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Cherish your winters: Remembrance of a old winter, five years past. Read an old post here about beauty in winter
For a more Zen experience, read my poetry series :The Awakening of Silence
Mind - Your Secret Garden


When i was young i was deeply influenced by Bertrand Russell a lot, His philosophies had a very positive effect on my life. Recently i remember i had once written down an excerpt from his autobiography in a notebook i used to frequently read. Recently i have been reading a lot of about the workings of the mind, the ego and emotions etc. I found it strange that Bertrand Russell had in that work given a very nice way to over come the drag the ego can have on our lives.



I believe that Our mind is like a garden. You can plant beautiful plants in it, and it will grow into a beautiful and serene place. but if u don't bother to take interest and sow the plants that are wonderful, your garden will soon be filled with weed and bushes. You need to maintain your garden, by constantly cutting the weed and unwanted shrubs.


observe your mind for 5 minutes. now.
there are two types of thoughts that can arise in your mind.
the first kind is that of a constant background radio that keeps playing in your head.... keeps telling you want to do and what not to do almost with no logic or reason what so ever, these kinds of thoughts are deeply rooted in the past and keep reminding you how things are not the way u want them to be .... these thoughts , according to the Buddha, cause you dukha (suffering) . these are like plants that grow in your garden when u don't maintain it.... these are like weeds... these are unwanted.

There is another kind of thoughts that can arise, these are the thought that u have the control to think consciously with an effort. these are the thoughts that you are aware that YOU are thinking! these are like the beautiful plants you plant in your garden and nourish constantly.


In his book The Conquest of Happiness, Bertrand Russell says, "I was not born happy. As a child, my favorite hymn was: 'Weary of earth and laden with sin.' . . . In adolescence, I hated life and was continually on the verge of suicide, from which, however, I was restrained by the desire to know more mathematics. Now, on the contrary, I enjoy life; I might almost say that with every year that passes I enjoy it more . . . very largely it is due to diminishing preoccupation with myself. Like others who had a Puritan education, I had a habit of meditating on my sins, follies, and shortcomings. I seemed to myself— no doubt justly—a miserable specimen. Gradually I
learned to be indifferent to myself and my deficiencies; I came to center my attention upon external objects: the state of the world, various branches of knowledge, individuals
for whom I felt affection."




"It is quite possible to overcome infantile suggestions of the unconscious, and even to change the contents of the unconscious, by employing the right kind of technique. Whenever you begin to feel remorse for an act which your reason tells you is not wicked, examine the causes of your

feeling of remorse, and convince yourself in detail of their absurdity. Let your conscious beliefs be so vivid and emphatic that they make an impression upon your unconscious strong enough to cope with the impressions made by your nurse or your mother when you were an infant. Do not be content with an alteration between moments of rationality and moments of irrationality. Look into the irrationality closely with a determination not to respect it and not to let it dominate you. When it thrusts foolish thoughts or feelings into your consciousness, pull them up by the roots, examine them, and reject them. Do not allow yourself to remain a vacillating creature, swayed half by reason and half by infantile folly... " ....


.... "But if the rebellion is to be successful in bringing individual happiness and in enabling a man to live consistently by one standard, not to vacillate between two, it is necessary that he should think and feel deeply about what his reason tells him. Most men, when they have thrown off superficially the superstitions of their childhood, think thatthere is no more to be done. They do not realize that these superstitions are still lurking underground. When a rational conviction has been arrived at, it is necessary to dwell upon it, to follow out its consequences, to search out in oneself whatever beliefs inconsistent with the new conviction might otherwise survive. . . . What I suggest is that a man should make up his mind with emphasis as to what he rationally believes, and should never allow contrary irrational beliefs to pass unchallenged or obtain a hold over him, however brief. This is a question of reasoning with himself in those moments in which he is tempted to become infantile, but the reasoning, if it is sufficiently emphatic, may be very brief."


