Archive for May 3, 2011


Full many a glorious morning have I seen
 Flatter the mountain tops with sovereign eye,
Kissing with golden face the meadows green,
 Gilding pale streams with heavenly alchemy;
Anon permit the basest clouds to ride
 With ugly rack on his celestial face,
And from the forlorn world his visage hide,
 Stealing unseen to west with this disgrace:

ramakrishnaprabha – Imagination Makes mountain out of molehills…  don’t let it take hold of you .……….applies   to me  .

The real masters have been saying something else. They have been saying, ‘Please look what you are doing, what nonsense you are doing. First you create a problem, then you go in search of a solution. Just watch why you are creating the problem, just exactly in the beginning, when you are creating the problem, is the solution  —  don’t create it!’ But that won’t appeal to you because then you are suddenly thrown flat upon yourself. Nothing to do? No enlightenment? No satori? No samadhi? And you are deeply restless, empty, trying to stuff yourself with anything whatsoever. You don’t have any problems  —  only this much has to be understood. This very moment you can drop all problems

because they are your creations. Have another look at your problems: the deeper you look, the smaller they will appear. Go on looking at them and by and by they will start disappearing. Go on gazing and suddenly you will find there is emptiness  —  a beautiful emptiness surrounds you. Nothing to do, nothing to be, because you are already that.

Enlightenment is not something to be achieved, it is just to be lived. When I say that I achieved enlightenment, I simply mean that I decided to live it. Enough is enough! And since then I have lived it. It is a decision that now you are not interested in creating problems  —  that’s all. It is a decision that now you are finished with all this nonsense of creating problems and finding solutions.

All this nonsense is a game you are playing with yourself: you yourself are hiding and you yourself are seeking, you are both the parties. And you know it! That’s why when I say it you smile, you laugh. I am not talking about anything ridiculous  —  you understand it. You are laughing at yourself. Just watch yourself laughing, just look at your own smile  —  you understand it. It has to be so because it is your own game: you are hiding and waiting for yourself to be able to seek and find yourself.

And of course nobody wants small tensions, everybody wants big tensions. If your own problems are not enough, you start thinking about humanity and the world and the future… socialism, communism, and all that rubbish. You start thinking about it as if the whole world depends on your advice. Then you think, ‘What is going to happen in Israel? What is going to happen in Africa?’ And you go on advising, and you create problems. People become very excited, they cannot sleep because there is some war going on.

They become very excited. Their own life is so ordinary that they will have to reach extraordinariness from some other source. The nation is in difficulty so they become identified with the nation. The culture is in difficulty, the society is in difficulty  —  now there are big problems and you become identified. You are a Hindu and the Hindu culture is in difficulty; you are a Christian and the church is in difficulty. The whole world is at stake. Now you become big through your problem.

The ego needs some problems. If you understand this, in the very understanding the mountains become molehills again, and then the molehills also disappear. Suddenly there is emptiness, pure emptiness all around. This is what enlightenment is all about  —  a deep understanding that there is no problem.

Then, with no problem to solve, what will you do? Immediately you start living. You will eat, you will sleep, you will love, you will have a chit-chat, you will sing, you will dance  —  what else is there to do? You have become a God, you have started living.

If there is any God, one thing is certain: he will not have any problems. That much is certain. Then what is he doing with all his time? No problems, no psychiatrist to consult, no gurus to go and surrender to… what is God doing? What will he do? He must be getting crazy, whirling. No, he is living; his life is totally full with life. He is eating, sleeping, dancing, having a love affair  —  but without any problems.

The Nobel laureate’s repeated use of the words “naive” and “sentimental” in this book derives from Friedrich Schiller’s 18 {+t} {+h} century essay “Uber naive und sentimentalische Dichtung”, which distinguished between two types of poets: the “naive” ones who write spontaneously, almost as if they are being dictated to by an unseen power; and the “sentimental” ones who are painfully self-aware, questioning everything around them, including the artifice of their own writing. Novelists can be similarly classified, Pamuk proposes.

But it would be a mistake to think of this divide as a clear-cut one: the creative process is a mysterious thing, in which “deliberate effort” and “natural, unforced talent” constantly overlap with and inform each other.

Of course, a novel hardly exists in isolation; it acquires a new life when readers respond to it, and readers can be categorised as naïve and sentimental too. The former are literal-minded sorts who always read a text as an autobiography or as disguised chronicle of the author’s experiences, while completely sentimental-reflective readers think that all texts are constructs and fictions anyway. “I must warn you to keep away from [both types of] people, because they are immune to the joys of reading novels,” writes Pamuk, tongue firmly in cheek. But somewhere between these two extremes lies the ideal reader, and as you turn the pages of The Naive and the Sentimental Novelist, you begin to think that Pamuk himself must be very close to being one such.

