Friday, 16 December 2011

Magic Mushrooms




The Healer, by Nicholas Roerich.

In the Himalayan Mountain's temperate zones, one can find 
many different varieties of mushrooms. Mushroom lore is quite highly developed among the local populations and not least among those staying in long Buddhist retreats. For many of these Yogis mushrooms in fact form an important part of their diet.

In the mountains north of Kathmandu, there is a very famous and highly prized mushroom that the Tibetans call Ah Sharmo. It grows in the thick, damp forests of upper Helambu. It can become very large and weigh in at a few kilos if one stumbles upon a mature growth in the forest. Generally they grow out of decaying trees and logs from a white based stem that shoots out in all directions in a bright orange profusion of frills. 

Chadral Rinpoche has a great fondness for these particular specimens. In fact he unashamedly relishes them! As do all those who have had the good fortune to taste them at one time or another. Little can compare with the pure enjoyment of roasting these mushrooms over a glowing, hot fire, splashed with a little fresh Dzomo butter, during a chilly Himalayan evening. The smell and the taste are incomparable.

There fore it was with great excitement that one of the Lamas and i, stumbled upon a little treasure trove of this delicacy one noon in the forest not far from our huts. We cut a few inches from the base, to be sure that more would grow up after a few days and carefully took our spoils back to the camp...

Read more in Tibetan Tales and other True Stories
Books by the Writer

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

He Who Beats The Drum

Nisargadatta Maharaj.


"Use everything as an opportunity to go within!
  Ask Yourself - 'To whom does all this happen!'
  Light your way by burning up obstacles in the intensity of awareness."


To all appearances Nisargadatta Maharaj looked like a simple bidi seller,(these are small Indian leaf-rolled cigarettes). He was, by all appearances, an ordinary married man, plying his trade in order to support a wife and children.  His home was in a red light district of Mumbai, next to a public latrine.
He was a man who assumed no airs, but who also, bowed to none, but his Guru. A man whose eyes shone with an inner fire.  

One day a young Polish-man who had been living many years in India, namely Maurice Frydman, was strolling down a back lane in this particular area of Bombay when he noticed this bidi seller in the midst of an animated conversation with several other men.

He had learnt to speak Marathi, the main dialect spoken in Maharashtra, the state in which Bombay is situated.  So he was able to understand much of what was being spoken and it stopped him in his tracks.

Maurice Frydman had a knack of picking out 'jnanis' (liberated beings) even in the midst of an ordinary throng. While listening to the conversation taking place he was astounded at the wisdom and profound clarity of understanding of this 'simple bidi walla'...


Friday, 2 December 2011

Karthikai Deepam and Lighting the Flame at Arunachala

Photo by Dev Gogoi.
"This is the holy place,
  of all Arunachala is the most sacred!
  It is the heart of the world!
  Know it to be the secret and sacred Heart-centre of  Shiva!
  In this place He always abides as the glorious  Aruna Hill!"
  Skanda Purana.

Every year around the time of November/December the ancient festival of Karthikai Deepam is celebrated in the old temple town of Tiruvannamalai, south of Chennai in India.  The first mention of this festival dates back to 200 BC, although it may well have been celebrated long before this.



The words Arunachala and Tiruvannamalai both translate as " Holy Fire Hill" and the ancient temple at the foot of the hill, houses the Agni/Fire Lingam, one of five great shrines around India that represent one of the five elements.



This festival, which has been taking place annually for many thousands of years, culminates in the lighting of a huge lamp on top of Arunachala Hill. During the following ten days it is relit each evening and burns brightly throughout the night. Thousands of pilgrims make the arduous climb to the summit with offerings of ghee and oil to keep the lamp aflame, and countless thousands circle around the base of the Hill  on Deepam night, most of them walking barefoot for the entire thirteen kilometres.

