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Posts Tagged ‘Tamil Nadu’

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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“Art & Environmental Workshop for the Kids of  Sevapur and Tharagampatti”

Como de costumbre llevo un retraso de un par de semanas y la cronologia de mis historias et aventuras por la Inida se ha visto de nuevo interumpido.. Pero bien que vamos hacer si hay tantas cosas interesantes y bonitas por vivir.

Hace un par de semanas deje  Sevapur, ese maravilloso lugar escondido entre montanas verdes  de Tamil Nadu.  Impartir durante 4 dias talleres artisticos provisto de ingredientes  medio ambientales, a los estudiantes de Tharagampatti y Sevapur. Fueron 4 dias muy intensos con sooryan (el Sol)  iluminando las caritas sonrientes de chocolate.

La experiencia de impartir clases en India a  los estudiantes de la ” KGBV school for drop out kids” y la Annai Leo Highschool fue exotica et increiblemente agradecida. Ninos y ninas educados, centrados y simpaticos/as con ganas de hacer y aprender algo diferente…. Ojala la ensenanza artistica fuera siempre asi.

Fue una sorpresa muy agradable ver el entusiasmo con el que se lanzaron al trabajo manual e artistico. Esta vez se me habia occurido la idea de dar un taller sobre Mandalas y Yantras, utilizando principalmente materiales economicos para que las educadoras pudiesen continuar con los tallers cuando yo no estuviera sin tener costes execivos.

Los pinceles, las hojas de papel y la cola blanca  habia adquerido en Dindigul una ciudad pequena a una hora y media en autobus. Sin embargo los demas materiales de trabajo eran gratuitamente disponibles y faciles de encontrar en el entorno.

Tierra de diferentes tonos se encontraba por doquier, desde blanco a un rojo intenso y tambien hojas de arboles de formas y colores diferentes se encontraba facilmente.. Como por ejemplo las preciosas hojas amarillas del arbol del Neem. Arbol de propiedades medicinales  muy apreciado en la medicina Ayurveda pero tambien en aplicaciones mas cotidianas cuando las ramitas de neem masticados sirven de cepillo de diente purificante gracias a sus propiedades antibioticas.

Los materiales como la cola blanca (carpenters glue), papel blanco, pinceles y un improvisado filtro para separar las piedras grandes de la tierra que pisabamos eran los unicos materiales y herramientas que necesitabamos para ejecutar el trabajo. Los cuaderno del colegio servian para guardar las hojas encontradas para que estos se quedasen bien lisos y planos.


Las Mandalas, simbolos Tibetanos y Las Yantras de la simbologia hinduista hubieran quiza sido fuera de lugar en los talleres de Marruecos  por su significado espiritual y religioso distinto al suyo; pero aqui en Hindu territorio el tema fue muy bien recibida y ademas encajaba a la perfeccion con la onda y vision holistica del que me habia impregnado durante el curso de Agricultura Biodynamico.

Mandalas y Yantras representan el universo; son simbolos de unidad y representan la union entre macro-cosmos (el universo) y micro cosmos (nosotros) y todas las demas plantas y seres vivos sobre esta preciosa planeta azul suspendido en el espacio infinito….

Los estudiantes tenian como tarrea de hacer cada  uno su Mandala, su imagen del universo apartir de los  materiales que tenian a mano..y saliendo de un punto o circulo central…  Libertad completa para la expresson artistica y sorprendentes fueron los trabajos que al final de cada clase…

I.S.S. Sevapur… the Joyful society Inba Seva Sangam…

La vuelta a Sevapur habia sido emocionante, lleno de recuerdos aunque no quise que estos condicionasan esta nueva experiencia. He vuelto a ver a todas esas personas que me recibieron con tanto amor y amabilidad durante mis visitas anteriores y que me ayudaron a encontrar el camino de verdad entre las malezas de la vida.  Ahora se y siento mas y mejor que nunca que este lugar fue muy importante en el procesos de la recuperacion de mi “yo”, de la busqueda personal que comenze hace ya casi dos anios… Esta nueva visita ha reenforzado el sentimiento y la conexion aunque me hubiera gustado pasar mas tiempo simplemente paseando por los bellos parajes y campos de cultivos (organicos y biodynamicos), poder hablar/chapurear y gesticular con los campesinos, mujeres y ninos del pueblo.

