The good, The bad and The Ugly

There were times when Mahabharata was the most loved television program. You could not stop watching without a blink of an eye. I loved watching all the characters the heroes and villains, they all have especial traits. We used to mimic all the characters esp. sakuni’s famous dialogue starting with Bhanje. I was pretty bad whilst my friends were awesome.

One particular day I had an urge to read the most loved book Bhagavad Gita. I wanted to know what does the war between kaurava and pandava signify. Is it only a war between good, bad and the ugly or does it have more then what I have perceived watching tv a long time ago in my childhood. I googled and found that there were many interpretations of Bhagavad Gita. After couple of research I chose Paramhansa Yogananda’s interpretation edited by his disciple swami kriyananda.

As you start going though the chapters you will find that you are actually exploring yourself( your consciousness) in a deeper level. Bhagavad Gita which is a part of Mahabharata is an allegory which is woven upon a history. It is said that the main characters in the story actually did live but most of the characters are inventions which symbolizes psychological traits and states of consciousness.
The main characters of Mahabharata are:

King Dhritarashtra – the blind mind
Sanjaya -introspection
Prince Duryodhana – king of material desires
Dronacharya – habits/ mental tendencies/ past samskaras(Dronachaya is the guru of both pandavas and kuravas i.e. the good and the bad guys. we all have the habits that are good and bad- the upward qualities and downward tendencies.)
Bhisma – ego identiy(he has a power to die only when he himself wills it and so is with the ego. You can only relinquish your ego willingly no any other human can help you.). The commander in chief of kurava is Bhisma and they do every thing to protect bhisma(ego identity).

Draupadi – Draupadi is fated to marry all five pandava brothers. The five brother stands for the five chakras in the spine. It signifies the kundalini’s union with each chakra.

Before the war starts krishna drives  his chariot to a  point between the two armies.  Arjuna sees he is fighting against his own family, teacher and friends and replies to krishna:

O Slayer of madhu and destroyer of Foes( Krishna)! How can I make war, shooting arrows[of concentration] against Bhishma[my own deep-seated ego-reality] and against Drona[my own “preceptor” of past tendencies, which have always defined me as I was ( and perhaps am)]? Those great warriors deserve (only my) respect and reverence! I would find even a life of begging preferable to slaying( these, my ancient and self defining realities), preceptors of all that I have ever been and known. Even if they are wrong, they have nevertheless been my teachers. What happiness could I find if, in seeking it, I (stooped so low as) to shed their blood?

And Krishna’s teaching goes on and on….  Finally I found all these characters live inside me-the good, the bad and the ugly 😛

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Mind, No mind

I went to kriya yoga initiation program  taught by Shibendu Lahiri on April 2013. It is a kriya yoga in the Lahiri Mahashaya family tradition. Recently,  while cleaning my room I just found the pages of instruction that was given in the initiation program. It had 3 pages of instruction where the second page was talking about the mind and no mind. I thought  it would be worth sharing. It is just a copy paste from this particular section.

Four kind of religion of mind.

First is the product of ignorance

Ego does not accept its ignorance. Hence it asserts aggressively that whatever it knows, is the final and the highest. This breeds fanaticism, fundamentalism and all the blood-shed in the name of religion. Perhaps more blood has been shed in the name of religion than in any other name. This “religion” says that even war can be religious – the holy war, crusade, Jihad! If war is holy, then what is unholy? This perverted religion of the mind had destroyed man’s integrity by turning him against the wholeness of life, by provoking him to destroy life. Belief-systems of this religion of the mind are mere strategies to deceive mankind and to keep man perpetually miserable.

Second is the product of fear

All kinds of fear and guilt are introduced through myths, stories and surmises. Man is here only to be punished, to repent of “Original Sin”. The idea of hell is the final fear!

Third is the product of greed

All kinds of fancy, fantasy, expectation, hope, ambition, cravings and greed are generated to promote this kind of religion of the mind to keep man always in agitation and disturbance. The concept of heaven is the ultimate greed.

Fourth is the product of theology

All the thesis, anti-thesis, synthesis, all controversies and contradictions, all assertions and denials, all holy concepts and high-sounding phrases, all productions and postulates of the mind are nothing but pigs’ droppings.

There is no truth in all the above stated four kinds of religion of the mind

     Now let us try to understand the religion of “no-mind” in its three dimensions. This religiousness is only one, having three integral aspects. This deep religiousness removes all dark emotions and sentiments in the name of religion which are sick, ugly and nauseating. Mind corrupts you, “no-mind” (not mindlessness) corrects  you. You can misuse mind, but not “no-mind”.This religion of “no-mind” is the science of deprogramming our mind. It needs no prophets, saviors, popes, avatars, paramhansas, mahamandaleshwars,etc. Energy of understanding and intelligence is enough. Mind provides information, “no-mind” provokes transfarmation.

