Left and Right

Maria has spotlighted this topic this Friday.

March Past

There is a story related in Tamil Nadu about how the British taught ‘native’ recruits to their army to march. Somehow in all this glorification of the British might, the fact that Tamil Nadu had great warrior kings and their famous armies who conquered large tracts of the sub-continent and beyond the seas to Far eastern lands, has been conveniently forgotten. To get back to marching, recruits could just not understand the concept of ‘left’ and ‘right’ that was the guiding commands to make the soldiers go forward in step with each other. So the left leg ‘kaal’ was tied up with palm (olai) fronds and the right with ‘sheela’ or cloth. The sergeants shouted ‘ola kaal’ and the soldiers put forward their left leg. To the command of ‘sheela kaal’ they put their right foot out….and that is how they learnt left, right, left right and to march in one step!!


There are people who still find it confusing to say the right from the left…here is a simple way to pinpoint the ‘left’!


The thumb and forefinger form a natural L, doesn’t it?

Right foot forward

To many of us this is just one of those tall tales as every Indian knows that the left hand, even the left side of the body was always considered a slightly degraded part of the body. This was due to the fact that the left hand was used to wash your private parts. Anything auspicious was performed with the right hand…puja, cooking, eating….everything is associated with the Divine. The sacred thread is even today put on facing the left side for rites of passage.

A new daughter-in-law entered her married home putting her right foot first over the threshold.

Bride entering the house of the groom

Bride entering the house of the groom

The couple walked into a new home after performing the Gruhapravesham…entering the family home…by stepping in with their right foot. Usually a cow enters a new abode first…representing Goddess Lakshmi, the harbinger of well beingm, wealth and prosperity. Even the cow was made to place its right foot in first.

Hands on

Many theories abound that as most people are right handed, so the predilection for the right to predominate. However, modern life seems to be throwing up more and more left handers. Decades ago, a child who tried to write with the left hand was punished and forced to develop write handed penmanship that left deep scars in their psyche. Today mostly, a child is allowed to naturally use their left hand. My brother Arvind was forced to develop right handed skills. My two granddaughters are naturally left handed…yet their eating is still done with their right hand. My husband and daughter are ambidexterous. They use the right to write and eat, their left when they pick up a tool like a screwdriver.

Oddly enough, my left side has been weakened from childhood, not naturally but because of a mild attack of polio. With exercises and constant use, the left hand has picked up its strength….but it is still weak.

Astrology and Palmistry

In Indian astrology, a woman’s left hand is taken into account for predictions while for a man, it is the right hand!


I quote from Wikipedia…

“Though there are debates on which hand is better to read from, both have their own significance. It is customary to assume that the left hand shows potential in an individual, and the right shows realized personality.

Some sayings about the significance include

“The future is shown in the right, the past in the left”;
“The left hand is the one we are born with, and the right is what we have made of it”;
“The right hand is read for men, while the left is read for women”;
“The left is what the gods give you, the right is what you do with it”;
“The right hand is read for right-handed people, while the left is read for left-handed people”.

The choice of hand to read is ultimately up to the instinct and experience of the practitioner.

Left: The left hand is usually controlled by the right brain (often believed to direct control pattern recognition, relationship understanding), reflects the inner person, the natural self, the anima, and the lateral thinking.

Right: The right hand is usually controlled by the left brain (often believed to direct logic, reason, and language), reflects the outer person, objective self, influence of social environment, education, and experience. It represents linear thinking.

We also have these constant jokes about countries that drive on the right side of the road like France and USA and those nations that follow the British custom of Keep to the Left!! You can also be confused with the following signboards!!


Left or Right is also associated with politics with many being fence sitters, right in the centre!!

Posted in Friday Loose Bloggers Consortium, Life skills, Society | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

The Rice Cleaner…Buddha’s Path of Self-Remembering

A great master had a big monastery – five hundred monks – and they were all practicing the path of self-remembering. Self-remembering is one of the paths Buddha has recommended.


