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#1744 - Monday, March 22, 2004 - Editor: Jerry  

Petros - Truth  

Satsang with Ramesh Balsekar  

Petros recently engaged in satsang with Ramesh Balsekar, the successor
of the great Advaita guru Nisargadatta Maharaj. Ramesh, a retired
President of the Bank of India, lives in a large apartment on the top
floor of a five story apartment building in Mumbai (Bombay) called the
Sindhula Building which was constructed by his father in the 1930s and
also houses other members of the Balsekar clan, of whom Ramesh is the
grand patriarch. The apartment is airy and quite homey, filled with the
mementos of a busy lifetime and tastefully outfitted in neat Art-Deco
and vintage 1950s era furniture and fittings.  

Ramesh is a sprightly 87 years old and appears for satsang every
morning, seven days a week, in a small brightly lit sunroom where his
mostly Western students appear faithfully after waiting on the sidewalk
outside or in a nearby cafe until the signal to enter the building is
given by an attendant. He appeared barefoot in his customary white
pyjamas and took a seat in a small armchair while some twenty students
crowded into the room, onto chairs or pillows on the floor. Through the
open windows one could see the rooftops of Mumbai and off in the
distance, the ocean. Behind Ramesh hung a framed and flower-garlanded
photograph of his master, Nisargadatta.  

Attendents in an attached room adjusted recording equipment as Ramesh
jumped into the satsang by taking questions from students and
responding to them with his animated style, making points with grand
gestures of his arms and never shy of challenging students'
presumptions. When one student made reference to Ammachi's teaching
about spiritual progress, Ramesh responded, not without irony, 'Why
didn't you stay with her? Yet you are here!'  

Petros introduced himself and expressed gratitude for the teachings
that Ramesh and Nisargadatta have presented, and indicated that he
first heard of Ramesh via the American teacher Wayne Liquorman six
years ago and expressed a desire then to someday meet Ramesh, and was
overjoyed that now that day had come. Ramesh graciously replied with a
silent folding of his hands in the traditional Indian gesture of thanks
and respect.  

The dialogue between Petros and Ramesh that ensued centered on profound
issues involving the nature of the 'deepest understanding' of
enlightenment or non-doership and its relation to the life of the
individual; how or whether it makes a difference in society and the
world, and whether one can know for oneself whether one has attained
this 'deepest understanding.' Ramesh replied with characteristic humour
that 'one could always take a lie detector test!' (The entirety of the
conversation was too elaborate to easily summarize here, however.)  

The two-hour satsang concluded with the singing of some Sanskrit
bhajans and silent pranaming toward the teacher by each student in


When his chidren had grown older...he informed them that the stories he had read over the years were really isolated segments of an infinitly vast interrelated flow that had been segmented and isolated for their convenience.

He waited quietly for their response.

They talked among themselves for several minute............

"Daddy", said the oldest, "Isn't that just another story?"

"GO TO YOUR ROOM"......He yelled.

"The Day I Thanked Nis"
By Pete
The dismal ally stunk of sewage and garbage. As I approached the
house, a stray dog slunk away, its eyes full of fear.  It was a young
emaciated dog, almost a puppy- stray dogs don't grow old in Bombay. I
gave a sigh of relief as I entered the narrow stairwell. It smelled
of dust and cheap incense. Going up, the steps groaned menacingly
under my weigh.

   In a small second floor room sat an old man dressed  in white. The
massive head with the prominent cheekbones seemed misplaced on his
frail body. The moment I entered, he opened his eyes and stared at me
without surprise, or any hint of inquiry. The eyes dwarfed the head,
as the head did the body. From then on, I only saw the piercing eyes,
as if, disembodied, they floated  in the room's penumbra. After my
salutation, he gestured toward a cushion.

  "Where do you come from?" he asked.

  "I come from the future."

  He laughed, and his chest rumbled with phlegm. The laugh sputtered,
and  then, exploded into a fitful cough.  "I have no future," he said
in a strangled voice.

  "Your words do. In the future your words are read by millions. They
have liberated hundreds of people."

  "They are not my words, and I'm not interested in those imaginary
hundreds. Have they liberated you? "

  "Yes, they have, and I thank you."

   He laughed again, but cut it short and clearing his throat with a
painful grimace, said, "If you were truly liberated, would there be
any need to thank someone who never existed?"

  Now was my turn to laugh. "Yes, I see what you mean. That would be
the only way liberation could work. To liberate one individual at a
time is a hopeless task. Once the dreamer awakes, all the dream
characters are seen as unreal."

  "Nevertheless, you are still trying to awaken the characters in the
dream," he said.

  "Yes, I do. Does it mean that I'm not awake yet?"

  "You are dreaming you are awake, the dream still goes on."

  "But wait, you're fully awake and you still teach."

  "I exist and teach only in your dream."

  "So, when will the dream end?"

  "The day the body dies."

  "You mean I had no need to study and meditate all these years? I
could have had any dream I wanted?"

  "No. There is no 'you' apart from the dream, and there is no dream,
but this one."

  "Well, If I am the dream, I will that you get well, and live as
long as I do."

   He laughed and began to cough again. "Get out," he yelled. "You're
an idiot. Get out. Out!"

   His cough echoed behind me as I hurried downstairs.    

Allspirit Inspiration  

The world is not something separate from you and me; the world,
society, is the relationship that we establish or seek to establish
between each other. So you and I are the problem, and not the
world, because the world is the projection of ourselves, and to
understand the world we must understand ourselves. That world
is not separate from us; we are the world, and our problems are
the world's problems.

From: Krishnamurti's Book of Life Daily Meditations

The Other Syntax  

The idea of equality has often been taken to mean dropping to the
lowest common denominator, or settling for the characterless common
middle. Equality as I am suggesting it is our coming together at the
level of highest awareness, pure space, without attachment or
resistance, with complete freedom of experience and consciousness,
merging with others in whatever ecstasy or calm we choose. In all the
vibration levels less than the highest, there are illusions of
quantity and value, of greater and lesser love, intelligence, and
powers. We appear to each other according to the vibrations we choose
to emphasize, but we are equal in potential.

--Thaddeus Golas      

a mary bianco contribution to NDS News...  

Anticipating spring  

In Alaska, gardening happiness grows as much from planning as from seeing  

By KATY GILMORE Daily News correspondent   (Published: March 18, 2004)   


This spring, I'm thankful for my good fortune
in a year with high anniversary and birthday numbers. I've been
thinking about how to mark the occasions happily and pondering what
exactly defines "happy" anyway.  

At a celebratory dinner recently, my husband, whose reading reaches
further afield than mine, contributed this from Socrates: "Happiness is
effective action." At the same meal, a therapist friend described an
intriguing list of "core strengths," attributes (like zest, lifelong
learning and forgiveness) determined by psychological testing to be
associated with happiness. Another guest noted what a privilege it is
to consider any pursuit beyond life and liberty. Afterward, I thought
about gardens and happiness, wondering if garden fantasy or desire is
really a happiness quest.  

"Happy" seems a little weak as words go, warm and fuzzy with Hallmark
overtones. But a bevy of its appealing synonyms, like "pleasure,"
"delight" and "contentment," describe gardening. In Alaska gardening,
we're cut off from Socratic "effective action" for long months, and
garden happiness springs largely from contemplation. The Northwest
Flower and Garden Show beckoned in February as a fine place to consider
the subject.  

I arrived in Seattle on a winter Saturday evening illuminated by a
bleary sun setting through sodden clouds. As I rode up the long
escalators in the convention center, a steady trickle of tired but
cheerful-looking gardeners flowed down. They lugged bobbling greenery,
metal and glass garden gewgaws and new flexible plant supports (which
looked like this year's must-have). To fortify myself, I stopped for a
cup of tea and overheard a role-reversed happiness conflict. A husband
said excitedly, "Well, we could tear up more grass and plant," and the
wife interrupted vehemently with "No! Grass is much easier than

A jolly green foam tree, triple a person in size, dominated the atrium
entrance. Daffodils, tulips and hyacinth (for the trademark flower show
scent) flourished as pretend woodland at the base. Couples and families
milled about. The flower show encourages make-believe, like the giant
tree, but also camaraderie. I envied a little the Alaskans who make a
joyous garden party of this snow break.  

You absorb the show's energy just by passing through. A marketplace
presents possibilities for purchased happiness via "see-want-buy," a
phrase I just learned (from an unhappy shopper). People who find garden
happiness by connecting to the natural world staff booths supporting
native-plant societies and bats. The show presents plant possibilities
and combinations. And clever ideas -- I noticed wine corks used as
mulch, colored twinkle lights twisted into blossoms and leaves. I
missed much more.  

The free lectures offer the most portable pleasure: ideas and
inspiration and real gardening stories. Serendipity happens in the
garden, but planning and knowledge increase the happiness odds. Through
lucky timing, I caught two of Mary Keen's lectures. In the landslide of
gardening books, hers reach out to me.  

She's actually Lady Keen, a professional garden designer who lives in a
graceful Georgian manor in England's Cotswolds and gardens between a
fragment of original woods and a tiny church she described as "ancient,
timeless and humble." Her garden "wakes up" in February from what seems
to me a very brief sleep and blooms with hellebores and snowdrops.  

A strong-looking woman with a silver pageboy, Keen spoke fluently
without notes as she showed her slides. In this lecture about color,
she encouraged us to learn to recognize what colors resonate
personally, what pleases us. She doesn't mean just in gardens but in
paintings, clothing and houses. "Your eyes are your best tools," she
said.   She pulled a series of scarves from her bag and held them up,
brightening or dulling her tomato-red outfit. She quoted Van Gogh --
"Without orange there is no blue" -- and declared that orange helps to
lift England's often-gray sky.  

But she didn't promulgate color rules. Keen's only declared rule is the
need to find a consistent style and stick to it, achieve a "unity of
purpose." Later, she did offer a sobering statistic: Gardens are 30 or
40 percent design and 60 or 70 percent maintenance. Who does the work?
The answer to that question might go a long way toward defining one's
style and the route to garden satisfaction.  

Elegant topiary and a four-square design (though the beds are
charmingly uneven) give her garden structure. Within the boundaries,
she encourages the harmony of native wildflowers and self-seeding
plants to give the garden "a bit of an unruly feel." More than once,
she mentioned Piet Oudolf, the innovative Dutch plantsman, as a Keen
influence.   Her slides and words sang of garden delight to me: the feeling of being
completely surrounded in the garden, the light of dawn and evening,
narrow paths with stone steps moving from shadow to sun, and quiet
places to rest the eye. She saluted the "fleeting perfection" of
ephemeral blossoms, "little wonders" she enjoys anticipating almost as
much as seeing, an attitude that would serve her well in Alaska, where
so much garden pleasure is anticipatory.  

On Sunday afternoon, dressed in a long, bark-brown skirt and cocoa
quilted jacket, Keen repeated her message that your garden must please
you. You're a little messy or a little obsessive or both? Then meld the
traits as Keen herself does. In spite of stunning photos of her
gardens, she maintains that a good garden has nothing to do with
grandness but rather with "personalness." The gardens she admires are
ones that "hang in the head," ones you will "dream about and wish you
were there."  

She's an unlikely contrarian, this proper Englishwoman, and I heard
disagreeing murmurings when she admitted to enjoying proliferators like
Welsh poppies in her beds. To my delight, she invited -- with a smile
but with force -- anyone who wanted to use poison and not be "green" to
leave the lecture room.  

She used "happy" to describe the stacked stone homage to Andy
Goldsworthy at a client's place on the Greek island of Corfu, which
also memorializes the pleasurable day spent gathering the rocks from
the land. She cherishes meaning in garden choices: a rose with
significance or a message embedded in her garden gazebo's floor that
spells "CALM DOWN" with the letters of her family's names. A garden is
about home for her, and without hesitation she called it a process, not
a product. Her favorite garden is hers, and yours should be yours.  

Gardening has so many gates inviting one in: being part of the bigger
picture, practicing kindness to the earth and its critters, exploring
wonder and possessing beauty. Maybe best of all, it offers a
never-ending source of challenge and the chance for fulfillment from
problem solving.  

Back in Alaska, I encountered a gardener in the grocery store line. In
a couple of sentences, we were lost in imagining a hop vine
embellishing a driveway and reaching for a high deck. Engrossed, we
walked out into the 18-degree evening and frozen parking lot, happily
picturing summer in our gardens.  

Artist Katy Gilmore lives and gardens in Anchorage.      

    Humor   Trying to vote in Florida      

Daily Dharma  

"To realize pure mind in your delusion is practice.  If you try to expel the delusion it will only persist the more.  Just say, 'oh, this is just delusion,' and do not be bothered by it."
 ~~Shunryu Suzuki

From the book, "Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind", published by Weatherhill    


When we mind our own mind with awareness, that is a
good practice. Study of scriptures, and most
meditation and yogic methods fall under this category.

When we do not mind our own mind in awareness, that is
a superior practice and called the yoga of awareness.
Self-Inquiry taught by Sri Ramana leads to that.

When there is no mind to mind and only Pure Awareness,
there is no practice and no practitioner. The ancients
sages simply called this Reality at the core, the
Self, our true nature. The Sanskrit term
Sat-Chit-Ananda is very precise. Self being
Self-Existent, Chit being Self-Knowledge, Ananda,
being Self-Ananda. The meaning of Sat-Chit-Ananda
cannot be intellectually comprehended. It requires
direct Self-Knowing and it becomes crystal clear, Self
It Self being that Formless Clarity.

The Formless Being which exists in all forms as
Existence without support, That is One without a
second, is One's Own Self. Based on the strength of
this knowledge which is completely and absolutely
direct, the Advaitic sages have said Aham Brahamasmi!

That is the origin of the saying, "I AM THAT"

Love to all

Vicki Woodyard


So many people are studying the words of Ramana Maharshi and Nisargadatta.  We sit and read all over the globe, drinking tea, eating fruit, contemplating what seems to us like the ideal way to be.  We feel our suffering and yearn for the peace of these awakened beings.  I know.  I have forgotten Ramana altogether when Bob was in the hospital and I was shuttling back and forth, caught betwixt and between home and there, between suffering and peace. Everything is relative....and heartbreakingly so when we are asleep. I don't know the awakened state.  If I did, I would be giving real satsang instead of with a fake guru like Swami Z.  But you know what, even a fake guru is better than none at all.

Now don't go getting your shorts in a knot when I say that.  I am just pulling your leg.  That is all Swami is about.  He knows that I don't know and I know that he is just a figment of my imagination.  He says that if he is a figment, then I just a gizmo!

Ah, now that's fake humility.

Vicki Woodyard

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Nonduality: The Varieties of Expression Home

Jerry Katz
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