Tuesday, May 16, 2017

So many are rich ...

Wealth is so common
So many are rich
and beautiful

Good food, ornate clothes
big houses, smart cars,
all so common

Friendships common!
Relations common!
And Lovers too

Cleverness common
Intellect common
& Wisdom too

Kingdoms and heavens
That so many attain,
all so common

But Love!
Love is rare
Love is very rare!

After Emily Dickinson's "I couldn't live with you" ...

I couldn't live with you

for that beauty 
would also be broken 
behind the shelf like cracked porcelain

I couldn't die with you

for I would not
have the pleasure
of dying in your arms

I couldn't rise with you

for that almighty God 
would be jealous 
of our love

So we must meet apart

separated by an ocean 
and some commitments
yet still ... a window open
Here is the original Emily Dickinson classic:
I cannot live with You – 
It would be Life – 
And Life is over there – 
Behind the Shelf

The Sexton keeps the Key to – 
Putting up
Our Life – His Porcelain – 
Like a Cup – 

Discarded of the Housewife – 
Quaint – or Broke – 
A newer Sevres pleases – 
Old Ones crack – 

I could not die – with You – 
For One must wait
To shut the Other’s Gaze down – 
You – could not – 

And I – could I stand by
And see You – freeze – 
Without my Right of Frost – 
Death’s privilege?

Nor could I rise – with You – 
Because Your Face
Would put out Jesus’ – 
That New Grace

Glow plain – and foreign
On my homesick Eye – 
Except that You than He
Shone closer by – 

They’d judge Us – How – 
For You – served Heaven – You know,
Or sought to – 
I could not – 

Because You saturated Sight – 
And I had no more Eyes
For sordid excellence
As Paradise

And were You lost, I would be – 
Though My Name
Rang loudest
On the Heavenly fame – 

And were You – saved – 
And I – condemned to be
Where You were not – 
That self – were Hell to Me – 

So We must meet apart – 
You there – I – here – 
With just the Door ajar
That Oceans are – and Prayer – 
And that White Sustenance – 
Despair – 

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

The sun never says to the earth you owe me ...

Even after all this time 
The sun never says to the earth, 
“You owe Me.” 

Look what happens with 
A love like that, 
It lights the Whole Sky.
- Daniel Ladinsky

The poem is inspired by Hafiz, but its not a translation as its most often quoted. It was written by Daniel Ladinsky.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Kenopanishad and Gurbani

One Upanishad, that is very close to the essence of Gurbani, is Kenopanishad. One of its first pronouncements is, "सर्वं ब्रह्मौपनिषदं" - "Brahman is all of which the Upanishads speak."

Naming of Kenopanishad is not different from something like Japji Sahib, or Sodar -- where the first few word/s of a poem are used to name the rest of the poem.

In this case, Ken comes from Kena (Sanskrit: केन) which literally means, depending on the object-subject context, "by what, by whom, whence, how, why, from what cause".[4] This root of Kena, in the sense of "by whom" or "from what cause", is found the inquisitive first verse of the Kena Upanishad as follows,

केनेषितं पतति प्रेषितं मनः
केन प्राणः प्रथमः प्रैति युक्तः ।
केनेषितां वाचमिमां वदन्ति
चक्षुः श्रोत्रं क उ देवो युनक्ति ॥ १ ॥[5]

Sent by whom, flies out thither the mind?
Harnessed by whom, roves thither the first breath?[6]
Who sends out the speech which we speak?
Who is the Deva (deity, god) that harnesses the ears and eyes?
—Kena Upanishad 1.1 —Translated by Paul Deussen[7]

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Don't be angry with others, look within first!

The word "Ros" means anger.  
Ros Na Kahu Sang Karau - Don't be angry with anyone

All anger rises from desires. And according to many eastern philosophies all desires lead to -- through anger and other negative emotions -- unhappiness.  Guru Nanak claims there is one exception. He says, "The hunger of truth (or oneness) satisfies all hungers and consumes all sorrows" - Sache naam ki Laage Bhookh, Ut Bhookhai khai chaliyeh dookh."

So, there is legitimate anger and that is anger towards actions that stray away from oneness.  Here is an example from Babarvani. Guru Nanak affirms that one should be concerned and angered about atrocities:


ਕਰਤਾ ਤੂੰ ਸਭਨਾ ਕਾ ਸੋਈ ॥
Karathaa Thoon Sabhanaa Kaa Soee ||
O Creator Lord, You are the Master of all.

ਜੇ ਸਕਤਾ ਸਕਤੇ ਕਉ ਮਾਰੇ ਤਾ ਮਨਿ ਰੋਸੁ ਨ ਹੋਈ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥
Jae Sakathaa Sakathae Ko Maarae Thaa Man Ros N Hoee ||1|| Rehaao ||
If some powerful man strikes out against another man, then no one feels any grief in their mind. ||1||Pause||

The Spiritual Knowledge Run Off ...

In 1861, farmers and ranchers were praying for rain after two exceptionally dry decades. In December their prayers were answered with a vengeance, as a series of monstrous Pacific storms slammed—one after another—into the West coast of North America, from Mexico to Canada. 

Similarly in 2016-17, we have had similar bountiful rainfall.  

But according to a recent WSJ article, despite the record rainfall most of the water has been wasted: 
Reservoirs and rivers are overflowing as storms have pounded California this winter, and after years of drought that should be good news. The problem is that misguided environmentalism is wasting the water windfall and failing to store it for a non-rainy day.
Overflowing is a great word to describe the amount of spiritual wisdom available these days.  Writing in several journals and magazines focuses on spirituality, more translations and literature are available than there ever was in human history, video content is available mostly for free on youtube, and information is available very easily through the internet.  Spiritual knowledge is overflowing to put it mildly. But, are we retaining any of this knowledge? Are we putting any of this to use?  We are mostly losing it to a run-off. Spiritual knowledge enters through one ear and exits from the other. Because we have not built dams in our minds, most of the spiritual knowledge is running off.  It is being wasted.  

This reminds me of a couplet from Guru Nanak:

ਕੁੰਭੇ ਬਧਾ ਜਲੁ ਰਹੈ ਜਲ ਬਿਨੁ ਕੁੰਭੁ ਨ ਹੋਇ ॥ 
ਗਿਆਨ ਕਾ ਬਧਾ ਮਨੁ ਰਹੈ ਗੁਰ ਬਿਨੁ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਨ ਹੋਇ ॥੫॥: 
Kumbhe badhaa jalu rahai jal bin kumbh n hoi. 
Giaan ka badhaa manu rahai gur bin giaanu n hoi ||5||: 

As the water remains confined in a pitcher, (just so) the mind is restrained by the Spiritual Wisdom. But (as) the pitcher cannot be shaped without the water, (just so) there can be no Spiritual Wisdom without the Guru. ||5|| (SGGS 469).


I'm also reminded of what Paramhansa Yogananda said about the control of the mind:

You may control a mad elephant;
You may shut the mouth of the bear and the tiger;
Ride the lion and play with the cobra;
By alchemy you may learn your livelihood;
You may wander through the universe incognito;
Make vassals of the gods; be ever youthful;
You may walk in water and live in fire;
But control of the mind is better and more difficult.

- Paramahansa Yogananda 
Autobiography of a Yogi