One man entered into the monastery – he wanted to become a disciple. The master accepted him, but he was a very simple man from a village, almost uneducated. The master told him, ”Your job is cleaning the rice in the kitchen.”

It was a big kitchen – five hundred monks. The poor man was cleaning the rice before sunrise and late into the night. He had no time to go to the sermons, to go to the prayers; he had no time to read the scriptures or listen to the wise talks. Those five hundred monks were great scholars, and the monastery was known all over the country.

Twenty years passed and the man continued just cleaning the rice and doing nothing. He forgot even to count the years – what was the point? He forgot the days, the dates, and finally he became suspicious about his own name. For twenty years nobody had used it, nobody had called him by his name – perhaps it was his name, perhaps it was not. For twenty years continuously he was doing one small thing: cleaning the rice, from the moment he woke up until he went back to bed again.cleaning rice

The master declared that his time to depart from the body had come. He wanted to choose his successor, and the way he did it was this: ”Anybody who thinks he has succeeded in self-remembering should write on the wall of my hut some insight which shows that he has seen the truth.”

One person, who was thought to be the greatest scholar in the commune, tried. But he was so afraid to write that sentence there, because it was not his insight. He knew – how could he not know it – he knew it was not his insight, it was just borrowed from scriptures. It was not his experience – and it was difficult to deceive the old man.

In the morning the old man came out, asked the servant to erase what had been written, and said, ”Find out who this idiot is who has spoiled my wall.”

It is said that the great scholar had not even signed, out of fear that he would be caught. If the master appreciated that this was really a great insight, then he would come out and say, ”I have written it.” Otherwise he would remain silent… who knows? Out of five hundred people anybody could have done it!

Almost one dozen great scholars tried, but none of them had the courage to sign his name. And the master behaved in the same way; he erased the line and said, ”None of you has come to the point of self-remembering. You have all been feeding the ego in the name of self. I reminded you again and again, but having a big ego is such a joy. And a spiritual ego, the otherworldly ego, the divine ego, becomes even more delicious. Now I will have to find the person myself.”

In the middle of the night the master went to the man who had come twenty years ago. For twenty years the master had not seen him, he had simply been cleaning rice. He woke the man up. The man asked the master, ”Who are you?” Because twenty years… he had just seen him once for a few seconds when he was initiated – ”And what is the idea of disturbing my sleep?”

The master said, ”I am your master. You have forgotten…? Do you remember your name?”

The man said, ”That is the difficulty. The work you have given me is such that it needs no name, no fame, no scholarship, no austerities. It is so simple that I have forgotten everything. I cannot be certain that this is my name. A few names come to my mind and I cannot decide which one is mine, but I am grateful to you.” He touched the feet of the master. ”Please don’t change my job. I have forgotten everything, but I have also achieved everything. I know a peace that I had never dreamed of, a silence that no word can express. I have known such moments of ecstasy that even if I had died there would not have been any complaint that life has not been fair to me. It has given me more than I was worthy of. Just DON’T change my job. I am doing it perfectly well. Has somebody complained about my work?”

The master said, ”No, nobody has complained, but your job has to be changed because I am choosing you as my successor.”

The man said, ”I am only a rice cleaner. I don’t know anything about being a master or a disciple. I know nothing. Please forgive me, I don’t want to be your successor because I cannot handle such a big job, I can only handle this rice cleaning.”

The master still insisted, ”You have achieved that which others have been trying to achieve but have failed. You have achieved it because you were not trying. You were simply doing your small work. Slowly, slowly there was no need for thinking, no need for emotions, no need for anger, no fight, no comparison, no ambition – your ego died. And with the ego died your name. You are not born with a name. It is the ego that is given a name – that is the beginning of the ego. With the death of the ego, you even forgot your own master, because it was the ego that brought you to me.

