Bhavana

Intentions
are in control,
while consequences
often aren’t.

Have our heroes in history
been more chance than else?

In living though,
Doesn’t ‘why’ matter
a little more than ‘what’?

To be stable amidst
the confounding effects
of chance and effort…
Far from effortless.

But what if one focuses
on ‘bhavana’ in life,
Doesn’t karma follow
like plant from a seed?

Of course, you may say,
easier said than done.
But isn’t it, in some ways,
Easier done than said ?

———————-

Bhāvanā (PaliSanskrit, also bhāvana) literally means “development” or “cultivating” or “producing” in the sense of “calling into existence.” It is an important concept in Buddhist praxis (Patipatti). The word bhavana normally appears in conjunction with another word forming a compound phrase such as citta-bhavana (the development or cultivation of the heart/mind) or metta-bhavana (the development/cultivation of lovingkindness). When used on its own bhavana signifies ‘spiritual cultivation’ generally. (source: Wikipedia)

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Favorite Poems II

A few days back, I posted some of my favorite poems. Now is the time to append that list with stuff suggested by others, and some that I mistakenly left out. This selection will be somewhat more spiritual and self-reflection oriented than earlier, just so you know before you tread further 🙂

I loved the Song of Six Perfections by Milarepa, which I came across through Nisheeth’s blog. Reproduced below, it is a concise, practical expression for enlightened living.

A Song on the Six Perfections, by Milarepa

For generosity, nothing to do,
Other than stop fixating on self.

For morality, nothing to do,
Other than stop being dishonest.

For patience, nothing to do,
Other than not fear what is ultimately true.

For effort, nothing to do,
Other than practice continuously.

For meditative stability, nothing to do,
Other than rest in presence.

For wisdom, nothing to do,
Other than know directly how things are.

Dhaarini was kind enough to remind me of the beautiful poem Desiderata by Max Ehrmann. It is another gem of love and wisdom, that begins with these simple lines:

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible, without surrender,
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even to the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.

We all go in to the noise and haste, and get caught up. But to go placidly, and to remember the peace that there may be in silence… is the essence. To me, “remember” here does not mean to keep thinking about silence, but to go in to the world, with a deep-seated inner peace, and let the external stay confined to waves on the surface of a deep ocean. I could go on meditating on these lines, each one for some time, but well… Here is how the poem ends:

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

It is still a beautiful world. In the 13.7 billion years of the cosmos’s known existence, we are born in the one tiny window of time where we can comprehend, travel, witness, communicate, share, love and celebrate. Most of all, a fact that is often forgotten, we are in the best conditions that there have ever been to live.

Gibran‘s Prophet is another favorite. It is a poem with chapters on topics like work, love, self-knowledge and more. In one of the chapters, Gibran shares brilliant insights on Good and Evil:

You are good when you are one with yourself.
Yet when you are not one with yourself you are not evil.
For a divided house is not a den of thieves; it is only a divided house.
And a ship without rudder may wander aimlessly among perilous isles yet sink not to the bottom.

I have not read much of Rumi, but here are the verses that I found very close to my own reflections on cosmic unity.

A stone I died and rose again a plant;
A plant I died and rose an animal;
I died an animal and was born a man.
Why should I fear? What have I lost by death?

I begin to digress, but the work below is another testament to the genius of Rumi — from a poem on love: Like This

If anyone wonders how Jesus raised the dead,
don’t try to explain the miracle.
Kiss me on the lips.

Like this. Like this.

Update(s)

Kabir‘s couplets bring the esoteric to the confines of our comprehension. Brief and subtle, they have a haiku-like feel, their essence somewhere far beyond the words. I’ll reproduce two of them here (translations from Rajender Krishan):

Bura Jo Dekhan Main Chala, Bura Naa Milya Koye
Jo Munn Khoja Apnaa, To Mujhse Bura Naa Koye

Translation:
I searched for the crooked, met not a single one
When searched myself, “I” found the crooked one

Chinta Aisee Dakini, Kat Kaleja Khaye
Vaid Bichara Kya Kare, Kahan Tak Dawa Lagaye

Translation:
Worry is the bandit that eats into one’s heart
What the doctor can do, what remedy to impart?

A Short Story

Meet Smiley. She is seven years old, loves wearing red-colored frocks and dancing in the rain. To her, everything seems like a miracle. She smiles when she sees a tree, a flower, a moon, a horizon, a person, a thing.

It is raining lightly, a gentle tip-tap over the roof of Smiley’s little hut. As soon as she wakes, her eyes are lit and her smile curves more as she stretches her arms. Little footsteps trace the muddy path outside the hut, disappearing in to a distant forest. In the shade of trees, with the leaves whispering secrets about the rain, she finds a golden pencil, lying near the trunk of one of the trees.

At home, she gets herself a sheet of paper. She thinks of the moon, and begins to draw. The moon is on her sheet. She thinks of the stars, and they are on her sheet. Smiley picks up another sheet — this time thinking of a sunrise — and it is right there. The golden pencil actually has magic! Whatever she thinks of, she can draw, see, live.

Smiley wanders across landscapes, snow-capped mountains, oceans. She thinks of the Taj Mahal and finds it on the paper. The golden pencil helps her visit the Great Wall of China, the churches of Europe, the skyscrapers of New York, and the lakes of Tibet. Smiley then wanders further. She thinks of Venus and Saturn and stars and galaxies. By exploring the expanse, she immerses herself in the beauty of the cosmos.

As dusk draws near, she lays the pencil to rest and prepares to go to sleep.

Next morning, she has the widest smile she has ever had on her face. The first thing she does after waking up is to pick up the golden pencil. There is something special on her mind today. A dream that is the sum of all her dreams, and more. A thought that captures all her thoughts, and beyond. Today she wants to witness that thought. See it, feel it, live it. She thinks… God. The smile curves with greater joy.

The pencil on paper, her hands gently begin to move. One line leads to another, trying to unravel the most beautiful essence of it all. Smiley lets her pencil go, not wondering where it is going. She lets the lines trace themselves, without trying to figure out what it is, yet.

After a few minutes, the golden pencil is still. Smiley looks at the sheet of paper, and her smile turns in to an eruption of joy. She laughs, with her eyes wet.

On the sheet of the paper, she sees her face. And the smile.
🙂

————
Dedicated to the dreamy conversationalist. This needs to be kept lest I forget.