Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Zen And Silence

Its been a week since i have written a blog and the reason is not me but my friend Arjuna. One fine day he called and we talked about so many different things, ranging from heart breaks to recent crushes. As two who are romantic at one instant, and samiyar's at the other, naturally our talk moved to theology. To make long conversation short, he literally directed me to read about Buddhism and told me to write a small blog on it. That's it to write about something, naturally one has to read and know something about the subject, hence the long break.
So on my quest to find more about Buddhism, pluse write something more close to the subject of silence my another friend directed me towards the book - Zen the path of paradox. This blog is a nutshell about what i understood from that book. Naturally the nutshell is more like a big cocunut, i will write the blog in parts.

People, a humble request, please try to read it completly, don't stop because you are getting bored, Zen is a very beautiful concept, just try to give it a complete read.

Part 1 - Zen and Zen fundamentals
The concept of Zen is a middle path between Buddha and Lao Tzu. It is a culmination, a transcedence, both of the indian genius and Chinese genius. It is merged in such a fashion that it is not possible to seperate them both, it is not possible to say one from the other. So Zen is neither Buddhist nor Taoist and yet both.

First, Zen is not a theology, it is a religion. All other religion's around the world have theologies, all are God-centric, their ultimate goal is God. In case of Zen, it is man-centric, man is the goal, man is the end. God is something hidden within man. Zen says that God is not extrinsic to religion, it is intrinsic. It is not there, it is here. In fact there is "no" there for Zen, all is here. There is no other space, no other time, This moment is all. In this moment the whole existence
converges, in this moment all is available. If u cannot see it, doesn't mean it is not available - it simply means you don't have the vision to see it. God has not to be searched for, you have to only open your eyes.

According to Zen, there is no God sitting somewhere in heavens and controlling life and existence. There is no controller. Life is moving in harmony and in its own accord. Man is responsible for himself and the world he lives in. If there is suffering, you are responsible; there is nobody else to look to. You cannot throw your responsibility. If the world is ugly and in pain, we are responsible for it, there is nobody else. You have to take hold of your life, you have to
take the reins in your own hands. You have to be more alert and more aware because for whatsoever is going to happen, you will be responsible. This gives great responsibility. One learns to become more watchful.

Zen says there is no beyond, the beyond is within you, there is no beyond beyond you. So the question is not to raise your eyes and pray - but meditate. You have to become quiet and silent and go withinward to find your center. That very center is the center of existence too. When u have come to your innermost core you have come to the innermost core of existence itself. That's what is God in Zen. Zen says everything is divine, so how can anything be special ? All is special, Nothing is non special, so nothing can be special ;). According to Zen, everything is holy, Zen bringes holiness to ordinary life. Zen is non-conceptual, non intellectual. It is the only religion in the world that preaches immediacy, moment to moment immediacy - to be present in the moment; no past, no future.

Zen says: Be empty. Look without any ideas. Look into the nature of things, but with no idea, with no prejudice, with no presupposition. Don't be preoccupied. If you have an idea, there is a possibility that u will find it in reality - because mind is very creative. If you want something badly you will see that thing, but that thing will be only your imagination. Zen says drop all your imagination, Unburden yourself. So Zen is simple, and yet very difficult. Simple because as far as Zen is concerned - it is the most simple thing, the most spontaneous - but because our mind is cluttered with so many ideas - it becomes difficult.

The second fundamental: Zen is not a philosphy it is a poetry. It does not propose, it persuades. It doesnot argue, it simply sings its own song. It is aesthetic to the very core, it is not ascetic. Zen is concerned with the beauty. Zen seaker looks into reality to find the beautiful, in the songs of the birds, in the trees, in the dance of the peacock, in the clouds, in the lightning, in the sea, in the sands. It tries to look for the beautiful. Hence Zen is passive - that's why in Zen sitting
became one of the most important meditation. Just sitting - zazen. Zen says that if you simply sit doing nothing, things will happen. Things will happen on their own; you need not go after them, you need not seek them, you need not search them. They will come. You simply sit. If you can sit silently, if you can fall into tremendous restfulness, if you can relax yourself, if you can drop all tensions and become a silent pool of energy, going nowhere, searching nothing, God starts pouring into you. From everywhere God rushes towards you. Just sitting, doing nothing, the spring comes and grass grows itself. And when Zen says just sitting, it means just sitting, nothing else, not even a mantra. If you are repeating a mantra you are not just sitting, you are again going into a cycle, again into some mind thing. If you are not doing anything whatsoever,
Thoughts are coming, coming; they are going, going - if they come, good; if they don't come, good. You are not concerned with what is happening, you are just simply sitting there. If you feel tired, you lie down. If you feel your legs getting tense, youspread them. You remain natural, not even watching, not making any effort of any kind. Just sit.....

