Know you what it is to be a child?
It is to be something very different from the man of to-day.
It is to have a spirit yet streaming from the waters of baptism;
It is to believe in love, to believe in loveliness, to believe in belief;
It is to be so little that the elves can reach to whisper in your ear;
It is to turn pumpkins into coaches, and mice into horses,
Lowness into loftiness, and nothing into everything,
For each child has its fairy godmother in its own soul;
It is to live in a nutshell and to count yourself the king of infinite space;
To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a Heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour;
It is to know not as yet that you are under sentence of life,
Nor petition that it be commuted into death.
— Francis Thompson – “Shelley” – The Works of Francis Thompson, vol. 3, pp. 7–8 (1913) [includes a part from Auguries of Innocence by William Blake]
Like a dream,
Whatever I enjoy
Will become a memory;
The past is not revisited.
— Shantideva – Verse 36 / Chapter 2 of the Bodhicharyavatara
I know that the day will come
when my sight of this earth shall be lost,
and life will take its leave in silence,
drawing the last curtain over my eyes.
Yet stars will watch at night,
and morning rise as before,
and hours heave like sea waves casting up pleasures and pains.
When I think of this end of my moments,
the barrier of the moments breaks
and I see by the light of death
thy world with its careless treasures.
Rare is its lowliest seat,
rare is its meanest of lives.
Things that I longed for in vain
and things that I got
—let them pass.
Let me but truly possess
the things that I ever spurned
— Rabindranath Tagore – Gitanjali – Poem N° 92
The Four Immeasurables
May all sentient beings have happiness and its causes,
May all sentient beings be free of suffering and its causes,
May all sentient beings never be separated from bliss without suffering,
May all sentient beings be in equanimity, free of bias, attachment and anger.
Thanks to Pocket Perspektives for inspiring me to post the Four Immeasurables today. 🙂
If, with mindfulness’ rope,
The elephant of mind is tethered all around,
Our fears will come to nothing,
Every virtue drop into our hands.
— Shantideva – Verse 3 / Chapter 5 of the Bodhicharyavatara
What is the strong rope with which the mad elephant of the mind can be securely bound? It is ‘awareness’ or mindfulness! One must be on one’s guard against any defilements staining the mind or misplaced conceptions taking hold of it. It must be secured from all directions lest falsities disturb it or disturbing conceptions make it restless. The mind has a tendency to rush out-ward and towards external phenomena and identify itself with it. It should be tamed to rush inwards, look within itself and remain unaffected by external phenomena. Great vigilance must be exercised so that the mind does not contract a tendency for non-existent phenomena. Only then will it remain free from the cover of defilements. When so trained, instead of bringing about havoc, it will generate fearlessness and joy.
— Excerpt from the Parmananda Sharma comment of the Bodhicharyavatara
“Life is experience, experience in relationship. One cannot live in isolation, so life is relationship and relationship is action. And how can one have that capacity for understanding relationship which is life? Does not relationship mean not only communion with people but intimacy with things and ideas? Life is relationship, which is expressed through contact with things, with people and with ideas. In understanding relationship we shall have capacity to meet life fully, adequately. So our problem is not capacity – for capacity is not independent of relationship – but rather the understanding of relationship, which will naturally produce the capacity for quick pliability, for quick adjustment, for quick response.
Relationship, surely, is the mirror in which you discover yourself. Without relationship you are not; to be is to be related; to be related is existence. You exist only in relationship; otherwise you do not exist, existence has no meaning. It is not because you think you are that you come into existence. You exist because you are related; and it is the lack of understanding of relationship that causes conflict.”
— Jiddu Krishnamurti – The First and Last Freedom – Chapter 14 : ‘Relationship and Isolation’
“I had gone a-begging from door to door in the village path, when thy golden chariot appeared in the distance like a gorgeous dream and I wondered who was this King of all kings!
My hopes rose high and methought my evil days were at an end, and I stood waiting for alms to be given unasked and for wealth scattered on all sides in the dust.
The chariot stopped where I stood. Thy glance fell on me and thou camest down with a smile. I felt that the luck of my life had come at last. Then of a sudden thou didst hold out thy right hand and say `What hast thou to give to me?’
