They Came Flying From Far Away

It’s because of this doll-like thingy that she is holding and listening intently to — that’s why I chose this jigsaw puzzle that I’m doing these days.

No, it’s not about romanticizing depression. It’s about that tiny voice of light and guidance that comes and speaks to you from out of nowhere, within the deepest darkness.

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“They came flying from far away, now I’m under their spell
I love hearing the stories that they tell
They’ve seen places beyond my land and they’ve found new horizons
They speak strangely but I understand

As all good friends we talk all night, and we fly wing to wing
I have questions and they know everything”

(from the ABBA song “Eagle”, which is so very much my song)

They: Angels
(Angels are the thoughts of God ~ Marianne Williamson)

They: Who tell you, “You are valuable and beautiful irrespective of how things may seem to be.”

They: Who tell you, “You are lovable because you exist” (Louise Hay)

This is a huge sentence. Imbibe the depth and matter-of-fact truth of what it says. Read it slowly —

You are lovable because you exist.

You do not have to become a particular way to become lovable. You already are lovable. Irrespective of your thoughts, actions, and state.

You exist. That alone makes you lovable. Because every tiny iota of this universe is lovable and worth going into raptures over.

They: Who tell you, “I don’t get depressed about depression. Depression is a biological response, and the body’s mechanism for processing stress” (Vinod Tewary). They say, “you are pure”, when you unburden yourself about your problems and feelings about yourself. There by they free you, without minimizing or negating what you are experiencing.

And little by little, that tiny voice of light and guidance becomes a part of you. It always was in the first place. That is why what it said resonated with you, you listened to it intently and made the message your own.

And soon you are not scared to look at the darkness and barnacles of the remaining picture. You sit beside the morning window, and fresh morning air, and put the pieces together by sun light. The sun of our solar system, and the sun of our being.

The larger picture becomes more and more beautiful. You take breaks from putting the pieces together, simply to look at it in rapture.

When the picture is done, you spread your black wings
(as in the superb psychological movie The Black Swan), and acknowledge your darkness as a beautiful part of yourself.

Then, with the power of your mind, and the sun that shines on it, you soar
“Like an eagle that rides on the breeze”

The power of decision is my own

Tell me the LAL story.

This is a true story of a lady who founded an organisation to help people with psychological matters. You Yourself told me about her one day.

“There is an air pocket in your brain. It can go and block transmission any time. We don’t know how long you will live,” she was told.

That was the end of the matter.

She, her family members, went to a man for help. The kind of man who had acquired the reputation of being a go-to man when there were no other options left. At the time when this lady and her family members reached him, he was flying a kite.

They told their problem and asked for help.

He gave the lady the kite string and asked her to fly the kite.

She lost her cool.

“I’m talking of life and death here and you’re asking me to fly a kite? I don’t know how to fly a kite.”

“You don’t need to know how to fly a kite. Commit to flying the kite and you can fly the kite. It’s just a question of commitment. Commit to living and you shall live.”

What the man said, impacted the lady deeply. She lived.

The internal transformation she went through impacted her family members first, then she founded an organisation to share what she had discovered within.

Eventually, after several years, she did land up in the ICU. It was the air pocket that had acted up. She was writing a book at that time. Even in the ICU, she decided she will finish the book. So she did finish writing the book. Only then, she died.

Why have you been wanting to share this story?

It is this coronavirus thing going on. Obviously death must’ve crossed people’s minds. I see this as pralay in slow motion – a great time to become more aware of what we hold within. And that thing You said, “And no one dies without his own consent,”* rings true in me.

For me, how I came back to live in Kolkata with the family members is the most telling evidence that corroborates what You say — the power of decision is my own.

How did you come back to live in Kolkata with the family?

It’s a somewhat long story.

OK fine. You can tell me tomorrow. I’m glad you came for a walk.

I am too. Thanks for letting me go for today.

I never bind you.

I know.

You came because you wanted to, you wrote because you wanted to.

I know. And You know I am scared to write what is within me.

“No one dies without his own consent,”* is huge stuff. Who am I to write about such stuff.

It is huge if you consider it huge. Else, it is merely interesting – like physics, quantum computers, data visualization, coronavirus data… No difference whatsoever.

Yes.

Conversation (and discovery behind the mind)

So what did you discover behind the mind?

Myself.

It is thanks to Mummy and a tremendous conversation I had with her yesterday evening. But then who is Mummy and who am I? There is no place where Asha Murarka ends and Vani Murarka begins.

