Sunday, December 09, 2007

Stephanie's Exciting Non-Attachment Game

Here is Stephanie Mallard's exciting party game that promotes non-attachment. Especially great for Seekers:

When all the guests have arrived you count the number of gifts or guests, assuming every person has brought a gift to exchange. Then you put as many slips of paper with numbers on them as there are gifts, 30 gifts = 30 slips of paper with the numbers 1 to 30. Before opening the gifts every person draws a number. #1 starts by selecting a gift from under the tree. All participants watch as #1 unwraps their gift and displays it for all to see. Then #2 has the option of taking #1's gift or selecting a new gift from under the tree. If #2 selects a new gift than they unwrap it and display it for all to see. #3 then has the option of taking from #1 or #2's gift or selecting a gift from under the tree. The fun begins when one brave soul decides to take an already opened gift rather than an unwrapped gift. If #3 takes #1's or #2's gift than whomever has handed over their gift goes back to the tree to open a new gift. No gift is certain until the very end. Any gift opened may be taken away until #30 decides to take the last gift under the tree or any of the gifts from any person that has already been opened. It is a great lessen in non attachment and fun to watch everyone's response to trying to maintain there gift or how graciously they hand it over. In this game it is best to be last not first. You must go in numerical order and the only way to select again is if someone takes a gift away from you. It is only when the last gift is opened that everyone knows what their gift is.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

The art of giving and taking

Some are comfortable taking but not giving.
Others are comfortable giving but not taking.
Only a few, so very few are wholeheartedly easy
With giving as well as taking
Not letting either leave any residue.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Way of the Holy Ones

Don't speak of your suffering - He is speaking.
Don't look for Him everywhere - He's looking for you.

An ant's foot touches a leaf, He senses it;
A pebble shifts in a streambed, He knows it.

If there's a worm hidden deep in a rock,
He'll know its body, tinier than an atom,

The sound of its praise, its secret ecstasy -
All this He knows by divine knowing.

He has given the tiniest worm its food;
He has opened to you the Way of the Holy Ones.

= Sanai

Friday, October 26, 2007

Echoes from Neem Karoli Baba

Samarth Guru Ram Das was guru to King Shivaji in the 1600s. The name Samarth meant “all-powerful” and there are many stories of his miraculous powers. He lived in a mud hut next to the king’s palace. The king was highly regarded for his concern for his subjects and for his generous feeding of the poor, but apparently now and then his ego got the best of him. When this happened the guru would do things like splitting a rock in which there were many tiny bugs and asking the king, Who was feeding these bugs? The realization of the triviality of his own efforts would again humble the king.


One day the king (Shivaji) came out of the palace and did obeisance to the guru (Samarth Guru Ram Das). Then the king handed him a scroll in which he had bequeathed all his kingdom to the guru. The guru took the scroll, read it, accepted it, and then said to the king, “Now you run it for me!”


I am in the world but not concerned with the world. I am going through the marketplace, but not as a purchaser.

- Maharajji (Neem Karoli Baba) quoting Kabir


Maharajji would sit out in the back in his chair, looking up at the hills, saying, “Look at those trees on that mountain. Who waters them? Who takes care of them? Those are the assurance that God exists for people. Those are what people can look to, to know about God.”


[In the context of never ever forgetting God] If you have a toothache, you do what you do, but the mind remains on the tooth.

- Maharajji

(Excerpted from Miracles of Love: Stories About Neem Karoli Baba compiled by Ram Dass)

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Irresistible attraction

When the flower blooms, the bees come uninvited.

- Ramakrishna Paramhaunsa

Why be afraid?

O Kabir, why be afraid of anyone
When the Lord Himself protects you?
What does it matter if
A thousand dogs bark fiercely
When you are seated on an elephant?

- Kabir

Faith is antidote for doubt

Whatever may be Guru - he may be a lunatic or any common person. Once you have accepted him, he is the Lord of the Lords.

- Neem Karoli Baba

The spiritual barter

I give them what they want, so they will want what I give.