First dimension for the religiousness of “no-mind”

Sat-pure living- Atithi Bhava. that is to live with an attitude of a guest. We are all guests. No body is a permanent resident of this world. A guest lives without attachment, but with all sense of proportion. He does not cause any disorder in the living quality of life.

Second dimension for the religiousness of “no-mind”

Chit-pure consciousness-Sakshi Bhava. That is to exist as an witness, without choice, without converting the consciousness into a battleground of competing thoughts. An awareness in which equanimity is never compromised.

Third dimension for the religiousness of “no-mind”

Ananda-pure joy(not pleasure)- Sampati Bhava. That is to have emphasis on ending and not get caught in the trap of the cultivation of the opposites. The cultivated opposite of evil is not goodness. It is cunning calculation of the mind. Goodness flowers when evil is utterly ceased. When sorrow due to selfish cravings and wanting comes to an end as a consequence of the “no-mind” phenomenon, the bliss of anand is.

Shine, Rise and Have Peace of Mind

One afternoon I was listening to Dire straits song “why worry” which is one of my personal favorite. The song is calm and soothing and the lines that I love most is
“there should be laughter after the pain
There should be sunshine after rain
These things have always been the same
So why worry now”.
I find these lines inspirational and with positive vibes. After listening to Dire Straits I picked my guitar and pulled a chair and sat facing towards the window. When I have nothing to do I mostly watch through the window, see people passing by and some times grab a book and read it facing towards the window. Recently, I finished reading Bob Dylan’s biography “Down the Highway”. It was awesome and loved reading it.
I was strumming guitar, giving a thought to life and suddenly happened to compose in a split of seconds. May be it was Dire Straits’s song or the Bob Dylan’s biography that was working in subconscious mind. what I found was words were coming spontaneously to me like a monsoon rain. I improvised it and the down below lines speaks the rest of the story… 🙂

The sun gonna rise everyday
No matter it’s cloudy or it’s gonna rain through out the day
What about your dreams
those diamond dreams
engrafted by society in your brain
which seems to be fading away
What have you done to your life
Did you live or died till today
Did you live or died every day
what you gonna say

The mother nature shines everyday
No matter what she nurtures you in every way
what about your smile
those golden smile which seem to be faking everyday
and your happiness is rapidly fading away
What have you done to your life
Did you live or died till today
Did you live or died everyday
what you gonna say

The sun rests in the west every day
No matter it’s lightning or the storm is on its way
What about your slumber
Those slumber nights you had in your childhood
seems to be tossing and turning
and your peace of mind is slowly fading away
Did you live or died till today
Did you live or died everyday
what you gonna say

A child is born in the neighborhood
How many life should he suffer in this race
And blessed are those who could rise and shine
Have peace of mind no matter what hurdles are on their way

The Road that Leads to Amaravati

Most of the time I locked myself inside my room as the mercury was sharply falling outside. I never knew when did the winter vacation pass away. It just flew away like a wind, like a bird; gave me a warm hug in this winter and promised never to come back again. I watched movies like The Shawshank Redemption, Harold and Mude, Requiem For a Dream, The Killing Fields and some few more.  Besides watching movies I went to visit Amaravati.

main temple

main temple

Amaravati is a Buddhist Monastery of  Theravadan Thai Forest tradition.  Amaravati means “Deathless Realm” in Pāli, the scriptural language of the ancient Buddhist Pali Canon.  The disciples of  Thai meditation  master Luang Por Chah(1918-1992) founded this temple. Its current abbot is Ajahn Sumedho. Amaravati has a retreat centre, where meditation retreats are held for lay people.  In addition to the monks’ and nuns’ residences, there are accommodations for long-term lay residents and shorter-term lay guests. Amaravati has a retreat centre, where meditation retreats of varying lengths are held for lay people. There is also a meditation workshop for lay people every Saturday afternoon from 2-4pm. Both the monastery and the retreat centre are run on dana.

There was a prediction made in local newspaper “Evening Standard” about the snow fall next day . Snow fall was supposed to obstruct public transportation. But  I had made my mind to visit Amaravati so I went with my plan. Next day, I woke up early in the morning.  As usual I had my Northface jacket, woollen cap and gloves to prevent myself from shivering cold. I checked my rucksack if I had left anything behind. I always do the final check while travelling.  There were some offerings given by my brother that I had brought from back home(Nepal). It was a buddha statue , some good incense sticks and a khada. So, I had these stuffs in my rucksack, I was glad that I was going to offer it to Ajahn Shumedho. It was the wish of my brother.