There is one place in our conversation yesterday (life happens in the synapses, in conversations) where she pointed to her third eye and then to mine meaning this communication is happening from here to here. That was so powerful.

What did Mummy say?

She said, “Use your mind.”

All this while I have been thinking that You have to use my mind. I tried aligning the scattered mind into a laser beam, but didn’t succeed. So I gave that responsibility to You too – conversion of the mind into a laser beam to be then wielded by You as You deem fit. But what Mummy told me yesterday, “I must use my mind,” puts me in the active role in my life. This clearly shows how passively I was approaching life till now. This ties so well with what You had said the other day –

“Accept your rightful place as co-creator of the Universe.” *

So behind the mind I discovered myself. The entity that must use the mind.

But I should also mention awareness here. When I discovered the very potent power and subtle existence of awareness, I used to think I am awareness. But that is not so.

Awareness is also a tool, a power given to me, to be used. So behind the mind there is awareness and behind awareness, there is me. Right now this is how it looks to me —

One might think awareness is a capability of the mind, but I would like to make a distinction. Awareness is far more subtle, far more powerful than the mind. Also, there is a non-doing in awareness, whereas the mind is all action (often frenzied, monkey-like)

Well so I have herewith used my mind and that is how I have walked this morning walk. This pen that Dhruv helped me buy is also much better.

And what was that Mummy said about maintaining a distance?

Oh that was utterly fantastic. It is the aliveness of the synapse. It is tomaaree mukh loibo cheene. It is snehaatirek se bachein. It is something that deserves a walk of its own.

In all of this, do I get any credit?

Listen, You know, I know, You came to me in the form of Mummy and said what I was ready to hear. Need that be said?

I like hearing it. Give credit where its due.

Talking of giving credit, I am really grateful for this direct interaction with this layer of Mummy, beyond her role as mother, caretaker of my physical well being.

OK enough. I don’t want to walk anymore. Over and out.


From the coronavirus, beyond the One Mind

The coronavirus has made all wars between all various names within humanity vanish. What is ours, what is theirs — all that silliness has vanished. Suddenly no dharma needs any upholding, sanaatan or otherwise, because indeed it never did.

Yes, now there is a war between one biological organism and another. “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit…”

The difference between the mind and body is becoming more apparent as humanity learns to live all the more online. The One Mind became apparent to me pretty soon when the internet came into my life. Now I am feeling there is something beyond (behind) even this One Mind and myriad bodies.
 
There is no point latching onto words coined by thinkers without any direct appreciation for what the words refer to. So aatmaa, parmaatmaa, soul, God all get tossed out, not to be considered. 

Why does God get tossed out? We all have a sense of God, independent of what has been ‘taught’ (fed) into us. Forget about rituals and practices, we have all turned to God privately. The reason why God is also tossed out, not to be considered is because most of that turning to God is essentially a गिड़गिड़ाना — a beseeching out of fear – “I can’t handle this, ‘you’ please handle it”. Not out of any direct knowing.

Yes, we meditate. We all meditate. We all turn to some activity that soothes and eases our mind. Meditation is not just sitting cross legged with eyes closed. Sometimes in meditation we feel quieter, more peaceful. That is just a relief and respite from a frenzied mind. It is just a mind that has slowed down somewhat. Indeed that is valuable.

OK, so I come back to the proposition of seeing beyond the One Mind and myriad bodies. Point is, I don’t know how to see beyond this. Absolutely no clue whatsoever. The only option is to wait — to keep ‘seeing’, even if into what seems like nothingness, cluelessness. The one thing rooting for me in all of this is the power of intention. If you place your intention into something, it has direct impact. This I know for sure.

From My Office Window

Flowers abloom outside my office window today. 6th March 2020.

Take in the beauty. Let it nourish your heart. Come on, look at the photo just a bit longer, before you read on…

And then when you feel a bit stronger (Happier? Peaceful? Its all the same. All forms of strength) by that nourishment, laud not the flowers alone. For this is not an achievement of the flowers alone. This is the handiwork of the leaves, stems, tree trunk, roots, earth, rains, sun, air, space and time together. Each of them crucial in the scheme of things. None lesser or greater than the other. Each of them existing and dancing their dance together due to that same Intelligence and Life that permeates them all. Made complete by you who has appreciated the beauty of it all.

Savita, Jigsaw Puzzles, and I

I ordered a jigsaw puzzle today. Maybe you know that I like to do jigsaw puzzles. It is healing, peace inducing.

Savita liked to do jigsaw puzzles too. So that was one of the several things that we connected over. Today, when I decided to order a jigsaw puzzle, she came to mind.