”Up to that moment you were on a spiritually ambitious trip. You are absolutely the right person, so take my robe, my hat, my sword, which have always been given by the master to the successor. But remember one thing: take them and escape from this monastery as far away as you can, because your life will be in danger. All these five hundred egoists will kill you. You are so simple and you have become so innocent that if they ask you for the robe, the sword, the cap, you will give them. You simply take them and go as far away as you can into the mountains.

”Soon people will start arriving to you just as bees start finding their way towards the flowers when the flowers blossom. You have blossomed. You need not bother about the disciples, you simply remain silently in a faraway place. People will come to you; you simply teach them whatever you have been doing.”

”But,” he said, ”I have received no teaching and I don’t know what to teach them.”

The master said, ”Just teach them to do small things, silently, peacefully, without any ambition, without any motivation to gain something in this world or in the other world, so that you can become innocent like a child.”

That innocence is real religiousness.


Posted in Heritage, Life skills, Spirituality, Zen | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

You Can’t Do That

The human mind takes an aggressive stance when expressly forbidden to do something. Adam and EveThe story begins with Adam and Eve, the forbidden apple and the tempting snake that manages to throw the couple out of paradise.

In Indian thought as well, we have the sacred and holy elixir called Amruth after which both the Devas (gods) and the Asuras (the discordant clan) thirst and  seek. When they are told not to hanker after this elixir as it would cause a churning that will bring up both good and evil from the milky ocean, both the groups refuse to listen.Churning

The churning takes place and sets free the wish giving cow, Kamadhenu and a series of events to capture and own her. It also brings to the surface the bitter gall or poison that can be imbibed by Siva alone. His partner Shakthi holds his neck tight so that the poison is locked in his Adam’s Apple in the neck and thus giving him the name Neelakantan or the One with the Blue neck.

Another famous story of somebody who was told ‘You can’t open the box” was Pandora. She fought her instinctive desire to know what was in it….but finally she gave in to the temptation and let out all the evils of the world.Pandora

In Indian thought the mind is often described as a monkey! Why a monkey?

Buddha described the human mind as being filled with drunken monkeys, jumping around, screeching, chattering and twittering on endlessly. The Buddha said that we all have monkey minds with a multitude of monkeys clamouring for attention.

Buddha said that meditation was ideal to tame the drunken monkeys in our minds. Pragmatically speaking, it is useless to fight with the monkeys or to try to banish them from the mind because anything that you resist takes on a huge form and occupies the most space in the mind. monkey mind

A renowned scholar was interested in gaining supernatural powers. He heard that a monk in Tibet could help him gain these powers and so he travelled on an arduous journey through the Himalayas to meet him.

The monk told the scholar that the mantra to gain supernatural powers was a simple one. “Just say ‘Buddham Sharanam Gachchami, Dhammam Sharanam Gachchami, Sangham Sharanam Gachchami three times” he said, “but don’t think of monkeys.’’

The scholar thought that this was an easy way. ‘‘I am such a learned man. Why should I think of monkeys when I chant the mantra?’’ But when he sat down to chant the mantra, the first thought that came to his mind was that of monkeys. However much he tried to set aside the obtrusive though and image of monkeys, the monkeys roamed all over his consciousness until he lost his peace of mind.

monkeys in the mind

Seeing his helpless condition, the monk smiled and said, ‘‘If you force your mind to travel in a certain direction, it will go the other way.’’

Buddha said, “Instead, if you will spend some time each day in quiet meditation — simply calm your mind by focusing on your breathing or a simple mantra — you can, over time, tame the monkeys. They will grow more peaceful if you lovingly bring them into submission with a consistent practice of meditation”.

Fear is the loudest monkey that keeps sounding the alarm incessantly saying “Don’t do this” and ‘Don’t Do That’. This fear rules the minds of parents especially and they spend most of their time with their kids pointing out all the things that they should be wary of and everything that could go wrong.

Are parents able to keep their kids out of harm’s way…no the forbidden apple, the milky ocean, the box of Pandora and the monkeys of the mind take over their existence. The only thing that can come to the rescue is a solid value system that is not taught but lived as a code of conduct by elders that will kick in at the appropriate time.

