Mountain of Fortitude

Ugly lies.

Vacant promises.

Torn-up relationships.

Life’s a confusing mess of lies!

It’s like a magician’s maze, just when you think you’ve found the true way out, another ugly path opens up. And you’re back to where you started – no where!

But a mountain brings back sanity to your life. 

Kasol, Himachal Pradesh

It’s like meditation, when you’re on top of one – breathe in the fresh life-air, and breathe out the stifled – bad air.

There’s something about mountains that sticks with me. If it’s not the sheer size, it’s the resilience that oozes out of its pores.

A mountain, when you climb one, whispers to you like a living-breathing being. 

In its own mysterious manner, it narrates that age-old story of bravery, of always holding one’s head high, even when the cobwebs of life-circumstance try to pull you down.

A mountain to me is coolest example of eternal timelessness.

Just when you think that you’re just climbing one physically, the internal struggle-climb takes you towards a higher state of mind – where the constant wheel of thoughts takes rest, and the creative life-force pervades.

Bir Billing, Himachal Pradesh

Climb one, and sit in silence.

Shout at it if you want to!

Listen in deep meditative silence to what it echoes back.

It’ll gently whisper the secret mystery of what life is made of – fortitude , resilience & unperturbed individuality under all conditions!

Poetry is what we live for!

Nostalgia is a sweet ailment. Only twisted minds savour the bitter-sweet taste of past. But, sometimes, it is all you can do. Especially when you get to stay in your home town again.

Staying in this idyllic city of Nangal made my childhood an extraordinary experience.

Naya Nangal, Punjab
The Satluj river, Nangal

But, I didn’t know it at that time. I was busy daydreaming about the “perfect adult life”. Yet, I still had moments of absolute calm and happiness:
an adventurous hike to the school, cycling around the beautiful town lined by the gigantic river Satluj, the hospital nearby where we played hide and seek (maternity ward is the safest spot!), a passionate Biology teacher who took us to multiple bio-hikes (he could tell the name of each and every plant in the town and beyond), and a teacher of English literature who didn’t just read poetry.

He savoured every word of a poem, created a big spectacle out of it, and made me fall in love with English literature every single day.

I remember a poem that he narrated to us. It felt like the poem was the only thing that mattered at that moment.

The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes:

“The wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees.   
The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas.   
The road was a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor,   
And the highwayman came riding— …”

“The road was a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor”, has stayed with me for longer than I imagined. But the best was yet to come;

“One kiss, my bonny sweetheart, I’m after a prize to-night,
But I shall be back with the yellow gold before the morning light;
Yet, if they press me sharply, and harry me through the day,   
Then look for me by moonlight,
Watch for me by moonlight,
I’ll come to thee by moonlight, though hell should bar the way.”

I can still hear the suppressed giggling of my classmates when he decided to dramatically blow a kiss.

I guess that’s what nostalgia is all about! Many of my classmates have gone ahead, and became engineers and doctors.

Yet I still find myself there, sitting in that class over and over again : awestruck, giggling, trying to memorise every single word in the “Oxford dictionary”, and falling in love with poetry as we know it.

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Model School, Nangal

The epic movie “Dead poet’s society” is as close as it can get, to the kind of passionate childhood we got to live. Sir Prasad to me, is an epitome of the art of teaching, and in his own ways, he clearly conveyed the “secret” to those of us who were listening:

“We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute.

We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race.

And the human race is filled with passion.

And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.

“To quote from Whitman, ‘O me! O life!… of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless… of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?’

Answer. That you are here — that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse.

What will your verse be?”

The question is still relevant,.“What will your verse be?”

 🙂

 

Copyright © [Meru]. All rights reserved.

Vipassana: The Essence of all Meditations

Vipassana is an ancient meditation,  re-discovered, & preached  by Gautama, the Buddha in 2550 B.C.E.  A connoisseur of peace, Buddha transcended the realm of mind,  and attained “nirvana” or “enlightenment”.

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“Vipassana is the essence of all meditations” – Osho.

A curious agnostic, I believe something when I see it from my eyes, feel it in the depths of my soul, figure it out through rational mind. So, I took Vipassana course as a scientific experiment on myself, a challenge to conquer, a test of my extremes.

That’s when I landed in Jaipur!

 Dhamma Thali Vipassana Meditation Center Jaipur, Rajasthan, India

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Located at a distance of 15 Kms from Jaipur airport, the Dhamma Thali Vipassana Meditation Center is easy to reach from station and airport.  A 10-day residential course, a group of dedicated volunteers, veg wholesome meals, the simplicity of 10 days routine is a window to simplicity of the technique.

What is Vipassana? Is it for me?

The word “Vipassana” means to “see things as they are, not as they appear to be” or “to see clearly” in Pali language. I’ve been lucky enough to attend the course thrice. A lot of people ask me if it is for them. Well, put simply, there’re three things that you need to consider if you want to go ahead.

  • An open-scientific mind that is ready to explore a new idea:

My rational mind never agrees with traditions or conventions.. The technique doesn’t require you to do so… The high-point of Vipassana? Equanimous observation of reality, as it is. No visualization or verbalization. No chants, no mantra, and no dress code…No mention of God, soul, or religion…  An open mind is all you need.

Fear not, no one is going to “convert” you ! It ain’t a religion! 🙂

  • Intense curiosity & a sense of respect for meditation and spirituality:

A curiosity for spirituality, life, & mind is how I landed there. So, can you! Don’t go if you want to convert it into another social media debate between your beliefs & Buddhism. It isn’t about Buddhism. It is a technique that came back to India through Mr. S.N. Goenka in 1969, after it vanished from India, few centuries after its re-discovery by Gautama, the Buddha. 

The toughest, yet, most challenging part is adherence to “The Code of Discipline”. A 10-day routine, noble silence, abstinence from liquor, sexual conduct, purely vegetarian meals, starting the day with a wake up bell at 4:15 AM, can get a little intimidating. But the code of discipline is important. It is a part of the whole process

The technique of Vipassana:

Noble Silence: 10 days “moun”: Silence of speech, mind, and body.

A technical summary: Technically, Vipassana is simple. Observe the breath (Anapana)… Become aware of wandering thoughts… Focus back on breath… Slowly, the focus is shifted onto body parts…Equanimous observation of sensations that erupt in each body part… 

The technique becomes challenging when one has to do it more than 10 hours a day, for 10 days, with a light stomach, and a smile on the face. 🙂

The physical discomfort due to posture or continuous sitting is where the path of Vipassana begins! So, if you go, persist till the end, and give it your best shot.

To me personally, a course in Vipassana is a soulful inner journey: 

The first three days are tricky… As thoughts engulf the consciousness… By the fourth day, the burden we call “thoughts”,  begin to shed their weight… Mind is conditioned to be reactive… A student of Vipassana slowly learns to observe, rather than react to action happening outside and inside.  It is almost like the law of Physics: every action has an equal and opposite reaction… No reaction breaks the cycle of thoughts! 

Vipassana is just a blissful journey towards attaining “Bodhi”, or “awakening”. 

If I may say so, Vipassana to me is a  “fresh awakening”, a “rebirth”, a “renaissance of mind”!!!

A click to remember on the last day of Vipassana course!

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Copyright © [Meru]. All rights reserved.

 

Bereaved Grief: Suicide, a personal moment

We all have our share of moments when we grieve; for the loss of a loved one, for the loss of a dream, or the loss of an identity.

But to be able to pull that final trigger, to bid that final goodbye, to not to hold on to that last shred of hope, is a momentous moment, tragic in its essence, yet final in its completion. 

For what looks like a sudden tragic last-minute whim is but a grand finale of a series of small death-like moments – moments that can make or break us!

In a world full of people, more people, social media connectivity, self-obsessed selfies and check-ins, it is hard to believe that a person can be alienated enough to let go.

But then,

Suicide, is such a personal moment, that any commentary from the outside, is like an arrow drawn from a set of broken fingers. 

Yet,  we humans, the mystical over-thinking beings, are the ones who’re drawn towards it & commit it every day.

Sometimes I think about Kurt, why he pulled that final trigger (if he did at all) ? What was the last thought that shook him to embrace that final annihilation ? Was there not a shred of love/hope left for him to hold on to? With the kind of creative genius he was, did even his art fail to speak to him in the end?

Am I, as a fan, scared to death when I witness his story because somehow the jigsaw puzzles of his life fit into mine ?

To me, a man’s last moment can be surmised in the lines Kurt sang so brilliantly, and with  a bland expression in Nirvana’s The Man Who Sold The World –

” I spoke into his eyes, I thought you died alone, a long long time ago…”

An eccentric genius & a rare charmer that he was, I hope he witnessed the ever-pervasive peace which can only be found in the stillness of death.

“If you die you’re completely happy and your soul somewhere lives on. I’m not afraid of dying. Total peace after death, becoming someone else is the best hope I’ve got.” – Kurt Cobain

Copyright © [Meru]. All rights reserved.