VIKRAM SETH Quotes

Every object strives for its proper place. A book seeks to be near its truest admirer. Just as this helpless moth seeks to be near the candle that infatuates him.

Is it not love that knows how to make smooth things rough and rough things smooth?

I don’t think anyone should be banned. If you don’t like a book, set it aside.

I’m not sure anyone can understand a whole life, even their own.

Think of many things. Never place your happiness in one person’s power. Be just to yourself.

All you who sleep tonight Far from the ones you love, No hand to left or right, An emptiness above– Know that you aren’t alone. The whole world shares your tears, Some for two nights or one, And some for all your years.

Behind every door on every ordinary street, in every hut in every ordinary village in this middling planet of a trivial star, such riches are to be found. The strange journeys we undertake on our earthly pilgrimage, the joy and suffering we taste or confer, the chance events that leave us together or apart, what a complex trace they leave: so personal as to be almost incommunicable, so fugitive as to be almost irrecoverable.

 

(From AZ Quotes.  Vikram Seth CBE is an Indian novelist and poet. He has written several novels and poetry books. He has received several awards … Awards: Padma Shri, Guggenheim Fellowship for Creative Arts, US & Canada.)

 

 

FINDING GOD

God can be realized through all paths. All religions are true. The important thing is to reach the roof. You can reach it by stone stairs or by wooden stairs or by bamboo steps or by a rope. You can also climb up by a bamboo pole.

You may say that there are many errors and superstitions in another religion. I should reply: Suppose there are. Every religion has errors. Everyone thinks that his watch alone gives the correct time. It is enough to have yearning for God. It is enough to love Him and feel attracted to Him: Don’t you know that God is the Inner Guide? He sees the longing of our heart and the yearning of our soul.

Suppose a man has several sons. The older boys address him distinctly as “Baba” or “Papa”, but the babies can at best call him “Ba” or “Pa”. Now, will the father be angry with those who address him in this indistinct way? The father knows that they too are calling him, only they cannot pronounce his name well. All children are the same to the father.

Likewise, the devotees call on God alone, though by different names. They call on one Person only. God is one, but His names are many.

(I found the above in my hard-drive. Source not recorded.)

 

“Of mice and morality – a parable for adults” (Part 5)

The path to peace

Taking House aside, Whicky explained that he was a member (even as a cat) of a Western family that had adopted Buddhism, the fastest growing faith in Australia. Together with Virginia, whose intuitive understanding of all things material and spiritual and whose grasp of the language of mice and cats implicitly indicated that she is the reincarnation of an old soul, he knew that Buddhist beliefs, like those of yoga, did not conflict with the teachings and rituals of the other major religions.

Whereas doctrinal differences have separated one religion from another – and such differences represent merely the egoistic pretensions of the guardians of the institutionalized faiths – Buddhism, by emphasizing the moral obligation of sentient beings, one to the other, encompassed the ethical teachings of Christ and all the other known religious and spiritual teachers. When one bypasses the gongs, drums, bells, chants, and the other rituals which had grown as encrustations to the Buddha’s original guidance – like the rituals purveyed by the priests of all the faiths – there is only one simple exhortation for one and all. And that is to offer love, protection, care, and compassion to others whose existence is also due to the universal Creator.

House was flabbergasted. Here was his old mate displaying so much wisdom, which also explained his tolerance of the tribe of mice sharing his home. Like Virginia, he too might be an old soul. Together, they would surely light the way for those not privileged to be so enlightened.

Whicky went on to explain his plan, which had been agreed to by Virginia. Both would lead House and his tribe in meditation – daily. Out in the open with the sun (another product of the Creator) bestowing its blessing upon them all, Virginia and Whicky would lead the Buddhist chant, “Om Mani Padme Hum.” This was only a variation of the “Om Nama Shivaya” chanted by the adepts of yoga or the simpler “Om.” Uttered through the back of the throat and drawn out over a few seconds, Om would reflect the primeval hum which preceded the Big Bang of the modern physicists’ cosmology.

With the support of the Committee of Wise Mice, House put Whicky’s plan to the tribe. Intrigued, a little confused, anxious, but desperate, the tribe agreed. The next day, out in the open, within sight of Max, the meditation program started. Max was intrigued. Closer and closer he came to the mice each day – merely to see what was happening. The closer he came, the more he was influenced by the aural aura of the chant. The more the chant engulfed him, the more he realized the peace which enveloped the mice. The more effective this peace on the mice, the more Max became absorbed spiritually. A warm, caressing, mist-like atmosphere bonded them all in a cocoon of mutual acceptance and tolerance.

