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.

13567370_10208728651267829_9130712553536399310_n
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.

The Osho Experience: In the Foothills of The Himalayas

A whirling dervish… Ecstatic music… A state of no dimension !

I never thought I’ll ever witness a whirling Dervish  for real. Let alone, whirl myself!

Least of all, didn’t expect it to happen in Osho’s meditation center.

But wonderful things happen, especially, when you least expect them!

On the last day of a 4-day camp at Osho Nisarga center, the instructor, Pragya Ma, introduced us to the techniques of “No Dimension” meditation.

“Using the breath and a series of coordinated body movements followed by whirling, your energy becomes centered in the hara, the “life energy” center below the navel. From there you can watch the mind and experience awareness and wholeness – the body moving in all directions, the center unmoving.” – osho.com

Not only could I whirl without feeling dizzy, I felt a new connection with the universal energy; a connection which was always there in the first place!

It felt like a “spring of awareness” has blossomed in my heart, pushing away the dark wintry clouds of “chain of thoughts”.

Tears of gratitude flowed from my eyes, realising, for the first time, that the only hinderance between me and the universal energy is the entity “me”. Once “me” leaves the place, only God resides, even if, momentarily. 🙂 

wp-1478935379959.jpg
A moment of unbridled laughter near Osho Nisarga, Dharmshala

Osho Nisarga Meditation Center, Dharamshala, India

Located in foothills of The Himalayan range, Himachal Pradesh, Osho Nisarga is a lush green meditation commune. Vibrant flowers, gentle murmur of the river water, and the enchanting view of Dhauladhar mountain range, Osho Nisarga’s vibes surely takes the meditation experience to another dimension!

Dhauladhar Range Dharamshala
The Dhauladhar Range as viewed from the Osho Nisarga Center, Dharamshala

“The whole existence is a temple.
The trees are continuously in worship,
The clouds are in prayer, and
The mountains are in meditation… ” 

– Osho

Copyright © [Meru]. All rights reserved.

Rumi: Then I Left Everyone, Myself As Well!

“Doing as others told me, I was blind.
Coming when others called me, I was lost.
Then I left everyone, myself as well…
Then I found everyone, myself as well.”

~ Rumi

 

Osho Meditation Center Dharamshala
A moment of unbridled laughter near Osho Nisarga Meditation Center, Dharamshala, India

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”.

buddha-canvas-paintings-005-4974-43166

“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

DSC01770.JPG

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!

DSC01781.JPG

Copyright © [Meru]. All rights reserved.

 

Goa 2: The Untameable Mobor beach

I can’t help it. The word “Mobor”  reminds me of a brilliant scene from the super – addictive “The Game of Thrones”: “Hodor, Hodor, Hodor”. An irrelevant trivia I know! 😛

hodor the game of thrones

The day we finally left Palolem, only to return back in 2 days:

It was our fifth day at Palolem beach, South Goa. The idea of the Goan adventure was to explore all the places in 11 days long vacation. But we grew too comfortable & totally cheated on our itinerary.

The idea to explore was lying in deep slumber…Like the beach itself…

There’s something about the stillness of the beach which captivates human mind. A sense of stillness of thoughts… A sense of calmness… A sense of awe for the grandeur of mother nature… This feeling takes over the senses, and the compulsive need to see it all on a trip loses its significance… 

Palolem Beach Canacona South Goa

But we did it! Next leg of the journey towards the North Goa:

Sense prevailed. We finally came out of the reverie, hired a car for the next day (Rs. 1200). And embarked on the north Goa adventure. On-route, we took a de-tour towards a high-end, not-so-crowded beach, the Mobor, Cavelossim beach. I’m glad we did it!

Mobor, Cavelossim is a high-end beach, offers private beaches & adventure sports:

Mobor, Cavelossim, a 30 Km long Southern Goa beach strip, is a high-end beach, shared between luxurious hotels and resorts, Leela Palace Hotel and Holiday Inn Resort. For someone who’s on a luxurious trip, Mobor beach is the place to book. Do it now!

Mobor Beach South Goa

The clear waters, soft golden sand, and  silence brings a sense of calm, complemented with a sense of high for the adventure sports: water skiing, windsurfing, sailing, parasailing, jet skiing, boating, and so on.

A tryst with swimming at Mobor!

I live in Punjab, North India – a region far away from oceans and shores. One can imagine the sense of pride I felt when I thought I could swim against the waves, just like any other local Goan or a foreigner.

Only, I couldn’t do it! The ocean fiercely intimidates. It is untameable. It is wild. So, it arouses curiosity. It dares you, with a wicked smirk on its face. The ocean knows it – deep down, you’re a coward. Especially, when you come face to face with your biggest fear: drowning.

If Palolem is gentle beach, owing to its crescent shape and unique location, Mobor is a monster. The waves are huge during the high tide ! But my natural curiosity pushed me to risk a plunge into the waves.

IMG_4470.JPG

Luckily, a local restaurant owner and an experienced local swimmer saw my dilemma, and offered help. He, along with a drunk-merry Russian couple, showed me how to swim against the waves.

Mobor Beach South Goa
A friendly Egret eating fish from my hand!

Slowly, he taught the technique of jumping into the crest of the wave, and then ride on the wave’s momentum. It was awesome! I felt invincible! And the very next wave caught me off-guard. Due to bad timing, it hit me hard & I was left dumbfounded, gasping for air on the white sandy shore. 😛

Mobor Cavelossim

The high point of the beach is less crowd. In India, it means less garbage too! As mojor part of the beach is shared by the luxurious hotels, the beach is not crowded by casual tourists. A memorable day of Goa trip, The untameable Mobor, Cavelossim, is a tale to remember!

Copyright © [Meru]. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Khalil Gibran: A poet par excellence

It was a usual day in the library. For the first time in life, I finally knew what I yearned for: knowledge & a place where there’s plenty of it: university’s library.

A.C. Joshi Library, located in the Panjab university, is not for the casual students. It is a “respite for soul” place for the curious ones. The ones who want to know it all. The ones with insatiable hunger for more!

Though I was a post-graduate student at that time, the name “Khalil Gibran” (or Kahlil Gibran) didn’t ring any bells. But the word “Lebanese” poet aroused some curiosity, and that’s how I opened the first page.

khalil gibran

And then I couldn’t put it down for a moment – read it while eating, in the class, in the hostel common room, almost everywhere. There it was, one of the most enchantingly romantic works one could read, “The Broken Wings: Khalil Gibran“.

A take on spiritual love, with its purity intact, The Broken Wings is like an intense lyric, the depths of which are unfathomable to a mortal being. Here’s an excerpt from the text:

“Every young man remembers his first love and tries to recapture that strange hour, the memory of which changes his deepest feeling and makes him so happy in spite of all the bitterness of its mystery…

Today, after many years have passed, I’ve nothing left out of that beautiful dream except painful memories flapping like invisible wings around me, filling the depths of my heart with sorrow, and bringing tears to my eyes; and my beloved, beautiful Selma, is dead and nothing is left to commemorate her except my broken heart and tomb surrounded by cypress trees. That tomb and this heart are all that is left to bear witness of Selma.

The silence that guards the tomb does not reveal God’s secret in the obscurity of the coffin, and the rustling of the branches whose roots suck the body’s elements do not tell the mysteries of the grave, by the agonized sighs of my heart announce to the living the drama which love, beauty, and death have performed. “

The tragedy of love is beautifully captured in the masterpiece. But love’s not the only facet of Gibran’s work. Another classic, “The Prophet“, discusses practical answers to spiritual & philosophical aspects of daily life. Matters of marriage, death, talking, children, giving, etc. are touched upon with soft-soothing words, showing his creative genius in the poetic form.

Here’s an excerpt from “On Talking” by Khalil Gibran:

On Talking

“You talk when you cease to be at peace with your thoughts;
And when you can no longer dwell in the solitude of your heart you live in your lips,
And sound is a diversion and a pastime.
And in much of your talking, thinking is half murdered.
For thought is a bird of space, that in a cage of words may indeed unfold its wings but cannot fly…

There are those among you who seek the talkative through fear of being alone.
The silence of aloneness reveals to their eyes their naked selves and they would escape… “

Life with Puppies and More!

Finally, she is home. My first puppy! It took 29 years of wishing at Birthdays & shooting stars to finally bring home a pup of my own.

Labrador retriever

 I wished for a pup ever since I’ve existed. Mind you, it all started with an over-barking pom doggy! I can’t believe that I remember the pup & the parrot as a pictographic memory till today.

Puppies

That happened in New Delhi, India in 1988. In 1991, my family shifted to one of the most peaceful towns in India,  Nangal. Located in the foot-hills of Shivalik Hills, a chain of the Himalayan range, & lined by the beautiful Satluj river from two sides, the picturesque city is popular for one of the highest gravity dams in Asia, The Bhakra Nangal Dam & is a renowned national wetland
 Naya Nangal, Punjab

The river-side city, with its idyllic setting, and township’s character, is a world in itself – just like the “Hogwarts world” of the Harry Potter series! Explains our “Harry Potter” mania in 10th grade – I literally finished off the book during my final dreaded mathematics exam. ( No, not all Indian kids master mathematics – some like me, prefer to lead life in appreciation of beauty of nature & novels).

Our small colony, called as ‘the doctor’s colony”, had a lot of kids to hang out with, along with a lot more puppies. The house where we shifted was vacant for a long time. Any guesses how many lil paws greeted me on the first day in the town? A litter of 10 wonderful puppies!  😀

A dream come true home for me indeed –  in the dream come true town of Nangal. Over the years, me & my friends reared up a lot of street pups, got a few vaccinated, fed them, played with them. I even kidnapped them & moved them to my home, in case the female doggy gave birth in some other house. 😍

The poor female dog lived in eternal confusion on where her pups are whenever she used to go on a hunt. It is amazing that I got along more with pups, than I ever got with prople. That doesn’t make me anti-social – I did get along with kids my age. 😉

Last month, after much consideration, and persuation, I finally brought home a beautiful female Labrador pup. We call her “Daisy”, though she doesn’t behave like a fragile flower as of now.

Labrador Retriever

She is a “wooly mammoth” who eats, chews, & later on poops everything that comes in front of her – stones, cow dung, clothes, newspaper, leave, sticks, pendrive, leaves – did I mention leaves already? – and so on.

For now, the only time she looks like a “Daisy” is when she sleeps!!! 😊😀😄  Let’s hope for teething- free times ahead,  when your pup will not try to bite you off. 😃

The Guest House by Rumi: Sufism

The first glimpse of Sufism

I remember it. My first glimpse of Sufism. An unusual book was lying on the table, with the name “Bulleh Shah” printed on it. The name struck a chord. Just like the name “Rumi” did later on. Bit by bit, poem by poem, the love for his poetry solidified into supreme devotion, and a new gate opened for me – the golden gate of Sufi ecstasy!

So, who is a Sufi ?

Is he the one immersed in deep meditative silence? Or is he the one whirling in a divine ecstasy? Or perhaps the one whose dance has solidified into a deep silence?

images

As waves upon my head the circling curl,
So in the sacred dance weave ye and whirl.
Dance then, O heart, a whirling circle be.
Burn this flame - is not the candle he? 
- Rumi

A Sufi can be just anybody: a wanderer, a saint, a beggar, a poet, an ascetic. He can easily fit into any of these categories. Or he can transcended all these mind-imposed categories & move into the realm of nothingness.

“The Guest House” by Rumi is a stroke of genius, an enchanting lyric, a masterpiece that started a life-long addiction to Rumi and his works.

The Guesthouse by Mewlava Jallaludin Rumi

This being human is a guest house.
 Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
 As an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
 Even if they're a crowd of sorrows,
 who violently sweep your house
 empty of its furniture,
 still treat each guest honorably.
 He may be clearing you out
 for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

Note: The image has been sourced from the Internet. No infringement intended. 

Life Runs A Full Circle

 Bits And Pieces,
Of You And Me.

A Loveless Scar Here,
An Innocent Blush There.

Autumn Of A Withering Leaf,
Decayed Now, In Full Bloom Once.

Only Hope, A Warm Casket –
A Wintery Sheet Of Death-Cold Snow.

Reminisces Spring, The Days Gone By,
When Love Was Pure, Promises True.

Life Runs A Full Circle:
Broken And Cherished Fragments,
Of You And Me.

Copyright © [Meru]. All rights reserved.