"Look there it stands as if insentient.  
 Mysterious is the way it works,
 beyond all human understanding...
 When it stilled my mind and drew me near, 
 I saw that it was Stillness absolute." Sri Ramana Maharshi.


After Ramana Maharshi achieved Self Realisation at the very tender age of 16 years, He was drawn to Arunachala as if by a magnet. From that time onwards, He never left the place, not even for a single day. Outwardly a simple Sadhu, He was the in fact the Supreme Sat-Guru, a living embodiment of the power of the Hill, which is in fact the power of the Self! To His humble feet were drawn people of all castes and creeds, people from all over the world. Ramana Maharshi revealed the glory of Arunachala and made its power known to the world.

However few have spoken more eloquently about the special qualities of Arunachala than Annamalai Swami, a close disciple of the Maharshi. Below i have taken the liberty of quoting several passages from his "Final Talks" compiled by David Godman.


"This is not an ordinary hill.  It is not like other hills in the world. It is a Spiritual Hill.  Those who associate with it feel a magnetic pull towards the Self.  Though it is in the form of a hill, it has the full energy of the Self.  Seekers who come to this place with the intention of realising the Self can be much benefited by going round the Hill."


"There is water everywhere under the ground, but there are some places where it is easier to get at.  Likewise, the Self is everywhere.  There is no place that is without it, but it is also true that there are certain places, certain people, around which and around whom the presence of the Self can be easily felt.  In the proximity of this Hill, the presence of the Self is more powerful and more self-evident than anywhere else.  However the great glory of this Hill cannot be explained in words.  One has to experience it for oneself."

"There are other holy, powerful places in the world, but none has the power of Arunachala.  There is a huge amount of shakti, spiritual energy, here. We can take as much as we want, but no matter how much we take, the original amount is never diminished.  It is an inexhaustible source. Even before the Maharshi came and lived here, there were innumerable sages who had discovered the power of Arunachala for themselves.  Many came here, realised the Self and attributed their realisation to the power and grace of this mountain."

"The Maharshi always maintained that the power of this mountain was not a matter of belief.  He said that if you sit in the shade of a tree, you will feel the cool shade.  This is a physical fact, not a matter of belief.  Then He went on to say that Arunachala worked in the same way.  It affects the people who are here, whether they believe in it or not."

"He once said, 'Arunachala is like a fire.  If you go near it you will feel the heat whether you believe in it or not."

"I also heard him say once, 'If you go round this Hill, it will give you its grace, even if you don't want it.'"  

During Karthikai Deepam there is an intense focusing of the power of the Hill.  Many thousands of people are drawn in from far and wide to witness the lighting of the lamp on the summit of the Hill.

Kartikai Deepam
Kartikai Deepam
This is a very moving moment, when all the town folk living around the base of the hill, are out on their roof tops with tiny offering lamps that mirror the event which is about to take place on the summit of Arunachala. Pilgrims come from far and wide to share in the witnessing of this magnificent event. Many are praying and singing hymns to the 'Holy Fire Hill'.  With the sun setting in the west and the full moon rising in the east, a fire in the huge cauldron atop the Hill, bursts into flame.  As the light flares up towards the heavens, a sound rends the air from all directions. It rises like one continuous roar and as if with a single voice; Harohara, harohara, harohara!  which roughly translates as, 'this is a sight for the Gods to see!'




In this day and age of high technology and fast, distracted living, here is a place, and here is a moment, when time stands still.  When in fact, time as we know it, is without meaning.  A moment when the most fundamental instincts of our spiritual inheritance shine forth to bless to the world.

Arunachala with the Karthikai Flame.


Wednesday, 23 November 2011

The Importance of the Guru

Canvas Painting by Nicholas Roerich, Maitreya
Maitreya, Nicholas Roerich
The Master, Guru or Teacher, call him/her what you will, can come in any form. They do not necessarily have to appear in a human body.  Essentially the 'Guru' enters our lives in order to precipitate the crisis of 'awakening' and it has been said that 'when the disciple is ready, the Master will appear'.

