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)

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 

Ecbatana

Ecbatana


ECBATANA (Old Persian :  HAGGMATANA literally “a place of gathering”. ) was an ancient city in Media in western Iran.  It is believed that Ecbatana is in TAPPE – ye HAGGMATANA ) near HAMADAN.

Excavations at KABOUTAR AHANG have revealed stone-age tools and pottery from 1400 – 1200 BC.  According to Herodotus, Ecbatana was chosen as the Medes’ capital in the late 8th century BC by Deioces.  Under the Persian Kings, Ecbatana, situated at the foot of Mount Alvand (11,716ft) , became a summer residence.  Later, it became the capital of the Parthian Kings, at which time it became their main mint producing drachm, tetra – drachm and assorted bronze denominations.  It is also mentioned in the Hebrew Bible (Ezra 6: 1-3) under the name ACHMETHA.  In 330 BC, Ecbatana was the site of the murder of the Macedonian General PARMENION by order of Alexander the Great.

Ecbatana


The city was surrounded by seven concentric walls.  Itself at an elevation of 6,158ft, the city dominates the wide, fertile plain of the upper QAREH SU River.  A little to the east of Ecbatana is the MUSALLA ( a natural mound ) the debris of which includes the remains of ancient Ecbatana.  The modern city is built partly on this mound.


Ecbatana rug


Modern development is modest.  In summer the pleasant climate makes Ecbatana a resort, but the winters are long and severe.  The EKBATAN DAM (formerly SHAHNAZ DAM ) provides water for the city.  Grain and fruit are grown in abundance, and Ecbatana is an important trade centre on the main Tehran – Baghdad highway.  In the Iranian rug trade, Ecbatana rugs rank second to KERMAN rugs.

Kabali…my thoughts

Rajinikanth…a huge Asian phenomenon!

Shihanspeaks

KabaliThe release of a movie of Rajnikanth is a festival in itself…from the announcement, to the first look, the decked up theatres, the fan frenzy, and now of course the craze on social media as well. It’s apparent that people buy into the mania, the celebration, the pride of the ‘first day first show ‘ ticket, and the kind of hype that surrounds the movie, rather than the movie itself. I’ve observed this happening from the past few years, and increasing exponentially with time. Well…Kabali may be the subtle, yet strong signal to all of us that the superstar has had enough of only playing to the gallery, and now wants to go back to performances.

So how’s the movie?

Kabali ( and note here that everytime I type the name, it capitalises itself!) is a gangster movie, which could have gone one of two ways. The first, a more…

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Nishkama Karma

Nishkama karma


NISHKAMA KARMA (State of No – Action) becomes possible only for a yogi at heart.  Meditating on what is unimaginable is considered to be the ultimate sadhana.  It is supposed to be beyond any conceptualisation.  If we imagine light, that is also a kind of form.  If the mind keeps thinking about the term ‘unthinkable’ to focus on, that is also limited in sphere.  So it is a challenge,  one has to overcome and the secret is that it can be attained by not pursuing anything with an intention to pursue, by becoming absolutely blank.

That is the state of ‘no – action’ in every sense (the state of Godhood) that supplies the energy for all action.  Why do we need sadhana of the unthinkable ?  We need the strength to pursue the most fruitful action.  Ramakrishna talks about three thieves, representing three gunas : RAJAS (can make you exhausted), TAMAS (can completely destroy you ) and SATTVA (the thief that has a lot of compassion)  SATTVA also guides you to the road that takes you safely home, the STATE OF NO – ACTION.

Kabir Das called this SAHAJA YOGA.  If we can become completely blank even for a moment, that is the real state of GOD – REALISATION.  In deep sleep, we may attain this stage.  But from a spiritual point of view, this state has to be experienced when we are awake.

It is very difficult to become completely thoughtless.  After remaining blank for a while, w may feel sleepy, but even then it is worth practising.  The effort to make ourselves thoughtless is also an action.  So, that action has to be discarded.  But as a beginner, we may take some form or light and remain blank, which may ultimately lead to the state of nothingness and thoughtlessness .

A sage suggested, you may think of God’s feet to begin with, but do not try to perform anything on the feet.  Just remain stable.  A state will come when the feet will disappear ——- what would remain is ‘nothingness’.  As one attains the state of ‘nothingness’ spontaneously, permanent peace prevails.

That is why it is said that BRAHMN is ‘unspeakable’.  Even one who realises cannot utter a word about it.  Buddha simply smiled and said nothing as He was asked to comment on NIRVANA.  It is for individuals to experience it.  Those who follow the path of sadhana and human welfare are able to perform this selflessly.  Thus, NISHKAMA KARMA becomes possible for a yogi at heart.

———– Arup Mitra. 

Palmerston Island

Palmerston Island


PALMERSTON is an island paradise that will adopt you.  On this fascinating South Pacific island, all 62 residents are related, everyone shares the same surname ——– MARSTERS ——- and can trace their lineage to one British man ——— WILLIAM MARSTERS.

Located between the better-known South Pacific sailing ports of Bora Bora and Niue, Palmerston is the only Cook Island that the prolific explored actually set foot upon, although the clump of fifteen islands are named for him.  Cook dubbed the then-uninhabited atoll PALMERSTON.

Today, it is a postcard -perfect paradise with no bank, store or road.  Islanders have to travel 800km south to the largest island, RAROTONGA,  to find these modern day conveniences.  The island has the largest number of freezers per capita in the southern hemisphere.

Marsters landed on Palmerston in 1883 to set up a COPRA (dried coconut) trade with other Polynesian Islands.  He brought two Polynesian wives from neighbouring PENRHYN, and later married a third lady from the same island, producing an impressive 23 children and 134 grandchildren.  Before he died in 1899, Marsters divided the 2 sq.km atoll into thirds to give each of the three wives and their descendants a share.  The residents still govern themselves based on these hypothetical lines, and cluster their families on their respective chunk of the atoll.  Marriage within a family branch is prohibited.


Palmerston Island beach


White sand  frames the island.  Wind, rain and waves have slowly eroded the atoll, leaving most of it just barely submerged.  The highest point on the entire island is only 6ft high ———- a man-made mound called REFUGE HILL, where the residents cluster during summer cyclones.  Boats are still the only mode of transport to and fro.  A cargo ship from RANGIROA, the largest city in the Cook islands, stops by just three times a year to drop off supplies, loading back up with crates full of flash-frozen parrotfish, Palmerston’s only export.

Palmerston’s residents sometimes hop aboard the cargo ship, squeezing in alongside the freezers, to visit neighbouring islands to catch a flight to New Zealand.  The only other option for leaving the island is to hitchhike on a passing sailboat.  But the window for thumbing a ride is narrow : Yachts only travel through this part of the South Pacific from May through September to avoid cyclones and maximize the trade winds.


Palmerston Island people


Palmerston Island has a tradition of welcoming cruising yachts . When you arrive, you are met by a member of your host family, who will show you where to anchor and give you a lift to the island.  They say they want to think you are part of the family, but it feels more like you are an honoured guest.

There are some shared facilities on Main Street that are for the community.  Then, there is the famous driftwood Church that was damaged in the last hurricane, and it has been replaced with an attractive modern Church.  Marsters’ driftwood house is still behind the church, and gives a feel of the early structures which were built from the timbers of early shipwrecks.  The water catchment is an open community area with two large tanks that collect rainwater from the roof  for the community during droughts.  Most homes have their own water catchments, but after several months they run dry and the community system is used.


Palmerston Island homes


Palmerston is surprisingly civilized for such a remote island.  All homes have electricity from 6 to 12 in the morning and evening, provided by a community generator supplied by the government.  The island pays maintenance and fuel through a charge based on electric meters on each house.  Many houses have TVs and VCRs and movies are a big hit with the locals.  Almost every house has a freezer, though few have refrigerators and some have automatic washing machines.

The freezers are important, because the cash crop of Palmerston  Island is the parrotfish, which is plentiful and safe to eat.  They sell the frozen parrotfish fillets to Rarotonga for $14 NZ a kilo, which is a little over $3US.  It is a lucrative catch, but they have a big problem getting the supply ships to call regularly, thus they have a hard time getting their product to market.

It is a good idea to bring things for the people on the island  ———- clothes, staple foods like rice and flour, VHS movies and educational tapes and toys for the children.  Do not bring alcohol, firearms or ammunition, bud DO BRING fishing tackle and line.

Palmerston is one of the most beautiful and unspoiled places on earth.

The soul is layered

Once there were two frogs who lived in a well.  One day one of the frogs jumped out of the well and disappeared.  He was gone for several days, and when he returned, the other frog asked him where he had been.

“There is such a whole big world out there beyond the well”, said the first frog, and he began to describe all the sights and sounds he had heard. ” You must be making all this up”, said the second frog.  “There is nothing but this well.  You are imagining all the things you have told me.  If there were all those things you describe, then surely they would be here in the well.  I have not seen them.  They cannot possibly exist”.

human soul


Often we are like the second frog  We my think that because we have not seen all there is to see, that nothing else exists.  We close our mind like the frog in the well.  There was a time when people believed that the world was flat, until an explorer proved it was round  There was a time when scientists believed that the Earth was the centre of the Universe and the Sun revolved around it, until they discovered this to be false.  Throughout the ages, there have been visionaries who discovered their soul.  They left behind accounts of their experiences in the form of scriptures and oral traditions, which were then recorded by their students.  We are their beneficiaries and we can try these techniques for ourselves.  We some practice, we can expand our inner vision.

We need a burning desire to find out who we really are.  When we want something intensely, we become so focussed that we block out other distractions.  When we desire to awaken our soul, it responds and its faint call can be heard.  Its own power starts to stir and our attention can no longer ignore it.  The stronger the cry, the more our attention is drawn to it.  With time, the call of the world can become more and more faint as our attention is pulled irresistibly towards love, music and bliss of our soul.

——–Sant Rajinder Singhji.