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Posts Tagged ‘South India Sweet & Spicy’

A visit to the Ashram and city of Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi.

It’s difficult to describe how it feels to be in a spiritual place like Tiruvannamalai, just as it is difficult to write about spirituality and the search for the “self” and eternal truth. When I try, and I think of getting closer to describing the exact feeling and sensation, the further away I actually find myself from the real truth and actual goal. Maybe its true, as the teachings say, that there shouldn’t be a thing such as a fixed goal or objective in the search for the mindless inner self, and describing the spiritual path only becomes an obstacle in the search for one’s true being, or Mouna (silence) as it is called by Ramana.

Therefore maybe “no description and only silence” is the best way to tell how it feels to be in the presence of the remaining energy of Ramana and and this mystical mountain Arunachala that awakens over Tiru. and where Sree Ramana meditated in 2 caves for more than 20 years (1899-1922).

Therefore I think its is better you listen, preferably in a meditative state of mind, to the Chantings that are daily performed by a lonely and devoted Swami in the Skandashram cave where Ramana remained for 7 years. Every morning this monks walks up “the mountain path” to light a ghee-candle and some incense in the cave and chant with deep devotion and tenderness the Tamil prayers that are dedicated to Ramana.

The chantings of deep spiritual power might help one reach deep concentration, silence and ultimately truth….
Just sit down in a comfortable position, close your eyes and let everything go… become ‘Mouna’, become silence yourself…

(music file will be uploaded shortly)

The red mountain, that awakens over Tiru, also know as Sonachalam or Arunachala is surrounded by many magnificent ancient temples where daily rituals and pooja’s remember the story of Brahma (the creator) and Vishnu (the maintainer) who got into a quarrel about who was the best.. Siva put them on a test, but neither of them was able to fulfill the task of approaching the intense light and burning fire on top of the mountain…. Vishnu became a mole and tried to reach the roots of the mountain to discover the source of the light… Brahma became a bird and tried to reach the top to find out, but both were unable to fulfill the task, it was just to difficult.. When they came back to Siva and Vishnu recognized that he couldn’t reach the goal, Brahma thought of a lie and said that he did reach the top…. But Siva knew he was lying and threatened to destroy Brahma for his dishonesty… Brahma begged to be pardoned and Siva finally conceded to his pleas and decided in a different way. He punished Brahma with only 1 Temple dedicated to him on Hindu soil..

Down the slopes of Arunachala, at a short but intense 30 minutes walk down from the caves where Ramana remained in “Samadhi” (deep spiritual trance) for more than 20 years, one finds the massive Arunachala Temple that awaits patiently in the quivering heat of the Indian low lands. The temple is the living remembrance and symbolic reality of the spiritual power that many perceive in the presence of this old extinct volcano; dedicated to Siva (the destroyer). Every month at full moon hundreds of thousand of devoted pilgrims perform an impressive ritual and walk bare footed the 14 km stretch of roads and ‘inner paths’ around the mountain. Some do it 3 times to even stronger feel the presence of their god…. I did it only ones…

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Sé firme en tus actitudes y perseverante en tu ideal.
Pero sé paciente, no pretendiendo
que todo te llegue de inmediato.

    Haz tiempo para todo, y todo lo que es tuyo,
vendrá a tus manos en el momento oportuno.

Aprende a esperar el momento exacto
para recibir los beneficios que reclamas.

Espera con paciencia a que maduren los frutos
para poder apreciar debidamente su dulzura.

No seas esclavo del pasado
y los recuerdos tristes.

No revuelvas una herida que está cicatrizada.
No rememores dolores y sufrimientos antiguos.

¡Lo que pasó, pasó!

De ahora en adelante procura construir
una vida nueva, dirigida hacia lo alto
y camina hacia delante, sin mirar hacia atrás.

Haz como el sol que nace cada día,
sin acordarse de la noche que pasó.

Sólo contempla la meta
y no veas que tan difícil es alcanzarla.

