Monday, April 30, 2012

Whose story is it anyway?

Writing stories which used to come so facilely to me at one time, seems to be an arduous task these days. I’ve thought long and hard about it and wondered why. I now realise that writing a story is not as simple as just imagining up characters and a plot-line. You have to imagine yourself as the characters. Inhabit their bodies, minds and hearts. Experience that and write about that.

Sometimes, or often times, the ‘I’ that has inhabited me does not permit the eviction of itself from me to inhabit another personality. That is when my stories get stuck. When I try to write as a spectator, looking in from outside and trying to guess what they are thinking and feeling, it doesn’t work. It comes out contrived, like a fabrication, like a paper flower, colourful, yet false and lacking reality. So I wait for the time when I am allowed to switch, inhabit my characters again and write their lives.

But then the question arises. If I can inhabit a different world and experience a different life, all in my imagination, then could the life I am currently experiencing be an imagined one too? Is there some seer, some watcher who conjures up this life like a dream, a dream from which I can awaken and find myself in a different reality? Is that what is called self-realisation? To awaken from the dream of this illusionary world and know reality.

We already know that people whose brains are wired differently from us so called ‘normal’ people, experience a different reality. So then, which is the actual reality if reality is subjective and differs from person to person? Shouldn’t we be wanting to find out, instead of being content to be stuck in a world of shifting illusions, living out our lives in a dream-state?  


"Age is opportunity no less,

Than youth itself, though in another dress,

And as the evening twilight fades away,

The sky is filled with stars, invisible by day."

--- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


Words are not just words. They have moods, climates of their own. When a words settles inside you, it brings a different climate to your mind, a different approach, a different vision. Call something by a different name and see how it is immediately different. So one of the most important things to remember is, if possible, live an experience and don’t fix it by a word, because that will make it narrow.

You are sitting outside on a silent evening. The sun has gone and the stars are just coming out. Just be. Don’t even say, “This is beautiful,” because the moment you say that it is beautiful, it isn’t the same any more. By saying ‘beautiful’ you are bringing in the past, and all the experiences that you said were beautiful have coloured the word. Your word ‘beautiful’ contains many experiences of beauty. But this experience is totally new. Life has never been like this before. It will never be again. Why bring in the past? The present is so vast, the past is so narrow. Why look through a hole in the wall when you can come out and look at the whole sky?

So try not to use words, but if you have to, be very choosy about them, because each word has a nuance of its own. Be very poetic about it. Use each word with taste, love, feeling.

There are feeling words and there are intellectual words. Drop intellectual words more and more. Use feeling words. There are political words and there are religious words. Drop political words. There are words which immediately create conflict. The moment you utter them, argument arises. So never use logical, argumentative language. Use the language of affection, of caring, of love, so that no argument arises. If you start acting this way, you will see tremendous changes.

A single words uttered without awareness can create a long chain of misery. But if you are alert, many miseries can be avoided. Just a very small change can make a lot of difference. You should be very, very careful and only use words when absolutely necessary. Avoid contaminated words. Use fresh words, non-controversial words which are not arguments, just expressions of your feelings.

If you can become a connoisseur of words, your whole life will be different. Your relationship will be totally different because 90 per cent of a relationship is expressed through words and gestures. Gestures are also words. If a word brings misery, anger, conflict, argument, drop it. What is the point of carrying it? Drop it. Replace it with something better.

The best thing is silence. Next best is singing, poetry, love.

Osho in The ABC of Enlightenment

Friday, April 20, 2012

How we decide

Each decision we make, however rational we believe it to be, is an emotional, neurochemical tug-of-war inside our brain:

"Consider this clever experiment designed by Brian Knutson and George Loewenstein. The scientists wanted to investigate what happens inside the brain when a person makes typical consumer choices, such as buying an item in a retail store or choosing a cereal. A few dozen lucky undergraduates were recruited as experimental subjects and given a generous amount of spending money. Each subject was then offered the chance to buy dozens of different objects, from a digital voice recorder to gourmet chocolates to the latest Harry Potter book. After the student stared at each object for a few seconds, he was shown the price tag. If he chose to buy the item, its cost was deducted from the original pile of cash. The experiment was designed to realistically simulate the experience of a shopper.