Can mice and cats become imbued with spiritual peace or was Whicky’s plan an aberration? On the contrary, both mice and Max eventually became submerged into that ocean of consciousness from which the physical Cosmos arose. Thus was Max conditioned to change his ways; that is, not to eat mice. Thus did peace reign over the mice, the cats, and little Virginia. So says Virginia, the old soul.

…………………………………………..

Here ends the parable of mice and morality. Virginia’s sojourn into another improbable world awaits another day.

 

‘A cocoon for contemplation’

As I sit at my window, embraced by in the morning sun, I lethargically ponder the question of existence. I do this as I, with calm joy, view the sea just down the road. The almost-daily sun and the ever-present sea combine to create a contemplative mode of feeling and thinking. Even when the sky is overcast, and the sea is rough, when the white caps become the lashing tail-ends of thunderous seas, and the horizon blends into both sky and sea in a grey-blue misty blur, my mood remains contemplative. How else could it be when the mystery of existence can be examined safely in this cocoon of comfort.

Nature, in all its and ever-changing forms, reflects the influence of its creator. I, also reflecting the influence of that same creator, am therefore in vibrant harmony with nature.

I do, however, accept that it was only when I moved, in retirement, to the Eurobodalla coast, that I could so freely and continuously identify with both nature and our shared Creator. This is a strange feeling. I am simultaneously in tune with the here-and-now, the material world, and the where-is-it world of spirituality. This is, however, not surprising as materiality is only a product of spirituality.

Hence, my small, cheap, fibro-and-tin home, flanked (but at a little distance) by beach, by beach, by beach, well off the traffic flow of the highway, and equally well off the preferred routes of pedestrians and vehicular traffic, is quiet – and therefore peaceful. The only sounds I hear are the waves and the birds; but these can be sporadic. The waves talk to me through the roar of a raging sea at the south-eastern and, often apparently simultaneously, the north-western fronts. The birds who use my many trees as park benches and who feed off the flowers produced by my extensive shrubbery, mind their own business – unless I venture too close to them.

Then, they shout at me to go away, and warn their friends about the interloper. How cheeky! The exception is the chatty and beautiful rainbow lorikeet, which is really very sociable. Occasionally, when I am able to strike the correct tonal note in a whistle emulating the call of the lorikeets to their friends, their chatter will cease, whilst the birds seek the stranger. The magpies too accept me, They allow me to share one of their many foraging stations, which happens to be my back yard. My bird bath needs filling daily; I must be surrounded by the cleanest birds in the district.

All the other varieties of bird life, whose names I do not know (because they do not want to be introduced to me), join with the lorikeets and magpies in using a young native frangipani tree near the bird bath as a slippery slide. This has stunted the tree, but I cannot in my heart remove it.

Embedded in this cocoon of nature, either peacefully quiescent or robustly and rapturously vital, I am able to seek that which was taught to me as a youth – that, near the end of one’s life, when one has completed one’s major familial obligations, one might withdraw from the hurly-burly of life, and to meditate; and to seek to understand the meaning of existence. This is not to ignore any residual obligations – whether inherited, imposed or chosen – in relation to matters horticultural, sporting or social. Does it not make sense to prepare for, or to anticipate, what might be on the Other Side of Earthly Existence; and to atone spiritually for those of one’s sins for which forgiveness is available?

Looking back over my life, I know that I did not choose to move to my little home in this delightful place near the sea. I know that, whilst I was attracted to this particular locality, I did not like the house which somehow I subsequently bought! I therefore know that I was sent here – to give and to learn. To give is to serve one’s community as a volunteer. To learn requires a contemplative life.

For a contemplative life, one’s home might desirably be like a cave, albeit a comfortable one. So, as my soul is refreshed daily by what I see, hear, feel, and absorb from my ‘cave’, I reach out to my Creator, the cause of all things material and spiritual. My home at the Eurobodalla coast is where the heart remains healthy, and the soul (which is said to be located in the heart) searches the Cosmos.

(This essay was written as a message for my family and my few friends – Raja Arasa Ratnam.)