No te detengas en lo malo que has hecho;
camina en lo bueno que puedes hacer.

No te culpes por lo que hiciste,
más bien decídete a cambiar.

No trates que otros cambien;
sé tú el responsable de tu propia vida y trata de cambiar tú.

 Deja que el amor te toque
y no te defiendas de él.

Vive cada día, aprovecha el pasado para bien
y deja que el futuro llegue a su tiempo.

No sufras por lo que viene, recuerda que
“cada día tiene su propio afán”.

Busca a alguien con quien compartir tus luchas
hacia la libertad; una persona que te entienda,
te apoye y te acompañe en ella.

Si tu felicidad y tu vida dependen de otra persona,
despréndete de ella y ámala,
sin pedirle nada a cambio.

Aprende a mirarte con amor y respeto,
piensa en ti como en algo precioso.

Desparrama en todas partes
la alegría que hay dentro de ti.

Que tu alegría sea contagiosa y viva para expulsar
la tristeza de todos los que te rodean.

La alegría es un rayo de luz que debe permanecer siempre encendido,
iluminando todos nuestros actos y sirviendo de guía a todos los que se acercan a nosotros.

Si en tu interior hay luz y dejas abiertas
las ventanas de tu alma, por medio de la alegría,
todos los que pasan por la calle en tinieblas,
serán iluminados por tu luz.

Trabajo es sinónimo de nobleza.

No desprecies el trabajo que te toca realizar en la vida.

El trabajo ennoblece a aquellos
que lo realizan con entusiasmo y amor.

No existen trabajos humildes.
Sólo se distinguen por ser bien o mal realizados.

Da valor a tu trabajo, cumpliéndolo con amor y cariño
y así te valorarás a ti mismo.

Dios nos ha creado para realizar un sueño.
Vivamos por él, intentemos alcanzarlo.

Pongamos la vida en ello y si nos damos cuenta que no podemos,
quizás entonces necesitemos hacer
un alto en el camino y experimentar
un cambio radical en nuestras vidas.

Así, con otro aspecto, con otras posibilidades
y con la gracia de Dios, lo haremos.

No te des por vencido, piensa que si Dios
te ha dado la vida, es porque sabe que tú puedes con ella.

El éxito en la vida no se mide
por lo que has logrado,
sino por los obstáculos que has tenido
que enfrentar en el camino.

Tú y sólo tú escoges la manera
en que vas a afectar el corazón de otros
y esas decisiones son de lo que se trata la vida.

“Que este día sea el mejor de tu vida
para alcanzar tus sueños”

“Sé tu mismo el cambio que quieres ver en el mundo.”

Estoy contigo!

Mahatma Gandhi

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Zazen & Shikantaza

“silent sitting, just observing, just being here and now , with no seeking and no goals”

Zazen is the practice of seeing into your True Self. This is not to say that you try to say that you try to get from one point to some other point in zazen. It is not a process of going from here to there but a state of letting be, letting go. When we sit we are not trying to achieve some particular state of consciousness. Not trying to achieve anything, and not trying not to achieve anything. No goals, no comparisons, no judgements, no achievements. Just being-there, being present and grounded in awareness. It is the transformation of body-mind-universe into a non-dual awareness, where the distinction between subject and object dissolves into oneness.
We can be In 2 modes of consciousness and perceiving, or two ways if being. One is that of survival and security, of being somebody as against others: it involves separation, division, analysis, comparison, competition, judgement and struggle. The root of it is imitative or mimetic desire and fear. This we call the ego-self mode and it us bound with anxiety.

The other mode we call the Self-mode. It is one of being, unity and openness. This is self as Emptyness, as openness, as no thing, no object. This Self is beyond dualities, divisions and separations. Here. Ther is no subject and no object, no this against that. There is no fear in it, no anxiety.