typical British house

typical British house

The very morning I went to Victoria coach station and took a couch to Hemel Hempstead. I was the only one who was inside the couch, there were no other passengers. On the way I saw a digital board which says -5 degree centigrade. It was snowing but stopped after a while. I reached Hemel Hempstead bus station at 10:30 am. I missed the bus to Nettleden just by few minutes. From Nettleden it’s a 15 minute walk to Amaravati. The next bus was at 1:30pm. I was wondering if there was other cheaper means of transport. I asked the officials in the bus station and found there were no other means of public transport beside buses which runs at every  3hrs. I picked a map of bus route from the bus station and went to see the town centre of Hemel Hempstead.  The town centre is pretty good. I was just hanging around the Town Centre then all of a sudden my mind said why won’t you have a hike to Amarawati. I checked the bus route map. I found that it’s a 15 minutes ride on a bus. So, I thought it would take about an hour on foot and decided to walk.  I walked through the town centre, passed the village and  lonely highways.  I felt like Alexander supertramp, walking alone on the highway.  Finally, I reached Amaravati with a little help from a woman in Nettleden. It took me almost 2 hrs to reach my destination.

Nettleden

Nettleden

As I was entering through the main gate, I saw a nun coming toward me. I just greeted her by joining my palms together and saying NAMASTE. I asked her name. She is known as Sister Shumedha and is a british citizen who has been practising dhamma for past 12 years. To my surprise, I found most of the monks and nuns are all white people and they are practising dhamma. She told me, Ajahn Shumedho was not in the monastery. So, I asked her to take the offerings. I gave her the statue, incense sticks and the khada. I did bandana to Buddha and sister Shumedha. She prayed for my brother, family and friends in return. Without any defilement in my mind , donated a little amount to the monastery that I earned by troubleshooting laptops.  She showed me the library and the meditation hall. I meditated for half an hour inside the temple. As I opened my eye, I saw a clock on the wall  ticking 2:30 pm and realised that I had a along way to go to London. By 7:00 pm I was in the centre of London, in the middle of crowd, in the rush. I am back again to same  rush, hustle and bustle of life. I wish I could enter  Deathless Realm and never be back again.

Highway that meets Horizon

Highway that meets Horizon

sister Sumedha

sister Sumedha

Buddha

Meditation hall

Meditation hall

Horses

Horses

fields

TUKCHE

It was a year back in Nepal. I was working in my office and all of a sudden I got a call from Sandeep Dai (brother ). Dashin (a festival celebrated by Hindu) vacation was not very far- was just a couple of days to come. He invited me to join with him to  the mountainous region of  Nepal -Mustang. Sandeep Dai was in Jomsom when he ringed me and was conducting a program in Jomsom Mountain Resort. I just accepted his invitation without hesitation and packed my backpack to start  the adventurous journey to Jomsom alone. It was really good to be in the mountainous region as the pollution of Kathmandu was not able infect the heights of Mustang.

I was in Jomsom with Sandeep dai for couple of days and we travelled back to Tukche. It is a beautiful thakali village in the upper Kali Gandaki valley with Annapurna mountain  on one side and Dhaulagiri mountain on the other. The streets of Tukche are paved by stone. Most of the Thakali villages are paved with cobblestone.  Thakali people are famous for their hospitality and food.

 I am in a way related to this village as my maternal grandfather comes from this village. He was supposed to be the enlightened being as said by my mother and maternal uncle. I was there to see my grandfather’s monastery i.e. Mahakali Gumba. It is one of the oldest Gumba in that region and it needs renovation as well.

After exploring Tukche we entered to Laxmi Lodge to have a lunch. Sandeep Dai comes from a field of travel and tourism. Some time around 15 years back he used to stay in the same Lodge while having a round trip of  Throng La Pass (Annapurna Circuit). We were warmly welcomed to have a meal. Every Nepali loves a typical Thakali Dal, bhat and tarkari (nepali meal ) and a warm welcome with a smile .

We stayed there for a couple of hours and Sandeep Dai started to take some snaps  of the Lodge and the natural beauty of Tukche. We took all the information of Lodge and the life style of Tukche and decided to post it in a blog. It was the karma (task)  that was supposed to be done earlier but due to my laziness  I ignored it most of the time. But at the end at least I gave an initiation to write and compile it.

Gone are those days when Mustang used to be the forbidden kingdom(upper Mustang was forbidden for foreigners) and there were no means of transportation. People relied on their feet and horses to travel on a small trail. Now at least it is connected with a road. Though the roads are dusty and frequently have land slides in rainy season its adventurous to travel. But it’s more adventurous to have a trek rather than travelling on vehicle. 

Pictures speaks more than a thousand words. Thus, they are  self-explanatory. All the pictures that I have posted are photographed by Sandeep Dai.

 

 

A typical Thakali Kitchen.

view of mountain through the window

 Lodging is quite cheaper and rooms are neat and clean.

Dine at Tukche

Serene Natural Beauty

Travel information  on the wall

Mahakali Ghumba needs renovation

A family picture (Laxmi Lodge & View restaurant)

It was a wonderful experience to be in Tukche. I would like to thank the whole family of Laxmi Lodge & View restaurant for providing such a delicious meal 🙂 .