Hoy regresando al ‘otro mundo’ disfrute de nuevo,  aunque no con menos intensidad, del ultimo tardecer que se ponia sobre el valle de Kadavur y Sevapur… veia la gente regresar de sus campos con sus majestuosos buyes con los cuernos pintados de colores, cargados de bultos y productos recien cosechadas… Otros disfrutaban del atardecer frente a sus casas de techos de paja y rodeados de un caotico escena de mayores, ninos, animales y herramientos de campo . En otras aldeas la gente hablaba emotivamente delante de los chai-shops comentando las ultimas noticias y cotilleos del dia o descansaban en un escenario de magnificos Yatras, misteriosos vehiculos tallados en madera y decorados de colores rojos y amarillos. Tras una hora de espectaculo de ‘vida campesina pura y sin contaminar’, deje el precioso valle con los ultimos rayos de Sooryan illuminando los verdes campos para incorporarme de nuevo en la ‘ruta’ y la recien construida autopista donde no existen leyes ni reglas. El asfalto aun dominado por gente en bicicleta, motos y animales de pasto;  dejaba, con intervalos, pasar un autobus atestado de gente, a escasos centimetros de nosotros como un fantasma en direccion contraria… Sin lineas ni avisos ni signales de trafico aventurarse por las nuevas vias del “futuro” suponen una autentica e escalofriante experiencia en la India….

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THE BD PLANTING CALENDAR

“short and simple”

Human life, as well as animal life  and plant life, is strongly dependent on the rhythms of the earth.
As the earth turns on it’s axes in the course of 24 hours, we have night and day. As it travels in the course of 1 year around the sun, we have the seasons – hot and cool.

Perhaps the most familiar is the rhythmic movement from New Moon to Full Moon that we witness each month.
But this is only 1 of numerous lunar or moon rhythms that astronomy scientists have mapped and can accurately calculate.

The Biodynamic farmer works primarily with 6 different moon rhythms that occur every 27-29 days.

These 6 moon rhythms are:

Full moon                29.5 days
Moon opposite Saturn  27.3 days
Ascending-descending   27.3
Moon nodes               27.2
Perigee-Apogee.         27.5
Moon in Zodiac Const.   27.3


4 Crop-types a- 4 Elements and 4 groups of Zodiac signs.

Root crops – related to the element Earth – Zodiac Signs: Virgo – Capricorn – Taurus
Crops such as: potatoes, carrots, peanuts, onion, Ginger etc.

Leaf crops – related to the element Water – Zodiac  Signs:  Cancer – Scorpio – Pisces
Crops like: tea, spinach, lettuce, herbs

Flower crops – related to the element Air – Zodiac signs: Gemini-Libra-Aquarius
Crops like: Roses, jasmine

Fruits & Seeds crops  –  Related to the element Fire –  Zodiac Signs:  Sagittarius – Aries  – Leo
Crops like: coffee, apple, berries, mango, rice etc.

Farm activities important for the BD farming calendar:

-seeds/sowing
-spraying
-ploughing/soil preparation
-harvesting
-irrigation
-pruning
– crafting
– weeding
– appl. BD preps.
-transplanting etc. etc.

OBSERVATIONS

* In Biodynamic farming the earth is considered as a whole living organism.
* the earth has some kind of Breathing-in and Breathing-out gesture every day.
IN from morning till around 3 pm OUT from 3 till next day.
* Biodynamic farming can only survive in a good and healthy organic farming system.