There is in it Joy, peace, equanimity, love and compassion. No attachments, no obsessions, no demands, no running away. Letting-be oneself just as one is, with all of one’s fears, imperfections and vulnerabilities. Accepting to be in mystery, darkness, unknowing. Zazen is to let yourself enter in this Self-mode of being and consciousness. Realize you are emptiness openness, oneness That is what your mind and heart are. Just be that. Not so much in clarity and purity, button darkness and unknowing, from where arises transcendental faith and trust and love. You do this by being in touch with your body and breath, in a body-mind-heart act.
This is the practice of Shikantaza: just sitting, just observing, just being here and now, with no seeking and no goals. It is the intimacy with oneself and with the world. This is the Zazen of intimacy.

From the book:  Zen heart,  Zen Mind

The teachings of zen master AMA Samy

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Bodhi Zendo   feb.23rd 2011     (2 weeks ago…)

Some days have past since the relaxing days in wilderness and paradise and Ohm and half moon beach in Gokarna. I had decided to stay in Gokarna till after full moon, peacefully enjoying the miracle of the moon, passing astros and other celestial bodies through the skies of the south Indian night.


Staying till the 19th although had it’s consequences for the onward trip to Tamil Nadu since Bodhi Zendo, a Zen Meditation Centre in the Palni hills of Tamil Nadu,  had been confirmed.

It meant that I had to travel long days by bus to reach Perumalmalai on time by the 21st of Feb. Nevertheless since I surrendered t the idea of traveling by local bus I was quite at ease with the idea. I had accepted all the inconveniences of bus travel as a mental and physical test and preparation for my spiritual practice. I calculated that I could even make some small detours on the way, visiting historical sites and temples like the Krisna temple in Udupi, Karnataka and the little island of St. Mary’s in front of the coast and fishing village of Malpe. The only inconvenience would be that I had  to sleep on buses during the next 2 days.

Now bus travel can become nasty, especially when it concerns minor roads in India, but at least buses run often and they would allow me to get of and on practically anywhere I wanted mainly very convenient it would become unbearable. Any way I had exactly 52 hours to make it from Gokarna’s subtropical coast to the high mountains of Tamil Nadu at 2200 meters above sea level.

I reached Udupi 6 hours later by bus over a bumpy road with cows, dogs and human beings crossing the road  as if it was their domain. It was around noon and just in time to visit the famous Sri Krisna temple. I soon found myself surrounded by thousands of pilgrims and mysterious rituals performed inside, such as walking several times around one obscure looking statue drenched in wax and Ghee while loudly ringing big copper bells that where hanging from the ceiling. The meaning of it is still unclear to me however it was pleasant to be submerged in Indian mystical traditions and to become part of the ceremonial acts. A Brahman performing a Pooja gave me some Prasat (blessed sweets) and coconut water to drink and to sprinkle over my sweaty forhead as sign of devotedness, respect and surrender to the Hindu God and existence.

The foul tasting coconut water worried me for a while since the perspective of a intense diarrhea on a night bus not exactly where I was waiting for..

But what could I do, I already swallowed the smelly substance….?!!!

The danger of catching a nasty bug could happen anytime and anywhere…  Even at Woodlands the excellent local eatery that serves delicious north and south Indian thali’s one isn’t safe, especially when eating with your hands that have touched everyone and everything around you on the congested buses. Of course one can wash his hands with council-pop at the smelly hand wash in the back, but even then…

Any way I enjoyed the thali enormously and eating with my hands made it even more tasteful. It gives the food a special taste… According to some Eastern cultures such as the Balinese; “Eating your food with metallic utensils is like making love through an interpreter”. I had to smile thinking about this anecdote and continued making love with the food in front of me.

That same evening I would leave by bus for Mysore around 20:30 hours so I had still some time to go to Malpe, the smelly fishing port to catch the 4 o’clock ferry to St. Mary’s the little island where Vasco Di Gama first touched Indian soil according to the history books. As usual when you get of the ‘Beaten Track’ and comfortable buses I soon found myself solely surrounded by Indian tourists and day visitors from Mangalore.