Few have been able to capture so completely and so poetically in words, the importance that the Guru can have in our lives as Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche has done in the following verse;

"The master is like a great ship for beings to cross the perilous ocean of existence,
  an unerring captain who guides them to the dry land of liberation, 
  a rain that extinguishes the fire of the passions, 
  a bright sun and moon that dispel the darkness of ignorance, 
  a firm ground that can bear the weight of both good and bad,
  a wish-fulfilling tree that bestows temporal happiness and ultimate bliss,
  a treasury of vast and deep instructions,
  a wish-fulfilling jewel granting all the qualities of realization,
  a father and a mother giving their love equally to all sentient beings,
  a great river of compassion, 
  a mountain rising above worldly concerns unshaken by the winds of emotions, 
  and a great cloud filled with rain to soothe the torments of the passions.
In brief, he is the equal of all the Buddhas'
To make any connection with him, whether through seeing him, hearing his voice, remembering him, or being touched by his hand, will lead us toward liberation. 
To have full confidence in him is the sure way to progress toward enlightenment. 
The warmth of his wisdom and compassion will melt the core of our being and release the gold of the buddha-nature within." 

May we all be blessed to make the connection with an authentic Master, because it is via this connection that we can most swiftly come to realize our 'true nature'.


Read more in Never Not Ever Here Now


Saturday, 19 November 2011

Ramana Maharshi

" Do you know what Moksha (liberation) is?

The Sage of Arunachala
Sri Ramana Maharshi
 "Getting rid of non-existent misery and

  attaining the bliss which is always there,  that is Moksha."


                                                                      
Sri Ramana Maharshi, was the living embodiment of a Master, par excellence.


He led a life of utter simplicity and  humility. This man could have passed for any one of millions of Indian men, in appearance.  Yet, in the quietest and most unassuming manner he had the whole world bowing at his feet.


From princes to paupers, from the old to the young, from the richest to the most humble in circumstance, they were drawn to him from far and wide. 

Animals of various kinds were also inexplicably attracted to this man.   All manner of people and from all corners of the globe were drawn to him like the iron filings to a magnet.



Yet, here was an uneducated man, who never traveled anywhere.  Whose wanderings in five and a half decades took him no further than the circumference of a modest 'hill', in a small dusty town, in the South of India.


His story is remarkable and has been told countless times, but it has such a profound significance for us all that it can bare retelling endlessly. 


 At only sixteen years of age, for no reason that could be outwardly accounted for, he felt that he was about to die.  This inexplicable certainty, arising as it did, seemingly out of nowhere, was so shocking that it had the effect of turning his mind inward.


Normally we move through life with our minds always attuned towards the world and it 'happenings'. In other words, 'outwardly'.   When the mind is focused 'inwardly' however, even if only for a short time, one has the opportunity to see 'what is'. The intense fear of being suddenly confronted with 'death' focused all the boy's energy into looking at 'what it actually is' that is going to 'die'. 


He realized that the very awareness, that knows itself as "I" is in actuality, the only thing that 'exists', and that this 'I' is deathless.   Realizing this completely transformed his life... 

Read more at;  Never Not Ever Here Now

Friday, 11 November 2011

Hidden Valleys of the Himalayas

Mountains shrouded in mist
Hidden Valleys.
Throughout the Himalayas there are pockets, valleys, hidden oases and refuge places.  The trails which lead to them are known only to a few.  These places are said to be blessed and consecrated by 'holy beings', guarded by invisible forces and carefully protected in order to preserve their sanctity and usefulness as sanctuaries and refuges in times of human and planetary strife.

They are scattered along the Himalayan belt, from the fabled land of Pemako in Arunachal Pradesh, in the far east to the western reaches of this enormous range of mountains.