Ah, what a kingly jest was it to open thy palm to a beggar to beg! I was confused and stood undecided, and then from my wallet I slowly took out the least little grain of corn and gave it to thee.
But how great my surprise when at the day’s end I emptied my bag on the floor to find a least little gram of gold among the poor heap. I bitterly wept and wished that I had had the heart to give thee my all.”
— Rabindranath Tagore – Gitanjali – Poem N° 50
Whatever is not given is lost because, as we ourselves must one day die, all that we have clung to, to the very end, will die with us, but what we have given away will escape corruption for it has been sent ahead into eternity.
Gitanjali, or Song Offerings, is a collection of 103 inspirational poems translated by the author, India’s greatest poet, Rabindranath Tagore, from the original Bengali. This collection won the Nobel prize for Tagore in 1913.
(7) So long as wandering beings fall sick,
May I serve as the medicine,
The doctors and their nurse,
Until they’ve been cured of their illness.
(8) May I eliminate the pain of hunger and thirst
With a shower of food and drink;
And, in the times of the middle eons of famine,
May I myself change into food and drink.
(9) For limited beings, destitute and poor,
May I become a treasure that never runs out
And remain in their presence
As a variety of sorts of useful things.
(17) May I be a guardian for those with no guardian,
A pathfinder for those who are on the road,
And a boat, a ship, and a bridge
For those who would cross.
(18) May I be an island for those seeking an island,
A lamp for those desiring a lamp,
A bed for everyone wishing a bed,
And a servant for every embodied being
who would want a servant.
— Shantideva – Verses 7-9 and 17-18 / Chapter 3 of the Bodhicharyavatara
Do you think that the flame on the candle is going down only in a vertical direction? If you think so, then you are following the flame in time. You may also think in this way about your own life span: that it is going in a linear direction and that one day it will end. You may think that you were born on a point on a vertical line, a point you may call 1960. You may think that you will die on a point somewhere farther down on that line, which you may call 2040. All you can see is yourself moving in time like the candle. But you are not just moving in a linear direction.
You might think that the flame is just going down. You might think that the candle will die. In fact the flame is going out in many other directions. It is giving out light all around itself to the north, south, east and west. If you had a very sensitive scientific instrument, you would be able to measure the heat and light that the candle is sending out into the universe. The candle is going into you as an image, as light and as heat.
You are like a candle. Imagine you are sending light out around you. All your words, thoughts and actions are going in many directions. If you say something kind, your kind words go in many directions, and you yourself go with them. We are transforming and continuing in a different form at every moment.
— Thich Nhat Hanh – No Death, No Fear – Pages 121 and 122
This text is illustrated by this example following the text above on page 122:
This morning you said something unkind to your child. With those unkind words you went into her heart. Now you are regretting what you said. It does not mean that you cannot transform what you have said by admitting your mistake to your child, but if you fail to do so, those unkind words may stay with your child for a long time.
“According to the true Indian view, our consciousness of the world, merely as the sum total of things that exist, and as governed by laws, is imperfect. But it is perfect when our consciousness realizes all things as spiritually one with it, and therefore capable of giving us joy. For us the highest purpose of this world is not merely living in it, knowing it and making use of it, but realizing our own selves in it through expansion of sympathy; not alienating ourselves from it and dominating it, but comprehending and uniting it with ourselves in perfect union.”
— Rabindranath Tagore
In what for others is night,
therein is the man of self-restraint wide awake,
separate from passion and hate,
self-possessed and drawing near to calm serenity.
This is the athlete of the spirit,
whose ground remains unmoved,
whole soul stands firmly on it.
This is the fixed,
still state which sustains even at the time of death
the athletes of the spirit,
who even then set forth,
some to return, some never to return.
Outstanding is he whose soul views in the selfsame way
comrades and enemies, loving all alike.
—Philip Glass – Satyagraha – Act III – (compilation of excerpts from the Bhagavad Gita)
This Saturday I had the great pleasure to attend to the Metropolitan Opera Live transmission of Philip Glass’ opera named Satyagraha. Gandhi conceived the term Satyagraha for his principle of nonviolent and civil resistance. This opera in 3 acts lasted about 4 hours. But it was so captivating that the time went by as quickly I could have stayed even 2 hours longer watching and listening to that wonderfully composed and performed opera.