More quotes on re-birth

“My sun sets to rise again.” ― Robert Browning

“She died–this was the way she died;
And when her breath was done,
Took up her simple wardrobe
And started for the sun.
Her little figure at the gate
The angels must have spied,
Since I could never find her
Upon the mortal side.” ― Emily Dickinson, Selected Poems

 

“Love taught me to die with dignity that I might come forth anew in splendor. Born once of flesh, then again of fire, I was reborn a third time to the sound of my name humming haikus in heaven’s mouth.” ― Aberjhani, The River of Winged Dreams
“Life is an endless cycle of souls, swirling along the path of the universe, being reborn, but never truly dying before being reborn again.
As long as this cycle continues, we will never really die.” ― Ameila Wolfe
“I am dead because I lack desire,
I lack desire because I think I possess.
I think I possess because I do not try to give.
In trying to give, you see that you have nothing; Seeing that you have nothing, you try to give of yourself;
Trying to give of yourself, you see that you are nothing: Seeing that you are nothing, you desire to become;
In desiring to become, you begin to live.” ― Rene Daumal
“After a thousand years pass, it builds its own funeral pyre, lining it with cinnamon, myrrh and cassia. Climbing to a rest on the very top, it examines the world all throughout the night with the ability to see true good and evil. When the sun rises the next morning, with great sorrow for all that it sees, it sings a haunting song. As it sings, the heat of the sun ignites the expensive spices and the Phoenix dies in the flames.
But the Phoenix is not remarkable for its feathers or flames. It is most revered for its ability to climb from its own funeral pyre, from the very ashes of its old charred body, as a brand new life ready to live again once more. Life after life, it goes through this cycle. It absorbs human sorrow, only to rise from death to do it all again. It never wearies, it never tires. It never questions its fate. Some say that the Phoenix is real, that it exists somewhere out there in the mountains of Arabia, elusive and mysterious. Others say that the Phoenix is only a wish made by desperate humans to believe in the continuance of life.
But I know a secret.
We are the Phoenix.” ― Courtney Cole, Every Last Kiss

 

(From ‘Grateful Living Practice’ on the Internet)

Quotes on re-birth

Karma brings us ever back to rebirth, binds us to the wheel of births and deaths. Good Karma drags us back as relentlessly as bad, and the chain which is wrought out of our virtues holds as firmly and as closely as that forged from our vices. Annie Besant
Assimilation of the fruits of each past life takes place before the spirit descends to rebirth, and consequently, the character generated is fully formed and readily expressed in the subtle, mobile mind-stuff of the Region of Concrete Thought, where the archetype of the coming dense body is built. Max Heindel
A rebirth out of spiritual adversity causes us to become new creatures. James E. Faust
One thing I want to make clear, as far as my own rebirth is concerned, the final authority is myself and no one else, and obviously not China’s Communists. Dalai Lama
Everyone focuses on the earthly state, but how cool might death be? I believe in spiritual rebirth, and I can’t wait to experience that. Barry Zito

“Tell a wise person, or else keep silent,
because the mass man will mock it right away.
I praise what is truly alive,
what longs to be burned to death.

In the calm water of the love-nights,
where you were begotten, where you have begotten,
a strange feeling comes over you,
when you see the silent candle burning.

Now you are no longer caught
in the obsession with darkness,
and a desire for higher love-making
sweeps you upward.

Distance does not make you falter.
Now, arriving in magic, flying,
and finally, insane for the light,
you are the butterfly and you are gone.

And so long as you haven’t experienced
this: to die and so to grow,
you are only a troubled guest
on the dark earth.” ― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

 

 

 

 

 

DEATH – Vivekananda Quotes

DEATH

This is a matter of considerable interest to me, as I cannot live for ever.

Here are some thoughts from Swami Vivekananda, a great commentator on Hinduism.

  • Be true unto death.
  • Birth is re-composition, death is de-composition.
  • Death comes to all forms of bodies in this and other lives.
  • Death is better than a vegetating ignorant life; it is better to die on the battle-field than to live a life of defeat.
  • Death is but a change.
  • Death is but a change of condition. We remain in the same universe, and are subject to the same laws as before. Those who have passed beyond and have attained high planes of development in beauty and wisdom are but the advance-guard of a universal army who are following after them.

 

Aurobindo quotes

To listen to some devout people, one would imagine that God never laughs.
That which we call the Hindu religion is really the Eternal religion because it embraces all others.
India is the meeting place of the religions and among these Hinduism alone is by itself a vast and complex thing, not so much a religion as a great diversified and yet subtly unified mass of spiritual thought, realization and aspiration.
Metaphysical thinking will always no doubt be a strong element in her mentality, and it is to be hoped that she will never lose her great, her sovereign powers in that direction.
She saw the myriad gods, and beyond God his own ineffable eternity; she saw that there were ranges of life beyond our present life, ranges of mind beyond our present mind and above these she saw the splendours of the spirit.
Hidden nature is secret God.
(Comment: Typically, a great commentator about Hinduism, makes it clear that, unlike the ‘desert’ religions, the ‘forest’ religions of India and its surrounds are not competitive. What advantage is there in claiming to offer the only path to God? As co-created, we humans are bonded to one another morally, are we not? What does that imply?)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RAJA – YouTube No. 5

THE MEANING OF HUMAN EXISTENCE

The ancient bicultural author Raja Arasa Ratnam offers us the following thoughts.

Applying Occam’s Razor (or principle) that the simplest explanation is best, I begin by accepting that there has to be a Cosmic Creator. Our souls say so. The complexity, intricacy and beauty of the Cosmos say so.

I envisage (again applying the above principle) that the Creator (that is, God) created the Cosmos: and that it includes a mechanism which is itself capable of evolving, whilst facilitating evolution as a process. This would be accessible to other products of that same Creation. To evolve is to progress to something better.

It is a meaningless question, of course, to ask about the origin of God, although the Mundaka Upanished says that out of infinite Godhead came forth Brahma, the Creator, from whom sprung the Cosmos.

If the whole of the Cosmos is capable of change, as its component parts are subject to change, there surely must be scope for random events or chance impacts, as well as mishaps during processes (for example, genetic mutation). Perhaps there might be scope for influence: by the human mind (eg. mind-over-body pain control); by one’s spirit guides (eg. one’s subconscious mind directing an action for no rational reason); or even by an aspect of God (how would this be manifested – through one’s heart?) to intervene in events or processes.

Indeed, the Isha Upanished even allows for a personal deity (a manifestation of God), which I see as an acceptable projection from the universal Creator. As well, the mind is said to be only an instrument of consciousness; and the heart is said to be where the soul resides in its temporal home. Then, is God the Ocean of Consciousness of which we are all part, and to which we will ultimately return?

I do like the idea of being a transient projected entity from an Ocean of Consciousness. Life on Earth would then have some significance. Is there some mechanism which creates, sustains, and periodically destroys all that has been projected from, and by, that Ocean ? Hindu cosmology implies the cyclical path of all things and events of significance (including each of the many possible universes and all their component parts and manifestations) within an infinite Cosmos.

The metaphysical adherents of a faith would naturally seek an understanding of a reality transcending the guides for living of the great teachers of mankind: Moses, Jesus, the Buddha, Mohammed, Mahavira, and others.

There are, however, those who need to know about the meaning of existence, to seek to understand Reality. The experience and understanding they seek is, however, said to be beyond words, and to be Realised only through deep meditation.

In any event, each of us knows deep in our psyche that we are an integral cog in that web of a mutually-dependent creation.

Socialising in the ‘Afterlife’ (the Recycling Depot)Depot)

Socialising in the ‘Afterlife’ (the Recycling Depot)

The clairvoyant who enabled the spirit of my uncle to offer me advice told me, nearly a quarter of a century ago, not to be in a hurry (I was!) ‘to get to the Other Side’; it would not be different from here, he said. I did not like that.

I was, however, promised that I would continue my learning there. As to those I might meet there, all my close relatives who had died a while back would probably have been reincarnated by now. Would I be fortunate in meeting some of the ‘higher beings’ referred to by my uncle? He had explained that they had sent him to me.

It would also be wonderful to be able to talk to some of the learned men and women of recent times. Throughout my life, I have tended to seek out people who are interesting, especially immigrants and (genuine) refugees in Australia offering their diverse experiences. Great insight into the human condition is thus available.

I would also like to meet in the Afterlife some of those religious leaders who had practised control over their ‘flocks,’ including separating them from being contaminated by ‘foreign’ ideologies. In this context, I am reminded of that priest who convinced all 5 of our new neighbours not to have coffee with my wife. They ignored us after that; we were not of ‘the faith.’ What ignorance; what subservience. How un-Australian!

I would ask such priests what they thought they had done for humanity as a whole. I do not, however, expect bigotry and evil thoughts to survive Earthly death. One’s soul should be above Earthly contaminants.

The Afterlife promises to be interesting in another way. Currently I am saddened by those Christians, all regular church-goers, who have indicated to me that they do not know what will happen to them after death (in spite of what the Bible promises), or who are genuinely afraid to die. They are not convinced by my belief that we will all go to a better place. What have their priests done to them? I know them to be good people, surely not conceived or born in ‘sin.’    

I look forward to be able to say to them (and their priests) ‘Isn’t this a good place to be’? I really cannot see why the Afterlife (the Recycling Depot) cannot also be an R&R (rest and recuperation) Way Station!

There we could again re-connect as fellow-travelers, until we move on to our respective personal-destiny pathways once more. It is the journey, the objective of repeated rebirths, which offers valuable learning in the meaning of existence and non-existence!