard, the barber, was there to shave Mamma’s growing hair – as a widow from an orthodox Brahmin family she was not allowed to keep her hair, nor was she allowed to wear colored clothes, nor the red dot on the forehead, nor the kohl in the eyes, nor the flowers in her hair – lest she looks attractive for the lustful eyes of another man.  My teenage brain struggled to comprehend the injustice and my increasing whys were only answered by ‘that’s the custom.’  That answer never satisfied me.

As a grown up I now understand that a woman’s life in India revolved around a man. Her beauty is the one unapologetic reason for a man to become an animal in quenching the thirst of his carnal desires. Before 1930’s, customs were such that when a woman’s husband died, regardless of her age, she was required to undergo the practice of ‘Sati’ where she was forced to sit on the open burning pyre of her husband’s body so what belongs to a man perishes with the man and doesn’t become an object of desire to other men. Sati practice was abolished by the late 1930’s and they couldn’t kill a widow legally since then. Instead, her hair was shaved off; she was not allowed to wear the vermillion dot between her eyebrows, the kohl in her eyes, no jewelry whatsoever and definitely not allowed to use turmeric and cream to beautify her skin.  She was only allowed to wear plain white cotton khadi sari and was abandoned to the back of the house to grieve for the rest of her life, often for a man that she barely knew or loved and yet bore his children.  She was not allowed to join in on family functions as it was considered to be a bad omen if a widow crossed one’s path and she was banned from eating spicy gourmet food, especially for dinner. Apparently food fuels one’s natural passions and a passionate woman was and still is a mortal danger to the society – a patriarchal rule. Second marriage was completely out of question and she will have to literally hide for the rest of her life even from her own children’s celebrations of milestones like birthdays and marriages. A living widow is as good as dead.

My grandma was widowed when she was barely 35 and ended up on her brother’s door step with nine kids, youngest a couple of months old and eldest, a daughter, 16 years old.  My dad was 14, second eldest of the six girls and three boys. Mamma’s brother, a pharmacist and a well off farmer in a small rural town in the state of Andhra Pradesh in India, had only one son and took his sister and her brood in.

Mamma could do mental math faster than us who were attending school.  She used to come up with answers before we finished saying the question out loud.  She never attended school.

There was an incident narrated often to me and this apparently happened before I was born. I cherish that as it shows her strength.  The wife of our neighbor, a prominent wealthy High Court Judge, apparently needed help in preparing green mango pickle that is made in large quantities to last the whole year. This was an annual ritual.  So she sent word to my grandmother to come around with her daughters and daughter-in-law to cut the mangoes.

“Bring your kitchen knives with you” – was the message, an order than a request.

“Tell your madam to bring her knife and her mangoes and herself here to my place and we will gladly help.” Mamma’s reply back through their maid –Lack of riches had never put holes in the fence of dignity and self-respect she erected around herself and her family.  My grandma was fearless.

I have never witnessed so much as raised voices between Mamma, my mum and aunty, neither was there any brotherly rivalry between my dad and my uncle. 13 people shared one bathroom and toilet with no alarm clocks, no open discussions each night about the morning timetables, nor were there any whiteboards or corkboards with announcements and notices, and yet there were no clashes. If the bathroom was occupied we waited and the next day we adjusted our own schedules.  ‘First Understanding, Then Adjustment’ a saying of Sai Baba’s was role modeled by the adults in my life. When a sapling is protected, nurtured and nourished, it grows into a big strong tree gaining strength from its roots. Mamma is one of the most influential women in my life

Ammamma – My Mum’s Mum 

Ammama and family

Short, stocky lady with a permanent pout, she is the most beautiful lady I know.  She is the lady in the middle with the sari draped over her head.  Ammamma had five daughters, my mum the eldest, sitting on to the left of Ammamma in the picture. She also gave birth to a boy who didn’t see life beyond two years.

Ammamma’s schooling story always brought a chuckle for me and I used to ask her to repeat it several times.  It goes like this.