She liked to remake the ones she owned (after some time gap). So she had some with her when I was in Manipal, and she lent them to me. That was good. When I do a jigsaw puzzle, I don’t like to do it again (even after a gap of several years). So I give them away, hoping that someone else will also experience the healing, peace, and beauty.

Now maybe I should tell you about the other things we connected over, Savita and I, some other things I found beautiful in her. Or maybe I should tell you about the jigsaw puzzle I ordered just now, and how black and white both play a significant role in that image, why I chose that image, what it speaks to me. But I don’t feel like doing either.

So just one closing note: why did Savita come to mind when I ordered the jigsaw puzzle today? Because a friend told me recently that Savita has passed away. Well, that is perfectly fine — that she has passed away. Then, when I got to know, and now, as I write, I wish her the best on her onward journey. And I look forward to receiving the puzzle I ordered.


Related post: a poem on jigsaw puzzles

Manaskriti’s Mission Statement

The fundamental creation of the mind is thoughts. Our mission is to live by and spread beautiful, nourishing thoughts. The core thoughts we aim to live by and spread —

The fundamental creation of the mind is thoughts. Thoughts are the fundamental creative force that humans possess. Our mission is to live by and spread beautiful, nourishing thoughts.

Our Core Values and Objectives

The core thoughts we aim to live by and spread

  • Interconnectedness
  • Beauty and Quality
  • Empowerment
  • Joy and Fun

What These Thoughts Mean To Us

Interconnectedness

That everything in the Universe is fundamentally the same, holy, and intrinsically crucially connected to everything else. This includes all humans on this planet, all beings, every particle of this Universe, and all entities (physical and non-physical)– past, present, and future.

Beauty

That which nourishes is beautiful.

Quality

Quality is intimately related to beauty, and the following thought, empowerment. Quality means removing that which does not nourish and empower, adding that which nourishes and empowers.

Empowerment

To move more and more towards living our true Self. Enable others to move more and more towards living their true Self. Empowerment means extension, safety and freedom. Empowerment is intimately related to service and value exchange – the primary objective and means of any business or engagement in society.

Joy and Fun

Joy is the unbridled expansive form of happiness. Fundamentally, this is what we all seek.
Fun is the active form of joy. When our means is in alignment with our goal (joy), it is fun.

Our vehicles to live by and spread these thoughts:

  • Software
  • Publishing
  • We ourselves in our thoughts, action, behavior

The Rabbit and The Elephant

They were such good friends, the rabbit and the elephant. The rabbit would sit atop the elephant and they would roam the forest like kings — the rabbit’s nose twitching with approval at all that he saw, the elephant’s trunk swinging gaily with general happiness for no particular reason at all.

The rabbit loved playing pranks. One day the two friends were at the lake . The elephant was drinking water with his trunk inserted at the edge of the lake. The rabbit took a twig, put it into the elephant’s trunk, and tickled ever so slightly.

AA CHHOO! The water burst out in a huge fountain of a sneeze!

The elephant guffawed with laughter, filling all the open space at the lake with sound. The rabbit’s twinkling laugh joined in like starlight.

“Oh you incorrigible rascal!” said the elephant adoringly, swung the rabbit up with his trunk, and placed him back on his head. Once again they roamed the land with joy. They made nothing their own, and so everything was their’s.

32 Women from 24 Countries, and One Beautifully Researched Book

It is easy to lay our hands on stories from USA, UK and the like – but what about stories from countries such as Chile, Lebanon, Malaysia, Nigeria, Argentina, Belarus, Tunisia, Eritrea? Did you even know of a country called Eritrea? I did not. But that country and its people also play a crucial role in making our planet what it is.

Recently I had the good fortune of meeting 32 wonderful ladies from 24 countries thanks to a Hindi book Syaahee Kee Gamak (meaning The Fragrance of Ink) by Yadvendra Pandey. This is a collection of 32 short stories by 32 women authors from 24 countries translated into Hindi. These are writings by contemporary women authors who have been significant voices of protest against the status quo in their local societies and our collective global society. These are agents of change that we would not easily hear of for we don’t generally bother about these countries (other than to seek exotic holidays), or such voices. That this is a Hindi book, bringing this wide exposure to a Hindi audience, makes it even more significant and crucial.

