Monday, August 31, 2020

2901 : The right art of adorning the earring

Girls in Japan are trained to put their right earring with their left hand because it looks more attractive. 

- From Pico Iyer's Beginner's Guide to Japan.

I thought about this.....and it could actually appear to be so much more an engaging act.

2900 : Erik Satie

I am probably one of those strange lovers of western classical music, who still likes Erik Satie. I actually love his piano works.

In the past 5 years, the two folks who I have truly internalized have been Erik Satie and Glenn Gould (I mean in the classical music world only).

More on Satie here.

2899 : Pain 2

My friend's mom is fighting for her life. She is as good as my mom too. 

In these last few months, I have seen her suffer from an advanced form of cancer. And then, I have also seen her choose not to take in any medicines. She has chosen voluntarily not to prolong life.

Now that is remarkable coming in this age, time, and generation. 

She is in extreme pain as she battles the last vestiges with cancer. Even in this battle, she is teaching us (the world she will eventually leave behind) lessons worth their weight in gold.

I don't know if I can ever be as brave as she is. I really don't know. But I hope and pray to hell that when I am dying - I choose to live (and die) with as much dignity, awareness, and beauty.

Saturday, August 29, 2020

2898 : What is prayer?

From Pico Iyer's Beginner's Guide to Japan

Attention, taken to the highest degree, is the same as prayer. - Simone Weil

2897 : Pain

Had an accident last week. I think it was bad and I am reeling under massive (or so my weak mind thinks) doses of pain.

My sister tells me, wait till you break a bone. You will know what real pain is.

And I realise in that moment, that all the personal toughness, bravado and inner strength to deal with pain (all in my context only, not my sister's) are just such a sham. A weak story I tell myself to make me look like I am inert.

I am a puny scared human who is running around in circles because I had an accident.

2896 : Zen and nightmares

I get a lot of scary thoughts and nightmares (as one of the side effects of the rabbit hole). These are not "horror" like scary, but these are more like facing your inner demons, your deepest biases and insecurities.

And that's usually the point when I rollback (my zen reading I mean). In a few weeks, I forget and life slowly inches back to normal.

This time I am still reading...and the nightmares are getting worse. Really bad. So bad that I want to numb myself with sleeping pills. I mean just tempted.

I wonder why no other person reports on all this.

I really would willingly subject myself to research.

Monday, August 24, 2020

2895 : Zen

When I read Zen and meditate on its precepts (emptiness), it almost always mucks me up. As in it leads me down a rabbit hole. I am very scared of what I shall find there. Very scared. 

Zen shakes me to my very core, and what I find inside my core - bothers me immensely. Like I actually get disturbing nightmares.

A good Buddhist (Zen) master would then tell me that the meditation is working. 

It shakes things so much, that almost inadvertently every single time in the past, I would try and forgot my Zen encounters so that I could chase the familiar and the everyday.

This time I am going to tempt fate. I won't back off. I want to see how far this path of existential crisis can go.

So if you find me very changed in the next few weeks or months, you know at what point I lost it.

Saturday, August 22, 2020

2894 : Magic from Aaye Kuch Abr

 Kar rahan tha, gameh jahan ka hisaab,

Aaj tum yaad behisaab aaye,

(As usual) I was here counting and measuring the litany of my sorrows,

(But darling) Today I am losing count of the times, I have wished you were here.

2893 : Zazen

As I try and withdraw into my urban Zazen, I often wonder whether all the politics, controversies and indignation help me in any way at all - other than filling up my mind and space.

2892 : Kinds of love

 From Twitter, found this quote. Moved me.

"There are all kinds of love in this world but never the same love twice." F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Sensible Thing

2891 : On a Zen reading and meditating spree

I just realized that it has taken more than a decade for me rationalize and internalize, that very accomplished and revered Zen Monks can get incandescently angry.

It is normal. As long as the next moment, you can offer the same person a cup of tea, even anger is Satori.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

2890 : The problem with some schools of Buddhism

I am too inconsequential to assess or judge masters, but I will because I want to surface my fears.

I was listening to the Drukama podcast around "death and dying and karma"....Ep 39 (I think)and then they start by saying, "if we do good karma", then we shall have a good afterlife or a good liberation....that sounds very Judaio-Christian in its approach. 

Also, this approach is very dualistic, right? something seems weird, hunky in that approach - since it amplifies your ego instead of diluting it. It keeps saying "you, we, I, us"......

That is where it sounds wooly.

Instead Zen or Traditional nondual Buddhism/Hinduism seems so much more relatable.