She was enrolled in the local government school in the tiny village of Narendrapuram in rural Andhra Pradesh.  Chubby little Sundaramma at 5 held a big fat white chalk for the first time in between her fingers. Beaming from ear to ear, bent over her shiny new black slate, all eyes on the contours of the lines, she traced over the alphabet that her teacher wrote on that slate. In her mind she was writing the scriptures that her dad read every day. When the afternoon bell rang, carrying her slate and chalk in one hand and a little stick she picked up on the ground, Sundaramma skipped on the path amongst lush green paddy fields leading home for lunch.  She hurried past a huge Neem tree and suddenly stopped, ran back, her 5 year old eyes wide, mouth slightly open in an ’O’, eyebrows raised, at the sight of buzzing bees busily building a hive.  She went closer to the hive with her hand extended, fingers holding the pointy end of the stick, almost touching the little diagonal sticky looking pockets held together by buzzing and humming life, and pulled back. Went a bit closer than before, lingered a little longer and pulled back again. She checked the tip of the stick to see if any honey was on it.  Her hand extended again towards the mass and before she knew lunged forward and the stick poked into one of the pockets.  She pulled it out, examined the little sticky tip, and brought it to her lips, closed her eyes and slurped the dripping sweet honey.  The distant humming became a sudden roar. She opened her eyes and raised her head. One furry winged little brown thing landed on her forehead, she raised her hand from her mouth to shoe it off even as she felt a little prick. Two more landed on her raised arm.  As the pain started to register, she dropped her slate to use the left hand to get rid of the sticky creatures first on forehead, next on the right arm, but by this time there were more of them swarming around, circling her buzzing, finding random spots on her face and hands without discriminating.  Little Sundaramma started running screaming, her slate left at the bottom of that big tree, ‘A’ in Telugu, the first letter of the alphabet staring back in disbelief, stretched in agony like her mouth. She ran through the front door, her eyes swollen shut, lips, nose and cheeks all blended into each other, hard to tell what began where.  Her father looked up at her from the afternoon ritual of chanting the sacred scriptures before lunch, his mouth stuck open in between the lines, eyes widened as he took in his daughter’s face.  He lunged up from his seat, pulled her towards him, questioning what happened whilst examining her face closely.  Between sobs Sundaramma narrated what happened.  Even before she finished her sentence, he pushed her away from him, ordered her to go and wash her face and stay home – no need to go back to school – Ever!

Sundaramma didn’t know what hurt most – the bee stings or loss of school.  Her schooling finished before it began.

Ammamma was married at 14 and had my mum by the time she turned 16.  She became a widow at 35 when my grandfather died in an accident in 1946.  My mum at that time would have been 18, already had my eldest brother who was two years old.  My mum’s youngest sister was a year or two older than my brother.

Ammamma had a habit of bending down instead of sitting to cook as the stove was on the floor.  Here is a story that I made her tell me every second day as not only was it funny but also showed her strength to stand up to male domination.  Apparently, one morning she was busy cooking lunch to pack for her husband and suddenly felt something thumping her backside.  She slowly turned around and saw that Grandpa was standing behind her, fully dressed in his crisp white pants and shirt, ready to go to work.  He was running late.  Instead of saying something, he started hitting her with his umbrella because packed lunch was not ready.

There was a bucket of water next to her.  Shouting “Why are you hitting me, you bastard?” she lifted the bucket and threw the water on him. Fully drenched and a stunned Grandpa apparently left for work without saying a word.

He never hit her again after that.

Life never thwarted Ammamma’s desire to learn to read and write.  In her mid-50’s she demanded her youngest daughter teach her how to write her name, just her name, so she can sign the pension papers with a pen, not an ink pad.  Luckily for Ammamma, Grandpa was an accountant in Auditor General’s office, so she was eligible for a pension on his death. She used that ink pad for over 15 years and hated the black mark leaving a stain on her right thumb month after month for days on end.

She signed the official papers for the first time with a pen and showed us her signature. Big, crooked and wavy letters complete with a missing alphabet in her name – she signed Sundamma.  We laughed, but she beamed, eyes shining bright.

She defeated the male dominance – finally.