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We at SepticPen , decided to take a 10 day long silence on the internet vow, on the occasion of Buddha Poornima which is celebrated by buddhists all over India with great grandeur.

i could see from the site-stats that many of the regular readers kept visiting us again and again , but might have been confused what was going on. Well i hope that made u aware that u might be ddicted to the internet ... :) . We could have said it before hand that we are not gonna be active for 10days but then, you might not have had a chance to become aware of your addiction :)



Loads of articles are pending to be published, we will get to it right away!.

Thanking you,
the SepticPen crew
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"
"Master what is the difference between a Epicurean hedonist a Zen Buddhist.?" Asked a student.


"There is none. The Zen Buddhist knows it, the Epicurean hedonist does not know it. That is the only difference, otherwise there is none." Replied the Master

Between the enlightened person[like a zen master] and the unenlightened person[like a zen student] there is no difference at all, not even a single inch's difference. The enlightened person knows it , the unenlightened person does not know about it -- that's all.
The unenlightened person believes in the distance, in the difference , hence he creates it. The enlightened person has come to know that there is no difference. the belief has disappeared.
"

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"I slept and dreamt that life was joy.
I awoke and saw that life was service.
I acted and behold, service was joy." - Tagore

Today is kabipranam i,e. Rabidranath Tagore's birth aniversary. Firstly, I would like to share a poem from tagore's nobel-prize winning work Gitanjali...

Purity

Life of my life, I shall ever try to keep my body pure, knowing that thy living touch is upon all my limbs.

I shall ever try to keep all untruths out from my thoughts, knowing that thou art that truth which has kindled the light of reason in my mind.

I shall ever try to drive all evils away from my heart and keep my love in flower, knowing that thou hast thy seat in the inmost shrine of my heart. And it shall be my endeavour to reveal thee in my actions, knowing it is thy power gives me strength to act.



Rabindranath Tagore was born in Calcutta, India into a wealthy family. After a brief stay in England (1878) to attempt to study law, he came back to Calcutta(now called Kolkata), and instead pursued a career as a playwright, poet,writer, philosopher ,educator and songwriter.
In 1912,he then went back to England. Now a man of 51, his was accompanied by his son. On the way over to England he began translating, for the very first time, his selections of poems, called Gitanjali, into English.

Tagore's had a friend in England, who was a famous artist he had met in India, Rothenstein. Rothenstein learned of the translation of poems, and wished to see it. Reluctantly,and after with much persuasion, Tagore let him have the translations. Rothenstein could not believe his eyes. The poems were incredible. He called his friend, W.B. Yeats, and finally talked Yeats into looking at the work of poetry.

"Clouds come floating into my life,
no longer to carry rain or usher storm,
but to add color to my sunset sky.” Rabindranath Tagore

The rest, as they say, is history. Yeats was amazed. He later wrote the introduction to Gitanjali when it was published in September 1912 London. Thereafter, both the poetry and the man were an instant sensation, first in London literary circles, and soon thereafter in the entire world. His spiritual presence was unbelievable . His words evoked great beauty and respect. Nobody had ever read anything like it. A glimpse of the sacred mysticism and sentimental beauty of Indian culture were revealed to the West for the first time. Less than a year later, in 1913, Rabindranath received the Nobel Prize for literature. He was the first non-westerner to be so honored. Overnight he was famous and began world lecture tours promoting inter-cultural harmony and understanding. In 1915 he was knighted by the British King George V. When not traveling he remained at his family home outside of Calcutta, where he remained very active as a literary, spiritual and social-political force.

In 1919, following the Amritsar massacre of 400 Indian demonstrators by British troops, Sir Tagore renounced his Knighthood.


Tagore was not only a creative genius, he was a great man and friend to many. For instance, he was also a good friend from childhood to the great Indian Physicist, Bose. He was educated and quite knowledgeable of Western culture, especially Western poetry and Science. This made him a remarkable person, one of the first of our planet to combine East and West, and ancient and modern knowledge. Tagore had a good grasp of modern - post-Newtonian - physics, and was well able to hold his own in a debate with Einstein in 1930 on the newly emerging principles of quantum mechanics and chaos.