This is a blog for LBC, the group that writes every Friday or thereabouts on one topic. Do have a look at the viewpoints of seven other bloggers AshokgaelikaaLin, Maxi, http://rummuser.com, Pravin,  Shackman and The Old Fossil.

Posted in Friday Loose Bloggers Consortium, Life skills, Society, Spirituality, Zen | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

The Moon and the Door –Mulla Nasruddin

Mulla Nasruddin was born in Iran and became famous as a Sufi mystic. He was considered a little crazy but at the same time tremendously wise.

waxing_crescent_featuredMulla Nasruddin was once sent by the Emperor of Iran with great gifts to the Emperor of India. Nasruddin praised the Emperor of India as the full moon. The rumor reached Iran and enemies of Nasruddin said to their Emperor, “You have not chosen the right person to take the message. He has praised the Emperor of India as the full moon!”

The emperor said, “Let him come back. He will have to explain this to me. Otherwise he will lose his head.”

Nasruddin came back. The Indian emperor had been greatly impressed by the Mullah and had given him many presents. The Emperor of Iran was very angry and he said, “Nasruddin, your life is at risk!”

Nasruddin said, “Everybody’s life is always at risk. Do you think your life is not at risk?”

The emperor said, “Don’t discuss philosophy now! You have to answer me. You called the Indian emperor the `full moon.’ That is insulting to me.”

Nasruddin said, “You don’t understand the meaning. You are the rising moon, the first-day moon, which is just a small arc, remains for a few moments and disappears. The full moon means the days of decline have come. That Indian emperor was an idiot. He thought I was praising him, but I was simply declaring that `Your time has come. Now there is no more growth, only decline.’ And you are an idiot for being angry. You are the rising moon – you have to expand, conquer. You have enough time to become a full moon.”

The emperor was very much impressed by the interpretation. Nasruddin’s enemies were simply shocked. They had never thought that he would give this interpretation. Nobody had given thought to his statement and wrongly presumed that he had insulted the emperor.

Even today you can see Nasruddin’s grave in Iran. His is a strange grave, unique in the whole world. On the grave there is  a closed door standing with a big lock on it. Before dying, Mulla Nasruddin  made all the arrangements and said, “You put the key with me inside the grave, so nobody can open the door.”


Even the emperor came to see this strange door and lock on the grave. “What nonsense is happening! And this man is thought to be a wise man! Of course he was eccentric, but yet loved by everybody.”

The emperor inquired of Nasruddin’s disciples, “What is the meaning of this door?”

They said, “It is not new. He used to carry this door wherever he went. We asked him, `What is the matter?’ He said, `If I take the door with me, nobody can enter into my house. Obviously, everybody enters into a house through a door. So just to protect the house, I carry the door with me.’ And before dying he said, `Fix that door on my grave, lock it, and put the key with me. Any time I like I can open the door and just have some fresh air.'”

The emperor said, “All nonsense” but the emperor also liked the man.

The Mullah was crazy always. To make this statement, that life is eternal, he had put up the door: “Any moment, if I want to come out, at least I have the key and I don’t have to ask anybody’s permission. I can open the door, have a little walk, or enjoy around the city. You will not see me, but I will see you.”

The chief disciple then said to the Iranian emperor, “There is something in it. He is saying: Don’t think that my death is my death. You are putting my body in the grave but I am still alive. My life is eternal.”

From Osho and Anand Zen

Posted in Society, Spirituality, Zen | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Disappearing Beaches

Swachh Beachside Story

It was barely two days after Women’s Day was celebrated with great enthusiasm and with hopes expressed for a better deal for oppressed women. Then TOI came out with a prominent Page 3 story that was anything but complementary about societal attitude to the oppressed classes.

A large part of the page was devoted to an ad on tailor made summer holidays starting from anything from for anything between Rs 40000 to Rs 1,25000/- after huge discounts. In the left lower corner of the newspaper was a small human interest story about 2 women toiling to clean 1 km stretch of Thiruvanmayur (read upmarket Besant Nagar) beach on the night of Women’s Day. The story included the photo of Alliamma and Kalaiarasi in action wearing their uniform.