As soon as one picks up the book and starts flipping through it, it becomes evident that immense hard work has gone into putting this book together – both in the prior research and finalization of stories and in the actual work of translating the final selection into Hindi. That Yadvendra ji has managed to create a beautiful bouquet of sense and coherence out of the cacophony of the internet and social media makes his work even more commendable. In doing so, he enabled me to connect to the heart-minds of ladies in far-flung countries writing in myriad languages. I am so grateful for that. I felt enriched. I feel that my horizons have expanded, and in doing so, it is not at all surprising to find, yet again, that we are all essentially the same.

Initially, the most rewarding thing about the book for me was the introduction text about each author that precedes each story. Each of them achievers in their societies and chosen fields. Reading about these women from these lands, it felt like I am connecting to them – this pulled me in to continue reading. The stories that have been selected are all excellent too. Most of these are second-order translations – i.e., the original language is not English and Yadvendra ji has translated the English translations into Hindi. Even then, the beauty of the language, structure, thought, plot, expression all shines through. This speaks to the skills of the first-order English translator, the second-order Hindi translator and the art and craft of the original writers.

What guided the selection of these stories? What ties them together? A short poem on the back cover of the book answers that question –

I am talking to you about poetry
and you say
when do we eat.
The worst of it is
I’m hungry too.
~ Alicia Partnoy (Argentina)

That is the thing – a simple message – that there is a lot else that women are also interested in, hungry for, other than food (and sex).

Yadvendra Pandey has, for years, been interested in creatives who protest the status quo – consuming content from literature, plays, film, social media, even spoken poetry and Black rap. What a fascinating change from his previous avatar as Chief Scientist at CBRI Roorkee! As he followed these creatives through various avenues on the internet, he was especially impressed by the thinking, expressiveness, decisiveness of women at a global level. He felt it was important to bring their voices to the Hindi world, especially since, in contrast, he felt that women authors in Hindi were largely restricted to writing only of freedom of the body. This is not the best representation of global female literature, Yadvendra Pandey makes sure he clarifies, just the best out of what he has read – vignettes of what world is, as seen through the eyes of (some) women.

Yes, some of these stories can be labelled as feminist, but they are just matter of fact (yet beautiful) accounts of how things are. They are not screaming out anything in opposition to anyone. I generally cringe from feminist writings because I dislike the chronic wearing of the victimhood cloak. Even then, many of the stories touched me. Then there are several stories which are not about the experience of women per se. There is a story about a man who works in a censors office during the height of political conflict (in Argentina). His initial objective is to make sure a letter that he has written gets through censorship, however, sincerity at work is so intrinsic to his personality that working diligently totally ends up brainwashing him! There is a story about a boy servant from rural Nigeria who has curious ways. When his domestic employer gives him the choice to go out into the world and make a life of his own, this boy chooses to join the army. However, his life steadily rots away, again due to political conflict and regimens making inhuman use of army personnel. His plight unfolds via letters he writes back to his boyhood employer.

One story that I especially liked – The Fear of Ghosts, from Myanmar, by San San Nweh – paints a poetic picture of an evening in a slum. It is hot and humid, there is load shedding, people are sitting out of their tiny dwellings to get some breeze. Children and young boys are playing, and a mother is apprehensive of mishaps via snakes or other dangers in the dark alleys and corners. She tells the children to go play in a newly constructed park nearby. The children refuse to go. Snakes and other dangers in dark alleys do not worry them, but they are petrified of going to that park. It is just round the corner but it is an alien and dangerous world nevertheless, because this park is a part of a more affluent society and they intuitively know that they are not welcome. In fact, they cannot forget a friend who had been killed there. They can still see his ghost near the park that reminds them that they must not go there. That simple, nice, new park of the city is not for them.

But net total, my takeaway from the book was one story – Woman and Cycle, by Bridgette Atkinson from Britain. A woman learns to ride a bicycle. This gives her a new freedom and she loves to go riding. Her husband is uncomfortable about this and follows her discreetly one day. He finds that she goes to a secluded rocky place nearby, very green, with a narrow stream flowing. He is suspicious of his wife. Who is she going to meet? However, he finds that she is dancing – alone, in total joy with herself and nature. Startled by what he sees, he quietly returns home.

One might take the message from this story that yes, see, husbands oppress their wives. Society is so cruel towards women. A simple joy of riding a bicycle is a hard-fought freedom for a woman. But the message I take from the story is that, yes, see, live your joy. The simple act of living your joy can transform people – for surely the man who returned seeing this beautiful, divine facet of his wife, must have gotten transformed. How did that seeing change him, we do not know, but he changed – this is for sure.

Read the book. It is totally worth the time and money to connect to the voices and minds of these ladies from distant lands. If you primarily read Hindi, then surely read it. If you know how to read Hindi, but do not primarily read content in Hindi, then give yourself a gift – visit Hindi once again via this book, for the language is easy. This way or that, it is worth it.