 

FULL MOON

Seed germination is  much better during full-moon
Note: It actually takes 24 hours before the seed opens when it is in the ground.    So it is important to sow 24 hours before the moon enters in one if the fire-signs.
This is a good time for:

– Crafting (better), the sap flow is much stronger in the plant and trees.
– Higher/quicker cell division
– The influence of the full moon appears to provide also favorable conditions for the growth of fungus on all plants. This is related to the increase of moisture and humidity.
– Absorption of liquid manures
– Often tendency for rain.
– More insect activity.

NEW MOON
– Moisture is less.

-Good time for cutting timber.

MOON opposite  SATURN What does this mean?

-When the moon is exactly orientated opposite Saturn  with the earth in the middle.

-Saturn is the biggest planet in our solar system…
-On this day the earth receives a stronger influence of cosmic forces.

Auspicious Time.
It’s a good time for sowing seeds. The plant will grow stronger and more robust.

Cosmic facts and Observations:
– Saturn takes 29 years to go around the sun.
– Light from the moon 1.5 seconds old.
– Light from the sun 8 minutes old.
– light travels at 300.000 km/sec.
– the sun is 150 million km from the earth.

DESCENDING and ASCENDING

Descending periods:
-Related to activity under the ground. (Cool cold season, breathing in)
-Moon during 14 days/month in Descending Period
– Everything to do with the EARTH is good during the descending periods.
– Auspicious for ploughing for example.

Ascending Periods:

-The ascending phase is direct related to activity above the ground.
(hot, warm season, breathing out)

-Moon during 14 days/month in the ascending phase.
-Growth forces are stronger and sap flow in plant and trees is stronger.
– Germination is also stronger during this period.
– good for seed sowing
– Good time for spraying BD 501 (horn silica)
– crafting
– Liquid manures are foliar sprays and should be applied best during the ascending period.

* Whenever the moon is in 1 of the signs from Gemini to Sagittarius we are in a DESCENDING period.    Aprox.    Every 14-days
* Whenever the moon  is moving from Sagittarius into Capricorn and towards Gemini we are a ASCENDING period.   Aprox.  14- days

*The earth in relation to the sun is every 6-months in the Ascending period- This is reflected in the seasons)
* The ascending and descending rhythms occur due to the tilt in the position of the earth.

Note:
The Celestial Equator is the direction/projection of the earths equator into the cosmos. (due to the earths tilt it is different from the ECLIPTIC.
The Ecliptic is the plane on which the sun and actually our whole solar system moves.

MOON NODES
– Moon node days 2x each month.
– The moon crosses the path of  the sun.
– This moment is a BAD day/moment to do farm activities.
– Avoid 6 hours before and after NODE.

Perigee and Apogees:
Occurs due to the elliptic movement of the moon around the earth.
PERIGEE is when the MOON is CLOSE to the EARTH ( which has a full moon effect on the earth)
APOGEE is when the MOON is further away from the EARTH.
This is comparable to anew moon effect.

SATURN
-The transit of Saturn into another constellation is considered to be very important moment.
-It appears to have great influences on plant, animal as well as on human life.
-This occurs every 2.5 years.
-Saturn stays always 2.5 years in each constellation.

Note: Saturn is at the moment in the Zodiac Sign of Virgo, exactly opposite Pisces. (see triangle diagram of constellations)
It shows the related constellations that are connected to the different elements such as Fire, Water, air/light, Earth.

“The major challenge for the future is in how to feed the growing world population, that will increase with another 40-50% In the next 40 to 50 years.”

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CHEMICAL FARMING

Conventional farming or Chemical farming as of today is a form of agriculture in which many different fertilizers are being used in high doses and in combination with herbicides, pesticides and other chemicals.
The nutrients N, P, K, following the bottle-neck concept, seemed to be the important ones for plants. But the problem is that the chemical farmer, over time, has been giving this concept so much weight, so much importance that he started giving only these 3 nutrients to the crops and plants,  what resulted in bigger yields in the beginning but only because the soil at that stage was still healthy and rich in other nutrients and organic matter.
Research has shown that with the passing of time the yields became less plentiful and more pests and diseases occurred.
So there was something wrong, or better said there was something missing that made the plant weak and vulnerable to diseases and pests.