The third fundamental: Zen is not science but magic. Not magic of magicians, it is a magic as a way to look into life. Science tires to discover, tries to reveal the mystery. Zen tries to retain the mystery. Zen believes that they mystery of life is not to be solved, it cannot be solved, it has to be lived. One has to move into it, cherish it, relish it and live it. Life has to be celebrated. Zen is the magic, it gives the key to open the miraculous and that miraculous is in you and the key is also in you.

And the last fundamental: Zen is not morality, it is aesthetics. It does not impose any code of morality; it does not give you any commandments. It simply makes you more sensitive towards the beautiful and that very sensitivity becomes your morality. It arises out of you, out of your consciousness. Zen does not give you any conscience as against your consciousness;
it gives you more consciousness and your consciousness becomes your conscience. It comes from your innermost core. And when it comes from there, it is not that you are doing it as a duty, reluctantly. You enjoy doing it. It becomes your love.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Why did i read about Rumi - An Arjuna Question

Believe it or not Arjuna, I was planning to write about why/how i started to read about Rumi ? Rumi has always sort of fascinated me. Go to any small hippie kind of shop u will always find a copy of Rumi's love poems. I would always pick it up, read two or three poems and would think - I should read about this guy - he seems to write some real good love poems. All assumed that this love was between a guy and a girl. I guess everyone who picks up Rumi will think the same. Then one fine day as u know i am into reading about different philosphies and different personalities - I decided to learn more about him and here I am :)

He is one of the most amazing person i have read till now - his idealogy is similar to Advaita. He belives in total anhilation - meaning merging with the lord. Hence is death is called his wedding night. But what fascinates me is his poems. Just read them and there is so much that u can relate too.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Rumi - The Sufi Saint - II

Naturally this friendship evoked jealousy in the community. They distrusted Shams and resented his diverting their teacher from his teaching. They forced Sams away to Damascus, but Rumi called him back. Finally, it seems, some of Rumi's students - probably including one of his sons, Allaedin - Killed Shams and hid the body. In his grief Rumi began circling a pole in his garden and speaking the poetry that has come to be regarded as the most intimate record we have of the search for divine companionship. His turning is, of course, the origin of the moving meditation of the melevi dervishes. It is an emblem. simulatenously of discipline and abandon of surrender. Rumi's ecstasy begain in grief.

He spoke his poems. They were written down by the scribes, and later revisions were made by Rumi on the page, but for the most part his poetry can be considered spontaneous improvisation. Rumi wandered for a time in search of Shams, until he realized in Damascus one day, that he need not search any longer. He felt and knew, that Shams existed in the Friendship, and that he was that. The poetry come from there. All of the poems in Divan-i-Shams-i-Tabrizi (The works of Shams of Tabriz) are about the inner conversation of their Friendship.

The poems in the Divan are ghazals(odes), which are composed of a series of independent couplets and sometimes run as short as eight lines, sometimes longer. The form makes irrational, intutive leaps from image to image and thought to thought. This agility makes it an appropriate vehicle for Rumi's passionate longing.

For the last twelve years of his life Rumi wrote one long continous poem, the "Masnavi", the sixty-four thousand line of poetry divided into six books. It has no parallel in world literature. It surges like an ocean around many subjects. It is self-interrupting, visionary, sometimes humorous comentary on the health of soul and on Quranic passages; it is full of folktales, jokes and remarks to people physically present as the poems were being composed. Readers of Masnavi may dive in anywhere and swim aroung. It is a flow whose refrain is the ecstatic exclamation.

Rumi died at sunset on December 17, 1273. His tomb in Konya is still visited by thousands each month. It is said that representatives from all major religions attended his funeral. They saw Rumi and his poetry as a way of deepening their own faith. He is often called Melvana or Maulana meaning "Master" or "Lord". Every year on december 17, the anniversary of his death is celebrated around the world as the night of his union with the divine. It is called his "urs", or wedding night.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Rumi - A Sufi Saint - Part 1

Thirteenth Century - a time of brilliant mystical awareness, when the lives of the three of the world's great lovers of God's presence in humanity and in existence itself overlapped : Francis of Assisi(1182-1226), Jelaluddin Rumi (1207-73) and Meister Eckhart(1206-1328). They were all magnificently surrendered souls and wonderful creators with language.