- Shirdi Sai Baba

Flaunt it, lose it

You should not talk about your wealth, wife or sadhana or they will go away.

- Neem Karoli Baba

What is Happiness?

Monday, August 06, 2007

Simpler than you think

What does a Self-realised sage do when he has a headache?

He takes a headache pill.

Monday, June 11, 2007

A Tale of Two Boatmen

Kewat, the boatman, was waiting eagerly.

He had heard that Lord Ram was likely to pass his way. He had cleaned up his humble boat till it was spick ‘n’ span, he had anchored his boat at a convenient spot, and he had polished a copper vessel, filled it with fresh water from the river and kept it ready. And now he was waiting patiently and confidently. The Lord would soon come.

Sure enough, a while later he saw three people emerge from the forest cover and walk towards the river. He immediately identified Lord Ram from his serene radiance, the grace of his walk and by the way Lakshman and Sita walked in his presence. At the mere sight of the three, Kewat got goose bumps and felt a tingling charge run down his spine. Just then, a fresh breeze wafted across the river and Kewat felt it pass right through him as if he was not solid at all but a mere conglomeration of vibrating energy.

When the three stood before him, Kewat bowed to Lord Ram, who said, “We need to cross the river. Will you take us across, boatman?”

“Of course!” replied Kewat. “But first I need to wash your feet. I have heard that dust from your feet made a stone turn into a woman, Ahilya. I am just a poor boatman and I would be ruined if the dust from your feet were to transform my boat.”

Lord Ram smiled, seeing through Kewat’s ruse. He allowed the boatman to wash his feet with water from the shining copper vessel. After drinking the water as charanamrita, Kewat invited them to step into his boat.

As they were nearing the other shore, Lord Ram glanced at Sita and she immediately understood what he had in mind. They were wandering vagrants and had nothing to offer as payment to the boatman. She quietly took off her ring and handed it to her husband.

When they alighted, Lord Ram offered the ring to Kewat as payment. Kewat refused to accept it. But Lord Ram persisted, saying “This is your occupation and you must accept the fare for the service you rendered.”

Kewat declined, saying “Convention has it that people of the same occupation do not accept payment from each other.”

Amused, Lord Ram said: “Kewat, I can’t understand your logic. You are a boatman and I am not. So how can you claim we share the same occupation?”

Kewat bowed humbly and replied: “My Lord, we are both boatmen. So what if this humble boatman rows village folk across this narrow river while you, you ferry people cross the ocean of misery.”

- A Ramayana tale retold subjectively by shunyayogi

Saturday, May 19, 2007

How we convert Art into Science

The art of medicine of a century ago is now a science of medicine, with much loss both to patient and practitioner alike. The art of seamanship has become the science of navigation with every mechanical aid and the true sailor has almost disappeared. And the art of being a man is becoming a science, too, and men will disappear from the face of the planet as have other species whose development became one-sided and ended in a cul-de-sac.

- Lobzang Jivaka in The Life of Milarepa

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Done in by a dream?

Ramana Maharshi was taking about the dream and waking states.

"Let us say that tonight when we go to sleep we are chased by a dream tiger. In spite of all our study and analysis of the waking and dream state, we will run for our life. Why? Because the knowledge that it is only a dream will not be available to us during the dream. If we knew the 'I' was but a dream, we could stand still and allow the dream tiger to attack our dream body. What would we lose if our dream body is killed or mutilated?"

Ramesh Balsekar points out that we wake up from the personal dream into the waking dream. And the sage, he has woken up from the waking dream.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Words on the watch list

Here is a suggestion.

Put these three words on your watch list: Could, Would and Should.

'He could have done this...', 'If only I would have done that...', 'You should do this...'

Notice how these three wistful 'mind' words steer you away from the What-Is?

If you wish to stay in the Here and Now, become alert the minute these words pop up in your mind or conversation.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

The Seeking runs its own course

Understand this: No one ever gets up one day and says, I am going to start "seeking" from tomorrow. Seeking happens.

And understand this too: once seeking begins, it takes its own course.