On view throughout this book is Orhan Pamuk the reflective writer as well as Orhan Pamuk the enthusiastic reader. His descriptions of the effect that his favourite novels have had on him — “sometimes twilight would pervade and cover everything, the whole universe would become a single emotion and a single style” — are eloquent and moving. He uses great works of literature like Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina and Melville’s Moby Dick to illustrate important aspects of the reading and writing process (everyone, from Homer through Cervantes to Naipaul, is grist to his mill) and reflects on the novelist’s use of the tools available to him — character, plot, time and objects. He also writes — somewhat enigmatically, not always with clarity — about the “secret centre” that a great novel should have, which the reader should — consciously or unconsciously — be seeking.

Speaking of the artistic calling that he almost took up before becoming a full-time writer, Pamuk admits, “I have always felt more childlike and naive when I paint, and more adult and sentimental when I write novels.” It was as if — he says in a very revealing passage — he wrote novels only with his intellect, but produced paintings solely with his talent. However, he also reflects that with age and experience, he may have found “the equilibrium between the naïve novelist and the sentimental novelist within me”. His best novels are certainly a testament to this. This book is an insightful literary study, but even more interestingly it’s a window into the mind of one of the major writers of our time.

grist for your mill (American)

something that you can use in order to help you to succeed As an actor, all experience is grist to the mill.
arcane known or understood by very few; mysterious; secret; obscure; esoteric: She knew a lot about sanskrit grammar and other arcane matters.
Epistolary  ( -p s t -l r ). adj. 1. Of or associated with letters or the writing of letters. 2. Being in the form of a letter: epistolary exchanges

A wise aunt recently shared with me her mantra for happy families: the acceptance that there are only two things you can give your grownup children – unconditional love and freedom. The rules, the values, and the corrections taught by parents must be internalised by this stage, and not vocalised.

As with many mantras that sound simple yet offer an essential truth of contemporary life, this one is anything but easy to practice. It is the failure to understand this mantra that results in the hurt experienced by many central characters in Jonathan Franzen’s dazzling new novel Freedom.

The early part of the Berglunds’ 20-year stint there sees them as the perfect Norman Rockwell family; successful, seemingly happy, well-intentioned and just worthy enough not to have real friends among their neighbours.

Over the course of its 562 pages, Freedom reads as a forensic examination of the disintegration of baby boomers forced to inhabit the disappointing skins of middle age in contemporary America. Which begs the question: why are we interested in the novel in India?          In part, it’s because the much-debated idea of “freedom” is universal, and has reference points with middle-class societies in all countries with a reasonable degree of social stability. The freedom attained upon becoming a sovereign country is much more easily defined than the freedom pursued by the now-free middle-class. The latter freedom seems unable to provide the contentment we thought it would bring – whether due to our inherent competitiveness, or to the grass-is-greener syndrome, or to human selfishness. Whatever the reasons, the Berglunds invite us to examine them.

Gorgeous prose  

Also, one cannot deny the novel’s gorgeous prose, a breath-taking display of the novelist’s art. Patty is one of the more knotty aspects of this sprawling examination of individual, familial and social issues. Both men in her life talk of her attractive qualities but in her interactions with them, we only see a woman who is becoming increasingly depressed and unhinged.

Franzen took nine years to write Freedom. But unlike multimillion-dollar films in which you can’t figure where the money went, here you absolutely know how and where the nine years were spent; it’s visible in every line. Like me, you may not like the people being written about, but they are written up in prose so meticulously crafted, it’s to be lingered over.

While Freedom has its flaws, the very fact that we wind up thinking so intricately about the people and issues in it is a testament to its quality. It’s not a book you would want to speed-read because much of its appeal lies in the detailed writing; the medium is — a substantial part of — the message.

can totally identify with this opinion……i’m reading fewer books than before………atleast the good ones……..

Dyer writes: “This year I read fewer books than last year; last year I read fewer than the year before; the year before I read fewer than the year before that…The condition is creeping rather than chronic…Reading has never felt like work in the way that writing has, and so, if I feel I should be working, I feel I should be writing. Theoretically, if I am not writing then I am free to read but, actually, I always feel vaguely guilty, and so, instead of writing (working) or reading (relaxing), I do neither: I potter around, rearranging my books, clearing up. Basically I do nothing — until it’s time to catch a train… I plunge into a book, thinking, at last I’ve got a chance to read. In no time, though, I’m like Pessoa in The Book of Disquiet, ‘torn, in a futile anguished fashion, between my disinterest in the landscape and my disinterest in the book which could conceivably distract me.’

There are more and more of us who were once book-drunk that feel this way now. I’ve been a sort of lapsed reader myself for some years now. We are readers in exile; reading has become a nostalgic act; a home we long to return to.

Dyer evokes this: “I look back elegiacally on my life as an obsessive reader…I think of those sublime periods of lamp-lit solitude when, in Wallace Stevens’s phrase, “the reader became the book.” It can still happen, but it has something of the character of the occasional lovemaking of a long-married couple in that it reminds me of how things have changed, of how infrequently I am now consumed by a passion that was once routine. Losing myself in J. M. Coetzee’s Booker-winning Disgrace, I remember how I used to pass from one book to another in a tranced relay of imagined worlds.”

There’s a piece here on a Bangalore-based classical singer called Ramamani; writing of her voice which he is smitten by, he says, “The importance of faithfulness and constancy in relationships is often debated. But there is another far rarer kind of constancy: to remain faithful to your deepest longing, to the idea that there exists someone who will be everything to you. Ramamani’s voice enables you to keep faith with this ideal.”

Most beautiful of all is that passage from the Varanasi section from his novel, where the unnamed hero drifts into an open air Hindustani concert in progress. He decides to linger on and listen. Dyer’s evocation of the experience is as accurate as it can be: “It was a clear warm night, full of listening stars. The stars lay on the river…At that moment the tabla kicked in. You could feel the sense of relief spreading through the night. A flight of birds flitted past, quick shadows of themselves. In the unaccompanied alap there was an immense yearning, a yearning, on the part of the violin, to achieve the incomparable sob of the sarangi. The fact that this was impossible had added greatly to the sense of longing, but that longing had been answered by the tabla, and the violin grew familiar again.”

The Book of Disquiet  – – There are places, says Steinbeck, “where fable, myth, preconception, love, longing, or prejudice step in and so distort a cool, clear appraisal that a kind of high-colored magical confusion takes permanent hold. Greece is such an area, and those parts of England where King Arthur walked….And surely Texas is such a place.” Charley and his antics, his French-gentleman breeding which makes him believe that “humans are nuts”, his prostatitis and his hilarious encounter with a vet nursing a hangover get ample play in the journey and its touching to see Steinbeck conducting conversations with the dog on matters such as the search for roots. (“He listened but he didn’t reply.”)

Charley fortunately “doesn’t belong to a species clever enough to split the atom but not clever enough to live in peace with itself.”    

Particularly enchanting is the wisdom about travel and travel writing that is strewn casually about. Each journey, Steinbeck believes, is like a person; with an individuality and temperament that is impossible to control and bind down with schedules and reservations. “We do not take a trip,” he says “a trip takes us.” Many trips continue in the mind long after movement in space and time has ceased; others leave us “without warning, or good-by or kiss my foot” while we are still stranded far from home. Steinbeck’s trip ended for him while he was still in Virginia; from then on the “road became a stone ribbon, the hills obstructions, the trees green blurs, the people simply moving figures with heads but no faces.” Steinbeck confesses he kept few notes about his journey and is surprised to find some scribblings bound on a ketchup bottle with a rubber band. The large macrocosm of the land is the macrocosm of himself; to anybody else it would be different. External reality is not so external; it depends on whose eye surveys it. Each person brings home a different city, a different journey, a different truth. “So much there is to see, but our morning eyes describe a different world than do our afternoon eyes, and surely our wearied evening eyes can report only a weary evening world.”

inspiring   My philosophy in life is simple: If doing something makes you worried, then it must be a wrong thing. If it makes you happy, then you must have done the right thing. What others say is not important,” says Chen. She is content with what she has and feels that as long as she lives a life she wishes for and does the things she wants, “that is good enough.”  Has business improved after winning the award? “Business is as usual,” Chen says. “I still need to sell my vegetables, not much has changed.” Advertisers have approached her to film commercials, financial managers have offered to manage her finances and other well-wishers have offered to donate money. Chen rejects these advances politely. “It is easy to return borrowed money, but difficult to return a favour,” she says.
“I have to be very careful in handling money matters,” she adds. Even when customers tip her, she refuses to accept any of it. “Buying from my stall is already a form of support,” she explains.

Chen’s ability to give away such large sums of money has led many to ask, How can a mere vegetable seller earn so much?
“Spend only what you need, and you’ll be able to save a lot!” says Chen. Since 1996, she has been donating NT$36,000 to help three children in the Kids Alive International organization. To achieve this, Chen explains that she empties her loose change into three little cardboard boxes at home every night. “This is a simple act that can be done by anyone, isn’t it?” she says.
Chen leads a very simple life without any luxuries. Neither does she have any desire for material gains or any form of enjoyment. Work, she says, is her enjoyment. “I love my work. If I didn’t, would I be able to work 16 hours a day?”
All she needs is food and a place to sleep. Everything else is a luxury. She does not buy expensive clothes. “I do not socialize much, hence there is no need for beautiful clothes. The clothes from the roadside stalls are good enough for me, and even then, I like to bargain.” Her daily meals cost little: a vegetarian rice dish and a bowl of noodles. Freeze whatever cannot be finished, buy a can of gluten and add that to the rice with some hot water. “This becomes porridge and is very tasty,” says Chen.
She also sleeps on the hard floor, a habit from her younger days when she first started working at the vegetable stall. The comfort of her warm bed made getting up early to go to the wholesaler very difficult, especially during the cold winter months. Hence Chen made up her mind to sleep on the cold floor, where she would not run the risk of being late.

“I have done nothing extraordinary and everyone who wants to can do it. There are many other charitable people; we just don’t know about them.” Chen, who is unmarried, adds, “I do not place great importance on money. When I donate to help others, I feel at peace, I’m  happy, and I can sleep well at night.” She also feels for the poor, having experienced hardship in her younger days.

After the morning hustle and bustle, the atmosphere at Central Market in Taiwan’s Taitung county quietens as every stall shuts for the day and the owners return to the comfort of their homes. A lone lamp shines on a vegetable stall. With head bowed, Chen Shu-Chu, who turns 60 this month, silently sorts vegetables as she waits for the occasional afternoon customer. Decades of hard work has caused the fingers on her right hands to look gnarled, its joints swollen; her feet are slightly deformed.
Chen has a daily routine—waking up at 3am, she makes her way to the vegetable wholesaler and sets up her stall, which she tends till seven or eight in the evening. The first to arrive in the dark, damp market and the last to leave, other stall-owners have fondly nicknamed her ‘market manager.’
Chen holds the stall her father left her dearly. Yuan-Jin Vegetables is her everything. Selling at “a bundle for 30 dollars*, three bundles for 50,” Chen earns only marginal profits. Yet, her frugality has allowed her to donate about NT$10 million (nearly Rs1.5 crore) towards various charitable causes, including helping schools, orphanages and poor children.

Determine never to be idle. No person will have occasion to complain of the want of time who never loses any. It is wonderful how much may be done if we are always doing.
Thomas Jefferson


Don’t talk about what you have done or what you are going to do.
Thomas Jefferson

Enlighten the people generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of day.
Thomas JeffersonErrors of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it.
Thomas JeffersonEvery citizen should be a soldier. This was the case with the Greeks and Romans, and must be that of every free state.
Thomas Jefferson

Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone. The people themselves are its only safe depositories.
Thomas Jefferson

Experience demands that man is the only animal which devours his own kind, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor.
Thomas Jefferson

Forgive many things in others; nothing in yourself.

If fortune favors you do not be elated; if she frowns do not despond.

Let us never know what old age is. Let us know the happiness time brings, not count the years.

No man pleases by silence; many I please by speaking briefly.

When about to commit a base deed, respect thyself, though there is no witness.

 Friendship is but another name for an alliance with the follies and the misfortunes of others. Our own share of miseries is sufficient: why enter then as volunteers into those of another?
Thomas JeffersonHappiness is not being pained in body or troubled in mind.
Thomas JeffersonHe who knows best knows how little he knows.
Thomas Jefferson

He who knows nothing is closer to the truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods and errors.
Thomas Jefferson

A strong body makes the mind strong. As to the species of exercises, I advise the gun. While this gives moderate exercise to the body, it gives boldness, enterprise and independence to the mind. Games played with the ball, and others of that nature, are too violent for the body and stamp no character on the mind. Let your gun therefore be your constant companion of your walks.
Thomas Jefferson

A wise and frugal Government, which shall retrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned.
Thomas Jefferson

Advertisements contain the only truths to be relied on in a newspaper.
Thomas Jefferson

All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.
Thomas Jefferson

Always take hold of things by the smooth handle.
Thomas Jefferson

An association of men who will not quarrel with one another is a thing which has never yet existed, from the greatest confederacy of nations down to a town meeting or a vestry.
Thomas Jefferson

An enemy generally says and believes what he wishes.
Thomas Jefferson

An injured friend is the bitterest of foes.
Thomas Jefferson

As our enemies have found we can reason like men, so now let us show them we can fight like men also.
Thomas Jefferson

Be polite to all, but intimate with few.
Thomas Jefferson

Bodily decay is gloomy in prospect, but of all human contemplations the most abhorrent is body without mind.
Thomas Jefferson

Books constitute capital. A library book lasts as long as a house, for hundreds of years. It is not, then, an article of mere consumption but fairly of capital, and often in the case of professional men, setting out in life, it is their only capital.
Thomas Jefferson

But friendship is precious, not only in the shade, but in the sunshine of life, and thanks to a benevolent arrangement the greater part of life is sunshine.
Thomas Jefferson

Commerce with all nations, alliance with none, should be our motto.
Thomas Jefferson

Conquest is not in our principles. It is inconsistent with our government.
Thomas Jefferson

Delay is preferable to error.
Thomas Jefferson