Rumi was born near the city of Balkh(Afghanistan) on September 30, 1207. He was a descendent of a long line of Islamic jurist, theologians and mystics. It is said that when a teacher and a poet Fariduddin Attar saw the teenage Rumi with his father, he said " Here comes the sea, followed by an ocean"

Rumi's family settled in konya after escaping the approaching Moghul army, where in he resumed the role as the head of dervish learning community after his father expired. Rumi assumed the position, directing the study of theology, poetry, music and other subjects and practices related to growth of soul. Rumi gained a wide reputation as a devout scholar and his school numbered over 10000 students.

Rumi's life took a turn in October 1244 with the meeting of Shams of Tabriz. It was to become the central and turning point of his life. Shams was a fierce God-man. Sufi stories tell of his wandering in search of a friend, someone who would endure the rigors and depth of his presence. Shams would alternate between periods of ecstatic soul trance and days of physical labor as a mason. Shams had one continous internal question " Is there no friend for me ?"
Finally a voice came " What will u give ?"
"My head"
"Your friend is Jelaluddin of Konya"

There are several version of their meeting - one says Rumi was teaching by a fountain in a small square, reading from his father's spirtual diary Ma'arif. Shams cut through the crowd and pushed that book and others off the ledge into the water.

"Who are u and what are u doing" Rumi asked
"You must now live what you have been reading about"
Rumi turned to the volumes on the bottom " We can retrieve them" said Shams " They will be dry as they were"
Shams lifted one of them out to show him. Dry.

"Leave them" said Rumi

With that relinquishment Rumi's deep life began and the poetry. He said " What I had thought of before as God I met today in a human". His time as a theological scholar ended too. He and Shams spent months together in retreat. Their mystical conversation(sohbet) and mysterious Friendship unfolded......

----- More to come folks - -----------

From the book " The Soul of Rumi" by Coleman Barks. Rumi is one of the most read poets in America.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Reading Sanskrit Improves Brain Functioning - The MUM Review, 6.Feb. 2002, by Brynne Sissom

The physiological effects of reading Sanskrit are similar to those experienced during the Transcendental Meditation® technique, according to research recently completed by Dr. Fred Travis, director of the ERG/psychophysiology lab of Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, Iowa, USA.

Dr. Travis asked his test subjects to read passages from the Bhagavad-Gita in Sanskrit and in modern foreign languages (Spanish, French, or German). In each case they could pronounce the sounds but did not know the meaning. He measured brain wave patterns (ERG), heart and breath rate, and galvanic skin resistance during two reading sessions and during a 15-minute session of the Transcendental Meditation technique.

He found that while they read Sanskrit their physiology was similar to those measured during the Transcendental Meditation technique, but significantly different from reading a modern language.

Their skin resistance steadily increased during reading Sanskrit and during practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique (showing greater stability in their physiology) but remained the same during the reading of a modern language.

Their ERG alpha power and coherence during reading Sanskrit were also similar to that during the practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique, and both of these were higher than when the subjects read a modern language

Dr. Travis said that these findings support Maharishi's predictions on the effects of reading Sanskrit. Maharishi, in Vedic Knowledge for Everyone, predicted that reading the Vedic Literature as it flows and progresses in perfect sequential order has the effect of regulating and balancing the functioning of the brain physiology and training consciousness, the mind, to always flow in perfect accordance with the evolutionary direction of Natural Law.

Dr. Travis found the similarity of physiology during reading Sanskrit and the Transcendental Meditation technique is especially noteworthy because one reads with his or her eyes open and engages in active perceptual and cognitive processes, while the Transcendental Meditation technique is done with one's eyes closed and entails a reduction of mental activity. This suggests that the state gained during the practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique may be integrated with active mental processes by reading Sanskrit.

Dr. Travis said, "The Transcendental Meditation technique takes the awareness to pure consciousness at the source of thought. Seeing similar patterns of physiology during reading Sanskrit as during the Transcendental Meditation technique suggests that reading Sanskrit enlivens pure consciousness at the source of thought and integrates that state with reading and speaking. In short, while practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique locates pure consciousness, leading to the state of Transcendental Consciousness, reading Sanskrit integrates inner silence with outer activity, helping to cultivate enlightenment."