30 June 2007

Running

This eve it is plenilune. It is a surprise - for it seems that just days ago it hung half ripe in the evening sky – but there it is: that precious jewel that sweetly tempts the waters forever and more.

Today I ran the Googong Half Marathon put on by The ACT Cross Country Club. (The Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team also has a race in Googong, I took the photos there last year.) I certainly didn't carry a camera today, nor even pay much attention to the lush surrounds. I remember thinking that it's great how the earth is God's raiment and not a stone is out of place. Also, jelly beans rock.

I finished in 2 hrs 25 minutes. When I consider my near total lack of training and the cross country nature of the event, I am pleased with my time. Noivedya finished in 1 hr 59 minutes. It was a good start to my preparation for the Self-Transcendence Marathon I am running in August.

Next weekend, we are putting on an Off-Road Duathlon on Black Mountain, which is just around the corner.

Some year soon I want to give The Brindabella Classic a go. It looks pretty awesome:

Maybe I will be ready this year.

25 June 2007

Thou appears to me

Thou appears to me in the robe of my poverty
And I recognise thee through the mist
Of my heart’s excruciating tears.
An uncertain hope resides
On the fickle breeze of life,
With a face of stone
I succumb to thy Golden Smile.

I am very clever:
I’m sorry, you can not understand me.
I am very striking:
I’m sorry, you will not recognise me.
I am very quick:
I’m sorry, you are the slave of time.

In my dark house,
A little lamp glows -
I love the evening
And my solitude -
Even in the night,
I can grow a rose.

24 June 2007

Let It Snow

Mt Corey in Brindabella National Park is less than 30 minutes drive from where I live. This is the view from the bottom. It's the big one in back. It was a pretty frosty morning.



We spent over 5 hours walking. At least half of that was straight up to the top. It was nearly all thick regrowth, rocky, frosty, snowy, slippery. We didn't walk on any tracks until we were totally exhausted in the last half hour. I was fascinated by the frost. With a tripod and a macro lens, it would make some better photos; but I wasn't carrying any of those things.



Finally, we hit the snow line. This is the first time I remember seeing snow in Australia!



I like the snow. It feels so innocent, being pure and white.



I built the world's puniest snowman.



This is the view from the peak, into NSW.



The day certainly put a bit of life back into my legs. I wish that it snowed where I live; instead, it is just bitterly cold, which is a bit cruel. I am hoping climate change sees my suburb experiencing blizzards in the short term, or else some major tectonic plate activity sends us up a few thousand feet.

If you live somewhere that it really snows, please don't laugh at me...

23 June 2007

Vanitas Vanitatum, Omnia Vanitas

This morning, Amalendu and I went to the mall in the centre of Canberra. The plan was to invite people to the free meditation classes that the Sri Chinmoy Centre is putting on. Only 5 people took the details of classes but we gave out about 200 aphorism cards. It was cool asking people, “Would you like a poem?” Then we got to watch them walking away reading them. I enjoyed myself immensely. This world needs more poetry.



The amusing thing is that thirty metres from us the Hare Krishna folk set up a stall and had their kirtan going. Thirty metres in the other direction, the Falun Gong were doing their thing.

Amalendu is the only person I live with who doesn’t have a blog. Today, he went for a run in the morning, a ride in the afternoon, and a swim in the evening. Perhaps people without blogs do more exercise? This is he on the couch as we were cooking dinner. We were laughing and saying, “Our little Amalendu has had a big day.”



I really shouldn’t talk about clothes on my blog. Thinking about them got me inspired to go shopping again. I have never been a particular fan of striped ties, but it was time for a change. A bit of haggling closed the purchase of course - my Italian grandfather would have been proud.



Tomorrow I am climbing up Mt Corey. It is in Brindabella National Park. The peak is right on the border of New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory. It is only 1421 metres tall, but the contour lines are pretty close together on the map, which makes it very steep. The fact we are taking a compass and a map signifies it is serious, even if we don’t end up eating the sled dogs to survive. Actually, I bought a pack of jelly babies as far as supplies go. Photos will be forthcoming.

As you have endured my new ties, I am including a poem by Anne Brontë. (Her sister wrote Wuthering Heights, which is a pretty famous song by Kate Bush.) The poem takes its title from the Latin version of Ecclesiastes, a book of the Bible by ‘the teacher.’ The title translates as, ‘Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.’

Vanitas Vanitatum, Omnia Vanitas

IN all we do, and hear, and see,
Is restless Toil, and Vanity.
While yet the rolling earth abides,
Men come and go like ocean tides;

And ere one generation dies,
Another in its place shall rise;
That, sinking soon into the grave,
Others succeed, like wave on wave;

And as they rise, they pass away.
The sun arises every day,
And hastening onward to the West,
He nightly sinks, but not to rest:

Returning to the eastern skies,
Again to light us, he must rise.
And still the restless wind comes forth,
Now blowing keenly from the North;

Now from the South, the East, the West,
For ever changing, ne'er at rest.
The fountains, gushing from the hills,
Supply the ever-running rills;

The thirsty rivers drink their store,
And bear it rolling to the shore,
But still the ocean craves for more.
'Tis endless labour everywhere!
Sound cannot satisfy the ear,

Light cannot fill the craving eye,
Nor riches half our wants supply;
Pleasure but doubles future pain,
And joy brings sorrow in her train;

Laughter is mad, and reckless mirth–
What does she in this weary earth?
Should Wealth, or Fame, our Life employ,
Death comes, our labour to destroy;

To snatch the untasted cup away,
For which we toiled so many a day.
What, then, remains for wretched man?
To use life's comforts while he can,

Enjoy the blessings Heaven bestows,
Assist his friends, forgive his foes;
Trust God, and keep his statutes still,
Upright and firm, through good and ill;

Thankful for all that God has given,
Fixing his firmest hopes on heaven;
Knowing that earthly joys decay,
But hoping through the darkest day.

PS Ecclesiastes also gave us, 'Nihil sub sole novum.' There is nothing new under the sun. Presumably he was just quoting someone else.

22 June 2007

A life of public service

Tonight, at the conclusion of a meditation class I helped to present, an interesting Indian gentleman presented a theory to us. It went something along the lines of, "The British first conquered India via Bengal, and the Indians there were very happy as they were able to get good civil service jobs which allowed them to meditate all day instead of being shopkeepers." I have no idea if this is an accurate representation of history, the civil service in India, or the Bengali character! Still, being a public servant myself these days, I have to laugh. I feel like I have no time to meditate in my day at all at the moment. It's a fact. We don't sit around all day doing nothing anymore just because we can.

I actually wore a new suit to work today and it made such a difference in how people related to me. In essence, I could make the same number of jokes, but I got more respect. This can’t be a bad thing, as I really like to make jokes. I purchased this suit on a recent trip to Adelaide. The plan was to only buy a pair of pants, but I got talked into a suit. This isn’t quite as lame as it sounds. I couldn’t find any pants that were quite right. After trying on five suits and discussing at length the art of proper dressing with the salesman - in the manner of Zen koans - he pulled out the cheapest suit in the shop. I swear he was hiding it. It was perfect: excellent cloth, classic cut, just last season. Plus it cost less than twice as much as a decent pair of pants. Time to stop talking about clothes now. I blame Dressing the Man: Mastering the Art of Permanent Fashion for this periodic affliction.

New goal.

Meditate at work, even for one minute. It has to be possible. Now, if I could only find something to wear...

19 June 2007

Pennies from heaven

The seal of the infinite was upon our little deeds and these crowded days held a secret purpose. In the cauldron of life, seeming chaos brewed a heavy fate, while from a sacred dipper the immortal drunk. Our lives were a page of blank to plain and curious eyes.

A little bombastic? A hint of bravura?

You be the judge. I just like it for an introduction, and with no plans to publish the collected works soon, it can start today's blog post.

My fascination with Tagore of late has extended to tracking down a song written by him called Mon Mor Megher Sangi, performed by Hemanta Mukherjee.

Listen Now

As for as finding a translation or notation, no luck. Any suggestions?

I have been pondering a poem for a few days, ever since an experience I had during meditation on Sunday. I have come to realise that this poem is not about describing an experience, I actually want it to reveal the nature of my experience. I want it to be my experience, like a pure drop of existence in a snowglobe. Will it ever be finished then? Can it contain the perfection that is the process of perfection itself? God knows.

Tonight, walking to the car after work, I joking composed:

The rain teaches me
How to get wet.


A little drier now, I can recall that the coin of heaven is rain, and this currency is freely given to all. In the words of Shakespeare and Sinatra then:

'The quality of mercy is not strain'd,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath:
Each cloud contains
Pennies from heaven.
You'll find your fortune
Falling all over town.
Be sure that your umbrella is upside down.'

You just never know who you might meet walking down the street.

Keep smiling.

17 June 2007

Gitanjali

It is the pang of separation that spreads throughout the world and gives birth to shapes innumerable in the infinite sky.

It is this sorrow of separation that gazes in silence all night from star to star and becomes lyric among rustling leaves in rainy darkness of July.

It is this overspreading pain that deepens into loves and desires, into sufferings and joys in human homes; and this it is that ever melts and flows in songs through my poet's heart.

from Gitanjali by Tagore
From the ink of black night
The stars have plucked silver;
Verses to decorate her hair.
The great embrace of death
Holds life so tenderly;
My lonely companion.
No kiss but the eternal
Will seek beyond despair;
And reveal the day new.

15 June 2007

O heart of Truth

Where can I turn?
Nowhere.
What shall I find there?
Nothing.
Whom do I seek?
Only you, only you.
What do I need?
Satisfaction.
Where is it found?
In you, in you.
Who am I?
Your fulfillment true.

12 June 2007

Bach, Beethoven and Bebussy

I have been listening to classical music on and off since I finished being a teenager. Sometimes I take a really big break, but we always get back together. Lately, I have really felt it is very gentle on my chakras and soothing on the nerves. It is much easier to be creative while listening to it too, particularly if I am writing.

When I think of Bach, I think of Pablo Casals playing the Bach Cello Suites. Until Casals popularised them, they were largely considered to be exercises in composition. The liner notes on my recording state that Casals practised these Suites for over 30 years before he consented to a recording of his performance being made. That means it sounds perfect to you or me. Suite No. 3 in C is the best.

The Bach Cello Suites are now standard in the repertoire of any cello virtuoso. So thank Casals and the emotive aural tapestry composed by Bach that is so full, yet subtle and supple.

Ludwig van Beethoven is another musical genius. You can tell because he was a pretty wacky guy by all accounts. Second, he was deaf, which is the antithesis of a life in music; unless you pause to consider that pure inspiration dwells in the silence which is the origin of all sound. Consider, ‘Erwachen heiterer Empfindungen bei der Ankunft auf dem Lande,’ which begins the 6th Symphony. The title sounds fairly painful, but that’s just the salient feature of Beethoven’s muttersprache. I don’t know for sure that smashing your self in the mouth with a pipe wrench will help you to speak German, but it’s probably a good place to start. Hey! I didn’t mention the war, did I? Seriously now, it means, ‘Awakening of cheerful feelings upon arrival in the country.’ Listen to it, and you can have those feelings in the city; for it is a mighty inhalation of clean, healthy air.


Beethoven’s 9th Symphony is his most famous work and continues to inspire. For sheer power and grace, it is the musical equivalent of driving the latest Porsche 911 GT3 Turbo to its limits. Unfortunately, as far as German creations go, I can only afford the CD. It is probably a little safer, but I still recommend you wear a seat built if you are going to listen too.

Claude Debussy composed Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune after a poem by Mallarmé called 'L'après-midi d'un faune.' It is not even worth trying to appreciate the poem in English as, by all accounts, it is the apogee of French free form lyrical symbolism, and it loses more in the translation than anything we might possibly gain. Sacré bleur! To summarise, it’s your basic tale of Bacchanalian indulgence - which is to say it is about being wasted, but in the manner of the Ancient Greeks or Romans - so nymphs are involved. Let's not judge - there are not a great deal of legitimate employment opportunities for fawns. What can you do? It must be so hard shopping for clothes when you’re a goat from the waist down, but the rest of you is human. I guess a lot of mix and match is involved.

Anyway, Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun is probably Debussy's best-known orchestral work. It’s exceedingly beautiful, sweetly provocative, and is a great way to appreciate the flute. Sounds best on a sunny day. In fact, it sounds just like a sunny day, albeit a fairly lazy one.

11 June 2007

Trooping spotted deer

I now have my copy of Savitri again, and have uncovered my favourite lines once more.

Book V: The Book of Love
Canto III: Satyavan and Savitri


High beauty’s visitants my intimates were.
The neighing pride of rapid life that roams
Wind-maned through our pastures, on my seeing mood
Cast shapes of swiftness; trooping spotted deer
Against the vesper sky became a song
Of evening to the silence of my soul.
I caught for some eternal eye the sudden
King-fisher flashing to a darkling pool;
A slow swan silvering the azure lake,
A shape of magic whiteness, sailed through dream;
Leaves trembling with the passion of the wind,
Pranked butterflies, the conscious flowers of air,
And wandering wings in blue infinity
Lived on the tablets of my inner sight;
Mountains and trees stood there like thoughts from God.
The brilliant long-bills in their vivid-dress,
The peacock scattering on the breeze his moons
Painted my memory like a frescoed wall.
I carved my vision out of wood and stone;
I caught the echoes of a word supreme
And metred the rhythm-beats of infinity
And listened through music for the eternal Voice.

excerpt from Savitri by Sri Aurobindo


Links:
Read the Author's Note on this 23,837 line epic poem.
vesper
pranked

10 June 2007

Ode on Beethoven’s 9th Symphony

Blast the trumpet and all the horns,
Sing you strings, Bang you gongs,
Open the very door of sound itself.

Ring o neighbourhood, sound o world,
To the choir of ecstatic voice, and
Let me dance through every window.

Hear me now elastic: No reach
Is beyond me, nothing will finish me,
I have never been born.

Come, my brothers and sisters,
Let us sing the song of joy,
I will contain myself no more.
I wake upon your lap, to a whisper from eternity.
You are holding the dawn as you cradle me. It is
Such a gentle revelation for an infinite power: The
Gold which grows and glows in the heart of creation.

I must hurry now or I will be late and drink
Hot tears for noon, only to bear a slavish night.
The birds sing songs of morning, and I too must
Join their symphony in your sky of delight.

08 June 2007

What goes up...


I occasionally check out where my visitors come from. This was the inspiration for my post Song of The Internet. I largely credit John at Sensitivity to Things for many of the new visitors I receive here. Still, occasionally strangers make there way here through Google. I am surprised that one of my most popular posts seems to be Rain and other falling objects. Someone dropped by after typing into Google:

GENERATE MY OWN FALLING OBJECT


Now, I don't pretend to be a physicist, but how hard is it? The laws of gravity tend to be fairly immutable here on planet earth. Still, If you do have a real interest in science, then I recommend to you the record of a conversation between Albert Einstein and Rabindranath Tagore. Here is a taste:

TAGORE: I was discussing with Dr. Mendel today the new mathematical discoveries which tell us that in the realm of infinitesimal atoms chance has its play; the drama of existence is not absolutely predestined in character.

EINSTEIN: The facts that make science tend toward this view do not say good-bye to causality.

TAGORE: Maybe not, yet it appears that the idea of causality is not in the elements, but that some other force builds up with them an organized universe.

True, that is the sort of discussion you don't often hear on public transport; but I must confess a greater fondness for Tagore's poetry or prose:


I thought that my voyage had come to its end at the last limit of my power,--that the path before me was closed, that provisions were exhausted and the time come to take shelter in a silent obscurity.

But I find that thy will knows no end in me. And when old words die out on the tongue, new melodies break forth from the heart; and where the old tracks are lost, new country is revealed with its wonders.

That I want thee, only thee--let my heart repeat without end. All desires that distract me, day and night, are false and empty to the core.

As the night keeps hidden in its gloom the petition for light, even thus in the depth of my unconsciousness rings the cry--"I want thee, only thee".

As the storm still seeks its end in peace when it strikes against peace with all its might, even thus my rebellion strikes against thy love and still its cry is--"I want thee, only thee".


05 June 2007

Winter

It is now winter in Australia as June has begun. I have only lived in Canberra for 9 months or so and I can confirm that it is



That is my car window this morning.

Segue.

I wrote a review of The Winter of Our Discontent by John Steinbeck.

You can read it at Inspiration Letters.

So why are you still here?