These women work for a private firm and spend Saturday and Sunday nights cleaning up ice cream wrappers, food waste, loose papers and plastic, bottle pieces and cigarette butts. The list of wastes strewn all over the beach sand is indeed a statement on the attitudes of our society. Probably by the end of Women’s Day, the rubbish was even more after special treats given by well-to-do families to their women to celebrate the day.

The report in TOI then talks about the problems of the two women. Their work is very exacting. Their job is collection of waste discarded by the visitors to the beach. The next morning the beach would be clean as if by magic, thanks to their efforts. The poor ladies point out how their work is made even more strenuous due to lack of bins. The 2 bins on the entire stretch are grossly inadequate for the amount of garbage strewn around by the thousands that throng the beach at week-ends, eating, smoking and even drinking and either squatting on the sand or sitting on the 100 stone benches. The 2 women have to bend and gather loose waste scattered all over the place all night working from 7 PM to 4 AM. They think that shortage of bins makes their task more difficult.

For the past three years, these women have been paid Rs 6000 per month each. They have had no raise, no special allowances for inflation nor any cost of living allowances, forget about any health insurance or hardship allowances that bureaucrats enjoy. They are unprotected against infectious material that they gather and not even gloves to protect their hands!!

beachTo cater to the revellers’ demand at weekends, over a dozen ice-cream carts and other vendors sell peanuts, sweet corn, bajji, pani puri and tea, all in paper or plastic plates and cups. Nothing wrong with that! However neither they nor their customers deem it their duty to deposit the waste in bins to make the task of collection easier. All waste is left behind on the sands near these eateries. The vendors do not have any bins to collect the waste nor do they deposit the trash generated in a corporation bin. Their customers, who must count among the disposable income section of the citizenry, act even more irresponsibly and just throw away the leftovers and the plastic waste without depositing them in a public bin. Even if they are in the vicinity of the public bins, they take no trouble to deposit the waste into the bin. They simply throw away the waste any which way all around the area.

Thus the vendors do not take care of the waste, the consumers do not deposit the waste in the bins, and the civic body does not provide sufficient number of bins. Such is the irresponsibility of the society. Yet the citizens fail to follow basic discipline and blame the Government for their own sins of omission and commission. The public officials of course collect a hefty bribe for contracting out services to private agencies. They cut corners by giving a raw deal to their workers. They are also part of the public who enjoy the sands of Finally the problem of everyday mess being cleaned up falls on the hips and shoulders of two lowly ill paid workers, that too women, toiling all night. These voiceless workers are totally helpless. They cannot even ask for more bins. If they fail to complete their jobs, no matter how difficult it may be, they will be fired and replaced. They are only contract workers and even their names may not be in the private company’s records.

Meanwhile,  well paid and well fed PSU Bank officers and staff,government officials, doctors, lorry owners  go on a strike for higher wages. Seventh pay commission too is working furiously to offer a bigger package and higher allowances to Government employees?

Unfortunately such unearned hikes will only produce a bigger output of waste!

There were no Women’s Day celebration for Alliamma and Kalaiarasi. Their photos do not feature in any of the articles written about them. They just remain faces in the crowd

Prof N Natarajan’s article published in The Shopping Express

Posted in Current Events, Environment, Society, Sundays in my City, Women | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Bodhidharma and Emperor Wu

Your action is punishment and your action is your reward. You are the master of your destiny.

When Bodhidharma reached China six hundred years later, there were already thirty thousand Buddhist temples, monasteries, and two million Buddhist monks in China. And two million Buddhist monks is not a small number; it was five percent of the whole population of China.


Pragyatara, Bodhidharma’s master, told him to go to China because the people who had reached there before him had made a great impact, although none of them were enlightened. They were great scholars, very disciplined people, very loving and peaceful and compassionate, but none of them were enlightened. And now China needed another Gautam Buddha. The ground was ready.

Bodhidharma was the first enlightened man to reach China. The point I want to make clear is that while Gautam Buddha was afraid to initiate women into his commune, Bodhidharma was courageous enough to be initiated by a woman on the path of Gautam Buddha. There were other enlightened people, but he chose a woman for a certain purpose. And the purpose was to show that a woman can be enlightened. Not only that, her disciples can be enlightened. Bodhidharma’s name stands out amongst all the Buddhist enlightened people second only to Gautam Buddha.

There are many legends about the man; they all have some significance. The first legend is: When he reached China — it took him three years — the Chinese emperor Wu came to receive him. His fame had reached ahead of him. Emperor Wu had done great service to the philosophy of Gautam Buddha. Thousands of scholars were translating Buddhist scrip tures from Pali into Chinese and the emperor was the patron of all that grea t work of translation. He had made thousands of temples and monasteries, an d he was feeding thousands of monks.

He had put his whole treasure at the service of Gautam Buddha, and naturally the Buddhist monks who had reached before Bodhidharma had been telling him that he was earning great virtue, that he will be born as a god in heaven. Naturally, his first question to Bodhidharma was, “I have made so many monasteries, I am feeding thousands of scholars, I have opened a whole university for the studies of Gautam Buddha, I have put my whole empire and its treasures in the service of Gautam Buddha. What is going to be my reward?”

He was a little embarrassed seeing Bodhidharma, not thinking that the man would be like this. He looked very ferocious. He had very big eyes, but he had a very soft heart — just a lotus flower in his heart. But his face was almost as dangerous as you can conceive.

With great fear, Emperor Wu asked the question, and Bodhidharma said, “Nothing, no reward. On the contrary, be ready to fall into the seventh hell.”

The emperor said, “But I have not done anything wrong — why the seventh hell? I have been doing everything that the Buddhist monks have been telling me”.

Bodhidharma said, “Unless you start hearing your own voice, nobody can help you, Buddhist or non-Buddhist. And you have not yet heard your inner voice. If you had heard it, you would not have asked such a stupid question.

“On the path of Gautam Buddha there is no reward because the very desire for reward comes from a greedy mind. The whole teaching of Gautam Buddha is desirelessness and if you are doing all these so-called virtuous acts, making temples and monasteries and feeding thousands of monks, with a desire in your mind, you are preparing your way towards hell. If you are doing these things out of joy, to share your joy with the whol e empire, and there is not even a slight desire anywhere for any reward, the very act is a reward unto itself. Otherwise you have missed the whole point.”

Emperor Wu said, “My mind is so full of thoughts. I have been trying to create some peace of mind, but I have failed an d because of these thoughts and their noise, I cannot hear what you are calling the inner voice. I don’t know anything about it”.

Bodhidharma said, “Then, four o’clock in the morning, come alone without any bodyguards to the temple in the mountain s where I am going to stay. And I will put your mind at peace, forever.”

The emperor thought this man really outlandish, outrageous. He had met many monks; they were so polite, but this one does not even bother that he is an emperor of a great country. And to go to him in the darkness of early morning at four o’clock, alone…. And this man seems to be dangerous — he always used to carry a big staff with him.

The emperor could not sleep the whole night, “To go or not to go? Because that man can do anything. He seems to be absolutely unreliable.” And on the other hand, he felt deep down in his heart the sincerity of the man, that he is not a hypocrite. He does not care a bit that yo u are an emperor and he is just a beggar. He behaves as an emperor, and in front of him you are just a beggar. And the way he has said, “I will put your mind at peace forever.”

“Strange, because I have been asking,” the emperor thought, “of many many wise people who have come from India, and they all gave me methods, techniques, which I have been practicing, but nothing is happening — and this strange fellow, who looks almost mad, or drunk, and has a strange face with such big eyes that he creates fear…. But he seems to be sinc ere too — he is a wild phenomenon. And it is worth to risk. What can he do — at the most he can kill me.” Finally, he could not resist the temptation because the man had promised, “I will put your mind at peace forever.”