The folkloric boat trip overloaded with Indian families and schoolboys creaming like hysterical girls with every wave that would touch the ferry was quite and experience and fun to see. For that moment I seemed to be the exotic person and soon everyone came over to take a picture or to say some nice words. The beautiful Island of St. Mary’s was badly littered as expected and the funny shaped pillar rock formation everyone was coming for where actually quite special to see and even more with all the screaming Indians trying to climb on top of them.

I was amazed by the pureness of those kids, teenagers or maybe even in their twenties,  so pure and innocent, unaware of themselves and spontaneous to such a point that their behavior became real entertainment for me. Somehow I felt really close to them and felt some kind of admiration for their pureness and spontaneity without any complex. They appeared to flow effortless with existence and their surroundings without signs of Ego. It inspired me to see them pure and innocent as a child. We westerners on the contrary always behave so fake or try to hide our enthusiasm about things… we always try not to disturb the others because what would they think of us….

We always pretend and try to look cool and nicer than we actually are. Sometimes we behave so fake and arrogant. Just like those  boys, tourist from the west  the other day at the restaurant at Om Beach in Gokarna. They thought they were so cool playing their own music extremely loudly while others were trying to enjoy their diner listening to the sound of the pounding waves of the Arabian Sea. They tried so hard to look cool and authentic that they completely failed in their objective. Their fakeness stood in clear contrast to the innocence of the Indian teenagers full of excitement on that day to St. Mary’s.

That same evening I hopped on the bus to Mysore, but not before enjoying a beautiful sunset over a nicely polluted beach next to the shipyard of Malpe. The sun spilling its last orange rays over the horizon illuminating the colored plastic bottles scattered around on the beach.

The darkness of the night was slowly making place for a new and sunny day when I peaked out of the window of the bus and saw the magic purplish illuminated palace of Mysore passing by.  There was enough time, before the next bus to Palani, to go and visit this world famous palace that belonged to the Wodeyars Maharajas till the late fifties.

They were the descendants of the last  Kingdom to rule over Mysore. The palace, famous for its heavenly decorated interiors and also well known for its surrealistic and dazzling appearance at night during the weekends and the Dussehra Jamboree festival, when it lights up in a glow of more than 96000 light bulbs was my last stop and visit before the next bus ride to Palani, at the base of the Palni hills was only 9 hours away…. The next day it would be only 3 hours to Bodhi Zendo in the silent and refreshing mountains of the western Ghats de Tamilnadu.

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Basics of meditation…


Give up the baggage of the past and the future, sustain your attention on the present moment and let your mind come to a rest. Let your mind rejuvenate while it is inactive and still.
Abandoning your mind is abandoning thoughts about your work, your family, your responsabilities, your commitments, the good and the bad times, abandon all past experiences.
Let all of the past go and you have the ability to be free in the present moment.

Anticipations about the future, fears, plans, and expectations — let all of that go…   Buddha once said about the future “whatever you think it will be, it will always be something different”!
This future is known to the wise as uncertain, unknown and unpredictable. It’s often complete stupidity to anticipate the future, and always a great waste of your time to think about the future in meditation. You only have to devellop silent awareness and live the reality of the present moment. “Silence is much more productive of wisdom and clarity than thinking”. The goal of meditation is the beautiful silence, stillness and clarity of mind.

One should let go of material and mental burdens. One should become the witness of oneself, free of judgements.          The mind and inner speech causes all the suffering in life, that causes us to become angry, that makes our enemies and creates dangerous attachments to those we make our loved ones.  The voice of our mind causes all life’s problems and creates anxiety and depression. So seek for the truth and always value the ‘silent’ awareness. Carefully removing the importance we give to one’s thinking and the inner voice.

When you realize how much more enjoyable and valuable it is to be silent within, then silence becomes more attractive and important to you. At this stage one should have realized that our thinking is really pointless anyway, that it gets you nowhere only giving you many headaches. 
In the silent awareness of the present moment you will experience much peace, joy and consequent wisdom.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                For a dear friend…

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Staff members at ISS Sevapur and some other memorable moments.