In recent times a Lama from Tibet tried to open one of these valleys near Kangchendzonga, a vast mountain which dominates the horizon to the north of Darjeeling, in West Bengal.  He had several hundred followers, all of whom had sold their worldly belongings, bringing with them only the possessions they could carry.  All believed that the Lama would lead them into a sacred valley where they could begin a new life...

A number of other Lamas including Dudjom Rinpoche and my own teacher, Chadral Rinpoche, warned him that the time had not yet come for this valley to be opened and that they faced grave danger in going.  However none of their warnings or advice were heeded.

The Lama and his flock made the perilous and arduous trek into the mountains.  Right at the threshold of the entrance to the sacred valley, the Lama entered a cave where he and his attendants began to perform the opening rituals, which pacify the guardians and open the way into the protected area...



Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Lion of the Mountains

Tibetan Yogi Lama, Chadral Rinpoche
Lion of the Mountains

Chadral Rinpoche was always full of surprises. During the monsoon months in the Mountains of Nepal, the weather was often misty, damp and cold. It could be depressing day after day.  If Rinpoche felt the general mood among our little camp needed lifting, he would order a picnic, right then, on the spur of the moment and we would all run after him up the trail in one direction or other, usually to some green, flowery meadow and there we would sit around Him enthralled, as He told us tales and shared memories from His life, or just made us all laugh with His jokes and funny stories. He knew just how and when the routines needed to be broken. We would all return from these day-long excursions into high mountain meadows, well fed and considerably lighter of heart.


One day after we had finished our noon meals, He called us up and set us all to work preparing a fire.  We were mystified. What on earth was He up to now? He took a few of us over to a collection of rocks in a stream nearby and then very specifically pointed out just the stones that He wanted us to carry back to the fire, which was by now blazing and hot.  After much-united effort and lugging of rocks we accumulated quite a pile of these stones near the fire, which had, till then, been carefully tended by one of the Lamas.  He then told the monks how to place them inside the fire, one by one.  

While this was going on, He asked some of the men to bring the large metal bathtub that lived, usually upside down, out the back of His hut.  This was to be filled with water...

Read more in Master, Mice and Men

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Tibetan Mountain Yogis and Yoginis

Group photos of two Tibetan Masters and their disciples
Dodruchen and Chadral Rinpoche with students in Neyding, Yolmo
I spent several summers in a number of remote retreat centers in the mountains north of Kathmandu. This area is directly north of the Kathmandu Valley. My teacher, Chadral Rinpoche had a number of small retreat centers high up in the Rhododendron forests of Helambu, in the Sindupalchok region.

Many in the Western world are quite unaware that such places exist and that such a ‘lifestyle’ is possible. In the nineteen nineties the living conditions were extremely basic and often physically challenging due to the harshness of the elements, the high altitude and many other factors that could make it a struggle to survive.

Yet those excursions into the mountains were among the happiest and most interesting years of my life. Even though we were scattered around in three different locations we all looked out for one another. Very often we could be subjected to various and often unexpected ‘adventures’ many of which, demanded that we let go of any former preconceptions or rigidity with regards to conditions and circumstances in which to ‘practice the dharma.’

The months spent in the mountains were a fertile ground in which one could conceivably and with relative ease crack open not only the ‘mind’ but also the ‘heart.’

Reaching this area at that time, involved a three day trek which began in a small village called Melamchi Bazaar. From this little outpost a trail wound its way through tiny settlements along the banks of the bubbling Melamchi River. Initially one threaded one’s way through fields of ripening rice paddy but these soon gave way to scrub and then forest as one began to climb the hills that rise up steeply into the Helambu region.

The spring cum summer months usually began from late March and continued until around the middle or end of August while from June onwards the monsoon rains commenced. Rinpoche chose these months to visit his students in the three locations which formed a triangle in the mountainous terrain. Neyding housed a number of male practitioners; Tropodang was a collection of shelters for the women and Lhakhang had both men and women practitioners living there.

Often, while Rinpoche was visiting the centers he would teach. Therefore a handful of the more hardy students from other places in Nepal and even further afield would trek up in little groups to be present during these months.

