Rue

RUE (botanical name : RUTA GRAVEOLENS) is a small, evergreen shrub with woody stems and bluish-grey-green leaves.  It is used as a flavouring agent in Greece and other Mediterranean countries.  The leaves have an astringent or bitter taste, especially when dried.  RUE can be used with sour, acidic foods, which help to tone down its bitterness such as tomato sauces and dishes with olives or capers.  RUE leaves and berries are an important part of the cuisine of Ethiopia.  Sometimes, RUE seeds are used to flavour porridge.  In Italy, the young branches of the plant are dipped in a batter, deep-fried and consumed with salt or sugar.

rue-plantRUE is one of the herbs mentioned in the New Testament.  In some countries, holy water is sprinkled from brushes  made of RUE at the ceremony usually preceding the Sunday of High Mass, for which reason it is called the HERB OF REPENTENCE and the HERB OF GRACE.  RUE has a long history of use in both medicine and magic, and is considered a ‘protective herb’ in both disciplines.

The hardy evergreen shrub is mentioned by writers from Pliny to Shakespeare and beyond, as a ‘herb of remembrance’  of ‘warding’ and of ‘healing’.  RUE was once believed to improve eyesight and creativity, and no less personages than Leonardo Da Vinci and Michelangelo regularly ate the small, trefoil leaves to increase their own levels of creativity.

Since olden days, RUE has been used to ward off contagion and prevent attacks of fleas and other noxious insects.  RUE juice is used to treat earache.  It is believed that RUE is helpful in the treatment of hypertension, diabetes and allergic reactions.  Tea made from RUE leaves is used to treat nervous headache, griping stomach ache, dizziness, cough, vertigo, palpitation, anxiety problems and high blood pressure.

————— (Sacred Space)

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Janmashtmi

radha_y_krishna


JANMASHTMI celebrating Lord Krishna’s birth day each year assures us of the grand manifestation of the Supreme in the form of Krishna for protection of the virtuous and destruction of  the wicked at the appropriate time.

Puranic Theology associates the avatars with the four Yugas —— Sat, Treta, Dvapara and Kali.  In today’s Kali Yuga Krishna could appear in our midst at any given moment.  The Bhagavatam say that Krishna is the full-fledged avatar complete in al aspects.


Krishna


Krishna denotes unmeasured, incomprehensible and absolutely great personae stimulating astonishment, rapture and admiration.  Krishna is known as the Foremost Yogi.  With the amalgamation of the theistic doctrine of devotion, Krishna evolved as a personal God of love and grace in the form of Kanha Krishna at Gokul and Vrindavan apart from representing Vasudeva Krishna at Mathura and Dvaraka.

Krishna is also looked upon as having two bodies.  One which is eternal, supracosmic and spiritual and the other which is material and temporary.  As an object of Bhakti, Krishna appears as an embodiment of Nine Emotions or Rasas and fulfils the nine-fold required enforcements of devotees as God in the form of a child, a youth, counsellor, friend and beloved.

———- Asha Goswami

Punta Cana

Punta Cuna


PUNTA CANA is the name of a town and tourist region at the easternmost tip of the Dominican Republic,  The region, covering about 420,000 sq.m (approximately 1,100acres), is home to a coastline of sandy white beaches.

In the Province of LA ALTAGRACIA, with a population estimated at 100,000, the region borders the Atlantic Ocean to the east.  To the north, it borders BAVARO & EL CORTECITO Beaches.  It also borders CABEZA de TORO, CABO ENGANO and further west, JUANILLO.
Punta Cano has a tropical climate.  Although it is mildly windy, the ocean I the area is mainly shallow with several natural marine pools in which visitors can bathe.  The weather is fairly constant, with an average temperature of 26degrees C.  The hottest season lasts from April to November, and during the day the temperatures might reach 32degrees C.  From December to March, temperatures during the evening are around 20degrees C.  Very little rain falls around the area, mostly because of the flat landscape.  The summer months tend to be very warm and very humid.
Punta Cana was founded as a tourist resort and tourism still is 100% of the local economy.  Lots of resorts employ the tactics of scaring their visitors from venturing outside by propagating stories of robberies and murder.  These have to be taken with a pinch (or a pound) of salt.  People tend to be very friendly and helpful.  Still flashing jewellery, expensive gadgets or lots of money is not recommended.
There are quite a few interesting places to visit :