In all my years of meditating on death - my summary so far is very depressing. We die and we are gone....Do I believe we merge into a central intelligence? Yes. But it is nondual. It the same intelligence, that makes Bell's theorem happen in atoms, its the same one which teaches a table when to break, and its same point which tells our heart to unleash a cardiac arrest. Its all connected and central in the sense, that all points depend on each other. Every atom as Bell's theorem says can take inputs from others. 

In summary, when we die, the ego is gone, and we become elements again. No Meaning. No continuity. No liberation.

2889 : Passing Out (and thoughts just before it)

I searched quite a bit on google, but could not find a good post around what people feel just before they are experiencing a pass out.

I passed out today, my fifth time in the last decade. I remember every single time that has happened.

As the process of "awareness" dilutes and as the process of passing out starts (in what might be just a few seconds) - there is a stream of deep thoughts, very interesting, maybe even creative thoughts. This might be lasting a couple of seconds, but feels like a complete thought time - like feels like maybe 15 minutes. 

And then maybe in the 5th second (possibly), there is this tragic, almost desperate sense of loss....loss of control over these thoughts. These thoughts then begin to shape up on their own. Again this might be for a few seconds only (but feels like a complete quantum of time, say 15 minutes). 

And that feeling of losing control - is immensely scary, it actually completely freaks someone like me.

And you keep sinking further and further into the rabbit hole - at a frenetic pace, almost you being sucked in - before at some point your eyes open and the control slowly returns (post 1-2 seconds post-eye-opening).

What is this rabbit hole?

Is this the process of the brain shutting down (or starting its shut down routine).....only at 5 seconds post the shutdown start....some other neuron firing screaming "don't shut down, a false alarm".......

Feels exactly like that.

And every time I come out of an experience like that - I feel like I experienced what death might feel like. It's terrifying....and maybe that's what the Buddhists keep reminding us all along.

I could not find much around this on the net. Anyone researching on it? I am a willing subject....though I fear it immensely, I want to know more. I am intrigued.

One last thing, I realized it today, all my years of "preparing for death"  are wasted...totally.....I did not even pass kindergarten in that school. I know I am a sell-out :-).

Monday, August 17, 2020

2888 : Older and maybe wiser

When I was younger, say around 9-10 years I used to walk about half a km from home to reach a stadium (Dadoji Kondev Stadium) you know where I grew up :-).

5 times a week, for cricket practice. 

One of the largest cemeteries in the city used to be next to the stadium. 

I often used to see funeral processions and the strange flowery colognish smell associated with it - and I used to dread those days.

Fear - I was fearful of the dead and the dying.

Years later - I now realize that death is a normal part of the routine. We might still never get used to it - its the unwanted guest in the house :-), but the older me is no longer afraid of death.

I am definitely afraid of dying still (damn the failed Buddhist in me!!).

Life is strange, abrupt and bizarre...the older me stands in prepared silence around it.

Sunday, August 16, 2020

2887 : The mirror

I never believed it until I experienced it. Only when you experience, what you consider as a setback (say a diagnosis of cancer as an example, for some), only then, and possibly only then, do some of us take a step back and re-examine our lives.

What we learn from our examination is never good or bad. It is.

It shows us the mirror. 

At least for me this works.

In the last 4 years, I have had my share of hitting a wall. I have of course become hugely introspective due to it - turning, twisting, re-examining my life from every peephole.

The journey has been rewarding....and the Buddha always said, only when you hit a wall, do you break your own walls and approach the true nature of reality. Seems to work in my case.

And yet, my mind craves (and yearns) to go back to a time and place - when life was uncomplicated when I was abstracted from reality when I yearned for the basics in life, was possibly very low on self-awareness?

If the Buddha is right, and we indeed need to peel our lives like an onion, till we reach our core - then I wonder, why my body struggles so much with this process?

2886 : Reading List 2020 : #14 : Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari

 My second read of this book was just as exhilarating as the first one.

When you read Harari you come out educated and that's such a rare skill for a book writer in this world.

This book provides insights into spirituality, religion, science, and the future of humans.

At 448 pages brings my 2020 reading list to 4064 pages.

Images from Wiki and "Hidden Why Podcast"

Saturday, August 15, 2020

2885 : Together by Ustad Zakhir Hussain and Ustad Alla Rakha

 I love my music and adore the classical bits of my music. 

The one album that made a seminal difference to my life was Together by Ustad Zakhir Hussain and Ustad Alla Rakha.

I credit that album with starting my love for classical music. That album came out in 1990 on a label called MagnaSound....and I bought the tape on the day it hit the shop.

Today as I am listening to that album (and its feverish compositions) 30 years later......I can feel that music in my blood. It literally courses through my veins. I practically know every single (next) beat.

Thank you, Ustad(s). A heartfelt thanks :-).

This is probably my first classical album - I mean for the Indian side. 

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

2884 : Hysteretic Energy Dissipator

At work, someone is presenting on Hysteretic Energy Dissipator....and a colleague says "I am avowed Def Leppard fan".

And I think I am the only one who got the totally random connection :-)

Music bleddy is everywhere.

2883 : Phil Collin's In the Air Tonight

Every single person who has heard this song, remembers the maniac drumming and suddenness with which it hits your guts. 

Its such a unique signature move.

If you have never heard this song, I suggest a find a good system with great bass and tweeters and turn it up a bit....and then wait.....almost half of the song goes by. And then it hits you like a bazooka.

Saturday, August 08, 2020

2880 : A million or more dead

So our Municipal managers (BMC for Bombay) came in and sprayed bleach into all our premises. They sprayed high into the air. 

I live in a first-floor house with a 50 sq feet permaculture garden. This small garden easily has more than 20-50000 insects - worms, snails, centipedes. 

I am afraid at least a few of these would have die with this bleach nightmare.

They also sprayed this across all our building apartment gardens.

They must have easily killed a million sentinel beings just in our building.

And why are we doing this? To save us, humans, from COVID (with a good dose of bad science - bleach does nothing conclusive to protect against COVID).

In my Buddhist scheme of things, this is a Karmic nightmare.

This is the post !!

2879 : Banjara by Clinton Cerejo & Nandini Srikar

Still on the Amazon Echo Studio....and blown away by this soundstage. For a small room, it can blow the room away. (Remember I live in Bombay, rooms like Tokyo).

I can listen to this kind of music on this kind of system, all my life :-). 

Tuve banjara, teh saajan mein bhi banjara :-)

2878 : Is this happiness?

Over time I have slowly devolved. Like once upon a time I would drool on fast cars (still do), but now I have reached a stage I have come to a point where I would not spend too much money on a car, just for its kicks. I would still do that for a bike though :-).

I would not spend time or money on too many clothes. In fact I try and be as plebian in clothes as possible. I still know what dapper means and understand it, but I am almost trying to be on the first steps to becoming an urban monk. I know it sounds like Kayne West saying, he is regular at Vipassana. Just as ridiculous.

I have slowly given up good watches, my obsession with fine writing instruments, my love for good art, which is expensive (invariably).


I still spend money on one thing. Good music. (Coming up is a subscription for Tidal soon, but more on that later.)

Indulgence alert. 

I just spent 19k on an Amazon Echo Studio. After I had spent about 28 on Polk Audio Bar last year. And both investments hit the spot and how.

Was listening to Four Seasons (Vivaldi who else) and never have the tweeters sounded more sweeter :-).

And for the few minutes of Autumn (my favorite season in Vivaldi's coup) I felt everything standstill....and the biochemicals in my head dance like fireflies.

Music....I want to listen to it for a few hours post my death too. (Remember I am a Buddhist, I believe that a few immediate hours post death matter a lot).

Really. Some of the highest points of my small otherwise inconsequential life come from Music.

Wednesday, August 05, 2020

2877 : Happy for Ram, Eh?

Today is a strange day. I really have no strong political view on whether the temple should be built in Ayodhya or not.

This means - either way, I am fairly neutral.

As I consume twitter, I am subsumed by the vitriol from either side. 

The defenders of "secularism" who hate what's happening, and the defenders of "faith" who think they are reclaiming a holy land.

In either case, my heart beats with total "unbelief" (I know it should be disbelief) - that someone could be so passionate on either side.

Who are these people? How come this is an issue (either building/not building) on their priority list?

At this point, all I want is a COVID vaccine, my job to be safe and good health on a selfish level - and for others to keep their jobs, for the overall well being, and the economy to improve - at a societal level.

That's all, that's the post. The rest is a just bunch of peaky blinders.

Monday, August 03, 2020

2876 : Spoke to my sis

Spoke to her after many months. There are days and then months. I often become a tortoise who withdraws into his own shell of silence.
I truly find redemption and extreme awareness in my own dark depths.

But....loved talking to her today. Small chat, but lovely.

I know what I am missing in life.

Saturday, August 01, 2020

2875 : The Twelve on Netflix is very very highly recommended

I found an obscure show (or so I think since no one else is talking about it), called "The Twelve" on Netflix.

Hugely recommended. 

Its a trial of a twin murder (set about 16 years apart). The accused and other probable suspects and beautifully revealed through the series.

So is the other lives of the jury, and how plebian or unfit (debatable) they might be for the task on hand.

The final episode is quite a shapeshifting episode. It's one of the rare series, that made me think in order to make sense of what I saw. 

The final episode has a few revelations (not like tense suspense), but more like dumping moral ambiguity on the viewer.