By trekking standards in Nepal, the three day walk up to the small hamlet of Tarkygyang, the nearest village to all three centers, was a reasonably easy and modest one. However, as most of us came there intending to make a longer stay, we had to plan our journey and the provisions we would take up with us quite carefully. There was little in the way of food or supplies of any kind to be had in this area. One also needed a tent and all the equipment required to keep it in a relatively dry and live-able condition in the damp, high altitude environment for many months on end. This meant that one also had to carry tarpaulins and mats, along with food supplies, cooking utensils and all the basic living paraphernalia needed to set up camp at high altitude.

We faced many problems during those months. Food was scarce; the weather was misty and often wet. The monsoon rains were preceded by tree snapping, heart stopping storms, which in a moment could wipe out one's entire makeshift home!

It would take me three days to set up my camp. The ground had to be leveled and then a trench dug all around the perimeter of the tent so that it would not be washed away in a pre-monsoon flash flood or storm and then later in the season be inundated by the daily monsoon downpours.

Conditions in the retreat centers were extremely basic. Usually they consisted of little more than a collection of makeshift huts with a mountain stream running somewhere nearby. The ‘huts’ consisted of a frame work of wooden poles; the walls were usually only a thick black plastic. The roof was most commonly made up of roughly hewn planks of wood. To say they were basic and flimsy was actually an understatement.

Volume Three in the series; Shades of Awareness


Monday, 24 October 2011

One Moonlit Night

The Hill in South India called Arunachala
Arunachala, the Hill of Fire

"Arunachala is the place ( that which deserves to be called the holy place)!  
Of all places it is the greatest!  
Know that it is the heart (center) of the earth.  
It is Siva Himself.  
It is a secret place representing the Heart.  
Lord Siva always abides there as a glorious hill called Arunachala!"
Arunachala Mahatmyam

In the year 2000, i visited the ancient and holy pilgrimage site of Arunachala. This is an old temple town which is built at the foot of a Hill that is sacred to Saivite or Siva worshippers. A hugh temple complex is built at the foot of the Hill and is said to represent the element of fire and is one of India's five sacred lingams.

The first few months of my visit were spent mostly sitting in meditation at Ramana Ashram or else walking around the Hill. Arunachala is lauded in India's most ancient texts the Vedas, the Upanishads, and the Puranas.  There is an indefinable mystery about this Hill...


When i wasn't sitting in the old hall at Ramanashram or circumambulating the Hill, i could be found in the musty and well stocked library of the Ashram fingering through books on the Hill and its most prominent saint, Sri Ramana Maharshi. 

 It was high summer and frighteningly hot. Such intensity of heat, i had never known before in my life! The appearance of the Hill, made up as it is of  red rock, only served to heighten this sense of 'burning'. It was not possible to sleep soundly and only the stone floor seemed remotely cool enough to lie on, that is, after it had been doused with several buckets of cold water!

One day, i decided, come what may, that i would walk up to the top of the Hill on the day of the May full moon and spend the entire night there, alone... 

It was still several weeks before that day would arrive, so i made my plans and awaited the coming adventure with some trepidation.  I had this uncomfortable knack of pushing myself into doing things that i was not always entirely sure that i should.  Yet once the challenge had been 'taken up' so to speak, there was a sense that i would have to see it through, come what may...

Read more in Tibetan Tales and other True Stories

Saturday, 22 October 2011

The Fact Of Our Existence

Mountain in the evening light, shining through the prayers flags
Mt Kangchendzong

Almost all the actions, reactions and thoughts that govern our day to day lives arise from a feeling that we exist.  This is so obvious and it probably seems absurd even to mention it and yet its the very obviousness of this fact that leads us to overlook it.  To simply take it for granted and in so doing to miss something of the utmost importance to each and every one of us.