Of Writers Who Talk Too Much, and A Writer Who Brings The Wide World Into Hindi

As he critiqued the book, this speaker complained that in too many prose writings these days, the writer is talking too much!

Yesterday I attended a book event at Saahityikee (a Hindi literature group in Kolkata). It was based on a book that has been published recently — स्याही की गमक (Syaahee Kee Gamak) — a translation of 32 short stories by established and currently active women authors from all over the world. The translation has been done by Yadavendra Pandey, a retired scientist and active translator based in Bihar. One of the good things about the book is that he has chosen authors and stories from nations that are not represented much in the Hindi literature world of translations. So there are stories in the book, by women from Iran, Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Estonia, for example.

Before the author himself spoke at the event, three people presented their critical talk on the book at the invitation of Sahityikee. When the first lady spoke, I was slightly disappointed. Firstly she was reading her prepared article, and her eyes were down 99% of the time. She wasn’t talking to the audience. Second, she focused on women’s lib, and that women should be liberated this, this, and this way. She complained about the first story which did not suggest a solution to the problem portrayed, and I was thinking, “Come on. All stories are not meant to suggest solutions and portray characters that evolve from being weak to empowered. Some can also just paint a small picture of how it is and leave it at that.” Of course, all parameters considered, we all operate at any given moment, to the best of our abilities, to the best of our knowledge — so no complaints regarding the first speaker — but as her talk progressed, I got the impression that the book only contains stories of नारी की पीड़ा (the plight of women). I started repenting having purchased the book.

The second speaker, a teacher / professor was speaking directly to the audience, so that was pleasant. Also, the point she was making was more balanced and interesting, so now I was paying more attention.

Then the third speaker, also a teacher / professor I think, highlighted some points that were really interesting. He talked of the technical aspects of the first story in the collection. First, that the story relates a time span of only 10 pm to 11:55 pm of a particular day — this in itself is so interesting. Movies have been made relating events of one day etc., but this story spans only 2 hours!

Second, he highlighted that in this story (and many other stories of the book) the author is not talking. The Iranian author of this particular story, is a script writer anyway. The story is written in the form of a script, and script writers do not have the liberty to speak themselves, i.e. they must only relate what is happening, and only their characters are permitted to talk. As he critiqued the book, this speaker complained that in too many prose writings these days, the writer is talking too much! “लेखक आजकल बहुत वाचाल हो गए हैं। वे हावी हो जाते हैं।”, he said. The story, characters, setting take a backseat and the writer is too intent to put forward his opinion.

This is an oft-given advice for honing our creative writing skills — ‘Show, Not Tell’. The more an author can show (via her words) what is happening, rather than telling, the more effective a piece of writing. So for example, it is much more effective to write ‘She shivered even under the thick coat’, than to say, ‘It was very cold that day’.

As the speaker continued, I realised, this is one of the big reasons why I am not writing these days — to evolve one’s writing from mere telling to actual showing is hard work! Without that, the writing often feels too insipid. The speaker also highlighted some stories in the book that were not about women, such as the story of a small Lama boy who befriends monkeys, written by an author from Sri Lanka. This story had become very successful and soon found its way in textbooks there, but was later withdrawn because the Buddhist community chose to get offended by the story. I started looking forward to reading the copy I had purchased — not because of caretakers of religion taking offence mind you, but because it was good to know that there were stories where the woman and her social plight was not the focus.

The translator himself, Yadavendra Pandey, came next. He shared how he chose the stories for the book and how he read several works by the original authors and saw interviews with them to tune into their thinking and cultural context. He also he shared his process of translation which is essentially a re-creation rather than translation. This explained why all the stories in the book seem to be written by the same author, a point made by the third critic, despite such a wide variety of original authors and countries having been represented. Yadavendra ji also spoke of some of his future projects which all sounded worth looking forward to. I discovered that he first started his translation journey by translating poems. So I have to track down some of those poems and see if I like any for Kaavyaalaya.

It was an evening well-spent and I am glad and grateful that I can stay in touch with Yadavendra ji now (if I put in the effort to do so). As regarding this book — it is to be seen whether I like it (or not), (if I put in the effort to read it). If it turns out to be an effortless read, then great! Right now, thank you to Sahityikee for organising an enjoyable, fulfilling evening — for widening my window to the Hindi world.

Syaahee Kee Gamak by the way, means the aroma of ink. Nice title. I didn’t know gamak means fragrance, aroma.