While the student was deciding whether or not to buy the product on display, the scientists were imaging the subject's brain activity. They discovered that when a subject was first exposed to an object, his nucleus accumbens (NAcc) was turned on. The NAcc is a crucial part of the dopamine reward pathway, and the intensity of its activation was a reflection of desire for the item. If the person already owned the complete Harry Potter collection, then the NAcc didn't get too excited about the prospect of buying another copy. However, if he had been craving a George Foreman grill, the NAcc flooded the brain with dopamine when that item appeared.

But then came the price tag. When the experimental subject was exposed to the cost of the product, the insula and prefrontal cortex were activated. The insula produces aversive feelings and is triggered by things like nicotine withdrawal and pictures of people in pain. In general, we try to avoid anything that makes our insulas excited. This includes spending money. The prefrontal cortex was activated, scientists speculated, because this rational area was computing the numbers, trying to figure out if the product was actually a good deal. The prefrontal cortex got most excited during the experiment when the cost of the item on display was significantly lower than normal.

By measuring the relative amount of activity in each brain region, the scientists could accurately predict the subjects' shopping decisions. They knew which products people would buy before the people themselves did. If the insula's negativity exceeded the positive feelings generated by the NAcc, then the subject always chose not to buy the item. However, if the NAcc was more active than the insula, or if the prefrontal cortex was convinced that it had found a good deal, the object proved irresistible. The sting of spending money couldn't compete with the thrill of getting something new.

This data, of course, directly contradicts the rational models of micro-economics; consumers aren't always driven by careful considerations of price and expected utility. You don't look at the electric grill or box of chocolates and perform an explicit cost-benefit analysis. Instead, you outsource much of this calculation to your emotional brain and then rely on relative amounts of pleasure versus pain to tell you what to purchase. (During many of the decisions, the rational prefrontal cortex was largely a spectator, standing silently by while the NAcc and insula argued with each other.) Whichever emotion you feel most intensely tends to dictate your shopping decisions. It's like an emotional tug of war."

~ from 17/04/12

Monday, April 16, 2012

I caught a bird

I caught a bird on the grass
or maybe looking for a worm.
As I gazed at it,
eyes turning soft,
something shifted
inside me.

Its beady-eyed look,
brought down walls,
its cock of neck,
opened shut doors,
the sweep of its wing
swept away cobwebs.

Something rose and flowed-
from me towards it,
light and expansive.
Maybe it was joy,
or was it love?

When it flew away,
I’m sure its flight was lighter,
the song it sang was somehow sweeter.


Sunday, April 15, 2012

I step into the light

Early morning sunlight
slants off leaves and
fluttering sparrow wings,
scattering slivers of sunbeams,
Falling on the dead embers
of a long-forgotten self,
something sparks to life,
within me.

And slowly grows
gathering speed and storm.
Like a new-born day
that finally emerges
from the dark womb of the night,
nourished by dreams
of possibilities
and new beginnings.

Shaking off cloaks of doubt
and self-loathing,
propelled by a long-ago remembrance,
I emerge,
to meet my soul
that had been always there,
waiting, embracing,

I step into the light.


My heart finds no repose

Lagtaa nahin hai dil meraa ujday dayaar mein
kis ki bani hai aalam-e-naa-paayedaar mein

bulbul ko pasban se na saiyyad se gila
qismet mein qaid likhi thi fasl-e-bahar mein

kah doh inn hasraton se kahin aur jaa basein
itani jagah kahaan hai dil-e-daagdaar mein 

ik shakh-e-gul pe baith ke būlbūl hai shadman
kante bicha diye hein dil-e-lalazar mein

umr-e-daraaz maang kar laaye they chaar din
do arzoo mein kaT gaye do intezaar mein

din zindagi ke Khatm hue shaam ho gayi
phaila ke paon soyen-ge kunj-e-mazaar mein

kitnaa hai badnaseeb "Zafar" dafn key liye
do gaz zamin bhi na mili kuu-e-yaar mein