If all of our troubles stem from the mistaken belief that we exist as individual, separate characters in the little human drama called life, then the resolution of these same troubles also lies within this same sense of existing.

We feel ourselves to be so and so or such and such,  and we play out the life of this or that character believing unquestioningly in its reality.  How can we peel back the layers of conditioned thinking that constantly clamour for our attention?  How can we shift the focus of our attention away from the little self?  All of our time and energy are consumed by the preoccupations, hopes and fears of this 'self', the true source of which, we know almost nothing about...

Read more in Never Not Ever Here Now
Books by the Writer

Saturday, 15 October 2011

The Lama From Lahaul

Canvas Painting by Nicholas Roerich
Pearls of Wisdom
A day after arriving in the village of Keylong, i took a back pack
with a few provisions and some water and headed on up the slopes
above the town to a small temple i could see, nestled in the crest of
some gigantic cliffs way up on the mountain side.

It took several hours to reach this remote location and was tough
climbing in the thin, high altitude air, but the scenery along the way
was stunning. The tiny trail crossed small, bubbling, crystal clear
streams. The hill sides were verdant with wild flowers of every shade
and variety and all of this was enclosed by glistening snow capped
mountains that stretched up into an azure blue sky.

Nestled at the base of soaring cliff were a small cluster of mud and stone dwellings. It was inhabited by a number of monks and nuns, all of whom formed part of a closely knit community of Buddhist Yoga Practitioners.

During the short summers there was a lot of activity going on in these
tiny communities.  Houses need to be re-coated and sealed with a new layer of mud mixed with cow dung in order to help protect them from the harsh winter months. Supplies of fire wood needed to be collected
and all manner of preparations made for the long months when it would
be neither possible nor practical to move around.  During  winter the
monks and nuns stay in their houses and practised in retreat, but
during the summer months they moved about freely, visiting one another
in various communities, attending ceremonies, receiving teachings and
collecting stores of food, firewood and other necessities.

Therefore i was rather fortunate to find the head Lama at home.
Normally during this time he would be away visiting somewhere or
teaching his students at other retreat locations.  I was in luck, not
only because he was at his home, but when he heard that my teacher was Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, he immediately and without the least hesitation invited me to stay in his house.

This was indeed a good fortune that i could not turn down and very
soon i was installed in a bright, comfortable little room on the third
floor of his dwelling.  There were large windows on two sides from
which i had sweeping views of the mountains in the north and to the
west. The room also opened out onto a spacious rooftop which made a
perfect place to meditate or just sit and enjoy an evening sunset.

The next day i climbed back down to the town of Keylong to pick up my
things and buy a few provisions for a longer stay at the monastery.  I
was taking some lunch at the lodge where i had stored my bag, when the
owner came up to my table and asked me where i had disappeared to the
day before.  I related my adventures and told him i was intending to
stay longer.  He responded very positively and immediately added
something rather intriguing.  He said i was very privileged to stay at
that particular Lama's house and that he was known in these parts as the
'levitating Lama'.

Read more in Tibetan Buddhist Tales and other True Stories


Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Learning To Let Go Of Hope And Fear

Clouds and play of light
Clouds from Das Mile Gompa


At the very root of our human condition, we find two emotional extremes. These are HOPE and FEAR.


If we do not know WHO and WHAT we are, then our lives are governed from beginning to end by the whole gamut of emotions that arise from these two.  Everything between these two extremes are but shades in the grey scale of hope and fear.

This is the supreme paradox of our existence!

We lurch through our lives  passing through a constant stream of changes, some of them good, some of them bad, many of them somewhere in between yet  all the while that which is experiencing all of it remains unnoticed...!

Read more in;  Never Not Ever Here Now

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Going Beyond Religion

Pink Blooming Rose Bud

The times we live in challenge us to find out what is real.


There is so much information out there, so much 'noise', so many impressions crowding in on the senses.

There is so much competition for our 'attention' that it creates a sense of stress and hurry, confusion and  anxiety.