She may not have been formally educated but her thirst for knowledge was unquenchable.  She would bring the newspaper daily to one of us and insist we read it to her.  The most important news she wanted to hear was if there was a rise in pension for the widows of employees of Accountant General’s office. We kids would refuse her that little pleasure and make fun of her curiosity and pretend to scan the newspaper, knowing that those things cannot be a daily occurrence.  She never took offence. Sundaramma passed away in sleep one night in 1989 and I never had a final glimpse of her.She taught me that innocence & curiosity are priceless possessions that protect one from life’s twists somehow.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

My Gift To You….


happy-new-year
Hello Everyone,
Last day of 2016 and it is that time of the year, when we all actively reflect over the last 364 days and reset our hopes and aspirations for the coming year. We generally tend to set goals for the year ( I know I do) and attempt to see through them as the year continues (unsuccessfully most of the time)
I have read somewhere recently (sorry didn’t take note at that time) to set intentions for the year in all small increments rather than setting sweeping goals that cannot/will not be achieved. This made sense to me.
So I have prepared a 52 week Intentions Schedule Planner 2017 in order to achieve Well-Being in all the 5 personality domains – Physical, Intellectual, Emotional, Social and Spiritual domains.  More on this in a later post.
Weekly intention setting and weekly check in will hopefully keep us motivated and stay focused to make the changes in all the personality domains. It also allows us to reset as required.
Attached below is the “Intentions Schedule Planner 2017” – my gift to all of you (you may or may not chose to use it, entirely up to you) This planner can also be used as an accountability tool with your family and friends.
You may wish to use it digitally or print and fill.  Call me archaic in the digital age but personally I feel inspired to use Pen and paper (there is actually a proven scientific reason why Pen and Paper is better), but it is entirely up to you.
Watch this space – I am planning to be more active on this blog and bring you podcasts and youtube videos on topics of ‘Practical Spirituality’  Please let me know if you have any specific topics in  mind.
Thank you very much for all your love and support through the year. I really appreciate it.
May 2017 bring you all the joy and prosperity that you deserve, need and want.
Until next time
With Love and Respect
Padma Ayyagari
Posted in Practical spirituality | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I AM….


If we don’t have anything to mull over about the past and get caught in the cycle of guilt & shame mostly, laced with pride and satisfaction occasionally or think about future with worry, anticipation and hope, mixed with anxiety and fear sometimes – what have we got to say in the present moment?

Nothing really. Only experiencing remains – experiencing the constantly rising, surging and receding waves of thoughts – the waters of past and future.

5 AM…If I remain still and notice, I hear the crickets drone and the rooster from the neighbor’s backyard, the fridge humming, my neck bones creaking, my left shoulder hurting, the silence I am surrounded and cocooned in intercepted by the soft clicking of the keys on the laptop as I am typing these thoughts.

In this present moment silence, there is a recognition of my solidity as well as the fluid awareness of the ‘I’ that is making these observations quietly noticing everything – alert and present. There is no emotion in this state – only a deep calm interjected by next sentence rising in my mind to be penned.
I am aware of myself as well as my surrounds, far and near. My mind is trying desperately to create a particular chain of thought, but as soon as a thought is arising to a certain height, it is popping like a bubble. There is the recognition of a thought arising. I have nothing to say, nothing to worry about, nothing to look forward to either – I am quiet, calm and rested in this deep echo in my heart of “I AM” – that’s it. “I AM” is the only reality – anything added after the ‘AM’ is the drama that we play on the screen of this world.

“Is this a thought regurgitated from acquired knowledge?” asks my mind, unable to comprehend that it has no hold on me and not carrying me away.

“No!” says the Awareness. “I acknowledge your existence, but you, my mind, are in my control and I will only use you to continue to make you know that I am in charge. I decide when you can or cannot talk through your thoughts. I have to use you for me to know who I am, but I will use you with full awareness and not let you cover me like storm clouds and take over. You may have hopes, desires, wishes, worries, frustrations, fears and anxieties, but ‘I’ am not them.

“I AM…” – anything after that is you jumping up and down with your theatrics. My mind! I own you and not the other way around. I am the charioteer, you are the horse drawing the chariot at my command, in a direction and speed I choose, and so I will know and live in that recognition that “I AM…”

Posted in Practical spirituality | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why We Need To Write New Prayers Urgently


Blue Mountains4.jpg

I was at the site of Three Sisters in Blue Mountains at Katoomba last week.  It was a perfect autumn day only a couple of degrees warmer than the April average. The place was brimming with weekend tourists who came to enjoy the spectacular beauty of nature and capture those moments forever, to tick off the bucket list.  People were crowding onto the vantage points that will give the perfect backdrop with their iPhone cameras stuck on selfie sticks.  Loud chatter and laughter crudely intercepting and disturbing the deep silence echoing from the surrounding mountains and the thick forest below.  The human sounds were quickly absorbed by the vastness of these magnificent structures – millions of years old – rugged, jagged, carved as they took in zillions of stories thrown at them – noisy stories of awe, wonder, marvel, preoccupation etc.