Though every seeker is led up his own individual path, it has been observed that seeking, by and large, follows a similar pattern for a similar category of seekers. For instance, there is a broadly discernible pattern for seekers who are of contemplative nature (the jnana marg). Though one cannot generalize, it has been observed that for people who are contemplative, the seeking broadly goes through the following stages:

First Step. There is the sense that some other force (other than oneself) has the final word on what happens. To begin with, the seeker starts out by thinking, “I am in charge most of the time but sometimes the other 'force' dictates the course of events - whether I like it or not.”

Second Step. The seeker sees how each action happens: the mechanism of thought-vocalisation-action. A thought arises which instantly gets vocalised and an action happens. Once this process is distinctly seen in operation, the seeker intellectually accepts that everything is just happening. He accepts, “I am not doing anything. What's more, I do not have the volition to do anything.

Third Step. The seeker now realises that he does not even have the volition NOT to do anything.

Fourth Step. The seeker is now intellectually settled in his conviction that he is not the doer of his actions. And then suddenly it dawns on him that if he is not doing anything, nor is the other! Now, that’s interesting. It occurs to the seeker that “If he (the other) is not doing anything and if actions are merely happening through him then how can he blamed for any action that happens through him which harms me?”

Fifth Step. If I am not the doer of any action why should I be blamed for any action that happens through me? I am not doing it! Clever. But the seeker realises that, “If I am not doing any action then, when the reward or punishment comes, as it is wont to, I have also to accept that I am not the one receiving it too!” He cannot accept the intellectual understanding 50% per cent!

Sixth Step. Now it suddenly occurs to the seeker that, “If I did not start the seeking, how can I stop the seeking?” He realises that the seeking, which began spontaneously by itself, will run its own course – despite whatever he may or may not do. And, the tragic joke is that he cannot not do anything. The seeking directs him to do whatever needs to be done. Slowly, active seeking subsides - though passive seeking continues.

Seventh Step. The seeker comes to understand that he didn't create the ego. So how can he kill it? He learns to let the ego be. He discovers that any effort he makes to "suppress" or "destroy" the ego makes it stronger. Letting it be renders it fangless.

Eighth Step. The seeker is by now intellectually settled in the acceptance of the What-Is. More and more he becomes aware that everything is just happening. A point may come one day when, in the midst of a situation, the seeker may see the entire play happening - all the characters diligently playing their assigned roles and everything, absolutely everything, poised in equisite harmony. Such flashes of insight may, in some cases, become more frequent.

Ninth Step onwards. The seeker realises that, almost without his realizing it, the intellectual understanding has, over time, seeped deeper and transformed itself into Understanding. More and more he watches the game (lila) happening. By this time, he has also understood clearly that there is nothing he can do to direct the seeking process or to hasten it. He is simply happy the way he is. As the Understanding gets deeper he doesn’t even care if Enlightenment happens or not.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Haiku Serenity

The leaves never know
Which leaf
Will be first to fall...
Does the wind know?

- Soseki

From watching the moon
I turned
And my friendly old
Shadow led me home

- Shiki

When a nightingale
Sang out
The sparrow flew off
To a further tree

- Jurin

Poppy petals fall
Softly quietly
When they are ready

- Etsujin

Hello! Light the fire!
I'll bring inside
A lovely
Bright ball of snow!

- Basho

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Take it easy...

It doesn't hurt to take a hard look at yourself from time to time and this should help get you started.

During a visit to the mental asylum, a visitor asked the Director what the criterion was which defined whether or not a patient should be institutionalized.

"Well," said the Director, "we fill up a bathtub, then we offer a teaspoon, a teacup and a bucket to the patient and ask him or her to empty the bathtub."

"Oh, I understand," said the visitor. "A normal person would use the bucket because it's bigger than the spoon or the teacup."

"No," said the Director, "a normal person would pull the plug. Do you want a bed near the window?"

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Lucky Mosquito

This morning there was a mosquito in my bathroom.