His meetings and tape recorded conversations with his contemporaries such Albert Einstein and H.G.Wells, stand as cultural landmarks, and show the brilliance of this great man. Although Tagore is a superb representative of his country - India - the man who wrote its national anthem - his life and works go far beyond his country. He is truly a man of the whole Earth, a product of the best of both traditional Indian, and modern Western cultures.


"Men are cruel, but Man is kind." says Tagore.

Gitanjali is an eternal masterpiece, i have read my copy so many times. Every few years i have to buy a new copy , cause it gets worn out.

You can download Gitanjali in e-Book format from:http://avaxhome.ws/ebooks/Poetry/Gitanjali.html


Bibliography:Text of tagore's Biography i have presented was adapted from http://www.schoolofwisdom.com/tagore.html

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Dealing with Criticism and Learning from Dharma


Well how can we handle criticism and negative comments about us? How can we make sure we don’t get angry and just lose our sense of calmness and grace?


Its great when we are making progress in becoming a calmer person, and then just out of the blue there comes the devil, in the form of criticism. And how do we respond?.. Not well. It’s very easy for us to speculate against our usual behavior and anchor ourselves to peace sitting in a retreat center, but the fact is we spend a great deal of our time, with other people, and mostly exist in a place where there is a lot of noise. Noise does not imply there is no silence. Noise just means that we are not capable of perceiving the silence in which the noise originates.


i want to share two stories that i just simply love, i have realized so much by just contemplating on the silence that arises after reading them. Read each of these stories at least three times, i will tell you why. The first time you read it, you will judge it. Don’t respond to that judgment. The second time you read it , you mind will tell you are wasting your time reading it a second time there’s nothing more to learn from it. Don’t listen to this advice from your mind, i.e go ahead and read for the third time. Now the Third time you read it, your mind simply gives up!, and doesn’t talk to you, cause you did not respond to its whims and fancies. Then comes the Silence into your mind.... a silence which is not corrupted by thought, a silence which cannot be described, and it is only in such a silence that any true realization can occur. And you shall be convinced that all the judgments made by your mind about the story and the advices it gave you about the story were all so deceiving! There was something beyond these words that the mind just cant comprehend.


The Buddha’s reply

“A man interrupted one of the Buddha’s lectures with a flood of abuse. Buddha waited until he had finished and then asked him, “If a man offered a gift to another but the gift was declined, to whom would the gift belong?”
“To the one who offered it,” said the man.
“Then,” said the Buddha, “I decline to accept your abuse and request you to keep it for yourself.”




A Sufi tale.

A monkey on a tree hurled a coconut at the head of a Sufi. The man picked it up, drank the milk, ate the flesh and made a bowl from the shell.



Also looking at the situation from the other end also helps. Criticism is a way for the one critiquing to release suppressed anger, frustration , jealousy. Or a way to reinforce that his/her point of view or belief has to be the right one. It’s actually about him/her and Not about something you did. It can have a calming effect to remember this, makes it easier to handle it like Buddha.


The next time some one criticizes you should say ‘Thank you for your criticism of me’. Because he/she has given you an opportunity to practice your dharma. Now it’s up to you to decide if you want to become angry like you had done all these years or you can practice the dharma. Also be grateful to the person who has criticized you for he/she has in fact been to you a teacher of patience and self-control. Thus, you can be compassionate to that person, and also not let the criticism affect you.

Please leave your valuable comments,
observations or experiences
...

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Reality always was up for grabs..




Here is a story:
"How shall I get liberation?";
"Find out who has bound you,"said the Master.

The disciple returned after a week and said,
"No one has bound me."

"Then why ask to be liberated?"
That was a moment of Enlightenment for the disciple,who suddenly became free.



We are all walking talking heaps of distortions. We are carrying within ourselves great tonnes of solutions to problems that no longer exist. Everybody is so, we think these are 'solutions', but we are just fooling ourselves. these 'solutions' in fact are judgments , opinions, beliefs, thinking patterns and so on. It is these stupid things that we call knowledge and are made to be so proud of. If at all anything, It is only a hindrance for us to observe and to really 'know'. The mind is dulled by these repeated primitives/patterns.


We Humans have been doing this for ages, trying to join monasteries, trying to join religions,trying to join scientific beliefs, trying to accept others beliefs, trying to accept rules, trying to accept ways. All this is trying to force our minds to conform to rigid and established patterns. Such is mind is bound to be dull. Such a mind is bound to be monochromatic. Such a mind is bound to be devoid of awareness. How can such a mind find out what reality is???


Here we are, trying to follow a leader, trying to follow a sage, trying to follow anybody. To follow is what our minds have become into. It is broken , It is confused , It has lost its virtue , It has become illusioned.'It has become Unconscious' !. Here we are everyday, every hour, every second, every nanosecond, .... thinking.... .All the time, thinking...thinking ...thinking.... Thats what we have confined our minds to... confined to thoughts,and nothing else.
we have become insane .When a mind is kept confined to thinking and no other activity, Every thought that arises builds a wall between us and Reality.


To really know reality we have to shed all this so called 'knowledge'. Thoughts are only tool to rationalize, thoughts can never understand the irrational. Reality is irrational, take a look at the fact that we have been trying to rationalize and deduce reality for so long, have we ever come closer to it. Every time we have try to define it , only to be proved wrong by another definition. For every one thing you learn, you realize there are 10 more things you don't know. Hence you always stay in a constant state of seeking answers. Some one today defines to us Say The Ultimate reality as God. We applied our minds , thought and learned this definition, only to realize 10 more questions popped in our mind :
who is God?

how was god formed or born?
what is God?

why does he/she/that-entity make us suffer?

where can i find god?.....
Now these questions that popped in our minds have moved us further away from god than even before we knew our newly learnt definition of the Ultimate Reality as god.

When are all these questions gonna be answered??? when can we end our inquiries???... To answer this question i shall take a story from Buddhism:

A monk once said to the Lord Buddha, “Do the souls of the just survive death?”.Characteristically, Buddha gave him no reply....

But the monk persisted. Each day he would repeat the question; and each day he would get silence for an answer till he could take it no more and threatened to quit unless this crucial question was answered to his satisfaction, for to what purpose was he Living a life of renunciation if the souls of the just perished with their bodies ?


Then the Lord Buddha, in his compassion, spoke: “You are like a man, “he said, “who was dying from a poisoned arrow. His relatives rushed a doctor to his side, but he refused to have the arrow taken out unless he had the answer to these vital questions: was the man who shot him white or black? was he tall or short? ,was he a Brahmin or an out-caste? , I must know his name and family ? i must know whether a spring bow or a cross-bow was used? Before this arrow is drawn out. Such a man is bound to die before he knew the answers to his question ”
The monk stayed on!


I would like to quote a verse from the Upanishads:
"The supreme reality , without moving is swifter than the mind; the senses and the mind cannot reach him:he is ever beyond them. Standing still he over takes those who run."

our whole approach has been wrong. Thoughts can never reach it. Thoughts can only point at it. The ultimate reality can be felt, before a thought , and after a thought, and in between them but never in them. For then how can a mind corrupted by thought ever know it! Reality cannot be known by running towards it, for it is swifter than mind itself. This is why no one can teach us what is reality... it cannot be written down, it cannot be spoken of, it cannot even be thought of. But it can be felt, it can be realized. But this feeling and realization must occur in you , for it cannot be transmuted , it cannot be inherited from your parents or a past lifetime. For even the Buddha cannot tell you what it is, he can merely point at it.


I think the greatest sermon given by Buddha was the following:


Buddha once pointed to a flower and asked each of his disciples to say something about it.
One pronounced a lecture.

Another a poem.

Yet another a parable.

Each outdid the other in depth and erudition.

Only Mahakashyap smiled and held his tongue.
For Only he had understood the sermon.



--Sachin Modeel
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