Statistics show that In the beginning, the chemical farmer went from 2 times spraying per year to 10 times spraying a decade later. The farmers were complaining that things got worse but that they controlled it by spraying more and more.
By doing so they killed all animal life in the soil, all micro organisms disappeared, insects were gone and birds stayed away.
The soil had become completely sterile.

A finger was finally put on the painful problem by Rachel Carson in her revolutionary book “Silent Spring” 1962,  that revealed that there was something terribly wrong.


ORGANIC AND BIO-DYNAIMIC

The Organic or Bio-dynamic farmers on the contrary, search for alternative ways to grow food.
These farmers are using only natural methods to grow healthy and abundant crops. They use methods like composting, green-manuring, crop rotations etc. to provide the necessary nutrients to their plants and keep pests and diseases under control.
For them it is essential, if not fundamental to keep their soil healthy.
They make sure the humus content in the soil is good and supply in a natural way the essential nutrients, maintaining the micro organic activity in the soil and controlling in the mean while a balanced insect life and microbial activity.

As we know they also complain, just as the chemical farmer, about pests and diseases. However the ones that have changed said that with the passing of the years, it was getting better, and less diseases and pests occurred.

What happened is that they brought back the balance in the soil and nature by their natural way of farming.
They have turned their soils again into a “living soil”, full of micro organisms, worms and insects and birds visiting their farms to feed on them.

They re-established animal, insects and microbe diversity in their fields who are keeping themselves in balance.
These farmers give back nutrients to the soil in a natural way (composting, green-manuring etc.).  The organic farmer also provides many other nutrients to the plants that in chemical farming are completely neglected and  considered unnecessary.
Now however we know, and scientists have proven, that there are minimal 12 nutrients involved to grow healthy plants and vegetables… sometimes even 30 nutrients are necessary, depending on the type of crop.
Chemical farming has been working against nature… to obtain quick results, high yields and quick income…  They killed all animal, insect an microbial life in their fields disturbing the natural balance that should allow nature to do it’s work.

Now, sometimes Organic farming has not been successful in some places and people ask, why? And it can be explained because Organic farming is about a real understanding of the farming activity. You have to understand your farm, the crops you grow, the climatological conditions on your land, the toxic levels of the soil,  the animal, insect and microbial balance of it, and you have to know the initial fertility of the soil.
So if your soil is toxic and you want to change to Organic Farming you will have to change in a sensible way and BD treatments will help detoxifying the soil re-establishing the microbial life and increase the humus, biomass content and much more.

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100 years of farming in a nutshell…

“The Evolution of agriculture”

Since R.S. Introduction of the Bio Dynamic Farming Method in 1924,  many other things have occurred in agriculture practices. During WW-II,  BD Farming was forbidden in Nazi Germany and had to go underground. Farming techniques were modified because the food production needed to go up to feed the growing world population and the whole agriculture industry was modernized.

One newly developed method of agriculture in particular resulted to be very successful and was based on the N,P,K Bottleneck Concept, that is based mainly on the nitrogen, phosphorus and potash levels in the soil. (Justus Liebig 1803-1873)

Liebig discovered that these 3 nutrients seemed to be essential for plants to grow.  By artificially maintaining or adding these nutrients in high doses to the soil, plants seemed to do better and higher yields and plentiful harvests were obtained. In the beginning everything seemed fine and everybody was happy with the bigger yields…. But, soon there started to appear also many problems, such as pests and plant diseases which they solved by using large amounts of chemicals, herbicides and pesticides.

The new method became known as ‘the Green Revolution’ and marked the era of Modern Chemical Agriculture and is now considered to be the conventional way of farming. It was first put into practice in Mexico and south America (aprox. 1942).           The Chemical Method had positive results, higher yields were obtained while  controlling the accompanying pests and diseases, with chemicals of course.