It buzzed around frantically from here to there, from one light in the bathroom to another. A couple of times it went to the reflections of the lights in the mirror. It was looking for a way out but was trapped by its fondness for bright lights. It was probably subconsciously seeking the brightest light of all, the sunlight, but in the captivity of the bathroom it did not know this and couldn't seem to find a way to fulfill this deep, primordial search.

I watched this all. I could see that the large louvered window was just inches away, if only the mosquito would stop to look instead of expending itself on frenzied activity.

After a while, the mosquito perched himself on the basin mirror, almost as if looking at himself, reassessing the situation and probably coming to the conclusion that all his effort was getting him nowhere. He was still stuck where he was and there wasn't anything he could do to get where he, for some unknown reason, wanted to be.

Compassion arose. I found myself switching off the lights in the bathroom and opening the louvers of the window wider. Then, a single swipe of the hand towel drove the mosquito towards the window and there it fluttered in mid-air, trembling for a nano second at the sight of the light he had been seeking, and then, in a swoosh, he was out.

Sage Tulsidas' Advice

Sage Tulsidas offers this advice in Ramayana:

Je bid rakhe Ram, te bid rahiyo

Translation: Whatever the circumstance Existence places you in, accept graciously.

Inspired translation: Accept the What-is.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Zen via Geometry

If I was asked to define Zen, I would point to it using this theorem from geometry:

The smallest arc of a circle is a straight line.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Sage Sri Ramakrishna on Free Will

Vaidyanath: Sir, I have a doubt. People speak of free will. They say that a man can do either good or evil according to his will. Is it true? Are we really free to do whatever we like?

Sri Ramakrishna: Everything depends on the will of God. The world is His play. He has created all these different things - great and small, strong and weak, good and bad, virtuous and vicious. This is all His maya, His sport. You must have observed that all the trees in a garden are not of the same kind.

As long as a man has not realized God, he thinks he is free. It is God Himself who keeps this error in man. Otherwise sin would have multiplied. Man would not have been afraid of sin, and there would have been no punishment for it.

But do you know the attitude of one who has realized God? He feels: 'I am the machine, and Thou, O Lord, art the Operator. I am the house and Thou art the Indweller. I am the chariot and Thou art the Driver. I move as Thou movest me; I speak as Thou makest me speak.*

- Excerpt from a conversation in The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna (Vol 1, Page 211)

*Emphasis mine

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Buddhist discussion on Row, Row, Row The Boat...

Check out the a fascinating (bizarre?!) Buddhist discussion on the nursery rhyme-mantra Row, Row, Row The Boat!

Also, shunyayogi recommends you contemplate on an earlier posting, Nursery Mantra.

How we get disconnected from the Source

The purpose of life is to remain connected to the Self, the Source.
You are connected to the Self when you do whatever you feel like
doing in a given situation, without any regrets about the past,
without any complaints about the present, and without any
expectations in the future.

You get disconnected as soon as you blame and condemn anyone for
anything – either yourself or the other. As soon as there is
awareness of this fact, without any recrimination, you get

You get disconnected when you pursue a preference or desire, and you
remain disconnected during the entire process. Your sudden awareness
of what had happened reconnects you with the Self.

You get disconnected when your thinking mind asks useless questions
and gets you involved into conceptualizing and objectivizing. A
sudden awareness of this fact gets you reconnected to the Self.

You get disconnected when a psychological pain, instead of remaining
in the present moment, drags itself into horizontal involvement –
like grief, turning into mourning. A sudden realization of this fact
restores the connection.

Anything that lets your mind stray away from the present moment,
into conceptualizing makes you disconnected. A sudden awareness of
this fact restores the connection.

As the understanding deepens, the frequency and intensity of the
disconnection gets gradually reduced until it finally stops
altogether: awakening has developed into deliverance.

- Ramesh Balsekar in A Buddha's Babble

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Where are you headed?

If you do not change direction, you will end up where you are headed.

- Lao Tzu

Monday, January 15, 2007

The Wise 'Doer'

Know this:
What is, is

Knowing this,
Do whatever needs
To be done.

Accept the consequences
With equanimity.