Emperor Wu reached the temple at four o’clock, early in the morning in darkness, alone and Bodhidharma was standing there with his staff, just on the steps, and he said, “I knew you would be coming, although the whole night you debated whether to go or not to go. What kind of an emperor are you — so cowardly, being afraid of a poor monk, a poor beggar who has nothing in the world except this staff. And with this staff I am going to put your mind to silence.”

The emperor thought, “My God, who has ever heard that with a staff you can put somebody’s mind to silence! You can finish him, hit him hard on the head — then the whole man is silent, not the mind. But now it is too late to go back”.

And Bodhidharma said, “Sit down here in the courtyard of the temple.” There was not a single man around. “Close your eyes, I am sitting in front of you with my staff. Your work is to catch hold of the mind. Just close your eyes and go inside looking for it — where it is. The mo ment you catch hold of it, just tell me, `Here it is.’ And my staff will do the remaining thing.”

It was the strangest experience any seeker of truth or peace or silence could have ever had — but now there was no other way. Emperor Wu sat there with closed eyes, knowing perfectly well that Bodhidharma seems to mean everything he says. He looked all around — there was no mind. That staff did its work. For the first time he was in such a situation. Th e choice… if you find the mind, one never knows what this man is going to do with his staff. And in that silent mountainous place, in the presence of Bodhidharma, who has a charisma of his own…. There have been many enlightened people, but Bodhidharma stands aloof, alone, like an Everest. His every act is unique and original. His every gesture has his own signature; it is not borrowed.

He tried hard to look for the mind, and for the first time he could not find the mind. It is a small strategy. Mind exists only because you never look for it; it exists only because you are never aware of it. When you are looking for it you are aware of it, and awareness surely kills it completely. Hours passed and the sun was rising in the silent mountains with a cool breeze. Bodhidharma could see on the face of Emperor Wu such peace, such silence, such stillness as if he was a statue. He shook him and asked him, “It has been a long time. Have you found the mind?”

Emperor Wu said, “Without using your staff, you have pacified my mind completely. I don’t have any mind and I have heard the inner voice about which you talked. Now I know whatever you said was right. You have transformed me without doing anything. Now I know that ea ch act has to be a reward unto itself; otherwise, don’t do it. Who is there to give you the reward? This is a childish idea. Who is there to give you the punishment? Your action is punishment and your action is your reward. You are the master of your destiny”.

Bodhidharma said, “You are a rare disciple. I love you, I respect you, not as an emperor but as a man who has the courage just in a single sitting to bring so much awareness, so much light, that all darkness of the mind disappears.”

Wu tried to persuade him to come to the palace. He said, “That is not my place; you can see I am wild, I do things I myself don’t know beforehand. I live moment to moment spontaneously, I am very un predictable. I may create unnecessary trouble for you, your court, your people; I am not meant for palaces, just let me live in my wildness.”


Posted in Heritage, Spirituality, Zen | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments


A story retold from Osho ….source: Anand Zen

You become just like a sun with the rays from the sun moving away from the core into the nothingness and beyond to infinity.

Three friends had gone for a morning walk when they saw a Zen monk standing on the hill.

Monk on the hill

One of the friends said, “I think he must have come with his friends; they must have been left behind and he is waiting for them.”

The other said, “I cannot agree with you, because seeing that man I can say one thing is certain; he is not waiting for somebody who has been left behind, because he never looks back. He is just standing like a statue. Anybody who is waiting for somebody left behind to catch up will once in a while look back  to see whether the fellow has come or not. But this monk is unmoving. He is not waiting for any friend. I know what he is looking for…he has a cow and it must be lost in the thick forest. And where he is standing  is the highest place from where he can look all over the forest and find the cow.”

The third man said, “You have forgotten your own argument. That is not the way of looking for a lost cow. He would be looking all around and searching and not just stand there like a statue, focused in one direction….” He continued, ”As far as I can tell, he is doing his morning meditation.”