Altos de Chavon


(1)  ALTOS de CHAVON : A modern – day artist’s village, resembling a 16th century Mediterranean town.  It is set upon a spectacular hillside cliff overlooking the winding CHAVON RIVER.  It is home to a 5,000-seat amphitheatre, an archaeological museum, craft workshops, artists’ studios and an assortment of galleries and restaurants.


Juanillo beach

(2) JUANILLO :  It is one of the most beautiful beaches in the Dominican Republic.  Until a few years ago, it was a very small village of fishermen.  The entire village was purchased as a part of a very large project called CAP CANA.  In return, for giving up their rights to occupancy, the residents were offered alternative housing, money and jobs  While Juanillo was at one time inaccessible to the public, it is now accessible to people staying at one of the Cap Cana Hotels and to property owners within the Cap Cana Project and their guests.

Santa Domingo


(3) SANTA DOMINGO : This is the Europe of the Western Hemisphere.  It has preserved its Colonial Heritage for more than five centuries, and is recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.


Saona Island


(4) SAONA ISLAND : It is set in the natural reserve of the PARQUE NACIONAL del ESTE.  You can relax on powder-white sans, where palm-studded beaches meet the soft surf of the Caribbean waters and sometimes even dolphins swim alongside your catamarans.


Dolphin Island


(5) DOLPHIN ISLAND :  A short boat ride takes you to a floating platform where visitors can swim with trained dolphins in the sea.  The package includes 15mins of free time with these unique creatures.


Punta Cuna

(6) DOMINICAN ALPS : (near the town of JARABACOA), where 18 waterfalls cascade between chasms of rock to water the rich, fertile earth below.  If you are a white-water fan, the RIO YASQUE is the longest river in the Caribbean and offers challenging kayak or rafting courses like the MIKE TYSON, which features a 12ft vertical drop.
(7) MARINARIUM :  In this water park, you can experience some of the best snorkelling in the area, complete with nurse sharks and sting rays.  Enjoy a COCOLOCO ( 100% pure coconut water) as you cruise along the coast to your final stop ——– a waist-deep natural pool in the sea.
(8) SEAQUARIUM :  You are provided with a diving helmet and allowed to walk the bottom of the clear waters with an unforgettable view of reef and coral life (no certification required)

Breaking free of our karma

“Why have you followed the spiritual path for your whole life ?”  There are many answers to this question, but a big one is, “It brings me freedom”.  Freedom to change negative patterns that have kept me in their clutches, freedom to respond with calmness and kindness even when others are angry or challenging, freedom to enjoy whatever life brings.

Swami Kriyananda says, ” When you see a fault within yourself, don’t despair, but rejoice.  It has been there all along, but now that you have seen it, you can start working to change it.”  What are some spiritual tools that help us to break free of our Karmic patterns ?  Karma is simply energy generated by past thoughts or actions that we have steered in a certain direction.


Karma chakra


With conscious awareness and determination, replace a negative pattern with a positive one.  Use affirmations repeatedly with deep concentration to change chronic patterns of thinking.  Be patient.  The deeper the Karma, the longer the time required to change it.  Don’t constantly dig up the spiritual seeds you are sowing to see if they have taken root.  Let them grow in their own time to become mighty plants.

Bring the problem to God in meditation and prayer.  Our sincere efforts and desire to be free draw the grace that brings release.  We have to do our little part, and then God steps in and unties the knots of Karma that have kept us bound.

—————– Nayaswami Devi.  

Berat

BERAT, the City of a Thousand Windows, in South – Central Albania, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site (2008).

Berat Albania


The Balkan-style houses  climb up the side of the hill upon which the 13th century BERAT CASTLE is situated.  These houses, belonging to the late 18th and the 19th centuries, typically have two floors with a ground floor mad of stone and a prominent upper floor painted white and roofs covered with red ceramic tiles.  They have large wooden windows which, because of the steepness of the hill and the construction of the houses, appear to be stacked one over the other  This view has earned BERAT, the moniker The City of a Thousand Windows.

The name of the city, in Albanian, is BERAT or BERATI, meaning “White City”.  According to local legend, the TOMORR Mountain, was originally a Giant who fought with another Giant, called SHPIRAG, over a young woman.  They killed each other and the girl drowned in her tears, which then became the OSUM River.  Mount Shpirag, named after the second giant, is on the left bank of the gorge.  Berat is also known to the Albanians as the City of One Above  Another Windows or The City of 2,000 Steps.

Landmarks :

(1) BERAT CASTLE

Berat Castle


The co-existence of religious and cultural communities, over several centuries, is apparent in Berat.  The main entrance, on the north side, is defended by a fortified courtyard and there three smaller entrances.  The fortress of Berat, in its present state, even though considerably damaged, remains a magnificent sight.  The surface that is encompassed made it possible to house a considerable portion of the town’s inhabitants.  The buildings inside the fortress were built during the 13th century and, because of their characteristic architecture, are preserved as cultural monuments.  The population of the fortress was Christian and it had about 20 Churches and only 1 Mosque for the use of the Muslim Garrison (of which there survives only a few ruins and the base of the Minaret).

(2) CHURCH of Saint Mary of BLACHERNAE :

Church of Mary of BLACHERNAE


Dating from the 13th century, it has 16th century mural painting.  In a small tree-planted square, on a hillside in side the walls of the fortress, stands the 14th century CHURCH of the HOLY TRINITY.  It is built in the form of a Cross and has Byzantine Murals.  Outside the ramparts, is the CURCH of SAINT MICHAEL (13th century) which is reached by a steep but perfectly safe path.  Near the entrance, after a guardhouse, is the CHURCH of SAINT THEODORE.  The most interesting is the CATHEDRAL of SAINT NICHOLAS, which has been well-restored and is now a Museum.


Gorica bridge Albania


(3) GORICA BRIDGE , which connects the two parts of Berat, was originally built from wood in 1780 and was rebuilt with stone in the 1920s.  The seven-arch bridge is 423ft long and 17ft wide and is built about 33ft above the average water level.  According to local legend, the original wooden bridge contained a dungeon in which a girl would be incarcerated and starved to appease the spirits responsible for the safety of the bridge.

The Hidden Splendour

A person who meditates sincerely generates tremendous energy within and around him.  Existence blesses him with healing powers that are also felt by others.  The same could happen to a devotee whose prayers originate from his heart and is not a mechanical ritual taught by priests.  Authenticity is needed in both the cases.  The healing with the meditator or the devotee is not something of his own, but a blessing from the divine or God’s grace.  When the flower blooms it has the fragrance that spreads around.
The flower does not go into an ego trip.  In one of his discourses on THE HIDDEMeditation dhyanaN SPLENDOUR, Osho makes this point with a Sufi story :  A Sufi mystic was so full of love and joy  —- his life was filled with laughter, music and dancing.  So God became very interested in because he never asked for anything, he never prayed.  He never went to the mosque, he never even uttered the name of God.
God became intrigued with the mystic and came to the Sufi and said, “I am immensely happy because that is how I want people to be.  I don’t want them to pray for an hour and do the opposite in the remaining 23 hours.  I don’t want them to become pious once they enter the mosque, and when they go back, they leave their piety in the mosque and are just their own selves : angry, jealous, full of anxiety and violence.  I have watched you and I have loved you.  That is why you have become the prayer.  You are, right now, my only argument in the world that something more than man exists —– although you have never argued, you have not even uttered my name, but you live, you love, you are so full of joy that there is no need for any language, your very presence becomes the argument for my existence.  I want to give you a blessing.  You can ask for anything.”
The Sufi said, “But I don’t need anything.  Forgive me, I cannot ask, because I really don’t need anything.  You are generous, you are loving, you are compassionate, but I am so full, there is no space within me for anything else.”  God said, “I knew you would not ask for anything.  Don’t ask for yourself, but you can ask for others, because there are millions of people who are miserable and sick, and have never known anything for which they can be grateful.  I can give you powers to do miracles, and you can change the lives of all these people.”
Yoga meditationThe Sufi said, “If you insist, then I can accept your gift under one condition.”  God said, “Condition ? You are really strange.  What is the condition ?”  The Sufi said, ” My condition is that I should not become aware of what is happening through me, by you.  It should happen behind my back.  It should happen through my shadow.  I may be passing and my shadow may fall on a dead tree, and the tree may become alive again, but I should not know it, because I don’t want to fall back.  If I know it —– that I have done it, or even that God has chosen me as the instrument to do it —– it is dangerous.  So my condition is : a blind man might start seeing, but neither should he know that it is because of me, nor should I know that it is because of me.  My shadow behind my back will do all the miracles.”
And it is said that God said to him, ” You are not only strange, you are unique and rare.  And this will be so : You will never know what things are happening around you.  Miracles will happen.  And I will remember your condition.”
————- Swami Chaitanya Keerti.

Devavani

The Sanskrit language is called DEVAVANI (Divine Language).  The Upanishads are written in Sanskrit.  The very word “Sanskrit” means transformed, adorned, crowned, decorated, refined,  —— but remember the word “transformed”.  The language itself was transformed because so many people attained to the ultimate, and because they were using the language, something of their joy penetrated into it, something of their poetry entered into the very cells, the very fibre of the language.  Even the language became transformed, illuminated.  It was bound to happen.  Languages in the West are becoming more and more scientific, accurate, mathematical and precise.  Science is giving languages colour, shape and form.
Sanskrit hymnThe same happened with Sanskrit 5,000 years ago.  So many people became enlightened and they were all speaking Sanskrit, their enlightenment entered into it with all its music, poetry, with all its celebration.  Sanskrit became luminous; it is the most poetic and musical language.
A “poetic language” is just the opposite of a “scientific language”.  In “scientific language” every word has to be very precise in meaning; it has to have only one meaning.  — In “poetic language” the word has to be liquid, flowing, dynamic, not static, allowing many meanings, many possibilities.  The word has to be not precise at all; the more imprecise it is better, because then it will be able to express all kinds of nuances.
There are 800 roots in Sanskrit and out of those thousands of words have been derived just as out of one root a tree grows and many branches and thousands of leaves and hundreds of flowers.  Each single root becomes a vast tree with great foliage.
oshoFor example, the root RAM can mean first ‘to be calm’, second ‘to rest’, third ‘to delight in’, fourth ’cause delight to’, fifth ‘to make love’, sixth ‘to join’, seventh ‘to make happy’, eighth ‘to be blissful’, ninth ‘to play’, tenth ‘to be peaceful’, eleventh ‘ to stand still’, twelfth ‘to stop’ and thirteenth ‘God, divine, the absolute’.  Sometimes the meanings are related to each other, sometimes they are contradictory to each other.  Hence the language has a multi-dimensional quality to it.  You can play with those words and through that play you can express the inexpressible; the inexpressible can be hinted.
The script in which Sanskrit is written is called DEVANAGRI (dwelling-place of the Gods), and so it certainly is.  Each word has become divine, just because it has been used by people who had known God or godliness.
(Abridged from I AM THAT, Osho Times International, http://www.osho.com)   ——– Talk : Osho