And yet who we really are is changeless.

It is peace itself.

And more importantly, it is always present.

Our true nature is beyond religion, in fact it is the single bridge that links all religions.  The one unifying factor which points beyond the temporary and ever changing circumstances of life, to the unchanging, ever present reality of what always is...

Read more in; Never Not Ever Here Now


Thursday, 6 October 2011

He Who Dances In The Heart

Canvas Painting by Nicholas Roerich
Precepts of the Teacher, Nicholas Roerich
During the years spent near my Masters, i was able to observe many things about the way they lived their lives.  The opportunity to observe them, was of itself one of the most profound teachings.  The atmosphere of  truth in which a Master lives and moves and has his Being, radiates outwardly like the delicate fragrance of an exquisite flower.

Each look, each gesture, each movement, and word, carries a power that is unique and that moves like an arrow, instantly and always finding its mark.  This can happen because no ego is involved. The life of  a perfectly Enlightened Being is an expression of that, alone.

When our every thought and word and deed is saturated with a sense of ownership and ego, how much more striking it is to observe those who move from the place of ego-lessness.


In both the great and small things of day to day life in the presence of such a Master, nothing can be taken for-granted.  Nothing is irrelevant or unimportant and the joy of living in their presence gives rise to magical moments of unexpected spontaneity.

I remember one day when there were few people around and it was a beautifully still, golden evening.  Chadral Rinpoche was staying in a house that had been newly built by one of his Nepali students in Parping.

He and i were strolling about in the garden when Rinpoche noticed a stairway leading up to the roof. Already in his late eighties, he did not hesitate to propel me towards the steps.  He was always eager and curious.  Soon i found myself puffing up the stairway behind him.  When we emerged out onto the open roof a glorious sunset awaited us.  Brilliant clouds danced on the horizon, caught up by the golden and fiery red and orange hues of the westering sun.  It was a spectacular sight, with unimpeded views from horizon to horizon...

Read more in Tibetan Tales and other True Stories
Books by the Writer

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

The Power Of The Mind

Canvas Painting by Nicholas Roerich
Nicholas Roerich, Running Lama
The mind is a powerful tool.  In fact the most powerful one we have.  I'd like to recount a tale told by the intrepid lady traveler Alexander David-Neel.   She heard it whilst on pilgrimage in Tibet.


I found a copy of this small volume of travellers tales in the Oxford Book Shop at Darjeeling's Chowrasta Mall way back in the 1980s and one story struck me very deeply.
I can only retell this tale from memory as i no longer have the booklet to hand, but in any case a gist of the story clearly portrays the point that is being made.

During the eighteenth century, when many caravans plied the ancient routes of the Silk Road, which passed through the Gobi Desert, travellers faced many troubles of which the extreme climatic conditions were not least.   During one journey a merchant had acquired a very handsome hat.  It was fur lined and had flaps that could be unfolded in cold weather to cover the ears.  However one day during a particularly strong wind, this hat was suddenly snatched from his head by the icy fingers of the Gobi desert winds...

Read more in Tibetan Tales and Other True Stories
Books by the Writer

Friday, 30 September 2011

To Be or Not To Be


'IMAGINE THE ABSURDITY OF TWO FISH SWIMMING ABOUT IN THE OCEAN,


ARGUING VERY ANIMATEDLY BACK AND FORTH BETWEEN THEMSELVES


AS TO THE EXISTENCE OF WATER!'




Nacreous Clouds with Rainbow colours
Nacreous Clouds

It seems extraordinary,  that we so roundly ignore the very basis and cause of our EXISTENCE.

And yet we do.  We ignore it almost every moment of every day of our lives!

Like the example of those two fish, absorbed in their endless and equally worthless discussions and debates, while all the time,  we live and move and have our BEING in THAT...

Read more in;  Never Not Ever Here Now


Wednesday, 28 September 2011

The Question that can Open your Mind



Courtesy of Interfacelift

If you ask yourself  
who am i? you ask yourself  a question that can not  be answered.