Blue Mountains3.jpg

What is the urgency we experience to vocalize our feelings?  Is it because the sheer beauty takes our breath away? or is it because we are afraid that we won’t remember if we don’t audibly gasp? Or is it because we are so competitive that we have to one up the others in our expressions?

Anyway, I was surrounded by all that when all I wanted to do was absorb the silent strength emanating from the Three Sisters that stood facing the sheer flat walls of the other mountains like they were in the witness stand in the court facing the jury.

Three sisters.jpg

My husband put in $ 2.00 into the binoculars and we had a closer look at the three independent monuments standing almost holding hands to support each other so they can withstand the jury.  Why were these three peaks separated from the rest?  The $2.00 ran out within thirty seconds.

I turned around from the binoculars and started walking to another spot to get a different view.  As I was walking there, I saw in one corner of the railing was a lady in a hijab, knelt on a  newspaper, hands folded, eyes closed.  I saw that she had a newspaper pinned to the railing creating a blank wall between her and the vision beyond of the majestic mountain range.

Blue Mountains2.jpg

She was performing her afternoon duty as called by her religion.  People were walking around her, falling silent out of respect as they went past her.  Nobody gave a second glance.  The sun was shining brilliantly and the skies were crystal clear blue.  There was a slight breeze which made the day very pleasant.

I was dumbstruck.  May be I am judgmental.  Whilst I admire and respect her discipline to maintain a prayer regime to specifically connect with God at certain times regardless of circumstances as called by her Religion or any other Religious mandates for that matter, I  couldn’t stop thinking to myself – ‘Open your eyes lady, Is your God only behind those closed eyes in that blank paper?  Is God not around you staring back at you through the soft ruggedness of this wilderness, through the jagged edges of the rough yet smooth, strong big mountains?  Why is there a need to show your piety to something special than what you are surrounded by?  Drink it in with all your senses, merge with it, blend through it.  Don’t separate yourself from God surrounding you.’

Is human love towards Divine so compartmentalized and so selective that we are capable of ignoring the Divine present all around us and instead worship our chosen form of God or formless God (as per our religious affiliation) with selected verses of prayer handed down to us that begs to relieve the pain we cause to ourselves through our ignorance?

How can we show reverence to our chosen form of Divine and worship that but not worship Her creation manifest in everything we enjoy through our senses?

How can we close our eyes to that fact that we are part of this creation  that is screaming Divinity in its majesty?

Walking along the trail that led to the watching deck on one of the Three Sisters, I noticed tossed coke cans and plastic rubbish littering the base of the trees below.

Are we so filled with self-importance that we have the need to leave our presence  in disturbingly contrasting colors of red and white against the surrounded hues of various shades of green and brown?

Do we have to so loudly proclaim our separate identity?  What is this arrogance that forces us to think we are superior in front of the mightiness that is standing so humbly?

Blue Mountains1.jpg

My heart ached for those peeks that are grandly displaying that – In silence there is strength; In humility there is mightiness; In witnessing there is compassionate understanding.

When do we learn to stop isolating God with a calcified reverence as that with a distinct form, shape and thought created by our narrow minds, there to answer our specific prayers to preserve our mortality?

Do we have the capacity like the mountains to let the tears of our pain erode the tough edges of our personality recognizing the oneness in all and thus becoming softly carved beauties of compassion?

How do we constantly remember that God has created ‘us’, ‘them’ and ‘it’ as well.  Is there an inch of space on this planet where God is  NOT present?

How do we get there?

When we live with complete awareness that God is ‘in me, below me, above me, behind me, next to me, and around me’ wouldn’t we be living with reverence witnessing the pain and pleasure carrying principles with equanimity and discernment, separating the actor from the actions, recognizing the Divine in the actor whilst playing the role allocated in the drama to act on the actions?

To live in that complete awareness, we need a new prayer.

What would that new prayer be?