~ Bahadur Shah Zafar

English translation

My heart finds no repose in this ruined city
Who has ever felt fulfilled in this fleeting world

The nightingale complains about neither the sentinel nor the hunter
Fate had decreed imprisonment during the harvest of spring

Ask my longings to go dwell elsewhere
Where is the space for them in this scarred heart

Sitting on a branch of flowers, the nightingale rejoices
It has strewn thorns in the garden of my heart

On request of a long life, I had received four days
Two passed in entreaty, two in waiting

The days of life are over, evening has fallen
I shall sleep, legs outstretched, in my tomb

How unfortunate is Zafar, for his burial
He couldn't get two yards of land in his beloved land

Bahadur Shah Zafar was the last Mughul emperor of India. The Emperor who reigned in Delhi at the time of the 1857 Sepoy Mutiny. After the mutiny was crushed, the British exiled Zafar to Yangoon in British-occupied Burma where he died on September 14 of the same year.

Bahadur Shah Zafar was a noted Urdu poet and is credited for having written a large number of Urdu ghazals. Some were lost during the mutiny, but the surviving were compiled into a volume called Kulliyat-i-Zafar. He was the patron of several noted Urdu writers including Ghalib, Dagh, Mumin and Zauq.

In addition to being a poet, he was also a calligrapher. During his exile, when pen and paper were denied to him, he is said to have written the above poem on the walls with a burnt stick. In spite of his ardent pleas to allow his body to be buried in India, the British did not concede and he was buried in Rangoon. This poem he wrote as his epitaph and epitomises his desolation and grief. 

This ghazal has been immortalised by Mohammed Rafi in this song from the movie Lal Qila.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Kids say the darndest things!

Some grade school teachers must agree with that, because they keep journals of amusing things their students have written in papers. Here are a few examples:

- The future of "I give" is "I take."

- The parts of speech are lungs and air.

- The inhabitants of Moscow are called Mosquitoes.

- A census taker is man who goes from house to house increasing the population.

- The general direction of the Alps is straight up.

- A city purifies its water supply by filtering the water then forcing it through an aviator.

- Most of the houses in France are made of plaster of Paris.

- We do not raise silk worms in the United States, because we get our silk from rayon. He is a larger worm and gives more silk.

- One of the main causes of dust is janitors.

- To prevent head colds, use an agonizer to spray into the nose until it drips into the throat.

- The four seasons are salt, pepper, mustard and vinegar.

- The climate is hottest next to the Creator.

- Oliver Cromwell had a large red nose, but under it were deeply religious feelings.

- The word trousers is an uncommon noun because it is singular at the top and plural at the bottom.

- Syntax is all the money collected at the church from sinners.

- The blood circulates through the body by flowing down one leg and up the other.

- In spring, the salmon swim upstream to spoon.

- Iron was discovered because someone smelt it.

- In the middle of the 18th century, all the morons moved to Utah. 


Thursday, April 12, 2012

The embrace

Lying in a field
on my side
my lover -
the one I seek but never find, the one I yearn to know but am denied -
lies down behind me.

His body cloaking mine
I feel the warmth of breath against my ear,
I feel the press of lips upon my cheek,
I sense him waiting.

And as quickly as he appeared,
he is gone.

I awake from this dream
with the familiar sense of longing,
frustration from
denial of desire
that seems fated to know no home.

And then it strikes me -
all these years I’ve believed myself to be waiting
upon another,
when all along you have been with me
closer than my breath
under my skin
acceptance and love perpetually on offer.

And it’s not me waiting
but you.

Awaiting my recognition,
my receiving
what has been held out to me,
accepting the gift
I never believed was mine to claim.
Until now.

Spring awakening:
love and birdsong fill the air,
robins mad with a passion
that envelopes me.
I will no longer
deny what calls to me


I am ready to roll over
and give myself
to the embrace.

~ Lisa Hofmann
From the site

Abiding in discomfort

Another thought-provoking and maybe, heart-wrenching write-up ...