We can say things about what or who we 'think' we are but if we really look into the question we soon find that it is easier to say what we are not than what we are.

And yet we all know that we exist. This feeling is always present with us.  In fact it is the only true feeling that we have.  Without a sense of   we would merely be corpses.   Most of the time we identify completely with our sense of I never questioning what it is.  We simply take it for granted that  we are.

In fact the question who am i? is very powerful, it can open the mind.

It is like a portal.  It creates a moment in which what we call mind can become still.  Try it and see for yourself.  Ask yourself, who am i?.  If you can do this in the right way you may see  what i mean...

Read more in Never Not Ever Here Now


Tuesday, 27 September 2011

So, Who Are You?


If you stop  and ask yourself, 'what is the most important question I can ever ask myself?'  you might come up with one of the following...

Who am I?   or  Why am I here?  or  What is Mind?





That is, if you really take the time to consider.  If you really stop everything for a moment, and just look... And if we press ourselves a little bit harder, we would probably find that the keystone of all questions can be condensed into 'who am i?'

Life is such an explosion of everything that can ever be imagined.

But what is it really?  Behind all of 'that' what is it that 'sees'...?

Read more in;  Never Not Ever Here Now


Saturday, 24 September 2011

Nothing Ever Stays the Same

Himalayan Mountain
Photo Credit Sushma Mohar. Mount Kanchenjunga
A mantle of mist was shrouding the mountain of Kanchenjunga, the third highest mountain in the world. But there were stunning glimpses of its towering flanks in the moments when the mists would part.  On other mornings i could clearly see from my window, the huge, white peaks of the Mountain dominating the northern horizon.

Those  fine spring mornings with unimpeded views, inspire and uplift the heart.  One could see birds swooping up and down in the warm currents of air that were beginning to stir in the valleys between my vantage point and foothills of Sikkim just below the mountain...

Read more in Never Not Ever Here Now
Books by the Writer

Monday, 19 September 2011

Do Not Be Distracted

Sunset clouds from a South Indian Temple
Adi Annamalai
Even in the very midst of the myriad demands of day to day life it is possible to find moments of peace.

We live in times that are  saturated by the media, instant communications and electromagnetic 'noise'.
  
Often we can feel that we are hurled along in a kind of vacuum over which it seems we have very little control.  This gives us the sense of constant and almost endless 'busyness'.  A feeling that life is rushing by and we are merely trying to stay abreast of events...

Excerpt from the book Never Not Ever Here Now

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Old Friends

Dilgo Khyentse and Kalu Rinpoche
Khyentse Rinpoche and Kalu Rinpoche
There are bonds of friendship and a likeness of mind and intention that can cross beyond the confines of a single life time.

In 1988 i visited BodhGaya during the winter months.  During that time both Khyentse Rinpoche and Kalu Rinpoche were there.

It was unforgettable to be in the presence of these two Masters, both of whom were living embodiment's of  the essence of the Buddha's teachings.

Khyentse Rinpoche was the living manifestation par excellence of Manjushri, the Buddha of Wisdom.   He  who cuts through illusion and maya to reveal what is true and real.  Kalu Rinpoche on the other hand was an embodiment of Compassion,  an expression of the Lord Avalokitesvara, whose thousand arms stretch out in all the directions bestowing the gifts of the heart.

I took these photos when they were saying farewell to one another. It was to be the last time they were to meet on this earth and in those bodies.  I feel that these photos convey a certain quality that expresses something that is beyond words and beyond time.  They express the kind of friendship that is rarely seen, a friendship that is without any agendas what so ever.  Untainted by expectations of loss or gain, totally free and simple in its expression.

  Friendship in the truest sense of the word is beyond time and space...

Two Tibetan Lamas bidding their final farewells
They never met again in this life

Read more in Tibetan Tales and other True Stories
Books by the Writer