It would be asking ourselves with total honesty and purity for a felt understanding and knowing that we are part of the mighty mountains and the deep oceans, that we are the same elements that make the nature around us and all the sentient beings in it.

We need to repeatedly ask of ourselves to recognize and accept with an urgency that the ‘Sacred’ is in us as much as is in everything and everyone else.

This acceptance and understanding and the continuous reminder as a result of the new prayer will help us to live as  compassionate witnesses of the Sacred – grandly playing the dichotomies of life.  Our reverence will then be alive all the time under all circumstances – not reserved to select time and space bound ideas of Divinity and its worship.

Let us write that prayer and live it with a sense of urgency because in there lies the power of transformation.

Here is an example of such prayer I came across even as I was finishing writing this piece – Synchronicity – you bet.  Here it is by Nadia Colburn from the On Being blog

“At the Shopping Mall

Dear God, teach me how to

pray

anywhere.

Teach me that you live not

only in the open field,

the birds singing at first dawn,

but also in the concrete

parking lot

of the Everett Mall, in the

neon lights of Old Navy,

in the wires crossing the open

expanse

above me,

Teach me in sadness and anger

in frustration and fear.

The cars speed down the

highway.

Their tires spin, spin.

There is so much

work to do.  So much activity.

Dark oil flows over the land

as over a great Greek feast.

Teach me

how to praise your whole body.”

Yes, we need to learn how to pray not just to praise the whole body of God, but to recognize God in the whole of creation including in us and in every being in it.

Until next time

With Love and Respect

Padma Ayyagari

 

Image | Posted on by | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Who Is In Charge?


SDC10421

It’s 5 AM.  I am sitting in front of a blank page not knowing what to write.  I don’t want to do the usual – pour out the events of yesterday, nor do I want to write about what I have to do and how I am not doing it etc., so, what remains to be said – really? Nothing.

If we don’t have anything to mull over about the past and get caught in the cycle of guilt and shame mostly, laced with pride and satisfaction occasionally, or, think about future with worry, anticipation, hope mixed with anxiety and fear sometimes – what have we got to say in the present moment – nothing really.  Only experiencing remains – experiencing the constantly surging and receding waves of thoughts rising – the waters of past and future.

I remain still – I hear the crickets drone in the distance and the rooster’s wake up call from the neighbor’s backyard, fridge humming, my neck bone creaking, left shoulder hurting.  I hear the silence I am surrounded and cocooned in, interrupted by the soft squishing of the pen on the paper that I am writing on.

In this present moment silence, there is an awareness of my solidity as well as the awareness of the ‘I’ that is making these observations quietly, noticing everything, alert and present.  There is no emotion in this state – only a deep calm interjected by next sentence rising in mind to be penned.

I am aware of myself.  My mind is desperately trying to create a particular chain of thought, but as soon as a thought is arising to a certain height, it is popping noiselessly like a bubble.  There is a recognition of a thought arising.  I have nothing to say, nothing to worry about, nothing to look forward to either. I am quiet, calm and rested in this deep echo in my heart of “I Am” – that’s it.

“I Am” is the only reality – anything added after the ‘am’ is the drama that we play on the screen of this world.

“Is this a thought regurgitated from acquired knowledge?” – asks my mind, unable to comprehend that it has no hold on  me and not carrying  me away.

“No.” says the awareness.  ‘I ‘ acknowledge your existence, but you my mind, are in my control and ‘I’ will only use you to continue to make you know that ‘I’ am in control.  ‘I’ decide when you can or cannot talk through your thoughts.  ‘I’ have to use you for  me to know who ‘I Am’, but ‘I’ will use you with full awareness and not let you cover me like storm clouds and take over.  You may have hopes, desires, wishes, worries, frustrations, anxieties etc. but ‘I’ am not part of them.

“I AM..” anything after that is you jumping up and down like a drunken monkey with your theatrics.  ‘I’ own you and not the other way around.  ‘I’ am the charioteer, you are the horse drawing the chariot at my command, in a direction and speed that ‘I’ choose from now on, so you will know and live in the recognition that “I” the eternal witness –  “I” am in charge.

Posted in Practical spirituality | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

My Homage And My Pledge


Sairam

I pay homage today to a larger than life phenomenon knowing that my words would fail to fully convey what I am feeling.

On this 90th Birthday of Sri Sathya Sai Baba, I offer my humble tribute to the tireless efforts of a Loving Divinity that walked on this earth physically for 85 years.  His clarion call to “Love all, Serve All; Help Ever, Hurt Never” reverberated from a tiny hamlet of Puttaparthi in South India – a dot that was not on the world map, a village so remote once upon a time, that access to it was through many means of transportation including a walk through the sands of Chitravathi River.

That call to Love that started 76 years ago when He was a mere lad of 14 now has spread through in 123 countries in the world, touching millions of people directly and indirectly.

I heard that call 3 times before I took serious note of it, once in 1969, once in 1983 and finally in 1993.

22 years later I am ready to not only receive but live the call for Love fully, openly and humbly, grateful to have found it, knowing that I will never fully understand or fathom its power but craving to be enveloped and anchored in its simplicity of living and loving the LOVE that is omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient.

That LOVE continues to show the way to a Peaceful, Truthful living with Righteous Conduct that ultimately leads to Non-Violence in Thought, Word and Deed.

How can I ever pay homage to the LOVE that

  • Is pervading and patiently persuasive in its eagerness to show the way?
  • Demonstrated tirelessly for over 7 decades what love is all about, without taking a break?

Is it possible even to think that I can understand or fathom the depths of that LOVE that shone purely in its simplicity and was brighter than a thousand suns?

Is it humanly possible to peer into the depths of those loving eyes that saw everyone in their naked vulnerability and yet love them to their core?

Can I hide from a pervading force that is embedded in every cell and atom of everything that seem to operate from that Force?

No, it is not humanly possible for me to understand that so I will not attempt to analyse.

I will just allow myself to be enveloped in the arms of that gentle LOVE with total acceptance and through that touch I will come to know that LOVE enveloping me is already in me and is not separate from me.  It is in me, around me, in front and back, above and below, always in all ways.

When I understand this, I have understood the LOVE that walked this earth even though no longer physically present in  a form, is very much present in all the deep recesses of every living atom that is being guided and driven by it.

I pay homage to that LOVE which physically embodied as Sathya Sai Baba and walked on this earth to show and tell what loving is all about, what life is and to wake up and recognize that I am that LOVE, You are that LOVE, we all are that LOVE which manifests in a variety of colors, forms, shapes, sizes, smells and tastes, so we all can enjoy its varied flavors.

I pay homage to Sathya Sai Baba who made it possible for me to recognise that, not only recognize but to live with LOVE as an anchor that moors me solid in the flowing waters of life so I can become a resting place for the restless passers-by.

The ultimate tribute I can pay to Him is to make my life that resting place to others as He is to me. 

I can only do that if I become Love in Action like He showed through His life.

Today on His 90th Birthday, I pledge that I will put my heart and soul in to practicing and living His message of Love every minute of every day, which means, I will see Him in every one.

I can only do that if I make My Life HIS MESSAGE which is LOVE.

With Love and Respect

Padma Ayyagari

 

 

 

Posted in Practical spirituality | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Can We Stop The Violence and Create Peace In The World?


Peace & Violence

Mass shootings in Oregon in USA, two people shot dead in front of Paramatta police station in Sydney (one victim and one perpetrator), USA bombing in Afghanistan of a hospital (collateral damage is the claim), refugees fleeing out of their homelands, increasing deaths due to domestic violence (66 deaths in 9 months in Australia alone), human trafficking etc etc etc.,

How did humans become so violent – profiting from, mutilating and killing each other? To what end?

The violence I mentioned above on the global scale also plays on an individual level.  Our minds are “bubbling hot baths of violence” when we

  • Contradict, dislike, judge each other subtly or openly,
  • Constantly compare with each other,
  • Live in the artificial world of ‘us & them’
  • Spew negativity in the name of wanting to understand,
  • Get stronger in our own convictions even if they openly hurt another,
  • encourage cut throat competition in the name of fulfilling ambitions
  • consume excessively  created by extensive wants and desires…

Result is low self-esteem, over confidence, depression, fears, anxiety, scarcity thinking, hoarding, substance dependence to get away from all of that, which creates more problems.

We simply have forgotten how to live simply.

Global wars and crimes are micro played in our  minds first and we become blame shifters – it is the

  • Government’s fault,
  • The law’s fault,
  • Police not doing enough or
  • Religion’s fault.

Our phobias increase rampantly as we desperately isolate groups or individuals to pin blame on.

We are spending more money on weapons instead of educating people.

We spend time and effort and money on finding essential elements for survival in space (water on Mars) while actively contaminating and pilfering the precious resources here now on earth that we call home. Geroge Monbiot said in his recent article – “The richer a country becomes, the less its people care about their impact on the living planet.”

How is finding water on Mars save children who die daily because they don’t have access to clean water?  How is selling guns to countries who can’t feed their population an answer to their problems?

Where are we heading collectively?

I am sure these are questions that everyone ask of themselves, shake their heads helplessly and go back to living in their safe silos and hot heads (me included) – too far away, not my problem.  We have food, clothes, shelter – the basic necessities and we belong to a family, a community that is our safety net. We believe that one day someone somewhere will come up with a magic solution to all the problems…

Bonding, Belonging and Believing – three essential ingredients for human happiness.

Is it enough to have these three at individual level?  Is that even happening at an individual level?

How bonded are we with each other beyond our immediate family and even within our immediate family?

Do we feel safe in belonging in our communities – of course that depends on which community or country we are talking about.

Do we believe that solutions t0 problems are other people’s headaches?

Where do we individuals stand on these global issues – are we not responsible individually and collectively, no matter how immediate or far removed the issues are from us?

The gadgetry distractions we have created for ourselves, the fear induced selfishness which is making us become increasingly indifferent – are these the values that we are passing on to our children?

If we feel responsible, what can we do?

What do we teach our children?

What are we teaching ourselves?

When we know this is not who we are, how do we go about finding who we truly are?

How do we put an end to, may be not possible to put an end to, but at least curb the violence we witness each day?

Here is what I think (for what it is worth)

To curb violence in the world, we need to stop violating ourselves first and foremost.  We need to go back to the fundamental Human Values that are inherent in all of us.  We need to actively teach our children what these values are and how it helps them grow up to be caring human beings.

Bonding and belonging is more important than any thing else. So instead of creating bonds with gadgets for our children because we are busy, can we perhaps make time to give them our time instead of a gadget and create bonds that last. Research shows that IPad usage by two year old children may harm language development which means inability to express which means inability to communicate and we know what that can lead to.

Yes, we don’t have control over global scale violence, but…

We have control over how we can

  • Develop the inner moral compass of our children,
  • Enhance their sensitivity to moral cues,
  • Make them become aware of our interdependence and
  • Teach them to live with personal integrity which helps them to take responsibility for their state of minds and actions.

Here is a free educational program that does just that for 4 to 6 year old children.  Use this program for your own children or gather a group of children from your local community and teach them.  Catch them young and mold their minds.

What else can we do?

We can stop being excessive consumerists and limit our desires

The older generation has so much wisdom that the young needs to learn from beyond the three R’s, in fact more than reading, writing and arithmetic, children today need to learn Resilience, Resonance and Reflection.

Retired people among us can volunteer their time with local High Schools and mentor the kids there especially the ones that are not coping with the demands of high school.  Show them how valuable they are, teach them how to respond and not react, as well as the value of being kind, being healthy, being helpful, forgiving, taking care of themselves and the planet etc.

They need to understand and practice the values of Love, Truth, Peace, Right Conduct and Non-Violence.  For that they need adults in their lives who practice and demonstrate those values in action.

We may not be able to solve the worlds problems, but we certainly can help in our local communities particularly children and young adults and create loving bonds and a sense of belonging that will stop them from straying away, becoming depressive and suicidal or violent like the 15 year old boy in Sydney who ended up dying.

We want a peaceful society, it is up to us to create that.  We are not helpless in doing that. We need to put our own inhibitions aside, limit our desires and the resulting consumption.   We need to  take genuine interest in the welfare of our next generation and use the freed up time and resources for the welfare of the community that we live in.

Let us form little ‘Circles of Safety’ and bring our younger generations into those circles and equip them to become character laden citizens.

We have nothing to lose and everything to gain – do you agree?

Would love to know what you think and how we should go ahead with this…Please drop a line in with your comments and action plans

Until next time

With Love and Respect

Padma Ayyagari

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment