The Nature as Teacher – 24 Gurus around us

Life comes in various shapes, sizes and flavor. We share this world with natural elements of earth, space, fire, air, water, animals, plants, minerals and people. Of course there are supposed to be unknown elements and let us leave it out. We interact with them. A man who learns from his own experience leads a miserable life. the one who learns from others also leads a average life. The one who learns from anything and everything around us leads an exemplary life.

There is a converstation between “Dattatreya”, a Sage, and “Yadu”, a King in “Bhagavatham” where Dattatreya, when asked,  explains the reason for his happiness to the king, that it is because he has learned about the world from his Surrounding, Nature, and 24 Gurus follows it, he is happy, though from worldy point of view he might be considered a impoverished.

Now what are the 24 teachers around us. They are:

The Earth The Air The Sky Water Fire Moon
Sun Pigeon Python Sea Moth Honeybee
Elephant Honey Thief Deer Fish Prostitute Pingala Kurara Bird
The Child Young Girl Arrow Maker Serpent Spider Wasp

The Twenty-Four Gurus:

1.Earth: We use and abuse earth. We dig it out, load it, scorch it, dirty it and what not. Yet it provides us the plant, minerals, water bodies for our survival. It brings us stability. It is patient. Despite doing all this it supports us. Thus people may insult us, cheat us, ignore us do whatever may be keeping patience and not taking on us and not worrying about it helps us keep our mind stable and worry free. Learn the art of patience, performing ones duty, forbearance and helpful tendencies from Earth.

2. The Air: The air has no smell but carries the scent from the surroundings be it good and bad. But it is not tainted by it. The aromatic smell of flowers, spices, perfume or bad smell from dump yard, pollution does not affect the inherent quality of air. Same way the air goes into pipe in one but the sound that comes from it is varied. The cow is of different color but the milk is of white. Likewise the Atma-soul in all of us is Real, Happy and Eternal and is not affected by the happening to the person.

3. The sky: The sky is vast. Atma is so. Though the sky extends everywhere and everything rests within it, it does not mix with anything. The sky is never implicated or affected by the blowing action of the wind, water, rain, thunder or clouds. In the same way the living entity, the atma, is never affected though it may enter a body of material elements, the life.

4. Water: Water is essential for living. It is needed for our livelihood – drinking, cooking, cleaning, bathing, extraction, factory production etc. It is a great coolant and provides taste for food. It is a wonderful cleanser. The great seers of the world are like water. The yogi like that cleanses all the people who come in contract with him. Essentially that in being touch with great people everyone achieves greatness. Connecting with good people, help one in providing direction in leading the life.

5. Agni: The fire has beauty. It Illuminates.It is not easily reachable. Anything you put in it digests. It burns everything it comes into contact. It is impartial to shape, size and type of product. The Yogis and great people have charisma akin to Fire. He is not impacted by his company or the food he eats. He is able to maintain his purity under all conditions. Like fire he comes into contact with people for some time but he goes back to his work. He helps those who approach him also to achieve greatness. Similarly Atma is not affected by the body it takes, works based on it and comes and goes. From fire  learn to glow with the splendor of Self-knowledge and austerity.

6. Moon: The moon waxes and wanes but because of that the moon is not any less. So also the person who is born gets modified throughout his life – Being, born, change, growth, decline and death. And because the body is changed it is incorrect to assume the soul also gets transformed. Soul remains inviolate. As the man changes his cloths the Atma drops the body when it is not able to support him and gets into new one.

7. Sun: Sun is the cause for water cycle and clouds but it never takes credit for the same. The sun in the pond seems like moving but it does not. Sun Illuminates. Same way the soul and a Yogi does not take credit for the acts of body. The Atma seems to be affected by the acts of body but it is not.

8. Pigeon: Once in a family of pigeons, the father sees its wife and children are caught in hunter’s net and goes to free it, fails and it also gets caught in the same web. This is because of the excessive attachment, for the father pigeon thinks that without them life is not worth living. Had it thought for moment that it is difficult to free them it would not have attempted this and thus saving self. So also, we, the human beings get muddled into life because of our excess attachment. Attachment is bondage. The right way, learning from pigeon would be to love and yet be not excessively attached. Loving yet being discriminatory and detached our life would be peaceful.

  • to be continued

24 Gurus from Bhagavatam

 

Remembering T S Eliot IV

Excerpts from “Family Room”

Family room is a play in poetry by T S Eliot intriguing, deep, full of secrets, behind the scenes dialogues, philosophical and mystical. Typical T S Eliot. It has lot to teach and has many quotable quotes, that i will blog separately. But the ultimate short story on life – the piece de resistance is here below. Do read the original play when you get a chance.

Life in a verse

We do not like to look out of the same window, and

see quite a different landscape.

We do not like to climb a stair, and

find that it takes us down.

We do not like to walk out of a door, and

find ourselves back in the same room.

We do not like the maze in the garden,

because it too closely resembles the maze in the brain.

We do not like what happens when we are awake, be- cause

it too closely resembles what happens when we are asleep.

 

We understand the ordinary business of living,

We know how to work the machine,

We can usually avoid accidents,

We are insured against fire, Against larceny and illness,

Against defective plumbing,

But not against the act of God.

 

We know various spells and enchantments,

And minor forms of sorcery, Divination and chiromancy,

Specifics against insomnia, Lumbago, and the loss of money.

But the circle of our understanding Is a very restricted area.

Except for a limited number Of strictly practical purposes

We do not know what we are doing; And even,

When you think of it,

We do not know much about thinking.

 

What is happening outside of the circle?

And what is the meaning of happening?

What ambush lies beyond the heather

And behind the Standing Stones?

Beyond the Heaviside Layer

And behind the smiling moon?

And what is being done to us?

And what are we, and what are we doing?

To each and all of these questions

There is no conceivable answer.

We have suffered far more than a personal loss—

We have lost our way in the dark.

Excerpt from – “Family Reunion” – T S Eliot

Remembering T.S.Eliot III

II of the FOUR QUARTETS, T.S. Eliot – East Coker

Everything is Cyclical

In my beginning is my end.

In succession

Houses rise and fall, crumble, are extended,

Are removed, destroyed, restored, or in their place

………

Houses live and die: there is a time for building

And a time for living and for generation

And a time for the wind to break the loosened pane

And to shake the wainscot where the field-mouse trots

And to shake the tattered arras woven with a silent motto.

In my beginning is my end. Now the light falls

………..

 

Limited value of Knowledge

Knowledge, At best, only a limited value

In the knowledge derived from experience.

The knowledge imposes a pattern, and falsifies,

For the pattern is new in every moment

And every moment is a new and shocking

Valuation of all we have been.

We are only undeceived

Of that which, deceiving, could no longer harm.

……….

Do not let me hear

Of the wisdom of old men, but rather of their folly,

Their fear of fear and frenzy, their fear of possession,

Of belonging to another, or to others, or to God.

The only wisdom we can hope to acquire

Is the wisdom of humility: humility is endless.

………

 

In order to arrive there,

To arrive where you are, to get from where you are not,

You must go by a way wherein there is no ecstasy.

In order to arrive at what you do not know

You must go by a way which is the way of ignorance.

In order to possess what you do not possess

You must go by the way of dispossession.

In order to arrive at what you are not

You must go through the way in which you are not.

And what you do not know is the only thing you know

And what you own is what you do not own

And where you are is where you are not.

………..

You have right only to work – This is the essence of what Krishna says in Gita

For us, there is only the trying.

The rest is not our business.

Home is where one starts from.

As we grow older

The world becomes stranger,

the pattern more complicated

Of dead and living.

Not the intense moment

Isolated, with no before and after,

But a lifetime burning in every moment

And not the lifetime of one man only

But of old stones that cannot be deciphered.

There is a time for the evening under starlight,

A time for the evening under lamplight

(The evening with the photograph album).

Love is most nearly itself

When here and now cease to matter.

Old men ought to be explorers

Here or there does not matter

We must be still and still moving

Into another intensity

For a further union, a deeper communion

Through the dark cold and the empty desolation,

The wave cry, the wind cry, the vast waters

Of the petrel and the porpoise.

In my end is my beginning.

  • Abridged FOUR QUARTETS, T.S. Eliot

Remembering T S Eliot – II

 

First of the FOUR QUARTETS – Burnt Norton

Some timeless quotes on TIME 

Time:

Time present and time past

Are both perhaps present in time future,

And time future contained in time past.

If all time is eternally present

All time is unredeemable.

What might have been is an abstraction

Remaining a perpetual possibility

Only in a world of speculation.

What might have been and what has been

Point to one end, which is always present.

But to what purpose

………………

 

 

Still Point

At the still point of the turning world.

Neither flesh nor fleshless;

Neither from nor towards;

at the still point, there the dance is,

But neither arrest nor movement.

And do not call it fixity,

Where past and future are gathered.

Neither movement from nor towards,

Neither ascent nor decline.

Except for the point, the still point,

There would be no dance,

and there is only the dance.

I can only say, there we have been:

but I cannot say where.

And I cannot say, how long, for that is to place it in time.

……….

To be conscious is not to be in time

……

Only through time, time is conquered.

……..

Time before and time after

Descend lower, descend only

Into the world of perpetual solitude,

World not world, but that which is not world,

Internal darkness, deprivation

And destitution of all property,

Desiccation of the world of sense,

Evacuation of the world of fancy,

Inoperancy of the world of spirit;

This is the one way, and the other

Is the same, not in movement

But abstention from movement; while the world moves

In appetency, on its metalled ways

Of time past and time future.

…….

 

 

……….

Or say that the end precedes the beginning,

And the end and the beginning were always there

Before the beginning and after the end.

And all is always now.

…..

Excerpts from T S Eliot

Remembering T S Eliot

 

The Fire Sermon

Departed, have left no addresses.

By the waters of Leman I sat down and wept…

Sweet Thames, run softly till I end my song,

Sweet Thames, run softly, for I speak not loud or long.

But at my back in a cold blast I hear

The rattle of the bones, and chuckle spread from ear to ear

…………

“My feet are at Moorgate, and my heart

Under my feet. After the event

He wept. He promised ‘a new start.’

I made no comment. What should I resent?”

…………

He who was living is now dead

We who were living are now dying

With a little patience

……………..

 

Who is the third who walks always beside you?

When I count, there are only you and I together

But when I look ahead up the white road

There is always another one walking beside you

Gliding wrapt in a brown mantle, hooded

I do not know whether a man or a woman

—But who is that on the other side of you?

………

I have heard the key

Turn in the door once and turn once only

We think of the key, each in his prison

Thinking of the key, each confirms a prison

………

By this, and this only, we have existed

Which is not to be found in our obituaries

Or in memories draped by the beneficent spider

Or under seals broken by the lean solicitor

In our empty rooms

……….

2. The Hollow Men

We are the hollow men

We are the stuffed men

Leaning together

Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!

Our dried voices, when

We whisper together

Are quiet and meaningless

As wind in dry grass

Shape without form, shade without colour,

Paralysed force, gesture without motion;

 

Those who have crossed

With direct eyes, to death’s other Kingdom

Remember us-if at all-not as lost

Violent souls, but only

As the hollow men

The stuffed men.

……..

 

For Thine is the Kingdom

Between the conception

And the creation

Between the emotion

And the response

Falls the Shadow

Life is very long

 

Between the desire

And the spasm

Between the potency

And the existence

Between the essence

And the descent

Falls the Shadow

 

For Thine is

Life is

For Thine is the

 

This is the way the world ends

This is the way the world ends

This is the way the world ends

Not with a bang but a whimper.

 

T S Eliots

 

P.S – Today is the anniversary of the T S Eliot, the immortal poet. In commemorating, it is my attempt to revisit some of his writings.

Concept of Time

Concept of Time – As enquired by Rama –  In Yoga Vasishta

 

Prince Rama, when in a philosophical mind frame, more leaning towards depressive thoughts questions the travails of human life with its childhood, youth, old age, disease and death, the vagaries of time, destiny, effervescence and mutability of the world and in general all that hails the world. He questions the futility of life. These questions are raised towards Sage Vasistha amidst his kingly counsel. These questions were praised by everyone present for they bring out what is there in every one’s mind but that many of us cannot express. Read on.

Time and tide does not wait for none. It does not spare anybody and consumes everything in its own time.  It is the overlord of all things and everything in this world. He abstracts, produces and destroys everything. Mountains, rivers, lakes, land mass are created and destroyed in the course of time altering the visible world. Time has devoured everyone, the kind and cruel, generous and miserly, young and old, the king and the pauper. It uproots all proud living beings in the world.

Time is the subtlest of all things. It is unseen and yet the ravages of it is known throughout. Time like mind is strong enough to create and demolish anything and everything.

At periodic interval time assumes the terrific form of fire to dissolve the world into empty space, whatever and who ever, gods, god heads and humanity ceases to exist only to be created anew. Like waves after waves in a sea, time creates, nurtures and destroys. Time accompanied by action, entertains himself in this world.

As the high and huge rock supports its body upon the earth so does time rest itself in endless and interminable eternity. It assumes multi colors of black, white, red – that of night, day, sunrise and sunset – as its vest. It supports all the constituents of the world. Billions of years may pass, eternity may rollout, yet time keeps continued to do without pity, compassion or feeling of anything or for anybody.  Time is the one who with the least sense of pain or effort brings this world into play and makes it exist. Time is said to be the clock work of the actions of sun and moon to light up.

After playing for eternity, the play of killing and crushing of all living beings time comes to lose its own existence and becomes extinct in the spirit. After a brief period of rest time start again its actions of creator, preserver and destroyer of all. He shows the shapes of all things whether good or bad, keeping his own nature beyond the knowledge of all. Thus does time expand and preserve and finally dissolves all things by way of sport.

This world is like a sporting ground and a forest of times where the living beings are lost. The transcendent time announces the death of us in this sporting arena called world.  This world is like a forest in which sorrows are everywhere and like a sportive prince one wanders, walks, plays and wins game.

Time is the most deceitful player in this world. Time has the double parts of creation and destruction and of action and fate. The existence of time is known to us only through action and movement that binds all beings by way of thought and action. Time creates the worlds, oceans, the mountains, the localities and living places alive with people. The forms the movable and immovable substances, establishes customs only to dissolve them

  • Ref – Yoga Vashista by Valmiki, Translation of Vihari Lal Mitra

 

 

 

 

Quotes from “On The Shortness of Life” – Lucius Seneca

It is not that we have a short space of time, but that we waste much of it.

Life, existence and time

Life is long enough, and it has been given in sufficiently generous measure to allow the accomplishment of the very greatest things if the whole of it is well invested. But when it is squandered in luxury and carelessness, when it is devoted to no good end, forced at last by the ultimate necessity we perceive that it has passed away before we were aware that it was passing. So it is—the life we receive is not short, but we make it so, nor do we have any lack of it, but are wasteful of it.

 Nature of time

The present offers only one day at a time, and each by minutes. Present time is very brief, so brief, indeed, that to some there seems to be none; for it is always in motion, it ever flows and hurries on; it ceases to be before it has come, and can no more brook delay than the firmament or the stars, whose ever unresting movement never lets them abide in the same track. The engrossed, therefore, are concerned with present time alone, and it is so brief that it cannot be grasped, and even this is filched away from them, distracted as they are among many things. The mind that is untroubled and tranquil has the power to roam into all the parts of its life.

Life – Past, present and future

Life is divided into three periods—that which has been, that which is, that which will be. Of these the present time is short, the future is doubtful, the past is certain. For the last is the one over which Fortune has lost control, is the one which cannot be brought back under any man’s power.

Has some time passed by? This he embraces by recollection. Is time present? This he uses. Is it still to come? This he anticipates. He makes his lifelong by combining all times into one. But those who forget the past, neglect the present, and fear for the future have a life that is very brief and troubled; when they have reached the end of it.

Company of own vs others

After all, no matter who you are, the great man does sometimes look toward you even if his face is insolent, he does sometimes condescend to listen to your words, he permits you to appear at his side; but you never deign to look upon yourself, to give ear to yourself. There is no reason, therefore, to count anyone in debt for such services, seeing that, when you performed them, you had no wish for another’s company, but could not endure your own.

Believe me, it takes a great man and one who has risen far above human weaknesses not to allow any of his time to be filched from him, and it follows that the life of such a man is very long because he has devoted wholly to himself whatever time he has had. None of it lay neglected and idle; none of it was under the control of another, for, guarding it most grudgingly, he found nothing that was worthy to be taken in exchange for his time. And so that man had time enough, but those who have been robbed of much of their life by the public, have necessarily had too little of it.

On wasting time

Life! In guarding their fortune men are often closefisted, yet, when it comes to the matter of wasting time, in the case of the one thing in which it is right to be miserly, they show themselves most prodigal.

Ponder upon life

Look back in memory and consider when you ever had a fixed plan, how few days have passed as you had intended, when you were ever at your own disposal, when your face ever wore its natural expression, when your mind was ever unperturbed, what work you have achieved in so long a life, how many have robbed you of life when you were not aware of what you were losing, how much was taken up in useless sorrow, in foolish joy, in greedy desire, in the allurements of society, how little of yourself was left to you; you will perceive that you are dying before your season!” What, then, is the reason of this? You live as if you were destined to live forever, no thought of your frailty ever enters your head, of how much time has already gone by you take no heed. You squander time as if you drew from a full and abundant supply, though all the while that day which you bestow on some person or thing is perhaps your last

And what guarantee, pray, have you that your life will last longer? Who will suffer your course to be just as you plan it? Are you not ashamed to reserve for yourself only the remnant of life, and to set apart for wisdom only that time which cannot be devoted to any business? How late it is to begin to live just when we must cease to live! What foolish forgetfulness of mortality to postpone wholesome plans to the fiftieth and sixtieth year, and to intend to begin life at a point to which few have attained!

Focus for result

Finally, everybody agrees that no one pursuit can be successfully followed by a man who is preoccupied with many things—eloquence cannot, nor the liberal studies—since the mind, when distracted, takes in nothing very deeply, but rejects everything that is, as it were, crammed into it.

Whole life to learn

There is nothing the busy man is less busied with than living: there is nothing that is harder to learn. It takes the whole of life to learn how to live, and—what will perhaps make you wonder more—it takes the whole of life to learn how to die.

Many very great men, having laid aside all their encumbrances, having renounced riches, business, and pleasures, have made it their one aim up to the very end of life to know how to live; yet the greater number of them have departed from life confessing that they did not yet know—still less do those others know.

Live everyday as it is last day

Everyone hurries his life on and suffers from a yearning for the future and a weariness of the present. But he who bestows all of his time on his own needs, who plans out every day as if it were his last, neither longs for nor fears the morrow. For what new pleasure is there that any hour can now bring? They are all known, all have been enjoyed to the full. Mistress Fortune may deal out the rest as she likes; his life has already found safety.

Life waits for none

Life will follow the path it started upon, and will neither reverse nor check its course; it will make no noise, it will not remind you of its swiftness. Silent it will glide on; it will not prolong itself at the command of a king, or at the applause of the populace. Just as it was started on its first day, so it will run; nowhere will it turn aside, nowhere will it delay. And what will be the result? You have been engrossed, life hastens by; meanwhile death will be at hand, for which, willy nilly, you must find leisure.

The greatest hindrance to living is expectancy, which depends upon the morrow and wastes to-day.

You dispose of that which lies in the hands of Fortune, you let go that which lies in your own. Whither do you look? At what goal do you aim? All things that are still to come lie in uncertainty; live straightway!

Old Age

And so there is no reason for you to think that any man has lived long because he has grey hairs or wrinkles; he has not lived long—he has existed long.

Old age surprises them while their minds are still childish, and they come to it unprepared and unarmed, for they have made no provision for it; they have stumbled upon it suddenly and unexpectedly, they did not notice that it was drawing nearer day by day.

Leading Life facing death

But for those whose life is passed remote from all business, why should it not be ample? None of it is assigned to another, none of it is scattered in this direction and that, none of it is committed to Fortune, none of it perishes from neglect, none is subtracted by wasteful giving, none of it is unused; the whole of it, so to speak, yields income. And so, however small the amount of it, it is abundantly sufficient, and therefore, whenever his last day shall come, the wise man will not hesitate to go to meet death with steady step.

Glory to Philosopher’s

Of all men they alone are at leisure who take time for philosophy, they alone really live; for they are not content to be good guardians of their own lifetime only. They annex every age to their own; all the years that have gone before them are an addition to their store. Unless we are most ungrateful, all those men, glorious fashioners of holy thoughts, were born for us; for us they have prepared a way of life

Fickleness of fortune

All the greatest blessings are a source of anxiety, and at no time should fortune be less trusted than when it is best; to maintain prosperity there is need of other prosperity, and in behalf of the prayers that have turned out well we must make still other prayers. For everything that comes to us from chance is unstable, and the higher it rises, the more liable it is to fall.

“It’s not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it.” -Lucius Annaeus Seneca