Archive for April, 2013


http://www.youthkiawaaz.com/2013/04/heres-how-a-girl-decided-to-walk-out-of-school-and-enter-the-5th-space-to-discover-real-learning/

Walking out’ essentially is being able to critically examining the conventions of society and its institutions, and rejecting those that are oppressive or discriminating. It is also about ‘walking on’ to create more egalitarian and inclusive alternatives, be that in relationships, learning, or living.

…………..to ‘walk out’ of the two major systems of oppression in India – patriarchy and caste, and ‘walk on’ to reclaim ‘family’ as a group of individuals connected by love, trust, and shared values rather than a common-named unit headed by a patriarch male.

 

This ‘walking out’ and ‘walking on’ extends to the other spaces too. In school, I was a ‘model’ student who scored good marks. But there came a point where I couldn’t help wondering what the point was to study all these subjects only for an examination, after which they would be forgotten. My father is a graduate in B.Sc Statistics but couldn’t help me in my calculations of the mean, median and mode! (Not doubting his intelligence!) To delve deeper into these questions, my parents and I decided that I would ‘walk-out’ (rather than ‘drop-out’) of school and begin my own journey of discovery and learning. In school, I was a passive receiver and memorizer of textbook knowledge. Out of school, I could take full responsibility of my learning, and thus, of my life!

 

What does taking ownership of one’s learning entail? In school, some higher authority who doesn’t even know me, decides what I should study and when I have studied ‘enough’ to be qualified with a certificate. But once I decide to take my learning into my own hands, I decide WHAT I want to learn, HOW I want to learn it and from WHOM. And I don’t need a degree or certificate to validate that I have learnt ‘enough’, as my learning will organically manifest in my work, in my life, and in who I am.

 

Taking ownership also means getting to know ourselves first, and learning according to our needs and contexts. It starts by asking a simple question, “What is it that I really care about?” It might be an idea, an art, or a skill, even a question we want to find the answer to. It might not be one thing, might be ten. Start from there. I believe all of us have the potential to do something great, as long as we’re truly passionate about it. Like Rancho says in 3 idiots, “Kamyabi ke peeche mat bhago. Kabil bano… Phir kamyabi to sali jhak maar ke peeche bhagegi.” (Don’t run after success, strive for excellence in whatever you do. Success will follow.)

 

Another important realization for me during the process of reclaiming my learning, which is also known as ‘self-designed learning,’ by the way, has been that everything is interconnected. Hence, we are not isolated individuals in this process but rather parts of a greater ‘self’ – the community, society, and the environment. Along with exploring and understanding ourselves then, another important aspect of learning is exploring and understanding the world – this larger self – and contextualizing our learning according to its needs.

pakizah:Bombay, India1996Steve McCurry

 

Let me share a small story about my inner and outer journey of learning. I had gone to stay in a remote village in the forests of the Gadchiroli district in Eastern Maharashtra, as part of a youth social exposure programme that I was participating in. On the last day of my visit, I witnessed an act of domestic violence in the family I was staying with, which left me feeling utterly shocked and helpless. As I said, I had been raised in a gender non-discriminatory household and had never fully comprehended the exploitation that women in realities other than mine had to face. I realised that I was a woman too, and had I been born in different circumstances than my own, I, too, would have been subjected to this kind of oppression and violence just by virtue of being born with a female body. Trying to deal with and overcome this newly articulated fear, I resolved to learn about and contribute to a movement that was making an effort to change this attitude of discrimination and violence against women. And this too, started from looking within.

 

Beginning with our names, patriarchy and other forms of oppression have seeped into the core of our identities and relationships. My endeavour is to ‘walk out’ of them, and invite others to ‘walk on’ along with me.

 

E from  http://zenhabits.net/zenwork/

Vacation mind, work mind.

They are two different things, and yet, what if we could have the vacation mind while working? We’d have to toss out the lazing around and the margaritas, but the mindset could be the same. The result would be a saner way of living, where we aren’t “working for the weekend” or looking forward to the little vacation time we have, but instead are happier throughout the week.

How can this be done? It’s a few small mindset habits, which can be practiced and learned over time.

  What Vacation Mind is Like at Work

Work mind is often full of anxiety: anxiety for what we need to do, for deadlines, for irritating or angry co-workers/bosses, for all the information coming in, for whether we’re doing the right thing right now, for whether we’re missing out on something important.

Vacation mind lets that anxiety go, and is just present in the current moment. Time is less important, enjoying yourself is the priority.

gypsybeachqueen:zen rocks

So what does it look like when you apply vacation mind to work? You let go of the anxiety. You aren’t worried about getting it all done, or doing the right thing right now, or all the things you have to do later. You are immersed in enjoying whatever you’ve chosen to do right now.

………..Pick something to do, immerse yourself, let go of worrying about other things, and just do. Enjoy yourself. Once in awhile, come up for air and look at the big picture.

The Vacation Mind Practices

  1. Pick something, immerse yourself.
  2. Let go of anxieties.
  3. Step back and see the big picture.
  4. Be less worried about time.

Is it possible to be on permanent vacation, so that you’re doing your work but also in the relaxed, enjoyable mindset that’s brought on by margaritas on the beach? I think so, but there’s only one way to find out. Practice.

  

http://zenhabits.net/contentment/

What is contentment…………being happy with who you are. …………And while many might say, “Sure, you can say that now that you’ve reached a certain level of success,” I think that’s wrong. Many people who achieve success don’t find contentment, and are always driven to want more, and are unhappy with themselves. Many people who are poor or don’t have a “successful” career have also found contentment. Worst of all, with the attitude of “you can be content because you’re successful”, is that people who say this are dismissing the path of contentment … when it’s something they can do right now. Not later, when they reach certain goals or a certain level of financial success. Now.

We start out in life thinking that we’re awesome. We can dance in public as 5-year-olds, and not care what others think of us. By the time we’re adults, that’s been driven out of us, by peers and parents and the media and embarrassing situations.

As adults, we doubt ourselves. We judge ourselves badly. We are critical of our bodies, of ourselves as people, of our lack of discipline, of all our faults. We don’t like our lives.

As a result, we try to improve this lacking self, try to get better because we suck so much. Or, we doubt our ability to get better, and are very unhappy. Or we sabotage our attempts at change, because we don’t really believe we can do it.

This self-dislike results in worse relationships, a stagnant career, unhappiness with life, complaints about everything, and often unhealthy habits like eating junk food, drinking too much alcohol, not exercising, shopping too much, being addicted to video games or the Internet.

So what’s the path to being content with yourself and your life?

The first problem is if you don’t trust yourself. That’s an important area to work with.

Your relationship with yourself is like your relationship with anyone else. If you have a friend who is constantly late and breaking his word, not showing up when he says he will, eventually you’ll stop trusting that friend. It’s like that with yourself, too. It’s hard to like someone you don’t trust, and it’s hard to like yourself if you don’t trust yourself.

So work on this trust with yourself (I give some practical steps in the bottom section below). Increase it slowly, and eventually you’ll trust yourself to be awesome.

The second problem is that you judge yourself badly. You compare yourself to an unreal ideal, in all areas. You want a beautiful model’s body. You want to achieve certain goals, personally and professionally. You want to travel the world and learn languages and learn a musical instrument and be an amazing chef and have an amazing social life and the perfect spouse and kids and incredible achievements and be the fittest person on the planet. Of course, those are completely realistic ideals, right?

And when we have these ideals, we compare ourselves to them, and we always measure up badly.

The path to contentment, then, is to stop comparing ourselves to these ideals. Stop judging ourselves. Let go of the ideals. And gradually learn to trust ourselves.

If you feel there’s something wrong with you that needs to be improved, you’re going to be driven to improve yourself, but you may or may not succeed. Let’s say you fail in your habit change. Then you start to feel worse about yourself, and you’re then on a downward spiral where every time you try to improve, you fail, and so you feel worse about yourself, and then you’re on the downward spiral. You start to self-sabotage your changes, because you really don’t believe that you can do them. Based on past evidence, you don’t trust yourself that you can do it. And that makes you feel worse.

That’s if you fail. But let’s say you happen to succeed, and you’re really good at succeeding. So you succeed — maybe you lose weight, and so maybe you don’t feel as bad about your body now.

But what happens is, if you start in this place of fixing what’s wrong with you, you keep looking for what else is wrong with you, what else you need to improve. So maybe now feel like you don’t have enough muscles, or six pack abs, or you think your calves don’t look good, or if it’s not about your body, you’ll find something else.

So it’s this never-ending cycle for your entire life. You never reach it. If you start with a place of wanting to improve yourself and feeling stuck, even if you’re constantly successful and improving, you’re always looking for happiness from external sources. You don’t find the happiness from within, so you look to other things.

If you’re externally looking for happiness, it’s easy to get too into food, or shopping, or partying, or overwork, to try to be happy.

If instead, you can find contentment within and not need external sources of happiness, then you’ll have a reliable source of happiness. I find that to be a much better place to be than relying on external sources of happiness.

A lot of people wonder, “If you find contentment, won’t you just lay around on the beach, not improving the world, not doing anything?” But I think that’s a misunderstanding of what contentment is.

You can be content and lay around, but you can also be content and want to help others. You can be content and also compassionate to others, and want to help them. You can be happy with who you are, but at the same time want to help other people and ease their suffering. And that way, you can offer yourself to the world and do great works in the world, but not necessarily need that to be happy.

Even if for some reason, your work was taken away from you, you’d still have that inner contentment.

Practical Steps

1. Build self-trust.

2. Notice your ideals.

The truth is, the reality of ourselves is not bad, it’s only in bad in relation to the ideal that we have about ourselves. When we let go of the ideal, we’re left with the reality that can be judged as perfectly great. It’s a unique human being who is beautiful in its own way.

So ask if you’re feeling bad about who you are and how you did. If so, it’s because of the ideal. To recognize that takes awareness first. Notice your ideals.

3. Let go of the ideals.

My thoughts – I think rilke’s advice applies not only to budding poets but to all those in search of their true passion in life ………….. to delve into  their core …………….  and look for answers within …….. with a free mind   .

http://www.openculture.com/2013/03/dennis_hopper_reads_from_rainer_maria_rilkes_timeless_guide_to_creativity_iletters_to_a_young_poeti.html

“Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet is a great book,” Hopper says in this short film from 2007. “For me the letters are a credo of creativity and a source of inspiration. After reading Rilke it became clear to me that I had no choice in the matter. I had to create.” The ten-minute film, Must I Write?, was directed by Hermann Vaske and photographed by Rain Li. Hopper reads the first of the book’s ten letters, in which Rilke tells the young man to stop seeking approval from others:

You are looking outward, and that above all you should not do now. Nobody can help and counsel you, nobody. There is only one single way. Go into yourself. Search for the reason that bids you write; find out whether it is spreading out its roots in the deepest places in your heart, acknowledge to yourself whether you would have to die if it were denied you to write. This above all–ask yourself in the stillest hour of your night: must I write? Delve into yourself for a deep answer. And if this should be affirmative, if you may meet this earnest question with a strong and simple “I must,” then build your life according to this necessity; your life even into its most indifferent and slightest hour must be a sign of this urge and a testimony to it.

A work of art is good if it has sprung from necessity. In this nature of its origin lies the judgement of it: there is no other. Therefore, my dear sir, I know no other advice for you save this: to go into yourself and test the deeps in which your life takes rise; at its source you will find the answer to the question whether you must create. Accept it, just as it sounds, without inquiring into it. Perhaps it will turn out that you are called to be an artist.

Then take that destiny upon yourself and bear it, its burden and its greatness, without ever asking what recompense might come from outside. For the creator must be a world for himself and find everything in himself and in Nature to whom he has attached himself.

Zen Flash

“Training in meditation is like learning how to ride a bicycle. Once you know how to keep your balance on a bike, you don’t have to think about your balance any more, because the balance is in you. Likewise, once you have trained in meditation, your mind is in balance.”

~ Sogyal Rinpoche — with Haayattan Nth, Penelope Candace, Chrissy Campbell and Gusman Padmalaksana.

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ramana maharshi …….. his philosophy in 3 words – WHO AM I ………method of teaching – silence

Zen Flash



 


Wanting to reform the world without discovering one’s true self is like trying to cover the world with leather to avoid the pain of walking on stones and thorns. It is much simpler to wear shoes.

~ Ramana Maharshi

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http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/29/science/29tier.html?pagewanted=1&_r=3&

  

A wandering mind can protect you from immediate perils and keep you on course toward long-term goals. Sometimes daydreaming is counterproductive, but sometimes it fosters creativity and helps you solve problems.

Mind wandering, as psychologists define it, is a subcategory of daydreaming, which is the broad term for all stray thoughts and fantasies, including those moments you deliberately set aside to imagine yourself winning the lottery or accepting the Nobel. But when you’re trying to accomplish one thing and lapse into “task-unrelated thoughts,” that’s mind wandering.

But mind wandering clearly seems to be a dubious strategy, if, for example, you’re tailgating a driver who suddenly brakes. Or, to cite activities that have actually been studied in the laboratory, when you’re sitting by yourself reading “War and Peace” or “Sense and Sensibility.”

If your mind is elsewhere while your eyes are scanning Tolstoy’s or Austen’s words, you’re wasting your own time. You’d be better off putting down the book and doing something more enjoyable or productive than “mindless reading,” as researchers call it.

But during some episodes of mind wandering, both networks are firing simultaneously, according to a study led by Kalina Christoff of the University of British Columbia. Why both networks are active is up for debate. One school theorizes that the executive network is working to control the stray thoughts and put the mind back on task.

Another school of psychologists, which includes the Santa Barbara researchers, theorizes that both networks are working on agendas beyond the immediate task. That theory could help explain why studies have found that people prone to mind wandering also score higher on tests of creativity, like the word-association puzzle mentioned earlier. Perhaps, by putting both of the brain networks to work simultaneously, these people are more likely to realize that the word that relates to eye, gown and basket is ball, as in eyeball, ball gown and basketball.

To encourage this creative process, Dr. Schooler says, it may help if you go jogging, take a walk, do some knitting or just sit around doodling, because relatively undemanding tasks seem to free your mind to wander productively. But you also want to be able to catch yourself at the Eureka moment.

“For creativity you need your mind to wander,” Dr. Schooler says, “but you also need to be able to notice that you’re mind wandering and catch the idea when you have it. If Archimedes had come up with a solution in the bathtub but didn’t notice he’d had the idea, what good would it have done him?”

Zen Flash

Silence is something that comes from your heart, not from outside. Silence doesn’t mean not talking and not doing things; it means that you are not disturbed inside. If you’re truly silent, then no matter what situation you find yourself in you can enjoy the silence.

~ Thich Nhat Hanh ~

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dark night of the soul………..

Zen Flash

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luminous poetry

Artfully curated – The Hindu.

Poets hide like seeds/only to return in new forms/At least now their breed is in no danger of extinction

The different retellings of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, love poetry from classical Tamil literature, Bhakti poetry, devotional poems bordering on the erotic, playful poems on gender politics, Urdu and Vedic poems.

Reading the book is like visiting an artfully curated museum of poetry from the Vedas to the present, except that the editors break logic and clichés of time, placing Kalidasa next to Nissim Ezekiel or Auvaiyar next to Ayyappa Paniker. Instead of choosing a chronological or alphabetical order, the editors arrange the poems thematically across 10 sections.

The arrogance and fierce possessiveness of a poet comes through in “ If anyone faults my poetry, even my teacher,/even God himself, I’ll fight back/and win .” The poem is ‘I was born for poetry’ by Chellapilla Venkata Sastri and translated from the Telugu by Velchuru Narayana Rao.

Nara’s ‘White Paper’, Nanne Coda’s ‘On Poetry in Telugu’, Bharthari’s ‘Her Face Is Not The Moon, Nor Are Her Eyes’, the extract from Ezhuthacchan’s ‘Adhyatma Ramayana’, Mona Zote’s ‘What Poetry Means to Ernestina in Peril’ were delightful discoveries.

There is Andal, Purandara Das, Subramania Bharati, Tukaram, Mohammed Iqbal and Mirabai, all rendered in translation, of course.

The Indian landscape grows more ironic in Gopal Honnagere’s ‘How to Tame a Pair of New Chappals’: “ don’t take them to your temple/they may at once come to know you are weak/your god is false and start biting you/ ” he says, in his list of instructions for us.

http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-features/tp-literaryreview/a-part-of-the-whole/article4470668.ece

http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-features/tp-fridayreview/mind-and-its-moves/article4560152.ece

http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-features/tp-metroplus/the-monk-who-went-to-harvard/article4560455.ece

Alone with other things – The Hindu.

This hermit-poet uses poetry

to negotiate his hermit life

with the other life he is

trying to leave behind.

My kimono sleeves/blossom-scented by the air/under this orange tree/close by the caves, catch and hold/tears falling from the past’s recall .’

As always the moon/night after night after night/will stay on here/at this grass hut I put together/and now myself must leave.

Saigyo’s reclusiveness made him alive to the aloneness of things — trees, birds, animals, streams and, of course, the moon — and equally a sense of how one can be alone with other things.

A Saigyo scholar spoke of it as his “finely sharpened sense of the world’s samsara.” Kubota, another Saigyo scholar, said reading this Buddhist hermit you encounter “a motif of a body-piercing loneliness in these poems.” The moon became illumination, luminosity for the mind; Saigyo was just as preoccupied by cherry blossoms and the scholar Konishi says Saigyo “perceived cherry blossoms and the moon as mandalas .” Like Ryokan, Saigyo’s poems sought to bring the ‘way of poetry’ with ‘the way of the Buddha’, and to talk, in these poems, of the struggles and joys of the Buddhist life. Burton Watson, the gifted translator of Poems of a Mountain Home, tells us in his introduction that there is some writing to show Saigyo felt poetry and its practice was a sacred duty for a Buddhist. But one can’t be certain, points out Watson, that this was Saigyo’s aesthetics since these writings are more legend than an accurate record.

However, it seems to me, when I learn of how much and often Saigyo came out of the forest to the courts to take part in poetry competitions and even teach poetry, it doesn’t seem too far fetched that Saigyo would feel strongly about the place of poetry in Buddhism.

And as soon as he turned monk, he began writing poetry; his theme at once about the struggle to live a Buddhist life, and what it meant. The style of his poetry, his translator informs us, was waka or court poetry, which came even before the haiku and is slightly longer. Four centuries later its influence was felt deeply by Basho who underscores his debt to Saigyo all through his work. “The waka too is best opened with care, close attention, and appreciation for the skill of the person who put so much into so small a container.”

After moving around many places near in and around monasteries and temples, he frequented two mountains, Mount Yoshino and Mount Koya, often overwhelmed by the “astonishing beauty of the sakura (the cherry blossoms) often wanting to linger here, feasting his eyes on them — he was drawn to the physical beauty of the phenomenal world”. But he had to move on deeper into the forest and his mountain home to pursue solitude. He wrote: ‘ Here I huddle alone/in a mountain’s shadow, needing/some companion somehow: the cold, biting rains pass off/and gives me the winter moon.

The aura of Austen – The Hindu.

A painting of author Jane Austen

It smelt of book, that indescribably nostalgic smell that can transport you instantly to happy days, like the smell of hot, buttered toast. So there I sat, cross-legged on the bed, endless hours of Austen stretched open in front of me, practically quivering with joy.

Austen, like the incredible Bard, does not age. You can love Dickens, Thackeray or Hardy but you place them firmly in their era and context. What Austen observes about human beings, though, is so universal and timeless you could be reading about your neighbour, aunt or favourite cousin. How else do you explain the latest in the series of adaptations of P&P? Called The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, it’s a series of 10-minute YouTube videos in which Lizzie is an American grad student. Its characters post real-time blogs, tweets, and status updates.

Never mind Elizabeth and Darcy, every one of the supporting cast is a triumph in characterisation. All it takes is a searing line or two to establish that Jane and Bingley are beautiful but not firm enough. That just as beauty is not a virtue in itself, neither is Mary Bennet’s plainness, which has neither taste nor wisdom to improve it. In an age that worshipped titles and nobility, the author puts Lady Catherine de Bourgh savagely in place. ……….. Trust me, Austen’s drawing rooms say as much about character and principles as novels about war.

quotes and pics

“Everything you’re looking for lies behind the mask you wear.”  Stephen C. Paul

hymntohope:</p><p>Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice<br />http://paradoxically-free.tumblr.com/</p><p>so was darcy an introvert then ?

“If you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it’s your world for a moment.” Georgia O’Keeffe

  Shauna Niequist, Bittersweet
            

Beginners guide to minimalism.

 

  “Literature is the most agreeable way of ignoring life.”  — Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet

“But to me, it’s a whole lot more important to find something that makes you unafraid of being alone, rather than to have so many friends that you wind up being terrified of solitude.”  Mitsuyo Kakuta

shetakesflight:In a world where you can be anything…BE yourself.

Days I enjoy are days when nothing happens,
When I have no engagements written on my block,
When no one comes to disturb my inward peace,
When no one comes to take me away from myself
And turn me into a patchwork, a jig-saw puzzle,
A broken mirror that once gave a whole reflection,
Being so contrived that it takes too long a time
To get myself back to myself when they have gone – Vita Sackville-West
“You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who had ever been alive.” ― James Baldwin

“Don’t settle. Don’t finish crappy books. If you don’t like the menu, leave the restaurant. If you’re not on the right path, get off it.”  Chris Brogan

 David Foster Wallace, Consider the Lobster and Other Essays    aseaofquotes:David Foster Wallace, Consider the Lobster and Other Essays

In most of our human relationships, we spend much of our time reassuring one another that our costumes of identity are on straight.” — Ram Dass

“We are all of us born with a letter inside us, and that only if we are true to ourselves, may we be allowed to read it before we die.”  Douglas Coupland

pinkglittertears:~pinkland here~

“‎Sometimes you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book.” John Green, “The Fault in Our Stars.”

“Avoid the crowd. Do your own thinking independently. Be the chess player, not the chess piece.” Ralph Charell

   homedesigning:Inspirational and Cozy Outdoor Space | click through to see several others. 

   windowlettering:Tenue de Nimes, Madame et Monsieur by SeenbyBien(via Ahmed)

 

The aim of life is to live, and to live means to be aware joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware. In this state of god-like awareness one sings; in this realm the world exists as poem. 

Henry Miller in The Wisdom of the Heart ( http://literaryjukebox.brainpickings.org/post/44784048462 )