Abiding in discomfort

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Forget the Church, embrace Christ

A hard-hitting, thought-provoking article.

Read article here

What are you going to do?

”The whole globe is shook up, so what are you going to do when things are falling apart? 

You’re either going to become more fundamentalist and try to hold things together, or you’re going to forsake the old ambitions and goals and live life as an experiment, making it up as you go along.” 

~ Pema Chodron

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The power of passion

... persistence and positivity.

Watch video here

Hahahahaha :D

Since everything is but an apparition, having nothing to do with good or bad, acceptance or rejection, one may well burst out in laughter.

~ Longchenpa

Monday, April 09, 2012

I vs You

When I am ambitious,
I am isolating myself.

When I am competitive,
I am isolating myself;

when I want to be superior to you,
I am isolating myself; 

when I am seeking, pursuing pleasure,
I am isolating myself.

I don't know if you see all this.

So, this loneliness is a form of isolation which the mind has cultivated through ambition, through competition, through the desire for success, through the pursuit of pleasure, and this has brought about this sense of complete isolation, loneliness.

Jiddu Krishnamurti 

Friday, April 06, 2012

The world is my oyster

The world is my oyster

A long time ago, on a warm, April morn,
tiny, wrinkled and glistening, I was born.
In a sea-side house, in a far-away land,
the sea was my lullaby, wonderland, friend.
I had gazed out the window, down at the sea,
the world was my oyster, it has seemed to me.
The possibilities were as many as the grains of sand,
the future had held promise, like a magical land.
Along the way, alas! that vision was lost,
along the way, somehow, my world got boxed.
Career, marriage and duties of family,
like a clock-work rat, it was set out for me.
Many years on the treadmill had taken its toll,
but lost in the maze, revolt grew in my soul.
To let fly her spirit, to make her voice heard,
that sprightly little girl, of long ago, yearned.
Through nights filled with anguish, days of ennui,
my spirit called to Spirit, to come, set me free.
From the depths of darkness, a tiny light it shone,
from the maze of misery, a way out was shown.
Free now of boxes, to choose my path, am free.
The oyster awaits. Happy Birthday to me.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

There is a brokenness

by Rashani

There is a brokenness
out of which comes the unbroken,
a shatteredness
out of which blooms the unshatterable.
There is a sorrow
beyond all grief which leads to joy
and a fragility
out of whose depths emerges strength.

There is a hollow space
too vast for words
through which we pass with each loss,
out of whose darkness
we are sanctioned into being.

There is a cry deeper than all sound
whose serrated edges cut the heart
as we break open to the place inside
which is unbreakable and whole,
while learning to sing.


Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Moon song

 Moon song

The moon dreamt a dream for me,
a lilting soliloquy,
Of end of war, it sang to me,
of nations living in harmony.
Of lands flush with prosperity,
and greed erased permanently.
Where man with peace with nature be,
the Earth walked upon tenderly.

Of children smiling happily,
of want, abuse, forever free.
Of freedom for all, equality,
abundance, and end to poverty.
Yes, the moon sang this melody,
in trilling tones, so joyously,
my heart, it leapt in ecstasy,
at this dream it dreamt so lovingly.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Seen and Unseen

by Gorden J.L. Ramel

Beauty; there is so much to see
in flowers, faces, birds and me,
so much that can be loved for free.
Like trees, or people passing by;
the fragile form of things that fly;
the brown of earth, the blue of sky.
My eyes are opened more each day,
my mouth more closed, what can I say?
I wish I’d always seen this way.

This beauty that surrounds me now
has always been here, yet, somehow
my state of mind did not allow
for simple things like peace and joy.
I was so eager to employ
myself, so easy to annoy,
I did not know to brush aside
the mental cobwebs that can hide
the light wherein I now abide.

And so my days were quickly spent
on actions, intricate and meant,
to take me where I never went,
but where I planned I would go soon.
Like casting wishes at the moon
I danced to someone else’s tune
and thought my labours set me free.
Too sure of what I knew to see
the beauty that surrounded me.