Sevapur taking the goats out grasing….

My old teethless friend and rice farmer from Sevapur.

Susheela cooking for the boys home.. always smiling and making jokes

Chinepune preparing food for the staff…

Watchman Murugan brushing his teeth with a small branch of a neem tree.

Karrupuraj the mushroom man…

Pongalo pongal!!!!!!
Palani, Pongal ceremony at ISS January 14th..

Pongal is a colourfull and with tradition filled Harvest Festival where the ‘Cow’ is the centre of attention and becomes the holy caracter of the day.. Pongal is the boiling of jaggery sweetend rice till it spills over the edge of the pot, simbolising fertility and providing plentifull yields … This particular day the cow is the king of the day and is being washed thoroughly, decorated and painted with colourfull dots also the horns are carefully painted with bright new colours…. Pongal is one of Tamilnadu’s most important celebrations.

Young cow during Pongal Celebration.

A little cowdung shrine for Pongal celebration.

Cows during Pongal are being given sweetend rice while everyone is singing….. Pongalo Pongal, Pongalo Pongal, Pongalo Pongal…

Pongalo Pongal

Mantis religiosa

My friends from the boys home

Boys from the boyshome playing cricket in the afternoon sun…

girls with wondeful threads…

Local farmers family from sevapur harvesting rice….

The only temple in India exclusively dedicated to the Ohm (AUM), is the  temple that has been build by mother Lea Provo in Sevapur…
(The temple shrine unifies the 3 symbols of india’s main religions in the cross; hinduisme, islam and Christianity. It expreses universal love and iquality of religion and believes.

Villagers of Sevapur washing the cows in the river.

impressive papaya

Kids near Lea Provo’s burial place in Sevapur.

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Navidades en Shivananda Yoga Ashram…

Por fin he podido escaparme un rato para leer mis e.mails y para enviar Happy Xmass wishes y saludos desde Nyer Dam. Sigo mi viaje por Kerala y no termino por desplazarme muy deprisa. Voy despacio para disfrutar de cada momento, cada dia es una sorpresas y esta llena de aventuras no previstas. El peregrinaje en solitario se ha vuelto en un sin fin de encuentros con viajeros de lugares y paises lejanos y reconditos… Algunos de Alaska, otros de Iran, Canada,Polonia, Rumania, Rusia, Korea, Irlanda, Austria, o Israel y Italia…no hay fin en la lista de  personas de diferentes nacionalidades que recorren la India.

Despues de unos dias en las playas tropicales de Varkal me he metido en un Yoga Ashram en el sur de Kerala no muy lejos de Trivandrum. Sigo mi camino personal pero tambien puedo decir que me he incorporado en el sendero de los peregrinos en busca de la espiritualidad y la flexibilidad mental y corporal…
Este camino es totalmente diferente al los caminos que solia recorrer anteriormente con la mochila en la espalda.
Donde voy me encuentro con gente que he conocido en otros lugares… como el Ashram de Amma, Cochin, Varkala etc… nos estamos haciendo y somos un grupo de conocidos que se va agrandando con cada paso por la India.
Pasare las Navidades aqui en Shivananda con mis companeros fugaces de viaje y cumpliendo como un buen chico con el estricto Yoga Vacation Program del Ashram.
 
Me levanto todos los dias como los demas (no hay forma de escaquearse) a las 05.30 de la manana para meditar en el Shivananda Memorial Hall and Tempel, con el rugido de leones como sonido de fondo.
El Ashram esta ubicado en un precioso lugar al borde de un lago y parque natural a pie de los Eastern Ghats de Kerala, parte de la cordillera que recorre India desde el sur hasta llegar casi a Bombay.
Rodeado de naturaleza y montanas madrugar no resulta tan duro como en Madrid. El amanecer es una autentica fiesta de colores anaranjados mientras la niebla atrapada entre las montanas se disuelve lentamente en una danza con el viento sobre el ritmo de la musica india que emiten los altavoces del pueblo mas cercano en el valle… 
La magia de este momento de silencio y sonidos de pajaros no es interupido hasta que empiezan los cantos de los Bahjans al concluir la meditacion… Debo decir que es un poco duro y un tanto conazo pero intento no alterarme manteniendo la paz adquirido durante la meditacion. No hay mas coj…. que aguantar porque esto forma parte del juego de los ashram…  Si no fuera porque cantan las mismas cancioncitas todos los dias como 3 o 4 veces estaria feliz y en el septimo cielo en este lugar… pero vamos la vida no es perfecta…
Las cancioncitas me las conozco ya casi de memoria y canto igual que los demas como un loro al ritmo del Harmonium para tunear la mente hacia lo divino en sus diferentes aspectos… Dicen que nos hacen sentir como instrumentos y que ayuda a reducir el ‘tamsic’ – ‘Rejasic’ “EGO” … “Devine guidance  is necessary for any Sadhana to be succesfull”. 
A las 08.00, despues cantar a cada  uno de los dioses Hindues en el rezo final tomamos un chai y a continuacion hay 2 horas de Yoga segun los principios de Sivananda y Vishnu Devananda. A las 10.00, por fin, se toma el brunch/desayuno Indio sentado en el suelo y comiendo con la mano derecha… para los que no lo saben la mano izquierda es impuro porque se usa para otros asuntos…..
Pero bien, esto es solo una parte pequena del programa en Shivananda. 
Despues del brunch nos vemos envueltos en el Karma Yoga durante 1 hora al dia… lo que incluye limpiar los dormitorios, los banos, llevar lena a la cocina, servir o preparar la comida en el Health Hut, ayudar en la tienda con la venta de Merchandising o con lo que sea… Cuando no hay Karma Yoga para todos, son capaces de inventar una tarea nueva en el momento asi que nadie que pasa por aqui tiene que temer quedarse sin el buen Yoga del Karma…
Somos en estos momentos unos 200 huespedes y es de imaginar que llevar un Ashram es un chollo si todo el mundo ayuda a mantenerlo bonito… Tan solo nos cuesta 5 euritos al dia una ganga considerado que todas las comidas estan incluidas pero tambien esta claro que el Ashram puede convertirse en una mina de oro.
A las 2 de la tarde empiezan los ‘lectures’ o charlas.., algunas veces sobre los principios del yoga y otras veces sobre temas relacionados con las tradiciones hindues, el Katakali o los principios de las Vedas… (Ayurveda y unos cuantos vedas mas).
A las 3.30 pm.  otra vez Yoga hasta las 5.30 pm y a las 06.00 pm. la cena continuado por otra sesion de Satsang de hora y media.
Como puedeis ver no hay forma de aburirse en este lugar y te puedo decir que me he puesto mas fflexible que un chicle en estos 7 dias que llevo aqui.
Aun no se hasta cuando me vaya a quedar aqui pero creo que me apetece pasar noche vieja en la puntita mas al sur de la india… Supuestamente es un lugar magico con templos impresionantes dedicados a Gandi, y algunos dioses hindues.  Habra luna llena el dia 30 0 31 de este mes y segun me contaron hay un lugar para admirar la puesta del sol mientras la luna se asoma por el horizonte en el otro extremo.  Cuando uno gira la cabeza muy rapido de un lado a otro puede ver los 2 cuerpos celestes casi a la vez… 
Es Navidad y pronto sera noche vieja, por lo tanto quiero desear a todos que lean mi Blog de vez en cuando un Feliz Navidad y un Prospero 2010.  Deseo que este nuevo anio nos revele a todos el ‘camino de la felicidad’…. y no olvideis que solo hay una vida que vivir asi que mejor disfrutarlo y sacarlo todo el jugo posible…
 

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