Sunday, November 22

Scribbling from my Himalayan diary...

“In a thousand ages of the gods, I could not tell thee of the glories of Himachal”. So confessed a Sanskrit poet at the dawn of Indian history... and he came closer than anyone else in capturing the spell of the Himalayas. The sea has had Conrad and Stevenson and Masefield, but the mountains continue to defy the written words. We have climbed their highest peaks and crossed their most difficult passes, but still they keep their secrets and their reserve; they remain remote, mysterious and spirit-haunted.

Ice-bound and quiet, vast and majestic, the Himalaya offered me a different panorama than the green, water filled paddy fields or the coconut groves of my homeland Kerala. But then, the long pyramidal summits which thrust themselves so majestically above the long white ridges make the most town-stupefied man like me, a Nature-lover. Mighty Himalayas are so grace filled and resplendent. They stand beckoning humanity for thousands of ages to adventure and persist. How can men fail? Why must his dreams weaken? Looking to this exquisite creation of the Master, can I lean to live in Nature’s grasp? Sometimes I reflect the fact that poor is a man who finds no time to sit and wonder at the majesty of God’s creation. From a star-dust to the mountains,... from an embryo to a birth...then to the walk of life, I see the spirit of God calling me to commune and participate in HIS Creation.
'Conquest of Everest'... Stamp and First Day Cover... 29-5-1953
Minature stamp sheet of 'Ascent of Mount Everest Golden Jubilee' ... 29-5-2003 from personal collection.

Friday, November 13

At the railway station...

“For me to be a saint means to be myself. Therefore, the problem of sanctity and salvation is in fact the problem of finding out who I am and of discovering my true self.... Our vocation is not simply to be, but to work together with God in the creation of our own life, our own identity, our own destiny... The pale flowers of the dogwood outside this window are saints. The little yellow flowers that nobody notices on the edge of that road are saints looking up into the face of God... The lakes hidden among the hills are saints, and the sea too is a saint who praises God without interruption in her majestic dance. The great, gashed, half-naked mountain is another of God’s saints”, says Thomas Merton.

Today I understand that the sanctity of the mountain is its true character bestrode upon it by the Creator. Being true to his character, the mountain speaks everyday about its Creator. That is his true sanctity.

Merton goes on to say, “ Therefore each particular being, in its individuality, its concrete nature and entity, with all its own characteristics and its private qualities and its own inviolable identity, gives glory to God by doing precisely what God wants it to be here and now... Therefore, there is only one problem on which all my existence, my peace and my happiness depend: to discover myself in discovering God”

Discovering me can be the best adventure in my life. More I come closer to my own discovery, I can truly be what I am. Shedding all my daily masks and pretentious living I arrive at my true railway station for a travel to my great adventure called life. And God smiles at it!

Sunday, November 8

Last rain of the season...

The last rain of the season has begun. This is a frail drizzling. Like the tune of ‘beating the retreat’, rain seems to say goodbye to us all with lightening and thunder. We will miss it all for another year. And when it comes next year, who knows how many of us will be there to welcome it!

This patch of last rain is important as it settles on the soil. Once again, the soil has become soft with water and the potted shrubs have begun to look green. There is a sudden drop of heat in the nights and day is bright with clear sky. The daily hassle of life cannot overtake the joy of living when there is rain and sunshine or breeze and stillness at different corners of life.
Most of the world religions have connected the seasons of nature to their worship almanac. I know it from the Christian and Hindu ways of spirituality. I have often thought about it and have shared these thoughts with seniors. Tagore calls these seasonal changes “Guests of my life...”.

I see how Tagore puts it in a lovely poem....
“Guests of my life, You came in the early dawn, and you in the night, Your name was uttered by the Spring flowers and yours by the showers of rain.
You brought the harp into my house and you brought the lamp. After you had taken your leave, I found God’s footprints on my floor. Now when I am at the end of my pilgrimage I leave in the evening flowers of worship my salutations to you all.”


Friday, November 6

It is a cup of Tea....

A cup of tea is a joy. Seeing the blue flame that boils the water and the slow dissipation of tea into the boiling water is a harbinger to an evening with tea. Nevertheless, drinking tea amidst distractions is one thing and drinking tea as a ceremony is something of an experience. Since the time I discovered the tea drinking ceremony, I have attempted always to practise it. Each section brings me closer to tea and life around tea.

As I drink a cup of tea alone at home or in a quit lonely place, it is wonderful to allow enough time to appreciate it. The core of the trick is to drink tea with mindfulness. In quietness, when we I can feel the warmth of the cup in my both hands, it speaks to me of myself and God. Holding the cup of tea with both hands and taking slow natural breath, there is a sudden feeling of oneness with the drink. Consciously telling myself that my ‘body and mind dwell in the very here and now’ is to bring mindfulness to the tea occasion. Breathing mindfully, keeping myself with the tea, soon fixes us with the drink. It releases us from the environment down to the core of the occasion. Those moments, tea reclaims its highest place in my life.

I suddenly began to realise that as I drink every cup of distracted tea, it is not tea that I drink but my own illusions and afflictions. Often, I do not even notice that my cup of tea is empty, as I am so much away from the tea. Sometimes, I cannot even recollect the taste or the warmth of the tea as I have been carried away by the distractions in the tea-shop or by the TV-music that is blasting in the air. It is a shame that we pay so much for a quality tea and still miss so much of it!

By drinking tea mindfully, I think I am encountering a different tea altogether. Meeting tea in that real manner, tea enters into life in a special way. At that moment only one thing matter: tea...and that’s all.


Monday, November 2

God’s own Globalization

Today, I am amazed at the inter dependability of EVERYTHING in the world. There is an undeniable fact: the universe is a dynamic fabric of interdependent events in which none is the fundamental entity. Each phenomenon is formed by the coordination of another phenomenon in this super network. Nothing is isolated.

When there is a ripple in a pond, it is easily noticed. When that same ripple happens in an ocean, it is faded away in the vastness of the blue seas. Nevertheless, can we dismiss the ripple all together just because it faded away so soon in the seas? The complicated interwoven nature of relationships illustrate that world is one family of living beings. All the multiplicity of the universe boils down to one great family called earth! That thought overtakes all the pity niches I have created for myself...for my family and for my life. Of course, social responsibility calls me to do it. Yet, there is one family and only one family on earth.

When his disciples asked Jesus to teach them pray, he started a simple prayer with the words, ‘Our Father in Heaven....’ I must realise that God becomes my Father only when the world becomes my brothers and sisters. This is the gist of Christianity that I often forget. The immediate spiritual consequence of this understanding is to humbly accept that that I have no place on earth to desecrate it. The stars, the flowers, the dust and the human life are all united... united in this framework of the universe. What a marvel it is to mull over this thought!! What a humbling experience is it!

To envision the interwoven nature of this mystery, someone asked us to see ‘the universe in a speck of dust’. How correct that is! Shall I call it ‘God’s own Globalization’?