They succeeded in the objective to maintain the level of crop production needed for a growing population. Later this method of agriculture spread across the US, Europe, India and the rest of the world. The chemical way is still the most widely practiced form of agriculture up to today, even though we now know that the side effects of chemical farming are devastating and extremely harmful for nature, causing the total disruption of ecosystems and the natural balance of insect populations, animal life and micro organisms in the soil.

Chemical farming has turned the soils completely sterile through this practice and are generally poor in organic carbon, humus, trace elements and nutrients (others than N, P, K),  that are also essential to growing healthy plants.  We now can say that the Green Revolution has turned the soil into a  dead and non-living substance. What started as a viable method with higher yields and better crop production has turned into an extremely poisonous and non-sustainable method of agriculture that has contaminated our soils, the air and our water resources.

Other reasons for the destructive power of Chemical Farming is due to the fact that it is practiced on large scale.  Mono-crops resulted the most convenient so pesticides and fertilizers  could be easily sprayed over large areas.  It’s a very productive and fast/  lucrative method so all around the world  huge extensions “were and are” converted into 1 -crop areas,  such as grain,  corn,  soy-beans  etc.

Big machinery came hand in hand with the new method of agriculture,  tractors, harvesters, seeders and even planes were employed to sow, spray and harvest the crops.  A whole industry flourished with the new farming method, car-industry,  oil industry,  pharma-chemical industry,  big logistic companies to distribute the food around the world etc.

Mono-crops are also water intensive crops and need intensive irrigation since sterile and weak soils are not very good in retaining moisture, mainly due to the lack of organic matter and humus in the soils.  So deep bore wells are needed to obtain the water, and deep lying ancient aquifers which are essential to whole areas and ecosystems are depleted.

Mono crops are also more sensitive to pests and diseases, mainly because of the non-existent microbial activity in the soils, unbalanced insect and other animal life.  So huge amounts of pesticides, herbicides and fungicides are the regular practice to control these pests and diseases  but all these chemicals finally end up in the water bodies, rivers, lakes and in our food-chain.

An whole other result of this modernised agriculture industry is that less people were needed on the fields; one machine could do in one day what 10 workers could do in 1 week…  So all these people had to go and work somewhere else and many of them ended up behind chain production lines in factories and industries such as in the car, machinery, oil and chemical industry…

Nowadays  the Chemical Method (the Green Revolution) is still the conventional way and quite popular, mainly because of the strong lobby of Western Pharma-Chemical Companies. But also because often developing countries are tied up with their hands through long term trade- and aid-agreements in exchange for development-aid and money. They were almost forced into buying  genetically manipulated seeds that can only be used with certain chemicals and fertilizers… Large Multinationals, in Chemicals and GMOS  were given licenses to do business in their countries or to even set up their industries and factories with all the polluting consequences. In the beginning many poor countries were convinced of the good it would do to their economy but they were never told the whole story and the whole truth…

Now many farmers don’t even know how to farm in another way… they have lost their ancient knowledge of organic and holistic farming after 2 or 3 generations of Chemical farming. Their soils are depleted of nutrients, trace elements and humus. Even if they would like to change back they wouldn’t know how and they would have to deal with years of struggle to heal their agriculture land, bring back the micro-organic activity essential to a healthy and living soil.  And all this without even thinking about the risk of yield reduction, less income during the first couple of years without the right consultancy and method to apply on their field to stand the change… Many farmers also aquired high debts at the banks due to the growing quantities of Chemicals and Fertilizers they had to buy to grow the genetically modified crops and seeds…

Chemical farming has not only disrupted a whole balanced, centuries old farming  practice but it has also turned the soils completely sterile. Agriculture land around the globe are generally poor in organic carbon, humus, trace elements and nutrients (others than N, P, K),  that are just as  essential to grow beautiful, healthy plants and vegetables.  We can now say that the Green Revolution has turned the soil into a  dead and non-living substance.

What started as a viable method with higher yields and better crop production has turned into an extremely poisonous and non-sustainable method of agriculture that has contaminated our soils, the air and our water resources.

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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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