The other two argued that the basic philosophy of Zen is that you can meditate anywhere, you can meditate doing anything.

“Where was the need to go to that hill in the early morning, in the cold, and stand there to meditate?” one said.

“He could have meditated in his cosy monastery where they have a special meditation temple. He could have stayed put in the monastery– where was the need to climb the hill? No, we cannot agree,” said the other.

Finally they said, ”It is better we go back up to the hill. It will be a waste of time but there is no other way to settle what he is doing.” Such is the curiosity of the human mind – very monkeyish!

Now why take the trouble to investigate the actions of another person? Let him do whatever he is doing. If he is searching for his cow it is his business; if he is waiting for his friend, it is his friend; if he is meditating it is his habit – why should you poke your nose into it? But that’s how people are.

They became so excited arguing with each other that they decided, “We have to go and get this straightened out.” They forgot that they had come just for a small morning walk. They forgot that they would be wasting their own time going back to the top of the hill and then coming down. The sun would be almost directly overhead nearing noon.

But the burning desire was to answer the question… they have to come to a conclusion. In fact the desire was to prove that ”I am right.” Each of them wanted to prove that “I am right.” Since they could not come to an agreement, the only man who can decide this matter was that monk.

They reached the hill top– huffing, puffing. The monk was standing there with half-closed eyes. That is the Buddhist way – to keep the eyes half closed when you are meditating, because if you close your eyes completely you may doze off or even fall asleep; that is more possible than going into meditation. If you keep your eyes fully open you will get interested in thousands of things. A beautiful woman passes by, a pretty sunset, clouds passing by, a fight in the maeketplace or s side-show…life throws up so many events to ‘see’ that real meditation is disturbed. So keep the eyes half closed so you do not see what is happening outside and you have to keep your eyes half open so that you do not fall asleep.

The first man asked the Monk, “Master, we have heard much about you but we have not had a chance to come to your monastery. Fortunately today when we came for a morning walk, we saw you. We have a question that we want you to answer: Are you not waiting for somebody who has been left behind?”

The monk with half-closed eyes said, “I have nobody, I am alone. I was born alone, I will die alone, and between these two alonenesses, I am not trying to fool myself that somebody is with me. I am alone and I am not waiting for anybody.”

The second man said happily, “Then certainly your cow has got lost in the thick forest and you must be looking for it.”

The monk said, “I don’t possess a single thing. I don’t have a cow, but the monastery has it; that is not my business. And why should I waste my time looking for a cow?”

The third man was immensely happy. He said, “Now you cannot deny my surmiuse…you must be meditating. Is it not so? – you are doing your morning meditation!”

The monk laughed; he said, “You too are wrong! Meditation is not done, it is not a doing. You can be in meditation but you cannot do it. It is a state. So certainly I am not doing meditation. I am in meditation, but for that I need not come to this hill; anywhere that I am, it is in meditation. Meditation is my consciousness. So please go about your business! And never disturb anybody who is standing with half-closed eyes, remember it.”

Then all three said, “Forgive us – we are stupid, certainly we are stupid to walk miles and to ask you such an inane question… We are feeling embarrassed. But now that we have come please answer just one question from all the three of us: Then what are you doing?”

And the master said nothing.

In that nothing is the witness.

When you witness, you will be surprised that the boredom, the sadness, the blissfulness, the ecstasy – whatever it is – starts moving away from you. As your witnessing goes deeper, stronger, becomes more crystallized, any experience – good or bad, beautiful or ugly – disappears. There is pure nothingness all around you.

Witnessing is the only thing that can make you aware of an immense nothingness surrounding you. And in that immense nothingness…. ‘shunyata ‘…remember it is not empty. In English there is no word to translate the Buddhist word shunyata. In that nothingness…, it is full of your witness, full of your witnessing, full of the light of your witness.

You become just like a sun with the rays from the sun moving away from the core into the nothingness and beyond to infinity.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments