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Friday, August 23, 2002
Editor: Gloria Lee
Gene Poole wrote:
What can we say... about how we see difference...
as though difference is significant...
On the long trip... perhaps seen later as 'augenblik'...
there is a constant...
To see now, the constant...
It is a road trip and the game is a variation of Slug Bug. Instead of
whacking the travel companion every time a Volkswagon is spotted, one
may whack the Volkswagons as they come and go.
The trip is long. One may grow weary of the game of Volkswagon whacking
and wonder what is beyond Volkswagons. Maybe then it becomes a game of
whacking songs on the crackly car radio, then radio stations as they
fade in and out, each subsequent radio broadcaster giving away
difference through dialect. Landscapes that fly by, the sun and moon
moving across the sky, days and nights. The bugs splatting on the
windshield, the bugs washed away, less and less convincingly, by sprays
of thinly bubbling washer fluid. Conversation and no conversation with
the traveling companion. Gas stations. Dirty restrooms. Bad snacks.
Yawns and unintentional lane swerves. Hip shiftings in a bucket seat,
futile attempts to still sciatica. Still whacking...
Whacking based on what is different from before and what will be,
that's what makes the game. Now it is not here, now it is here, WHACK,
now it isn't.
The road goes on and on, seemingly...
...but it must end, too.
Car parked behind me, I am trailed by a scattering of bad snack
wrappers as I peer out over the cliff at the ocean. Now what? I am
physically blocked from moving forward. What now?
I send out my imagination, over wave upon wave, each wave another
whack. Dive down amongst the fishes, whacking, oxygen bubbles,
whacking, depth, whacking, ocean floor, whacking. Up again, out again,
the whacking could go on forseeminglyever.
I'm back on the cliff, whacking the imagination, the outward
Whereto, when outward fails?
Inward, where I might as well be back in that ocean.
Whereto, when inward fails?
This exchange is between a young man (Cohen) and a rabbi. They are taking
a trip by car (in the 1920's), and the young man is driving.
They were halfway there when young Cohen, intrigued by the soft drone of
sound from the old man, asked him what he was saying.
"I am not saying. I am praying. It may surprise you since I am eighty years old,
but I have a peculiar desire to live."
"Oh, we'll make it all right, rabbi. This is a good car when it runs. Anyway,
what can happen with a rabbi in the car?"
"That's what I wonder."
from "The Immigrants", a novel by Howard Fast
The Sonnets To Orpheus: Book 2: XXIII
~Rainer Maria Rilke
Call me to the one among your moments
that stands against you, ineluctably:
intimate as a dog's imploring glance
but, again, forever, turned away
when you think you've captured it at last.
What seems so far from you is most your own.
We are already free, and were dismissed
where we thought we soon would be at home.
Anxious, we keep longing for a foothold-
we, at times too young for what is old
and too old for what has never been;
doing justice only where we praise,
because we are the branch, the iron blade,
and sweet danger, ripening from within.
Translated by Stephen Mitchell
In this issue of the Yoga International
The Man Called Ramana By
(selected excepts, see link for entire article.)
It was the most majestic film I have ever seen, the most awe-inspiring and yet
without incident. There is a view of Arunachala hill from the ashram drive,
and then a tall, frail, light-complexioned man with short, white hair descends
the slope of the hill with the aid of a staff. Then he comes out of the ashram
hall, stops to smile at a baby, walks across the grounds-just simple, everyday
actions, and yet the beauty of them was breathtaking. The simplicity was so
natural, the smile so spontaneous, the majesty so inherent.
Bhagavan Sri Ramana was meticulously exact, closely observant, practical,
and humorous. His daily life was conducted with punctiliousness that Indians
today would have to call purely Western. Everything had to be precise and
orderly. The ashram hall was swept out several times daily. The books were
always in their places, and the cloths covering the couch were scrupulously
clean and beautifully folded. The loincloth, which was all he wore, was
gleaming white. The two clocks in the hall were adjusted daily to radio time,
and the calendar was never allowed to fall behind the current date. The
routine of life flowed in a regular pattern.
Bhagavan was affable and courteous to all visitors. He expressed no pontifical
solemnity in his exposition. On the contrary, his speech, whether on daily
affairs or on doctrine, was vivacious and full of laughter. So infectious was his
laughter that even those who did not know Tamil would spontaneously join in.
Right up to the end he joked, and yet his jokes also bore instruction. When the
doctors were alarmed to see a new tumor pushing up during his final sickness,
he said, laughing, "Why do you worry? Its nature is to come up." When a
woman beat her head against a post outside his room in grief, despite his
insistence that the body's death was no cause for grief, he listened for a
moment and then said, "Oh, I thought somebody was trying to break a
coconut." A devotee asked why his prayers were not answered, and
Bhagavan replied, laughing, "If they were, you might stop praying."
His face was like the face of water, always changing and yet always the same.
He would be laughing and talking, then he would turn graciously to a small
child or hand a nut to a squirrel that hopped onto his couch from the window,
or his radiant, wide-open eyes would shine with love upon some devotee
who had just arrived or was taking leave. Then, in silence a moment later, his
face would be rock-like, eternal in its grandeur.
The consideration that Bhagavan showed to people and animals extended
even to inanimate objects. Every action had to be performed intentionally and
nothing was wasted. I have seen the meticulous care with which a book was
bound and cuttings pasted, and have heard an attendant reproved for wanting
to cut into a new sheet of paper when one already started would suffice. Our
exploitation of nature is ruthless today; it is more a rape than a harvesting.
Therefore it was a chastening sight to see the divine embodiment so careful in
the use of things. He especially never wasted food. He might distribute a gift
of fruit to children who were present or to monkeys who tried to steal it, but
he never wasted anything. We mistakenly think that economy goes with
frugality and generosity with extravagance, yet very often the frugal are
wasteful and the generous are careful. When Bhagavan had finished a meal,
the banana leaf on which he had eaten was as clean as though it had been
washed. Not a grain of rice was wasted. In former years, when his body was
more robust, he used to help in the kitchen, preparing meals, and he insisted
that even the parings of the vegetables should be used as cattle feed and not
Although all wished to obey him, Bhagavan's life was, notwithstanding, a
lesson in submission. Owing to his refusal to express any wish or desire, the
ashram authorities built up their own structure of regulations, and Bhagavan
obeyed them without hesitation. If devotees found them irksome, they had
before their eyes the example of Bhagavan's own submission. If Bhagavan
ever resisted it was likely to be in the interests of the devotees. Even so, he
acted usually in silence and often in a manner dictated by his shrewd sense of
humor. An attendant once rebuked a European woman for sitting with her
legs stretched out. Bhagavan at once sat up cross-legged and continued so,
despite the pain caused by the rheumatism in his knees. When the devotees
protested, he replied that the attendant's orders were for everyone. Only
when the lesson had been driven home did he consent to relax.
From For Those with Little Dust, by Arthur Osborne. Copyright 2001 by Sri
Ramanasramam. Reprinted by arrangement with Inner Directions Publishing,
PO Box 130070, Carlsbad, California 92013. www.InnerDirections.org.
We didn't taste a drop from her ruby lip and she left.
We didn't gaze long enough at her beauty and she left.
Perhaps she had tired of our company.
She packed her things, we couldn't overtake her, and she left
We recited holy suras and blew prayers after her, and she left.
Her sultry glance rooted us in the alley of devotion.
In the end, you saw how deeply we bought that glance, and she left.
She strolled in the field of grace and beauty but
we didn't go to meet her in the garden of union and she left.
We wailed and wept all night, just like Hafiz,
for alas, we were too late to say goodbye and she left.
Elizabeth T. Gray, Jr. - 'The Green Sea of Heaven'
Pub. White Cloud Press
Picture from http://www.persianpaintings.com/miniature/index.htm
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