Celebrating SILENCE – Balinese New Year NYEPI

We normally associate celebrations with noise, loud music, singing, partying and of course crowds of people.

Not so with the Balinese; not always.

Here, on this isle of gods, silence and solitude are celebrated too. Indeed, the most important celebration here is that of silence.

Yes, I am speaking about Nyepi – the day of silence. Following the traditions and wisdom of the ancients of the archipelago, to this day Balinese celebrate their New Year in silence. What a way to celebrate the New Year!

Nyepi is a day to reflect, and to do self-introspection. Nyepi is a day for contemplation, and meditation. On this day, newyear resolutions are made in silence, in deep, deep silence.


Heroes never die: A tribute to A. Buyung Nasution

Are we shocked when we hear about someone’s demise? Has the news of someone’s death ever inspired us to think about our own impending death?

Adnan Buyung Nasution, a legend, passed away on Wednesday, Sept. 23. His death brings to an end an important era of our republic, an important part of our modern history.

When the Republic was still very young, he was himself a young activist — more a peoples’ hero than a lawyer. As the Republic grew, he too grew with the Republic, with all of us.

Sometimes within the government, at other times outside the government, the man lived and served the nation, and the peoples of this country, in many ways.

During one of our meetings in Bali he told me, “You know, to serve the nation and the people of the nation, you don’t have to have any position. You don’t have to be in government.” But of course. Yes, Sir.


Dynamism vs Agressiveness

Aggression is the human race’s biggest failing and it ‘threatens to destroy us all’, Stephen Hawking has said, urging people to be more empathetic.” – Nick Clark | The Independent, UK | Thursday 19 February 2015

We have been taught by our parents, our society, our educational institutions, and lately by the “professional” motivators, law-of-attraction pundits and etcetera to become aggressive.

“When you want to achieve or get something, just focus (meaning, concentrate) on what you want to achieve, what is it that you really want to get and become. Put aside all other things, all other issues, forget the discussion about what is moral and what is immoral. Allow not such things distract you from what you really want. Concentrate…” – this is what those pundits and professionals say.

We have, in our own lifetime, also seen how the “Uncertified” but Great Savants, Great Masters of Yoga get carried away by the wave of consumerism and materialism and become aggressive. In their zeal to promote Yoga for what they at first conceive and perceive as “service to society”, they have actually turned Yogainto a commodity.

In a 2005 interview published in Namarupa magazine, Prashant Iyengar, son of B.K.S. Iyengar, shared a similar view when he said, ‘We cannot expect that millions are practicing real yoga just because millions of people claim to be doing yoga all over the globe. What has spread all over the world is not yoga. It is not even non-yoga; it is un-yoga.’ (Source: Yoga Beyond Asana. www.hafsite.org)

Indeed, greed-motivated practices can only be un-yoga…

Mahatma Gandhi foresaw it decades ago,

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need but not for every man’s greed.”

My father recalled, “When he came to Sindh and spoke to us, his words were actually, ‘Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need but not for a single man’s greed.’ He elaborated further that a single man’s greed can result in conflicts, wars, catastrophe, and destruction affecting the whole world.

An aggressive person is essentially a self-centred person, an egoistic individual – who cannot see beyond his personal interest. Now, his persona can include his family, his friends, his company, his institution – but, then that is it. It is all his, his, his, me, mine…. His vision is limited to what he identifies as his.

Yoga advices us to become transpersonal, to go beyond our ego; to widen, to broaden our vision. One of the tenets as expounded by Sage Patanjali, the Maestro who systematised the Yoga Philosophy and Practice, is aparigraha – non-possessiveness.

Alas, even the so-called Yoga “Teachers” have forgotten this very important value of Yoga. They have become enterpreneurs; they are not Yogis, not YogaPractitioners.

Worse still is the situation in the sector of the co-called Yoga Therapy, where “people” are reduced to mere “clients”, not even considered as patients who must be served and cared for in a compassionate manner, not in a business-like manner.

Even Yoga associations are geared to promote Yoga as business, as enterprise, as industry. The basic lessons of Yoga are not understood. Indeed, the opposite of those lessons is being promoted.

If we truly understand that what “seems to belong to us” today did not belong to us yesterday, and may belong to someone else tomorrow; that matter is always changing hands; that we cannot even own this body of ours for all time, lest any other thing; and, that even our relations, our relationships are not permanent – then, we cannot not become non-possessive.

Such realization makes us non-aggressive, and yet dynamic. We shall still be working, and working dynamicaaly, but not for our benefit alone, not for our own welfare alone – but for the benefit, for the welfare of all fellow living beings.

In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna calls the person who works for his own benefit alone a thief. Offerings made to the Lord implies sharing our blessings with the under-privileged, indeed, with one and all.

Meditation according to the Gita is not sitting in silence, but working dynamically to uphold dharma or righteousness. Not aggressively, but dynamically. Living aggressively is like driving your car recklessly. Whereas, living dynamically is not giving up the speed, but driving responsibly.

Living Dynamically is driving our “Body-Senses-Mind-Intellect Vehicle” with a wider, broader, and more inclusive view. The focus is no longer limited or concentrated, but unlimited and all-encompassing.

Just sharing my thoughts… Many thanks for taking time to read this.

Salutations, Namaskar – I bow to the Divine within each one of us.

Dhyana and Meditation

The Sanskrit Word Dhyana, the Pali Jhana, Chinese Chang, and Japanese Zen(meaning the same) has been translated as “Meditation” in English for want of a better word.

The Word “Meditation” is derived from the Latin “Meditationem”, meaning to “think over” or “to reflect upon” – hence the expression “to meditate on something”.

Whereas, the Word Dhyana and all its avatars as mentioned above is rightfully used as an adjective. Hence, the Hindi expression to this date, “dhyana se” – eatdhyana se, live dhyana se, work dhyana se, walk dhyana se. It is a colour of life, a style of living, the way we live, we work, and do all other chores.

On the Surface, the difference between the two may not look great. In practice, they are two different things, until the day we all agree that “meditation” is no longer used as a verb, but as an adjective.

Coming Back to the Expression Dhyana Se…. Perhaps it is more appropriate to translate “Living Dhyana Se” or “Living Meditatively” as “Living Attentively”. The next step would be to understand Patanjali, the great advocate of Yoga Philosophy, in a new light. When he speaks of chitta, does he mean manah or mind? Or, something quite different? And, then, if mindfulness and meditation are the same, can there be mindful meditation, is it the same as dhyana, chang, or zen?

What is there in a Name, a terms, a word?! Well, if our understanding is affected by a term or a word abused, or even misused, in the sense “mistakenly used by mistake” – then, it is certainly an issue that we have to ponder upon (not meditate upon 🙂

Cheers, namaste.

Yoga Used, Misused, and Abused

The 1st International Day of Yoga to be celebrated worldwide on June 21st is being seen as the International Acknowledgement of Yoga by the World Community; as well as an Additional Tool for Marketing Yoga as Commodity. It depends upon our perspective.

Sometime Back, Al-Jazeera aired two shows on Yoga. I am very much surprised as well as disturbed by the comments made by the prominent that Yoga is “this” and also “that”. I believe they are referring to the present, unfortunate state of Yoga, as it is turning into a commodity. There can be no two, no different definitions of medicine or economics or mathematics. The basic definition of each of those and other disciplines is one and the same. It is the same with Yoga.

Unfortunately, Many Who are Engaged in “Selling” Yoga are not even familiar with the texts such as Yoga Sutras (the prime most text), Bhagavad Gita, and Hatha Yoga Pradipika.

I am very much disappointed in THOSE (featured in the Al Jazeera shows) who have become part of the commercialisation of Yoga and meditation. They don’t mean what they are saying. The way they defend the so-called “certified yoga teachers” selling yoga as commodity is unfortunate.

Although, i have a very high regard for them and their achievements, but their stand saddens me. They are forgetting their roots, forgetting the very purpose of Yoga, as defined by Patanjali who systematised it, or as given in the Bhagavad Gita or Hatha Yoga Pradipika. To discard all those texts and given to egoistic notion that one can learn Yoga without referring to them is purely tamasika. It betrays one’s ignorance.


The “Here and Now” Myth

‘Now’ is not only a cognitive illusion but also a mathematical trick, related to how we define space and time quantitatively. One way of seeing this is to recognize that the notion of ‘present,’ as sandwiched between past and future, is simply a useful hoax. After all, if the present is a moment in time without duration, it can’t exist. What does exist is the recent memory of the immediate past and the expectation of the near future. We link past and future through the conceptual notion of a present, of ‘now.’ But all that we have is the accumulated memory of the past—stored in biological or various recording devices—and the expectation of the future.” – Marcelo Gleiser, Appleton Professor of Natural Philosophy and Professor Physics and Astronomy at Dartmouth College; Author of “The Island of Knowledge”, “The Dancing Universe”, “The Prophet and the Astronomer”, and “A Tear at the Edge of Creation”

Being attentive to “here and now” is being attentive to the slippery nature of all and everything, including this present moment.

As i write these lines, i am already stepping into what was future just a little while ago; and watching the present moment turning into past.

Remember Heraclitus of Ephesus (535 – 475 BC), the Greek philosopher, famous for his following quote…..

You cannot step twice into the same river; for other waters are continually flowing in.”

In other words, “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.”

So, what is “now”? Where is “now” – the present moment? And, what is “here”?

Everything is in constant flux…….” – Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Meditations of a Solitary Walker

Many of us use the phrase “living in the present moment, here and now” without even understanding its implication, or, whether this is possible at all!

From my “experiments with life”, all that i have been able to do is Living AttentivelyBeing Attentive about the fleeting, ever changing, decaying, and decomposing nature of this material existence. Then, the past ceases to become a burden, and the future…. just around the corner, now! Its all a continuum….

Many years ago, someone presented my Master with the manuscript of his book and sought his blessings.

The Master read the title of the book, and smiled: “‘Living Here and Now’ – before getting to ‘Here and Now’, you must first ask yourself, ‘Am i living, or life is passing me by?'” Indeed, a question to contemplate and meditate upon….